We’re selling everything we own for a backpack and a passport. We’re going to travel the world. This is the story of why we’re setting off into the sunset with a one-way ticket and no estimated return date.
The story of a traveller’s decision to leave it all behind.
There comes a time when everyone questions what they want their life to look like. What they want to remember when their time comes. We each have a choice to set our lives on the path we can, in our own right and in our own ways, be proud of.
I have always wanted something more for myself than the usual 9-5 life, the get married and have kids and work hard and retire to hopefully enough money to see you through your golden years, while you do everything you can to enjoy your lonely retirement and hope your kids come visit you once a month, and then you… well you die.
I don’t want that to be all my life had to offer.
A long standing dream
I have dreamed one overarching dream most of my life. One dream that always hovered over all of the other dreams. And that was to travel the world indefinitely. Yes, indefinitely, until I knew it was time to stop and until i knew where i wanted my home to be.
I have had many other dreams along the way, this is not the only thing that has given my life purpose, it is merely the one that I knew I could never be happy in my last living moment, not having achieved.
I have always aspired to be independent, having started working part-time when i was 15 and continuing to do so until i finished my tertiary education in 2010, when i gained my first permanent position. Above all of my other dreams, there has always been one nagging dream, a tangible dream. Tangible throughout the last 13 years of my life.
Since i was about 15 i have had this tangible dream in the back of my mind, on any given day. A dream that has never faulted to be number one on the list. Has existed for all of my adult life. I find myself at a point where all of my decisions have led me to be ready to say goodbye to this way of life. And i believe that every decision i have made, however subconsciously, has been done with great care to ensure this day comes. I have no more excuses or reasons to put it off any longer. And that’s why it is time.
We are not emigrating
Risking our savings and comfortable lifestyle is not something we are doing to go and work in another country. We are not immigrating or leaving South Africa for greener pastures. Nor do we want to blow all of our money on a lavish, indefinite holiday. We want to make travel our lifestyle.
Our fellow South Africans might be shocked to hear that we are not pessimistic about our country’s future. South Africa is a country of immense beauty and we cringe sometimes at how much time and energy South Africa’s waste on being negative.
This move is a pull factor and not a push factor for us. We are more being drawn to an adventure, than we are being pushed away from anything.
We have worked to sustain a lifestyle that allows us to pick up and see the next place, when we are ready. On our own terms, and in our own way. We have set up investments and passive income streams that, while we see the world, will sustain us. It has all been a series of decisions to get here. Sometimes conscious and sometimes subconscious decisions to get us here. One day comes though, one day when you just realise you’re ready to push the GO button and, well, just do it.
Life’s about choices
I do not want to have children.
“You mean like ever?” is normally the response i get to this statement.
Or someone will ask me if i have any children and when i say, “No”. They ALWAYS respond with “Not yet!”
I know it’s shocking to many people and you can read more about my decision to not have kids here.
But many people reach our age and settle down. They have kids and that maternal or paternal instinct kicks in. They live every moment for their children. And i think that’s beautiful and empowering and works for some people.
We do not have that, nor do we want that. So, we chase other mountains we want to climb, we chase other pursuits and passions.
There is no greater journey, than the one to the depths of your own soul.
In two months time, we’re packing up our lives and trading in everything we own, and boarding a plane with a backpack and a passport.
Who is Nicky Sassenberg?
I am a South African woman, 28 years old as i write this.
My career, which started as a waitress in a little Italian restaurant when i was 15. And today I have just walked away from a job heading up the training division for a large food franchisor.
Born to a South African family of Scottish, German and Rhodesian decent. You could say that in the South African context where most people are poor, I am relatively well-off and free of many South African burdens.
My husband and I both drive nice cars and have great jobs within large organizations who have supported our career growth and afforded us many opportunities.
Our parents gave us the kind of upbringing that allowed us to attend some of the best schools. I moved out of home at the age of 18 and have worked my own way since then.
Independence was somehow always a driving factor in my life. I worked hard, and fought to be independent and have a respected career. Today, Henry and I live in a beautiful three bedroom home, and own two properties in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I have never been driven by materialistic pursuits, nor have I ever been under the illusion that money and things will ever make you happy. I want my life to be filled with experiences and great memories, and not things.
Why did i wait so long?
I had considered, at the tender age of 17, doing this kind of travel when i finished school. At the very least, i had considered doing this as a gap-year after graduating from high school. But i went on to study hospitality straight after school. A decision made, knowing all the while that I could get work anywhere on the face of the globe in the hospitality industry.
Many people who have been close to me would have heard me say something along the lines of “Where in the world do people not need to eat or sleep?”. I chose my career in food and beverage management because i enjoy the service industry AND… because i knew i could get work anywhere.
I considered leaving South Africa again when i finished my studies. I researched cruise-ship jobs and read travel blogs often during my three years of study. But, i got a good internship at a large company, and as they say… LIFE HAPPENS. Right?
It happens that we get so caught up in the rat-race that is life. You start to build a lifestyle, to own nice things. You advance on the career ladder. We get into relationships that hinder our growth. There have been some of those.
I almost left again in early 2013 after a toxic relationship ended and i found myself without a job. But, i didn’t. I kept working, I worked myself up to a nice spot on the upper end of the ladder, in the top 5% of earners in South Africa, I have an amazing job which i love, and I rarely need to want for much.
Why i changed my mind and decided it was time to travel
My life had become, normal. Normal. A word I don’t like to use to describe myself. I have never wanted to be normal or average or settle down.
But then, you become normal, and successful, and continue on the hamster wheel of life. And one day when you least expect it, you meet someone who has the same values and goals as you, and your passion is ignited again.
Henry reignited the spark that already existed within me, and we started to dream together.
We took our first real, international backpacking journey together just about 18 months ago, in late 2016, when we spent a month backpacking around Europe. With no accommodation booked, except for a short stay with a friend of mine in Munich, our arrival city.
In 4 weeks we saw 3 European countries and 7 cities. We did it knowing it was a test-run for things to come.
When Henry finished his degree in the year that followed the trip, we knew that it was the last thing we needed to get going. It had been a huge goal of his to finish his degree and we also knew it would help us get work visas to many countries, if we needed them.
Together, we made conscious decisions to get this life we wanted, ready to live, the way we wanted to live it.
Needless to say, Henry passed his degree and we attended his graduation ceremony in March of 2018.
The very LAST thing we needed to do before we could start our dream.
Now… we set sail.
It would be remiss of me not to add that although obstacles have come in my way many times, and that i have planned to leave many times before, but didn’t. That although I could have gone several times before. I am grateful that I have done this the way I have. That I get to share it with my life partner. I am glad that i get to do this after having worked hard to build a life and independence, after having understood what “Normal” felt and looked like, but still being able to say, “Nah, it’s not for me.”
Our purpose was not to settle down and start a family, it was to live the biggest lives we could.
We believe in seeing the world outside of one single bubble existence lived your whole life. That there is so much else out there to explore. We celebrate other cultures, instead of fearing them as many rats-on-the-wheel do. I do not fear change, but rather, embrace it.
For me, national borders are a man-made invention only seen on a map. Lines of separation fought for in wars that have ended the lives of many people under the guise of freedom and national pride. Wars that only promote fear and intolerance of other cultures.
I refuse to hold up weapons or endorse wars in the name of freedom, I will not endorse the definition of normal we have come to know.
The times they are a changin’, and the world is a big, scary place where hatred has so easily taken over many nations.
But it is also a place of such immense beauty and diversity. A place I want to know intimately before I go. I refuse to want to stay in one place hating other nations.
I want to enjoy this entire beautiful earth we have been given, with as many of the beautiful and different people this world has to offer .
We are all children of this earth, each born of the same soil, and we should explore it, and live together as one people, freely sharing our cultures and ways of life.
I do not believe but rather, i know that there is so much out there to explore and so much life to live.
They say, once the travel bug has bitten you, there is no antidote.