This is the story of Olivia and Alex
They are nomads since 2012 and an example of how you can trade something you do not like in your life for something you do. They have lived 30 something years in Romania, and chose to start a life of traveling. They are in their 30’s, both graduates and together since 2011.
Why I write their story?
Because I believe in change when you feel stuck and I believe in living off the grid.
I know Oli and Alex for 5 years now. She was working as a bank clerk, he was an IT specialist. Oli was my friend before Alex appeared, so I know that she was daydreaming from her bank desk. She wanted to do something else rather than come every day to the same office and stare at the same windows. She did not have the courage to do that alone. So when Alex showed up, and had the same desire to escape…they have dared to do it together.
So here they are, in 2012, quitting their jobs and deciding to take a chance and live off the grid. Did they have money? Where they prepared to do it? No. They had just enough savings to buy plane tickets to the destinations they have chosen for 2012. For food and daily life they used a credit card, and were paying back bit by bit.
Were their families happy with their decision? Not really. It took them years to accept, this could be their life style.
They have started their traveler lives getting house sits with the website trustedhousesitters. They did it for 4 years and still do it.
The interview. Amsterdam, July 2016
How you felt in the beginning when you started to travel
When we started traveling in 2012, Dubai seemed like reaching the moon. None of us had done a lot of traveling before. I was working in a bank, spending most of my day in an office. What dazzled me were the winter months. I was going to work at early morning hours in pitch darkness and coming back too late to see any daylight. My life had 3 actions then: work, gym, home, rewind.
When we met, Alex was already a fitness trainer in his free time, and was thinking of eventually living from it. We created the account on trustedhousesitters, applied for the first house sit and headed to Spain. I did not know much about pets, but knew I would manage.
Where did you travel these 4 years
In Europe we were in Spain – Valencia, Malaga, Sevilla; Germany – Munich; England – London, Manchester,Sheffield; Italy – Rome; Belgium – Bruxelles. In Asia, Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia.
Which was the shortest and longest stay
2 weeks the shortest and 2,5 months longest
What do you dislike about traveling
You know the buffering time…the first 2 days when we arrive in one place and the last 2. When you arrive in a new place, you need time to accommodate, find the shops where to buy food, understand the transportation system, get the idea of daily routine that suits you best.
All these years of travel have increased your desire to see new places or the opposite
It decreased it. We became slow travelers. It is more important for us to stay longer in a new place, and get the feeling of it, than change places more often. For example, now that we have seen Amsterdam, I do not feel the need to go and see a similar city. we need to stay at least 3 weeks in a place to feel comfortable.
What makes a place special and interesting for you
The people is what makes us stay longer or shorter in one place. The social interaction we have is very important for our comfort. For example in Germany, we did not make any friends…with one exception..but we were not speaking German and we had a hard time connecting with the Germans, so we decided to leave because of that. If the people are open, friendly, we build relations and a small universe around us. Even if its new every time.
Where do you meet new people to interact with
In the fitness studios mostly, then in coffee shops or meet up events for foreigners.
What do you feel you have gained in all these years
I feel we could live and find our way anywhere in the world. We have enriched our horizon and have less, infinite much less fears about going to new places and starting a new life somewhere.
Do you feel you will settle down one day
Oli: I fear, I will no longer be able to stay too long in one place, because traveling causes addiction to being dynamic. It is a hunger for new.
Alex: I would stay in one place if it would be rich in social networking. I mean, friends, people sharing our interests. I do not feel my home is Romania. It can be anywhere.
Your work is done from the laptop. Which are your favorite locations you work from
Well, we definitely like coffee shops. We find some that we like and go there sometimes daily, and work for hours. It’s like going to the office, but in a different way. We have also often worked by the sea, or a pool, when the home we sited had one, like in Spain ..or from home, where ever that was
How was your financial situation when you started traveling
We had some hundreds of dollars in savings and a credit card. We saved every penny the first two years. We were checking price tags carefully when buying anything because we needed money for the flights and they did not come cheap. But then things got better. We both have websites, writing programs on body training and nutrition. We worked hard to get some online books ready for sale and when we did, money started to come. Slowly in the beginning, very slowly, but we did not give up. Now, we have enough income from our online sales to live from it.
Websites that you use most
Airbnb – to book rooms when we have day gaps between our housesits, trustedhousesitters for our housesits, meetup – when we want to meet travelers like us, blablacar for eco traveling and nomadlist.
The best moments of our travels are definitely making new friends along the way: talking business and personal development with Steve in Spain, having sandwiches with the friendly Toa’s after our long flight to Dubai , working with Piet and Julia every morning from a small cafe in Kuala Lumpur where the baristas did incredible coffee art, training on the beach with Zoe and John and cruising on the crazy sex street in Patong at night, Christmas Eve dinner with Craig and his amazing wife and kids watching a great sunset in Phuket or simply meeting my lifelong friends in the cities we visited. so, yeah definitely making friends.
My worst travel moment was for sure being robbed on my first day in Bali and feeling totally vulnerable and without power watching the motorcycle run with my bag and memories on my phone. In the end it was a good lessons to be more vigilant, but the feeling of helplessness and shock gave me panic attacks every time I heard a motorcycle sound for weeks. Other than that and maybe a few sick days from bad food, we hadn’t had other memorable issues during our trips.
Plan for 2016/2017
Everybody asks us: what’s next??? The thing is we are really not sure about what’s next, but the big picture of the plan is to travel to Thailand, the Philippines during the cold winter months in Europe and if we are lucky get to experience the cherry blossom weeks in Japan and visit Shiori from Tokyo, another one of our travel friends.
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