Have you ever daydreamed about changing your life in order to get more freedom to travel? That moment when you’d quit your job (dramatically, of course), sell your stuff, pack a bag, and disappear over the horizon?
What stopped you? Common sense? Responsibilities? The fact that life isn’t a Hollywood movie and normal people just don’t do that…?
Uh, hi. I’m Kat. Three years ago, I found myself on top of a mountain in Switzerland, gazing up in awe at the Milky Way—and decided I was done with the rat race. I wanted to quit my stable and well-paid job as an air traffic controller in order to go traveling around Europe in a motorhome.
To say my husband was taken aback would be an understatement, but he was surprisingly easy to convince‑—especially once I’d taken the time to do spreadsheets and write a proper plan.
It wasn’t a gap year or career break. There was no getting my job back if we changed our minds (my job was too tough to be away from for more than a few weeks without having to redo years of training). So, we saved every spare penny, bought a van, sold most of our stuff, and within a year we were ready to set off.
That was in 2018, and life sure has been an adventure since then. There have been incredible highs (like visiting Norway or being up in the Alps) and some much tougher times(you know, like a global pandemic and total lockdown).
I know living outside of the norm isn’t for everyone. But if it intrigues you, here are some answers to the most common questions we get asked.
How do you earn money?
This is by far the most frequent question people ask us. My husband works in software development and he has always been able to do that as we travel, which has given us a level of security. We also earn from our experiences. We took everything we learned on our travels and writing the blog (more on that in just a second) to create guides to motorhome travel that make life easier for those wanting to follow in our footsteps.
What do you do with your time?
At first, I wasn’t planning to work at all—we downsized enough to live off his wage and the thought of not working sounded idyllic. I thought travelling and discovering new places would be enough. And it was…for about three weeks.
But, like most Type A overachievers, I needed more. Something to work my brain and fill my time when we weren’t travelling. That’s how our blog Wandering Bird started. At first, it was just an online diary, sharing our stories and adventures for friends and family to follow.
Over time, it’s grown into one of the biggest motorhome travel blogs in the U.K. We love sharing our stories and helping other people make the most of their time on the road, whether it’s for a weekend road trip or a month-long adventure. Working on the site and YouTube channel has allowed me to connect with so many great people and it’s been an unexpected benefit of our unusual lifestyle.
What’s been your biggest mistake?
At first, we made some big mistakes with our time management. We tried to rush around, driving to new places almost daily, always on the go. Honestly, it became exhausting. One of the biggest lessons we’ve had to learn is to pace ourselves, to allow time to relax, to read a book or indulge in a hobby.
Similarly, I was convinced that living in a van would make me “better.” I’d get up at dawn, meditate to birdsong, run 50 miles before breakfast (which would of course be just carrot sticks and fresh fruit), and within a week I’d be a stick thin, yoga-loving, cool surfer chick.
Sadly, almost none of that has happened. I do get up early because I have a dog and sunrise is one of my favorite times. But we’re travelling in Europe…where there are croissants. And freshly baked pain (bread). And pastries. I also haven’t meditated or done yoga and (despite numerous attempts) I still can’t surf or run as well as I would like.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting a similar lifestyle?
We did a lot of research before we chose to change our lives completely. We’d already lived on boats for years, so we were used to living differently and knew how to live in a small space together. We got very good at budgeting, downsizing, and remembering that chores didn’t just stop because you were on an adventure. There was still cleaning, laundry, and washing the dog to do!
I know it’s scary contemplating doing something different. The unknown is always scary. But we wouldn’t change our decision for anything. The freedom we’ve enjoyed since I left my job has allowed us to explore over 19 countries throughout Europe, as well as spend extra time with family and friends. To us, that is priceless.
I encourage anyone thinking about downsizing their life or aiming for early retirement to think it through carefully, but then go for it, really go for it. It may be the best decision you ever make.