A few weeks ago I had the idea to write down my thoughts after being a full-time traveller for three months. I want to share how I’ve felt, the thoughts I had, the emotions I went through and what I like and dislike about full-time travelling. Three months feel like a good amount of time to observe everything. At the same time I just had to recount the days because it shocks me that it’s already April.
A quick recap
To give you a quick overview of what I am doing and how I got there – the long one you can find here. After three years working full time I quit my remote job to fully focus on travelling, volunteering and all the things I like in life. I’ve had a great time working remotely but a job is still a job. And for the first time of my adult life I wanted to just follow my gut feeling, explore the world, not have a full schedule anymore and see where life takes me.
What is the freedom we are all longing for really? Does it exist? How does it feel? Are we ourselves the limiting factor? Questions over questions I finally wanted to answer. So I made the big decision to leave my job behind and all the securities that came with it, counted my savings and jumped into the adventure. I knew that not doing it would be the biggest regret of my life otherwise.
Against all teenage visions and dreams this whole chapter is not a solo trip. By my side an incredibly compatible human being who I don’t want to miss on this adventure. But now let’s go back to where it started, the very beginning of January 2023.
I was welcomed in Thailand on the first day of 2023 – what a start into the year. Thailand played a huge role to me during the pandemic. I spent four months on the island Koh Tao when all the lockdowns started and went back for another six months a bit later. So there was no question that this had to be the first place I was going to visit. Koh Tao is home!
I finally had so much time!
The last time I was on Koh Tao I was working full time. So there was only a limited time for my personal projects like being a dive guide, volunteering at a dog shelter and working on placesoflinda. When coming back this time I quickly started realizing how much time I finally had. It was amazing, not having to squeeze in meet-ups with friends into the mornings or weekends and not having to decide between a dive in the morning versus a relaxed breakfast in one of the cafes. I finally had time for all of it!
Many more options opened up and I spent a lot of time exploring the underwater world with my camera, working for the dive school, volunteering at the dog shelter, creating content and meeting up with friends.
I am not needed anymore
At the same time my brain remembered the time when I was working. At times when there was no dive work and no productive to do’s I started feeling like I wasn’t needed anymore. No one needed me to be online, to answer a message – the working world just continued without my presence. And that was a weird feeling. Because when we do our jobs we feel so important and indispensable. But somehow the world just keeps turning. Also it frustrated me not having a plan for the day and not really being productive.
I started questioning this feeling. Why is my self-worth and identity so reliant on my productivity? And on the work I do? There’s no right or wrong answer to that but for me it was clear that I didn’t want to just ‘fill’ that feeling by looking for another productive activity or job. I rather wanted to work on it in order to be more at peace with myself and find my answer to these questions. There will be a time in our lives where we don’t work anymore, so I would be confronted with that feeling at some point anyway.
Areas I started being mindful of
I started writing down my thoughts regularly, the good and bad ones. And I also thought about all the things I always wanted to do but never could when I was still working. Things like attending yoga classes, going to music bingo nights, learning something new and so on. So I made a list of the things I now wanted to accomplish for myself.
Here’s another funny thing. Back then I blamed my lack of time being the reason why I’m wasn’t doing certain things like attending the yoga classes. This time I started blaming money. Even though I saved for activities that bring me forward and are good for my mind and body, I felt like I couldn’t spend the money just because there was no new money coming in. It almost felt a bit ridiculous.
I was so trained to earn money and forgot how to spend it. Or rather didn’t allow myself to spend it on myself and things that bring joy. It felt like I had to accomplish something first and at times I totally forgot that I’ve accomplished so many things over the years.
So after a few weeks on the island there were a few areas I started being mindful of:
- Embracing not having a plan for every day but rather be guided by my feeling.
- Enjoying the free time that I have now and being fine with doing nothing, or nothing productive.
- Remembering that NOW is the time to enjoy, to allow myself to enjoy, to do the things I never had time for when I was working. Even though there is no immediate accomplishment or earned money. I’ve worked so hard to be where I am today, I’m allowed to fully enjoy it.
- Manifesting that I am enough, no matter what my productivity is.
All in all being on Koh Tao for the first month was really good as the island routine opened up some topics I should work on. It was very interesting to see how my mindset changed. At the end of the month I got over the feeling of not being needed. And I started loving not knowing what my day looked like. What helped me was talking to other people, getting their view and inspiration and working on my mindset.
February brought some changes. We started packing our bags and got ready for the first real travel since the pandemic! The first backpacking trip through South-East Asia since 2020. We left most of our luggage behind with friends and started our journey in Cambodia, with two small backpacks.
Cambodia was about exploring, moving from one place to the next, sharing our travels via a video blog with our family and friends as well as creating lots of photos and videos. We also volunteered in a rural school in Cambodia which was an incredible experience.
During the time in Cambodia I started losing track of time. It didn’t really matter anymore what day it was. We started doing laptop afternoons every now and then where I would work on new blogposts or videos. That was my being in flow and productive time. Our trip in Cambodia felt a bit like a holiday. While staying within our budget (30 Euros per day) we spoilt ourselves when possible. Coffee, cakes and our Wingspan boardgame was and is our definition of a perfect afternoon.
The weird thing about time
What I will remember about this month the most is that we often had a conversation about time. We went on a 6 hour day trip in Battambang which felt like a really long day. We saw so many things and even had a nap. We then compared our day to a usual 8 hour work day and realized that we would still sit at our desks after 6 hours. It’s just mad how different time can feel, right?
We realized how lucky we are being able to use our time this way. And also being able to spend it together. There are so many couples who can only see each other on the weekends and maybe spend a full week or two during the year together. The life time maximum until retiring is probably a month during parental leave or their honeymoon. We get to be together every day and explore the world at the same time. How damn lucky we are, is what we thought.
Over the past five years of my life I traveled a lot. My longest time abroad was 9 months in South East Asia and another 9 months in Australia. Both times I did get moments of homesickness but also knew that I was going back to Germany because there was some to do (thesis, studies, work…) waiting for me. So all in all it was okay.
This time though the goodbye was incredibly hard for me. What I loved most about this trip makes the emotional part so hard at the same time. I’m in control of the budget and can decide when to go back or where to go next. But the fact that there’s no time limit also leaves the question open when I’m going to Germany.
On this trip I have the feeling of homesickness more often. Or rather missing my family, my dog, my friends. Not being able to share their happy events with them, to sit at the Sunday afternoon table or to just give them a hug. On some days it hits me really hard and then I just hate the fact that I’m a traveller soul.
But there’s nothing in life that doesn’t come without a price, right? And as I’m the author of my chapters I realized that I could also just go to Germany for a visit. Why make it hard when it could be easy – that thought helps sometimes and I’m actually considering visiting.
Summing up, the month in Cambodia was a good one. We travelled rather slowly and had enough time for our own fun projects. Volunteering at the school also opened our eyes and showed us a new side about us. Those were the days when I, on the other hand, loved the fact that I’m a traveller soul. Otherwise I would’ve never been able to live on the Cambodian countryside and teach English to these kids. You can tell, there are many mixed and opposite feelings on this journey.
In March I got to visit a country I’ve never been to before: Vietnam. Therefore I wanted to put the video blog on hold and dedicate my whole mind and eyes to seeing this country. A present thought in this month was that I’m so glad that I decided to take the step, quit my job and am living this life now. The ‘What if I…’ didn’t exist in my head anymore. All that mattered was the ‘now’.
On my 28th birthday we talked about how crazy it is that we can create what will happen next. And that we are actually doing all this together. Never ever have I thought my life would look like this one day. What makes it even more valuable is all the support and long-term connections with family & friends all over the world no matter where I am though. The best birthday present I could ask for and reason number one why we are rich.
There was another point during our travels where we decided to just stay in a place a little longer. When I realized that this decision wouldn’t affect our other travel plans it showed me another reason why we were reach: We have time. I mean we humans do usually have a lot of time anyway. And we should definitely think about how we spend it more often, it’s so valuable! Maybe this inspires you to phone your loved one a little bit more often, or to do things you love, or to just relax with an inner smile.
Vietnam was a country I wanted to explore to the fullest. So when we went to a new place we had a list of things to do and also planned our next moves. This was all good fun for the first 1.5 weeks. We then started doing the Ha Giang loop, a 350 km loop leading through the North of Vietnam. Sitting on a scooter for at least 4 hours per day, many many new impressions and changes of scenery.
In Cambodia we spent at least three nights at each place. For this one week in Vietnam we changed accommodation every day. After we ended the loop I started feeling sick and very exhausted. We actually just arrived at a new place and there were so many beautiful things waiting to be explored. But I just couldn’t find any motivation to leave the house.
We met a couple during the Ha Giang loop who said they are stopping their travels after six months because they’ve seen too much and are not able to appreciate the new things they see anymore. During the days of my ‘travel exhaustion’ I understood what they meant. I really don’t want to complain and there’s this thought of not being allowed to feel tired of travelling. But when everything happens too fast it can be too much for body and mind.
We’re not stopping our travels but that feeling made me realize that we should maybe rather take it slowly again. Stay in places for longer and have time for daily routines again (I wasn’t able to do yoga during this busy week). In the end that’s probably better than visiting every attraction of a country.
What comes next?
These days I barely think about my next ‘career’ move, it feels to early. There’s a few visions and thoughts but I have some more things I want to do on my list. A few weeks ago I felt like it should be clear now what I’m doing next, but then I also said to myself: No, you should make that decision when it feels right for you. Also, it’s not even been three months?!
What is planned for the next month is a trip to Laos and then we’ll go back for the island for a while. This is when we think about what comes next.
All in all it has been an emotional rollercoaster being on the road and unemployed for three months. In the first few months I coped really well not being in my job. Then I occasionally started missing being part of my old team and working with them.
Over the past three months I learned a lot about myself though. As my brain is not solving work problems for 8 hours a day anymore I am able to identify my thoughts better. So overall I’m very thankful and happy with where I am today and that I made the step into the unknown.
I’ll probably write a similar blogposts in three months again – provided I’ll still be unemployed and on the road until then. To be updated about the latest changes become part of the journey on Instagram. Until next time!