Realising that Travel is so much more than a Destination

the motoroamers

Realising that Travel is so much more than a Destination

We think of travel as a movement towards a place that we want to explore, and it drives us and excites us. Yet sometimes travel becomes so much more than just a destination; it morphs into a feeling, a lifestyle and nurtures a life-time of friendships with like-minded souls. Travel then becomes about the people you meet, culture and understanding the world we live in, just a little bit more. This was brought home to me this last week as a series of beautiful connections brought an untold joy into our lives.

Travel destinations, a holiday
Travel is so much more than just a holiday destination

After eight years travelling full-time, we have come to appreciate, perhaps subtly, that Travel is so much more than either a holiday or a destination. Travel is often about the people you meet and the friendships that you make along the way. Sometimes Travel is about the inner journey, or the revelations that you have about life. Travel is an educator, a matchmaker and an experience creator. Oh hail Travel and the privilege that you award us.

This last week, all of this touched our souls, during the course of a ‘Birthday week’ of celebrations – an experience I’ve not had since I was about 10! I must preface this with an important context. Generally, we have learnt that days like Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays and the like, hold less significance to us now. We choose not conform to the System’s expectation of commercial activity. We acknowledge these days in our own, low-key way. So, you can understand my surprise when Travel presented me with so many gifts, all of which came without a glossy wrapper, yet each bound with love and connection.

Travel reconnects us out of the blue with our Dutch friends

It all started at Falesia beach, on the Algarve in Portugal, thanks to our PolarSteps. How amazing that today’s technology can bring people together so synchronistically, creating the most beautiful surprise that was both special and surreal in equal measure.

A quick back story. We first met Floris and Marion on our New Zealand trip in 2015, and despite the 25 year age difference, we hit it off and spent happy times together. We have kept in touch and visited them twice in their Eindhoven home enjoying their fabulous hospitality which involved Cheese making and ice-skating all in the same weekend – now that’s a video you have to watch! Anyway that’s by the by.

Whilst we’ve not seen these guys for five years, and in that time they have married and had their first child, we’ve always remained close and in touch over Whatapp. So you can imagine my child-like delight when Marion messaged me after seeing from our PolarSteps that we were close by. They happened to be on holiday in Portugal visiting Marion’s mum, who is also a vanlifer. What are the chances of that? To our delight they suggested getting together on Falesia’s Tomato Beach, giving us our first chance to meet baby Maud and be entertained by her inquisitive antics. Over three hours we reconnected, reminisced and caught up with our journeys since our last meeting. We kept having to pinch ourselves just to check that this was real. How incredible that the Universe should align our paths again in such an unusual place and give us a chance to share some precious time. All thanks to Travel we have these very special people in our lives, and for that we are truly grateful.

An impromptu surprise to a planned event with our Swedish friends

Two days later, we had a planned meeting in Vilamoura with our Swedish friends, who have settled in Portugal. Our little story, which is worth sharing too is thanks, yet again to technology. This time Instagram. Roger had been following our account for years, as they too were vanlifers in their motorhome Frankieboy. He happened to catch one of our posts when we had just arrived at Peniche, on the west coast of Portugal, back in 2019. They happened to be at the Aire, just down the road, so our first meeting was a blast and so nice to put faces to the names we see on Social Media. And from that moment, we became firm friends. So when we hit the shores of Sweden on our Scandinavian road-trip, a convoy was absolutely on the agenda. We now get together when we are in their area, enjoying their gorgeous new home in Ourique just north of the Algarve. In fact Anna is the inspiration for and designer of our sparkly new website, after we saw the beauty and simplicity of her motorhome and ‘life in Portugal’ blog (you can have a peak into her blog here).

So back to our present day story. We decided upon a joint celebration for us girls given that we have Birthdays just a week apart. Vilamoura was a perfect spot as we knew we could go to the Aire at Falesia Beach. However, we decided to surprise them and give ourselves a treat, by booking into their hotel and choosing a room with a jacuzzi, terrace and mini kitchen, giving ourselves a pool party. What a joy to share time with them both, just chilling, chatting and reconnecting. Such is our friendship, that even a silence between our discussions (all in English I hasten to add), is never an awkward moment. How often can we say that about relationships? We shared laughter, profound chats and amazing food from their small-holding garden and enjoyed the most amazing food at The United Kichens of India in Vilamoura. What a special and nourishing time we had together, that we will cherish. Once again, Travel has intervened by bringing yet another lovely piece to our life’s jigsaw.

A joint Birthday celebration with English friends from Italy

If that wasn’t enough to fill a girl’s heart, we managed another rendezvous with our travel buddies from Italy. Sarah and Mark sold up their successful restaurant business in the UK fifteen years ago to create a new life in Le Marché, Italy. Life was peachy for them running their Hideaway holiday accommodation; that was until the two devastating earthquakes of 2016. Le Marché, on the east coast was hit badly; an event that totally turned Mark and Sarah’s lives upside down, destroying their house and damaging their cottages. Yet in a strange twist of fate, we might never have met, had they not had to buy a motorhome to live in during the years following the earthquakes.

With their travels in Gemma to escape the Italian winters, we finally managed our first meet up, once again in Portugal, in 2019. Are you sensing a theme? Since then we have become firm friends. We have convoyed through Morocco together, spent some happy moments in their recovering home in Italy and they graciously rescued our trip to Madrid in February 2024, by making the effort to visit us for an evening of laughter and chatting.

Now, roll forward to the last week in March when we were able to catch up with these guys again. Better still with Mark’s and my birthday within a day of each other, another celebration was on the cards. We met up at our favourite spot in Alvor before Storm Nelson hit Portuguese shores. We hoped that further up the coast we might just avoid the impending weather front, yet instead, we hit it head on! In spite of it, we had a fabulous weekend at Zambujeira do Mar. In between torrential downpours we managed to walk along the Fishermens’ Way and shelter at the best fish shack restaurant we have ever experienced. The O Sacas restaurant hidden away at tiny fishing village of Porto de Barco, is beyond adjectives. Breaded sardines from the morning’s catch and octopus and garlic with a few tots of brandy. What a great way to acknowledge our special days and to share times with great friends.

Travel is an endless gift that presents to us so many treasured moments. Sometimes they challenge us, more often they evoke strong emotions of joy, love and delight. And whilst we love that Travel takes us to such varied and beautiful destinations that teach us so much, Travel is also about the friendships we have made whilst out on the road, which enrich our lives beyond measure. Adding these connections to our dear friends from Life before Travel, and we feel utterly blessed. There’s no doubting that Travel has both coloured and influenced our life jigsaw in a way that is often hard to describe. And we are grateful for all that it continues to bring us, constantly shaping how we see the world and the people in it.

Published: March 30, 2024


  1. Anna i Portugal

    What a great week you´ve had! It´s fun to celebrate birthdays together and also several times, yippie! We are so grateful for our friendship that not only give us joy, but also deep and nourishing conversations. Love you guys! And thanks for the link!

    • Karen

      We have a saying that says, ‘If in your life you can have a handful of true friends, then you are blessed.’ And that we are my friend. Kx


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