5. 12. 2020

English Version | Love and a… caravan?

by Carolina Queirós


In the beginning it was nothing but a cottage, away from everything and everyone. Now, it’s boats, tents, caravans, and anything else that allows us to jump from country to continent without thinking too much about it. The classic love and cottage is being rewritten by the couples and families that are now living the contemporary dream: leaving everything behind to go explore the world, meet new people, new cultures, and new ways of living. 

When I was in fourth grade, we used to have our picture taken in school – both of the whole class and individually. Those kinds of photographs that, eventually, always found their way into a frame on our hallway, the ones our mother is deeply proud of this day, despite the tragic haircut and forced smile. Associated with them, there would always be a quote or sentence. Once they asked me what we wanted to be when we grew up. Amongst the many astronauts, firefighters, professors, and doctors, one of the answers was… “on vacation”. At the time everyone laughed at the audacity of this 10-year-old kid and of his answer that, perhaps due to that mix of innocence and honesty, demanded a reaction somewhere along the lines of “When you get older you’ll figure it out” or “You’d grow tired of so much free time!” Truth is he had put into words what any one of us mortals – were we not bound by the politically correct or, who knows, a job we deeply love – would have answered, at least at some given point in our lives.

Jumping ahead of the decade ruled by Nokia’s and Motorola’s to the era dictated by social media we now live in, the world has witnessed the arrival of a dream career that no one thought would ever be possible: the travel bloggers. In a more or less public, and more or less documented way, these new nomads have opened up a window to the reality that gave a whole new meaning to “weekend getaways” – they got away for life. Let’s begin with a simple exercise: on your Instagram feed, how many accounts or bloggers of this category do you follow? And how many times have you thought to yourself, “How is this possible?!” Once? A million times? Maybe it’s not of interest to quantify. What immediately draws our attention – and following – is the perception that this itinerant generation managed to win life, making a living whilst they are, well, on vacation. But maybe the biggest conquest of all is the idea that a life filled with breathtaking places, discovery and adventure, that is shared with the ones we loved the most by our side is not only enough, but possible. 

Kelly Castille and Kody Workman are the American couple behind the account @positravelty, and if the sum of the words positivity and travel that created their handle is not sufficiently explicative of their mission, then we don’t know what could be. A year and a half after Kody initiated his solo adventure of discovery of the world, he met Kelly, who was travelling for only two days at the time, and together they decided to align their routes from that moment on. A little bit all over, Kelly and Kody have been collecting memories in throughout the years in places like Egypt, Switzerland, Bolivia, Peru… the list goes on. Originally from Louisiana and Michigan in the United States, nowadays the couple use Instagram as a vessel to share the beaches, hotels, experiences and locations they visit, employing their creativity and photographic skills. Filled with color and immensely absorbing, both in scenery and in feeling, the content this couple is producing mostly aim to capture a shared life that, in lack of a better description, we would define as #couplegoals. Their biggest adventure, however, wasn’t the launch of their e-book or edition presets, but their engagement. In October earlier this year, Kody wrote an Instagram post where he shared the proposal, titled “She Said Yes”: “Of all the adventures we have been on, all the unbelievable destinations we have explored, this is the one that excites me the most.” Kelly and Kody have also been the target of critics due to the fairly risky operations they have incurred in order to get the perfect shot, but their answer is coherent with the sentiment that dictates the tone for the content they produce: “We have faith in each other and trusted we could do this, so we made the decision to do it as a team.”

Camille and Jean are yet another proof of how life in shades of Maldives-blue can become a reality. The 367 thousand followers of the account they called @backpackdiariez watch closely the life of the two Belgians that two years ago decided to take a break from their corporate jobs in London and go take a trip through Latin America. While backpacking around, they started a blog so that their friends and family could keep track of their whereabouts, but those five months of traveling were way too life-changing for them to just return to their office careers. “We wanted to continue traveling, enjoy life, and share our passion”, they explained on their webpage. The added inconsistency that is inherent to life without fixed employment didn’t leave the couple unbothered, but the love for the road was stronger, and between the freelance jobs and social media collaborations, Camille and Jean built, step by step, a community that is engaged and continues to attract and fascinate many other travel fanatics. In October 2020, the couple announced they are expecting their first child, and how the baby became the “most important thing” in their lives. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the pair have been taking advantage of this time to reminisce on some of their most iconic montages that ended up becoming absolutely viral phenomenons – which is the case of their “unstable” kiss, where the couple can be seen hanging out of a train in Sri Lanka – but they admit that, whenever it becomes possible again, they want to continue traveling, and that they can’t wait to show their bundle of joy all that the world has to offer. On a post earlier in November, Camille and Jean teased their audience regarding how the next time they’re able to go to Bali – their chosen destination in a post-COVID-19 scenario – they’ll have to find a baby-friendly alternative to the usual scooters… but something tells us it’ll be worth it. 

Speaking of 1+1=3, the family of Inês Saldanha, @windfamily on Instagram, is showcasing how a traveler’s life isn’t reserved for young couples in love. This family of six has decided to join together their love for the sea to the wish to go on a trip around the world. Without setting an expiration date for this adventure, in September of this year, Inês Saldanha and João Pisco embarked on a sailboat with their four children, 10-year-old Alice, 7-year-old Manel, 4-year-old Francisco, and 2-year-old Teresa. What makes this even better? The sailboat they chose as their home for this undetermined period is the most sustainable option to do it, using the wind as a motor. Comparing the boat to a “giant caravan”, Inês actively shares on Instagram and the family’s blog. Given that they were the only Portuguese family “crazy enough” to take on an adventure like this, as they described it, the Wind Family took a chance and decided to turn the utopia they’ve always dreamed of into a reality. Contrary to the aforementioned examples, this family doesn’t rely on extraordinary photographic quality nor the conception of such complicated montages that the only possible reaction is to affirm, “That has to be Photoshop.” The Saldanha approach is, ironically, more down to earth, more real. Here, the love for the discovery of new realities, as a family, is always a priority. Despite the commanding inspiration that leads their way, there are practical questions that arise, as a result of the incessant need the universe of nearly 40 thousand followers has of defining their journey. And what about school? How will you manage meals? And, perhaps the most important question of them all, how will you go around the urging desire that will come around sooner or later, to throw someone overboard when you need a (healthy, predictable, comprehensible) break from each other? Let’s take it one step at a time. “The children will be homeschooled”, Inês explains in a recent interview, highlighting the learning of new languages as an absolute priority. “We have to fish to get protein”, naturally taking advantage of stops in every port to get supplies and provisions of everything else, together with the transformation of ocean water into drinkable water aboard their boat. “Our goal wasn’t to work while we were traveling, it was really just traveling. And that’s what we’ll do. We’re going to be sustainable nomads”, Inês clarifies. Their livelihood is composed of the rent of two properties they left on shore, together with all their loved ones who root for their safe return. In this modern-day crusade through the world’s seas, the Wind Family personifies the Portuguese heritage that is the love for discovery, as sure as the wind blowing in their sails.

Sometimes I wonder if that school mate of mine was right. Are we all completely lost amid our workaholic routines, where personal ambition comes down to career objectives instead of life goals? Perhaps we need to relearn to slow down, to live more peacefully, dedicating more time and attention to what surrounds us. Perhaps we’re lacking in love for life. The “vacations” these couples and families decided to embark on are examples of such extreme willpower to live, that their lives would lose all meaning were they not living them to the fullest. Carrying with them the dream and the sentiment, they became living proof that the “love and a cottage” philosophy is possible, despite the challenges our day and age might impose. The scrutiny inherent to social media, the pressure to create the “perfect content” and the general disregard for their lifestyle, are amongst the list of obstacles to overcome, but they do it together, steady in the path they are building. We may be lacking in that fearless honesty, typical of ten-year-olds, the kind we’ve lost on the way while we were trying to avoid hurting susceptibilities. We’re missing that love for life that is so grand, it becomes inconceivable to live it anyway but to the fullest. We’re missing self-love to recognize that loving life that intensely might mean we need to change it ourselves – and that, we won’t be able to do it alone. In an ideal world, faced with the eternal question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, we’d all respond exactly like that kid did – so bluntly and irrevocably in love with life, that all possibilities remain open. Even living forever… “on vacation”.

Translated from the original article from Vogue Portugal's Love issue, published in December 2020.