Travel Bliss Interview Series: Earth the Beauty.
As part of my ongoing Monthly Interview Series with people who think out of the box, who step out of their comfort zone and follow their passions, let me introduce you to the very lovely Iris Joschko, who has visited over 36 countries on all 6 continents. Iris completed her PhD in Environmental Psychology last year and with this background and with her wealth of knowledge, she can give you all sorts of tips on how to travel responsibly and sustainably. Follow her on her adventures on Earth the Beauty
1.Tell us about yourself.
I am a very family person on one side and on the other, I love adventure and unexpected encounters with other people, although I am also very shy. There are many opposites within me and I try to give space to all of them. I love nature and everything inside me bubbles over when I stand in front of a beautiful waterfall or on top of a mountain. I want to experience the world but without destroying it.
2.Tell us about your adventurous plan of 6 months bicycle tour through Europe with your dog Zuri this year.
I’ve been on the road for two months now. Currently I have already cycled through Germany, Switzerland and Italy. It’s been about 2000 km in total and I can tell you it’s the best trip I’ve made so far. It is incredible how friendly, helpful and kind the people are. Countless times I was involved in conversations on the street and then invited to a coffee, breakfast, ice cream, cocktail or even been to their home to stay overnight.
People are very curious. My dog Zuri is a great help and door opener because she makes it easy for people to approach me. But it is also great to be on the road by bike. The bike has the right speed to look around and really experience the nature around you. There is nothing that can shield you. You smell, hear, see and feel the world. You are really IN the world and because of the slow movement and the many contacts with local people, I have the feeling of really getting to know the countries for the first time. I am curious how it will be for me in the eastern countries like Slovenia, Croatia or Montenegro, which I will cycle through next.
3. What is the driving force or reason to do this tour with your dog Zuri?
Two reasons motivated me to make this trip. On the one hand I don’t want to get on a plane indiscriminately in order to fly on holiday with it. There is unbelievably beautiful nature around us to discover. To fly by plane is extremely harmful to the environment. I was shocked when I found out that a transatlantic flight e.g. from Germany to Mexico consumes just as much CO2 as our whole life from January to September and thus about 3 times as much CO2 as we should actually emit per year in order not to destroy our beloved planet. That is simply crazy.
And on the other hand I would like to go on holiday, which my dog Zuri also enjoys and which is good for her. My dog Zuri got brain cancer when she was 6 month old. The vet said that this is unbelievably big and she will live maximum for another year. Well now she is four and still full of life and energy. But the tumor is still growing and getting bigger. I want to give this journey as a present to my dog as well, because she sat patiently next to my desk all these years until I had finished my PhD.
With the bicycle trip I have found the perfect holiday type. It is adventurous, I really get to know the country and its people, I move, see many non-touristic corners and Zuri also has lots of exercise, fresh air and meets a lot of really great people. I will probably do a lot more cycling trips in the future.
4. What difficulties or challenges do you envisage while undertaking this tour? How do you propose to counter it?
To be honest, I haven’t had any difficulties so far. I’ve only met really great people and really many of them. I often can’t express my gratitude for the kindness and cordiality that happens to me. Probably the biggest problem so far was the rain in May in Switzerland. But even then I got wet during the day, but I always had a warm (and free) bed in the evenings. Because I ride an ebike, even crossing the alps with 2 x 2000 meters wasn’t difficult 🙂
5. You have visited 36 countries on all 6 Continents! Wow!! Please tell us about it.
Yes, I love to travel and dive into other cultures. So far I have tried to stay in a country for at least 4 weeks (8 weeks or longer would be best) once I got on a plane and flew to South America or Asia. On the one hand the countries there are really big and it takes time to really dive into them and on the other hand I just don’t think it’s fair to destroy our planet just for a short trip from which years later often not much remains, because you just visited the most interesting sights.
6. Any one lesson learnt or travel moment you will not forget?
I think the many great encounters and experiences of the current bike trip will remain in my memory for a long time. I also talked to an older lady in Switzerland and she said she saw countless countries and made many cruises and in the end nothing remained of it. I asked her why. And she said that it was too much, to look at one sight after another, to consume without really diving in. I think she was right. My first trips were also influenced by the typical bucket-list, however, my travel style has changed since then. What remains is not to have seen certain buildings or places, but to have unplanned encounters with people, to immerse oneself in the lives of others, to be open and take time for what is happening and I found out that travelling by bike and with a dog is really suitable for this.
7. 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.
I think the most important thing is to just do it. often you can plan so much, just to be sure and because of all the planning you don’t live in the moment anymore. I haven’t made any preparations for this trip. I start out in the morning and often don’t know where I’ll sleep in the evening. At the beginning of the trip it really stressed me sometimes, but somehow I know that I will always find a place to sleep.
I have a tent with me and if nothing comes up, I sleep on a quiet meadow or I ask if I can sleep in a garden of a local family when it gets dark. Just have faith in yourself and be open for the moment and for what comes up.
8. That’s absolutely incredible! What’s next for you Iris?
I honestly don’t know yet. Until the end of September I am still cycling. In October I am in England for a month to help out with a climate protection project and I don’t know what will happen in November. I’ve actually fallen in love in Switzerland on my current journey and maybe I can get a job in Switzerland – I’ll see. But I can just as well imagine going to Canada next year with the ship and Zuri and then cycling from one side to the other and who knows, maybe I’ll also come back to Germany via Asia. Life is full of adventure. You don’t have to spend it in a hamster wheel or rat-race.
9. I couldn’t agree with you more! What is your idea of Bliss? Are you following your Bliss?
For me, it is to follow your inner voice, find your passion and be courageous to follow it. Yes, I try to follow my bliss and am very often surprised by the loops and twists my life takes. I could never have planned my life that way and it’s just great. Yes, I’ve also had great blows of fate but that’s normal. That’s life too. It doesn’t stop me from believing in the good in the world and in my life and living by it.
Thank you Iris for doing this interview with me! Your journey with Zuri and all that you are doing is truly an inspiration for me and all those reading this blog. You are truly following your passion and at the same time, doing it in a very responsible manner towards the environment, preserving it and exploring and traveling this earth in a responsible and sustainable manner. You really love this beautiful earth we live on and that can be seen by the way you are caring for it and not damaging it in any way, whilst pursuing your passion. All your pictures are stunning. I am sure that when you return back from this trip, you will not be the same person at all 🙂
I wish 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.