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A traveler's tale: When Covid-19 fucks with our dream journey

Mads And Jens On Balcony

When life gives you re-arranged dream trips...

... Embrace it, and go on another adventure than what you first thought!

That's the way Mads and Jens, two Danish soon-to-be-explorers, have chosen to approach things, now that Covid-19 has postponed their original travel plans several times. Read the full story here!

Pursue your dream, but be willing to adjust

When you plan your big dream trip, you always have some ideas, expectations and things that you really want to experience, but we can probably all agree that the past 1,5 year has proved that we need to be flexible when we book as things change rapidly. And the Danes, Mads & Jens, are great examples of how a well planned trip is forced to turn into something completely different in the end.

We decided to try and get to know how the proces has been like for the young guys, how they experienced the ups and downs as well as putting some thoughts on how the mood and expectations has changed through their entire planning proces.

So, what were your original travel plans and how have they changed?

Mads: Well, at first we wanted to do the Trans Siberian Railway for about a month all the way to China. Then we would spend another month traveling through China and Taiwan where we had planned to meet up with some friends. And then eventually we would head on to South East Asia until we ran out of money, basically.

Jens: Our newest plan is Mexico, and hopefully we’re able to explore Guatemala as well, but we’ll just have to wait and see. We have almost nothing planned now, as things change rapidly, so we’ll take most of the journey on the go.

How experienced travelers are you?

Jens: I have traveled for about a year on my own before as part of an exchange program where I was in Peru, but that’s the only big trip aside from a bit of traveling in Europe on my own.

Mads: I am actually a bit green. I’ve had a few trips around Europe with train on my own, and then I have traveled a lot with my parents when I was younger.

Are you traveling now as a part of your gap year, or?

Mads: It’s actually my third gap year, and it’s Jens’ second. At first I had planned to travel with some other friends, but then they started studying, and then we decided to do the trip together. Jens actually wanted to start studying this summer, but since our journey was postponed several times, Covid-19 have had that impact that he had to postpone his studies as well. Long time ago, we took a good look at each other and decided that no matter what, we really wanted to do this trip together before studying, so that’s where we are today.

Can you maybe put a few words on the ups and downs in the booking and planning process you’ve been through?

Mads: Yeah, we have to think a bit back now. It actually started when I started on my first gap year 2 years ago. I had a dream about going with the Transsiberian Railway. I started planning things in my head for about a year, and then Jens went on his first sabbatical year. As I said, it was originally some other friends that I had intention of going with, but they started studying and then Jens and I started to plan the trip together.

Jens: I have some friends in Taiwan I really wanted to visit. Furthermore I was very keen on the idea of exploring jungles and getting out in small, local communities and little by little we started to get an idea of what we wanted.

Mads: Yeah, I almost can’t remember, but I believe we started planning in the summer 2020, and had the intention of traveling during the fall. Even though the summer last year was quite positive and more and more places started to open up, it eventually couldn’t happen. We then postponed our trip to early this year – around January or February. At this point we actually hadn’t booked nor paid the trip as things were pretty unsure. But at this time things started to get worse most places, and it was then postponed again to a departure around now. And then just before the summer we were again positive and it looked like we could go, so we booked and paid the trip. Not long after we got the news that it would not be realistic to go on our trip until next summer, so we started to get really impatient. We had some good talks with a travel consultant and said we couldn’t wait another year, so we looked at realistic openings as of now, and we’re now one month away from traveling to Mexico. But if we’re honest, the whole booking and planning process has been quite loose from us, and we just had an idea of things we wanted to experience and then the destinations were less important. As long as it was far away and there was some adventure waiting.

Jens: We’ve tried to look on the positive sides, and since it was postponed so many times we got the opportunity to work more and save up more money, and in the end spend more time on our trip.

Why Mexico then?

Jens: There were not many alternatives if we wanted to go asap. Impatience won over our original plan, and especially Mads had to acknowledge that the dream about traveling with train most likely would be put aside with our new travel plans.

Mads: Yeah, but to be honest I was okay with that at this point. We wanted to go, and we wanted to go now. So that’s how it is. But the reason we ended up booking Mexico is actually that we both do gymnastics and our coach is Mexican. We had a good talk with him, and now we’re actually going to stay with his family for the first 3 weeks until we find our own place, so we figured that it was good way to save some money and of course a nice “insurance” to have if something happens while we are there, that we would know someone who could help us out. Not a thing that our journey depended on, but we see it as a “nice to have” when we’re traveling during these times. And aside from that, Jens speak fluently Spanish from his year in Peru, so yeah, the idea of Mexico seemed a pretty straight forward option as our last minute change, we thought.

Jens: And to be honest it’s also a really nice way get to know local people, do some gymnastics in a local club etc. It’s nice to start of with some connections in order to meet new people. Our plan is to stay in Guadalaraja for a few months, have a base there and then take it as it comes. We’re not locked on anything aside from a few things we really want to see while we’re there. And to be frank, it suits us well, that during these times it’s more or less impossible to plan everything ahead, so in that way it’s quite convenient that we’re forced to travel the way we probably we have wanted to anyways. We’ve giving up planning as such, and now we just take from there.

How do you feel about traveling in these Corona-times?

Mads: Well uncertainty is one thing. In one way we expect the “worst”, and we have agreed to have low expectations in terms of what we’re able to see and do, and then we just use our energy on enjoying the fact that we can actually go somewhere.

Jens: It has helped a lot that we haven’t set specific expectations to exactly what we want to do and when. As long as we board that plane to Mexico next month, we’re actually already satisfied.

Mads: We’re confident that we will have a great trip no matter what. Jens and I are good friends, and we’re sure we’ll get the best out of it, no matter what happens on the trip. The only uncertainty points for us has been stuff like “when is departure date” and “what about our living situation back home”. Because it was postponed the last time, Jens is actually going to be “homeless” for around 25 days. So it’s been more practical stuff that has led to uncertainty.

Jens: But is has been a tiresome process from getting hyped up about specific things in our travel plan initially, like our diving course in Thailand, the train journey etc, to being told that these things couldn’t happen. But we always had the mentality that things will work out in the end. The plan has just changed.

"But I wouldn’t say we’re nervous about not being able to go home or things like that. Actually we don’t want to go home at all."


Have you spent a lot of time researching practical stuff for your trip?

Jens: We have spent very little time on research. Every time we have had a meeting with our travel consultant, she has prepared us for almost everything. We’re not thinkers in that way, we take things on the go, and I have to say the help we have gotten through the planning process has been absolutely fantastic. It doesn’t mean we can disconnect our brain totally, but we’ve had an extra, and more experienced, traveler to remind us of the things we needed to do.

In case you want to follow the adventures of Mads & Jens, you can follow them on Instagram:

Jens: @jensbaerentsen

Mads: @madsg.hilker

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