Ep. 170 Free-living experts with Eva Jørgensen

In this week’s podcast, Anna speaks to Eva Jørgensen in the latest interview in her Escaping the 9 to 5 series.

Having dreamed of doing so for many years, in 2018, Eva and her husband Malthe finally made the decision to sell their house and go full time on the road. A couple of years into their new life, of course, their travel plans were somewhat halted by the COVID pandemic. But it hasn’t halted their joy for life and in the meantime they’ve found a way to monetise their experience as free-living experts with their ebooks and courses.

Escaping the 9 to 5 with Eva Jorgensen

eva-jorgensen-profileEva is from Denmark and 2018 she and her husband decided to step out of the hamster wheel and live out their dream as full-time travelers instead.  Since that time they have stumbled into a lot of “sweet extras” that wasn’t the plan from the beginning. They have written a 200-page e-book about their first years on the road, they have written several articles, been featured in magazines and other travel blogs and they have even been on national TV in Denmark. 

The latest thing is, that they have just launched a Masterclass called From Dreamer to Doer, to help other ordinary people live out their travel dream too.  Eva treasures meeting new people, learning new skills, and helping by sharing where ever she can. And of course, she wouldn’t trade her free life with anything in the world. That’s the best part about being a full-time traveler.

You can connect with Eva on her Website, Instagram and YouTube

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate

Free-living Experts

Anna: Hello everybody. And welcome to the latest interview today. I’m here with Eva Jorgensen and she’s coming at us from Spain. We’ll hear more about that in a moment. But Eva, if you could first introduce yourself and tell us what were you doing in your previous life and what are you doing now?

Eva: Yeah. As you said, my name is Eva and I’m from Denmark. And I used to be a store manager, and a customer service manager and all sorts of manager in physical retail. But for the past almost four years, we’ve been travelling around Europe my husband and I, living in a motor home because we wanted to say goodbye to what we had back home. We felt that we were working for everybody else, but ourselves. So, one day we made the decision and got up and sold everything we had, and bought a motor home instead. So, that’s what we do now.

Anna: That sounds amazing and exciting, and I’m sure very appealing to people who are perhaps at the same stage that you were at feeling a little bit stuck where they are. But can you tell me more about what were you saying goodbye to, and what would those other people you were working for? Tell me more about the experience you had that led you to make this decision.

Eva: Well, actually we had everything that we were supposed to have in Denmark. We had good jobs and we had grown up kids, and we had a house, and car, and everything that you are supposed to have, but we felt that we were actually working and paying bills all the time. And that was what we were doing. So, although we were supposed to be happy, we weren’t happy. There was something missing. And after 10 years of dreaming about travelling, we found out that that was the missing piece. That we were working for other people than ourselves. Earning a lot of money, but we tried to buy ourselves happy all the time and it worked for a few weeks, and then the hole was back again. So, we had to do something about that hole because we weren’t happy.

Anna: And was that what happened? It came to sort of a trigger point when you just said, one day we’ve got to change this, or you said, 10 years in the making, I guess your whole life, maybe. So, was it a gradual process or was it a sudden breaking point you had to change?

Eva: We had been dreaming for 10 years and we had been talking about it over and over again. When every day became a little down, we were talking like, ah, couldn’t it be nice? And wouldn’t it be nice? And then it became the next day and another week passed, and another month passed. And then one day we were talking again and it was cold outside in Denmark. And I looked at my husband and I said, “Let’s do it. We do it now.” And he said, yes. And the next day we put the house up for sale, because we realised that if we kept on talking about it, we wouldn’t go anywhere. It was just going to be the same forever. So, I guess there wasn’t a real turning point other than making the decision, and making the decision is actually the hardest thing to do, I think, in any transformation.

Anna: I agree with you. And can we dig into that more then. So, what were the struggles? It sounds very easy. We dreamed of it for 10 years. We sold the house, husband and I were on the same page. So, what were some of the difficulties?

Eva: We weren’t on the same page. I have raging ADHD and I could have done it 10 years ago, but he likes the security of having an economic foundation for everything. So, there were struggles and actually much earlier, we wanted to move with our kids to Greece, and then one of them had a new boyfriend and things happened all the time. So, I have to admit that the hardest part was actually to make the decision. And that’s what I tell people. Making the decision about this is what you want to do, whether it’s travelling or whether you want to find another job, but making the decision, I actually think that’s the hardest part.

Anna: Gosh, I agree with you. I think people get caught up in, how are we going to do it, and what’s that, and I need to take a course, and I need to work this out and so on. But as you say, they haven’t actually made the decision yet. And you can dream about these things or I dream of travel, I dream of writing a book, I dream of starting a business, but actually making that cool is the hard part.

Eva: I think it must be like, if you want to quit smoking, you have to be ready for it inside. You have to be really ready because you can talk about quitting smoking, but you’re not going to do it until the day that you are ready. So, I think that day that you make the decision, that’s the day you are on your way.

Anna: Were you suddenly able to make the decision and what was the support you got? What helped you to finally take that leap?

Eva: We didn’t get much support because everybody thought we were crazy, because we weren’t old and we had jobs, and we had our kids and we had our family. And everybody told us, oh, you have this, and you have this and you have this, and what if, and what if. So, that kind of support, we actually didn’t have, we had each other and we had thought about this was what we were going to do. And we had to somehow prove the other people wrong because there were a lot of predictions that we couldn’t live together 24/7, and nobody can travelling forever and things like that. There was support from our children. They were because they knew us and they knew that somehow we would do it some day. But that much support, there wasn’t. So, luckily we had each other that we could lean on.

Anna: And when was it that you sold your house? When was that?

Eva: That was in 2017. And then we were travelling in April, 2018. Yeah.

Anna: And I guess, because we were recording this in 2022, if people are listening to this many years in the future, with COVID and so on, how does that affect you? Were you able to continue as planned? Were you a little bit stuck? How has that experience been for [crosstalk 00:07:05]?

Eva: Not at all. Not at all. We have been living the life and travelling in 17 countries, and then all of a sudden COVID hit. And so we have been in Spain since COVID started actually, both because in the beginning we didn’t know what this was. And then later on, because we didn’t think it was right to just move around all the time in different countries, and people were sick and we could carry something with us. So, we thought the right thing would be to be in Spain. So, that’s what we decided to do. So, we’ve been here since March, 2020. Yeah. We actually started out with 60 days of 100% isolation, only us at a closed campsite, where the owner came once a week with groceries for us. And then we were sitting there for 60 days and we had no idea what was happening outside that fence.

We could only watch the news and it was like there was some piece out there or something. But then after 60 days we went out and we decided that we were going to stay here in Spain and see how this works. So, we had to find other things to do. So, yeah, by that time I had already written an ebook, several articles. I was writing article for travel magazines and so on. And we thought, what now? Otherwise it’s going to be boring just living in a motor home if we don’t have anything to do. And all along, people have been asking questions almost every day about, how do you do this and how do you do that? And I’m dreaming of, and all of a sudden we thought, well, we didn’t have any support on the internet.

Not a clue on how to become a traveller when we began travelling. And we realised that the information still wasn’t there, so we decided on creating a course for people who wanted to do the same as us. Yeah, it should have been a small course, but we worked on it for a year and it’s actually a master class now. The 14 step master class from beginning to the end on how to become a traveller. So, that’s what we’ve been doing. We didn’t imagine that that was something that we would do at any point, but here we are today, and this is what we are doing. We started out with a small block, but we like helping people. So, yeah, that’s what we do now. We take things as they come.

Anna: That’s so interesting. With all those people who doubted that you could live together and clearly, especially through COVID, you’ve proven that possible. And not only that, you’ve had lots of interest from other people who want to do the same. So, just coming back to the business and the money side of things, was it an early retirement for you guys? It sounds like this was sort of a natural idea that came now that becomes a business. But did you have ideas for business when you quit, or did you just know we’re going to travel, we’re going to use our savings? What was the financial plan?

Eva: We really had no plan. Yeah, we did. We were going to use our savings and then we were going to take things as they come, and maybe we would settle down somewhere and start a business of some sort. My husband is a carpenter and I’ve been doing a lot of restoration on furniture or stuff like that in my spare time. So, there’s always work to be found. We found out there’s plenty of other kinds of jobs out in the world. So, that hasn’t really been an issue for us. We’ve worked at a start for four months, I think, for food and stay, and tried out a lot of things. 

And we don’t really worry about the money. Of course, we have to have some sort of security at some point, but for now we haven’t really thought about it. But it comes naturally when we write articles or we make a master class, and we just take things as they come. Of course, we still have a lot of dreams about where we want to end up and what we want to do, but we haven’t settled on anything. This is what we want to do, or this is where we want to be. So, for now, not.

Anna: And what has been the best part so far? Even through these challenges I guess over the last couple of years, what have you most enjoyed about finally making this decision and going out travelling the last few years?

Eva: Do I have to mention one?

Anna: Many, many things I’m sure.

Eva: But that was one of the things that we thought about when we went travelling, that was, we wanted to see if the world was really as it was portrayed in media and so on in Denmark, and we have found out that the world is so much more and people are so much more. And we have learned a lot about culture and people in general, language and so on, but we also learned a lot about ourselves. We have calmed down so much after we started travelling. And all these things that we thought were huge problems before, when you compare them to what there’s out there, we have a great life. So, we’ve learned to value the life we have more, and have learned that we love the freedom. I can’t imagine ever going back to a nine to five job again. I don’t know how that would work. So, I hope I never have to do that.

Anna: The freedom is something that comes up a lot, almost always, I think. But that idea that you said of valuing what you have, I think is the first time I’ve heard someone put it that way. And that’s so powerful and puts things into perspective, doesn’t it, of things, as you said, that we worried about before?

Eva: Yeah. We have learned to value much smaller things. Like I said before, we bought ourselves happy earlier, now we don’t have the space, but we also don’t have the use for these things. I often try to explain to people, because we don’t have that much space, I surround myself with my favourite things all the time. I have nothing in a cupboard somewhere, I really don’t like it. I only have favourite things and what I experience is only favourite things. So, I didn’t think that that would be one of the benefits about living like this, but it is, and you can treasure a cup and you can treasure your clothes and you learn to treasure so much more by having just a little. So, that’s also one of the things we’ve learned.

Anna: I love that. And I find that so hard because whenever I’ve been travelling much shorter periods. I’ve managed to live with just one bag or whatever it is for four months. And yet, as soon as I get home, especially now I’ve got the lights and I’ve got the cameras, and I definitely need this new piece of equipment. And obviously you need that nice handbag. And suddenly you get into that buying piece. And I come from a marketing background, so there’s the whole advertising and social media and on, but for me, I need to try to channel some of that feeling and experience you have while still having some space. Because that’s such an aspiration to have, obviously, for the environment and for so many reasons, but to treasure the things you have and not, as you say, have cupboards and boxes full of stuff that you don’t need and so on. I think that’s something we can all have more of or rather have less of in our lives.

Eva: Yeah. We found out already when we were packing down to sell the house, how many stupid things we have had everywhere that we never used. My husband is laughing at me because I had two chocolate fountains and he said I never tried chocolate fountain.

Anna: Two chocolate fountains. That’s amazing.

Eva: Why would I have a chocolate fountain, and why would I have two?

Anna: Two.

Eva: My husband is missing these big speakers, but we haven’t been missing anything that we left behind because we have traded it with so many other things, especially the freedom and the thing that we can do, whatever we want, when we want it. Also with the master class, we never imagined that we would make a master class. We wouldn’t have done that at home, but now we have the time and it’s like you see other possibilities. Because wait, I can do this. You don’t have a boss that tells you what to do. You can just do whatever you want to do because this would be fun or this would be exciting. Yeah, that’s a part of what’s great about this.

Anna: And I know you have your 14 step master class, but I guess if you could share just one piece or a couple of piece of advice with someone who’s, perhaps at that moment that you described, they’ve been dreaming of this for so long, whether it’s 10 years, or five years or two years. Well, is it about asking themselves, am I ready, as you said? What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t yet made that decision?

Eva: Because people really don’t believe that making the decision is the hardest part, the rest is just work and plan. It’s nothing more than planning and working for it. The hardest part is actually telling yourself and telling others, because you have to tell somebody else too. Because then you are obligated to actually do this. If you just tell yourself, you can postpone it the next day. Say, yeah, I’ll do that Monday. But you have to decide that this is what you want to do, and you have to tell somebody that’s maybe hard to tell, let’s say your father or somebody.

Tell them and then you are obligated to do this. Or tell your friends because then they’ll come back to you and they’ll say, oh, where are you travelling? And then you have to say, yeah, I’m on it. I’m on it. Yeah. So, making that decision is the hardest part and that’s the thing that you should just do, because everybody deserves to be happy, whether it’s because they want to travel or they want to work for themselves, or they want to change jobs or move or something. Everybody deserves to be happy. Yeah.

Anna: So, in a way you’re saying you have to make the decision. That is the hardest thing, but just make it. In a way it’s easy. You just decide and then you tell people, and then the real work can begin. But it’s as simple as actually saying, we’ve got to do this.

Eva: Because we’ve been working all our lives, haven’t we? And so we know how to work. But deciding for ourselves to be happy, we are really good at making other people happy. Whether it’s your family, or your friends, or your boss or anything. We are really good at making others happy, but making ourselves happy, we are not really good at. Yeah. So, I think that that’s the best advice. Let’s just do it because you deserve it.

Anna: I love that. And I think I met you in the Digital Nomad Girls group. Do you feel like a digital nomad girl or how would you identify yourself?

Eva: I have become one. I think everything has happened by coincidence actually. But yeah, sure. I have become one. I didn’t know there was such a thing before I started travelling, but that’s what I’ve become. I work digitally all the time. I’ve never did that either. I had a Facebook and I didn’t even have Instagram before I started, but now I have everything. We just started on TikTok too. So, yeah.

Anna: I have to say, I find that amazing because you told me you had just installed Zoom for this call and obviously you had no idea about Digital Nomad. You barely had Facebook. And yet now you’ve written an ebook and you’re doing an online masterclass, and doing TikTok. My goodness. So, clearly you’re incredible, but it’s also inspiring to others that they can learn even if it’s something they don’t feel comfortable with.

Eva: They can. Look, it’s my dad’s birthday today. 

Anna: Happy birthday.

Eva: He turns 76 today and he’s on Instagram and he’s on Facebook. So, course everybody can. He loves Facebook and he’s posting funny things. And I even convinced him to use WhatsApp and that works for him too. So, everybody can do it. It’s just a matter of will, I think. 

Anna: Absolutely. 

Eva: Yeah. So, I also had to learn. I’ve been using Skype before because I’ve never had the need for Zooming, but now I know that too. So, I enjoy learning new things.

Anna: Good. And I hope that means you’ll be able to share your story with more channels as well, because I’m sure there are many who’d like to hear and to learn from you.

Eva: Yeah, I hope so. I really, really, really like to share because I’d like everybody to do the same as I’ve done. Because as I say, people deserve it. It’s a big world out there and we’re not bound to be in just one place even though we think so that our boss can’t live without us, because of course your boss can be without you. He’s just going to replace you as soon as you’re gone. Yeah, we have to live for ourselves. I would really love to share that with as many as possible.

Anna: And so many powerful messages, as you said, that we are buying ourselves the happiness, that we’re living for other people rather than for ourselves, that we deserve that happiness. And I think as we said, this idea that we can get to know the world that’s out there, and really empathise and understand each other much better, which is such an important thing in today’s world. I think it always has been, but all the more so now I think. So, those are really important messages from story. And sounds like very accessible to all of us. So, how can we find out more? Where can we find your website, Instagram, TikTok, wherever you want to take us? So, what can you tell us about where we can find you online now?

Eva: But it’s so hard to spell our names.

Anna: I’ll put them in the link. Don’t worry.

Eva: Yeah. Do that. Do that.

Anna: Yeah.

Eva: That’s better. People couldn’t understand it anyway.

Anna: Absolutely. Okay. Perfect. But it’s in English, I guess, your materials, right? You’re not focusing specifically [crosstalk 00:22:17].

Eva: Yeah. Actually we started out in Danish, but as many people know, Danish things are a little bit, I don’t know, tight. So, we didn’t have so many followers, because it was like, I have to look at what you’re doing before I do anything. And we were speaking English on daily basis. So, we thought, why not make everything in English? So, we don’t have anything in Danish anymore. Everything is English.

Anna: No, it’s a small country. Like I said, my Swedish as well. It’s not a massive audience, so much better to reach internationally, I think, and it’s a [crosstalk 00:22:49]

Eva: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Anna: So amazing. I’ll definitely link to those in the show notes. Anybody listening do check that out. 

Eva: Thank you.

Anna: Eva, thank you so much. What a lovely moment. This is my favourite thing about my experience of this meeting people one day in a Facebook group, and then a few days later, we’re having this conversation and hearing about your story.

Eva: Yeah. Yeah. 

Anna: Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Eva: You’re welcome. Thank you

Anna: I’m sure people come and want to read more, and I’ll certainly be following you. I’m not so active on TikTok, but I might try to find you on Instagram and some of the others.

Eva: We’ve just begun. So, we might get better.

Anna: Amazing. Thanks so much. 

Eva: Thank you so much for having me.

Anna: [crosstalk 00:23:21] for helping the team as well and enjoy. Happy travels. Hope you and your husband can continue your journey soon. 

Eva: We hope so too. Thank you. 

Anna: Thank you so much. 

Eva: Thank you. Bye.


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