Things never go the way you think they will. And this year really everything was different from what I had anticipated. 2015 was a very special year for me and not just because of the many superb trips and adventures that I was allowed to experience but also because of the personal and very important decisions that I made. Decisions that changed me and changed Off The Path and that completely turned my life upside down. Because in 2015 a whole new adventure started for me!My year 2015
Things never go the way you think they will…
New Year’s eve in Scotland
In the beginning of the year I still had no idea what I was in for and how this year would shape my entire future. Just like the year before this year started in Scotland with a brilliant Hogmanay party and really nice fireworks over Edinburgh castle.
Last time MATKA in Finnland
And again like the year before I headed to Finland a few days later to rock MATKA, Scandinavia’s largest travel fair, for the last time as an organiser. That’s right: one last time. Shortly after that I decided to not help with the organization of the fair in 2016. That was my first step into more independence, even if I was not aware of it in the beginning of the year.
3 months of Bali
In mid January Line and I left to move to Bali for several months. That was the plan. Together with Conni of Planet Backpack we rented a massive villa right in the jungle by Ubud. Other digital nomads and bloggers later joined, among them Simone of datingrocks.de, Thomas of travelguide.ch and Jerome.
I had some of my most productive time this year at that villa, I got up very early every morning and worked on my first own book. Oh yes – my first book! But more on that later.
Conni, Line and I also spent one week of our Blog Camp Retreat working intensively with other blogpreneurs on their projects which was very exciting. This year I really noticed how great it is to coach other people and to see how they become successful with their own ideas. There hardly is a more fulfilling feeling and I am sure that I will organize more of those retreats together with Line.
After several weeks in the yoga nirvana and vegan paradise of Ubud Line and I wanted to head to the sea and decided to move from the villa to Canggu. It didn’t take long for us to notice that Canggu was one of those very special places. A place that instantly feels like home and that we will for sure return to soon! We didn’t even realize how soon at that point.
Short stopover in Berlin
While Line spent another 2 weeks alone in Canggu I flew to Berlin for the ITB to rock the last joint Blog Camp with Conni. We had decided to go seperate ways after that so that each of us could focus more on his/her own projects and ideas – a difficult but still very good and probably the most important decision of the year. It was because of this decision that I, or actually Line and I, arrived at a couple of other important decisions that would shape our future.
Spontaneous road trip along Australia’s West coast!
After a few days in Germany I did not go back to Bali but to Perth, where Line was waiting for me at the airport. We had spontaneously decided to do a long road trip along Australia’s West coast. We had originally planned to spend one or two weeks on Australia’s West coast and then head back to Bali but then we figured why not stay longer if you come all the way out here. So that’s what we did!
We spent all of 5 weeks in a really small camper van first heading South from Perth to Albany and then back North, past Perth to Darwin via Broome and Katherine! We travelled almost 7400 kilometers and got to experience a few very cool adventures like snorkeling with whale sharks in Exmouth.
Ultimate adventure in New Zealand!!
Also not really planned but all the better for that was the following road trip of New Zealand’s South Island. Once it was clear that we definitely would be travelling to Australia we had the idea to go straight on to New Zealand. What was more of a dreamy idea quickly became reality and soon after our road trip along Australia’s West coast we got in a camper again and toured New Zealand’s South Island.
Luckily this camper was a lot bigger and there were a lot more adventures waiting for us in New Zealand! New Zealand does not call itself adventure land for nothing – there is so much you can experience here! Every day we rushed into a new adventure: canyoning, quad biking, kayaking on the open sea or swimming with wild dolfins. My personal highlight was jumping from a plane at 15000 feet above Queenstown and the snow-covered Remarkables! Literally BREATHTAKING!
Back in Berlin and Europe
After everything we had experienced and a one week stopover in Sydney Line and I headed back to Berlin. Funny how things had turned out because originally we had planned to spend half a year on Bali and only fly to Australia for a short visit, two weeks max. We would have never dreamed of spending almost 2 months of our Bali time in Australia and New Zealand!
But that precisely is my philosophy and also the philosophy of Off The Path: the less you plan and the more you let yourself drift and listen to what your heart says the more adventures you are going to experience and the more you will live!
New plans for the future
Speaking of adventure… As soon as Line and I were back in Berlin a new adventure came to our minds: we wanted to spend the winter in South Africa and leave Germany altogether. We had spent such little time in Germany in the last year and were also planning to be abroad travelling a lot in the future that we decided to give up our flat in Berlin Kreuzberg. And even more: we decided to give up residency in Germany!
So we did. We booked our flight to South Africa shortly after that and the cancellation letter for the flat went on its way to the landlord. We made appointments to renew our passports and slowly started working on the paperwork revoking residency…
A significant event: the mastermind in Sitges
But first I had to go to Sitges close to Barcelona for a very important event, a mastermind with other online entrepreneurs. This was significant for me because I gained a few important insights there concerning the future development of Off The Path. I had fallen into a hole. I had no more motivation to write for the blog. The previous months I had not published more than an article per month, I was not tending to my newsletter any more and just barely kept my social media sites alive. Off The Path and I – we didn’t fit anymore. My fire was out. I wanted to give up the blog. Almost.
A new course for Off The Path
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t just give up Off The Path, couldn’t just throw it all away. After all I owed the past years to the blog, all the travels and adventures, the friendships and my transition into independence and freedom. You don’t just throw that away!
Instead I decided to look for someone who would take care of the blog in the future. Who would write articles and take over all the work related to the blog from SEO to newsletter marketing and social media to cooperations. That was the plan, an idea that also would not become reality. But that would only manifest itself later.
Because first Line and I met in Barcelona where we wanted to spend almost 3 weeks to work and also enjoy what we thought was a wonderful city. But something was wrong. Something had changed. Something about the city or more likely, something about us. Only last year Barcelona had seemed like one of the best cities ever to us, we could even imagine living there one day, this summer we just found it awful.
Crowded, loud, stuffy, no green and concrete everywhere. Like in a prison. That is how we suddenly felt in Barcelona.
But what had changed?
After 2 months of travelling through Australia and New Zealand in a camper, passing through wild nature and experiencing boundless nothingness we could not image life inmidst a metropolis any more. To wake up sorrounded by green, to hear and smell the sea, that is what makes us happy, not staring at concrete walls and smelling exhaust fumes and dealing with the constant scurry of people around us.
It was so bad I even considered leaving early. I simply could not take the concrete jungle. Line and I had already begun to look into where we could fly last minute and get a cheap apartment. Unfortunately we did not really find a good alternative so we stayed in Barcelona until the end and made the best of it.
It is indeed funny how one changes over the years and even becomes estranged to oneself. But I guess that is part of growing up. To be honest it also is wonderful to find out what really makes you happy and what doesn’t. Now we know that we don’t want to live in the center of a hectic city!
Roadtrip through South Tirolia
Luckily Line and I were in for another road trip after our time in Barcelona. And this time not even so far away but through beautiful South Tirolia in the North of Italy. If you are looking for a region that has a lot to offer but is not far away then I can only recommend South Tirolia. Great adventures and delicious food await you there! Amongst others we went climbing, mountain biking and kite surfing and plunged down the longest and steepest zipline in Europe. The time in South Tirolia surrounded by nature and mountains really did us well after a few weeks in Barcelona!
Work, work, work
After Line and I made a two week stop in Cologne to visit friends and family we came back to Berlin and immediately got to work. Because there was a lot lined up for Off The Path. I don’t even remember when I had the idea but it eventually was clear to me: Off The Path needs a new design!
New design for Off The Path
Maybe I could not identify with the blog anymore because it no longer represented what I lived for. And since I had decided to not give up the blog I had to at least give it a new design. Line and I spent a lot of time figuring out what it coud look like and started emailing back and forth with some first designers. Then something inside me started stirring and became hot. But at first I ignored the feeling and did not really try to find out what was going on with me.
Nina becomes part of the team!
After all, I had enough to distract me. After deciding to get someone to help with Off The Path we quickly found the right person: Nina! And Nina had to learn the ropes so I didn’t really have time to deal with my inner workings. Ideas were spilling from all of us and we spent every day working on Off The Path together.
My first very own book!
And the distractions didn’t stop, because all of a sudden the big day rolled around: my first book hit the bookstores! ‘Off The Path – a travel guide to happiness’ – WOW! Line and and I spent the day going from one bookstore to the next to see if the book really was there and indeed it was! I cannot describe what it is like to see your own book in a shop, really, you cannot imagine! And even more insane: my first book sold out in a matter of days on Amazon!
I will never forget this day, our feet even hurt so much that we spontaneously bought Birkenstock sandals that we have been wearing every day since. And I will never forget the following days either, how I checked Amazon every couple of hours to see how many books were still in stock and to read every single review. Ok, to be honest, I still check Amazon almost daily, that will probably never change… But I think everyone would do the same when publishing a book for the first time!
This day could well have been the first bigger highlight of the year, even though I don’t like to talk about highlights. Because then you start comparing and diminish other experiences when really every experience is special!
The last weeks of summer
Things went extremely fast after that day. And even though Line and I had a lot to do concerning our flat and our move from Germany this did not keep us from travelling and adventuring. We went on a little Porsche spree through Northern Germany and then together with Nina we left for a week surfcamp in Morocco! Line and I also went on a short trip to Amsterdam as well as South Tirolia again where I as part of a jury selected this year’s winner of the South Tirolian Media Prize.
Finally minimalistic and without a real home!
And suddenly it was the 30th of September. The day we had to leave our apartment. The day we became homeless in a way. We had sold all our furniture and only had a few last items left that were picked up by the disposal company for bulky waste. It was quite a bit actually. I have to admit I was pretty shocked by myself how much stuff I had ammassed in the last years! It was so much that we even had to pay the company a decent sum of money so that they would take everything.
But then everything was gone. Line and I each kept 2 cardboard moving boxes with winter clothes, books and a few memorabilia and each had packed our carry on backpacks. That was it. That is all we own now. Nothing more. The feeling was so amazing! You cannot imagine how liberating it is to not own much! Nothing you have to worry about, nothing you have to carry along, pack or store or do I don’t know what with. Utter freedom!
Bye, Bye Berlin Berlin and Germany! The start of a new adventure
After a few relaxing days at my parents’ in Hannover Line and I took the train to Hamburg on the morning of October 7, worked a little at Betahouse in the am and then around noon it was time for another one of my highlights: I gave a talk for Google!
Never could I have imagined that I would be doing a talk for such a large and well-known company. I, the half-Spaniard from Mallorca, who had become self-employed a few years ago through his blog was now standing on the podium for Google. Incredible! I was so nervous even though it was wonderful and I was equally happy when the talk was over!
Because that also meant that our time in Germany was over. Not even an hour after the talk Line and I headed to the airport and flew via Munich and Dubai to Bangkok. And that without a return ticket to Germany and without any plans of coming back to Germany for a longer stay in the next years, maybe even forever.
All the way through Asia!
So, there we were, in Bangkok. Here, or in the South of Thailand I should say, is where it all started. Here I decided to get self-employed with Off The Path. And ever since then I have come back to Thailand at least once a year. But this time Bangkok would only be a short stopover. Two days later we were headed to a very special place with our friends Isa and Martin: Bali!
Line and I really never would have thought that we would be back here this quickly, only 7 months later. And it felt so good! Together with Isa and Martin we rented a beautiful villa in Canggu where we went surfing every day, all worked a lot, and always ate super healthy and super delicious. I simply love life on Bali and the Balinese culture! And I am sure that we will come back next year!
After two weeks on Bali Line and I flew to Hong Kong via Singapore where we were invited to one of Line’s girlfriend’s wedding and spent a few more days there. We stayed in a tiny apartment, more of a shoe carton really, but that is the way of life in Hong Kong. And again we felt that cities like that really are not for us any more. Just as in Barcelona we felt confined and hated having to stare at walls wherever we looked.
Content Rockstars was founded!
But we hadn’t come to Hong Kong just for the wedding, we had other plans as well. Because Line and I had decided on another major step: together we founded a company in Hong Kong! We had already prepared everything during our last weeks in Germany, in that crazy time when we were getting rid of our possessions and flat and taking care of the formalities of giving up residency in Germany. After a few emails were exchanged and a lot of paperwork Content Rockstars finally was born and we now could pick up the original documents and take care of setting up a bank account.
This step had never been planned but came along naturally and felt right. And without residency in Germany we needed a new location for our new, jointly owned company. So the company is now registered in Hong Kong!
Relaunch of Off The Path
From Hong Kong Line and I flew on to Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand where we met up with Isa and Martin again. A few days later Nina joined and since this is one of the hotspots for digital nomads our programmer Dennis was also in Chiang Mai. Even though so much had happened and we had travelled so much we all had been working on the new design for Off The Path and little by little had worked it out.
Until it was finally ready to be launched and the new Off The Path went online from a little cafe in Chiang Mai! God, it was exciting! At first not everything worked the way it was supposed to but then the site was up and I could present it to the world. I was so overwhelmed and happy to have made this step. All of a sudden I was proud of Off The Path again, all of a sudden we belonged together again!
The whole branding of the blog now represented what I live and what my philosophy is. Our new tagline tells it all: make every day your adventure! Because I want you to live your dream too and make the most of your life every single day, I want you to really begin to live. We only have this one life – don’t forget that!
Off The Path on Galileo
And something else, equally amazing and unbelievable to me happened on the day of the launch: Galileo did a show on Off The Path and my life as a travel blogger! Our short trip to Amsterdam had been one of the two days of shooting for the show. Line and I flew from Berlin to Amsterdam very early that day, spent all day shooting and then landed back in Berlin around 12 at night. And of course it was not a coincidence that the show aired that day, we had planned everything that way. And all the stress was worth it! During the show there were at times 2000 people on the website simultaneously, I had never experienced that before! Again, an indescribeable feeling!
New country, new luck
After this rollercoaster of emotions, all the stress and the incredible bliss Line, Nina and I flew via Bangkok to South Africa. It has always been one of my dreams to travel to this country and finally it was coming true. I felt very much at home from the very first second. It is hard to explain it but people here just are so much nicer and Johannesburg especially was so different from what you might think!
Only travelling educates!
We spent a week in the city and stayed in a cool studio apartment right in the hip neighborhood of Maboneng. One day we did a walking tour of Soweto, the infamous township. And I was really shocked – shocked about myself! In my head I had been fostering pictures of desperate poverty, of lean-to shacks and filth. But the reality is that 90% of Soweto’s inhabitants are middle class people and the township looks like a normal suburb. Again I realized: only travelling educates! You have to have seen things with your own eyes, don’t just rely on what the media tells you!
Cape Town: our new home
After Johannesburg it was straight on to Cape Town for us. Line and I have been here for a little over a month now, the first two weeks we spent in a really cool apartment in Woodstock. Nina was here until last week and we worked together a lot and made some great experiences during the time she was here. This city really is fantastic! You can quickly drive over to the beach at Camps Bay for the sunset or up to Signal Hill. No matter where you are nature is not far away and the ocean is always close too! To me Cape Town is one of the best cities I have ever been to!
At the moment Line and I are living in a super comfy house in Table View, a suburb to Cape Town, only 400 meters from the ocean and have plunged into a new adventure: house sitting! Because we are taking care of three super cute cats while the owners are on holiday for Christmas and New Year’s.
We will be living here for almost 4 weeks, don’t pay rent and even get to use the big car. This is superb for us, we can live like locals, have animals around and save a lot of money on rent for the house and car! Our travel expenses have been cut in half and we are already planning the next house sits for the year to come. I am currently also writing an ebook on the topic because I can imagine house sitting might be something for you?
Things never go the way you think they will!
It really is crazy what happened this year. I cannot fully believe it yet. Line and I got to experience so many wonderful things and made a bunch of very important decisions. We jumped from a plane in New Zealand, I published my first book, Line and I gave up our flat and residency in Germany altogether. We founded our business in Hong Kong and went back to Bali a lot earlier than we would have thought and now we are living in a great house in wonderful Cape Town as house sitters. We really do not have a home any more now but are at home everywhere.
But the most insane thing that happened this year was the change in myself. I had lost my drive and had been ready to give up Off The Path but then decided to just hand my responsibilities around the blog to someone else. But then things came a lot differently. Even though I had ignored it at first, that tingling, I know now what it meant then and now: my motivation is back. My passion for the blog. My love for Off The Path.
I write a lot of new articles now, regularly send a newsletter and have so many new ideas for Off The Path.
I am as creative and productive as ever and that feels great! And of course this has consequences for you: Off The Path is back and all yours, I am back to be there for you, to inspire you to make every day your adventure. Because that is what I am about: I want you to discover the world like I do, to experience adventures and I want you to not back down from challenges. Because there is nothing more fulfilling than travelling, seeing the world with one’s own eyes and growing beyond oneself!
In the future I will be publishing a few ebooks on certain countries but also on specific travel topics. And in January we will be starting with a new Off The Path Podcast, where in every episode I will be talking to an interesting person about a travel topic. I have some fantastic trips and adventures planned and will as usual be reporting on those, so you can come along. Thanks to the new drone and the Osmo our videos and pictures are becoming better and better and I am looking forward to trying new perspectives, playing around and gathering incredible material. And all that to inspire you to make every day your adventure, too!
Life’s an adventure!
In the end I learned one thing this year: plans aren’t really much help, because things never go the way you think they will. And that is fine, that is what is so great about life: it is an adventure!
So: don’t plan your entire life, rather listen to your heart, let yourself drift and live in the present!