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First Month Of My 1-Year Sabbatical – September 2020

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Published on , last updated on January 29, 2021

september 2020 happiness featured

September was the start of something me and my girlfriend have been looking forward to for a long time! September was the first month of our 1-year sabbatical!

The impact this had on my happiness was immediate, as this was the happiest month I had in a long time! As shared in last update, our first destination was Sweden. We’ve driven thousands of kilometers and have traveled to beautiful places.

I want to share some of these moments with you here. Let’s get right into it.

Here are my personal happiness ratings:

My average happiness rating of September 2020 was 8.14.

I can’t remember the last time it was this high! In fact, this month really reminds me of the time I was in New Zealand and experienced the amazing feeling and freedom that traveling can provide.

Looking at the chart of my happiness ratings, it’s amazing to see that every single day was great.

Positive happiness factors

Here are the positive factors that influenced my happiness in September:

As usual, my relationship is topping the charts. My girlfriend and I are on the road together. So far, everything is going superb. There’s no other person I can imagine doing this sabbatical thing with. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can see a lot of other things that have had a positive influence on my happiness. Most of them are a result of our fresh start of our sabbatical!

Our plans for this 1-year sabbatical

It’s time to share some details on what me and my girlfriend have planned for this trip.

We treat this sabbatical very differently from a typical vacation.

Yes, we may be traveling, but we’re trying to take things slow. Like, real slooooooooow.

That means that we’re allowing little breaks here and there during our travels. So while we still try to go on as much adventures as possible, we make sure that we can decompress accordingly.

For example, we try to balance hikes, wild-camping and building campfires with actual relaxing (a.k.a. just chilling in an AirBNB and watching Netflix together or taking time for ourselves).

What about my work on this site?

This also allows me to continue work on Tracking Happiness! In fact, this has allowed me to spend even more time into developing this idea!

To be fair, it gets a little harder to work on this website sometimes. Cell coverage in Sweden is genereally good, but I sometimes simply can’t get online.

It also doesn’t help that I dropped my smartphone in a lake while kayaking (SHIT).

But for real, working on Tracking Happiness is something that I’m extremely passionate about, so I can only realistically be happy on this trip when I can fulfil this inner urge of mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

So far, it’s working out quite well!

What about our finances?

This may sound like a humble brag, but my girlfriend and I are quite good at making the most of our money. By that, I mean that we spend as little as possible without it having an impact on our happiness.

Some examples of how far we go:

  • We have a small tent that we try to use as much as possible. In Sweden, it’s totally okay to wild-camp, which is both fun and adventurous. So even though Sweden is considered one of the most expensive countries in Europe, my girlfriend and I make the most of our bucks.
  • We brought a little camping stove with us and a shit-ton of groceries from the Netherlands. Our diet so far has consisted of pancakes, omelettes, noodles, tuna pasta and vegan hamburgers! Super cheap when compared to eating out in Sweden!
  • We drive around in a Toyota Aygo, which is my girlfriend’s car. I sold mine in August, as it was a slightly more expensive Diesel car. If you’re not familiar with Toyota Aygo’s, they are very compact and have great fuel economy. Even though it’s a challenge to safely fill it with all our shit baggage, it’s a great and cheap option!

You get the point: we try to cut costs, while still having as much fun as possible on our trip. This allows us to stay within the budget that we made over the years, so that our hard-earned savings last us long enough for us to finish this trip!

Enough with this boring crap, what about the actual trip itself?

I could go on about how certain things have made me happy this past month, but I think it’s more effective to show a couple of pictures instead.

We’ve spent the better half of September in Sweden, and it’s been AM-AZ-ING.

sweden map september 2020
Our journey so far, on our long-awaited sabbatical!
swedish house september 2020
Beautiful Swedish houses everywhere! It’s the simple beauty that can really put a smile on my face!
northern lights 2 september 2020
Northing lights are simply insane. Did NOT expect to see them this often!
camping sweden september 2020
For some, this looks like a terrible holiday, but for me, this looks like fun and adventure! ๐Ÿ™‚
waterfall lake september 2020
Waterfalls like these are everywhere in Sweden. This one’s from the Mudus National Park.
northern lights 1 september 2020
It was hard to keep count of the times we saw the northern lights (for real!)
lappish gate september 2020
We brought an inflatable kayak with us, which gave us amazing experiences like these! (this is also moments before I dropped my phone in the lake)
nikkaluokta hike september 2020
One of these mountains is the biggest one in Sweden, apparently!
moose spotting september 2020
We saw freaking moose in the wild! Holy. Shit!
lappish gate september 2020
These mountains are called “the gate to Lapland”. This is as far north as we got!

These pictures are examples of why September was one of the happiest months ever.

And this is just a tiny fraction of all the pictures we made. We’ve experienced Sweden in a way that not a lot of people ever get to. And we’re extremely grateful for being able to have this experience.

Sweden is a stunning country with so much beautiful areas of untouched nature.

It’s a shame that autumn in Sweden is (really) rainy, because we could have happily stayed here for another month, easily.

Our plan for October is to go further south, to cross Germany and Austria into Italy, hoping for better weather!

Negative happiness factors

There were a couple of things that impacted my happiness negatively:

There’s not a lot to go into here.

I was tired a couple of days, but that’s been the case every month for as long as I can remember! ๐Ÿ™‚

September was truly a happy month, and these couple of negative factors did nothing to really hurt my happiness!

Let’s keep this up for the remainder of the year!


By no means do I want to sound cocky here. There’s a lot that could ruin this entire 1-year sabbatical:

  • I could crash our car into a tree.
  • We can get sick.
  • A person close to use could die or get seriously sick.
  • Italy could shut its borders due to the virus.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.

We’re aware that we’ve been lucky so far, and that this luck could run out any time.

We try to repeat it every day: we are fucking lucky to be able to do this, and should be grateful for every happy moment we experience during this trip.

Hopefully, October will be just as good as this last month!

(knocks on wood)

How was your September? What would you rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10 this past month? Let me know in the comments below!


Hugo Huijer

Founder of Tracking Happiness

Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 7 years.

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