We are the Planeless Travellers: some crazy young people.
Discover us here!
(PT from the 17th of November 2014 until today.)
Enjoy the Moment
I wondered how long it would take to go from Ghent to Singapore. So I turned to Google Maps and realised it was actually possible to take on such a route exclusively via land.
Work-travel-repeat. At some point I found myself to be in and endless cycle of working my as off to earn money, only to spend nearly everything on travelling. My first real trip outside of Europe was backpacking trough Ladakh in India. I aspired to spend my money on something non-tangible, and a journey like that was ideal for me since I love the mountains. I have not stopped travelling ever since.
In a way, it is difficult to leave my family for such a long time. Emotionally preparing myself for this has been very important. But on the other hand, the time is now to do what I need and want to do. Not travelling does not make me unhappy as such, but I have this urge to travel. In the future, I will probably need a job that involves travelling in order to be a happy camper.
Our journey will be more or less low-tech. Why would I want to skip everything between Ghent and Singapore – which is what happens when you go by plane – if I have the possibility to see everything in between? Not flying is also a way to show how to travel more ecologically. Air travel is of course necessary if you have a set time frame, but we have plenty of time, and we know it is possible. So, why not?
I do not travel to see certain landmarks our attractive architecture. Off course, those things are part of the adventure, but it is not the point. For me, it is about meeting people and interacting with them, about experiencing their culture, because that is what I will remember the most.
We are all very different, but also very similar. It is easy to unveil resemblances within all sorts of cultures by highlighting their differences. The core of any human being is basically the same: we play games, have fun, communicate, and so on. I believe it is important to share these similarities and other stories with our readers.
I am convinced that tourism can bring people of different cultures closer to each other. That is, when approached properly. All-inclusive holidays do not provide people with any interaction with the local community. We can learn so much from each other. Intercultural impressions can help people to have a better understanding and to be more tolerant towards ‘the other’. A decent travel guide can confront tourists with another point of view, whilst playing an important role as cultural translator.
I would love to ski in Iran. That is one of the things I look forward to the most. I am also exited to enjoy the unspoilt nature and the mountains. I am not certain when I will return. I might have done my thing and remain being at ease, but I do not expect me to be fed up with the wide world anytime soon. So if I do return, I will undoubtedly want to leave again as soon as possible. After all, I do this to live my life. Travelling is what I do.
(PT from the 17th of November 2014 until the 17th of February 2016.)
Time to leave the cocoon
Not everyone thought I would have to guts to do this, even though they saw it in me. Most of my friends are filled with disbelieve and a healthy kind of jealousy. A lot of people dream of doing the same, but they do not get around actually doing so.
Our plan is completely bonkers. That is probably one of the reasons why people tend to be surprised. Three years is a long time. When I take a look at a map and see all those countries, it dawns to me: what the hell am I about to embark upon? But the way I have been raised has made me very independent as a person. As a natural consequence, I left my parental home rather early, and I have always managed to take care of my self.
Being emotionally ready is incredibly important. That has probably been the most crucial part of my preparation for this journey. I would maybe not have done this on my own, but planning such a thing with my good friends gives me the strength to do what I have always wanted to do. I expect we have three extraordinary years ahead of us.
Things began to be better as soon as I decided to just be myself and to confront the world with the real me. I became less materialistic, I did not wish to walk the conventional path anymore, … I really became a whole new and happy individual with different and better ideas on life, far away from the world of the average Flemish Belgian. That is probably another reason why I am capable of going on this voyage.
I live up to the saying: ‘to live and let live’. I have been confronted with discrimination, which is something the average white-straight-male will never experience. Discrimination hurts deeply and it has led me to think differently. The idea of bringing anyone down because of who they are is disgraceful and small-minded.
We want to see more than clouds. That is one of the reasons we decided to not to take planes. Travelling the world is something that obviously has to be done via land, in my mind. The journey itself is probably more important than the destination. I mean, it is so much more exciting and challenging to figure transportation out by ourselves. What if some day we are in a truck together with some goats? That would be amazing! It needs to be an adventure, and adventures are not made in an aircraft.
The blissful moment we actually pick up our backpack, walk to our local train station and leave, is what I look forward to the most. Even talking about it makes me all bubbly. Saying our goodbyes will be hard, but I think about what I will get in return: our journey.
I do not want to be limited. I am curious to know how the world goes around, and to see what is beyond what I already know. It is difficult to break out of ones secure cocoon. That is also why I seized the opportunity to do something like this. I expect I will be even more open-minded and have even more respect for other cultures after I return. I am of course not capable yet to understand everything, why people are who and what they are and why they do what they do, but I hope that the next three years will guide me in this. Talking to people, seeing things, can only be good for me and for my mind.
I am not entirely sure if I will return to Belgium. I do not intend to stay anywhere, and I feel good in my own country, but you never know. If I do return, I will probably go back to what I was doing before. I easily get bored, so I tend to be a job-hopper. It is more important to me to just earn enough money to live the life I want and to enjoy the little things in life. To love and to be loved, to have friends, and to be happy will always be more significant than a big house or a ginormous flat screen.
(PT from the 17th of November 2014 until the 22nd of January 2016.)
Live the life you love, love the life you live
It was an easy decision for me. I have always wanted to travel again after I came back from Nepal in 2011. I initially intended to leave again immediately, but that plan fell through because life happened. In the meanwhile, Charlotte and Davy were planning a trip of their own, and as soon as my personal obstacles disappeared, I could not keep myself from joining them.
Everyone who knows who I am understands they cannot hold me back. All of my friends are super excited for me. And they all knew this was bound to happen – they did not expect anything else but for me to leave. Most of my family members do not really understand, but my mom was thrilled. My dad was a bit more wary. Although he never tried to change my mind, he did warn me for the possible hard parts of an undertaking like this.
We have to be prepared for everything and nothing. At first, we discussed lots and did research both together and by ourselves, but after a while, it dawned to us that we cannot arrange a lot in advance. Whether we will keep the route we have planned depends on visa that may or may not be granted, or on how dangerous situations have become in different countries. Also, the more we outline in advance, the more we are stuck to a rigid path. Flexibility is key.
We have the time. That is one reason we are avoiding taking planes. A plane is nice if you need to get far away as quickly and cheaply as possible. Saying that, I do not understand how plane fares can be as inexpensive as they are; people are ruining nature while not even paying for it – well, our children will. And of course, I want to actually see and experience the world, its people and its little quirks. That is not a possibility from a plane.
Alternating culture and nature is the most interesting way to do it, in my opinion. I can imagine that it can be drowning to see, for example, one temple after the other. We will try to keep a good balance between culture and nature to keep it interesting and challenging. The way we planned our journey, I do not expect us to become bored a lot at any point.
I travel for myself. I travel to see, to learn, to gain knowledge, to get a better insight in other cultures. I want to understand other people better, so that I can accept them even more for who they are. I want to get to know myself better as well. I want to push my buttons and broaden my horizon. I want to meet my own limits. My expectations of certain places can be completely wrong. The most ugly city, the most ugly country, can potentially be the most enjoyable. It depends on the little things. That is why I like the idea of maintaining a blog: it is wonderful to have my experiences, great and small, written down as souvenir that I can keep forever.
Life begins at the end of the comfort zone. I look most forward to being away from the vast routine of everyday life and to taking on a challenge. I like to challenge myself. Symptoms of daily life like being stuck or drained sneak up on you before you know it, and it is difficult to free yourself from those conditions. The unknown is what I love. I want to not know what will happen tomorrow, because I enjoy it when life remains a mere question mark. I feel weirdly at home whenever there is nothing around me that I know. A good friend ones described me as an ‘input junky’. I can only agree.
“You will not be home anywhere anymore when you return. You will be a stranger.” That’s one of the first things my dad said to me. And he is right, I will be a migrant in my own country after our journey. Things will be, or at least feel, different. That is, if I ever return.
(PT from the 3rd of august 2015 until the 19th of January 2016.)
Ever wondered who wrote the above ‘About Us’ section of this blog where Charlotte, Davy and Ien are introduced? Probably not. But anyway, here is the answer to a question no one asked: it was me. And since I found it next to impossible to write such a text about myself (I mean, I cannot really interview my own person, can I?) I asked my dear friends to return the favour and to write something about me. This is what they came up with:
Hooray, Hooray a new traveller is joining us! Her name is Yasmin Van ‘tveld, a typical Belgian-Dutch surname (editor’s note: written in such a way no one can ever spell it correctly) that means ‘from the field’. And yes, she was raised in a Flemish barbarian village aka a ‘boeregat’ called Ronse where people keep mixing up French and Dutch. (So if you ever hear her swear in French: that’s why.) No, you have never heard about this place. At some point, (editor’s note: at age 16) she decided to move to ‘the city’ aka Ghent, because she wanted to explore the world outside of Ronse, and to meet new people. Later on, she wanted to become a bigger smarty-pants than she already was, and decided to study at the famous University of Ghent. That’s where Charlotte and her met. Saying that they studied together might be an overstatement. They started off together during the first year of art history, but since Charlotte was not sure how to combine partying and studying yet, she had to redo her first year while Yasmin moved on.
That said, they, of course, did tons of other things together too. Well, most of the time drinking beer, discussing life, and laughing over bad jokes. Yasmin looks like a teeny-weeny girl, but please, don’t underestimate her. You know why Yasmin is so fucking awesome? She is one of those positive people who always says YES! Wanna have lunch? Yes! Wanna go to a concert? Yes! Wanna come to our house party? Yes! Of course, it was during one of our famous apartment parties that she met Davy and Ien as well. You need to know that it’s not hard to like Yasmin: she is awesome, and she is always the first one to be at your party. And of course, no way she left early! She always stayed for the night. (Editor’s note: Charlotte’s bed was very comfortable.) Yasmin is a diehard chick, and if there is something we like, it’s diehard chicks! And then the question ‘Wanna come travel with us?’ came up. Guess what? … The answer was YES again.
It took Yasmin some time to organise herself, but here she is, joining us for a while on a big adventure.
Finally, there are some more things you should know about Yasmin. Read the following instructions carefully:
Yes, she is super smart!
Yes, she will kick your ass if you make statements that do not make sense!
Yes, you will regret you said something racist!
Yes, you will regret you said something about gender issues that’s not correct!
Yes, Yasmin, we are so happy you want to travel with us!
Yes, Yasmin is a Planeless Traveller from now on!
Thanks, my darlings. No need to say I feel very flattered right now. We officially need a female equivalent for ‘bromance’.