Am I lucky?

The by far most frequent words I hear and have heard the last year are: “Oh, you are so lucky!”. I get this from people online and offline – from people that I know and total strangers. They are of course referring to that I’m traveling the world. But does it really have anything to do with being lucky? On behalf of myself and other world travelers out there, I would say NO – and here is why!

First of all; what does being lucky actually mean?
This is of course individual as different people appreciate different ways of life, but what goes for everyone are two basic fundamentals which I think being lucky is all about.

Firstly, health is the greatest wealth. To be born without any diseases or disorders is a gift. To wake up every day and live your live without any, is an even greater gift. I’m not talking about the flu, but real diseases that can and will affect your life in one way or another. For example cancer might send you to hospital and treatment for years stopping you from studies, living your everyday life or enjoying your hobbies.

Secondly, to be born and able to live in a part of the world without poverty, starvation, corruption, frequent natural disasters,  lack of water and last but also worst; war. We are at the moment 7,5 billion people on the planet. Half of these live in what the World Bank consider as poverty – on less than 2 dollars per day. 1,5 billion lives on what’s called extreme poverty – less than 1 dollar per day. Today 15 000 people die due to starvation, just as yesterday and unfortunately a few more tomorrow. Most of my readers (not that I have many) probably live in Europe, the US or Australia where in contrast to poor countries overweight and obesity is growing day by day – too much food! Some of you even might get some rain perhaps a little too often – but at least it’s not raining bombs.

My point with these two basic fundamentals is that it’s really hard to have a good life without them and most of us take them for granted. If you call me lucky for traveling the world; remember that in the “sperm lottery” there is a 50 % chance you get born in a poor part of the world. We are talking a 50 / 50 chance! Ending up on the “right” side here, THAT’s being lucky!

Am I lucky because I’m able to travel the world?
So, now when being lucky is defined – let’s get back to the topic of traveling the world. Even though I’m born in a safe and wealthy part of the world and without disorders, I was not born into a life of wealth or travel at all. In fact, my father never sat his foot in an airplane – and I’ve by age 30 visited all continents in the world multiple times and soon been to 100 countries. Sadly my father died way too young at age 52 and I know what some of you are thinking now – but I didn’t inherit a single dollar. I don’t like talking about money, but I will however get back to the financial part a little later in this post.

The reason I’m able to travel the world is because of me and the choices I’ve taken – nothing else. In the same way that I’ve chosen a way of traveling – I’ve had to say no and to sacrifice other things in life. It’s called priorities and it’s the one and only reason I’m able to live this kind of life. If you take a look in my wardrobe you’ll understand. It’s mainly full of either clothes from H&M or sports clothes. Even though also I think that Ralph Lauren clothes look better, I don’t fall for the temptation of buying them – I would rather spend the money on a flight ticket instead. Or buy some stocks or put them into my savings account so I could afford an extra apartment to rent out. This mindset and these choices has brought me to where I am today.

It has nothing to do with luck. It’s basically only priorities, money management and street smartness and therefore I think it’s well deserved that I’m able to have this life now. Let’s compare to a guy with a really good job and high salaries. He probably worked hard in school, studied for many years, put in a lot of effort in order to get good grades and eventually a good job. After years of hard and dedicated work he becomes a manager and receives high salaries. Would you call being lucky? Or just a result of priorities, hard work and smart choices over a long time? It’s not being lucky – it’s just being smart and the result is well-deserved.

Money management
I very rarely speak about money with other travelers or local people, but every once in a while people say: “Oh, you must be very rich!” and to a certain extent, compared to the average man on earth, that is true. Anyways, I always answer by saying: “It’s not about how much money you have or can make – it’s a about how little you can spend!”.

There is one great fallacy among people when it comes to private economy and money management and it goes like this:
We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t know or in some cases don’t even like. Last but not least; they probably don’t even care.

The perhaps even worse and ironic result of this is often that the things you think that you own end up owning you. So what do I mean by these “smart ideas” of mine? Here is an example: some people are taking big loans to buy a brand new car. I understand and respect that some people need a car, but I don’t agree on that they need a brand new car – or a fancy one at all. A 5 year old Toyota could do the same job! Also, if you can’t even afford it – why do you buy it? This will only limit your economy and unfortunately in many ways also your life. A perfect example of someone buying something he/she doesn’t really need, with money he/she doesn’t have and the car ends up “owning” him/her because of the commitment of the loan.

To be clear; consuming is not the problem. Without consumption the economy and also the world stops. The problem is overconsumption!

Traveling is not only rainbows and butterflies – would you handle this?
If you believe that traveling the world only is about beautiful sunsets, paradise beaches, cosy cities and might misty mountains – think again. There are for sure lots of this too and that’s what I like to share in social media, since I like to inspire, be positive and show the best of the countries I visit in order for them to attract more tourism and hopefully the people there can achieve a better life since tourism contributes with money which again gives food, education and a way out of the poverty.

There are however endless of unpleasant things and situations that you have to struggle with and handle being a world traveler on a budget. And if you still think I’m lucky – ask yourself if you could handle all of this?

  • 8-15 hour bus rides with sometimes zero comfort, no toilet, very warm or extremely cold.
  • Sleeping in hostels and share room with 4-15 other persons almost EVERY NIGHT for one year.
  • This also means NO privacy what so ever! No where to “hide”.
  • People snoring every night (earplugs doesn’t always help unfortunately).
  • Low standard. Sometimes really dirty and nasty showers, bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Almost never feel really fresh due to heat or sweating after walking and carrying the bags.
  • Simple just quit your job without any guarantee at all for another one when (if) you get back home.
  • The lack of good food. Don’t get me wrong, you can have amazing food many places, but there are also times where you can find anything but Snickers and french fries. I don’t even wanna know how many nights I’ve had Snickers for dinner after arriving places late in the night when nothing was open.
  • Get food poisoned and diarrhea. Trust me, you will.
  • Not seeing your friends and family for a very long time. Of course you meet a lot of people, and that’s perhaps the best part of traveling solo, but sometimes you simply miss the people you have know for a lifetime.
  • Be away from all the holidays like Christmas, Eastern etc.
  • Carry all your belongings and your entire “wardrobe” in just two bags. Very limited!
  • Waiting.. Trust me, if you travel to poor countries they don’t have as good infrastructure, technology and systems but on the other hand often more bureaucracy and a “mañana mañana mindset” which means A LOT of waiting in airports, border crossings and bus terminals.
  • Use a lot of money, in my case around 37 000 EURO, on something that gives you nothing but “just” memories and experience. That could save you many years on your mortgage or a nice car.
  • Get totally soaked in the rain without any chance to dry your stuff – or your self for a long time.
  • And endless of other more or less unpleasant or frustrating situations. If you have back-packed yourself, you know what I’m talking about.

Don’t misunderstand me, traveling is loads of fun as well – but there is a dark side of it and here I mentioned some of the situations and things. Even though it’s sometimes tough, I would never change and I also find a bit of charm in living like this for a limited amount of time. I will definitely appreciate the luxury of just normal standard when I come home.

Conclusion
So to wrap this up and answer the question of the headline if I’m lucky: yes, I’m very lucky – but not because I travel the world. It’s solely thanks to myself, my own choices and priorities.

 

 

Roaming in Romania

If a 20 year old reads this headline, he/she would probably think: “Oh wow, is he in Romania sitting on his phone all the time?!”. The word roaming nowadays mostly means when you use the mobile data abroad. However, there is another meaning of it equivalent with wandering around. Since I’m in the European Union now and it’s a lot cheaper to use the phone again, you could say I did both here.

Europe wasn’t on the list at all for this big trip. Even though it’s probably the best continent to live on, it also find it the most boring and least adventurous compared to America, Asia, Oceanic and Africa. I mean, the nature isn’t as dramatic, it’s pretty homogeneous and the culture isn’t as strong as in other parts of the world. Don’t misunderstand me; there are many nice and unique places. The Dolomites in Italy or the coast of Croatia are two of my favorites, but it’s simply not as exotic and thrilling and when it’s so close to home it simply feels a little more boring. Nevertheless, I’m here and will do a Eurotrip for around 3 weeks and I must admit it feels great. It’s clean, civilized, you can get good food and high standards.

Romania is probably one of those countries people don’t know very much about – but still judge. I believe the people unfortunately have a bad reputation, but it’s often a big mistake. There are two groups of people in Romania: the Romanians, totally normal people and then we have the other one; the Romani’s – or better known as gypsies. These are perhaps a little lawless and don’t want to be a part of the normal society, but they are only about 3-4 % of the population in Romania – so most people are totally normal and friendly people.

You could say there were two reasons I chose to go to Romania. The Transylvanian mountains were one. I really wanted to do some hiking again which I did and it was nice, but far from the most scenic mountains I’ve been in. The good thing going hiking midweek and off-season is that you pretty much have the mountains to yourself. The other reason I went here was because a guy I met in Laos about 3 months ago. You obviously meet a lot of people when traveling, and even though most people are good people – that doesn’t mean you connect well with everyone. However, this guy and I shared many of the same interests and views of life. Travel, adventure, healthy lifestyle and investing. Many times when you meet people and spend a few days together, you maybe exchange Facebook but that’s it – so I must say it’s really fun to actually meet up several months later. It’s also a huge benefit to have local friends since they can take you to the hidden gems, sweet spots and what’s important for me: the best gyms. Romania was a nice visit with a great mix of nature, small cosy cities and some big city life in Bucharest. Bucharest perhaps wasn’t very charming, but it’s very cheap and offers good food and nightlife (for those who like that). I more preferred the smaller towns in Transylvania and the East-Block countries often have these open squares full with restaurants and coffee shops where it’s perfect to kill some time in the sun.

Speaking of meeting people; my next stop will be Vienna in Austria. I’m looking forward to it since it will probably be the most sophisticated, cleanest and place with highest standard I’ve been in a long time. Also, I’m meeting up with not just one but two people I’ve met on my travels. Later on my Eurotrip I’ll catch up with even more people and have friends and family visiting me from home, and I can’t wait to see them! 🙂

Israel and the world’s worst and most expensive kebab

There are two ways of showing a person that you don’t like them. The direct and simple way would be to just scream and tell he/she is an idiot and it can’t be misunderstood. Or, the more sophisticated way, you just turn your back at them and shut up – not giving them any attention at all. In the case of Israel, I would like to do both.

This was perhaps not the most positive of ingresses, but I actually was very positive going here. It’s been on the list for many years and for weeks I’ve dreamt of this “pearl” by the Mediterranean where I expected nice climate, a chill vibe, good food and some awesome days. You can say I overrated this place. The climate however was close to perfect. Around 25 degrees, blue skies and a light breeze kept you warm enough not be be the least cold and also not to sweat – even mid day. So, why didn’t I like this country?

A country never gets better than the people living there and of course how they behave. And there we pretty much have the answer. I had no idea before going here that Israeli were known for being rude and arrogant, but it didn’t take me more than my first breakfast to realize that. After a bad, but expensive, breakfast with no customer service what so ever – I chose to tip “only” 1 Euro (the bill was around 8-9 Euro, so I tipped more than 10 %). When I left the place, the waiter ran after me wanting my attention. I thought for a moment I had forgot something. But no, he wondered why I didn’t tip him more. I was actually shocked and this was pretty much my first meeting with an Israeli. And, my first meeting with Israeli food. Expensive and bad, and it was just the start.

After a week of poor service, arrogant, rude and and in general anything but friendly people I couldn’t wait to leave this place. I went around a little bit to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and also down south to Eilat in order to visit Petra in Jordan. All over the service and hospitality was the same non-existing with very few exceptions. But before leaving, I went for what became probably the world’s most expensive kebab.

All over Israel they serve kebab (or shawarma) which I usually like, but here it didn’t taste much to be honest. Just dry and free from flavor. However, I eventually found a place where the prices didn’t make you feel like have been robbed, but still it cost 12 Euro without something to drink so you can imagine how much an ordinary dinner would cost. Anyway, in Israel the currency is Shekel and this shawarma cost 40 Shekels. I only had 200 Shekel-bills left, so I handed over one to the cashier. He gave me 60 Shekels back, and I said that now I think you mixed a little bit here. Mathematics was never my best skill in school but I still can manage, without a calculator, to solve the equation of 200 – 40 = 160. Not 60. It goes with the story that I’m also 100 % sure I gave him 200 Shekels, since that was the only bills I had left. Anyways, he said I was lying and that I gave him 100 Shekels. We argued for about 5 minutes and I was pretty annoyed I can tell you, and I usually never have a temper. I even spoke to the manager, but sadly ended up paying 35 Euro for the smallest and most tasteless kebab on planet earth. Perhaps I should call Guiness.

Anyway, this was only one of many things that happened during my 8 days in Israel. One thing is for sure; I will NEVER ever go back to this country and I encourage you not to go here as well. There are so many poor countries in this world but with great people and hospitality that really need and appreciate tourism and the money it contributes with. In Israel they didn’t seem to like either the tourists or the fact that it’s a big industry. So an advice to you (and myself) is to go to other countries instead. Save your money and spend them in a place where they are needed, deserved and people are grateful for them. Last but not least, it’s of course very tragic with all the war and conflicts that have taken part in Israel and Palestina. But I must say, that in such a small area full of so many idiots, I can understand that there will be conflicts. I am by the way fully aware of the religions situation as well, which of course makes it even more complicated when these people believe in things in old books written thousands of years ago.

If I was enthusiastic going here, I was 10 times more enthusiastic leaving. Next stop: Europe and the country of Count Dracula!