A LIFE WELL TRAVELLED -Carien von Backstrom- Take a big dose of courage, mix it with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of zest and you get all that is Liesbet Collaert. Digital nomad travel with dogs.
FDN DIGITAL NOMAD LIFE, WORK & TRAVEL >
Take a big dose of courage, mix it with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of zest and you get all that is Liesbet Collaert. I have rarely in my life come across such a humble, larger than life person. Liesbet is one of those unique individuals who you would use your last dime for to go on an adventure with.
A lot of definitions can be given to a digital nomad, but she encompasses all of that. Creating a life on the road for you and your family is quite an achievement. In this article, I connected with her to learn more about her story.
I am originally from Belgium. My family still lives there. Whenever the opportunity arises, I try and spend time with them, although Covid did impact on this a bit. I have always been a traveller by heart. When I studied teaching, I used to save up and travel during the holidays.
My family is used to my lifestyle, which some might classify as unconventional. I do not have a “home” in the normal sense of the word. I have utilised my parents’ address, and later my in-laws in Massachusetts, for official purposes. But our home is where we are, me, my husband and our dog Maya.
When I first started travelling, I backpacked through Italy. My later travels evolved a bit more. We migrated between sailing, travelling in an RV, sailing again and now we are back in our RV.
The Adventures & Challenges
Sailing is quite an adventure, but also has its fair share of challenges. Our first sailboat was a monohull. Being land creatures, it caused for numerous bouts of sea sickness both for myself and Darwin and Kali – our two dogs. The dogs seemed to find the sailboat the most challenging.
Later on, when we swapped the monohull for the catamaran, we were all able to enjoy it more and the seasickness was ten times better.
On the open waters, proper planning is key. You don’t have the luxury of being able to quickly drive to a store to buy parts for your vehicle if need be. Maintenance must be constantly kept up to date. And the weather is the deciding factor in every and all decisions. You do not want to get caught in a storm unprepared. Luckily my husband is a man who likes to keep abreast of things, and this was never a problem to him.
Our dogs are like our children. They go where we go. Because we did quite a bit of inter-continental travel, we always made sure that their vaccinations were up to date and all relevant paperwork in order, depending on country-specific requirements.
It has happened on more than one occasion that we diverted to a different island or country because the officials gave us so much hassle regarding allowing the dogs to set foot on shore.
Going on land for food and supply purchases is something of an adventure. Apart from the fact that you require the dinghy to travel to land, you still have to source and walk to the nearest stores for your supplies and produce. Then everything must be carried in your backpack back to the dinghy and then back to the boat. This is not a quick exercise.
With the RV, this is easier. What helps though, is that an RV has an outside and you are not only confounded to the interior. We migrate in a similar fashion as birds – we travel where the climate is the warmest. That way, you can sit outside and eat breakfast, or do work, etc. Also, if the weather is bad, it can wreak havoc on the interior of the RV. Imagine muddy paws bounding through the inside of your “house” shaking off excess rain!
Our first campervan was 19 feet and we called it home for the better part of four years. It clocked many miles throughout North America. The Cirrus truck camper is our current home.
Although maintenance and travel are “easier” in a sense with an RV, it still involves some logistics. Parking must be level. You have to make sure that all relevant utilities are available to accommodate your needs, such as fresh water.
Various types of camping facilities are available throughout America. Desert camping, ‘boondocking’ or wild camping and then your traditional campgrounds. These are great to get basics done such as laundry, etc. and connect to the internet.
Signal and connectivity issues are probably our biggest headaches. On a sailboat, this is an even bigger problem. This situation actually led us to develop a system specifically for sailboats which focuses on more constant internet connectivity.
Our next travel agenda is South America.”
Connect With Liesbet & Mark
Follow Liesbet’s journey on her blog Roaming About
Or contact her via email on [email protected]
She is also the author of the book Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary