Jolien and Jonathan (Restless Rosie)

Today's Explorers

Jolien and Jonathan (Restless Rosie)

January 17, 2022
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

Essen, Germany

When did you start your interest in exploration?

We have been a couple for almost eight years and the first trip we did together was in the Opel Corsa. We just threw a tent, a cool box, some drinks and a little bit of food in the trunk and went off to the Netherlands where we had a really basic but creative camping holiday. We initially liked the idea of car-based travel with just the things you really need on the road. We felt the desire that our perfect travel vehicle must have decent off-road capabilities, so we bought a Land Rover Defender 90 shortly after and started converting it to our individual overland car.

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

Probably we have been born already with a bad case of wanderlust. We both were lucky to spend our childhood holidays in an active and open-minded environment so we got around quite a bit, even before we were actually able to process it. Growing up, I have spent a lot of vacations in motorhomes roaming Europe and quickly realized that nothing beats the advantages of automotive travel. Jolien’s family especially valued getting to know different places on each and every vacation, so I guess our desire to explore was set in motion around that time.

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

We do not have any professional exploration skills which we might have learned during our education or jobs, but we try to make up for it with great enthusiasm. Jolien is pretty out-going naturally, which definitely is helpful because it has opened so many doors along the road. I have been fascinated with everything on four wheels as long as I can remember and this always drives me forward when modifying our vehicles or (trying) to repair them. Also I like to find out how things work, which is a plus with many topics especially Land Rovers. :D

Where have you explored so far?

Overlanding: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and counting.

Backpacking, vacations: Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hongkong, Singapore, Cambodia, Dubai, Turkey, UAE

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

We live in a world where every information, every place and culture is theoretically accessible through a simple online search from your living room. This brings many advantages and eases communication but what if you have an adventurous spirit? One day there is no other chance except making your own discoveries and to see for yourself what's out there.

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

For sure the hardest question to answer. In a perfect world without corona, time and budget restrictions our list would be: Iran, because of the great hospitality reported by almost everyone who has been there. Iceland, because of unreal landscapes and the desire to be there with our own car next time. South East Asia, because it was our original planned destination before the pandemic hit.

Where would you recommend others visit?

Easy one: Albania. The country is an offroad dream destination with seemingly endless trails, stunning nature from high mountain peaks to crystal clear seas and a deeply rooted hospitality towards travelers. Albania offers great food and is a good budget destination as well.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

We used to have a 2006 Land Rover Defender 90 with a rooftop tent setup and are now roaming with a 2011 Land Rover Defender 110. A great advantage in terms of space and everyday usability is the pop-up roof which the car already had. Quality tires for peace of mind when offroading (we use BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2), an internal water tank with filtration system and a capable PV system to ensure independence while traveling, are pretty high on our top modification list as well. We were also happy to have a quality fridge which did not abandon us when temperatures reached 44° celsius in Greece. Oops, these are five actually. Sorry!

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

Gasoline cooker, foldable fire pit, grill, good torch/headlamp, travel diary.

What inspires you to explore more?

We just fancy the lifestyle overland travel brings with it. Especially being outdoors most of the time is something we value a lot. Making new friends along the way - locals and travelers alike - is some kind of gift as well. Input from outside helps us develop.

How do you engage with others?

This really depends on the situation. We guess everyone gets in touch with locals through everyday activities or daily chores like visiting a restaurant, shopping or sightseeing. For us this is always a good starting point to get to know more of the country, its culture and people. In addition we are grateful when we get approached by hospitable people, which luckily often has been the case so far. Taking the courage to ask locals certainly pays off in 99% of the cases as well. Also you can´t ignore that Social Media can contribute a lot to getting to know people, even before you enter a country. We get many messages via our Instagram account, from local people letting us know their top destinations and some even inviting us if we ever happen to be around. Also it is quite easy to find people on Social Media who are doing a similar route to exchange travel advice. And then there is a feeling probably every (long term) traveler is familiar with: Sometimes you do not want to engage with anybody and you find yourself escaping to a remote beach or to the hills. And that's ok as well.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

One thing you realize very quickly when traveling land-based, is how small our planet really is. Everything is connected somehow and the challenges we face can only be coped with as a community. This may sound romantic, but it turns out very true when you have seen many different perspectives. Embracing global cultures by overlanding is extremely helpful to that.

What are your goals when you explore?

I guess we have no set goals while exploring. Of course it's not always possible, but we try to go with the flow and get inspired along the way.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

Luckily nothing major so far during the trip. Rescheduling our whole trip from 2020 to 2021 during the first weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak was a challenge and saying goodbye to loved ones before our departure was harder than expected and pretty emotional.

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

So far many little moments add up to a meaningful experience for us. We hope it continues this way.

How has exploration changed you?

This has to be answered by the people close to us. Hopefully it will further improve our positive characteristics and will lessen the negative ones. :) One thing that we can say for sure is that our instincts for judging situations and people have sharpened a lot, because we experience completely new situations every day.

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

We have always regretted not eating more byrek in Albania. :D

How do you explore locally?

By car as well, often by bicycle, sometimes hiking.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

For us it translates to this: Treat the people you meet like you would like to be treated yourself and have respect for this beautiful, but fragile planet.

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

Prepare well, but don't overthink and over plan. When overlanding, get your vehicle in good shape before you leave and invest in quality equipment. You´ll have to live with it 24/7 for an extended period. Be aware that long term travel can be exhausting - allow yourself time in between to process your impressions. When in doubt - take the risk and do it! You'll get rewarded with unique experiences.

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