Long story short – in 2012 we had absolutely no travel experience, and we didn’t even think about traveling. Yet now, 5 years later, we can’t imagine living in one place, one country for too long anymore. There are just so many places where we want to go, so many countries where we want to live for some longer time and experiences, that we want to have. Travel has changed us and our lives forever.
And we are happy that back then we made that step into unknown, and went on our first long term trip – 5 months cycling trip across India. Continue reading to learn more about how it all started!
Many travelers, whom we know or have read about, have had this urge to travel and see far-away lands with their own eyes from a very young age. But that’s not our story. Until the beginning of 2012 – when I was 25 and Una was 21 – travel for us wasn’t even something you dream about. We didn’t think about it. And we didn’t talk about it. We knew almost nothing about traveling. And we had no close friends or relatives, who were traveling. At least we didn’t know anyone.
Same like now I don’t know anyone, who has a golden bike. Or an iPhone made of gold.
But Then Things Started to Change… Thanks to Low-Costers
Ryanair, an Irish low-cost airline, was operating from Latvia for some time already. And suddenly everyone knew someone, who had gone on a trip abroad for 10, 20 euro or even less. Super cheap flights had become reality in Europe. All these offers… It was tempting to say the least.
And I guess it had its effect on us as well.
Because suddenly we too started to talk about traveling. Maybe we could go on a trip somewhere in Europe? Because it’s cheap. Maybe we will like it… Maybe.
4 months after this first conversation we went on our very first trip abroad.
It was July. And we went to Portugal. Without any expectations and knowing almost nothing about the country.
Why Portugal? Because it was about the furthest place, where we could get with Ryanair, and it sounded like an interesting destination. We didn’t know a thing about Portugal. Well, ok, we knew a little bit. Because I knew a guy, whom I was following on Twitter, and he had been to Porto, a city in Portugal, before us. And he wrote about this trip on his blog. But that was about it. We were too busy, I guess, reading and learning about more important stuff (Like – What you do at the airport? What is hand luggage? How to book a hotel?), that the destination of the trip was… just a destination. At first we needed to get there.
And to do that we – who had never been abroad – had to learn many new things.
We did that all on our own. Because we still had no close friends or relatives, whom we could ask for an advice.
The Very First Trip Abroad
Let’s see, if we will like it to be abroad. And if we will like it, then let’s think about a possibility to move abroad for some time. That’s what we agreed on shortly before going on this trip to Portugal. Out of nowhere we had started to think about a possibility of moving abroad.
We went to Porto. Wandered around aimlessly for a few days. We saw the ocean for the first time. Tried new foods. And everything we were kind of worried about (I don’t really remember, if we were worried…) turned out to be just worries. Being abroad turned out to be the same as easy as living at home. But, boy, how interesting it was. Just being there and walking these streets, or sitting on the beach by the ocean, it all seemed so interesting.
At the end we spent a week in Porto, visited 2 other towns in the North of Portugal, and spent one full day in Bergamo (Italy) on our way to Portugal.
We went home knowing, that it is just the beginning.
OK – let’s do it! Let’s move abroad! Next autumn. Somewhere. For a year or more. It was decided.
Next Trips Abroad Followed Very Soon
About a month later we had an opportunity to go to Berlin for a week, paying only for our food and personal expenses. We took it, and we went to Berlin. Shortly after coming home from Berlin an idea popped up in my mind – what about celebrating New Year’s Eve somewhere abroad? And so we went to Istanbul at the end of December, together also with my brother and sister. And then, in the beginning of January, we bought plane tickets to Spain. At the end of April we went to Spain to walk one part of Camino de Santiago. And this time there were 5 of us – I, Una, my brother, my mom, and a friend of mine from school.
Not everything went smoothly with a trip to Spain. It took some persuasion to get my companions to agree to such an idea. Even though it seemed interesting to everyone, my mom, for example, had never been abroad, and none of us had any experience with long distance hiking. And we hadn’t been to Spain before.
But then we bought tickets… and figured out the rest afterwards.
All this time, since the day when we returned from Portugal, I was reading A LOT about other people’s experience. About moving abroad. Working abroad. Then about volunteering abroad. About long term traveling. Backpacking. Budget traveling. It was a completely new world for me. Since it wasn’t about the money – we didn’t come up with this plan with an intention to go abroad and earn money for something; we just wanted to experience being abroad for a longer time – soon I had realized, that we don’t necessarily need to move abroad and work. I knew, that there are also other options.
It Was May 2013 and We Had a Plan
We had just came back from our two week trip to Spain, where in 10 days we walked for more than 300 kilometers. Apart from that we had also been to a Rammstein concert in Madrid, all 5 together. For my mom it was first such a big concert, for us with Una and my brother it was the 3rd Rammstein concert (Rammstein is our favorite band).
But what about our idea about living abroad for a longer time? Last summer we had agreed, that next autumn (autumn 2013) we will move abroad. Now it was May and we still had no plan, neither we had saved any money. Actually we had just spent our savings on this trip to Spain. We didn’t talk about it.
Few weeks later an interesting thing happened – our plan was born.
How? I had a random thought. I did a quick research on Google. And I asked Una, what she thinks about it. She said – Yes – almost immediately. And it was decided. During the summer we will save all the money we can and we will go to India, to cycle across it. Why to India? It’s warm, it’s big enough to explore for at least few months and it’s cheap to do so without big savings. Why to cycle? I had read about many others traveling this way and it sounded like something really interesting. So why not to give it a try?
In a matter of minutes we had decided to go and to cycle across India for half a year.
In a couple weeks time my brother decided to join us. Then we told our parents about this idea and bought one-way plane tickets to Delhi. Only 9 weeks prior to our flight to India we told others about our plan. The scariest part of all of it? Buying one-way tickets. Because then you know that it’s for real, that it’s happening. Afterwards it becomes easier. Because you have already spent the money, you have a ticket, and you NEED to figure out the rest.
About a year and a half later Una told me, that initially he thought, that it’s just a joke, a random idea (like it was, actually). And so her – Yes – was more like – Yeah, whatever. But for me back then it was all I needed. So, you say yes? Ok, then let’s do it!
Another thing is that we were afraid, that we don’t have any plan. We felt like our idea about moving abroad, what we both wanted so much, will stay just an idea because of that. And as autumn was approaching doing something felt way more better than doing nothing.
Were We Afraid Later?
Yes. Like most of people would be in a similar situation we were afraid of it. But we managed to overcome it. We learned not to think about it and to focus on what we still needed to learn or do before the trip. At the very moment, when I started to feel scared, I tried to think about something else. About all the new and exciting things coming soon. And you know what? Everything started to feel much better right away.
If you are going after something similar, know, that it’s normal to feel very stressed at the very last weeks or days before the start.
It’s OK to be very scared, when you are making a decision like this.
But you just need to do it. To make that decision. And from my experience, committing to do it (the mental part) is by far the hardest part.
At the end before leaving Latvia we sold or gave away almost all of our belongings. All furniture, electronics, clothes,… We felt, that it is what we need to do. And at first, when we just started to do so, it felt very scary, too. But the good thing is – you feel like this only at the very beginning. After that things change and you start to feel better. Seeing all these people, whom you have made happy just by giving away your stuff that you don’t need right now (or at all). These moments of giving are priceless.
And at the same time you know, that all the things you have are the things you actually need and will use.
Well, that’s our experience.
In October 2013 We Went to India
We started our long term trip with about 1500 EUR each. With no backup plan.
And everything went well. Of course, we had all kind of problems as well, but most important is that we really liked what we were doing now. We liked our new life. For 5 months we cycled across India. Then we went to Malaysia. We volunteered there and lived on a tropical island for few months. We traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand. So many beautiful things happened during this time. 8 months later my brother went back to Latvia, but our with Una journey felt like only just started.
And it still continues. With no finish in sight and no end date.
How is that possible? If you want something badly enough, then you will make it happen. As we wanted to travel and live abroad, we just always figured out how to make it happen. We have volunteered and worked abroad, we have traveled spending very, very little and lived frugally for months, and also now we always look for the best deals and think twice before spending our money.
2 years later I wrote an article reflecting back on what had happened during the first 2 years of traveling.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.