#72 Nikolaj Astrup Madsen | Traveling village

FB Traveling Village

🗓️ Recorded May 24th, 2024. 📍 At the Attwoods, Hagen, Germany

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About this Episode 

When you think of family vacations, you might envision crowded theme parks or beachside resorts. But what if the journey itself became a communal adventure? Joining us on the show is Nikolaj Astrup Madsen, one of the founders behind the fascinating Traveling Village concept. He unfolds the story of 20 families who traded the conventional holiday for a four-month exploration of Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan, not as mere tourists but as a village on the move. Nikolaj walks us through the labyrinth of planning an expedition, the intricate social tapestry of life on the road, and the unforgettable impact of deep cultural immersion while preserving a collective identity.

Twenty families traveled together for four months. Every family had its own place but a community living room. Kids learned through play and exploration, and their parents helped each other with co-living, communal meals, and the adventure of a lifetime.

As we unpack the post-travel musings, Nikolaj shares the bittersweet reality of returning to everyday life after such an intense group experience. The dialogue pivots to the subtle yet significant nuances of how a large group navigates interactions with locals and impacts children's social adaptability. The Traveling Village becomes more than a simple group trip—it's a transformative lifestyle that has etched a lasting influence on its members, igniting aspirations for future communal adventures. Through Nikolaj's captivating recount of this unique travel experiment, tune in to discover the life-altering potential of intentional community living.

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With love


Jesper Conrad 


00:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So today we are together with Nikolaj Estrup-Massen and, as you both will be able to hear on maybe, the name if you know Danish names and the accent, our accents and Nikolaj's they match, they match. All of us are from Denmark. So why are we doing the podcast in English? Well, it's because we are so blessed and now more than people from more than 90 countries are listening in Ninety, ninety, yeah, the big nine and zero. I don't know that. Okay, that's amazing. So that is quite fun.

But first of all, welcome to you, nicola. It's a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much, guys. Yeah, the reason we we have this is our first chance to meet each other and I'm really happy to do so. And the reason I was like, hey, let's talk to Nikolai is that you have, together with other people, created something called the Traveling Village, and I was like, oh, a Dane who loves to travel, I love to travel, and hey, let's talk. Who loves to travel? I love to travel, and hey, let's talk. So here we are. Can you tell a little about the Traveling Village and what it is for people who haven't read about it?

01:11 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Yeah, the Traveling Village is this crazy side project that we created more than one year ago More like 18 months ago and the whole idea was to to create a big group of families traveling together. And we call it a village because we want to be enough families to to have more of a village feeling, compared to like a group trip where it would probably be maybe a handful of families. So we had this idea to take around 20 families out, travel for four months and to try to co-create it in some way. And we just finished last week and we've been traveling 70 people for four months in Vietnam, thailand and Japan and we had like a lot of structure behind it. We had work groups and we had like a financial structure and we really been trying to co-create it and to create kind of an intentional community that we're traveling, yeah, and it kind of worked out pretty well.

And so now we just arrived back home and now it's really time to digest, because it's been so intense and it's been a lot and you guys know this, just traveling can sometimes be a lot, and now we combine it with a lot of community, it's a lot of people and it's a big work commitment that we had for a long time. So now it's like we're just landing back home and because it's not just those four months we actually had one year before that from the idea getting more families in creating it, attracting enough families, families dropping out, new families coming in. So it's been kind of a wild ride and it's super weird now that it's all done.

03:35 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I was about to ask how lonely are you now, nikolai?

03:39 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Yeah, you should have seen our calendar because we had, like we call it, a village calendar, a shared calendar of events. We had two communal meals per week and then we had a lot of work groups and we had a lot of events because, you know, we were 19 families, so it's a lot of adult people who are creating different things, simple things as going for a run together or yoga, but also bigger trips or stuff like that. So our calendar has been completely full for four months with really nice things that were more like things you could choose to do. You were not forced to do it. It and it's not like our days were completely full, we could just choose to do it.

But then we landed back home and our calendar was there was nothing, you know. So it was kind of a a big contrast. But the normal life hits you and you know we have families to see and meetings to do and work to do. But it's a big contrast and I think that's the biggest learning from the whole experience is that the community, the more intentional community, the community that you commit to, is definitely a direction, a path that we want to pursue more in the future. It's been really hard and it's been really intense, but there's been so many good things about it, so that's definitely the biggest takeaway from it.

05:19 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Well, that's our conclusion. We said after. I don't know know maybe a few, maybe before, before we became fully nomadic, we started saying the real adventure is the people yeah so yeah, and we still hold that, hold that high it's. We go to many places and see many things, but really, you know, the real key to the adventure is the people. But I'm thinking it sounds amazing, obviously, but and we've done parallel kind of things, the castle last year and some of the, some of the big hubs and stuff we've done, I just think, also traveling, I realize.

So we're a family of five traveling together full-time, and we have an adult daughter and son-in-law, that sometimes we're seven, um yeah, and when we're only five, we meet people in the street or at the beach or we meet locals and we we get local friends and they show us around and there's this whole dynamic, whereas as soon as we start traveling with other people, which we often do when we're two or three families together, this big group, it becomes a little more hard to meet locals. And and you become this. You know, it's wonderful, I love it, I do it on purpose, but I was just thinking, how did you cope with that? You know, being that many people, did you manage to poke through to the locals, or yeah?

06:55 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
I think it's important to say that you know.

You know we we're not really a big group that are together the whole time. It it's really more like a real village, where it's people spread out living by themselves or small co-living hubs, but then we are just connected with some behind the scenes structure, for example, meeting up for communal meals or doing events together. It's not like 70 people walking down the street in one big group the whole time. So you have families who live by themselves, some people live in co-living. So we all have the normal if we were just traveling by ourselves the normal opportunities to meet with local or other travelers. But I think the big difference is that you know we we had people that we knew had committed to the whole thing, so you were engaged more in the relationships. Yeah, especially for the kids. It was so clear that you know the first month there were a lot of shy kids. But then, month number two and three, you know it started to become totally different and and landing in a new place, you could see that. You know it was easy, for for a lot of the kids we have have a very like, a quite sensitive son and it has been pretty hard with big transitions before, but this time it just worked out really well because he landed in the same community, the same people that he knew, the same kids. But I think it's a fair point with local people because, like, what's the real purpose of of traveling if you just go and see things and if you're not really connected to the, to the local people? Um, but I think that's that's a challenge too if you're traveling alone. But what I see as a big thing in this project is that we actually get to work with local people, local projects and companies. And you know, coming in with 70 people, it's it's a lot of people and it's a lot of money that we're spending just on lodging, just on transportation. So we have a possibility to impact quite a lot, both negatively and positively.

And what we tried to do here was to find some meaningful partnerships locally to do so. For example, in Hoi An in Vietnam, we found a local artist, a man who is 26 years old, just started out full time with his art, and we actually hired him from our community fund. We paid him from our community fund to come to our welcome party and he set up like a big canvas and he was like trying to paint the traveling village, like the atmosphere, the physical surroundings, but also, you know, our different nationalities and the kids running around, and he was like commissioned to do this piece of art. But he naturally became a part of the group and and through throughout like four or five weeks, he kind of blended into the group. He came to our communal meals with his wife and his friends. We had people going to his studio to do art classes and he became more like a friend.

And the same thing happened in a few of our co-living spaces where we had really good relationship with those people. And that's something that I think you know, that we want to try to see if we can do the next time more, if we can build like these really meaningful relationships locally. Um, so I think it kind of worked out and and I didn't feel that it was like a close group that was like disconnected from the local environment or from from different people, because we were not just a big group of people staying in the same place and just doing our stuff, we also had like eight different nationalities. So that helps a lot with the dynamics and making it not not like a closed environment, nicola, I would like to go back to the origin of the idea.

11:42 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So what? What happened? You and your wife sat one evening and talked and we would love to travel more. How did it came to be?

11:52 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
before. Before having kids, we we had like four or five years where we traveled full-time like the very typical young couple with laptops, you know, and and we liked it and. But then when we were expecting our, our first kid, we kind of had the whole like nesting feeling. So we went back to denmark, we bought an apartment, but of course the travel bug came back and and we took our kids on a six-month trip to france and mexico. And I should say the idea originated before having kids because people kept having the question like what are you gonna do when, when you have kids, then you can continue this lifestyle. And then our you know, reply was just like, of course we're just gonna bring our friends, you know, we're just gonna be a big group of friends traveling. But of course, in reality, a lot of our friends are more, more settled and and and they're not traveling like long term.

Um, yeah, but then we did our first trip with kids and it was kind of hard with the transitions and it was kind of lonely. We were pretty lucky to meet a lot of great people, so we actually had a lot of social stuff, but it didn't feel like enough and you guys must have had this experience too. It was a lot of, you know, saying hi and goodbye, you know, people leaving again, and and that was kind of tough. Um. So the whole idea about committing to something, um having a community where where you say, yeah, we're gonna do this 100 and we're committed to doing it. So we had like a rough idea and then we just put out this one page website with the idea and, because we didn't have like the final solution, we wanted to find some more families to actually help create it with us. So we got three more families in as as kind of a founding families who helped build the whole thing.

14:09 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, and do people need to commit to the whole four months? Or did people pop in and out or how was it to find out?

14:18 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Like we had the philosophy that you had to commit to the whole thing. The thought behind that was that there's plenty of stuff where you don't have to commit. There's a lot of the world schooling hubs, there's a lot of places where you can go and it's just a WhatsApp group and stuff like that and it's beautiful and it's great and those things exist. But what we really missed was especially because, looking back now, I can see that we designed kind of a lot of these things for our son, who is more like a little bit more sensitive, and there's just more stuff to consider if, if, if, it has to work for him, and the whole thing about meeting new people and saying about meeting new people and saying goodbye, meeting new people and saying goodbye again and again. I don't really think that it works for us. You know, we, we, yeah. So we really wanted to create an intentional community. We're inspired by co-housing, eco-villages.

We read a lot about those kind of projects, studied that heavily to also learn about the framework behind the scenes and and we had enough people who were like willing to commit to the whole thing. And it's important to say that a part of the project and and we kind of told this to the people who signed up was this is not just going to be fun and easy and on the beach, you know there will be hard times. That's kind of part of the project. We're all going to go through some hard things together and hopefully those hard things will connect us more and make the whole community stronger and that kind of happened and I think you know we would have missed some of those things if people were just coming and going.

So I think that rule kind of worked out. Of course people are completely free to do what they want, you know. But we said we all paid $ thousand dollars around three thousand dollars into a communal fund and that was like a requirement. And it's a requirement that you go, you know you participate with the intention of participating in the whole thing, but of course, if you're not thriving or something happens back home or whatever, you're free to do what you want. And that's one thing that we learned from studying intentional communities is that we wanted a lot more freedom than a lot of the ego, villages and stuff like that, don't get me started.

17:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So many insane requirements. Yeah, we looked at some ego villages at some point and it actually uh felt like oh, so you want to make an intentional community that is more free than being under the state and everything, but you have more rules you have more rules and and uh, it feels like small prisons where you have to have the exact same political point of view and you have to eat the exact same food and read the same book oh yeah same version of yoga.

17:32 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
No, I can't do that, yeah, exactly.

17:35 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
So we actually wanted to go like opposite of that, because that was like when reading about those projects, it was like a huge turn off, you know. So we actually said like, okay, let's just get diversity, let's get some Trump voters, let's get some different nationalities, let you know like different ages, you know, and different kids, and let it just be chaos and mayhem and, you know, a big mix, and there will be a lot of beautiful things in doing it that way. So the intentionality combined with complete freedom, you can live, your family can stay where you want, but this is, you know, our community zone in this city. This is where things will be going on. So try to stay close to this. So having a lot of freedom, that's important for us and it kind of worked out that combination.

18:26 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I like it. I'm almost just a little jealous. I think I might want to think about maybe committing?

18:35 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
People. The worst thing is to try to get the travelers to commit man. It's so hard.

19:04 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
No-transcript the good thing about this was that it was only four months, so it's kind of easy and it.

That's within a time frame where you avoid a lot of big challenges. I think going much longer, you start, you know, having more challenges, and so it seemed like a good, good balance. In the perfect world it would work as a more like a permanent lifestyle, but I think right now, the traveling village is more like an experiment. You go on this thing and you commit to it and hopefully you learn something, and I think that was pretty clear, that we all learned something about community and that there's a you know that it's more meaningful. You know, we all know that community is important, but I think that a big takeaway for a lot of the families is that, okay, slightly more commitment. It's actually a good thing.

But something that I learned is that the whole world schooling community, uh, you know it's, it's really full of dreamers and, uh, you know a lot of people who say they want to do stuff and and you know, um, so I'm not really even sure that this is really like a project for like the world schooling commitment, like the community, because there's a lot of those things where people they say they want community but they're not really ready to commit, and that's a challenge we have ourselves like we only committed to four months.

That's, you know, in the big picture that's nothing you know. So, uh, um, yeah. So now it's just an experiment. You go on four months and then hopefully you learn something and I think for our family it was clear that okay it was. It was hard with the commitment and it was intense with the community life, but that's the right direction for us. So we don't have a final solution, but we definitely know that it's worth to pay some kind of price to get more community and we are ready to sacrifice a little bit of the freedom that we worked so hard to get to like convert some of that freedom into some community absolutely and what?

21:32 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
what I'm thinking about, what I like about the traveling village model as you explain it is the is the rhythm of life that we can see on our travels to breathe in and breathe out. We, we clearly love the breathing in, with all the community, all the people, all the experiences, and then we just sometimes need to breathe out. Take it all in because if we live we have been traveling in summer for for six years- when did we do that?

we had three weeks in kansas. We had had three weeks in Kansas where we breathed it out Still in Kansas. Yeah, but what we can see is that we will try to go towards a more breathing in, breathing out period at some point.

22:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, you just tied me to a sofa no, but the.

22:28 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
The reality is that it is. I mean the. You need to anchor the experiences and and kind of ponder about what. What has happened here? What did I learn? How did I grow? Because if you are always on the move, you you sometime forget to to bring the soul. There's this fun story about my mom and, and sometimes, when they leave a party, she says to my father oh, we are leaving now. And he says goodbye to everybody, goes out into the car and sits down and wait, and she comes 20 minutes after, you know. And one day I addressed her and said mom, what is this about, man? Why are you doing this? And she said oh, yes, but some of us has to collect our soul before we are ready to leave.

23:16 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
And I was like I actually get that, yeah yeah, but I talked to your dad about it and I said, oh, so you've been married to rosemary for 40 years when I talked to him about it, you've been sitting behind the wheel waiting know quite a few hours in your life. You feel happy with that. And he said I have had so many good strains of thoughts in this car in my life. There are many things to think about and I get some peace here, I know I can't.

23:51 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I mean they work out. It's in balance.

23:54 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, yeah totally a side uh story though yeah, no, but I totally agree that you need, like in this project we we actually had between locations we had like five to six days of travel time so people could do like side trips or take a small break and our family use that as like a to just be our family, not go out and see a lot of stuff, just relax and take it all in and get ready for the next period and and. But I think that's, you know, it's probably one learning about like being nomadic or traveling. A lot is that there's no real perfect solution. You always have to try different things and you know, sometimes you go and you do community or you stay with friends like you're doing, and then at one point you need something different, and so that's a constant, constant thing.

24:55 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I think that, within the framework of being a parent and having the responsibility of allowing for my children to grow up and then mature, there's this thing that the only thing I know is that it's going to change yeah that I don't know how it looks in three months yeah and we have four children.

So there's the individual children and then there's the whole dynamic between everyone and if you do the multiplication it goes crazy. So there's always something, lots of moving parts. We also homeschool, so I mean, and it's kind of the same thing, I feel, with the traveling. We've been full time for almost six years now. It's like there's no way we lots of people ask us oh, you're full-time traveling, how do you do it? And we do it and whatever way is right right now. So sometimes it's a road trip and we we love the road trips.

We're in the van and we're out there and we see new places and we get too little sleep and we cook in the streets and all these crazy things. Don't shower too much. It's insane. It's really funny. Right now we're six people in a seven meter mercedes thing, and our kids are not small.

26:09 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Remember they're all teenagers, so it's like six adults.

26:13 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Uh, it's a lot of fun, and then you get so exhausted, yeah, oh. Right now we're blessed with our friends here in germany. They have a house and a garden with a pool and some apple trees and we can just chill. Sometimes we're in the house for two months to just stay somewhere which is a completely different thing and you get to meet the locals and you get to know the birds and the little snakes and whatever it is yeah there's no one way, and sometimes what we all we want is community and we go for the hubs or or the world school pop-ups or these things, and I don't think you can.

It's. It's like now we have two, we have bringing up children and traveling.

26:57 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
There's actually never a conclusion, right no you have to stop, breathe and think and figure out what's the next step but it seems like you guys have found a good balance between because I think a lot of nomadic people, they they get trapped in the, you know, they travel so fast and and and it becomes like how many countries or how many sites and stuff like that.

And then it, you know, we kind of tried that a little bit when we were younger and it's like at one point it seems so meaningless, you know, but but having, I think, that they completely normal life back home, where it's just like one big mass of time and you can't really remember what happened last month because it looked the same as the month before, and stuff like that. Finding the balance between those two extremes, it feels like you kind of found a good balance and probably a lot of self-knowledge. So you know, okay, now what we need is actually to to stay low, we need to to settle for a few months. Look at the apple trees, uh, just become familiar with the local neighborhood and stuff like that.

28:14 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
And then at one point it hits you now we need to go on a road trip, yeah we get bored really fast yeah, no, but realize that when we were we were in there, we got to borrow an amazing house in the usa like really a luxury, you know yeah thing and it was fun to try. We had it for like three weeks it was nice. We've just been traveling, me, and you know we've really been around, so it was nice to have a break. But man, it was three weeks and the kids were happy in the beginning and then they started yeah, and I said our plane ticket.

28:48 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
No, but at the same time we then our focus changes on the kind of projects we do. Yeah, and that I find interesting and I'm happy to hear that it sounds like we have a balance, it's a bit like biking, you know, but mountain biking, you're like and because you're moving you're not falling, but yeah, we are still.

We're still, but if what I like about the life we have created is that it is in search of a balance and a meaning, where the life we led earlier was more stable, and you sometimes need external forces to help you in the search for the development, and life is really fun, so why not get the most out of it? Yeah, nibel, I have a question. So I'm really happy you have taken the time to meet with us and I reached out to you after the BBC article and I mean it must have probably been crazy afterwards and because I presume a lot of people and a lot of the dreamers is like oh, we want to do that as well. Um, so is there coming a new traveling village and what is the plan? And are you ending up just becoming a travel arranger? So where is okay? Where are you? What are your thoughts about this?

30:16 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
because you did it for yourself yeah, and it and it's so difficult because it's a, you know, there's the momentum of things, like when you put things out in the world. Sometimes you know there's an article, whatever, and it's easy to get distracted with momentum. Then you feel like, oh, we have to do village number two now, because people, you know, they're writing us and stuff like that. But I think right now our compass for creating this thing is our own family. What's the right thing for us? We have to have the drive to put in the work. It's completely non-profit right now, so it's a lot of free work, so it has to be the right thing for us. We don't want to compromise on what's right for our kids and and stuff like that.

So I think we went like we did the whole village one with, uh, like this could be a once in a lifetime experience perspective, which worked out really great, because we've been, you know, just focusing on that experience and not being in the future the whole time. But there's definitely something here that we want to build upon and there's definitely. It was such a great experience for us that I could really see it become a part of our life, not a full-time thing, but it could be a recurring thing, um, but then you have the whole challenge of you know it's really difficult to make something long-term sustainable if if you don't get paid for it, especially if you put in most of the work. So there's some concerns there, and I actually ran an agency like a travel company back in the days, which was kind of a community too, but yeah, so I see that there's a lot of those things that I don't want and I don't want to go in that direction.

I do think it could become a super big business if we were to do it, because it's a normal travel company. They sell to one family one week in Mallorca or whatever. Here we actually have 20 families for four months and it's a heck of a lot of money being spent. So there's definitely the potential, but right now I see it more as like an experimental playground and something where we can learn stuff, and so right now I actually see more that we would create some kind of more permanent, intentional community, somewhere in the mountains, hopefully, and then maybe have this project as a side project where you know we sometimes we go on these big adventures and where we try to, you know, because we gain so much experience. Next time we can work more with local people, we can go further out, away from the tourist hubs and stuff like that, yeah. So it's it's really difficult. I think there will be a village number two, but how it looks, how it will be, when it will be, I have no for me.

33:38 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
what I've learned the most during the last couple of years is I really love the community, part of it, the investment in the people. So we travel in between friends often and our good friends here, the Edwards, near Hanover. They are beautifully placed so we visit them when we enter Denmark once a year and when we exit Denmark, that's perfect.

So we live with them one or two weeks every year and it's just wonderful and to see the connection between our kids grow over time like that and our own relationship grow over time, and there is just this. It's a different commitment when you are living in an intentional community and are co-living with people than when you are visiting. I, when I look back to some of the life I've lived earlier, I don't regret anything. It was fun, we enjoyed ourselves a lot and have lots of good friends, but we visited them. We were on a visit and you have time to put up the facade. You know when you're only together for three or four hours. Here I wake up, do my morning yoga in the garden, you come out of the toilet and you're maybe tired and you see each other in all the offbeat situations that make a human total. And that part I just love, because you get so much um more reality, kind of yeah yeah, and I think that's a really important point because that's that's a part of it.

35:20 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
But I think maybe you guys are a little bit unique in that way. I think that because you've been traveling for so long time and it seems like now I've been following you a little bit that you invested so much in the community, in your relationships with friends, that now you have a whole like map where you know you can go to this place and this place. So I could imagine that, like you found a really good balance between the nomadic, the freedom and you know exactly what you're saying the commitment. Now we're actually together for a few weeks and you're going to see my ugly morning face and stuff like that. But I think there's a lot of people who don't have that network or haven't built that up yet. So maybe the traveling village could be a kickstarter for those kinds of things you get a head start on a lot of new friends and I'm just like why didn't?

36:23 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
you make this six years ago, nikolai yeah, exactly. I'm not sure we would have committed, though maybe we weren't ready back then we're really not but our network comes out of Lainey Liberty. One of our big networks comes out of the of the Lainey Liberty Meta. One of our big networks comes out of the time when Lainey Liberty made a European World Schooling Week, and those people are among our friends still. So I can also just see how.

36:50 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Lainey's 2019,. What was it conference in Granada? It was epic. It was like 2019, for us was for many people, not just for us, and in the line of her yeah, it was a very good one. Yeah, so I don't know if we I mean the, the one doesn't exclude the other. It's just two different ways, and you could go full-time or you could go only for four months, and just you know yeah and, yes, we've invested a lot of time in the people, but, as I said before, really the adventure is the people.

When, when, when you come back from an adventure, very often you share all the stories about the mountains and whatever the art that you've seen, but most people also tell a lot of stories about the people they met yeah that's the important part of traveling.

So this has happened in an organic way. It wasn't a plan, it's just how it unfolded. We met so many really great people. We thought we would be more like road tripping in the big red bus that we bought in the beginning and, you know, move around all the time with that, having this little house with us, and the reality was just different. You know we couldn't have planned for what happened, and now I would say we have a great community life yeah yeah, and it's scattered.

Most of it is in europe, but it's scattered around in the world and our children actually now say that they have so many friends they don't really want more friends yeah not that they're not social, they are social and they like going to festivals and meeting new people and you know.

But but we have so many people that we in so many countries that we keep up with, you know, having the relations spending some time that it's almost hard to. So you say you come back to Denmark and you have an empty calendar. We'll be back in Denmark next week after being away for a year and I will be drowning in my yeah, we have six weeks only, and then we're leaving again.

So but what I'm saying is just that it can, community can look in many different ways and you say we're unique and you know everyone are unique I think it's a wonderful project to have you have a great project.

39:17 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, so cool.

39:23 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
And it could be combined with our kind of you know yeah, that was a question that I had for you guys is that we actually last year we actually went on a campervan trip like our first, not long trip, but it was like five weeks around Europe and we really loved it.

You know, that way of traveling and living and especially for the kids it was amazing, and so of course we had the idea of you know, the traveling village, but a camper van like version, you know, especially like we, we wanted to buy like big, like moroccan, uh, tents, you know, to have a big, big tent for all of the kids to play in, one big kitchen tent and, you know, a big, big barbecue.

We wanted like a like a support van with a big trailer with a big barbecue and all of the equipment and stuff like that, so you could actually make a whole pop-up village and instead of going to campgrounds or like national parks, you would maybe like work with finding very unique farms, like way out in nature and and see if, okay, can we stay here for one week and we help out. We do this like try to connect a little bit more and then use a big field and just like, do this pop-up village slash festival thing, driving around to get like a big group of cars together and find that like a balance where you do stuff together, you camp out the same places.

41:02 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
But you also have freedom. Yeah, I think that the point you make about working together with locals is what could make this possible, because the challenge is that the whole van life movement is not always very welcome because not everybody in the movement is cleaning properly up after themselves and people don't want respectful no, and people don't want people sleeping in their car, in them next to the beach and stuff like that, and I totally understand that.

If, if there was like 30 people in a tent on the beach, I would get frustrated. So what you're pointing at is what will make this possible, which is local anchoring, local commitment and agreement, then it would be a wonderful thing to do.

41:52 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I kind of think that then that might be a fun project now.

41:57 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, it would be cool, but then it should be a fun project now.

41:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, it would be cool, but then it should be called a traveling festival.

It would be more like it depends on it would be you arrive at a town and you have an agreement with where you can put it up and you invite for like concerts and barbecue nights, whatever you know.

You invite the local environment to have a party with you and and then stay, for I would stay for more than a week, I would think. Setting up all of this moving that big group. You invite the local environment to have a party with you and then stay. I would stay for more than a week, I would think, setting up all of this moving that big group, finding all those parkings, you know all of that, hooking up with electricity and water, and I would stay for more than a weekend. But I would make some sort of event out of it to invite the locals, I don't know, make it a world schooler event or a homeschooling event or a music, whatever something, because I think showing up that many people, setting up that big of a deal just for your own convenience, maybe I think it would be more fun to call it a traveling festival.

42:51 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Actually, there's some of the people who inspired us back in the days. They're from Argentina, the family who drive in the old van. What are?

43:00 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
they called they're Catalan. They're Catalan If it's the circus family.

43:04 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
No, not the circus family, it's the one in the really old van the SAC family.

43:09 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
The SAC family.

43:10 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, and this family? They've been traveling in a van from the 30s or 20s Really old one with their kids, not even a van, just a car, no just a car.

43:20 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But what they do? They even have more children than we do.

43:23 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yeah, when they come to a new city they give a free talk and it is inspiration given to the local community and for them it's also an invitation afterwards to hey, you can come and stay with us, you can come and stay with us, you can come and stay with us, and that is really really wonderful. It's a smart move to say that. But, nikolaj, we should focus back on you and we should also remember to look at the time.

43:49 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Have we thought about that?

43:52 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
We have? Yeah, but we like other people organizing as everybody else yeah.

43:57 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
No, no, like other people organizing as everybody else, yeah, no, no. It would be a long story why we didn't make big projects. Life has happened and I don't know it hasn't been for us. And now we're in the game in this weird, from this angle, that we've been traveling for a very long time, but also our children are not very young anymore. So when we show up to these events, even like yours, we become the experts on homeschooling and our children have no other teens to hang out with. So they are like do we really? So? It's not that they don't like younger children they do, and they do spend time with younger children and enjoy it, but their need really is a community of young people, not a community of.

Yeah, yeah children under 10. So that's the new challenge. We would have to have the focus of attracting traveling homeschooling children who are more than 15 years old, and that's actually that's a very narrow window yeah, yeah, but Nikolai, I would love to put the focus back on you.

45:15 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
No, no, so the whole traveling and the whole being there as a family right now. You have only been home a week, have you even like?

45:37 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
breathing in and breathing out again. Where are you? Yeah, I think you know, when you come back home there's so many, so much family and friends and and stuff like that. So it's actually it's a little bit difficult to digest really to have that really slow period, because we actually thought, okay, we're gonna go from this intense thing and then we're gonna go back home and it's gonna be really slow.

But of course, reality is that, you know, we have a lot of great neighbors, we have a lot of great friends in the city, all our families here, you know. So we had, we had busy days, like our calendar there was like nothing, but we we have been busy, um, but it's kind of weird now because we're in our own apartment and that's the first time in those four months, because we we lived in co-living setups for four months and there's, you know, in many places we lived in just like a room and we had like shared kitchen and stuff like that, and there's definitely a lot of those things that we miss. You know the whole a random social conversations and stuff like that. Where it's not planned out, it's not an event, it's not a trip, it's not something that's in that. Where it's not planned out, it's not an event, it's not a trip, it's not something that's in the calendar, it's just, you know, we just feel like sitting and talking right now and that's actually.

We have a lot here, like we live in a really nice place with a lot of great neighbors, and it's really nice during the summers because our communal yard is like full of kids and full of people and we all walk through the yard when we, when we are going out, so you meet your neighbors a lot. Um, and and that's from for me personally, that social uh stuff covers so much of my social needs. The more random meetups, conversation like now I feel like hanging out and now I'm staying longer, now I can see that him or her is down there, now I'm gonna go down and you know, instead of you know, with our friends, we always have to plan two weeks out and okay, let's first day at 4 pm and we're all tired and then we have to transport through the city and stuff like that.

47:58 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So I think those like random meetups, and you know the community is just around that's really something that we, that we already kind of miss yeah, and that is that is what I long for the most, and also the co-living is the best yeah and and what I really want love about what you have done and all the time you have put in as non-profit is, I begin to look more and more and stuff like if I want to enjoy stuff, someone has to make it.

If I want to be at an event, someone has to create that event. Oh, maybe I should start creating more events myself or sharing more, and this is one of the reasons we are doing the podcast, for example, and we are giving some talks at different festivals, just because it is nice to have something to meet around sometimes. Yeah, yeah, and I like to do it so. So I felt like, okay, I've been enjoying other people's events for so many years that maybe it's time we should figure out to create our own stuff. So I'm very grateful for all the time you put in and, as we should find a place to round up the podcast episode otherwise we'll just talk about traveling and the wonderful co-living forever.

49:13 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
We actually have some apple trees waiting for us in the garden that we have to look at.

49:18 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I know the next traveling village isn't planned, but if people want to stay in the loop, how do they find you? How do they read more about the project? Where is it? They follow you on Facebook, or is there a newsletter they can sign up to? Please share.

49:35 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Yeah, so we have travelingvillagecom, which is our website, and I'm actually creating a new website with a lot of more content, a lot of more of the experiences that we had hopefully released in a week or something like that, which will be much better than the website we have now, which is kind of the same as when we started, just the idea. So we have the website and we have a newsletter, where the idea, at least, is that we send out a newsletter that's like our main channel once per month with, like, the experiences and the ups and downs. Something that we've been trying is with Instagram is to also create a lot of content there, but more like building in public you could say building the whole project in public and some say that I've been focusing too much on the negative things, but but I just feel like with instagram, there's so much beautiful travel content and and and it's not really my thing and it's not, you know, I don't think it's not possible for me to stand out if, if I wanted to do that and I'm interested in all of the behind the scenes, the structure, the ups and downs now we have a conflict, now there's something difficult, what we learned about this? So, and I didn't do too much, but we actually we we have maybe like 40, 50 posts uh, there with with like ups and downs and learnings, and people who were on the trip saying like what's been hard. We have stuff about like walkability, how close do you live to the community and and how do you get time to be alone in a big group, and stuff like that. So I'm pretty happy about that.

And we also have a podcast or youtube channel, um, which is kind of done now, but we wanted to document the whole thing. So we did like eight episodes throughout the whole trip, um, where we were three people doing it. Uh, we have one where it's with two of the bigger kids telling about their experiences. Again, really a lot of focus about the ups and downs, the learnings, the structure behind the scenes, not really a lot of focus on beautiful pictures and stuff like that. So that's been kind of one of my dreams to build in public, to just put all of the experiences out, um.

So hopefully someone can find that and take, you know, some of the structure, some of the adjustments we learned, and then create their own. We also have a big handbook which kind of worked as our terms and conditions for signing up. That's also public and, um, yeah, so, but the newsletter is probably on. Travelingvillagecom should be our main channel. I'm not sending out too many of them because it's been there's been so much just to do to make it work. So all of the communication or marketing or whatever has been like not prioritized like that much but but that's going to be our main main channel.

52:59 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
But I know I'm going to sign up and stay in the loop because four months sounds like maybe I can do four months plan. But, nikolaj, thanks a lot for your time and for everyone listening. I think you should go out and vote for sign up for the newsletter. We will also put a link to everything, also the podcast episode you have done in the show notes and the handbook so people easily can find it.

53:28 - Nikolaj Astrup Madsen (Guest)
Thanks a lot so much guys it was a pleasure.


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