The mental challenges of self sufficient traveling

(re-upload from October 2016)

Having the feeling of total freedom and enjoying and the life in nature with all the positive and negative things is what I´m looking for

Doing so is not always as easy as it seems. In this article which I wrote in October 2016 I tried to explain how I felt about chasing after my dreams and why and how I failed as well.
This was written between the Morocco to Romania tour and my time in Patagonia.

Looking back

In only seven days I´ll be sitting in a plane heading to South America. I got more or less everything I´ll carry with me sorted and prepared so the last step I´m now waiting for is to leave Germany again. This article is about my thoughts and feelings about this upcoming trip and also an explanation to myself why I´m once again looking forward to push myself to the limits.

To understand why I travel the way I do we first have to look a little bit back. A little bit more than three years ago I had the spontaneous idea to cross Australia by bicycle. Two weeks later everything was set and I started my first long term self sufficient journey. In 39 days I cycled 3050 kilometers from the north to the south of the country and challenged myself harder than ever before. Physically and mentally! This first bicycle tour was a total life changer for me and had a strong influence on my life from there up. This journey showed me what´s possible if you´re really willing to do something and showed me how body strength is closely connected to your mental conditions.

The first weeks and months after I finished my cycling in Australia I couldn´t imagine getting back to a life on the bicycle soon but after I processed all the new impression and things I´ve learned in those 39 days there were no questions that I would get back on the bike.

Since then I spend another 9 months cycling through our world. Three months in 2015 this brought me from Germany all the way through Scandinavia and 6 months this year from Morocco to Romania. In those months I developed many new skills on the road and learned more and more about myself. What I need to be happy, how to be self sufficient and self responsible, how to live a minimalistic life and how to listen to my body and mind.

All things I´m really happy about that I’ve developed them.

Positives and Negatives

But there are not only positive effects of being on the road in a way I do and most of the time these are the things no one is talking about when they tell you about a journey for example in travel reports, documentaries … .

In 2013 I left my home and about one year later I came back to Germany just to realize that everything had changed. No question in the first few days it felt great to be back to see family and friends but faster than I could ever imagine new feelings I couldn´t handle started to grow. More and more I lost the connection to the area I once called my home and I couldn´t define me anymore with the life in Germany.
I created the feeling in me that I wasn´t a part of this society anymore but I couldn´t really explain why I had this feeling. I felt like I had thoughts I couldn´t share with anyone not even with my people I already know my whole life.

I just didn´t care about things anymore which were normal in my life before I left Germany in the first place. The most normal things in our society suddenly seemed weird and wrong to me and I couldn´t accept them anymore. Mass consumption, hate and stressed people everywhere complaining about everything not realizing how fortunate we are to be born in such a country dropped me into a big hole. The only solution I had to escape this hole was to get back on the bike and this is what I did.

Reaching my limits

The three months while being back on the road in 2015 felt good but as soon as I got back to Germany I fell once again in the same hole. What I did? I saved some money and went back on the road in the beginning of this year.

The first three months of this year’s journey I felt great but day by day an old feeling I haven´t had in a while started to grow again. Suddenly I felt the distance between me and the people I left behind in my old life.
I realized how much energy it took me every day to keep rolling and how much I sacrificed to maintain this nomad lifestyle. I still enjoyed being on the road and totally loved the things I experienced in this time but on the other hand side I had to accept that something in myself was asking me to slow down. In three years I haven´t stayed longer in a place than 4 months and I never found back to my old home.

With the feelings that it would be great to find a new place I could call home for a while, not being in need to think about what I´ll do and where I´ll sleep in the next days, weeks and months I kept cycling through eastern Europe but soon everything came to an end.

Learning it the hard way

Already since a while I kept struggling with my physical strength but I continued my journey until I couldn´t hold myself on the bike anymore.

I had so many ideas where this trip could bring me and I ignored the fact that I would be maybe better for me and my health to stop the cycling. The day after I arrived in Romania I woke up with a blasting headache, hallucinations and a stiff neck and I didn´t really got better in the following days. I went to hospital in Timisoara, a nice not too busy town in western Romania, because I couldn´t help myself anymore. I lost control over my body and my mind.

With no real results I left the hospital again and after eight days of rest in the city I gave it a last try to continue this journey. I only made another 100 kilometers in two days before I finally accepted that this tour needed to be stopped. I lost the control of this journey and the only thing I could think about was flying home. Five days later I was back in Germany after I took a train to Bucharest and a flight from there.

Searching for roots

This trip came to an unexpected end and once again I was back in Germany with no plans what to do there. I kept struggling with my health and but I think even more with my mental status for almost a full months until I finally felt a bit better.
I still have no idea what was going on with me but I´m pretty sure that my health issues were more related to my mental problems than I was willing to accept.

After not even a month I decided to leave the country again which was pretty shocking to myself as suddenly all the strong feelings I had about staying somewhere for a while were gone again or at least I couldn´t find a solution for it in Germany and I was too afraid to fall once again in the same hole which I created in the months after my first travel.

Back to Portugal I spend another months living on an old farm in the north of the country with people I already knew from earlier this year. Not looking forward to get back on the bicycle this year I knew that I was in need of something to do for in winter. Not having an idea what to do in Germany in winter I decided to start one last journey with the target to face and overcome the mental issues I had in the last months of cycling this year.

One more try

One last challenge before I want to work towards finding a new home somewhere. This doesn´t mean that I´m finished with exploring our earth in a self sufficient way.

There´re still so many things I want to explore by my own but I realized that my body and mind are asking for more “normal” life and I want to accept that. Finding a place to settle down for a while and finding a compromise between my old a new life without isolating myself completely from society.

I want to use those 4 ½ months in South America to learn again to appreciate the life on the road and I want to find back to the mental strength I was used to in the last years. Having the feeling of total freedom and enjoying and appreciating the life in nature with all the positive and negative things is what I´m once again looking for and I hope that I´ll make good use of my opportunity and luck of being able to start such a journey.

  • Janis

    I enjoyed reading, thanks for sharing your thoughts, takes a lot of courage!
    Bon vent for your upcoming adventure!

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