In April 2017, after saving like crazy, Shelley and Lars Roes from Brisbane, Australia, sold everything they owned, quit their full-time professional jobs, and set out to travel the world. When their adventure began, they only anticipated being gone for one year, but the road less traveled is still calling their name.
So far, they have traveled to 23 European countries in their campervan. They plan to see more of Europe this year, including Iceland and Estonia, and then make their way across Africa in 2020.
They share updates on their journey, inspiration, travel tips, and beautiful photos on their blog, Lifejourney4two.
TA: How many years have you been traveling?
Shelley and Lars: We both traveled to various places before our big adventure, but since we left Australia, we’ve been traveling for just over two years full time.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Shelley and Lars: We seem to have ended up road-tripping around, whether in a campervan, car, or four-wheel-drive camper. Therefore road trips feature heavily on our blog. We also like to inspire travelers to visit those places off the beaten track and to spread the tourism love around a little more evenly.
TA: What is the most romantic place you’ve ever visited with a partner?
Shelley: The beautiful historic Antwerp Central Station in Belgium. That’s where Lars proposed — the City of Diamonds.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Shelley and Lars: The one that captured our hearts while we were traveling in Europe was Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It had a Venetian feel, with beautiful architecture, numerous bridges, fountains, and statues. It’s also small compared to most capital cities, which made it a winner in our eyes.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Shelley and Lars: The island of Karmøy in Norway is hugely underrated. It was home to the Viking kings; has a beautiful historic village, Skudeneshavn, on its southern tip; and has some of the best beaches in all of Norway. Yet, it is completely off the tourist radar at the moment.
TA: What is one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Shelley and Lars: We’ve always wanted to visit the Galápagos Islands.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Shelley: The United Kingdom has much better food than you’d expect. I’m from southern England and always hanker after fish and chips with curry sauce, roast dinners with beef and horseradish, and the best thing on planet Earth: clotted cream!
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life?
Shelley and Lars: One couple we met certainly changed our perception of how long people can travel. We were parked at a small, free campsite in Austria. Camping just across from us was an older couple who would wave to us each morning as they set off on their electric bikes. A few hours later they’d return — often with a local delicacy for us to try.
We got to know them a little bit. They were both 90 years old! They lived in Austria, but both spoke English fluently, and they told us all about their travels. They didn’t like to leave the country due to health issues, but they still traveled around in their van for about six months each year. They seemed like they were in their 70s rather than their 90s. The encounter certainly gave us food for thought. Expect us to be traveling around Australia, electric bikes in tow, when we’re in our 90s!
TA: What is something other tourists do that drives you crazy?
Shelley and Lars: When we were traveling in the campervan, we would be parked in a huge space with beautiful views, and one thing that really annoyed us was when another campervan would drive in and block our view or park so close to us that we could hear every move they made. It would be understandable if there were no other spots in which to park, but when there was a huge parking area — oh, how we fumed!
TA: What is one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Shelley and Lars: A smile and sense of humor go a long way in countries where we can’t speak the language.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Shelley and Lars: Most travelers worry too much about the cost. Many people we know want to travel, but they say they can’t afford it. Today, there are lots of options that make travel much more affordable. You could sell all your belongings, like we did, but if you don’t want to be that drastic, you could obtain free accommodations through housesitting.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Shelley and Lars: “Follow us.” Occasionally, when we are in a foreign country, we come across a blocked or closed road, and the GPS won’t reroute. A couple of times a kind driver has indicated that we should follow them. This has gotten us out of a few tricky situations.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Shelley and Lars: Enjoy where you are. Take in the sights and sounds without rushing on to the next place on your list.
TA: What is one piece of advice you’d give to travelers your age?
Shelley and Lars: Turn your “one day” into “day one” now. Live. Do what you’ve always wanted to do. “One day” may not arrive.