Rise and Shine

It is Easter. Sun is shining and kids are collecting the bunny eggs in their backyard over here. For a moment it looks like the normal daily life has restored. Soon enough I am reminded we are now keeping friends and foes at bay on the streets and going for groceries now has become a real chore. I try to shift my mind to happy thoughts and reminisce about greater days where the world was free to roam and we took all this for granted.

Just like Jesus Christ resurrected, I am bringing my blog back to life today. Although it took Jesus only three days to come back with a good story, it has been over two years since I have been sharing any life experiences on this platform. The reasons for the delay might be several. A backlog of my travels in Asia that I kept procrastinating, a big move from Belgium to Canada and finding myself in a committed loving relationship might be a few of those. The bottom line is, I am still as clumsy, adventurous and hungry for travel and the outdoors as before, with now the Pacific Northwest as my new backyard.

Now my passport is tucked far away, collecting dust rather than stamps, I will try to give you a few travel stories from those ink prints I collected. I see it as a way to escape from this grim 2020 travel season and look back on experiences to cherish even more than before now we are have to stay put in our tombs.

Why blogging? I believe this platform is still a great way to engage and connect with people across the globe, especially now when we are all asked to stay at home. It also gives my family and friends an update on how I am doing 5000 miles away from the place I grew up. And last but not least, it is a great pocket diary for later when you browse through these memories. Because that is what traveling is all about; pushing your boundaries, connections, and experiences. 

Stay tuned and stay safe,

Wim

 

Leave it all Behind

Ever dreamed of going abroad for a year to work and travel there ?

Yeah, me too.

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.

These days everyone knows someone who is going/went abroad to another country for a longer time to work and travel. You see their pictures on Facebook about snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, conquering mountain tops in the Canadian Rockies or bungee jumping in New Zealand.

And you think to yourself. I wish I could do all of that.

Well, you can, but you didn’t realise it yet.

Continue reading Leave it all Behind

Year One Celebration in Franz Josef

Exactly one year ago I posted my first blog.

Cheers to that !

I must admit, one year ago I was pretty clueless about what would be next. I just came back home after living nearly a year abroad in Western Canada.

Today I am packing again. This time in Franz Josef, New Zealand and honestly, I still don’t have a clue what’s next.

But that is alright. Who does anyway ?

It’s the beauty of traveling and life in general.

What I know is that I’m getting ready for a new adventure through the land of hobbits with two new made friends, Fernando and Lotti.

I have been spending my time in this remote village for about three months to save up for my future travels.

It’s been a great experience but now it’s time to go back on the road.

And there is a question that suddenly pops up in my head :

Where will I be in one year ?

 

Ten Truths about Traveling

Now we all savoured our christmas left overs and drank all of our champagne bottles it is time to reflect on what is ahead of us. A new year, a new chance to make great things happen.

With all the fortunes and mistakes of 2015 added to my young life, this is what I learned from last year traveling.

1. Life is short, Live a little

Don’t put things off for later. Travel while you are young and free. Relationships, a house, kids… It can all wait. These factors will influence your decision and you know you are just putting things off and that gap year to South America might never happen.

2. You can always depend on the kindness of strangers

I have been amazed sometimes by the generosity and kindness of strangers. You barely know them and they take you in, help you out and leave you with an unforgettable experience. It teaches you as a traveler (with some common sense) that there is still a lot of good in this world.

3. Disconnect from your phone, connect with the moment

Every one of us want to connect with people back home. You want to let them know about your adventures, want to see your niece grow up, want to Skype with your best friend and all of that is great and necessary. But sometimes you might miss out on a great conversations or beautiful views because your eyes are glued to your phone screen. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great thing to stay in contact with people back home but try to limit it to when you get to when you are by yourself or select some moments during the day to do all of that.

4. Travel at your own pace

Especially when you travel with others, understand that every person travels at its own pace. Don’t get upset if you are an early bird and your travel buddies like to sleep in. Take this moment as an opportunity to create some alone time or meet other people or catch up with people back home.

5. The best plan is not to have a plan

Plans change constantly, especially when you are traveling. Don’t try to get too worried about where you want to travel next or in the next few months while you are traveling. You might meet a great new travel partner in the bar tonight or get an off the beaten path insider tip from a local you meet at the harbour. Be open for constant changes, they are a good thing.

6. Sunsets for life

Everybody has a bad day, or some bad days. Life comes with ups and downs. And when you travel, those ups and downs are intensified. You get some extreme highs and might get some extreme lows when you are running out of money, get sick or feel lonely … Don’t worry. You are not alone. Every traveler goes through this stage on his/her journey. But remember. Sunsets are for life. If you miss today’s one, there is always another one tomorrow

7. You win some…

Traveling is great fun ! It opens your horizons to the ultimate. It is a joyride on a road that is paved with awesome adventures.

You will meet people with amazing stories which will sometimes be so close to your own story (not including the crazy cat lady you met at the bus stop). The experiences you will gain during your travels will be something you will tell your grandchildren one day.

8. And you lose some

While being on the road, be sure to lose some as well.

This goes for anything in life.

You will lose money, your sense of time (what day is today?), your socks (trust me on this one), friends from back home and who you met on the road…

It is all part of life and they often teach us some very valuable lessons.

9. Stay Unstuck

While traveling through the Canadian Rockies last summer I met a girl who decided to quit her job in British Columbia and set course for the East Coast to look for a new life with her boyfriend she was going to pick up in Calgary.

We had a great conversation about staying Unstuck in life. Whenever you feel trapped or not happy with what you are doing… just get yourself out of it. You always have a choice.

10. Make good stories

Your life is a good big old book. And you are the writer of your chapters. Some will be good, some will be bad. Some will be long other very short-lived. But make the stories count. It’s all about the stories we have to tell. So make them good.

A new year to tell them – So jump behind your computer, and book that ticket out of your home town. If you are bad at making decisions, drinks some beers and go sit behind that computer again. It surely helps you making a decision about what you really want.

Go travel, go explore – it doesn’t matter if it’s far or the next town. As long as you put yourself out of your comfort zone.

Go meet people, share stories, make memories.

Life matters.

Happy New Year.

Moving (on)

Last night I spent my first night at my new place here in Ghent.

When I drove to my new apartment, which I will be sharing with my longtime friend Claire, I was accompanied by a bunch of boxes. I wondered how I was able to gather so much stuff since I am used to travel with only my backpack for the last year now. How did I go from the necessary stuff to ten boxes of unessential crap ?

I should unpack today but I refuse. The weather is great outside and I need a loaf of bread. I forgot how hard it is to find a store that is open on a holiday in Belgium. I luck out, there is a little store in the city that is saving the Easter dinners of a lot of households. Or maybe it is just my dinner and everyone else is prepared for these kind of situations. No bread left in the store but some rolls will do the trick. Mission partly successful.

I return home and start planning on my adventure for this fall, Australia. I received my work holiday permit yesterday. I was amazed how fast my application got approved. The whole experience is happening in a fast pace this time. But I have a ‘expiry date’ on my adventures Down Under because I am turning 31 in January 2016 so this is my last year I can apply for the Work Holiday Visa Program.

I already made the decision to go abroad again when I was still on my last adventure in Canada.

Making the decision is always considered the most difficult part of the adventure. You have a dream to travel and live abroad but don’t know if it is something for you, if you are strong enough, if you will find your way. I can assure you that you will and the adventure will be worth the risk. All you have to do is take that first step. Make that decision. Once you applied online for the visa or you booked your flight there is no way back. I always kind of trap myself into the situation.

One certain moment I feel like I should just do it. Then I run to my computer as fast as I can and go online and apply or book that ticket. After I paid I am in that ‘hesitation zone’ where I am thinking about my sudden decision but soon after I realise I made the right one and get all excited.

So the excitement is here. And I can’t wait to embark onto a new adventure this summer. In the meantime I will post some of my previous travels on my blog while I keep you updated about the process of my Australian Adventure.

Alright, better unpack all my stuff now.

Home Again (for a little while)

Brussels, March 25th 2015

And then my plane touches down in Brussels.

A whirlwind of emotions are rushing through my body.

Happy to see my friends and family back,

Sad because my adventure is over

Scared of what’s next,

Relieved because I have a plan in mind (more news about this coming soon),

Hopeful to find a job in Belgium soon,

Realistic enough to know returning to the place you came from is not an easy process.

Everyone I know who went abroad can relate with the typical withdrawal process.

You come home from an adventure that changed you for life. Although you left your life behind in a foreign country you are thrilled to see your family and friends back in your home country.

The Fantastic First Week(s)

The first week(s) are awesome ! You see all your loved ones back and you are overwhelmed with people who are thrilled to have you back. Everyone is curious about your travels and your days are filled with the one meet up after the other. Your mom is making your favourite meal, you enjoy the food you’ve missed abroad. All these good times prevent you from thinking too much about how much you miss your other friends on the other side of the world. Another beer ? Yes Please !

The Black Hole 

After an overload of intense hugs, smiles and alcohol things suddenly start to change. People stop smiling, hugs feel casual and the alcohol just gives you a nasty hangover…

I am not talking about the black hole the alcohol left you last night. Always awkward to run into people you think you never saw in your life but they claim that you two had the deepest conversation last Saturday night at the bar. Or when you are tagged in a photo with complete strangers that look like your long time best friends. No, not that kind of black hole.

The black hole you are facing once your homecoming prom is over. The clock struck twelve and everything turns back to the daily routine life. And then you realise NOTHING has changed except you. And soon enough the warm glow changes into a cold shiver.

People don’t want to hear another story about your mountain adventures or that time you encountered a shark while diving. You feel left out for a bit. You feel alone. You want to just leave again.

The Refusal of Unpacking 

And it gets worse. That suitcase you brought home two weeks ago is still in the corner of your room. The souvenirs and some clothes you have been wearing have been taken out of your bag but what is left in the bag is the worst, your momentos. Polaroid photos from a crazy beach party, cards, letters,…You reminisce about that time you went surfing in Australia or that summer fling you had. Damn, she was cute.

You refuse to unpack, you refuse to move on.

The Turning Point

You will start to realise that all this pouting and mourning is getting you nowhere and all of a sudden you will have this small moment that strikes you. It could be having a drink with a friend, a good talk with your sibling, even reading a blog on the internet. You are no longer feeling lost and alone and accept the changes. Slowly the new you starts to blend into society again. The bags are unpacked, the job interviews are lining up, you start to feel good and you are ready to conquer the world again. Your derailed life gets back on track again and soon enough the adventure abroad is an awesome memory you will cherish for the rest of your life.

The Unusual Spin

Then every now and then… there are those few that don’t find their way into society anymore after being abroad. They keep wandering. Their hunger for more adventures doesn’t stop. It is a blessing as well as a curse. A blessing because you keep pushing yourself to grow, to explore the world, to keep discovering new horizons and new cultures. But at the same time you keep searching for this wholeness. You want to belong at some point, you want to settle but you can’t just yet. You feel like there is more in life than this.

If this is you, I would say, keep searching for what you want in life. Stay hungry. Put your teeth in every adventure you can grab. Life tastes good ! Embrace every opportunity. Start living and keep going.

After being home for nearly two weeks I have decided to sign myself up for another adventure. I am stoked already !

You can read all about it in my upcoming blogs. I will also post blogs of my past travel adventures filled with travel tips.

In Transit

Toronto Pearson International Airport, March 24th, 2015

In transit…

That is what I am right now between Vancouver and Brussels.

But in general, my life will probably always be in transit.

I think it all got out of hand during my childhood.

A little beach village at our Belgian Coast was the favourite spot of my mother to go for a little getaway with the family. When I think of that place I reminisce about the times we got ice cream, played pit pat, went go-carting and… that time I ran away to seek new horizons as a four year old. I guess I was ready for an adventure. My mother allowed me to go play in the sand but I had to stay within eye sight. That rule was easy to obey… for a minute. After that I set course and ran where the wind blew. Half an hour later I realised my mistake and how I threw my one rule overboard. I turned around and returned to find my sister running towards me. I smiled and she rolled her eyes. We still do this nowadays.

When I was seven, our class had to perform the play of the Parable of the Lost Son. Of all the kids my teacher chose me to play the Lost Son. I still remember how I had to walk around in church and return to my father (actor) who embraced me upon arrival. My real father still does.  

And that time I went to the playground with the family when I was eight. My parents told me the playground was my arena to play on. I crossed boundaries within minutes and retrieved my concerned mother a little later talking to a lady which I thought was the Queen of Belgium (Queen Fabiola). My mother was upset and I felt a bit guilty for leaving her. That hasn’t changed much now.  

A group of friends bring me back to the present when they throw their bags on the tables in front of me. They are waiting for their connection to Vienna. I ask myself what their story is.

What about my story ?

I am a 30 year old restless soul who is looking for adventures. Always and everywhere. I have lived abroad a couple of times in my young life and I have created this blog to share my past and future experiences with you with the inevitable clumsy edge.

Where I am now ?

I just packed up my life in Vancouver where I was traveling and working for the last six months. Not an easy task but I guess you get used to it after a couple of times. I have traveled this way for a while now. Get a foreign temporary work permit and build myself a life abroad. Even if it is for a little while. A home away from home, if you can call it that…

I check the time. 6.15 PM. I still have 30 minutes until boarding starts. I decide to slowly make my way to the gate. Once I arrive at the gate I notice there is practically no one there. I glance at the gate screen and see ‘FINAL CALL’. My heart skips a beat …  I run to the gate and luckily I can still get on board. When did that happen ? Probably between my daydreaming and future planning while I was listening to Ben Howard. But I am not the only one to arrive late.

I have a window seat (always a win if you ask me) and no one in the seat next to me (double win for an overnight flight). Always fun to see the world from outside your window.

This journey has come to a close. Jet Airways, bring me back to Belgium !

Time for a new adventure.