Living the dream - the couple working out of their van as digital nomads as they travel around Europe
A Dutch couple are living the dream of travelling around the world in a an 32-year-old Volkswagen motorhome with their pet dogs, while working as digital nomads.
Jeroen Bosman (33), who runs a creative agency, and freelance journalist Hedwig Wiebes (31) left Amsterdam last October to set off on the trip. They sold their house and almost all of their belongings, and are currently travelling around Europe in their van, nicknamed 'Chewie,' with their dogs, Tommie and Olaf.
"The reason we do this, is not only to be able to explore all these places this world has to offer," they say. "It’s also because we want to see what it’s like to not be part of today’s society’s rat race anymore. We don’t think living in a van is better, per se, but it does grant the possibility of discovering an alternative, less common, perspective."
The adventurous couple met 15 years ago in an online chat room, and conducted a long-distance relationship for the first two years as Hedwig had just moved to the south of France with her parents and sisters. Once they were reunited, they swore they would never live without one another again. They miss their friends and family while on the road, but being able to remain in touch through WhatsApp and Facebook, and the occasional Facetime conversation, makes it a bit easier.
Has travelling around taught them anything as a couple? "This trip has really taken our relationship to a whole new level," they tell Lonely Planet. "We’ve always been perfectly okay with being on top of each other, during holidays for example., but sharing 80 square feet is another ballgame. We’ve really noticed how much we value our own independence. It’s sometimes hard because we’re very much in each other’s energy fields, but we try to keep busy with our own thing, and not interfere too much with that of the other. Also we are starting to learning to not act out on each other when something goes wrong."
Although Chewie is an old van, Jeroen and Hedwig say "she has been acting like a hero," although every now and again she develops a problem with her coolant system. Nor are there any complications bringing the dogs with them, although Tommie is allergic to grain and needs a gluten-free dog food. The huge bag they brought with them will run out in Morocco, and they haven't come across places that sell their regular brand yet.
After Morocco, the couple think they will head to the UK and Ireland this summer, after taking a little while to drive back through Spain and France. As they are working from the road, they say that a lack of good internet can be tricky, particularly when Hedwig has looming deadlines for articles. "It can also sometimes be hard to find a nice balance between working and making money, and discovering the places we’re travelling in," they say. "There’s so much to see, but alas, this is not a vacation where we can just do anything we want."
Jeroen and Hedwig have been most impressed by Sagres in Portugal, because the beaches and cliffs are amazing. They loved El Rocío in the south of Spain, where the streets are made of sand. "While driving through it, you totally get the feeling of figuring in an old Western movie, saloon doors and all," they say." There are many horses too and almost every house has its own wooden bar to tie them to. Morocco, where we are now, has turned out to be a big surprise as well. To us, driving through the Atlas mountain range was incredible. One moment you find yourself in scalding Marrakesh, and the next you’re a few kilometres high and find yourself amidst snow."
The couple say that their travels have taught them that the people in different countries are so much more alike than they’re different. Their advice to people considering a similar adventure is not to let themselves be held back by fear. "If you feel travelling is something you really want to do, just do it and don’t think too long about the consequences and what might go wrong," they say. "One of the very first and most valuable lessons we’ve learned along the way is that you simply can’t control life. And when you let go of this restraining idea, the most wonderful things happen. Those are also really the themes we like to think and write about, on Instagram and on our blog. We hope to inspire people, by letting them know there’s a world out there and also one much bigger inside of yourself - one that’s also awesome to discover."