Hedwig (30) and her boyfriend Jeroen (33) made a quite radical decision, just a few weeks ago. They sold (almost) all their belongings, including their apartment in Amsterdam, and bought a VW T3 Westfalia ’85 named Chewie. These two will travel the world, starting THIS WEEK! Oh, and they are bringing their dogs Tommie and Olaf along too (can you find Tommie in the photo above?).
As it’s YES-month at Chapter Friday, the inspiring story of this lovely couple seems to blend in so perfectly. This month, we’re saying yes to all of life’s twists and turns and that’s exactly what Hedwig and Jeroen are doing right now. They said yes to adventure. Yes to change the situation. Yes to something new. They are doing something many people dream of, but will never do. Because they are afraid of the unknown, afraid to take risks. Jeroen and Hedwig aren’t afraid. They can’t wait to start the engine and drive.
Hedwig: “All that we know is that when we started thinking of this adventure, it all felt inevitable. Not doing it wasn’t even an option. It felt so right.”
Want to follow Hedwig and Jeroen on their adventures? Make sure to follow them on Instagram.
What inspired you to sell your house and travel the world?
Hedwig: “The last few years we noticed feeling more and more restless. We felt our lives got more of a routine each year that passed. It was getting hard to remember what happened in which year because we frequently visit the same places and did kind of the same stuff. Fun stuff, always great things, but it remains a life that’s quite familiar.
Also, we’ve always been fascinated by other countries and other cultures. On the other hand, we couldn’t really think of a country where we would rather live than the Netherlands.
Combine those two feelings and add the lust for adventure and traveling and our plan was born. We hardly ever have the tv on, if it isn’t for Netflix, but lately, we often found ourselves watching tv programs on people who totally changed their lives and went traveling or emigrated. In hindsight, we think those shows prepared us and inspired us to take this step.”
You came up with this plan just a few months ago. How did you have the time to save money for this adventure?
Hedwig: “We’re not the kind of people that save, so we knew we had to sell our house in order to be able to buy a van. Luckily we live in Amsterdam, where the housing market is crazy at the moment. We quite easily sold our home for a good price. Thanks to that we had enough to start with a nice van and some pocket money for breakdowns or other uncalculated expenses.
Frankly, the whole idea was to let go of the securities we built for ourselves, such as owning a lot of stuff and a spacious apartment to put it in. Together with those securities we are also letting go of the obligations that come with them. No house means no mortgage and that means fewer monthly costs and therefore not as much necessity for a high income when we’re on the road.”
What if you run out of money along the way?
Hedwig: “We both work as a freelancer (Hedwig is a journalist and Jeroen a creative strategist, red.) so we can easily be digital nomads. Our goal is to make sure that we make enough money to cover our expenses. As said, we try to keep our expenses as low as possible, so we can live with way less money than we do now. We have to keep working, but we hope we can work less than we do now during our trip.”
How did your close family and friends react to your decision?
Hedwig: “Surprised and excited. They hadn’t seen it coming, but neither did we ourselves. We feel really lucky to be supported in the way that everyone does.”
What do you hope to find on the way?
Hedwig: “A bigger sense of freedom, being closer to nature, meeting interesting and like-minded people, redefining what life and happiness is about and of course adventure. And more time to just relax and enjoy all the good there is.”
What countries do you hope visiting?
When we leave in the end October we’ll head for Portugal and the south of Spain and maybe even Morocco, to find some winter’s sun. After that we’ll see where Chewie, that’s our van, takes us. Having said that, we are definitely going to visit Scandinavia, many regions in the UK and eastern Europe. Funny thing is, if we just keep on driving we might just end up in China.
Aren’t you afraid to be in each other’s space too much?
Hedwig: “No not all, we totally have no trouble living on top of each other. This doesn’t mean that we don’t fight, we’re good at that. But we’re also really good at making up. But we probably will need to take into account enough ‘me time’, like taking a stroll on our own and just leave the other be for a little while.”
Do you notice a YES-vibe since you made this decision or do you feel more and more nervous every day?
Hedwig: “Definitely the first, with a hint of the latter every now and then. Especially when leaving our house is now only one week away. There is crazy much to be arranged, but we get a lot of energy thinking about what we’re doing it for.”
Never felt like: why the hell am I doing this?
Hedwig: “Not at all. Our whole lives we try to follow our intuition like we do now. Also, we’re the type of people that can make quite rash decisions and jump right into the deep end.”
The best and the saddest to leave behind?
Hedwig: “Obviously the saddest to leave behind are our friends and family. We’ll miss them, but we’re not on the other side of the world. Yet.
We can’t say that we really have something we’re happy about to leave behind, to be honest. We were quite happy living our lives the way we did, only we think that our new life will make us happier at this moment.
You could say we’re looking forward to leaving our busy lives behind and start a new kind of life. We don’t see this adventure as a sabbatical but really as a kind of a lifestyle. A life without drag and with lots of new adventures. With more stimulation to develop ourselves on different aspects. But that’s more something we hope to find than something we’re leaving behind.”
Any piece of advice for someone else who wants to do this as well?
Hedwig: “With the risk of sounding corny: stop dreaming, start acting. Write everything down on paper and make a pro/con and budget sheet. See what it takes to do what you want and see what sacrifices you’ll have to bring to make it happen. If you can tie it altogether set the wheels in motion and go for it.
All that we know is that when we started thinking of this adventure, it all felt inevitable. Not doing it wasn’t even an option. It felt so right.”
You’ve got a few days left before you leave. Busy times?
Hedwig: “We’re going bananas. So much to do and so little time. You’d think getting rid of all your stuff sound so easy but the opposite is true. We also still have to make some adjustments to our van, like getting a new little fridge instead of the 31-year-old one that doesn’t quite work anymore and getting our insurances straight. Crazy times, but already so much worth it. We’re feeling so alive again.”
Got inspired? Make sure to check out Yenkim’s story: Yenkim (27) and her boyfriend Misha leased some land in Costa Rica and are building a colorful tipi style hostel called ‘Hostel Alouatta’ which will open this November.