They fly away while it gets chilly… They come back with the first rays of spring sun. They simply disappear from our environment when, well, winter is coming (so, they are like storks, not Starks 🙂
Home, office, picking up kids from school, home, dinner… and all over again. People happen to fall into this routine; they happen to clench their teeth to survive through winter, waiting eagerly for the first spring sun. People happen to do this in winter… But not the people you are about to meet. In their lives there is no winter.
Ewa and Romek from Krakow are currently running a blog Gonimyslonce.pl. (“we chase the Sun” in Polish). For the first time they fled from the cold of winter four years ago. And as you know, the first time is the hardest. “We wanted to fly around the world that autumn and travel in such a rhythm to always hit the spring and summer time, in each new country. And it would take us about a year. So first we had to close a lot of things such defending a thesis at college (Ewa), or quit a full-time job (Romek). And we yet had a flourishing private music school in Krakow run but Ewa and it wasn’t easy to find replacement for a year. Still, “Where there’s a will there’s a way”, right? So the company finally was in good hands, a month after giving up work and a week after Master’s defense, we got on the first plane. Bound for world without winter.”
Without winter and definitely without routine. During their travels Ewa and Romek visited China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Easter Island, Argentina, Brazil, Sri Lanka and the Republic of Cape Verde. This year they hit for Thailand. “Flying to Bangkok we didn’t have any definite plans. We only knew that for formal reasons with the visa we will had jump every 30 days to neighboring countries in order to get another stamp in passports. And we took the first trip form Thailand to Burma because it was the country we really wanted to visit for years. We have now stayed a long time in Bangkok. It is a very nice city with many possibilities. Moneywise, it is most economic to rent a flat for several months and turn it into a base from which to go to different sides of the country – from the paradise islands, to the historical temple complexes. It’s so diverse and attractive country that there is no place for boredom here. And we know there is always more to discover every next trip outside Bangkok. Inside Bangkok, however, we had a lot of work. We both have our laptops here and we develop our passions and skills, we work, and, of course, we run the blog. And thus we’re able to overwinter in, apparently, the hottest city in the world. :)”
Budget economizing is a trial for every avid traveler. Sometimes it calls for real art to manage and organize everything to make it to the spring.
For a travelling photographer, Mariusz Stachowiak, years of experience equipped him with the well-developed system.
“My first method is “the 5-zloty coin consequence”. What is it? I collect all 5 zloty coins in the box and I am consistent in this. (5 zloty = 1,2 euro) But it sometimes takes years before you open the box.
Travel taught me saving and sacrificing some things that just turn out to be unnecessary. I learned to spent little on clothes for example. When I see a cool sweatshirt in the shop, I ask myself, if I’d never seen this hoodies, whether I’d want it or need it? The answer comes quickly. It’s a simple math. You just add.
I am also lucky because for two years now I’ve been getting support from a sponsor with my travels. My photography and actions were spotted by one company, which now supports me in my projects.
I have also learned that, while on trip, I can work as a photographer already there on the spot taking pictures in exchange for accommodation, internet access, food. Examples abound. In Malaysia I happened to shoot photos for advertisements of the hotel I was staying in. Four days of luxury accommodation and catering (at least in comparison to my usual travelling conditions) was like a rich man’s feast. Now, my idea is that when I get to a small hotel, first I shoot some two, three illustrative photos and show them to the manager, the owner, and then come with an offer.
Besides, my previous journeys work for the future ones. If give lectures about my adventures and all thus earned money add to the budget for the next trip.
Money is important but not most important… If someone wants to go, there’s always a way, and if they don’t want to go, there is always an excuse.”
Mariusz runs the blog Oderwany, (“Taken”), where you can find not only his photography, but also most interesting narrations. He has so far journeyed through Asia, Central America, and now he is in Africa. He does not travel just for places. “I travel mainly for the people. They are most important to me. I love portrait-photography and I do it in my travels. That’s why I go around. I think that nice views are for everyone, but glances are for the chosen. I create projects and develop them. In Cuba it was “IN SEARCH OF THE AMBASSADORS OF SMILE”. I brought hundreds of portraits of the Cuban people, and with their stories. Now I am doing “THE AMBASSADORS OF THE FACE OF GAMBIA” (play-on-words in Polish: ‘Gambia; is homophonic to ‘face’ in Polish). The project has also a hidden agenda… At the moment I won’t reveal it. Feel free to follow my blog for it though. Soon it will uncover the secret. “
Ola and Florian from Lodz and their two children decided to spend the winter on Bali. And are busily describing this on their blog Alltogetherblog. Why did they decide to leave Poland for winter?
“You might as well ask why we travel. Hard to say. I think it stems from the need to satisfy some sort of deeply hidden anxiety. We have stayed much abroad and always after a while it turned out that the place where we were, although great, somehow did not come up to our notion of paradise. Those imperfections came out only after some time, when the initial feeling of novelty and freshness faded a bit. And then, we hit for somewhere else. Now, for three years we have lived in Poland and for the first time it seems that this is for good. Yet it is impossible to suppress the appetite for adventure and jumping into interesting corners of the world. So, this winter we left for Bali to live there for a wile and experience the culture and atmosphere of the place. We went also to prove to ourselves that adventure has not ended, that we can escape the routine of everyday life. We do not want to be satisfied with the middle class achievements. So want to get away from the bourgeois schemes that we probably fall into other ones, those rebellious… 😉 This winter trip is like manifesto to us, but also endurance test for our bank account and organizational capabilities as well as our mutual interdependence. Wile on trip together you have to be like a compact cell, efficiently cooperating units. And you really need to like one another.”
Not always all goes smoothly according to our plans. Ola and Florian learned this hard way.
“We were hoping we’d maintain ourselves on small freelance assignments. But it turned out impossible. We did not expect that the sum of tiny unfavorable conditions might build up into a solid obstacle: the Internet was weak and we did not have a place to work (a desk and a chair have can facilitate concentration after all), children were with us all the time and, of course, it kept to be scorching hot.
We also felt some burden with the house and cat we left in Poland. Although we had found someone who lived in our house, yet it still did not prevent burglary. And the cat had to me moved to live with my mother.
The school things also did not go so easily. We had to apply for permission to switch for home schooling. And so we had to write masses of applications and go through many consultations. And in the end, we had to get tons of school utensils, textbooks and notebooks.”
Sonia and Martin from the blog Mary w plecaku (‘Mary in the backpack”), have been traveling with the child since Mary was born. So they have had time to manage to sort things out…
“We have organized our life in such a way so that we were able to hit the road at any time. All we need is time to pack, close current affairs and give farewells. As for job, we are able to switch our work-mode to remote. We have regular customers and are able to fulfill our assignments with them wherever we are. So travelling does not limit us professionally. We teach Marysia in home-education mode, and each trip provides her with a new dose of experiential knowledge. Family and friends have got used to our lifestyle and some even follow us themselves. When we go for longer time, we offer our apartment for rent. All works good. Yet it hasn’t come as a result of some happy chance. We always knew what boost our lives and what we want to do with them.”
The traveling People-Birds do not see their journeys as holiday trips. They just live their lives, whether in Poland or abroad.
“So far, we have always overwintered in Asia. We stayed in Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, meanwhile visiting many other countries. But these are not winter holidays. In the place where we live, we rent a house and we carry on with pretty normal life: we work, we school Marysia, we cook, we shop, we wash, we meet with our neighbors, we go for weekend trips. Life as usual.”
The sheer desire to travel usually suffices to trigger setting out on a journey. But… not to everyone.
Maga Korbel, a teacher of Mindfulness meditation, went to India for the first time in 2011.
“The main reason for this journey was my craving to meet Muji in Tiruvannamalai. And… to meet myself. And… to build some distance to a place in life I was then in (and it was a pretty difficult and painful place). I thought that India would give me answers to what to do next…
And soon Tiruvannamalai became to me a very important and magnetic place. The place to which I knew I would be coming back. There I have well deepened my practice of meditation and have been learning myself. Many well-known teachers come here to teach. And the place itself is ideal for practice.”
“In India, especially in the south, the winter-time is warm and bright (unlike in Poland) which is, I guess, yet another reason for my trips here. It is also cheap and the food is great. On the other hand, life is not easy here – with all that dirt and noise. Also, Indians cherish different customs, some of which are difficult for us to accept. If it wasn’t for the magnitude of what I really learn abut myself here, I wouldn’t come here so eagerly.”
Well, winter is slowly passing by and soon Bird-People will be coming back to their nests.
Mariusz always takes some time for “re-domestication”: “After returning, I need plenty of time to settle back. What awaits me are: downloading hundreds of my photos, a visit to my electricity supplier to apply for re-connection of power (yes, I forgot to set up direct debits). These things happen. While planning a journey my plans already include the not-so-easy start-up time after returning. I mean time and money. I secure the means to have financial stability for at least a month. It allows me to come back to reality stress-less. Returning from a journey, especially when you do a project, does not end on the return from it. Photos and notes need to be edited and catalogued, and after taking a deep breath and getting some distance I prepare the materials for publication and presentations. For some time now, my travels have consequently resulted in lectures and exhibitions.”
Ola and Florian returned earlier than planned: “If someone leaves for the winter, it’s actually best to be back in the spring. Yet, we ran out of money. And back home some issues aroused that only we could solve. So we had to pack and return ahead of time. A thermal shock and a long jetlag weakened our immunity. And we all got sick for a moment.
Returns have silver linings, too. For example we start to truly appreciate what we have. We are pleased, calm and super happy.
Also our perspective of receiving the world has changed. The globe has shrunk, nations got closer and differences blurred. Our dear planet became more dear to us – we saw how much is at stake.”
For Ewa and Romek, returning from a journey is as beautiful as setting out on it: “As we love to travel, so we love to come back! All those longing souls around now so happy at our sight, own bed and bathroom… And the fridge is full of things you love and which you cannot get easily in other countries… The fairy tale! And the work? One waits and operates at constant rhythm (Ewa’s) and the other can quickly be found (Romek’s). These are not times when one job is for life! So when one knows what they want in life and have clearly established priorities plus a pitch of self-confidence and… Everything becomes easier!”
People leaving their homes for winter each year face a real organizational challenge. All, however, agree that it gives them energy. Sonia confirms:
“Travels recharge our batteries, open our eyes, learn a new outlook on life, help you enjoy every day, arouse curiosity… They do not let us doze off, slip into stagnation. We cannot imagine a day that we are not planning a journey ahead. Something always needs to be cooking… :)”
If you want to learn more about our travel companions, click to their blogs:
Ewa & Romek Gonimy Słońce
Mariusz Stachowiak Oderwany
Ola & Florian z dziećmi alltogetherblog
Sonia & Marcin with Mary Mary w plecaku