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Lessons learned so far

3 months in Australia just flew by (relatively speaking since it felt like we had all the time in the world for traveling but no time for blogging) and now we have only 2 more weeks to go in New Zealand before we are off to US and Canada. While meeting awesome people we noticed ourselves repeating the same conversation topics over and over until we finally had to look at the data and conclude that these are the first big things we’ve learned while traveling.

1. We don’t want to travel forever

We didn’t know this when we left Finland. We said to our friends that there is a possibility that we would find a place that we don’t want to leave and stay there for longer. ”Who knows we might become like Wandering Earl and end up being on the road for 12 years!”.

Nope.

Traveling is amazing. We really love it, but we just don’t love it more than having a long term base camp. We have a saying for this in Finland: ”Muu maa mustikka, oma maa mansikka.” The idea of it is that being abroad is like eating a delicious blueberry pie. But being at home is like eating a delicious strawberry pie (and for some reason strawberries are clearly superior to blueberries): There is just nothing better than that. Hah. The biggest reason for not wanting to travel forever is because of our next realization:

2. We miss/love our work

We miss having a long term project that we can focus on. We miss having a work community around us to challenge us. We love working on stuff! This has definitely been a bigger issue for Jonas who has a strong work identity. He loves contributing to a work community and being part of it. I’m better at making myself busy with independent freelance projects and ideas but I miss the routine of being involved in bigger projects that have bigger goals than just whipping up a WordPress site here or there.

Now the only question that remains is this: where to find an IT start-up with good whole-hearted values that would allow us to work intensively for 8 months of the year and then travel intensively the rest 4 months? We wouldn’t mind setting up our own company but neither one of us is a CEO-type. Throw anything else in my direction and I’ll shine, but if you put me in the lead or make me handle the money you’ll pretty much have a job for 2 months before the company files bankruptcy. So we are keeping our ears open and our hooks in the water. It will be interesting to see what the market has to offer when we return!

3. We still don’t know where we want to settle down

”Return where?” Oh yeah, that is a problem as well. We haven’t found our dream country or place where we want to settle down. That makes thinking about job opportunities slightly harder as well. Thailand -especially Chiang Mai- was amazing, we really loved it, but we are not good with constant heat and humidity. Australia was amazing with so much variety but it is too far away from friends and family. New Zealand seems to have everything we could dream of: perfect seasons, perfect nature, amazing and friendly people, the sea and the mountains… but it is even further away from home than Australia!

So I guess at least one thing is certain: We want to find a base somewhere in Europe. Finland is still an option even tho’ we still feel like we want to end up somewhere else than Helsinki. The only place in Helsinki that we really miss is Salmisaari’s climbing gym and that’s it. With other places in Helsinki I think we miss more the fun times than actual places. But those fun times could be in Turku for example. Or Stockholm. Or Oslo. Or Amsterdam…or…or…or….

So this remains to be seen. Our first plan is to land in Finland and stay a while in my dad’s inn and help him out. After that, well, the ball is still in the air.

4. It’s all about the people

No matter where we settle down we will know one thing for certain: Home is where your friends are. We were expecting that the stuff that makes our trip are the amazing views and activities that we are going to have, but they have felt like nothing compared to meeting amazing people to share them with. Our best times on this trip have been with people that we have found a strong bond with. Every experience with them has been stapled to our memories. Even shitty places that we at first didn’t like at all turned out to be amazing immediately when we made new friends.

When we had periods traveling together -just the two of us- the second best thing became the shared experiences with nature. The utter awe that you feel when you see the New Zealand mountains for the first time, or the whip of a whale’s tail, or bouncing kangaroos; or when you climb the highest wall that you’ve ever climbed and feel all the elements around you – that’s the stuff for your memoirs.

In the end, of all the museums seen, of all the guest houses visited and of all the touristy stuff done… you remember who you shared those experiences with. The people make the experience.

5. Traveling won’t change us

I don’t think we are going to be two different people when we land at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. At least not from a personality point of view. I’m still gonna have my quirky sense of humor, natural curiosity and certain mannerisms. Jonas will still be his jovial, open and positive self. I think that what we’ll bring back home is a broadened perspective and better understanding for compassion, differences and appreciation.

For example my appreciation towards Finland is much deeper than before. We have an awesome, beautiful country and we are really lucky with our social security and government. I mean, compared to so many other places Finland is truly a heaven to live in. Sure our national sickness is depression and alcoholism and we still have a problem with elderly care and socially outcast youth (and more!) but most of the time we can complain about things not being ”perfect” because they are already really good. So many nations have to complain about things not being ”good” because they are still quite shit.

I like how Mark Twain put it: ”Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” If you already were open-minded and accepting traveling will only deepen those traits.

6. Learning is expensive

This is for anyone who is currently trying to figure out the daily budget for their trip. You have to leave in some room for learning. Nobody told us this before we left so take it from us: these are the things that will consume your budget before you can say ”credit card”:

  • Finding out that there is cheaper accommodation available after staying in a super expensive guest house for a week.
  • Booking an expensive snorkeling trip a week in advance and wishing that the weather is going to be nice when you could’ve done that booking on the day you want do go snorkeling and actually SEE that the weather is good.
  • Booking a trip in advance on the internet when the same trip would have been half the price when booked on-site.
  • Visiting a grocery shop 2 days before flying and then remembering that you can’t take any of that food aboard.
  • Realizing that paying the road toll online would have been a cheaper option than getting a fine.
  • Not listening to a friend when he was saying that a certain mobile data package is inexpensive – instead pay-as-you-go for all sorts of shitty connections from iffy operators.
  • Asking for too much money from a car you want to sell when you have only 2 weeks left in a country and ending up getting only 20% of the asked price on your last day in that country.
  • Using the in-store conversion rates when your bank gives you way better conversion rates (the same applies to ATM visits).
  • Always complaining about the prices at the airport and never actually doing something about it ie. eating before coming to the airport and buying snacks in advance.
  • Forgetting all your food in your guest house fridge.
  • Falling for petrol discount deals since you always end up spending more with said ”discount”.

KA-CHING! There have been tons of more examples like these. And with 20/20 hindsight we advise you to take these things into account in your budget. That way they won’t annoy you as they have annoyed us!

PS: We have also realized that our camera is shitty and we are horrible at taking pictures. After seeing Christian’s photos of New York from their latest update I felt our contribution to this world of traveling is nil. Most of the time when I’m starting a new post I feel completely unable to write a meaningful and good-rhythm’d piece of a blog (it takes a huge amount of effort for me to get one post done!) and now even my delusions of decent photographic content feel naive! The other day we went whale watching in Kaikoura (New Zealand) and because we had lost the proprietary cord for our camera, I hat to take photos with our phone. I mean, a photo of a whale…with a phone! Not only that, but as soon as I was ready to take some video of the whale’s tail slapping the water, the battery ran out and I was once again reminded that I’m just better just admiring the moment than capturing it. Ah well, win some, lose some.

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4 kommenttia
  1. Kirjoitettu 20 elo 2012 klo 09:43 | Ikilinkki

    great post guys,
    in regards to the last point on fotos:

    i think people focus way too much on taking the photos to prove they’ve seen it or to contribute to the world –
    i just like to appreciate it.

    a photo cant capture the deep warm fuzzy feeling you felt inside, the tear that came to your face, or the huge smile and bursts of laughter you just couldn’t shake!!!!!!!!!

    • Kika
      Kirjoitettu 26 syys 2012 klo 03:45 | Ikilinkki

      That is SO true! I don’t like the feeling that you get when you miss something that would’ve been worth a photo. Sometimes you get lucky, most of the times you don’t. I’m making a conscious effort to not care anymore and just go with the flow:)
      On the second week of our travels we made a rule that when you step out from your hostel room you should always have three things with you:
      1. The key to your room
      2. Camera
      3. Water bottle

      But we always forget the camera:D

  2. Helen
    Kirjoitettu 19 syys 2012 klo 18:56 | Ikilinkki

    Awesome read, thank you for writing this :) I completely empathize with a lot of your points having lived in Paris for a year with my boyfriend for a study exchange. Going overseas always makes you realise how much you take your home country for granted!
    I don’t think we’ve met but I had the pleasure of meeting Jonas when he visited Atlassian! I wish you all the best with finding a gig that suits your values and lifestyle, it’s hard right! It seems like you both enjoyed your time here in Australia, it sucks it’s so far away from Europe :(
    Xx

    • Kika
      Kirjoitettu 26 syys 2012 klo 03:42 | Ikilinkki

      Hi Helen and thank you for your message :)) There seems to be a one option still open: Atlassian should put up a office in one of the Nordic countries;) While we are at it, we vote for Stockholm! :D Jonas would definitely be the first one on their door with an application!

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