… visit 85 countries by the age of 35?
Traveling is an addiction which I’m successfully fuelling for the past 22 years and don’t plan to stop for the years to come. On the contrary I want more and trust me it’s not always about money it’s mostly about fantasy, time and a bit of luck. Although once I sold my car to go to South America.
As with all addictions, traveling starts small and innocent, after some time it escalates and you want more. Even after 13 years, I remember my first big travel high as it was yesterday. During a mid-term break while being on a student’s exchange programme in Singapore went with my friend PRS to Thailand. We planned it all and till now One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head is our song. We were broke, as students normally are but the urge for traveling was greater. It was a complete budget trip, on Kho Samui for example the hostel room rate was too high for us, at least compared to the hostel rates on Krabi, so we decided to buy beers and crisps and sleep on the beach. The evening was beautiful, it didn’t look like raining and we always dreamed of sleeping on the beach. We found a five-star beachfront hotel with comfortable deckchairs and arrogantly installed ourselves over there. Nobody came to chase us away so we drank the bears we bought, covered ourselves with bath towels and hugged our bags, so we wouldn’t get robbed and fell asleep. What a night… we got eaten alive by mosquitos, were waking up constantly but the sunrise was worth the struggle. Additionally, on that trip we got soaking wet from tropical rain, were changing clothes in a 7/11 backroom, partied in the middle of a jungle and got constantly lost in Bangkok. Trip from hell you might think… nope the best one I’ve ever had and would repeat it anytime. Since then, there were no boundaries, stamps in my passport sprang like mushrooms.
Tip number 1
The best fun for me was to search for cheap flight tickets on platforms like skyscanner or flipo and match it with my annual leave days or figure out if by chance I can also visit Laos when going to Borneo. That activity is very time consuming but also brings lots of joy as you start imagining how wonderful your trip can be. Find a cheap ticket to a distant destination and bundle up. In 2014, that was one of those journeys I did with my now ex-partner, I found the deal of the century to Brazil. 450 Euro for two tickets on the route Malaga-Rio de Janeiro-Paris, ofcoz need to get additional tickets to Malaga and from Paris but with the low-cost airlines it didn’t cost much.
Yeah, later sold my car to go as I was in a transition period between two jobs but it was totally worth it. Brazil, still can remember the taste of that amazing stake in Porto Alegre. Uruguay, the most expensive sausage I’ve ever had and Argentina. Oh man the Iguazu Falls are truly breath-taking and Buenos Aires has a really cool vibe.
Tip number 2
Don’t turn your back on travel agencies or cruises. Although organising a trip myself is extremely rewarding as I’m tailoring it to my needs, sometimes a travel agency has exactly what I’m after and for a decent price. Not hiding, used the services of a travel agency a couple of times, for example to book a pure sightseeing trip to Russia or the Balkans or to go on a beach holiday to Kenya, Oman or Egypt. Why?! Because organising it myself would cost me more than the agency’s price and it was simply not worth the effort. Still, to have some adventure after arrival and not lay the whole time on the beach, especially as I don’t sunbathe anymore after living some time in Asia, I book diving, excursions or rent a car with the local tour operators. Cruises however are awesome! Call me mental or a travel infidel but cruises are really fantastic. Small Caribbean islands like Barbados, St. Maarten or St. Lucia were always on my bucket list, although going to each island separately for at least a week is a waste of my time, especially as within 5-6 hours you can see the whole place. Look, I’m not a hard-core explorer or Bear Grylls survivalist meaning organise every trip yourself, drink from a self-filtered puddle and sleep insight a camel – although would like to try it out one day, nor am I a travel princess meaning only high end, top resorts… I am an in-between and utilise different travel tools available on the market to see places I want.
Tip number 3
A mix between luck, the right time and something like a calling. Myanmar, geez how badly I wanted to see Bagan, Mandalay, Yangon and after the special episode of Top Gear, the deserted 20 lane highway in
Nay Pyi Taw, I literally felt that Myanmar is calling me to visit… ahhh. Every time I planned to go, something thwarted my plans. Finally, when the company I work for sent me on a contract to Hong Kong, the right time to travel to Myanmar came… during Chinese New Year’s holidays. Didn’t have to prepare much as the itinerary was in my head for a very long time. Have to admit the trip was amazing and exceeded all of my expectations. Food was awesome, the sights were amazing and the deserted highway made me feel like I’m in that very special Top Gear episode… don’t have to mention that I drove on it with my rented scoter 😀 Actually, since then I always keep some itineraries in the back of my head for places I wanna visit, just in case the time and the circumstances are right. Currently waiting for the calling from Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Iceland and The Azores. Have an odd feeling that Iceland will call first 😉
So what’s with the funding?
Nothing, I have a job and save money for the trips and that’s the big secret. Personally, I’m willing to give up a lot to save for a trip. During the student’s exchange programme in Singapore I did have help from my now ex-partner but on top of that stopped smoking as cigarettes
were expensive and I had the choice – buy ten packs of ciggies or a flight ticket to Thailand. Obviously Thailand had the better cards. Also who says that you need to spend the budget on locations where accommodation and other prices sky rocket, like Australia or The Scandinavian countries. Balance and diversify your trips, allocate the yearly travel budget to a location mix, for example a more expensive location where you always wanted to go and something more local where you can easily and cheaply get with a low cost airline. Additionally, look out for special offers, last minute sales in travel agencies’ or ask your travel addicted friends for advice 😉 If you really want to go somewhere, even sleeping on a beach and being eaten alive by mosquitos is not that of an issue.