Yes, you can jump!

I always loved traveling. I couldn’t get enough of being out and seeing the world: How the world really is – beautiful, mean, happy, sad, and crazy… But I was with my office job. WestAfricaI wasn’t unhappy, but there was always this longing in my heart for something more meaningful and challenging… And there is nothing more difficult to change when actually everything is all right. You will always find buts… I didn’t really want to travel on my own, I had many friends at home, a well-paid job, I could afford my holidays, but there was this other “but” in me… stuck in my head. And one day I found a compromise: Getting a six-month sabbatical. The job and my friends would still be there when I return from my adventures in West Africa.

In December 2010, I found myself on a plane to Douala, Cameroon. That is where my amazing adventure began. I could smell the freedom and feel the earth under my feet. I was free and full of energy. Instantly, I knew I would never return to my old job. But how could I afford a free life on the road?

This free life I speak of was made a reality when I applied to an overland adventure company from the UK. The company helped me pass my truck driver’s license, training to be a mechanic (yes, you might be stuck in the middle of the Sudanese desert broken down in your future career as a tour leader and mechanic…) and a few months later I found myself driving overland trucks and leading tours from Cape Town to Cairo.

Jumping into one of my many adventures in Ethiopia:

truck_maintainanceIt is great fun to get all the attention… guys staring at you while you are driving giving you thumbs up, waving, calling others, pointing at you…but it can get too much…

…The truck doesn’t start. I need a truck with two batteries (24 Volt) to jumpstart me. I try to explain that to some locals. The language barrier in Ethiopia is a massive problem. I repeat over and over again that I don’t need a normal car, I need 24 Volts to start the truck. The guy looks at me and says: I love you! No, I do not love you and our conversation was about 24 Volt batteries to start my truck, I am running out of time! ARGH!

 

…Two hours later (I finally found a truck to jumpstart my weak batteries and had to pay 40 USD for the favour), I am stopping for some shopping in another town. Waiting in the driver’s seat. 25 guys round the truck asking for my name, where I am from and declaring their love to me… my name is Gertie (the name written on my truck) and I am from Timbuktu…

ethiopia

…I am dreaming during the night about unwinding hand brakes, it is a miracle that I have not overrun a kid or a donkey yet as it seems that people and animals are equally resistant. They are staying on the road even if you horn at them. Whenever you stop, kids are climbing up the truck asking you for pens, bottles, T-Shirts and money. There is either no power or no water or whatever and when you ask questions to locals they usually answer with “yes” even they don’t understand.

Why do I love this job nevertheless?

…For the guy who brought me an extra blanket, which must have been waiting exactly until I went to bed and he suddenly appeared with the blanket. I didn’t ask for it but without it I would have been freezing the whole night. …For the thousands of smiling faces who welcome you happily to their country and invite you in their homes for a coffee.

…For my happy passengers who just follow us whatever we do and are patient, helpful and good fun! …No day is like the other day. I am never bored! …For the incredible feeling of freedom!

…Because it’s a great challenge and I never needed so many different skills at the same time in any other job.

Jumping again…

truckpictureI love this job and I love to jump into new adventures and put myself out of my own comfort zone. This is why you find me one year after the story from Africa in the United States of America. I’ve found someone out in the world who is having the same urge to travel and to challenge himself. We were working together in Africa and are now starting our own tour company. We are remodelling an old yellow school bus and will be spending the 2013 summer season in Alaska sharing the passion with our passengers: Infinite Adventures – come with us and experience

the wilderness of Alaska!! If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough!

 

woman_truckdriverBio: Natalie is traveling to see the “real” world. She love seeing beautiful landscapes and enjoying campfires as much as meeting people from other cultures. She does everything
to experience their lives: walking their streets, eating their food, and trying to speak their languages. After backpacking throughout West Africa (leaving Germany) at the beginning of 2011, she decided to make her life’s passion her job. The last year and a half has been an epic journey traveling thousands of kilometers between Cairo and Capetown and Rio de Janeiro and Quito. The next logical step was to start her own company “Infnite Adventures” together with Dave. They both met in Africa working as tour leaders and they share their passion for travel and being outdoors.

Follow Natalie on the Web at Natalie In Africa, Alaska and …
Find out more about Alaskan Overland at Infinite Adventures
Join the social conversation at Facebook and on Twitter: @InfiniteAdv

 

combo

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, and often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

 

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23 Comments

  1. Andrew Cross

    Awesome idea! Best of luck Natalie & Dave.

    Just an FYI, the link to Infinite Adventures’s site is broken. It’s “http://theplanetd.com/yes-you-can-jump-travel-inspiration/www.infiniteadv.com” instead of “http://www.infiniteadv.com”.

  2. Brian Swanick

    Hey Natalie, think you have a really unique perspective on the “why” of travel and that it impacts your life (and your storytelling) in a very positive way. Everyone seems to have the “Yea, traveling would be cool” mentality but it takes a different kind of person to live it for an extended period of time. And you became a mechanic along the way! Haha!

    1. Natalie

      Hey Brian, thanks for your comment! And yeah, I do probably have a very unique attitude towards travelling and being in new places. And I have dedicated my life to it 100%. For me, it means freedom:)

  3. The Guy

    That is a really cool story. Who’d of thought that driving a truck could bring so much joy and adventure. Good for you and well done for doing something which helps so many people.

    1. Natalie

      Thanks for your nice comment:) Yep, truck driving can be a lot of fun! Especially when your “goods” are lot of happy and like-minded travellers…

  4. Jamie

    Hi Natalie,

    What a great story. Getting that six-month sabbatical might have been the best thing that ever happened to you. I would love for more people to have this opportunity and to start exploring the world. If I was ever an employer, I would have to cancel all sabbaticals before they happened! I don’t ever see myself in that position however. I hope your bus adventure turns out wonderfully and one day if I make it to Alaska, I’ll look out for that big adventure school bus.

  5. Cat

    This is inspiring. I am currently at my desk job. It provides me enough income to pay my loans (I can’t imagine not being able to pay my student loans) and it’s soooo boring. My heart aches. I love the income, but I don’t do anything with it, just throw it towards my student loans with the anticipation of being out of debt soon. no debt =ability to travel and live on less. Travel is amazing, and I feel like sitting at home and working some boring day job is not satisfying. Glad you have lots of adventures and I hope to someday be like you!

    1. Natalie

      Hey Cat,
      thanks and I cross my fingers for your adventures one day! Yes – we are spoiled (or let’s say it’s a better system at least I think) in Europe/Germany: University / College was and is almost for free. Most of us don’t have to start a working life with debts. This makes so many more young people and especially women be able to travel a lot earlier in their lifes. So I press my thumbs (that’s German for crossing fingers;) for your adventure travels hopefully soon!

  6. last minute tours

    Traveling is visiting interesting places and meeting new people. It is connected with getting to know other cultures and traditions which is surely valuable. Secondly, it is usually said that journeys educate, so whilst traveling as well as exploration we can make our knowledge wider.

  7. Godfried Peters Agbezudor

    Hey Natalie,

    I am godfried and live in Ghana, own a tour company,Continent Explorer. Shall we come together to form one big thing on the African Continent? I am a traveler and guide too for over 25years.

    Let me know,

    godfried.

  8. Matt

    Sounds like great fun – if more people got out and saw the world instead of staying in their comfort zone then the world would be a better place.

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