This week, while working on our website, the goals we have defined for this expedition caught my eye. Before we left, we wrote down things that are of value to us and we would like to achieve during our trip. Being exactly 6 months on the road, I thought: this is actually a good time to check up on these! Are they still important to us and how do we think we are doing?
Here they are:
Travel & See the World – Be Together with our Kids – Inspire you! – Learn new Stuff, Worldschool our Twins – Cuddle a lot of animals – Live slower – Be nice to Mother earth – Work/Volunteer with our Hands – Have less Stuff – Be outside a Lot – Eat new things – Meet nice People – Wear Flip/Flops all time – Laugh & Have Fun – Be happy
Hunting for Experiences & Gathering Memories
Let’s see how we are doing! Are we on track? Do we need other goals?
Having a first look at all of them, we still get very excited; we still want to live that way, 6 months on the road didn’t change us that much ;-). So, that’s an easy one! Let’s check the goals one by one.
Travel & See the World:
So far, we have been to 6 countries! Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Andorra, (Back to France, Back to Spain, haha) and Portugal. We saw so much and we made so many great memories, can’t believe it fits into only 6 months! The different landscapes, beautiful nature, from beach to mountain, food, cultures, it’s just amazing that this is on offer all so nearby to each other in our Europe. And sometimes we even dream of destinations in other continents.
Be Together with our Kids;
Seems like an easy one, of course we are together with our kids. Totally: 24/7! And that is such a pleasure most of the time and sometimes just hard work. But there is also difference in being together, like in the same room, or being together, like really listening to your kid, really seeing it and getting to know everything there is to know. So, on the first one; check! On the second one, not always easy and work in progress! We’ve already got to know our kids much better in these 6 months, but always room for improvement here 😉
We hope we are doing this 😉 We try to tell our story on Instagram and Facebook and more and more people are ‘following’ us. Which is great! Sharing day to day pictures of beautiful landscapes & beaches, as well as ‘everyday vanlife’ shots; we like to show you how it could be if you get your family packed up in a campervan (or car or plain) and just have different goals and a different pace of life for a while. You only have more or less to spend 18 summers with your kids, right? So, let’s add some extra summertime! If there are people following us and getting the travelvibe by us, or light that spark that’s in them already, then we’re very happy. The more, the better. From time to time, we actually do get feedback from people and families that they indeed do feel inspired by us, or are happy to see our true stories of day to day vanlife, or feel reassured in the choices they make to travel with their kids. Just great!
Learn new Stuff;
All 4 of us have learned so much! Of course about the countries we visited, but also about ourselves and each other. About living in a small place together. About daily vanlife and how to get everything going all the time. I mean, making sure there is enough water, enough food, a clean toilet, enough power, diesel, a working van, clean clothes, ‘cleanish’ campervan etc. Alex has learned to drive Jacky, a bit better every day. So pround of him! We have improved our Spanish and are now starting with Portugese…a tiny tiny bit 😉 While working and helping out, we’ve learned a lot about building houses, having a veggie garden and we’ve also learned more about taking care of animals. The kids learn so much new stuff every day, I can’t even begin to describe it…so I won’t! But it’s a lot! 😉
Worldschool our Twins;
Our kids are young and they like to play all day. We are not really sitting down ‘playing school’ with them. But by playing and doing everything together with us, they are learning all day! Currently, they are very much into numbers and letters and they just want to know EVERYTHING we know. We have 2 little question machines in our campervan: ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Why?’, it never stops 😉 Although sometimes it can be a bit too much (‘Why?’ ;-)) and it’s a bit annoying (‘Why?’ ;-)), our 2 ‘life-learners’ are very keen on learning and doing everything themselves. It’s great to be part of this learning process! And it’s also great to be able to just sit down together if we feel like it, like at 14:00 hours on a Tuesday afternoon and just play quartets or another game and read a book every evening before jumping in the bed. We start to think this is normal, but actually it’s very special; weren’t able to do that this much before.
Cuddle a lot of animals;
In France we have cuddled so many cute farm dogs and cats. We looked after Anmar and Myan (2 super cute cats) while housesitting in the French Pyrenees and we were very fond of Bubble and Dizzy while workawaying in North East Spain. We cuddled with a lot of dogs from other campervans, or farmers, or campsites along the way. And then there are also other animals, like cats, horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, rabbits, cows, sheep and so on. So, Yes there have been many animals in our lives the last months. But not enough yet! So we are looking for more housesits. We have more cuddles to give!
This is still a difficult one. While it looks like we are just enjoying ‘the beach’ every day, we have busy days…Taking care of our 2 toddlers 24/7, planning our trip (where are we going tomorrow?), cooking, washing…the whole lot ánd working every day. We still feel we could/should slow down our pace a bit more. But then again, we are curious people and we like to do and see a lot. In Summary; our life nowadays is a lot slower than what it used to be, especially for Alex who had a demanding job. And we feel life’s good when it’s just a bit slower 😉
Be nice to Mother earth;
We try to do this by being conscious with water, we hardly buy any stuff, we almost never eat meat and are now trying to lower our cheese consumption as well. Which is not easy at all! We love cheese (and some other dairy products), but not the way most cheese is produced these days. We try to buy organic, which is not always easy in Spain and Portugal. We try to leave the places we use to spend the night cleaner than we found them. And trying to limit our use of plastic and sort our garbage. But the last two things we find pretty hard to do, and living in a van doesn’t make it much easier. Being much closer to nature this half ya ear also has made us even more grateful of the beauty earth provides us.
Work/Volunteer with our Hands;
We helped out a bit in Spain and France already, but are always looking for more opportunities to help and learn. Hope we find some nice places in Portugal!
Have less Stuff;
Well, if you compare it to living in a house, we don’t have much stuff at all. In the last year we have said goodbye to a lot of stuff. However, nowadays we still carry things around that we don’t use. So, we could still do with just a little bit less stuff 😉 And a good one for not having ‘too much stuff’ (what’s the definition of ‘too much’ btw?), is not buying new things; it really helps! 😉
Be outside a Lot;
This one is easy, we are almost always outside! What a fantastic experience is that. Soooo much better than being in an office and car for almost the full day. The outdoors stimulates your body & soul. We had luck as well, with such good weather, almost 6 months of summer you could say. Of course; Autumn and Winter will be harder, but even then; Being outside a lot is just nice and we love it!
Eat new things;
We tried some yummie new stuff in every country so far. Mostly in the alcohol and pastry deparment. Not too much, budgetwise, but enough possibilities to get a sense of the local flavours. Can’t wait to taste more new typical stuff!
Meet nice People;
We really hoped we would meet people along the way, we weren’t really sure this would happen. But it did! It was a surprise to us that social media, like Facebook and especially Instagram is perfect for this. You get to follow likeminded people and when you’re close to each other, it’s easy to meet up and exchange experiences and thoughts and tips & tricks. All very valuable and fun. We know social media is not all good and has some downsides, but this is most certainly a big plus! We feel so blessed to have met so many nice other families along the way! The kids have made many friends already! On every instance, It has been a tremendous pleasure to spend time with the company of likeminded people and families.
So thank you: Miep, Flip, Nanouk, Joot, Roan, Evi, Patricia, Simone, Sofie, Mila, Hans, Jackie, Sally, Mike, Grahame, Jo, Irene, Rogier, Lilou, Phileine, Jolie, Jarno, Sabine, Tilan, Anouschka, Victor, Liv, Spencer, Jos, Heidi, Boas, Fera, Jona, Noél, Liza, Janine, Thijs, Bas en Bo! Hope we meet all of you again somewhere!
Wear Flip/Flops all time;
Yes! I did this and it feels great, never want to wear anything else again. Next step; Barefoot? 😉
Laugh & Have Fun;
Good one, this one. No, we are not laughing and smiling all day, we have days….omg we won’t go into detail 😉 But that’s just life right? It’s not because of vanlife we have ‘these days’, although if you have a bad day you feel like it’s because you live in a crampy camper van with 4 people and you would never have such a day in a normal house. Which isn’t true of course! And the good days outnumber the bad ones by far, so it’s all good! I am trying to relax more, destress more, ‘I-don’t-have-to-do-something-usefull and am allowed to just sit down and enjoy live and the kids’ more. It’s not an easy one for our western-mindset-programmed-nurtured-people. But, we will get there!
Of course, we had our happy moments back in the Netherlands, but it’s different now. At least for me. Happiness can just overflow me now, coming from nowhere. Just walking in a beautiful forest, on a nice beach or when I see some old ladies chatting or feeding pigeons on a little bench. It’s just this being in the now, not thinking about anything else kind of feeling. It’s increasing day by day (Yes!) and it doesn’t involve any consumption of sugar, coffee or alcohol. Just pure simple happiness. It’s great!
For Alex it’s the same; the luxury to live life just a bit slower, and with the four of us in a basic way, close to nature, is such a pleasure and makes him really happy. Having the time for a coffee (yup: still some coffee ;-)) while sitting next to our playing kids ;-). OK, that’s the happiest part. Of course, he’s not always happy; less happy when the kids are full on for 24/7, or the van has issues, or much work needs to be done late in the evening/at night, haha; also normal life elements, right?
Do we need some new goals?
We are discovering that having some alone time here and there is not only nice, but kind of necessary. We didn’t have much ‘me-time’ (OK, we hate the word too, but what else to call this?) back in the Netherlands, but we did have some. Living in a van with your kids makes it even more difficult. So, we make it our goal for the next months to plan some alone moments every now and then for ourselves. Like a little walk on the beach, reading a book or having a coffee without a kid on our lap 😉 Let’s see how this works out!
You would think we don’t have any worries or things to take care of?, but let me tell you this: If you go a bit off the beaten track, there are lots of choices to be made! And non of them are very easy or straight forward. That’s because ‘the system’ is not really build for people who live in a van. So, we don’t fit any boxes. But our new goal is to just explore more, talk to other vanlife families and have faith it will all be fine in the end. Whenever that will be 😉
Do some sports;
Haha, having twins around you all day feels like top-class sport, so we maybe we can check this one. But it would be nice to do some more sports like swimming, hiking and biking. Without kids ;-). I can see a link with ‘me-time’ already 😉
Hunting for Experiences & Gathering Memories
So, to summarize; We have experienced so much (mostly) nice things and made so many great memories already. If we look at our Instagram page and see all our pictures we can’t believe it’s us. Doing this for real, living our dream, traveling/working and living in a campervan with our kids. And we are just starting out! We really are VERY lucky. A Happy Family 😉 ready to continue with our Expedition!
Have a great day!
Alex & Inge
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