Beer & Skittles – yuck! What’s that all about?

Um, no, we don’t mean beer and skittles literally – that would be kinda gross (or maybe not… we imagine the yellow ones could actually pair very nicely with a good Hefeweizen). Beer & Skittles comes from the British phrase “life’s not all beer and skittles.” (Oh, and skittles is a reference to a bar game that was the precursor to ten pin bowling – not the candy.) So, “beer and skittles” is kind of like shorthand for fun and games. It’s true, life isn’t all beer and skittles, but it can be… most of the time… if you want it to be… right?

So, what exactly are you all doing?

Well, in short, we are backpacking and WWOOF-ing around Europe for a period of six to nine to eleven months or more. After that, um, we don’t know.

Okay, so, what’s WWOOF-ing?

WWOOF, as defined by their website, is an exchange program. “In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. WWOOF organizations around the world link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.”

Although it’s a bit of a misnomer to call what we’re doing just WWOOF-ing as we are also using HelpX and Workaway in addition to WWOOF to find hosts. And since we are also using these two other sites, we are not just working on organic farms and smallholdings since HelpX and Workaway have broader criteria for hosts. For instance, our first host was an art center in western Sweden and we helped them prepare their home to become an artist retreat.

So, let me get this straight: you left two perfectly fine jobs and a great city in order to live off your savings so that you could live out of a backpack and farm in Europe for a few months, in this economy?… Are you nuts?

Correct, that is essentially what we are doing. And yeah… maybe we’re a bit nuts… But how are we supposed to know what we want to do with our lives if we don’t know what the options are? And how could we possibly know what the options are if we just stay in the same place and do the same thing that we’ve been doing for years?

And, really, through this trip we hope to experience how other people live around the world. Having grown-up in cities and suburbs our entire lives, we really don’t know how people survive outside of the regular 9-to-5 grind. Also, this trip is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Aside from wanting to experience different ways of living, we just want to see the world. We just wanted to get out of our bubble.

Plus there’s the food. We love good food (who doesn’t?) and other cultures have really good food. We know from first-hand experience that although you can get some great pastries or good ice cream in America, nothing beats a truly French pain au chocolate or a real Italian scoop of gelato. We plan to eat as much as possible during our journey.

And how did you prepare for this ginormous, life-changing trip?

It was a long and kind-of-complicated process. But mostly, we just closed our eyes and jumped. We’ll fill you in on all the nitty-gritty details later.

What were you doing before you decided to pack up and head out?

Chris was a designer and production artist at a children’s clothing company called Chasing Fireflies. And Gina worked as an associate at the Northwest office (ULI Northwest) of the Urban Land Institute – a global non-profit organization dedicated to the education and promotion of sustainable real estate development practices. Both good jobs that helped enhance our individual skill-sets so that we could create this blog.

Of all the places in the world, why start in Europe?

The short answer: You gotta start somewhere. The long answer (not actually that much longer…): We view this trip as the beginning of a life of travel. We want to see everything. Gina did study abroad in France in 2006 and Chris traveled to some parts of Europe during college, and we both felt that there was just so much more to explore in this continent.

Why should we read this blog?

What an excellent question, dear reader! We can think of a few reasons why this blog might be interesting. Firstly, we hope to provide tips and advice for those looking to do something similiar – learn from our mistakes! We also plan to share every aspect of this trip with our readers. We will update it whenever we are in wifi range. So, if you want to know about WWOOF-ing or using Air B&B or how we planned this trip or what junk food is like in Croatia, we will post it here.

Even if you’re not interested in doing a trip like this, we hope that you will still be able to find something of value within this blog. There will be pictures and stories and art and you will get to see how we are living. We hope that everything will be entertaining, thought-provoking, and educational. And if it’s not or you have some suggestions for us, please feel free to drop us a line.

I am so jealous! I could never do anything like that!

Okay, well, that’s not technically a question. However it is a comment that we get a lot. And the first thing we always say is, “actually, you’re wrong.” Through this blog, we hope to not only share our experiences, but also show that it is totally possible for anyone to do what we’re doing. We know, it can be intimidating, and we are the first to admit that it takes a lot of dedication and a fair bit of planning. But, truthfully, the hardest part is committing to the decision. It’s practically all downhill from there.