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Erika, Chris with Levin and Ayla (Globelotte)

Today's Explorers

Erika, Chris with Levin and Ayla (Globelotte)

September 11, 2022
7
min read
by
Charles Forman
Germany
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Where are you from?

We are from Germany

When did you start your interest in exploration?

We have always liked to travel a lot with our T4 California but never went longer away than 4 weeks during holidays. In 2021 we decided to explore the world and make a trip for a year.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

When we decided to make our big journey, we gave ourselves one year to plan things.

There was a lot to organise before we could start. We had to rearrange our jobs. Chris is a self-employed carpenter and had to find someone to rent the workshop. Erika is a surgical nurse and worked for many extra hours to comprehend for the time she needs to make the trip.

We took our son Levin out of school for a year, and we had to write a concept for school exemption and submitted it to the headmaster. After some time, we got permission to take him along and to give him an online class for the next year.

We sold our T4 California, bought a larger touring coach and changed it the way it fits to our wishes and ideas. We also found new tenants for our house relatively quickly, so everything worked out great.

In the end we achieved every milestone we wanted to achieve.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

Chris has very gifted hands and as he knows our bus very well, he can fix it everywhere by himself.

Erika is knowledgeable about healthcare and how to act quickly in an emergency, she also knows some herbs to collect along the way and uses them for various purposes.

Chris is also our navigator and Erika is our pr officer. In addition, we can communicate in two different foreign languages (English and Russian), which helped us in most countries we travelled to.

Levin is a good fisherman and always takes care of the wood for our campfire. ;-)

Where have you explored so far?

On this trip we have visited 15 countries so far. Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Bulgaria, 

Countries we travelled before we went on our big trip:

Scandinavian countries (4 countries), Baltic Countries (3 countries), Europe (10 countries)

Chris: Tunisia, Finland – 33 countries in total

Erika: Russia, Kazakhstan - 33 countries in total

Levin: 27 countries in total

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

Our itinerary was originally planned differently. Initially we wanted to drive via the Scandinavian countries via Russia, travel through the Stan-countries and via Mongolia to India. Due to corona and the associated border closures, we had to adjust and change our itinerary and drive through the countries that had already opened their borders. At the beginning of our journey, we were still travelling fast, wanting to cover kilometres and feel the vastness. Later we slowed down and adjusted our travel speed to our rhythm.

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

Romania is the next destination. This country is supposed to be very beautiful and original, and we are really looking forward to it. After Romania we go back to Germany, because our one-year travel time is coming to an end. We already made plans to travel to India next year and buy or rent a tuk-tuk there, so we can explore the country for a few weeks in this way.

Africa is also on our travel list, and we hope to see that part of the world soon.

Where would you recommend others visit?

We love Georgia, this country grew close to our hearts, also because Erika’s ancestors were born there. We are also enthusiastic about Iran and the people there; this country should be visited more. But Iraq surprised us the most. We went to see the Kurdish part; a beautiful country that is unfortunately not yet seen as a typical tourist country. But it's worth travelling there.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

Our Mercedes 711d is from 1993. When we bought the car, we consciously chose an old model without much technology to be able to repair it ourselves and easily get spare parts all over the world, since this model is widespread.

We gutted the bus completely and changed it so it could fit our needs. A small apartment on four wheels has been created. We also removed some rust spots and painted the lower part with a robust paint. Our solar panels provide us with the necessary energy, so we are completely self-sufficient. We have installed a parking heater, which allows us to be on the road in cold temperatures, even in winter. Our 120-l water tank provides enough water that 3 people can use it for about 5 days. In addition, we have built a terrace on the roof where we can enjoy the view or spend the night.

What are five pieces of equipment that you always travel with?

When we travel with our bus, we always have the sand sheets with us, which can also be used as an outside table, a shovel, a camera, good tools, and warm sleeping bags.

What inspires you to explore more?

We are curious about other countries and cultures and are attracted by a spirit of adventure. There is nothing more exciting than exploring the world and getting to know different people and customs. It’s fascinating to observe how diverse nature is and how the landscape changes with the flora and fauna.

How do you engage with others?

We share our travel experiences on Instagram and hope to inspire and encourage other people to travel the world and make them curious about other countries. We share with people about our cultures and give people who may not be able to travel a piece of the wide world to take home.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

Through travelling we got to know many cultures and foreign customs and immersed ourselves in a foreign world that we only knew from television. We are often influenced by the media and the press, and many negative headlines affect our worldview. We were able to get our own picture of different countries and got to know other cultures and the wonderful people behind them, who enriched us. We are thankful for touching experiences we made with others. Travelling changes your view of the world, you become more tolerant, and many prejudices can be reduced.

What are your goals when you explore?

We are always drawn to nature. We love being by the water, in the mountains or in the woods. Of course, we also travel to towns and villages, but after a short time we are drawn back out into the wild nature and tranquillity.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

The bad roads and mogul slopes in many countries were a major challenge. Especially the Vashlovani Park in Georgia was very challenging for us because there aren’t any real roads. But that turned it into a great adventure.

The organisation of daily needs, such as filling up water, filling up diesel, charging phone cards and complicated currencies, became a daily task in some countries and presented a major challenge, especially in Iran.

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

A special moment for us was when we were in the former German village in Georgia and visited the house of Erika's grandparents. That touched us very emotionally.

Another impressive moment was when we stood in the Iranian desert for the first time and were able to share beautiful moments with our friends there. Also special are the encounters with people from different countries and other travellers that we got to know and from which friendships developed that will go beyond the journey.

How has exploration changed you?

We have found out that you can do anything only if you want. No mountain is too high. We have become bolder and freer in the way we think and have grown closer together as a family. We are full of gratitude for the positive experiences we made and hope that we can give this gratitude and hospitality back to other people.

When you travel with children, they learn to experience themselves on the trip and grow beyond themselves because they are confronted with non-ordinary things and take on more responsibility. This increases their self-esteem and self-confidence. They learn about living geography, new cultures and different people, and increase their social skills. Maths can also be integrated in a fun way by converting the new currencies and languages come alive by speaking them. Travel is the school of life and the most valuable gift you can give your children.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

Things turn out differently than expected and plans are made to change. We have learned to accept situations as they come and to be more relaxed. We have learned to trust more in life and that everything has a meaning, even if you don't see it right away. We also realised that you don't need many things to be happy.

How do you explore locally?

To explore the area, we often use the map or google maps. We also drive off and look for nice places ourselves or ask the locals, who can usually give good tips. If we want to be comfortable, we sometimes use the apps ioverlander or parkfornight.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

This saying fits very well: 

"The world is a book, those who never travel only see one page of it." - Augustinus Aurelius

Levin - Travelling is the school for life!

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Do it! Go out and discover the world and see its splendour and diversity. Don't put it off, life is too short, and you never know tomorrow. Pack your bags and go! Have the courage to take the first step and everything else will fall into place. The best experience you can have in life is to travel; it will change your life.

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