Ever felt like making a completely new start? Leaving the good-old familiarity behind and follow your hunger for adventure? Rebecca Braak, owner of Ecua Horse Rides and Rebecca Adventure Travel, took the challenge and did exactly that. She followed her heart and moved to the sunnier side of the planet. New places, new people, new possibilities, new everything. It’s the ultimate out-of-your-comfortzone-challenge. The human version of rebooting your system.
I asked her 7 questions on how she made it work. From corporate KLM in Amsterdam to her own travel company in Ecuador, from rain to sunshine and routine to absolute happiness. Read and learn!
When did you come up with the idea of living in Ecuador?
Immediately after my MBA graduation I got a wonderful position at my dream company KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines. I had a good job, great colleagues a nice house in Amsterdam and of course my friends. Everything was going well, but something very important was missing in my life; Horses! Life is short, so I decided the change had to be made right away. I decided to take 3 months off and looked for a place in the world where I could volunteer with horses. After spending some time on google I found a ranch where they could use some help with the training of horses, so I took my chance and a couple of weeks later I left to Ecuador to work on a horse ranch in the middle of the Andes.
You turned your hobby into a travel agency, how did you come up with this idea and how did you make it work?
I just decided to follow my heart and tried to build my life on the other side of the world. I had to earn money and therefore I decided to organize horseback-riding tours for the KLM staff who were having a 48 hour break in Quito. I bought a jeep and every day I sold the tours to guide them the next day. I really thought this was my dream job; horseback riding every day with new people through the beautiful Andes. But I did miss the business aspects and the dynamic which I experienced when I was working for KLM. Therefore, I decided to create two websites where guests could book tours online. The websites ecuahorserides.com and rebeccaadventuretravel.com became hits and I can now proudly say I am an official tour operator in Quito.
With offering my tours in Latin America I hope that I can carry out this happiness that I experience in Ecuador to others. – Rebecca Braak
Was it hard for you to leave your comfort zone and start a new adventure overseas?
I can not say that it has always been easy and there were definitely moments that I would have loved to pack my stuff and go back home with the first KLM flight, but I am happy that I pushed through. Sometimes I realize how much luck I have had to have this chance and how happy I am that I went on with it.
What are the positive and negative aspects of living in South America?
It is a lot easier for me to recall the positive sides of living in Ecuador then the negative ones. Living here is a lot more relaxed than in Holland. The nature is beautiful, it has a great culture to discover, the people are very friendly and you have got to love the Latin American music. One of the biggest negative aspects of living in Ecuador would probably be the poverty and the fact it can be dangerous at times. In the Netherlands you can go anywhere, anytime by yourself on your bike, in Quito you should be way more careful at night.
Which sights or activities (beyond the tourist traps) would you recommend when going on holiday to Ecuador?
Stay as long as you can and see as much as you can. Absolute must visits are the Amazon, the Galapagos, the beaches and the volcanoes. If you like hiking you will definitely enjoy the peace and quietness of the nature around Quito.
Do you miss home and family sometimes?
Of course I have times in which I really miss my friends and family. Mainly when things are not going that well. Of course Skype, email and WhatsApp make it far more easy to stay in touch. Although it not the same as being home, it definitely helps. During bad days it helps me to realize I probably also would have had a bad day if I would have been in Holland.
And finally, do you have any tips for readers that are considering moving abroad?
Maybe this doesn’t sound that original, but I would strongly recommend to ‘follow your heart’. If you really feel like doing it, nothing should stop you. Don’t forget you will always have your save base in Holland where you can fall back on. I truly believe it is better to regret something you did than regret something you did not do.
Rebecca’s story tells us we should never silence our hearts or let fear control it. With the right mindset, anything is possible. So, are you inspired yet?
*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.