Written by George Pike.
Check out more from George on his youtube channel
When the UK went into lockdown on the 16th March no-one knew how long it was going to last for. Then when we were told in early May that the government would start reopening the country in July everyone at least had something to aim for. However, even though July seemed to be the first stage of the country reopening, many companies, including mine, announced that they would remain closed at least until September. This meant that working from home was here to stay for July and August, however, this time not in lockdown, and not necessarily in London. After finding myself in an unusually but understandably negative mind set for much of lockdown, an idea suddenly hit me that I could use this time as an opportunity to take advantage of working remotely.
I love travelling and had a 2-week holiday to Colombia cancelled in March which devastated me. So, with this idea of travelling now set, all I had to do is come up with is a way of making it feasible whilst still working 7 hours a day 5 days a week. Initially, I had ideas of house sitting for people that had holiday homes in the Mediterranean; taking care of their pets whilst working from a terrace overlooking vineyards sounded very enticing… Then I found myself going through my old holiday videos and came across a road trip which I had done 6 years earlier in Australia. I started to feel the adrenaline rush I had when I was on the trip, visiting so many places and waking up somewhere new every day. That was it. My mind was made up.
I’m not a mechanic in any way at all (I can barely fix a punctured tyre on my bicycle), so I started researching vans which were dependable yet affordable. I came across a 17-year-old Toyota, which was the same brand as I had in my Australia trip, so I knew it would be reliable. I had my van in May and still had to wait out 2 months of lockdown until I could hit the road. These 2 months were spent kitting out the van with bedding, kitchenware and power for my laptop. My van had a gas hob and a tap for water; however, it didn’t have a toilet or shower… Camping forums gave solutions for showers, including portable showers which are simply hot water bottles with shower nozzles at the bottom. Shower - check. Toilets, however, were not so simple… The overarching message was ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’.
Finally, July came around and I was ready, I had absolutely everything I could possibly need and I was on a ferry from Dover to Calais one week after the lockdown was lifted.
My plan was to drive the ‘Castle Road’, a beautiful scenic route showing off some of the most picturesque castles in Germany and the Czech Republic. This would take around 2 weeks, which was perfect because if working from the van had any issues and wasn’t doable then I would just take 2 weeks off work and drive home. But everything went perfectly. I woke up at sunrise every day, made a coffee and a peanut butter sandwich and worked away. Lunchtime would come and I would take a stroll wherever I was, find a nice café and work from there for a few hours and when my working day was up, I would explore more and then drive onto the next place.
I made it to Prague where I stayed with a friend for a few days. I figured everything is going so well I should extend my trip. From Prague my friend joined me and we headed off. Over the next 2 months we visited Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Germany.
This video includes just a handful of places visited.
You can see my full itinerary below.
Bruges - Dinant - Luxembourg - Mannheim - Heidelberg - Schwäbisch Hall - Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Nuremberg - Bamberg - Coburg - Bayreuth - Karlštejn - Prague - Cesky Krumlov - Vienna - Neusiedler See - Budapest - Balaton - Zagreb - Plitvice - Karlobag - Pula - Premantura - Trieste - Predjama - Ljubljana - Bled - Bohinjsko Jezero - Gorizia - Venice - Rimini - Peschici - Bari - Polignano a Mare - Monopoli - Alberobello - Ostuni - Matera - Roseto Capo Spulico - Tropea - Capo Vaticano - Positano - Sorrento - Pompeii - Naples - Rome - Bagni San Filippo - Montepulciano - Montalcino - Siena - San Gimignano - Pisa - Lucca - Pistoia - Florence - Bologna - Lake Garda - Santa Maddalena - Salzburg - Konigssee - Mlekojedy - Prague - Dresden - Berlin - Rugen - Schwerin - Hamburg - Lubeck - Kiel - Friedrichstadt - Bremen - Hanover
I consider myself very fortunate to still have a job during this chaotic year and appreciate not everyone would be able to do what I did and hopefully this comes across as inspiring instead of privileged.