Europe, Montenegro, Travel stories

A Trip to the Balkans and Half a Year Vacation

balkan roadtrip minivan adventure in europe (1)

All of us are dreaming of something. But even if those dreams are loud in our minds, we rarely do anything about them – there’s either no time, no money, or no possibility to quit your job. The authors of “Visur Namai” blog Eglė Juočienė (29) and Dalius Juočas (30) were initially dreaming of taking a minivan and going on a long trip. Later, they actually did it.

Already on your third date, you discovered a common dream – traveling by minivan for at least half a year. How did you eventually manage to actually do it? What was going through your minds?

Eglė: I started thinking about what I would lose if I did it and what I would lose if I didn’t do it. We quit our jobs, but when you think about it, when you’re 60 years old, what difference does it make if you had 30 years of work experience or 30 years and a half.

Dalius: If you’re scared to make the decision, the best thing is to just push yourself – start preparing for the trip, quit your job. It took us two years to prepare for this trip.

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trip to montenegro mountains

However, you probably cannot come back to the same job, and it gives you a lot of uncertainty. Then you can start doubting your decision.

Eglė: I came back to the same job. When I quit, I didn’t think it would happen, I told my goodbyes. But after the trip, a new position opened up and they contacted me. It’s also good for the employer, since I came back to work rested, highly motivated, missing work and willing to do something.

Dalius: I also had an opportunity to come back to the same workplace, but I didn’t want to.

Eglė: The trip gave Dalius strength and motivation to start his own business. Our enthusiasm was actually going up and down. Some days you really want to do it, some days you come back from work and think to yourself: “What are we doing, do we really want to travel?”.

Dalius: It was actually like this: if one of us was “down”, the other one was really motivated. At some point, our living room was turned into a workshop. We had to build a cabinet, put in a sink, and install pumps so we could have a shower. One day I was really excited about going on our trip, and Eglė came back home all tired, saying: “What a nonsense!”. I was like: “What? Here – we already have a cabinet.” It seems to me that you always have to lift each other up and not give into the bad emotions.

couple roadtrip in europe

travel lifestyle couple

travel route in europe for van

You were traveling around the Balkans: Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania. What made the biggest impression?

Dalius: The fact that in Croatia it’s really easy to travel by campers. It’s a real campers’ land, you can easily find parking spots on an app, and cannot stop wherever you want. Even though Greece seems like a dry country, the northern part, Pindo national park, is really impressive. Everything is green, there are mountains, olive trees, forests are overgrown with weeds.

Eglė: In Greece, we stayed the longest – 3 weeks. It was in mid-June, and we still wanted to travel to the south but realized that because of the heat it was simply impossible. You try to refresh yourself in the sea but there’s almost no temperature difference.

Dalius: In our van, we always had around 60 liters of water that we used for drinking, cooking, and washing up – so this water was actually more refreshing. From 35°C heat in Greece, we drove to 16°C in Bulgaria – and it took us only a day. When we saw stormy clouds, we were actually happy that the weather “got better”.

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europe travel adventures roadtrip

What kind of adventures or unexpected events did you experience?

Dalius: While driving in Greece we smelled something. In the back of the van, there was an extra battery for everyday life: the sink, the light, charging electronics, etc. The wire we used for charging got really hot and started melting – I quickly took out the fire extinguisher.

Eglė: We used up like two extinguishers. We were stopped on the side of a highway, I was sitting on the curb with all our stuff taken out and was thinking that our trip was over, what should we do next? It was only a month into the trip, too early to come back to work. But Dalius came back and said: “That’s it, I took care of it, let’s go.”

Dalius: We just didn’t have electricity after that and the sink was working occasionally. We had a solar battery, so if while washing the dishes it got cloudy, the water would stop running. But you wait a bit, and it starts running again.

Eglė: When we started driving just after the “fire”, all the white dust started flying around and our eyes got itchy. In the campsite, for two days, we were cleaning every single item.

Dalius: Also, in every country, there were always dogs that were following us. Just like that, they come and stay with us. In Montenegro one dog followed us for 20 km, the next day there was another one. In Greece, we were once followed by 4 dogs, in Bulgaria – by another one.

Eglė: We didn’t even know what to do with them. Another thing that made a big impression was a mountain town/skiing resort in Bulgaria. Even in June, it was all decorated for Christmas, there was a Christmas tree, advertisements, skis, but everyone was gone. Even on a weekend, there wasn’t a single soul, all the shops were closed. In general, driving in Bulgaria was the most fun. Hiking in Rila and Pirin mountains you barely meet any people, and you can completely disconnect from the civilization.

hiking in europe ideas

hiking in mountains europe

montenegro nature

What did this trip give you? What did you realize? What are you dreaming of now?

Eglė: I got the strongest feelings when it hit me that if you don’t have control, your life just flows by. You finish high school, university, find a job, and are taken by this flow, everyone’s flowing and so are you. After the trip, I realized: “Wait, we can live as we want, make our own decisions and turn our lives towards the direction that we want.” I got more courage. If you don’t like something, you can change it in the way that you want. You don’t need to suffer and think about how unfair life is, you are actually responsible for your own decisions.

Dalius: When it comes to traveling, at the moment we are “calm”. We don’t need to change anything; we need to work.

Eglė: Before the trip, working and the city, it all looked like nonsense.

Dalius: It looked like we could travel for the rest of our lives, who needs work?

Eglė: But after traveling we’re willing to do something productive and earn money.

Dalius: After a few months, even traveling starts to seem a bit pointless. Every day you’re looking for a place to sleep, you’re driving, visiting the most remarkable sights from that country, region or Europe. It all becomes a kind of work, routine.

After a while, all these sights start looking the same, and nothing gives you pleasure: “Oh look, another UNESCO castle, boring”. At first, we wanted to travel for half a year, and we were fully prepared for it. But after staying in an excellent campsite in Romania that had a swimming pool, restaurant, we decided to cut our trip short to 10 weeks. It was there that we bought tickets to Iceland.

Eglė: The time span that we didn’t work for was anyhow half a year. After coming back home, we spent the whole summer month in Dzūkija, after that we flew to Iceland for two weeks. We cooled down, it was awesome. Later we started missing the creativity.

On the road, you see so much and get so many experiences that after a while you want to give something back. So I started writing a blog and came back to work with a totally new motivation. Working doesn’t seem like something hard, it’s just something that you choose to do at that point of life. I work in logistics, it’s a technical management position, but I find meaning in it. Before everything seemed pointless.

nature in balkans

roadtrip to greece

roadtrip van life

In your blog, you wrote that dreaming is scary. What did you mean by that?

Eglė: Changing everything is scary. The more you dream, the more you start not liking your everyday life. You live in your dream, but eventually, you need to make a decision that you need to change something – quit your job, for example. I remember the day when I had to give the notice. I just kept thinking: “What am I doing?”. Our friends just bought an apartment, others are raising kids.

Dalius: And we bought an old minivan.

Eglė: It was like, what should I say? The job is good, there are career opportunities, and if I quit, I’ll have to start all over. I meant the fear, the unknown of where your dreams might lead you.

Dalius: If you’re just dreaming but not making it a reality, you are still always carrying that dream with you. Then you become disappointed with yourself, you feel like you did something wrong. If we didn’t go on this trip, I really feel that we would be nagging ourselves until today. We would also be less motivated to do other things.

Eglė: So you shouldn’t be scared, you should make the change.

sunset near the sea

landscape in europe mountains

 

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