What will you do today?

Today in the poetry meeting we had to write a letter/poem/tale/story to ourselves at 16-17 years old. So I had to write to the adolescent Anca. I couldn’t even remember what was on my had back then, was so long ago… But I ended up writing the poem (or whatever it is) below and I looove it! I want to print it and frame it for my room. I believed that Anca from the future was just talking to myself tonight.

For Spanish scroll down.

What will you do today?

If I would tell you that in the future I will write about you, what will you do today?
If I would tell you that in 15 years I’ll be in a cafe in Lima thinking about you, what will you do today?
If I would tell you the math did not help me in anything, what will you do today?
If I would tell you that today I speak 5 languages when you barely speak one, what will you do today?
If I would tell you that I’m in love with the history you so much hate, what will you do today?
If I would tell you that your city has never been my city, your room has never been my room, your things have never been my things, what will you do today?
If I would tell you I don’t even remember which was your greatest dream, what will you do today?
If I would tell you that your friends are my best friends, what will you do today?
If I would tell you that I only remember your strength and determination to achieve your goals, what will you do today?
If I would tell you thank you for fighting for what you want, what will you do today?

Que harias hoy?

Si te diria que en el futuro escribiria sobre ti, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que dentro de 15 anos estare en un cafe en Lima pensadote, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que la matematica no me sirvio de nada, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que hoy hablo 5 idiomas cuanto tu apenas hablas uno, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que me fascina la historia la que tanto odias, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que tu ciudad nunca fue mi ciudad, tu cuarto nunca fue mi cuarto, tus cosas nunca fueron mis cosas, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que nisiquiera recuerdo cual es tu mayor sueno, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que tus amigos son mis mejores amigos, que harias hoy?
Si te diria que solamente recuerdo tu fuerza y determinacion de alcanzar las metas, que harias hoy?
Si te diria gracias por luchar por lo que quieres, que harias hoy?

What would you do today if yourself from 15 years from now will tell you all that today?


March 16, 2016 at 6:49 AM 1 comment

The only 3 reasons which hold you back from traveling

Today it’s been one year since I booked my one way ticket to my dream. For me booking the ticket didn’t really mean I’ll be leaving, but it actually did.

These were my thoughts back then:

  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • I’m leaving a job when it’s hard to find one. I’m comfortable with my job here, I know the market, I have a network…
  • Are you crazy Anca??!! How are you going to leave??!! You have everything here! You home, your park for running, your gym, your friends, your after party club, your cafe. What else would you want?
  • Are you nuts Anca? Don’t buy it! You’ll not leave anyways. There is no way you can leave.
  • Don’t you think you had enough of traveling? Don’t you think it’s time to settle down?

There are no thoughts from my friends and family, because when I told them I found the ticket and I’m going to book it as soon as I have the opportunity, they didn’t even mind me. And one day, this day a year ago, I told them: I have the ticket! It’s in my inbox!

It’s been a year since these were there in my mind and around me. I did my trip. Indeed the trip of my life. I met my biggest dream. And now I want to spread the word about it.

Believe it or not, there are only 3 things which hold you back from making true your dream to travel the world:

1. Am I going to find a job afterwards after such a long break?
I think this is the biggest fear any travel dreamer has got. Am I going to find a job after such a break? All my colleagues will learn so many things while I’ll just be wandering the world. Doing nothing.

But you actually do the most amazing thing that will made you stand up from all the other participants. I can ensure you that your CV will stand out of the crowd!
After my long trip in 2010 it took me about 1.5 months to find a job and now it took me exactly 3 weeks from the moment I start searching a job, till my first day on the new company. I have a friend who took a year break and it took her 2 months to find a job.
Now depending on what you do, your career level, and your professional objectives, this process may take longer and you may want to read: how do you get back to work after a career break, how to you reintegrate into your stationary life after traveling the world when I’ll publish them. Follow me to get an email on when these posts will be live.

I believe that if somebody will ensure they will find a job after a career break, more people will go pursue their dreams. But unfortunately this is what makes it special: the uncertainty. And this is what will make you special after doing it: the determination!

2. Being afraid of leaving your comfort zone
Traveling means leaving your comfort zone – I wrote more about it in my post about the Downsides of long term traveling. They say it takes courage to leave following your dreams. handle the unknown, your second thoughts, the others’ opinion on your life. Then you add your possessions which made your life so good, and now you have to leave them behind. Personally I was asking myself if am I going to leave my flat, the city which has been my home for 5 years; How am I going to just pass by Bucharest? It’s my home! Today, I have an even better running venue, plus the ocean to surf and my friends will always be there.

Maybe if somebody will keep on reminding us that we can always get back to them, we’ll pass over this easier. Thoughts?

3. The mindset of Money
Fellow dreamers, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but money don’t hold you back from traveling, but your mindset which believes you need to be rich to travel and you have to travel only from the spare money. Even you want to admit it or not, you spend the money anyways in other things than will not necessary remember in 1 year and of course they will never be the experience of you life.

Now, if you your job doesn’t let you save enough, you can just work on the way. If you want to, money is just a way, you can do it! I met so many people working while traveling: I remember a Mexican couple who were making jellies and were selling them on the street every day. It took them 1 hour to do it and 1 hr to sell them, and that was giving them enough money not only to travel, but to save. And lots of entrepreneurial experience. Hats off for them!

Do you believe there is something else which holds you from meeting you dream to travel? Leave a comment here, if not, share the post, let’s spread the world. Maybe out there there will be somebody who after reading this will say the same as me a year ago: I’ve done it! I have the ticket in my inbox!

Enjoy traveling!

March 13, 2016 at 9:14 PM Leave a comment

What you do when things go wrong while on the road?

Shit happens, just get out of it and complain about it, but let the drama for others. Life is alive and unexpected things happen especially while you are on the road.

Before we talk about any attitude handling, you have to follow the Basic travel safety rules. No attitude can pay your 20 000 EUR hospital bill in lack of your insurance policy. Only by respecting the basic travel safety rules it make sense for you to continue reading this post.

I see 3 main triggers when something bad happens:

1. This life is a bitch! everything happens to me! only!
Raise your hands the ones who at least ones had the feeling: gosh! why everything happens to me? Good luck, you see I’m at my edge to make it, and instead of helping me out, you tangle me even more. This is not fair! You should be supporting meat least ones in a while. Why only the others can have everything and me not?!

For the sick of the world balance, it is not possible that everything goes well all the times. And not possible that things go wrong all the time. But this is another topic. We humans are so good in seeing the bad things and passing by the good things.

Especially on a long trip, expect bad things to happen: strikes, terrorism, natural disasters, just a simple flat tire, engine breakage. Remember if nothing happens, the world is unbalanced and sooner or later nature will take action.

They are things which you may see them as bad luck, but they are not: it’s just the way it is. For example bad currency exchange. Take it as normal to lose money on it and budget this as simple travel infrastructure. Another example is lost luggage. Read the article of 6 harsh truths on how the airlines see your luggage.

2. You watch out! You are ruining my trip! Are you idiot! Can’t you see you did it wrong?!
The taxi driver got you via the most congested road and you missed your bus? The embassy receptionist wrote your nationality wrong and your visa got rejected? If somebody made a stupid thing which causes you a trouble, you have a face and a name and whom to blame and shout and scream, isn’t it? Now take a run (only more than 15 k counts), climb a mountain (only more than 4k counts). Now take a shower. Take a nap. repeat it for 4 days. Good. Now we can talk. If the person did it intentionally or not, apologizes or not, it doesn’t really matter. Nobody will bring the missed things back.

Just be courteous and the things usually are fixed easier and smoother and if they aren’t and it frustrates your, then read the end of the last paragraph again: take a run, climb a mountain and you’ll get over it. Of course is easy to say it than do it. Tell me about it. But with lots of practice everything can be done. Just think it’s for your own benefit. And of course, don’t be that severe with you – you don’t have to be kind all the time. World isn’t perfect, so do you.

3. How stupid I could be?! When things go wrong because you did something wrong.
What happens when your best friend does a mistake? Remember you are your own better friend than your best friend.
We are humans and we make mistakes. Even to the most versatile travelers it happens to make stupid mistakes as booking a wrong plane ticket or getting ripped off. To this you add getting lost, making bad deals, being ripped off in your face, missing connections because you don’t respect the travel golden rules, etc.

It happened to be several times:

  • I booked a return ticket in the wrong day, so I missed my flight and I had to pay another one to get out
  • Air Asia didn’t let me board in Ho Chi Min City to Hong Kong transiting Bangkok because I my Thai visa was already used. So I missed 3 flights and had to pay for my flight outside Vietnam. My fault, I could have get another Thai the visa for free, but I didn’t read the terms and conditions of Air Asia.
    But know I know the terms and conditions even better than the airline personnel.
  • For the first time in my life I lost my bank card. 2 of them. Both in my Latin American trip, and the worst is that I really don’t know how and when. Don’t worry if you find them, my bank took care of me and cancelled them. But now I can tell you better than some bank employees what do you have to do, how long it takes, how is it issued, everything.
  • I booked 2 tickets to get to Cairo from Bucharest but luckily I made it through, my suitcase didn’t. You can read the learning on How to pick up your luggage from Cairo even it is checked in till Istanbul?.

All these mistakes I’ve made in the past is what gave me such an extensive knowledge about traveling: airlines, fares, regulations, transportation, etc. Now when Luftansa personnel gets on strike I find alternative routes to my flights that the airline personnel can’t. Check out my post on How do I plan the infrastructure of my trips. All this knowledge had a price.

I encourage mistakes, as long as you learn something out of it.

And what’s the best you do when things go wrong either than fine learning from it, cool down, be nice, all that bla bla?

Have a risk budget for such kind of things. Consider it part of the trip, or an investment, not lost money. Basically no matter who’s fault it, just take it, complain if that makes you feel better, claim compensation, raise a complain, file a court case, everything needed so it doesn’t happen again to somebody else. BUT make your way out and enjoy your trip. In my opinion life isn’t about who’s fault is, is about what you did with everything you’ve got good or bad. So, when shit happens, train your mind to think: it’s a trap. I’m gonna win! I’m gonna make my way out and enjoy my trip!

Just to end this post in a positive manner, risk means an unexpected event, good or bad. And in the future I’ll write a separate post on risk budget while traveling and How to use your risk opportunities wisely when traveling. Follow me to get an update when the posts will be available.

Enjoy traveling!

March 11, 2016 at 7:15 PM Leave a comment

Basic safety tips any traveler should consider

Most of the time I traveled I didn’t have an insurance. I was young, I thought I’m bulletproof, waterproof, and nothing could ever happen to me, and if it happens, I’ll get back home soon and everything will be alright.

Oh yeah, and the princess lived happy till the it will never happen to be happened.
No, it didn’t happen to me, but I got wiser and more conscience as the years passed by.

Here is a list of some basic safety tips every traveler should consider:

0. Check out the safety of the location you travel to
Before you even think about stepping out of your house, you have to be sure the place you go is safe. There are places in the world which are usually safe, but look at the recent Paris terrorist attacks. And there are places which are more unstable (eg: Kashmir). If it is not safe, don’t travel. You may lose money, but you may save you life.

1. Health Insurance
It can be private insurance or government insurance, but it has got to insure your health integrity where ever you go.

Now, dear European friends, our public system offers us an EU wide insurance, and we count that in as enough protection. No need of exaggerating and gifting money to the private insurance companies. Outside EU, I think there is only one solution: private insurance. And it has to cover everything from emergency rescue to repatriation.

Luggage, gadgets, and other types of insurances are nice to have, we don’t include them here.

2. Emergency contact number
In your phone, in your agenda, a small piece of paper in your wallet, every time the airline or somebody else asks for it, write down your emergency contact. And have somebody tracking your trip all the time. So in case something happens to you, and you don’t get in contact with that person for some time, that person will know to alert the authorities. Personally I speak daily with my mom.

3. The passport is your life
The most important thing in your traveler life, after your personal integrity, is your passport. That is something it should be the most taking care thing you have. Use copies, scans, and always keep it safe.

4. Watch out yourself and your belongings
You don’t want to get into troubles while abroad. Ensure you were indeed the last person who touched your luggage and nobody planted some drugs in it before checking it in. This does happen, especially for intercontinental routes.
Your super camera has a hand strap so it’ll not fall by mistake. Your wallet is kept in your inner pocket and so on.

5. The expensive things are left at home.
There is something called Montreal Convention signed by most of the world airlines. This convention says that for any lost/destroyed/delayed luggage you will be reimbursed a maximum of approx 1100 EUR.
To this we add the fact that luggage delays are the most common issue the airlines face (click for details). And now you have only 2 options to chose from: play it safe or not.
The other reasons you may want to leave home the expensive things are thieves and you may loose them.

Let’s spread the world: if you have any other suggestions of basic, common sens rules, any travel should follow, just leave a comment here.

Enjoy traveling!

March 11, 2016 at 7:38 AM 2 comments

Checked-in luggage – 6 harsh truths on how airlines seem them

Raise your hands those of you whose luggage got delayed at least in one of your flights!

I lost the count of how many times I recover my backpack days latter or how many people I’ve seen crying for their lost luggage.

I don’t want to sound as an insensitive person, but the reality is that lost luggage is one of the risks the airlines just pay for it. And here is how the airlines treat your luggage transfer:

A. Point to point flight – no connections: you luggage has to get into the same flight with you

B. Multiple flights: Here is when your luggage usually gets lost. The rule of handling the luggage between 2 different carriers is that the airline which brings the luggage into the airport has to hand it over to the airline which has to carry it forward. And the airline which carries it forward, has to ensure it gets to the plane.
Because of the international agreements the airlines have, in case of lost luggage, the last carrier airline pays for the delayed luggage.

  • The time between your flights is over 2* hours. The airlines has to transfer your luggage
  • The time between your flight is between 1-2* hours. The airlines do their best to transfer your luggage, but it is not a must
  • The time between your flight is less than 1* hour. The airlines don’t even try to get your luggage in the same connection flight with you.

*)Depending on several factors as the airport infrastructure, size, personnel, the time frame may vary. The information provided above is approximated and it comes from personal experience on handling with the many airlines responsible for my lost luggage.

It sounds harsh, but these are 6 truths about how the airlines treat your luggage:

  1. The airlines have a damaged/ delayed/ lost luggage budget and in certain circumstances they don’t even try to get your luggage, but they just accept the risk and pay its price,
  2. After many years of cases filed in courts around the world, the compensation for damaged/ delayed/ lost luggage is regulated internationally (Check Montreal Convention) and can get only to approximately 1000 EUR/luggage. This is the value of 2 pairs of shoes, 2 shirts, one bag and a perfume maybe,
  3. Lost/damaged valuable items are not reimbursed at all (eg. documents),
  4. Sometimes the delayed luggage is not found and after 21 days of delayed luggage it’s considered lost and nobody else ever looks for it. Check numbers 2 and 3 again now,
  5. Nowadays the airlines have pushed this issue to the insurance companies. But be aware that they also have a reimbursement limit and strict terms and conditions,
  6. Fellows backpackers, the backpacks are the least reimbursed in case of damage.

Pack wisely your checked in suitcase for your next flight and…

Enjoy traveling!

March 11, 2016 at 7:35 AM 2 comments

Long term traveling – the downsides

The intensive world travel, the globetrotting happens only by taking some time off to travel. No matter how passionate are you about traveling, this is the reality: if you want to get deep into the wild, into the culture, to go for the adventure, if you want to explore the real culture, it doesn’t happen with a tour guide or in just a month of well planned trip.

When you talk about traveling, people think you spend all your time in a 5 starts hotel, full of luxury, and they wonder what’s your secret, how do you do it? But well traveled people are far of being comfortable people. Nobody in this planet can afford travelling for a long time while having very comfortable life. I can bet on this! Because those who have the money to do it never actually go to travel for so long because they are too busy making money, or are just too well in their comfort zone.

It takes sweat, dirt, nerves, sometimes tears, overwhelmed moments, lonely times, and lots of strength to make your way out to discover the real world out there.

Here is a list of the most common price a long term traveler pays:

1. Say goodbye to your personal comfort
At least several times in their lives, all the globetrotters have slept in airports, uncomfortable night buses, hot trains with no air conditioning, or crazy cold buses, sleeping bags, tents.
To this you add going to sleep at midnight happy to have find a shelter for the night and waking up at 4 AM to catch a bus, or travel for 2 days with no possibility of taking a shower, or you get at 2 AM to a city after 30 hrs horrible bus ride and you have no place to sleep and no idea where to go.

Some of the prices I paid for:
– One of world’s most beautiful treks, Huayhuash, Peru: sharing a wet tent, have the nature as a bathroom for 8 days with temperatures from 3-20 degrees Celsius. Imagine you want to go to the toilet at night…
– South East Asia trip: I forgot the number of times I slept in airports to can catch a super early morning flight just because was cheaper, taxi was unsafe and expensive.
– Discovering the real super nice Cuban people – the authentic Cuban culture: traveling in trucks with other 100 people. After 8 hrs trip, on a mental bench you kind of know all your back side bones.

2. No more privacy
I met people, usually couples, who go for a private room while traveling. But besides some exceptions, when you go for long term traveling, you’ll share your room with other 3-8 people. Same for the bathroom. That means you shower in not the cleanest bathroom, or you wake up at 4 o’clock because somebody either got back drunk or is checking out early morning and makes noise. Or the classic: somebody snores loud enough to wake up the drunkest person. It’s all part of the experience and you have to adjust to it.

3. The plans are made to be changed or unexpected happened and you have to make your way out
There is nothing like a perfect plan executed perfectly. There is always something happening. If it doesn’t, something is wrong. And trust me, I’m a project manager.
Roads get closed without notice in Kashmir, French do strikes, election days means either dry day (no alchoohol – India) or no transportation (Bolivia), bad weather keeps you on New York Airport, luggage gets lost, planes break, and the list goes on.
In my personal collection I add:
– I run out of gasoline in the middle of nowhere in Mexico because I got lost with my friend, it got dark and our phones didn’t have signal.
– I forgot the number of times my luggage didn’t land with me and I recover it from a different country a week later
– I missed my connection to Mexico and 3 days of my trip because of snow in Bucharest and fog over London
– I missed one day of my super well planned trip to China because a plane broke. A scary flight – 20 passengers and 10 technicians.
– On a raining night, I was left at 1 AM outside Luxembourg train station because the French personnel from the train I was in and which suppose to go till Basel, got on strike.
And the list goes on.

5. Get ready to discover your body
I never knew I’m so allergic till I moved out of Europe. I did all the possible allergy tests at home and nothing. But I’m allergic from bed bugs to jungle flies, from some sea fish to moisturizer cream. Somebody else offers more allergies?
I met people who can’t acclimatize at all to high lands.
If you eat from the street you do get sick. I didn’t, but I met people getting to hospital because of food poisoning.

6. Your favorite things are not out here
We all have our small things which make our live better, more comfortable, or just matter a lot in our daily life. From personal care staff (a toothpaste or deodorant) to gadgets or favorite food, which the place you are in, doesn’t have them.
I love chocolate! I left Romania in Aug 2015 eating a 100gr table a day, completely addicted. Now I barely eat 10 gr a week, and all because I could never find a real good chocolate out here. But in the end I discovered there is a life without chocolate and sweets.

7. Prepare to face loneliness and depression
There is something call long term traveler depression. It has about one pick point after you traveled quite a lot, and suddenly, for no reason, you are not so enthusiastic any more about any other world wonder, any other Unesco world heritage, you start spending lots of time alone, connected to the friends from home, or not, doing nothing, just burning out the day. You feel alone even you are surrounded by people. You miss a good friend to be in the same state of mind as you to can understand you, but non of your friends out there with you. They are in different time zones, they are in different mood or they are just at home, and not traveling as you.

There are 2 other tough moments of your long term traveling:
– one is your way back home. Even you are enthusiastic to go back home to see your friends, is not easy to just take the flight back home.
– and the last challenge or your trip and most probably the most difficult one, is the unwrap and the reintegration back to a routine. How do you live a stationary life after such a trip? When everyday was a special day, when over dinner you were talking about the military regime in Argentina or debate the Fujimori leadership in Peru, when you were the special one with a story to say and one you are just another guy in a cubical?

The purpose of this post was not to scare you, but to show you the other side of the story of a well traveled person. Most of the times people say the good things. They see the nice part of the experience. But trust me, long term travel pays its toll. I’ll write in the future about The life after globetrotting and Me, before and after traveling the world and then you can envy us, the globetrotters. Follow me to get notified when the posts will be online.

If you have some experiences to share, please leave a comment out here so we grow more the long term travel awareness.

Enjoy traveling!

March 9, 2016 at 5:16 PM 2 comments

How did I travel the world while working?

How do you get to travel soo much? What do you work? Do you actually work? Do you travel with your job?

This post is for the intermediate traveler who have done some travel before. The beginners have a dedicated post here.

In order to avoid confusions, for the purpose of this post, we define work as having a 9 to 5 schedule job, with just 2-5 weeks of vacation per year, so we include the friends from outside Europe. Digital nomads will be another topic coming up later.

When you have a normal 9 to 5 job, your opportunities of traveling are well defined and depending on your priorities, not all of them may be transformed into a trip.

Below we have examples of how I use to capitalize my free time into trips:

1. Weekends – use them for the nice to have city breaks. eg: Milan, Prague, Bratislava, Sofia.

2. Long weekends – use them for the must see city breaks or short hikes. eg: Rome, short trips in your country – eg road trip Romania like Danube Delta and Gura Portitei. Click on the links to see what can you do there.

3. A National Holiday in the middle of the weektake some days off and go further. For example I remember we had a Wednesday off, so I took the Thursday and Friday as vacation and I already had 5 days vacation. In 5 days you can do hikes, travel in more places. Examples of trips: 5 day Trip to England: Day 1 and 2 – London, Day 3 and 4 – Full day tours around England Day 5: Shopping, lunch in a great place.

4. A National Holiday in during the week? Take the entire week off, add the 2 weekends and Voila, you have a 9 day trip ahead. For this type of trip go further, pay more for the plane ticket, but get the most of the area. Eg Morocco and south of Spain, Jordan and Israel, Russia

5. Annual vacation – the big trip of the year. I use to take it wall in one big chunk to can use it wisely to explore further places in bigger countries like China, US, Argentina. Usually the annual vacation comes in the high season, so planning ahead is required. Now you have to go as far as you want to go. You want to go from US to China? Do it. You want to go from Europe to Latin America? Do it. There will be no other time to do it. You may say, no.. but I can’t because my job I can’t take all my vacation at ones. I would say, plan it well ahead and take as much as you can, but take it and go explore the world!

At this point you may realise you have at least 1.5 months of time to travel a year.

Some things to consider:
– making the most of your days off does get you physically wasted sometimes and you don’t have the time to recover perfectly before starting work,
– you may have to travel during the night, sleeping in an uncomfortable bus instead of a bed which requires you to move out of your comfort zone, it all depends of you,
– all these trips need a certain degree of planning or it may turn out in being too expensive, could not explore it well, tickets may get sold out, you may get stuck in Patagonia for example with the next bus passing in 4 days. Personally I was planning almost everything for long trips. Here you can read How I plan the infrastructure of my trips.
– sometimes traveling comes with sacrificing other things – time with family and friends, comfort, so it is really up to you to find the right amount of travelling which works for you.

This is how I traveled for many years and I explored a big part of the world. But the massive traveling is done only via long term traveling. No mater how much you love traveling, nobody can sustain such an aggressive way of traveling as the one above for too long. About long term travelling I will talk in a future post. You can follow me to get an email update when the next post will come.

Suggestions, questions that I haven’t answer in this post, just let me know and will include them.

Enjoy traveling!

March 9, 2016 at 3:27 AM 2 comments

Older Posts

My travel bucket

Grand Canyon
North Korea
Japan during cherry blooming season
Aurora Borealis
Trekking in Himalaya
Cuba on Fidel Castro regime
Trekking in Cordillera Blanca
Diving in Galapagos
Machu Picchu
Lake Titicaca
Chinese Wall
Kuala Lumpur and Taman Negara Jungle
Coliseums from Rome
St Petersburg and Moscow
Have Belgian chocolate in Brugge
Try Italian ice-cream
Taj Mahal
Have home made tea
Hitchhiking in Balkans
Stay in the countryside of Western Europe
Visit an Indian village
Volunteer at Mother Teresa Center in Calcutta
Enjoy sunset from a Thai island
Have tea in Darjeeling
Wake up and see the Himalayas
Holy day in Jerusalem
Explore Amazon Rain-forest
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
Go to an opera in Vienna

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