Interview Series: Part III – Izzy and Phil – The Gap Decaders

Travel Bliss Interview Series:

As part of my Interview Series wherein each month I feature two interviews with people from around the world – who may be a home-maker, a traveler, a blogger, or a biker or a painter or a potter or an entrepreneur or a writer or just about anyone who have chosen to follow their bliss against all odds, let me introduce you to the very charming couple – Izzy and Phil, who in the year 2018 sold their house that they had spent six years renovating, sold most of their possessions, quit their jobs, bought a motorhome and are now traveling Europe full-time, seeking out adventure and new experiences.

Izzy and Phil have found freedom and believe that whatever the circumstances, there is a way for everyone to find their freedom. You can follow them on their website:  The Gap Decaders

Over to The Gap Decaders Full-time motorhomers finding adventure in Europe and beyond:

1.Tell us about yourselves.

The first thing to say is that if you’d asked this question 18 months ago, you would have got a very different answer!   We have been together 16 years and share the same values and desires in life; we are quite similar personalities; driven, self-motivated, contained.  We work well together as a team and compliment each other’s skills; Phil is very practical and hands-on and Izzy is organized, structured and loves being the administrator!  We sound boring, right?  Well, we probably were in our previous life but we are evolving as our lifestyle has moved on and I would say the bones of us as individuals are still there, but they are stretching and changing shape every day.

2. Ha! Ha! Not boring at all! What inspired or motivated you to sell your house and all your possessions and quit your job and purchase a motorhome and travel?  

We are both really driven people; always wanting to succeed at whatever we do.  About 2 years ago, we started to realize that the drive to succeed was taking over and we were living an overtly consumerist lifestyle, working harder, constantly pushing to be more successful in order to earn more, in order to have more.  But we realized we had more of the ‘wrong’ stuff and nowhere near enough of the right ‘stuff’; time, freedom, laughter, fun.   We brainstormed the why and once we understood we needed to make a change, we brainstormed the how and had the light bulb moment in the bath together!  It was a lot to take in and understand, but we got there and within 6 months of making the decision, we were on the road.

Interview Series - TGD wild camping La Manga Spain Mar19
Wild Camping

3. That’s amazing! How do you manage to do it? How do you survive? What’s life on the road like?

Financially, we are very lucky that Phil has a military pension which is just enough for day to day living.  The bigger costs such as van maintenance and insurance, we take from our slush fund…a bit of the equity from our house sale that we didn’t invest.  Longer term, we hope to make some money from the website and blog, through ads and affiliate links.    We don’t need much and both got past not having many possessions very quickly.  When Europe is your back yard, who needs high heels and designer handbags?

We love life on the road and thrive on being somewhere different almost every day; we get bored if we hang around for too long.  Occasionally we will stay on a site for a week, if we need to get post from the UK for example; we will do all the washing whilst we’re there and take lots of long, hot showers.   We have everything we need in our motor-home, including a Nespresso coffee maker, Wi-Fi and TV…but we spend as much time as possible outside. 

We mostly live off-grid; we have a solar panel for electric and carry large gas bottles for the fridge, cooking and hot water.  We even have heating if it gets cold!  We can go for about 4 days without needing services but then we have to top up with fresh water and lose our waste.  Life on the road means freedom and adventure and that makes us very happy!

Interview Series - TGD Circo de Soasa Pyrenees Spain Oct18
Circo de Soasa Pyrenees Spain

4. Wow! Did you face any challenges / difficulties during the course of your journey? 

Yes, loads! I had a melt-down about 6 weeks in, thinking we had made the wrong decision and should not have sold the house but that passed pretty quickly.   We have had to adapt in our relationship; life on the road 24/7 in a small tin box shines a light on any small fractures between you and shows them up for what they are.  This has been interesting, as our individual idiosyncrasies become more pronounced, but we have become experts at communicating and are too committed to each other and our journey for it to be a problem.

Phil being a military type, we were super well prepared for our trip and other than bringing a few cashmere scarves I really didn’t need, we were spot on with all our equipment and kit.  The biggest challenge we face at the moment is where to buy a bottle of wine for under €2 in Italy!

5. Any one lesson learnt or travel moment you will not forget?

Happy to answer both parts of this question!   We bought an all singing, all dancing top of the range motor-home which we don’t actually need.  I guess when we bought it, we were still in the driven, consumerist place we were trying to get away from.  Now, we just worry about scratching it and would be perfectly happy in something a little less palatial.

The unforgettable moment has to be wild camping on Mont Ne in the French Pyrenees, with zero light pollution and only a few goats for company, looking up at the stars and knowing we had made the right decision.

Interview Series - TGD sea kayak Cabo de Gata Spain Mar19
Sea Kayak Cabo de Gata Spain

6. Any words of wisdom / advice to all the people out there? There are so many of us who have certain dreams or passions that we want to pursue, but are struggling within ourselves, are not sure or are second guessing and having doubts about it.

There is a way; it may not seem obvious, but if you want it enough the obstacles can be overcome.  We all have certain norms that we are expected by family, friend and society to live by…but why?   If you yearn for freedom, hate your job and want to see the world, then why is that less of a valid lifestyle choice than the 9-5 rat race?  Surely not because your parents / upbringing say so?  Think outside the box, dig deep and find a way; it will be so worth it!

Interview Series - TGD MtEtna Apr19
Mt Etna

7. What are you absolutely passionate about? And what drives you to achieving it?

We are both passionate about not going back to the life we had before; about being able to live in the future how we want and where we want, without any constraints.   As a couple, we love nature, the great outdoors and being on the water; we both hike and stand up paddle and often will take our inflatable kayak off on an adventure.  We are happiest in the mountains or by a river or lake, in wide open spaces without hordes of other people.  I (Izzy) personally feel passionately about sharing how we do this and encouraging others to explore how they might find their freedom through the medium of the website and blog.

Interview Series - TGD SUPLace Pra loup France Aug18
SUPLace Pra loup France

8. Let us know about your website: The Gap Decaders . How do you manage to blog, maintain such a lovely website, travel and be continuously on the road all at the same time?

Lol, that’s a great question!  It’s much harder and more time consuming than I thought it would be.  Me being me (see above), I have become very absorbed and committed to getting it right.  It’s about trying to work efficiently and not sweat the small stuff whilst remembering the reasons for this journey.

Interview Series - TGD kayaking Dourbie France Jul18
Kayaking the Dourbie River in France

9.What is your idea of Bliss? Are you following your Bliss?

Waking up next to the love of my life, with a stunning view of a new place, the sun shining and a cup of tea in bed to start the day…pretty simple really!

10. Finally, in hindsight, if there was one thing you would have wanted to do differently in this last one year, what would it be? Or if given a chance again, would you be happy to walk that path again? 

Absolutely, we would both walk the same path, over and over again only regretting that we hadn’t taken those first steps sooner.  I would have bought less cashmere scarves and Phil might have purchased a beard trimmer, but that’s about it!

Ha! Ha! I can totally relate to that! Thank you Izzy and Phil for taking time out and agreeing to do this interview with me and sharing with all our readers about your amazing life journey. I am sure that you will inspire many others out there to follow their dreams! 

I wish both of you all the very best in everything that you do and sincerely hope that you continue to follow your bliss.

Stay tuned for this space, as I come out with another smashing interview very soon 

Till then, keep traveling and keep sharing your stories of inspiration here.

Your TravelMate

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