Heeere’s Simon Lippens everybody! He’s from Belgium and by day, he’s a Market Access Manager, but by night, he’s diligent traveler that explores the world as much as he can. Well.. no, sorry… not really, he just travels out as often as he can and when he can. He still has a day job. But he’s down with the scene though!
So Simon says he’s a curious lad. He’s out to sample what the world has to offer and takes in what he can every chance he gets. We like him. We’re all about living in the moment and pursuing passions, so we got to our feet and spoke with the guy about making moments matter in regards to his travels.
1. Tell us about one of the more life-grabbing moments you experienced during your travels.
Well I have travelled quite a bit, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been to all the continents, having living abroad. One of the things that really opened me up to the world was just with a little bit of understanding, different cultures don’t matter at all. You can feel welcomed and right at home everywhere you go when people keep an open mind.
When I lived in the U.S. two years ago, I was practically on my own and as always you have to start making new connections. Even though I was only there for a good month, I got an invitation from a colleague to come celebrate thanksgiving with his family. Truthfully, I used to think that Americans were a bit superficial, but man was I wrong. (Thanksgiving is comparable with Christmas in Europe. You celebrate it with your close family)
There I was with a family whom I didn’t know and was made to feel welcomed immediately. I spent the entire day with them – from playing American football in the morning, to going to the movies at night; and I felt like I was just a part of it as anyone else. It was a pretty amazing day and it struck me hard.
For me this was life-grabbing, because feeling welcomed by persons you barely know, just show that if all of us are open-minded and willing to enjoy something new, there’s really nothing holding us back.
2. Life sometimes sneaks up and surprises us when we least expect it. What’s your definition of an amazing moment?
I would say that an amazing moment is when you expect something to be good and it turns out to be even better.
I remember travelling from the very North of Thailand to the South and for budgetary reasons we decided to use trains, buses, and boats instead of taking a plane. After 30 hours of travelling – including a 6 hour delay, missing connections, being hungry, exhausted, naggy and so forth – we finally made it. And then there was a sunrise over the beach on this magnificent island. In that moment, you realize that this world is actually insanely beautiful and that we worry way too much about little things that in the end don’t matter at all.
This doesn’t just apply to travel or when doing crazy or extraordinary things. The same feeling can come to me even when I hang out with friends or my girlfriend. Sometimes I can suddenly realize that a moment feels just right, just how it should. A moment where everything falls into place, it all feels good and you realize there’s no place else with anyone else you want to be. Those are the moments that are truly amazing. Sometimes it’s just about taking a small step back and enjoy.
3. What’s next on your to-do list?
Haha! The million dollar question! Definitely travel more. There’s so many places I want to visit and it all depends on the kind of holiday possible at any given time. So I’m breaking it down to different categories.
Amsterdam: Close by for me and just an astonishing city to bike in.
Berlin: Must see, including the party scene!
Prague: A definite must!
Iceland: Beautiful nature scene.
Spain: Been there, but I want to re-visit Barcelona, Granada (the Alhambra is incredible), Valencia, and more.
Eastern Europe: Only visited a few places and I think there are still some hidden gems for me to still discover.
Asia: Back to the east for some amazing countries.
West Coast in US: Been there a couple of years ago, but there’s still so much I want to see.
Australia and New-Zealand: Simply because it’s my most favourite place.
*Simon says this list can and will change without prior notice & without any logical reason.
Lunch view Loch Lomond, Scotland – August 2015
4. Why do you like travelling so much?
For me travelling is really a passion. It’s not just about seeing beautiful things, but it’s more about the discovery. The discovery of a culture you’re not familiar with, meeting new interesting people who look at things differently, learning from others and finding landscapes that are different from what you know.
I really believe that people who travel are more open minded. It reminds us that even though we come from different places, good values are the same everywhere. It’s an opportunity to comprehend different cultures and have a sense of appreciation. I may not always agree with that people say, I may change my mind, but all I’m looking for is the experience and understanding of new things.
I always try to meet new people, especially the locals and I am really a huge fan of couch surfing or going to friends of friends who live abroad. That’s actually how I got into the habit of making little episodes of my travels. I make small sized photobooks every time I couch surf. It’s a great way for me to break up different parts of my travelling years and the time I spent together with my couch owners! I’ve got a nice little library growing now.
(Editor’s note – Have a look at our Mini Square Photobooks right Here)
5. What is your definition of passion?
Passion is something that drives me. It’s something incredibly intense and strong that can be found all around you. It’s a thought that can bewilder and make the negative go away. It’s a strong belief that’s worth defending above anything. It’s the person that you care more about than yourself. It’s a dream that worth pursuing above anything else.
6. What’s in your bag?
First of all, I always bring a good book! A good book is a must for any traveler. It will kill some dead moments and it’s perfect to enjoy a place you just discovered. This could be either in the middle of a new city combined with people watching or enjoying a spectacular view. Just sit down, take out the book and relax while watching the scenery & thinking a little bit deeper about what you’re reading. It’s also always a great conversation starter when you meet people.
I tend always to bring a pocket knife as well. Last summer I was travelling with a friend to Scotland and obviously we hiked a lot. When hiking, we usually buy some bread, cheese, bottle of wine – just the basics for any hiker – for lunch. Then a pocket knife (and a corkscrew which I always bring as well) is all you need for the perfect meal. You just find a great spot with an amazing view and you have your prime location restaurant.
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