School, vocational training, internship, agency. That was Kathrin’s path into the working world. Amidst the day-to-day stress, her young desire for travel and adventure somehow got lost. Experiences in Sri Lanka and Nicaragua opened her eyes again. “I wanted to get out of the rut I was in,” says the woman from Stuttgart. A good job as a graphic designer and her own apartment looked to have sealed her fate. But “Kat” suddenly wanted none of it. In the prime of her life, she suddenly felt compelled to do something other than sit in an office from morning to evening. She wanted to see the world. More than that: she wanted the world to be her living room. Her father ultimately convinced her when he confronted her with the decision. Kat took four weeks to think about it. Then she sold her apartment and made her dream from van life a reality.
Now, Kat travels through southern Europe and northern Africa with her Sprinter. “My Sprinter is my happy place and the friend that I can rely on” – Kat named the Sprinter Karlos. The duo was recently in Morocco with a drive out to the dunes in the Sahara. Today, she says her home is where her Sprinter stands. In addition, the innerspring seats are good for her back, explains Kat happily. Karlos has never let her down and the Mercedes-Benz service with the “Young Stars” program leaves her with no worries if the van were ever to break down. For Kat, the biggest advantage of van life lies in the fact that you always have your home with you and have to keep things to a minimum.
Before Kathrin informed her agency about her plans, she feared that she would have to give up her job entirely. At the time, she had already been with the company for seven years and her superiors and colleagues did not want to lose her to the great freedom. Kathrin presented a concept to her boss which enabled her to stay with the company and yet still take her planned journey. The graphic designer now plans her working day the way she wants: “Sometimes I work three weeks full-time and then a lot less in the following weeks.” The Stuttgarter touches base with her employer almost daily. However, the agency trusts her enough to let her work independently. This lets Kat make the best use of her time. She believes that in an office, people rarely take the breaks that they actually need.
Kat admits that her lifestyle is not for everybody: discipline and a high level of organisation are essential when the sound of the sea is calling and a major project deadline is also looming. But she loves her job and thanks to her van life, she can enjoy her work without unnecessary stress. Some tasks take more time because she can only work on her laptop and not on three screens simultaneously. Kat also no longer shies away from rejecting work because it is not compatible with her situation. “I used to want to work more and more. But I wanted to get away from that on my travels. I would rather do a little less but deliver better work,” she says.
Kat does not worry about the future and she is clear about one thing: she no longer wants her old life in her apartment in Stuttgart back. She never wants to give up the life that she has built now. Instead, she wants to show others that they can do their own thing without having to give up their profession. She believes that her generation has incredible opportunities. And feels that it is a shame when these go unused. Kathrin also argues that a promotion which provides more freedom and trust is worth more than one which provides more money. For the future, she wishes that more employers would use their employees as needed so that they can better combine their energy.
I think that it does not matter where you work as long as you do good work.
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