Dreams are meant to be pursued. Not postponed.
You know that feeling of super excitement, that make your eyes sparkle, that makes you derive all you energy towards it, that makes you loose sense of time and any other nonsense occupying our days? For me that comes from exploration. In the broadest sense. I developed an extreme curiosity for discovering new cultures, places, adventure sports, and particularly, the ocean. For 11 years now I’ve been slow travelling the world. One adventure at the time.
Are you struggling with making your adventure travel dreams happen? Perhaps I can give you a little push in the right direction by sharing you my story.
The story behind endless adventure travel
My first big achievement during an outdoor adventure abroad occurred when I was 8 years old. In a wild river, somewhere in the Belgian Ardennes there was this ‘BIG’ Rock, just sitting there (read: small stone in a river). It just had to be ‘climbed’. So, with my little pink rubber boots on my feet I hopped into the water and climbed that rock. I felt on TOP of the world and screamed so loud out to my parents: “I’m standing on a rock!” They still put this in the postcard every time I take off to explore. Nothing has changed ever since.
I followed the path you’re ‘supposed’ to take. I was 17 when I finished highschool. I wanted to go travelling but everyone told me not too. “I should study something” (everyone, 2003). Young, privileged and full of assumptions, I listened and I went to university. For two years I surely had some fun but studywise I wasn’t getting really excited. I didn’t feel like I was learning something useful. Was this it? What do I learn this for? I want to explore! “Shouldn’t you maybe quit your study?” Said mum (yes MUM!). I didn’t even consider that was an option that narrow minded and conditioned by ‘the system’ I was. Around that same moment one of my best friends took me on my first snowboard holiday to France. Wow! That excited me. This tasted for more. So ciao studies and hello five month snowboard season!
This big outdoor adventure abroad opened up my world and mind completely. I was in 5-month flow state. From playing in the snow in the Alps I went to another few months of tasting salt, surfing at the Atlantic Coast. I did go back to studying but it had to be something international so I could somehow stay in this adventure flow. So I did.
One of my best friends said to me this week: “For me, you are the master of manifesting your dreams.” That’s eventually the idea of a dream, right? To make it happen!
Dreams are meant to be pursued, not postponed. I’m dreaming a lot about exploring this world. So the latter is what I’m doing. Now.
Step by step I create a lifestyle around my curiosity for the world and became driven to not just have fun, but to do more.
I roll from one adventure into the other. This doesn’t come from luck. In essence it’s willpower and determination that gets me out there. The last 11 years this has brought me to every continent except Antarctica. I’ve been trekking the Peruvean Andes; I learned to kitesurf
like a pro in Tarifa, the outdoor playground of Europe; I rappled caves in Brazil, I’ve explored depth learning freediving in Indonesia and Bonaire and can now set up my mermaidschool, I hanged out with the locals in Tonga paradise, hitchsailed across the Atlantic Ocean and back, and keep hitchsailing until I’ve learned enough to build my own sustainable boat. I don’t see myself as a traveller. I find travelling shallow, exhausting, and expensive. I go on long-term adventures with many small adventures in it.
I usually stay in a place for a few months, if not ten. But no day goes by without doing something outdoors. No day without play! I explore places by living them local style. It makes me able to experience the real essence of a destination, to get to know the cool local spots and places, its culture, its people. I always hope and try to make some local friends. It’s the people that make a place. At the same time I’m doing work I find fulfilling and contribute to the local scene at the best I can do. That may be the most important thing I figured out after all these years of slow traveling: Whatever adventure I’m on, it has to be meaningful to make it rewarding. The world is facing so many challenges. I’m so fortunate, healthy and time-wise wealthy. I’m so lucky to have been born in Holland, to have a passport and a family that has been able to raise me to a healthy and educated kid. I have to not only be part of the solution, I have to create solutions. In Peru I helped Andean communities develop small scale tourism experiences; In Tonga I researched about tourism and adaptation to Climate Change; I helped the island of Saba to become more sustainable; In Indonesia I worked with locals helping them to get the word out about their small tourism business; and during my sailing adventure I took watersamples for OceanConservation. Now i’m more determined than ever to save our oceans. My sailing and freedive exploration has made me see the serious sadness our ocean is facing. It’s really bad and needs attention. I’ve realized it’s not at all about me. It’s about passion, drive and above all: purpose. Dedicated time is what we need now to find and create solutions so that we, our kids and the rest of the animal kingdom will actually have a lifetime on this planet. The one thing we can’t buy is a new planet and we’re currently using the one we have like we’re having two of them. So I dedicate my time to saving it, while being in and on the ocean as much as I can. That’s what keeps me energized. By telling you all this, I also hope to kick your ass to make your dreams happen, meaningfully. We only have one life, make it a good one! Not only for yourself but for those in need and those to come.
“Do you have a money tree on your back?”
Looks like it, right? The number 1 most asked question I receive, is how do I finance all this? I finance life with time, love and dedication. It doesn’t cost much money. My lifestyle is at a considerable lower cost than the average person who asks me this question. I choose to live with little to gain more freedom to explore. Time is so much more valuable than money. We can always make more money but never more time. It requires some shift in thinking, creativity, proactivity, and adaptation but it makes life so much more rewarding. We’re so programmed on making money and being productive. For what? to buy stuff we then put in the trash and then gets trashed back on our plate? To get a burnout at age 30? To become a millionaire and start living like one the day your body doesn’t let you anymore? I don’t own stuff and I find this extremely liberating. No house, no car, no furniture. Just some kitesurf and freedive gear and a computer so I can share the fun and make an impact. I couchsurf, hitchsail, housesit, and boatsit: win-win situations with no money involved. I don’t book hotels. I do some research, join the local community and ask around how a local does it. If they can live from 300$/month, so can I. And so I did. I’ve lived months for less than that. I’ve lived until I only had 1 peso for one more coconut left. You can live for days on 1 coconut. Enough time to find a solution. There’s alway a way. I help people, they help me. Exchanging skills and services is what has got me very far. And I’m Dutch, being cheap is a skills that’s in my blood ;). But really, what do we need? I rather invest in memories. I wish I could become some 500 years old, just to experience all the things I would like to experience. It’s unlikely that I reach that age so better use my time wisely, conserve the ocean for those to come and having a blast while doing it.
At the end of the day I of course do need some pesos. On my recently launch portfolio website: The Oceanpreneur I’ve put the projects I’m working on. Through this travelblog, my sailing travelblog, consultancy work in sustainable tourism, sailing expeditions, a book about hitchsailing, freedive teaching, and an occasional nerdy freelance gig I facilitate the adventures. Sometimes I earn some pesos, other times simply the experience. Patreon might be the next thing, where people can support you on a monthly or ‘creation’ basis. There is ALWAYS a way.
What dream are you going to make happen? and what legacy are you going to leaving behind?
“If it can be dreamt, it can be done” – Walt Disney