The short version
Since 2007 I’ve travelled the world on a small budget. What originally should have been a one-year trip before university has now evolved into a lifestyle.
I backpacked around the world, hitchhiked in planes, dived in wrecks, hiked across countries, climbed mountains and cycled through deserts, jungles and cityscapes alike. Over 130 countries I can call temporary homes. After almost 10 years on the road, I plan to slow down a bit and spend more time writing and sharing my experiences with people. This blog is the first step into this direction.
My main goal still is and will be to reach every country in the world.
The long version
I always wanted to see the world, even back in school, which was not my most favourite time of life. My first round the world trip I planned when I was 17, talking to my geography teacher about possible routes and countries. It was a pretty big pipe dream, I had no money, no experience, no equipment, but I wanted to travel round the world. No idea how, but the will was there.
After school I had to do my service, either social or military; I picked the military. Nine months of training and good fun, which prepared me pretty well for backpacking… but in a fundamentally different way than most backpackers. Instead of flying directly to SouthEastAsia to party, I made my way overland out of Europe and hitched through Syria, Jordan and Egypt. In Cairo I found my first proper backpacker hostel, a Lonely Planet guide and everything else that international travellers usually do and take. From there on my trip started to change, become more uniform with the average backpackers journey: SEA, Australia, New Zealand, a roadtrip in the USA, some time in Central America, all within one year. I started in May 2007, came back 2008.
After I got back to Germany, I was supposed to go to university, but I had one big strike of luck: I inherited a house. An old, small, crappy house, but nontheless it was worth 60k €. I sold it for a low monthly rate, a passive income that is fueling me to this day. No matter what I do, I have access to 300€ per month, or 10€ per day. Laughable in comparison to a normal income in western Europe, but a big boost for me, especially since I changed my way to travel: I picked up a bicycle and added camping to my accommodation options.
I spend the entire summer and autumn of 2008 I biked around Germany first, then nearby countries. Till it got too cold and I escaped to India for the winter. No biking, another go at backpacking in a cheap and warm country. I used the time to plan my first big bike trip: Germany to SouthAfrica, which I started 3 weeks after I came back from India. It was the biggest challenge I faced to this very day. Not only was I relatively inexperienced and had to cross the Sahara, Central Africa and some rather dodgy areas, but my bike got stolen, my travel companion and me turned out to be non-compatible, I was on a very low budget, my gear was pretty basic and getting to Capetown was actually a rather long way.
I arrived after 10 months with exactly -90€ on my account, luckily I had prebooked the flight back home already.
After Africa I took a long break. Not only was I broke, but also pretty slim. About 65kg on a 188cm body is not very healthy. I spend 9 months in Germany, eating, saving money, planning my next journey… South America. My girlfriend at the time and me designed a website, wrote some companies to get gear sponsored and actually ended up with two free bikes, some clothing and camping gear. That was four years after I started with all this.
This next tour started in Rio de Janeiro, bicycle + other transport. After three months cycling we left the bikes in Cusco, hitchhiking and hiking around Patagonia and Easter Island for two months, before picking up the bikes again. Through Peru we cycled to the Amazon river, boated its entire length till the Brasilian coastline, north of Rio de Janeiro, where we started six months earlier. A wild dash through the Guyanas and Venezuela were followed by a long stay in Colombia, acting in a soap opera, diving and hiking to ruins in the jungle.
We split up after boating to Panama, I was continuing alone through Central America, trying to see the destinations I had left out on my first visit, 4 year earlier. Eventually I reached the USA, cycled the Route66, then headed into Canada for a loop up to Montreal, then down the coast to NewYork to catch my flight into good old Europe for the next break.
This time I spend less money, with more experience came better budgeting. I immediately started planning some more trips, because I noticed that there were only a few countries left in Europe that I’ve never been. That was when the idea hit me. Maybe… I could travel to every country? I had just come back from a trip that brought me through every country in North AND South America. I could easily visit the remaining European countries… I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand already… maybe it would work.
I imagined a new website, started smaller trips to the remaining countries in Europe. Off to Kiev, ticking off the Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania. A small 1-week hiking tour on Malta. But soon enough, personal matters brought me into SouthEastAsia again. My girlfriend was flying up from Australia to Singapore and we were to meet for a tour through the area, half a year in the tropics. This time more focus on the island states, getting to Borneo and Sulawesi, Sumatra and Java, all the way down to East-Timor. I remembered SEA easy, but some of these remote islands were rather tricky to travel through.
After this intermission I picked up my quest again. New website online, new sponsors beside me, I left alone on my next big bike trip: West Africa on a road bike, only carrying frame bags. I was planning a big loop in West Africa, which got cut short by Ebola and closed borders, so I started my Sahara crossing north towards Europe a month sooner than expected. With the road bike I cycled over 10.000km in just three months, ticking off almost all the remaining countries in Europe. Portugal? Been there. Monacco? Yep. Andorra? Sure thing. San Marino? Yes, sir. A short vacation, hiking in Ireland, brought that island state into my fold, and soon enough the continent was done.
Asia and Africa were remaining, next to the hard-to-reach island states of the world.
Since at the time I just came back from Africa, my next tour was aimed towards Asia. I combined two long overland routes that I’ve longed to do for a long time: The Trans-Siberian railway and the Silkroad. A 9 month trip through the Siberian winter, spring in the Far East and summer in Central Asia were ahead of me. I did Belarus, Russia and Mongolia in Winter, China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan in spring, and took the Silkroad back to Europe. I made the mistake of rushing too much, cutting corners here and there, because I had news from Germany: The place were all my belongings are stored, where I live? It’s being sold and razed down, and I have to be there in time to sort it out. I did not even cycle all the way back to Germany, but took a flight from Tbilisi, Georgia.
And now here I sit. In one week from now, this place will be no more, my belongings stored in boxes, and I will be, literally, a vagabond without home. Heading for my next journey into Asia…
I don’t know what the future will bring, but I want to try to build up a career out of my experiences. I don’t know which type yet, a blogger or writer, author of travel books? A guide and speaker? Product design? A hermit living in a monastery? Divemaster on an island in SEA? Whatever it will be, I want to start working on it when I turn 30. I’m 28 now and this blog and patreon are a first step in this direction. Lets see how it goes. 🙂