We are going, it is really happening! Sunday the 11th we will fly to Kilimanjaro to start our 11-month adventure around the world. This is something we had on the horizon for quite a while. Because of Corona we moved the start date from June to October, and since it looks that the situation will not change for a while longer, we have decided to make the best out of it and just go!
Our obsession with triathlon and travelling in this weird time brought us to the name of our blog Tri to Travel.
The first question we get from many people when we mention that our trip is happening is:
“Wow ok.. how is that even possible with Corona?”
“How do you plan where to go after Tanzania?”
“Aren’t you scared to get sick?”
Well.. it is for sure possible to travel! Maybe not the way we had it planned initially, we have to be quite flexible and go with the flow. Which makes me (Josien) even more excited, because planning is definitely in my top 5 of least favorite activities 🙂
So, let us tell you how it all started and how we dealt with the Corona disappointment and how we plan for departure.
Time off from our jobs for one year
We both have quite some experience spending time in other countries. Franklin had an obsession with countries already since a very young age and he lived in the South of Brazil. Now he lives in Switzerland and has already been to 64 countries. And I grew up in The Netherlands and never planned to discover the world, but it so happened that I spent quite some time in New Zealand, St. Lucia and Malaysia and since two years I live in Switzerland together with Franklin.
And as most things in my life are not planned but happen based on feeling, I started working at SAP, about 7 years ago. I had never heard of SAP before and it was a chain of coincidences that led to this. I love working there and never thought about the option of taking a year off. But when Franklin and I were on vacation in Brazil (2018), only two months after we met, we really had the time of our lives. If that vacation would have kept going for a lifetime, we would have been the happiest people alive. Then and there we decided that we should plan for a trip around the world.
When the timing of the trip became more concrete in our heads, the point came that we had to inform our managers and ask for their support to make this possible. I seriously was so nervous for this conversation, because what if she would say no? Do I honestly have the balls to leave all security behind and quit the job I love so much? Franklin and I had agreed that if our employers would not support the idea of a sabbatical (meaning that we still have a job when we come back), we will quit our job and apply again upon return in 2021. After the call with my manager I felt so relieved, as she fully supported the idea. Same for Franklin at his work & this seriously shows how great the companies are we work for.
And then Corona came, all countries in lockdown, borders closed. During this time of lockdown, we had to make the decision if we wanted to continue with the idea or cancel all plans until there is a solution for the virus. As we saw soon enough that this will take a long time, or will never come, we decided to go ahead and try to travel.
Deciding on the destination
We love the outdoors and soon the idea came up to buy gravel bikes and travel countries where we can cycle. One year of cycling, trail-running, hiking, swimming, diving and being active – this is a dream!
The initial idea was to divide the year in “4 blocks” of 3 months. The first block would be to cycle from Morocco to Gambia (Franklin LOVES the head, that needs to be said). From there we would fly to New Zealand where Josien would race the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, but of course this race is cancelled. Then Christmas and New Years Island hopping in Polynesia, Micronesia & then back to New Zealand when the summer really starts. Cycling from North to South and spending some quality time with the family in Taranaki.
Then from New Zealand to Nepal, India and Pakistan for hiking, good food and probably the biggest culture shock. And then the last part would have been in Brazil. Back to where it all started in the North-East & some Churrasco and fun in Treze Tilias with Franklin’s family to end a year abroad.
Well, now that rough idea is in the bin.
So how did we decide on Tanzania?
Franklin honestly looked at the list of countries that are “open” and have relatively limited restrictions. Another requirement was that it should be warm and the right season (so not constant rain etc.) Then we already very soon put Tanzania on top of the list. It’s warm, relatively safe to cycle, open for tourism, and… we will probably still be on time to climb the Kilimanjaro this year. We haven’t booked this yet, but will do so upon arrival, depending on the weather and possibilities. But so far that all looks good!
How to plan in the current times
The amount of money I lost this year on Ironman races that are postponed, flights I could not take etc. is something I do not like to think about too much.
With this in mind & also the constant changing Corona regulations, we decided not to book any flights until about one week prior to departure. It’s just too much hassle to arrange the refunds, credits etc. and to constantly deal with the disappointment.
This way of planning is how the whole trip will most likely be. Decisions on activities, flights, destinations etc. will be made relatively last minute, so we remain as flexible as can be. And since we travel by bike & will spend most of our time in the outdoors, we are really not afraid to get sick. Well that is not true, we are slightly afraid, but mainly for Malaria, food poisoning, etc.
So it is happening, we take a jump into the big unknown!!
Together, with our bikes.