Ever thought about quitting your job to go travelling? Each week TLE speaks to extraordinary people who have done exactly that.
This week, we caught up with photographer and adventurer, Chris König, to find out about his life on the road. Chris started out studying psychology. He now lives in a van and travels the world putting on photography workshops.
Chris told us about his favourite places, near-death experiences and what made him quit his job to travel…
Tell us a little bit about you?
My name is Chris, I’m a twenty-four-year-old photographer from the Netherlands. I studied psychology before I decided that I wanted to pursue my passion for photography and ended up travelling to lots of places to capture lifestyle, culture, and nature!
I currently live in my campervan and I am more than excited for a new photography workshop I am hosting in Iceland. Last year, I organised three of them, and it truly is a satisfying feeling to take people on an adventure and create lasting memories – especially in a place like Iceland!
Where was the first place you visited outside of your native country?
That’s an easy one. I was born in Austria but lived my whole life after that in the Netherlands. I guess you can count Austria as the first country I visited since I consider the Netherlands as my native country. Besides that we travelled to Germany a lot when I was a kid: exploring the picturesque towns, strolling through the forest and having that delicious (heavy) German food.
What do you like most about travelling?
Places you live in or know very well tend to make you forget what was special about it in the first place. When I travel to a new place I especially love the feeling that everything is new: you have to discover how to get around, where everything is located, who the people are – it’s a fun process!
Also, getting to know the culture and building connections with locals to see past the ‘touristic view’ is something I always look forward to. Without knowing local people from a place, it feels like you haven’t reálly visited the place. Unless of course a place is so remote and nature is stunning: then I am willing to take my tent and hike up into the mountains, preferably without meeting anyone!
How many countries have you visited?
Tough one – have to think about that one for a bit! Let me grab the map *back in a minute*…
38 countries. Time goes by quickly…
Where is your favourite country?
Back in 2015 I made my first multi-month trip through South-East Asia and I started the journey in Myanmar: I was completely blown away by the hospitality of the people and even though I have met many people since it still puts a smile on my face when I think back of the many beautiful moments I shared with the people in various places in Myanmar.
Where’s the worst place you’ve ever been and why?
I don’t think there has been one ‘bad place’. During some travels, I had bad experiences such as the time when a street gang threatened me while I was in Morocco, but then the other experiences made up for it. Some places are definitely more interesting than others, but so far so good!
Is there a city you consider your second home?
Since I travel around often and currently live in my van, I feel like most places could serve as a home: as long as I can stay in touch with my girlfriend, friends, and family I don’t feel like I get happier by being attached to one place!
If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Without hesitation, I would take the plane to Kamtsjatka: beautifully remote in the North-eastern part of Russia with the highest density of active volcanoes. What is not to like about it?
Tell us about your best experience on the road?
There are too many experiences that pop into my head, but one that I think of right now is about a wonderful day in Morocco (as I said before, every country has it’s bad and good moments!). We drove through the desert in search of nomadic families to talk to and to make a story about. At some point, we arrived at an incredibly welcoming family and we spent the rest of the day in their place, sharing food, trying to communicate about their life and our life.
The best moment happened when the sun had just set and our translator turned up the music in our car, leaving the doors open. We were all sitting outside and all of a sudden the kids and some of the adults started to dance to the music. More people joined in and there was so much laughter: I never experienced such harmony as I did at that moment. We joined in and danced until it was completely dark: the music, the happiness and being together despite different cultures and life experiences. It was beautiful and I might have cried a little…
Have you had any near death experiences whilst travelling?
Well, there have been a few. I vividly remember the time when I climbed on an abandoned tower in the center of Bangkok – approximately fifty stories tall – and on top, I decided to take some photos with my camera on a tripod, so I could be in the frame for perspective. Well, in my enthusiasm I ran off after I pushed the self-timer and completely forgetting about the elevator shaft, which was right behind me. I kind of stumbled over it and managed not to fall into it, but the fifty-story fall would not have been something I’d like to have on my bucket list…
Oh and another time I was almost washed away by a huge wave when I stood on a cliff. If I hadn’t been able to hold on to the sharp rocks with my bare hands and feet – which made it impossible for the next weeks to properly walk – I would have gone for a swim that I would never come back from…
What has travelling taught you about yourself?
However uncomfortable a situation might seem, once you let go of most of your expectations it is almost always possible to make the best out of any moment. More than once I have found myself lost, in a big unknown city, in the middle of the night, with no accommodation booked – and still every time things turned out right. I learned to rely on myself and to be confident that everything will be all right – which is true up until today!
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about quitting their job to travel the world?
I think the hardest part isn’t to survive with no job security and not knowing what is to come (because I think you’ll always find your path – one way or another), but to make that decision to change your life completely from what it looks like right now: to push the button and go for it.
How I did it: I sent a message to my landlord that I wanted to move out of my apartment. I hadn’t made all the arrangements for my future plans yet, but the fact that I was obliged to move out in a couple of weeks, served as a big reason to actually go for it. There was no turning back. Yet to send him the message was something that literally took five minutes.
Make it easy for yourself to take that first step and after that, there will surely be more than enough time to sort things out: it usually isn’t the case that things go wrong, but the fear that it can go wrong makes it difficult to go for it!
Follow Chris’ travels on Instagram @theadventurizer
For more information on his visit adventurizer.com