#001 IRRESPONSIBLE?! - Driving from NL to Turkey during the first months of the pandemic
Welcome to this very special podcast episode. In this episode, we share how we came to the controversial decision to start driving with our 1,5-year-old son from the Netherlands towards Turkey during the first lockdown of the pandemic in 2020. We explain why we considered our travel plans to be a responsible decision despite the strong condemnation from friends, family, and outsiders. We even were called out in the local media as irresponsible, dangerous, and very disrespectful people especially towards nurses and doctors who were and are fighting the disease every day. This podcast is about our view of taking life-changing decisions even during times of corona and keeping true to yourself despite strong opinions from the people around you. With this episode, we aim to bring you inspiration of what is possible even in these times and how you can surpass fear and breakthrough not only limiting beliefs in yourself but also from the people around you.
So let's start and take a deep dive.
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I can still see those words “irresponsible, dangerous and disrespectful people“ printed in the local newspaper, read by all our friends and family, it even led to a big discussion with the father of Gerben. Everyone had an opinion and wasn’t shy to ventilate it. We surpassed the fear around this at that moment very new and scary decease and kept true to ourselves: We would drive from the Netherlands to Turkey during the first lockdown and no one could stop us. We just had to, for us it was a necessity and we turned it into the road trip of our lives with lifelong memories.
Welcome, to the feel the breeze podcast. All about living your best life, through spirituality, energy & mindset
Raw, honest & a little controversial from time to time.
We are Gerben and Rianne from the Feel the Breeze family, we document our lifestyle on Youtube and we build our income around our dream life. We created our reality, our best life in the Covid times. We sail around the world with our son while expanding our businesses and investing in projects and startups that have a positive impact on the world.
And on this podcast, we share our stories and experiences, so welcome on board.
Today we are recording this podcast in quite a magical place in Turkey, we are anchored right behind a rock formation called five Fingers. Everything here feels like it came straight out of a fairy tale, The rocks have these amazing vertical shapes that look like fingers, and straight in the middle of where we tied up our boat is a tree high up on the rocks, just growing straight from the stone with his roots finding its way. The three just look exactly like the tree of life. And below in the water where our boat is we have these amazing turquoise blue colours and we experience a small fresh breeze. Which causes little waves and also a nice gentle rocking rhythm with our sailing yacht. And if you hear closely you can properly hear in the background the little waves rolling onto the rocks. We hope it will give you a soothing and relaxing vibe.
And on this special day and at this amazing place we would like to talk about the decisions that made all of this possible, us being in this magical place with our sailboat during these corona times. We want to talk to you about our decisions to make a road trip from the Netherlands to Turkey in 2020. We decided to take this road trip during the first days of the lockdown. We want to share this decision and journey with you because there are so many aspects and layers around us taking THIS decision and the whole journey towards Turkey.
Things like the opinions of others, fear, restrictions from governments, uncertainty, fast-changing circumstances, living life on our terms, intuition, social pressure, judgment and we can go on.
The beginning of our journey
But first, we would like to take you back to the end of 2019. We just returned to our home in Amsterdam after living 8 months on the Mediterranean Sea. We had this amazing time living full-time onboard and sailing from Valencia Spain to Bodrum Turkey with our son Benjamin of 3 months old when we started. It was a journey of a lifetime and a lifestyle we never wanted to miss again. Living so close to nature, seeing different cultures, and connecting to beautiful souls from all over the world was and is for us really and truly living life.
Although at that moment in time we thought our best lives would be living 6-8 months on the sea and the rest of the year in my apartment in Amsterdam. But it didn’t take us that long to change our minds….we were just two weeks back in the Netherlands in my apartment in Amsterdam and we already were longing to go back to the boat and live on the sea. We just didn’t fit into the rush of the city anymore and we were having trouble getting back into the dutch culture and typical characters. We just had seen so much of the world, spend a lot of time alone with nature, and connected to so many open-minded and spiritual souls that - and this is how we experience it - the judgemental and narrow-minded vibe in the Netherlands was just something we didn’t want in our lives.
Quite quickly we took the decision that we would like to live all year round on the boat, sail for 3/4 years around the world and find our home somewhere where just feel like it fits. In the end, we think we will find an island in the Pacific where we will settle down. But as we already know from changing our lives upside down several times, we don’t stick too hard to our plans, we just sail as long as we love it, enjoy it, and as long as it suits our best life at that moment and phase in our lives.
And this is actually what it is all about, we as human beings transform and change in so many ways and so do our best lives. It is up to us to be flexible and open-minded and ready for change, to welcome the new and unknown, and just to explore what our best life is at this moment and phase we are in right now. And if this means you will do something different than you are doing now or you change everything in a year or just a few months again, that is just more than fine. And yes people will have opinions about you changing your life ‘ again’, but they will have them anyway even if you don’t.
And of course, it is not easy to not be influenced by the opinions of others and we struggled with this as well, especially in my younger years I was very tide up around what others might think of me trying something new again and again and again. And to be honest I have tried a lot of different things so I really can understand that others had a lot of opinions. But with keeping true to myself, and feeling how happy I was with every decision and turnaround I made, even the ones that didn’t go so well. Like my first marriage which didn’t take more than 8 months and my first business that costed me over 60.000 euros. But in the end, even those decisions and experiences gave me so many priceless life lessons. And with just keep taking all these decisions over a certain amount of time I just didn’t notice or cared about the opinions of others about my life, my happiness, anymore.
It is just so important to live life for you and not for others or their opinions or what you think their opinions might be.
I know for a fact that I can be of much more help and serve others when I’m happy and feeling amazing. And as said people will always have opinions.
But back to our decisions to live full time onboard our sailing yacht in December 2019. We took this decision not lightly. We listened to our intuition and what made us feel great. This is the foundation of every decision we make. And of course, we don’t jump head over heels in life-changing events, just because it feels good……we also make lists, we think about the consequences of the good and the bad, the impact it will have on us, the people around us and the environment . And after all those lists we always go back to our feeling, and this will always be the decisive factor. It is so important to be connected to who we are and what makes us truly happy. And when I started to make decisions based on my happiness, in the beginning, it felt very unnatural and even selfish. Growing up I learned to always think about others even in such a way the others came first. But since I started to choose for myself 10 years ago I realized that choosing for yourself is far from selfish and it is actually the opposite.
We experience it right now even more. When we feel good we have so much more positive energy and can give so much more to others than when we wouldn’t put ourselves first.
And the beauty even by choosing for ourselves we inspire others to make more of these decisions as well.
It is true that when you are in a good place your happiness will be contagious, you will inspire others and give that energy to the people around you. Which for us are the most beautiful things in life.
And of course, choosing for yourself especially with big life-changing decisions as living on the boat full time, it will have an impact on family and friends. And they will not like it at first, because it is people's nature to hold on to the known and want to keep everything the same. But in the unknown there is growth and we believe in actually doing the things that fear us, that there is change transformation, and happiness.
So with us taking the decisions to live full time onboard, we did have grandparents that were not overly excited. And you imagine being a granddad or mom and seeing your son or daughter with their one-year-old kid after 8 months being on the sea to only hear that soon they would take off again and this time for a couple of years - will not make anyone overly excited. But in the end, the only thing that any parent wants most is seeing their kids being happy. And living on the boat made us happy, although all the things we needed to arrange to start living full time on the boat didn’t hahaha..
We took the decision in December 2019 and we set a date to move to the boat: the end of march 2020 (and you probably could have guessed, that didn’t happen). But setting the date and taking immediate action after taking the decision are the most important parts of taking any life-changing decisions: you first have to write it down to get total clarity than stay connected to and be very honest about your feelings and tackle fear, and final keep momentum after taking the decision strongly with massive action. And setting dates, to-do lists with milestones is one of those that helps tremendously well. We even put on every wall of the apartment whiteboard paper with all our milestones, to-do’s, and plans, and on everyone was with the date us moving onto our sailing yacht with smilies. They were our vision boards and daily reminders of where we were going.
And of all those daily reminders there were a lot of things that were on our to-do lists: The biggest thing selling my apartment and all our other belongings. Which needed to happen at the end of March. And all of this happened just when we first heard about an outbreak of a virus in China - and it looked so far away that we never even gave it a thought that it might have an impact on our lives. So we put the house on the market, sold it within a week, and 3 weeks later we would hand over the key.
But on the day Rianne was signing the contract, there was an outbreak in the Netherlands, and soon after everything went in lockdown. There were Corona outbreaks all over Europe and a big one in southern parts of our home country. And just a few days later the whole of Europe was in lockdown and all commercial flights were canceled. There was no way we could fly anytime soon to Turkey to our sailing home and we had to leave the apartment within 2 weeks.
This was when Rianne suggested the idea to just start driving towards Turkey and make a road trip. Maybe not all borders would be open already, but we figured out that they will eventually - because tourism is such a big and important part of every countries economy. And that was the moment our plans for a road trip through Europe during a pandemic started. We choose to to not stay and wait until it maybe we pass, we changed our approach and found a way to get to our sailing home and we decided to even make the best out of the situation. We both would love to do a road trip with a land rover defender in the future, so we just decided to buy one and make our journey towards our sailing home in Turkey the best road trip we could have ever imagine.
And this is when we took immediate actions again, which helped us to keep momentum and not lose ourselves in doubt or what others might think.
I remember it as it was yesterday. We were in bed and said to each other yes let's do this, let's buy a Land Rover defender and drive towards Turkey.
And within seconds Gerben found this offer of a beautiful white Land Rover Defender which was indeed if you are following us for a while on Instagram or youtube, our Defender Lily. When we saw her on the internet we just knew this would be the car, this would be the defender which will bring us to Turkey with amazing off-road and off the grid experiences. Because that was actually what our best road trip would look like. And of course, we not bought it straight away, we did some research, did an offer, came to an understanding about the price and we checked the state of the car.
And just 1,5 weeks later we were the very proud owners of a land rover defender. We moved all our stuff out of the apartment and into our new driving home and we were set to go. We stayed a couple of weeks with the parents of Gerben, to say goodbye to everyone and we waited until the first border in Europe opened up. We knew that when one would start others probably would follow and we just had this strong belief and faith that we would figure everything out along the way.
In this period a lot of people stopped their travel plans and came back to the Netherlands with all special and very expensive retrieval flights. And a lot of people were telling us, what the heck would you start driving when others want to get home and are having so much trouble to get here. And yes we could have looked at what others were doing and do the same or just follow our intuition and choose for our happiness. And indeed we choose that and decided to start traveling. during a pandemic and partially lock downed Europe.
A lot of people talked about us and our quite controversial plans. Which led to an interview by the local newspaper and we were sketches as if we didn’t think about our plans and that although borders were closed we had this idea we would be special and could cross when others couldn’t. Which of course wasn’t our idea at all, but a lot of people read it and so after that article, the judgment and opinions of others started to take over and entered our lives very abruptly..
I can even still see those words “irresponsible, dangerous and disrespectful people“ printed in the local newspaper as a public reaction to our interview. Which of course was read by all our friends and family, it even led to a big discussion between Gerben and his father, who was of the similar options that we should not travel and that it was not respectful or responsible. And just everyone had an opinion and wasn’t shy to ventilate it. In the end, what we noticed is that a lot of people were just ventilating their fears.
Fear about the disease, not being able to return home, what will you do when you get sick or die, you should not be traveling, it is not allowed, you don’t respect doctors who have a tough job keeping everything together, you will make others sick, etc. and remember little was known about Corona at that point in time, and the media was taking it to a very high fearful engaging level with all their publications and even now up until today.
And even though there were indeed a lot of insecurities. We surpassed our fear and that from others. And yes it was a very new and scary disease but we know from experience that taking decisions based on fear is never the right one. So we kept true to ourselves: We would drive from the Netherlands to Turkey during the first lockdown and no one would stop us. And for us I think you could even see as if it was a necessity, we just wanted to get home, our sailing home. Just like all the stranded people abroad who got special expensive retrieval flights to get home. The difference, our home was a sailing home and it happened to be in Turkey not a regular home in the Netherlands. We just decided to go home and we turned this whole challenge of no possible flights for us to Turkey into the road trip of our lives with lifelong memories.
And the other option was, waiting for more than a year. Now you see all those people and families that abruptly canceled their travel plans are starting traveling again.
We just have this saying that time is precious we don’t know if we have a tomorrow.
In the end, the death and injury rate of taking part in traffic is still a lot higher than that of Corona. Don’t get us wrong we are not saying that everybody should ignore the rules and go on holiday. No, we actually took almost all the rules around Corona into account. We wear masks when we had to go inside buildings, we kept our distance from the elderly and people who would want that, we lived basically in quarantine during the whole road trip - which was also the basic idea of our road trip - camping in remote places and being one with nature. So for us getting sick or making others sick, chances were really small and way higher if we stayed in the busy city of Amsterdam.
Next to that we also choose to focus on living very healthy, we focused on our diet, exercising, and keeping our immune system in top-notch condition. Which for us is still the best way to prepare ourselves to not getting sick. And staying at home, eating badly not exercising finding yourself feeling mentally worse every day are in our humble opinion the biggest risks of getting sick.