Ten months ago we couldn’t imagine writing this blog yet. But now, almost one year later it is there. Our roadtrip, the thing we had been looking forward to for so long, came to an end. Driving our last kilometers over the long German autobahn, were kilometers full of mixed emotions. We weren’t ready to come home yet. Not ready to unpack all our stuff. Not ready to clean everything and not ready to think about what comes next. At the same time we were so thankful for the great time we had, the lovely memories we made and for the stuff we learned. Furthermore, our mountainbikes were exhausted and we completely worn off our hiking shoes. So it was time to go home.
Not how we imagined
However, there was one thing that made coming home twice as hard. During our last month, one of us got sick. While camping between the beautiful mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, to be best discovered by the 10-day hike called ‘Peaks of the Balkan’, energy levels dropped and hikes became shorter. After two weeks without improvement, laying in the rooftop tent and hoping for better days, we decided to head home three weeks earlier than we originally planned. In this way the end of our trip came more abruptly than we hoped and we quickly had to switch between traveling and going home. For the first time we couldn’t stick to our travel plans, but we will save Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia for a future journey.
Nevertheless, the few spots we had this month were great. From the gorgeous Valbona Valley we drove to Kosovo where we first passed the impressive Rugova Canyon to end up in the tiny village of Guri I Kuq. We had a great camp spot close to one of the best restaurants of last year. We ate absolutely delicious traditional food and stayed three consecutive days chilling and chatting with the people doing the ‘Peaks of the Balkans’. While leaving this place it got interesting as there was an unofficial border crossing from here to Montenegro. Sadly, our by the locals inspired attempt to manoeuvrer between the big rocks at the border failed and we had to do the longer official route. In Montenegro we spent some final nights on a little campsite near the spectacular Mrtvica Canyon before we started our long drive back home. A short Burek-stop in Bosnia, a doctor visit in Croatia, a coffee in Slovenia’s capital, Kaiserschmarrn in Austria and breakfast in Germany made us the fastest country hoppers of July…
Learned more than one year in college
Looking back, this year was absolutely awesome. Even though we stayed ‘close’ to home, we have seen so many different environments, people and cultures. It has definitely been one of the most educational years of our life. New ideas, visions and worldviews are not something you learn in college, but you have to go out and experience the world yourself. Talking to locals and fellow travelers gave us new insights. From Moroccans believing in the American dream to Kosovars praising their daughters and from travelers spending 100 euro per month to people driving trucks 100 times the worth of Jack. The world is full of interesting people, all living a different life, and all finding their own way of happiness. Besides that, being on the road for so long also develops you as a human. You gain self-awareness, boost your problem-solving capacity and learn about what really matters in life. All our experiences made us often realize that it was a true luxury to have the chance to explore the world for this long and enjoy every day to the fullest.
Our most important gear
Okay let’s be honest, we need to write a paragraph about the most important gear. After one year of living in a tiny car, you find out that a human doesn’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. Just make sure your necessities are of great quality and you like them, and you can get rid of the rest. For our trip there were a few main items we couldn’t miss. First of all Jack performed absolutely great and we drove more than 16.000 kilometers without any main trouble. The second main item that we couldn't miss, was our Dare to be Different rooftop tent. Every night the tent was there to keep us warm and dry. After a while we started ‘feeling’ the tent and then it became the easiest thing to handle. Building and packing took less than five minutes and we could tackle the strongest winds with some easy tricks. We never had any issues with our bedroom, so only love for the tent. We will miss our brown rooftop tentie a lot…
Would we do stuff differently?
Going on a travel this long took some preparation in gear and routes. After this year we can happily say that our preparation was successful. On the way we didn’t change anything about our entire setup and every day it seemed to be durable and practical. Also the route was a good one. Sadly we couldn’t completely finish it in the end, but overall it worked great. From the desert in Morocco to the snow in Switzerland, we enjoyed every destination. However, as a recommendation we would like to add the idea of a Dutch pair we came across in the last week of our trip. Just like us they traveled for ten months and drove down to Morocco first. From Morocco they drove further South until Ghana from where they took to boat to Athens, Greece. This definitely adds the ultimate Africa-experience, but prevents the biggest hassle with African Visa. Furthermore, you avoid a few cold European months, but still have the interesting Balkan experience. However, you will miss ‘Bella Italia’, but if you can live with that this is one of the best routes we have heard over the past year!
We loved sharing all our experiences with writing this monthly blog and updating our Instagram channel. We are thankful for all the enthusiastic reactions of everyone who followed us along our trip. We hope you enjoyed it just like us! The end of this journey doesn’t mean the end of our dreams and stories. Soon the feeling of going on an adventure will come back and a new project is already in the garage… Plans are already there, but first we will live normal life for a bit more. We hope to see you soon at one of the camping fairs where we will join the Dare to be Different stand! :)
Ciao on behalf of Jack and us,
Siebe en Jelle