We are Mike and Silke Maddox, a married couple who sold everything we owned in order to travel the world indefinitely. Here you will find a little more background to our story.
When we met in 2002, Silke was a student continuing her BA Hons in English Language at the University of Chester and Mike was just beginning his second year as a Graphic Design student at Liverpool’s JMU. Once Silke had finished that short semester she returned to Bayreuth in Germany to complete her studies whilst Mike stayed in Liverpool to continue his Degree. The first two years of the relationship were spent ‘long distance’ – over the telephone, and travelling to see one another whenever we could.
During the long semester breaks we would cram as much travelling as we could, camping in the Greek islands (Cyclades) as well as taking numerous trips together around the UK, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic before Silke finally moved to Liverpool in 2004.
Silke then studied for a Masters Degree in Translation at Manchester University whilst Mike got his Design career off the ground working at Liverpool based agency Nonconform. Our favourite way to travel back then (and still is) was to grab a tent and a couple of backpacks and drive into North Wales or Yorkshire or even head into Europe using the trains to travel from one place to the next. The west coast of Portugal (Porto to Lisbon) and the South of France (Cote d’azur) being two particularly memorable trips.
Both of us had done a fair amount of travelling before we met, Silke had spent a year as a student in Ohio USA and been on countless InterRail trips throughout Europe whilst Mike had spent time in New Zealand and enjoyed an epic three month road trip up and down the east coast of Australia.
So the foundations for our nomadic lifestyle were there, we both love to travel and have a desire to live independently from the norm. That was all the inspiration we needed to inspire us to take our first ’round the world’ trip which began in August 2009.
That trip began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was planned methodically for about 18 months so that we could travel to as many places as possible, travelling overland as much as we could. That meant that the trip was quite intense, packing as much as we could into those 12 months, only spending four or five days in one place, sometimes less! The route took us from the UK to Brazil – Argentina – Bolivia – Peru – Ecuador – Argentina – New Zealand – Australia – Hong Kong – India – Singapore – Malaysia – Thailand – Burma (Myanmar) – Laos – Cambodia – Vietnam – China – Mongolia – Russia (Mongolian Railway) – Latvia – Lithuania – Poland – Germany and finally back to the UK.
From Singapore to Germany, the journey was made entirely over land using buses, boats and trains, and the entire trip cost us approximately £11,000 each, including flights and insurance. You can read all about this trip by clicking on the links above, and see an extensive gallery of pictures on our flickr site.
Following those incredible 12 months we returned home to Liverpool and settled back into our old jobs (which had kindly been kept open for us), however things just weren’t the same. Although it was great to see our families and friends again, we found ourselves in danger of slipping back into old habits – the ones that you keep telling yourself when you’re travelling that you’ll never get into again – along with this, we found the high cost of living, the cold weather, the long working hours, and the tedious ‘nanny state’ that England has become (we know when we’re coming to the end of an escalator thanks, no need to tell us 30 times!!!) just wasn’t going to satisfy our needs anymore. Long term travel should come with a warning. It sucks you in, it changes you, and like any good drug, it leaves you wanting more.
And so after arriving back on English soil, it only took us about six months to decide that we were going to leave again and after a quick, cheap (but wonderful) wedding we started to make new plans for the next journey. Only this time, there weren’t to be any plans!
What we long for is freedom, the freedom to travel and move around as we please, we also long for a better lifestyle than that afforded to us in the UK, with more time to ourselves, more time outdoors and more time to do the things we want to do rather than the things that you have to do. In order to be able to do this and travel indefinitely, there were a couple of things that we had to do to allow us this freedom. Firstly we had to remove all of our obligations that were tying us to the UK, and secondly we had to find a way of making a living while we travel.
The answer to the first problem was relatively easy to solve: We paid off all of our outstanding debts, quit our jobs, gave up the lease on the flat, and sold the car along with the rest of our possessions. To find out how we did this see our ‘how to sell your stuff’ page.
However, the answer to the second problem was to prove a little more difficult, and we decided that we only had a few options. Firstly, we thought that we could teach English or we thought that we could start our own freelance careers (Silke as a English / German translator and Mike as a graphic designer). Initially we ended up doing both of these things but have since finished our short teaching stint to concentrate on the latter. As we’ve mentioned, we don’t really have much of a plan but you can read more about how we intend to live work and travel here.
Don’t get us wrong, making the decision to leave and become digital nomads was difficult, and by making that decision we knew it meant that we would be leaving our friends and families for long periods of time without knowing when we would see them again. We knew that it would mean missing out on important events, Birthdays and Christmas, but as much as we knew we’d miss those things, our desire to experience more of the world and live a full and exciting life was too strong.
We know that keeping in touch is easy using the internet, and making regular visits home on cheap airlines will make sure we’re no strangers to the UK, and after all, life is precious and all too short, and we hope to make our lives a Big Little adventure.