Finding Peace During Long-Term Travel
It’s not easy quitting your job for a life of travel. When you’re not on the road, it’s easy to have a routine and do things that are familiar. Life while traveling long term is very different. It has taken me many months before I felt comfortable with this mobile lifestyle. I’m still working on it but finding peace in the French countryside was not something I had expected to happen.
In May of 2017, Karl and I sold our house and all of our stuff. Ever since then, I hadn’t really felt like myself. We had no home to call our own and we were officially homeless. It felt like chaos to me. My emotions were all over the place and I felt very restless.
This new life was throwing me for a loop. We were living out of Karl’s truck (and with friends) before we made the 1,200 mile road trip to visit our families back in the midwest. One day, Karl parked his truck downtown and paid the parking meter. As he was paying the meter, we joked that we were paying the rent.
We spent the next five weeks going from house to house living out of our backpacks, crashing on couches and spare bedrooms. This is a lot like what we are doing now, except we hadn’t really started our trip yet. We were just buying time until my brother’s wedding. It was fun catching up with old friends and family and seeing how much the city in which we grew up had changed. We were REALLY ready to start our adventure. We had been saving money and planning this trip for two years.
The wedding was fantastic. It was nice seeing all of our friends and family but now it was finally time for our trip!!
The first three weeks of our travels went by really fast. We traveled to Scotland for nine days and went on a bus tour through the Highlands. We never stayed in the same place for more than two nights.
Then, we met Karl’s family in Germany and proceeded to travel through Germany, Switzerland and France over the next 2 weeks never staying in one place for more than 4 days. It wouldn’t be for another few weeks that we would finally get some peace and quiet.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would ever get used to this kind of living; sleeping in a different bed every night, eating different food every day and wandering somewhere unfamiliar each day. Finding peace and contentment in the French countryside was not something I ever thought would happen.
Our first stop in France was with an organic wine maker, named Baptiste (read about our full experience, here). He was our first Workaway host and this experience was amazing in a lot of ways. BUT, it was anything but peaceful. He lived among some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. There were rows upon rows of rolling grape vines in every direction you looked. The order and straightness of each row was something out of a magazine my mother-in-law would read. The shear number of these vineyards was incredible. The vineyards went on for miles.
While living in the countryside of France, every time we needed something, we would have to drive through vineyards and multiple French villages. These villages were gorgeous and so quiet. It seemed like no one lived there. There was so much potential for finding peace here.
These villages were the perfect setting to find peace, except there wasn’t much downtime. Since we were volunteering, each day after our work was completed, the afternoons would be filled with a new adventure; mostly doing things we’ve never done before like rock climbing, surfing on the Mediterranean, cliffs jumping and wake boarding. I cherished every new activity but they were very exhausting.
If we weren’t doing a new activity, we were driving through the countryside. My favorite day in France was watching a mountain stage of the Tour de France in Fiox (Bucket List material) on Bastille Day. Bastille Day, or la Fête nationale, is the French National Day commemorating a turning point in the French Revolution and the first anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on July 14th 1789.
It was amazing.
Immediately after the race, Baptiste drove us to Carcassonne, a city located in southwestern France, with a population of almost 48,000. It’s here where we would spend the evening with another 700,000 people watching fireworks shoot out of a medieval castle. We were told it was the largest firework show in Europe.
It was spectacular. Even though we had started the day at 9:00 AM and didn’t get back until 1:30 in the morning.
We left Baptiste a week later headed back to Carcassonne to recoup and relax before we started our next Workaway experience. Now we had the time and the chance to walk inside this medieval castle which has fortified walls almost two miles long and fifty six watchtowers. Within the castle walls were restaurants, cafes, shops and a concert venue. It reminded me of a real-life renaissance festival with cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways. The following day we were able to attend a concert in this venue thanks to Baptiste’s recommendation. The lead singer of the band played an accordion and of course sang in French. I love the French language and the accordion! This was super fun!
I felt very grateful to have had these unique experiences in France. We did things most people only dream about except all these activities were adding fuel to a burning fire of restlessness and discontent. I needed some stillness. A place and environment conducive to quiet and calm.
It wasn’t until we left the crazy, unplanned and busy life of Baptiste that I would find peace and contentment. Come to find out, this would also be in the French countryside but this time with a lovely Scottish woman named Josie.
Josie owns a guesthouse in the peaceful, quaint farming village of La Menantelliere. Her village is in northwest France and is surrounded by fields and fields of sunflowers. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life and you just so happen to be forty-five minutes outside Niort, France, check out her gité (guest house).
As we pulled up to her house, I knew I was going to find peace here. She lives in a beautiful renovated old home with a massive garden, a gité, an art studio and a yoga studio. I would spend a lot of time gardening outside, painting in the art studio, doing yoga and meditating. It was a perfect place with the perfect host to finally come to a peaceful place in my heart; a place of stillness among all the fluctuating circumstances that a life of long-term travel will guarantee.
Being a yoga teacher myself, you would think doing and teaching yoga in Josie’s Yoga Shala would be the moments I cherish the most. It was wonderful having such a sacred space to practice but surprisingly it was the painting that I found too be the most freeing.
I’ve never really painted much before. I think the last time I painted was Paint By Numbers as a child. I know it’s really sad but true. Once I got over the fact that I wasn’t very good at painting, I found it to be a release of frustration and very cathartic. Josie allowed us to paint our own totem pole that we later placed near her garden. On my totem pole, I painted my mantra I love and use in my own spiritual practice. I wrote Om mani padme hum below the lotus flower at the top. The lotus flower is a beautiful flower that grows in swampy muck and couldn’t be more representative of this trip so far.
The experience at Josie’s house in the countryside gave the lotus flower a chance to bloom and rise slowly from the muck. For this I am truly grateful to her and this experience.
Finding peace and contentment in everyday life is challenging. This was my focus in life prior to this trip and it was the reason we left on this trip in the first place. Being on the road every day, I’m not sure if this makes it more or less difficult to find peace and contentment but I’m a little closer to knowing what makes me happy and that’s a start. Hopefully peace and contentment continue to blossom as we move into newer and undiscovered environments.
Leave us a comment, on where you go to find peace??