Karin-Marijke and Coen have been on the road for 11 years! 11 years! They confess they are Living The Dream and when you do, the money just follows.
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
Karin-Marijke: Throughout childhood I have spent vacations in different European countries like Spain, France and Switzerland but that was my parents. The first country I chose myself was France, where I hitchhiked during many vacations with a girlfriend of mine. When I learned my first French words in highschool I fell in love with the language and the country; the countryside, the culture around food. I find hitchhiking a great way to explore and experience a country, especially when you're open to taking up invitations and spending time with local families.
Coen: I remember going on camping road trips with my parents through Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and Yugoslavia.
The first trip I chose myself was a trip to Italy, to go skiing. I went with my first girlfriend in our Citroën 2CV. Our skies fitted underneath our seats and we didn't have to carry them on the roof. The top speed of the car made that we couldn't keep up with the rest of the party and having no heater made that we were dressed with three layers, gloves and woolies. We played the Seal tape over and over again as the kilometers slid by slowly. It started to snow heavily and bigger vehicles had trouble coping due to their wide tires. We started overtaking them and eventually outran those heavy vehicles with our nimble Citroën 2CV with very skinny tires. After a week of snowfall, the majority of cars wouldn't even start while our Citroën came to life with a shudder, conveniently removing all the snow from its bonnet and roof.
From then on I went on numerous road trips around Europe with cars or motorcycles, but I always remember that first big trip with the 2CV and I think hat my skinny-tire-syndrome is derived exactly from that trip. (note KM: many people, especially off-roaders, can't believe we drive the world in a Land Cruiser with such skinny tires).
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
Karin-Marijke: When Coen and I met in 2002, we were both tired of the rat race. On impulse Coen decided to leave the Netherlands for a long-term trip and asked me along. It was an easy decision: sell everything we own, give up our jobs, and just get away from it all. We had no idea we were about to start a new way of life, but that's what happened: eleven years later, we're still on the road.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
Karin-Marijke: Our base is our antique Land Cruiser with which we left the Netherlands in 2003. Our Land Cruiser is our home, I guess. Our journey is a continuous one, although we do fly to the Netherlands once a year for a 3 or 4 week visit (which is what we now call our vacation…). We are incredibly slow travelers, always needing the maximum time we get on our visa and still find ourselves short of time. A few times we needed a break, and lived on a ranch in Argentina for 4 months, in Suriname for 1 year, and in Bolivia for 6 months.
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
Karin-Marijke: When we left the Netherlands, we sold all we owned. That gave us enough money to overland on a shoestring for the first 3 years or so, when driving from Europe to Asia. During that time a 4WD Magazine aproached us with the request for stories and photos. After we concluded that we wanted to continue this way of life, we worked on our writing and photographing careers, and our work has been published in 4WD/car magazines and travel magazines.
Coen: We get asked this question so often that I jokingly tell them my bank robbery story. “We simply visit a bank, where I carefully lay my revolver on the counter and then ask if they are interested in helping us out. They generally are,” which brings laughter or a look of incredulity until the penny drops.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
Karin-Marijke: Don't prepare too much, if at all, so you're open to what comes on your path.
Coen: Learn the language. I like to connect and joke with the locals and find that it goes way better when you have mastered some of their language.
What does "Living The Dream" mean to you?
Karin-Marijke: Living the Dream means living the way you want to, the way that fulfills you, the way that makes you happy, the way that makes you want to get up every morning because you look forward to that day.
Coen: Waking up and doing what we want to do has become our standard. Living the dream for me means being free. Free to make the choice of taking a left or right turn, to move on or to stay another week at this fabulous [fill in what place you dream about].