On work and wanderlust

On work and wanderlust

Isn’t it ironic? Since I have my travel blog, my travels have become fewer than ever before. Even though I know these two are not correlated, it is an odd thing. After having previously (silently) cancelled a trip to Nicaragua, I now have to postpone yet another trip and I thought some explanation was in place.

During medical school I had the time of my life. I did four internships abroad and had plenty of time to travel the world. Then, three years ago, I completed medical school and directly started a new challenge: a four-year Ph.D. project in my university hospital.

Here, I soon found out a Ph.D. is no walk in the park. It’s challenging, intense and at times confronting, because during the project you really get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Especially the last years of a Ph.D. are crucial. These last years are the reason why I previously cancelled a trip to Nicaragua and are also the reason why I will postpone my semi-round-the-world trip called ‘BoB’s Epic Adventure‘. Even though I hadn’t officially announced ‘BoB’s Epic Adventure’ on Bunch of Backpackers, I did mention the trip in a few interviews and social media channels.

Jiuzhaigou Most Beautiful Place in China

I planned to start BoB’s Epic Adventure directly after my ‘4-year Ph.D. project’ contract would end, which is this August. I bought travel books, drew maps and dreamt about dusty roads, gers, mountains and blue mosque’s. But, sometimes, your head is full of optimistic plans and dreams, and then reality kicks in.

I underestimated the amount of work that still has to be done after my 4-year contracts ends in August. And to do these final ’rounding-up Ph.D. things’ properly I would need to be in the Netherlands. So, I had to choose between my Ph.D. or ‘BoB’s Epic Adventure’.

Obviously, I could cancel the trip altogether, finish my Ph.D. and directly continue my career. This option would make sense, because I still have a long medical residency to go, which, depending on the specialization, lasts another 3-6 years. Also, age may play a role when applying for a residency, and I’m almost hitting my thirties.

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But, I realized I missed being on the road: meeting people and learning about their lives, visiting places which take your breath away and stepping out of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to cancel and I felt it was time to strap on my backpack again.

Because, if not now. When?

So, I decided that I want both. I want to successfully make that Ph.D. finish line and also want to be on the road again. The only option was to postpone my trip with another 6 months, which I did and I now plan to leave February 1st 2016. The rough itinerary will be something like this:

BoB’s Epic Adventure

Feb-Mar 2016: Not sure which countries / regions yet (maybe Africa?)
Apr-Jun 2016: The Silk Road Chapter (Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, China (mid and east coast)
Jul-Aug 2016: Not sure which countries / regions yet (maybe more Asia?)

In the end the new plan actually works out quite well, because it looks like my thesis will be completely finished when I travel (which definitely adds to the peace of mind) and it will give me some extra time to save money for the trip. Furthermore, I have some smaller trips planned in 2015, which I also much look forward to.


Both my travels during university (medical school cost me around 7 years instead of 6 years) and BoB’s Epic Adventure cause me some ‘delay’ in my medical career (a career which I also love by the way), but it definitely does not cause me delay in life.

I believe traveling is one of the best ways to develop yourself and to get a better understanding of the world. It opens your eyes and frees your mind. I have no ambition of becoming a full-time traveler, but I love the idea of building a life in the Netherlands and exploring this big, beautiful world!

I realize this is a typical ‘first world’ story, but I thought I’d explain a bit more about myself, my life and the reasons why I had to cancel, or in this case postpone my trip. I also want to thank you, my dear reader, for keeping your patience and for still reading and following Bunch of Backpackers. Even though I can’t wait to give some updates while I’m on the road, I still have loads of stories to tell from my previous journeys.

And remember, the world is ours!!

Love, Manouk

The preparations of BoB’s Epic Adventure continue!

Read Phase VI: Saying Goodbye 20’s and Hello BoB’s Epic Adventure

Read Phase IV: Only 2 months until BoB’s Epic Adventure

Read Phase III: My debute as ‘Backpack Expert’ and some challenges that lie ahead!

Read Phase II: Shaping the itinerary of my Africa And Silk Roads trip

Read Phase I: Preparing and planning my Silk Roads and Southern Africa adventure 


  1. So sorry to hear you have to postpone your plans but I totally get why. Like you, I wouldn’t want to be a full time traveler and realize that a career, making you money to travel, can be as important as your journeys. Not everybody may agree but if you just follow your heart and do what feels best, I’m sure you have made the right decision! xx

  2. Hej Manouk, jammer als je plannen niet helemaal lukken maar mooi dat uitstel zeker geen afstel is!. Ben benieuwd naar je korte plannen dit jaar.

    • Hey Tikva! In het voorjaar staat een kortere trip gepland (mogelijk Jordanie of Cuba), een lang weekend TBEX Costa Brava en nog een weekend Luxemburg! Niks te klagen dus :)!

  3. Wat mooi geschreven Manouk! Ik ken de dilemma’s.. Niet altijd even makkelijk. Maar van uitstel komt gelukkig niet altijd afstel. Fijn dat je toch nog deze gave reis gaat maken.. Je moet t maar zo zien: Kun je nog even wat langer genieten van de voorpret. Ook leuk!

  4. Sometimes taking a short break from travelling makes you want to travel again and it won’t become too much of a “habit”. Last year we took a break from travelling, we had been on the road (both working and travelling) for way too long, not taking enough breaks. And I realised that sometimes, one needs to take a step back, think about all the things you have experienced, organise photos, work to get some extra money and start making plans again.
    At least you have the plans listed :) And I see you have Africa listed as a possibility…just do it, it’s a beautiful continent and very big to explore. Just shoot if you have some questions about it (2 Africa lovers…) ;)

    • Hi Sabine! Will keep the Africa thing in mind! Yes, having a period of relatively ‘fewer travels’ definitely makes me want to travel again :)!

  5. Hallo Manouk!

    Ik volg je nog maar net, maar ik wou hier toch graag even op reageren.

    Wat mooi dat je een persoonlijk verhaal met je lezers deelt. Het is heel jammer dat je bepaalde plannen soms moet uitstellen, maar op en duur loont het zich vast terug. Ik hoop dat je dit jaar wel genoeg tijd hebt voor wat leuke ‘kleinere’ reisjes en dat je daar volop van kan genieten!

    Succes met alles:)

    • Hey Taina,

      Dank! Ja, ik dacht laat ik toch een keer iets persoonlijkers schrijven ipv nog een top 10 ;)! Met die kleine reisjes komt het helemaal goed. Nu al ontzettend veel zin in!

  6. Well, I guess its better to do the epic travel when you are completely done with your PhD. Anyway, it still sounds awesome :D I am planning to do the Silk Route as well in this autumn or spring 2016, I am so curious about those countries!

  7. Hoi Manouk, jammer dat je je reisplannen moet uitstellen! Maar ik begrijp helemaal waarom en het lijkt me een heel verstandige beslissing. En zolang er maar een nieuwe vertrekdatum aanhangt waar je naartoe kunt leven, is het ook te overzien. Over een jaartje ga je al bijna weg ;) Hopelijk komen er eerst nog veel mooie kortere reisjes langs, dan is dat jaar ook zo voorbij!

    • Hi Karlijn! Ja, een jaar vliegt voorbij help ik inmiddels wel gemerkt. Nog even goed knallen voor mijn promotie en ondertussen genieten van de weekendjes weg :)!

  8. Soms loopt het leven niet helemaal als gepland, maar je vindt je weg wel. Beschouw je maar al een bofkont, dat je zoveel kon reizen tijdens je studie :-) Even goed focussen op het einde van je promotie onderzoek, en dan heb je die reis dubbel en dwars verdient!

  9. Hey Manouk,
    Mooi beschreven, en een goede beslissing denk ik. Het is al mooi dat je plan wel door kan gaan. Ik zou ook graag nog eens lang op reis gaan, toen ik 23 was ben ik een half jaar weggeweest, daarna steeds ‘maar’ een maand of 3 weken achter elkaar. Maar je situatie veranderd wel als je ouder wordt, er zijn toch wat meer dingen waar je rekening mee moet houden. Ik hoop dat het er in mijn geval nog eens van gaat komen, maar ben ook erg dankbaar voor de reizen die ik al heb mogen maken. In ieder geval heel veel succes met het afronden van je PhD, dat is toch ook weer echt een mijlpaal in je leven! En hoe fijn is het dat je zo’n fantastische reis hebt om naar uit te kijken, de voorpret is ook al zoveel waard.


  10. Hi Linda, lief! Je hebt helemaal gelijk en ben nog steeds aan het nagenieten van mijn eerdere reizen. Die vergeet je ook natuurlijk ook nooit meer. Maar, ik denk wel dat de situatie inderdaad veranderd als je ouder wordt en dit is een van de redenen dat ik nog graag een keer voor langere tijd wil rondtrekken. Jij heel veel succes met je nieuwe baan en nogmaals gefeliciteerd met de prachtpromotie die je al binnen hebt!

  11. As an educator and travel obsessive, this makes perfect sense. It can be disheartening when we have to defer exciting travel plans but you deserve to give yourself the time you really need to complete your PhD, and having exciting travel plans on the horizon, will hopefully help you through it! :)

    Travel blogs do not have to be filled with stories of current travels, for many of us ‘part-time’ travellers, that would be unrealistic.

    Best of luck in completing your studies! :)

  12. Hi Kirsten, thank you so much for reading (and understanding) the story :)! And yes, you’re right of course! But lately I felt I only talked about backpacking and traveling, but pretty much stopped traveling myself! And I have a backpacking blog after all ;)! But again, thanks!! Have a great weekend!

  13. Sometimes we have to sacrifice what our heart really desires to do the tough stuff first and reap the rewards later. I’m sure your adventures will be worth savouring so much more when you finally come to hitting the road and I look forward to seeing what journey you go on! :)

  14. Manouk kudos to you for achieving so much awesomeness in such little time! Loving your energy and your intent; to free yourself and to free those you connect with. As for your road trip I like your choices in 2016; a few awesome spots, then you’ll run with the rest. We’re doing Bali for 4 months starting Feb 3, then maybe, Bali for 10, or somewhere in SE Asia after the 4, or who knows??

    Keep on vibing high Manouk and keep on inspiring!


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