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.
And yes we know some people have died even young and very healthy people from Corona. As with every other disease, and yes the pressure on the hospitals is tremendous, and we should do everything we can to help them out. But for us, the solution is not making us ill mentally and physically, and putting all human beings in private jails - because that is what is happening with a lockdown.
And we know that we are going to upset a lot of people with this and that there are a lot of people with different opinions which we truly respect.
We just think about this, what if you knew you only had one month to live, what would you do…..and just think for that matter of all the people who are terminally ill and are stuck in hospitals or their homes and don’t get to spend their last days as they would like to or even holding their loved ones and saying goodbye.
So we know it can be far worse, but we also know that it can be way better.
We don’t live to be safe, we live to truly live life in every aspect
And the only thing anyone can do is just keep true to living life on your terms with tremendous respect to others.
On the road
So we prepared ourselves and Lilly our defender for the road trip in such a way that we could live as remotely as possible and even go in quarantine whenever necessary. We slept on top of the car on our roof tent, had our small kitchen, freezer, and water. We were fully prepared for driving during a pandemic and if necessary we could always rent a house along the way. We felt confident and started our road trip by driving into our first country to cross - Germany - even though all borders after Germany were still closed. We had to stay there for 2 weeks and then finally the borders towards Austria opened up and we were able to cross…..and so we enter Austria stayed there a couple of weeks and soon after more borders opened up and we were able to drive again. And so we got slowly every day a bit closer to our sailing home in Turkey, Along the way we changed our driving plans quite regularly, And we soon figured out to not plan any further than a couple of days because every week there were so many changes in borders opening up and closing again, new entry procedures, certain nationalities were not welcome anymore, etc. We adapted our sailing planning lifestyle, you have a rough route and your sailing plans change daily with the weather and with driving with corona.
We never would have thought about this before we left, but we documented the whole trip on Instagram and YouTube and because of that we got connected to so many people who were helping us out, giving us tips, and supported us every step of the way. We have seen some of the most beautiful places and met amazingly welcoming people because of that.
In total, we crossed 9 countries, drove 4000 miles, and made thousands of memories. We drove through magical mountain passages, along lakes that only you see in fairytales and the best coastal roads we have ever seen.
But nothing was as beautiful and emotional for us as seeing the Mediterranean Sea for the first time after leaving the boat in Croatia. We had to take a detour because we weren’t allowed to pass Slovenia. But it was all worth it.
The Mediterranean Sea is very special for us it feels like home after sailing around for more than 8 months. Yes, indeed it felt like coming home when we saw her, that feeling that every decision we had taken up until that day, brought us there, almost home again to our sailing yacht. Every piece of the puzzle fell in place, it was one of those moments that you not only know but feel in every cell of your body that you are doing the right thing.
At that moment we were halfway towards our sailing home in Turkey and enjoyed the trip so much. Being so close and together with Benjamin, watching the sunrise and sunset, sleeping with the three of us in our rooftop tent, and having an adventure every day. We got into our routine of vlogging, enjoying the new life of being a YouTuber, and being free and independent.
The only thing we had to do was doing groceries and putting diesel in the Defender. For the rest, we were completely self-sufficient. We met amazing people, had a campfire with a family who drove with their Defender all the way to Oman, and met a Dutch guy coming back from India with his Land Cruiser. All kinds of people who stepped out of the system, you can call them misfits but we see them as living artists.
This road trip was more than seeing amazing places and getting to our sailing home it was a spiritual and mental journey and not easy from time to time.
We showered in rivers, made diner on campfires, got lost, were afraid of weird noises in the dark, couldn’t travel any further because borders closed again, we even saw a blood moon in its full glory - Gerben first thought there was a big fire - but we had all these amazing experiences, we connected to mother nature more and more, Benjamin played every day outside and on the most amazing secluded spots, we meditate, we argued, we laughed, we cried, we went inside ourselves and grew closer to ourselves every day.
When we were planning our road trip a lot of people thought we would never start driving, that we would change our minds and just wouldn’t do it. But we did, we stepped into this new world, which we had tasted a little bit when we were sailing for 8 months, the world we would like to live in, living one with nature, in freedom, on our terms, meeting likeminded people and being alone when even we want to, we decide.
And you properly have noticed it already, but we love to try everything. So with us documenting our journey, we started to get noticed more and were seen as influencers. And YES we even tried being travel influencers. This was in Montenegro, we were invited to stay a couple of days in a hotel for free to make stories on Instagram and share some footage in our vlogs on youtube. And after being on the road for 1 month we did like the fact that we had a proper shower and did not have to prepare dinner. But after we few days we just wanted to be on the road again, to shower in a river and prepare food while watching the sunset. This was part of our journey as well, trying new things and finding out if it would suit us. So we concluded very quickly that a typical travel influencer life wasn’t the life we wanted, not in that way, we don’t want to make content for other people, we want to make content for ourselves. To share the Breeze, our Breeze of life to inspire others.
And of course, we had some setbacks as well. When we were in Montenegro our next country would have been Albania but then Greece closed the borders and we got stuck. We changed approach and started driving via Serbia to Bulgaria, not visiting Albania, Macedonia, Greece.
Macedonia is for me (Gerben) very special, I have to say North Macedonia now, I lived there for a bit longer than a year and had an amazing time. The people are so welcoming over there. But yes, it is what it is, we had to rush because Turkey was closing the borders as well, and being stuck in a country was not our preferred plan.
When the borders closed up at that time it wasn't just for a week but it would be for months and this was actually the only thing that could really prevent us from getting home for at least two months. We left our relaxed lifestyle for a few days and made a lot of miles and after three days in total a road trip of 4 months, we arrived at the Turkish border. We knew if we cross this border nothing could happen anymore to stop us from reaching our home.
Arriving in Turkey
The funny part was when we were crossing from Serbia to Bulgaria and the people in Bulgaria asked us what our plans were, how long do you want to stay here? We were telling them that we want to cross towards Turkey, to reach our sailing home. They told us: "You can try but Turkey has his borders closed so you can't pass in any way." That was weird because in the official documents of Turkey there was nothing mentioned about this. We knew that there were a lot of Turkish people driving from The Netherlands or Germany to Turkey in one of two days with very fast cars, haha. But, it did make us worry a bit. We stayed for two nights in Bulgaria before we would cross the border. We tried and surprisingly the borders were just open!
We noticed that there were also a lot of political things in place. Every country was trying to keep tourism on their own so they could make more money. You can imagine with us crossing that border was like the biggest milestone of the whole trip. We are now in Turkey and nothing can stop us!
We left our home 6 months ago and we hadn't seen her anymore. Can you imagine putting your home in the hands of a bunch of strangers, we never saw them or looked them in the eyes and had to transfer big amounts of money towards them? They were not only watching over our boat but also refitting our boat. And now we would finally meet these people and see our boat again and we didn't see anything yet. We were truly excited! We knew the boat would still be there but we had no idea in which state the boat would be in.
Finally! I can still feel that moment, driving towards the grounds of the Marina and seeing the boatyard. Being allowed to pass the big fences of the docking station. We got on the dock and we drove towards the boatyard, parked our car in front of the big doors, just in the middle, we didn't care about anything at that moment. We walked in and there we saw the Perfect Sense! We had that moment in Croatia in the Mediterranean Sea and this was another of these moments that you realized that you did everything right.
We met the people over there who we never saw before, they were so kind and they took such a good care over the boat. They got delayed due to Corona so all our plans were changed. We actually wanted to cross the Atlantic at the end of 2020 but everything got postponed, everything changed. In the end, we stayed for months in Turkey. Worked on the boat together with the boatyard and that is how our road trip during the pandemic went.
One of the biggest things we have learned is that we have to trust our intuition more and in the end, you will figure it out along the way. Yes, in the beginning, we had a rough plan and we had to adapt to a lot of changes but that also made us more flexible in changing our approach, having confidence, and changing our intuition. Sometimes, things didn't work or it didn't feel right and we just changed immediately.
The most beautiful thing I have learned from this road trip is that we were finding every night, evening, or afternoon a spot where we could set up our roof tent and sleep. You are more vulnerable on a roof tent than on your sailing boat, at least that is how I felt it (Rianne). One time, we were at this place, it looked very beautiful during the day but during the night there were a lot of cars coming with weird and loud music. People were screaming and it was really scary. We were very close at the border and probably there was a smuggling route and a lot of smugglers who were trying to get drugs across the borders. Even though in the daylight it looked so beautiful we both had the feeling that it wasn't right. We were just very tired and thought it would work out and just set up our camp. In the end, it still worked out but we had the night with the most fears during that whole road trip. After this experience, we trusted our intuition more and when we even had a small, little feeling inside of us somewhere, we felt it very quick and we were able to connect with it more, and that is what we call our intuition.
This road trip learned us to get a deeper understanding and a better trust in our intuition.
This was our adventure of the road trip during the first lockdown. It was just amazing. I hope this will bring you inspiration, trust, and faith. No matter the circumstances, if you are creative, if you have a strong mind, you set your mind to it, take decisions strongly and take massive action. Anything is possible! Of course, don't do things without having respect for others and be careful.
You have the right to choose for your own happiness we all have that right.
Have an amazing day and feel the breeze!
Rianne & Gerben
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