My short bio: My name is Tom (short for Tomislav) and I am from Croatia. I have been traveling for the past couple of years, alternative style - hitchhiking, couchsurfing, camping, volunteering. I visited five continents, I sailed across one ocean, and I just came back home - with a book about how it all started.
Support my book on Indiegogo: 1000 Days of Spring
My Proof: Twitter post
Ask me anything!
EDIT - wow guys, I didnt expect this amount of questions, over 3,000! I think I got most of the topics covered, if you have some additional questions, you can always contact me via my Facebook page
THANK YOU ALL!
my first guess would be Thailand and India, for the best one!
and the worst...dunno - England? :D
What was the weirdest thing that happened to you?
there were a lot of those, but one of them was probably smoking opium on the border of Iran and Pakistan.
p.s. - Hey Tom! It's Zeph from australia! We hitchhiked together from Townsville to Mt. Isa!
heeeey Zeph, I still remember our encounters in the bush, and in front of that Melbourne library or whatever it was! :D how is life, man?
This right here is one of the biggest reasons I love Reddit.
well, we bumped into one another when we were both hitchhiking across Australia, shared couple of rides together, and then after a month or two I saw him in one park in Melbourne :)
of course, we went for couple of beers!
border of Iran and Pakistan.
I played the guitar on the streets, I drove a rickshaw, I painted one hotel, I diverted the pedestrians, was a hotel manager, once even a pot dealer (unsuccessful one).
Didn't you say that you smoked opium at the border in another comment?
that was the nice part about those 3 days :D
What was the bad part about those days?
being harassed by police and army.
Any point when you thought 'well I'm screwed'?
there was one ride in australian outback, I was riding on the back of the pick up, and when the driver started pulling over in the middle of nowhere, I thought that was it. but it turned out he wanted to take a leak.
It didn't happen to be around wolf creek did it?
it actually was pretty close :D
How did you get around the language barriers?
most of the people around the world speak English, so that helped a lot. in South America I learned Spanish so that helped even more.
but generally, body language is sufficient.
Where have you gone?
Europe (half of the continent), Asia (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia), Australia, Indian ocean (Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, Mauritius), Africa (RSA, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya), South America (Peru, Chile, Ecuador)
What were your first steps to getting out there? I want to do this a lot, but I don't know where to start.
well, hosting people via couchsurfing was definitely the first step - because I had no idea people actually travel that way. and then one day I just went to the pay tolls on the exit of my city, had some friends waiting for me in Sofia (800 km away), and I just raised my thumb. the rest is history :D
About how long did you stay in each place? How did you decide when it was time to go?
from one day, to couple of months. the rule is always - leave when you want to leave.
Whats your favorite place you visited?
thats always a hard one to answer because there were so many, but there is the place I kinda liked the most - Shiva Garden, Varkala, India.
In contrast, what was your least favorite place to visit?
hmmm. maybe some big cities like Delhi, Mumbai....
Tell us about the scariest thing you experienced.
bus rides in Pakistan and Bangladesh, few hitchhiking episodes where the driver almost crashed. but probably the scariest was sailing across the Indian ocean, on a 45-feet sailing boat.
Was someone sailing with you or did you know how to sail prior to starting out?
I had no experience whatsoever.
Ever have any "why the hell am I doing this" moments where you just wanted to give up?
actually, just once, when I was in Africa. then I went back home, attended my brothers wedding, but in 2 months time, I was back on the road.
Was it just a feeling of loneliness, or a speficif event that cause your why the hell am I doign this moment?
it was a feeling that I found what I was looking for, and that people in Africa (most of them) saw me as a walking wallet, and I couldnt blend in.
Would you like to eventually live in one of the countries you visited? If so, which one?
definitely. first that comes to mind is India, or maybe Australia.
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
don't follow my footsteps - make your own :)
but the main thing is to set your priorities, and just do what you want to do. traveling the world is not the hardest thing. you have to sacrifice some things like friends, comfort, and adjust to all kind of situations like hunger, cold, etc.
but if you want to experience it, there is nothing but the decision preventing you to do so.
Where did you get money to do that?
I started with almost no money, and worked on the way. I played the guitar on the streets, I had well paid jobs in Australia (for 20$ an hour), and I also got some money from my sponsors, since I also write about my travels online.
but the main thing is not to spend too much money.
How did you obtain the payed jobs like the one in Australia and rickshaw driving? (Mentioned in another reply). Did you set them up ahead of time, or just meet people who offered them to you?
I had no work visa in Australia, so I had to get a cash job, which I did by accident: one guy that picked me up when I was hitchhiking took me to his house, and gave me work. in 13 days working for him I payed off 8 months of traveling prior to that.
$2400 in 13 days..what kind of "job"?
well, be aware that minimum wage in Australia is 16$/hour.
I was painting one hotel in Brisbane, and diverting pedestrians. hard work :p
Were condoms in this budget?
of course! not many, but still...
Who was the most memorable (in a positive way) person you met?
Who was the most memorable (in a negative way) person you met?
positive - so many of them, but there was this Hungarian guy who is traveling with only his guitar and few minor things, doesnt even have a backpack. some of his stories were just amazing.
negative - police/army on border of Iran and Pakistan - they kept me for 3-4 days there, with no reason.
I like how in another comment you made, you talk about using opium on this border. One has to ask, which thing happened first?
first the troubles on the border, then the opium :D
. what is your opinion on going luggage free versus back packing ? Also unusual bit of advice you'd would have for your younger self when you started this travelling thing back then? (Uncommon advice you wish you had )
I always had a 15kg backpack with me, and I dont think I would ever travel luggage free. I need some clean clothes, tooth paste, deodorant, etc.
an advice for younger me? hmmm. to write down more details!
I love hearing about stories like this, it's truly inspiring. What motivated you to explore the world? As a female who would love to try this, would you consider it dangerous considering the potential of encountering dangerous people?
the mail motivation was that gut feeling that there is more to life than the one I was having back home.
it would definitely be more dangerous, but I know few girls that travel by themselves. I would probably suggest first traveling with someone, and then see how it goes.
I've always wanted to do something similar to this and the biggest question I usually have is how did you maintain your hygiene?
Was it difficult to find a place to shower?
nope - I use couchsurfing a lot, and that means that shower is almost always available. when not, you have wet tissues, and many public toilets :)
and sea, rivers, lakes...
I have to say probably people from "dangerous" countries, like Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. you think they are terrorists, and at the end they end up being nicest people in the world, willing to give you the last piece of their dinner.
Im not an expert, but I still remember the Paki hash...that was some good stuff!
well, I got it in Islamabad, have no idea where did it come from originally :)
I'm guessing you needed computer and Internet access for this kind of trip. Did you have a computer with you or did you depend on local Internet cafes? What did you do when you were somewhere remote without access?
since I am a freelance writer, I had a light laptop with me all the time, and most of the time I used wifi from my hosts. in some remote ares I couldnt do anything, so I just hanged out with locals more than usual.
Hey buddy! What laptop did you take for the trip.. and how happy were you with it?
MacBook Air, the cheapest model. I am very happy with it - and my back too.
Thanks for answering. But haha, I didn't really mean how did you entertain yourself without the Internet, more how did you find your next or the next one after that hosts if you couldn't get online?
in poor countries I havent used CS that much, I could afford to spend couple of dollars on accommodation.
Who's country's women are the most beautiful? ;)
What did your friends and family think when you proposed your idea? Did they think you were crazy?
they still do.
first of all, I live in very conservative country, and my family is very traditional. so at the beginning I never had their support. but as the time went by (I was sending emails to my mum almost every day!), they kinda grew accustomed to my life style.
but now they are happy that I am home :)
How were you sending emails? Did you have a smart phone or laptop with you, or did you use public computers where ever you could find them?
I had a mobile phone, and a laptop. wifi is everywhere in the world, and I never had many issues with that.
How did you manage on so little?
its not that hard, there are 3 major expenses when you travel: transport, accommodation, food. you have hitchhiking (free), couchsurfing and camping (free), and there is only food left. you eat supermarket food, but you can also find some work where food is included.
Why did you decide to do this?
it was either that or get a job, 30 year loan for some apartment, wife, kids.
How were you treated by people in more remote places?
the more remote, the friendly. except in some well known tourist places, most of them are all about the money, money, money.
generally speaking, people out there are just AMAZING!
Does it bother you in any way that you miss things that require an entry fee, like museums or other attractions?
not that much, since I dont enjoy art that much. but I did go to some places that require entry fee (like Uluru in Australia - LOVED IT, or Taj Mahal in India - didnt like it)
after 500 days of summer we get 1000 days of spring
well, that last trip that I did was actually called "1000 Days of Summer", and since my book is about the beginnings, it was logical that I call it "1000 Days of Spring".
this is awesome.
if you had 10$ a day. what percent of your money did you spend on what? like, if you had 10$, would you spend 5$ on food, 2$ on transportation, 3$ on something else?
i hope that makes sense.
of course :)
40% went on food and drinks 20% went on booze and weed 15% on transportation (I flew and drove in buses/trains couple of times) 15% on accommodation (in some cheaper countries) 10% for the rest (some souvenirs, entrances to some cultural things)
being as you were likely buying from completely strangers (weed I mean), did you ever get cheated or slipped something wrong? How hard was it to find a dealer in other countries, did you just walk around asking random people?
I never bought weed on the streets, only if my hosts were smoking it, I would chip in and got it when they were getting it.
Are you going to continue doing it?
Also, what were some of the best experiences? Did you meet many great people?
Im not sure I will continue to travel in that way. since I wrote a book now, next few months will be all about that, and when the winter comes, probably move down south with my girlfriend.
I got tired of moving too fast, changing places without knowing then properly. I will always travel, just in a different way.
Is this still the same girlfriend from before you started traveling? If yes, how did you manage?
nope, its not.
What motivated you to do this in the first place?
How often did you go out and experience the night life? I imagine it would have been difficult on such a low budget.
maybe twice. I really cant stand night life, even in my own city. I usually went to sleep before midnight. but, I do love house parties, when we sit on couches, and talk about the meaning of life.
How did you get started?
I had a pretty normal life back home - studying, working as a stockbroker, had a steady relationship. but then the financial crisis came, I started at that time to host couchsurfers (over 150 of them), and when I listened their stories, that was it - I had to try it out for myself.
first I traveled around Croatia and Balkans, a bit in Europe, and when I was done with my uni, I took my backpack, and went on RTW trip.
Couchsurfing question: How do you find decent hosts? Seems like it would be difficult to trust going to some random people's homes
well, I have to tell the truth - lately its been much harder.. usually I send one or two requests, after reading profiles of people I want to surf with. but I hosted 150 people in my house, and I have no problem with trusting people.
Truly inspiring! Hope to do something like this one day. How did the trip change who you are/your personality? Views, beliefs etc. thanks!
my prejudices fell just down the drain. I dont trust media, and scary stories people tell - "I heard it from one guy". I am much more grateful for food, shelter, friends. I believe in kindness of strangers, much more than before. thus, I am nicer towards strangers myself.
What inspired you?
people that I hosted in my city via couchsurfing, and maybe a book or two.
Have you been in Russia? If yes, how it was?
nope, I was always much eager to explore hot places.
Did you want your old life back at any point on your journey?
not really, I was just once sick of it, and wanted to go back home, so I did. but then again, I was back on the road in no-time.
I will never have my old life back, because it changed irreversibly when I went on the road.
How old were you when started your long term? And how did you manage with all the visas? I heard Australia is pretty hard to get into if you don't have a lot of money.
I was 26 when I started my RTW trip. visas were not that big of a problem, except for the ones I had when I was departing Croatia - Iran, Pakistan, India. I got an australian one online, and I faked my bank account.
Now that you've done something few other people will experience. What's next for you?
this book I wrote.
and then, when I publish it, it will be time for some planning - maybe settle down with my girlfriend, maybe go travel a bit more, maybe write another book - who knows?
Which is the most wrongly prejudiced country?
Iraq, Iran, Pakistan.
I'm currently working toward building enough passive income to support myself while traveling endlessly. Clearly, at less than $10/day, I could already do it if I wanted, but I guess I want a little more money to live on. I enjoy eating out and the drink a bit too much. But one of the hurdles I'm faced with is giving up everything I have here at home. As such, I have a few questions:
- What was your decision making process like for giving up everything and hitting the road? (edit: I wouldn't mind some practical details of how you went about this either!)
- Depending on the length of your stays, and I speak from hosting lots of surfers, although you are constantly in contact with people, building deeper connections with people can be tough on the road. How did you handle loneliness, if any?
- While this is a great thing to do, and I'm sure your life has been enriched by the experience, is it something you think more people should do? Are there people you would discourage from doing it?
everything is about priorities, I met people traveling with NO money whatsoever. I could never do such a thing.
- it was an ongoing process that lasted couple of years, and I wrote an entire book about it. but in short - I was hosting people via couchsurfing, their stories interested me, I tried for myself, it worked, and I made it possible.
- well, at the beginning it was okay, but at the end of the trip very hard. you get tired of superficial encounters. that is the reason that for the past 9 months I was traveling with a girl I met, and I managed to dig deeper.
- I definitely dont think everyone should do it, but I do think everyone should know that its possible - if they want it seriously enough.
How difficult was it to sort out visas? I assume you didn't really plan that far ahead most of the times.
not that much. when I was leaving Croatia I had 3 of them in my passport - Iran, Pakistan and India. the rest I made on the way. some countries were giving me hard time (like New Zealand) so I just went other direction and skipped those countries.
What place did $10 get you the most? Were there times you decided to screw the budget and spent more? Did that lead to any particularly interesting adventures?
of course. some days I spent nothing, some days I spent much more than 10$. there were some plane tickets involved, but also a whole month without spending anything.
but when I spend a lot, I realize that traveling is much more fun when you dont.
Was this the first time you back packed any where, or did you do smaller trips around America?
I am from Croatia so my first time backpacking was in Amsterdam, when there was a football (soccer) match between my club and Ajax. that was in 2007. later came hitchhiking, couchsurfing, and more extreme trips around Europe and rest of the world.
I actually thought the title was I travled back in time by 5 years on a budget of <10$ lmao. But england has lush food if you got the £ to spend.
What was the most epic view you got?
Cocos Island. especially when you get there after 5 days of sailing (it was my first sailing ever) and just after the storm.
What is the most interesting thing you learned traveling?
how to be grateful, and humble. you see how tiny you are when you put things in different perspective.
was there any point where something life-threatening happened?
few times my drivers almost crashed, but apart from that - nothing much.
I'm planning to go to Switzerland on a tight budget, in June. Do you have any advice on how I can save money there? I'm going to Geneva for Summer School, to be more specific.
get in touch with locals, they know all the secrets. try out couchsurfing, if not for staying with people, for making new friends. eat supermarket food, cook, dont drink out.
What camera did you use? (please say GoPro!)
Also was it hard to cope without technology?
I did start with GoPro and some smartphone, later I got Panasonic Lumix GF3, and the latest was Canon D600 or something like that. I also carried my laptop with me so I was never actually without technology.
No comments on your awesome trip, but I'm watching 500 days of summer at the moment. So kuddo's on your name.
I love that movie, and I did use it to name my trip, and later on my book ;)
Who's got the best food? And the worst? Be specific. I'm hungry.
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