As the title says, I have had a request from a follower via email to share more about who I am, how I got here and where I am going. All these things that have not been fully covered in the blog as of yet, and were totally overlooked by me! I hope they don’t mind me tagging them in the post, but it’s a great opportunity to share another fantastic blog that is full of adventure and of course climbing! So here it is, have a look and enjoy CJ Outdoors .
This page was initially set up as a diary for me, and also as a way for friends and family to keep up with what I’m up to. However, over the short time this blog has been live the plan has started to change in the hope that this will become a little bigger and more varied in content as the months roll by. So I will lay this post out with questions followed by answers. If anymore questions pop up put them in the comments!
Did you save up?
This trip had been in the pipeline for over two years prior to actually leaving. I was working as a teacher and Jess a graphic designer. In both these careers we were both gaining experience and putting the foundations down for the future. Even though we were both earning average salaries, we were both struggling each month with the excess in bills such as rent and utilities, although Jess managed to put some money away, I was just making ends meet, and sometimes not even that. I had savings from from a previous venture, where I had bought and converted a barn in the south of France, and this was keeping me afloat.
Eventually I quit my job teaching as it was all too stressful, and having a real impact on myself, all too often I was bringing the stresses of work home and this was having effects on my personal life. It had been doing so for a while too, however I was just to driven to succeed in teaching that I nearly blindsided myself.
Once I left, I became self employed and continued to finish my teaching qualifications, as I was nearly finished and it may come in handy in the future. Self employment meant I had less money and my savings were dwindling each month, luckily Jess was doing better and was able to save. As part of being self employed I brought the van that is now our home, and when we brought it we were aware that it would be getting converted for a trip.
At the end of the year (2016), which also signalled the end of my teaching course, I stopped working and went full time on the van and Jess set up herself as a freelance graphic designer. This way we could steer our dream of living vanlife full time, stop spending money on bills and travel the world.
It was not until May 2017 that we set off, the van took longer than expected, with many bumps in the road as seen here Bloody Van! I was pretty much skint after spending all my savings on just living for the past couple of years, although Jess had managed to save a decent amount that we reckon could keep us afloat.
As well as this, on the trip, Jess continues to work as a freelance graphic designer on our days off from climbing, so our income on the trip is supplemented by this. So far this is helping our monthly savings expenditure by half-ish, which is great news. Unfortunately, I do not have any skills that can help me earn whilst on the move, so at some point in the future we may have to set up shop somewhere and I will have to find employment, but we shall see what happens. Once we have completed a few months on the road I will do a post about general living costs in our van, as we will have a better idea by then and will be helpful to others who are thinking/planning on doing the same.
How long will you be away? Where do you want to go?
We plan to be on the road just short of a year, before we have to come back to the uk to resort our lives and also re certify the van MOT, insurance and so on, you can read more about what we needed to do, to be prepared for a year abroad in a van here death by Insurance As for the van itself, it’s built to be off grid, and so far we have been self sufficient and have not paid for a single nights sleep, parking or accommodation. It’s also comfortable, and so far van life is agreeing with me (read about my happiness here).
The initial plan was to go to a wedding in Albania, however this faltered somewhat with difficulties with insurance, so we changed our plans to stay in Europe. We have a bucket list of places we wish to visit, such as the alps (we are here now), Italy (Dolomites, lakes, Venice etc), Croatia ( for the climbing and scuba diving), Spain and Portugal. I’m sure we will visit other countries along the way and other places, however the key reason behind this trip is to climb. Whilst we were working, we felt that our lives were controlled by employment and even when we had time off, we were often too tired to climb and just wanted to rest. So this trip is an opportunity to catch up on years of missed adventure, and to have some in the bag for the future when we enter back into society.
Neither me nor Jess are great climbers, but we love it all the same, and each location that you travel to gives you new views and horizons, with the opportunity to visit local places and is often situated you in places of natural beauty. Each climbing location is different, with different rock types and formations, add to this the thousands of individual routes that can be climbed it’s all too much and I’m looking forward to every minute (apart from when I’m hanging on for dear life, with disco legs jiving all around).
As well as the climbing, we are also both scuba divers, and this trip is a fantastic opportunity to develop our experience of diving around Europe. It’s also an opportunity to dive outside of UK conditions, and maybe actually get some decent visibility and diving conditions. There is also the hope that we can meet friends and family on the road, it will be nice to see some faces from home and the past.
Later in the trip we may go further north on our way home, although this will depend on time. As far as the future goes, past the end of the trip, I guess we will have to take stock, and spin new ideas, or just jump on the next adventure or opportunity? Who knows? We would love to travel to America, Yosemite, Canada, New Zealand, the Himalayan ranges and so on… It really is a blank slate and to be honest I kind o