I Traveled Around Europe by Bicycle for 365 Days and After I Got a Job… Sitting in an Office

Or thoughts on how I was free for a year and then had to spend eight hours a day working between four walls

Cycling in Norway — Photo by Barbara Marques

After I finished university I had little idea of what I wanted to do in life. My father, on the other side, had numerous ideas, being one of them a big adventure: cycling from Europe’s most Western Cape, Cabo da Roca in Portugal, to Europe’s most Northern Cape, Nordkapp in Norway, and back. I like a good challenge so I accepted the invitation to join him. And there we went — father and daughter, a tandem bicycle, and a little trailer behind us.

Though being a full-time traveler was a good life to be living, I kept wondering how it would feel to go back to a “normal” life. Our day to day routines and activities were completely different from the usual, so I wasn’t sure how easy it would be.

Three weeks after we arrived from our nomad year I found a job. A job in an office — a job I always said I would never have. But after 365 days of traveling on a bicycle, I was craving routine, timetables, a table and a laptop, so I accepted the first offer. I instantly fell in love with the city I moved to and the people I was working with. I enjoyed my role and didn’t want to change anything. Everything was good — until my travel bug decided to wake up again! I would be sitting on my desk doing some research and this urge to run away would kick in.

I felt the need to feel the cold wind on my cheeks and to drink water straight from the fresh waterfalls; I felt the need to explore new places and to try to understand new languages; I had this need to feel free.

Often, at lunchtime, I had to leave the office and go outside to breathe some fresh air; sometimes, during the day, I took my shoes off and wandered around the office barefoot; I had to go to work using vans and a sweater because I just couldn’t wear shirts and shoes anymore. I almost always sat with my legs crossed, I went for runs or roller skating after work, I said random facts about random countries, and I knew that I kept doing a lot of things that are seen as weird by other people.

Photo by Barbara Marques

What people wouldn’t understand is that we spent 365 days cycling on roads we had never set foot on before, we had to be resilient and to go with the flow, because we never knew what would happen. Every day was a surprise and we had to deal with that. This meant that we had to do things that we most probably had never done before or that seemed strange for us.

We had to eat without washing our hands because all the water we had was the only water we had to drink; we had to poop in the woods because the closest proper toilet was 100 km away from us; we had to eat rice with nuts because that was all the food we had left; we had to go inside our sleeping bags without taking a shower, for more than three days in a row, because there was nothing but threes and frozen rivers around us; we had to camp in the middle of the forest, finding footsteps in the morning after proving that a wolf or a reindeer had been checking our tent; we had to trust in strangers and to trust each other.

365 days were more than enough days to understand how resilient we need to be in this kind of travel (and in life in general, to be honest!). And when we came back to civilization, I took my time to “act normal”. I was used to doing things that I had to understand that were not very well seen by society, and that was not easy. It was especially difficult when I was still getting used to all of this and found a job, had to move alone to my own house, and had to live the “adult life”, just three weeks after arriving.

Still today, every night I have dinner sitting on my couch, eating from a bowl. I use my table more to put stuff on top and rarely sit on the chairs. Sometimes I hand wash my clothes because I got used to doing that during the trip and eat oats and nuts for breakfast because it reminds me of the early mornings eating inside the tent and looking at the amazing views outside.

Tent views — Photo by Barbara Marques

I am still trying to figure out what I truly want to do with life, but I know that balance is the key — I can be a world traveller and still have a job; I can wear comfy clothes today and spend tomorrow in leggins and fluffly socks; and I can have lunch in bowl sitting on my sofa and go for dinner in a fancy restaurant. Oh and I also know that I won’t go back to working in an office, that is a lesson learnt!

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