[VIDEO] Rafting in Bosnia

Last week I was rafting in Bosnia. Second time in a row I am visiting the same camp: Rafting centar Drina-Rara. It is located next to river, surrounded by nature. Accommodation is in small houses made out of wood. Camp can host more than 200 people.

Food is typical for Balkan, like our mothers made it. If you want to escape urban life and get some weekend rest, this is a place for you.

The prices are 60 EUR one day and 80 EUR two days of rafting. It is worth every cent.

I made a video so that you can feel the atmosphere. Enjoy:

Uruguay – hidden treasure of Latin America

Uruguay is a magical country, a country of freedom. Its population is 3 million and a half of it lives in Montevideo. Situated between Argentina and Brazil, it rests on the seaside.

Natalia, a friend of mine I met last year in Israel, is a former history teacher and a current social worker. She talked a lot about her life in Uruguay. She says that compared to other countries, there is not a lot of corruption in Uruguay, or that there is very little of it. She thinks that life standard in Uruguay is pretty high, and that everyone can find a job after graduating. What I found refreshing is talking to someone satisfied about their life in Uruguay. Although it is not all rainbows and butterflies, Natalia does not live a posh life and she is happy.

Natalia and me in montevideo

I was surprised that everyone heard about Serbia because of Novak Đoković and the history of non-aligned countries in the time of Tito.

What I found absolutely crazy about Uruguay are its freedoms that Mujica initiated. Mujica’s story is miraculous because he is a visionary and a revolutionst. He is said to have been very important since he left a very meaningful message to Uruguay, although people who worked with him were not in accordance with his values. During Mujica’s term of office, abortion was legalized, as well as cannabis and same-sex marriage. It was a great honour to have met Mujica and I wrote about that at this link.

Pepe Mujica and myself in his vineyard

Freedoms of Uruguay

The fact that the abortion has been legalized is of great importance and 97% of women in Latin and Central America live in the countries where the abortion is prohibited. Abortion is now being considered as an option in this part of the world because of the zika virus, but they are still far from legalizing it.

Same-sex marriage has been legalized so in Montevideo you can see a lot of gay couples that came from abroad in order to live in peace. I find it quite sad that people have to flee to other countries in order to be who they truly are. However, if you have to go to Uruguay in order to be who you truly are, that is bad, at all. 🙂

Hostel in Uruguay – Cabo di Polognio

Cannabis has been legalized which means that everyone on the street can smoke pot just like the cigarettes. You are only not allowed to smoke weed in the restaurant, so you have to go outside. Cannabis is so omnipresent that everyone smoke it in the parks, they walk down the streets while smoking, pass by the police station with a joint in their hands. I found it fascinating that we all live on the same planet but still have very different rules. In Uruguay marijuana is legalized, while in Serbia you would be arrested and locked up for at least three years.

I had a chance to smoke weed with one girl and her mother in a restaurant in the open. They grow their own plants at home. It is interesting that in bigger cities you can see the old and the young smoking pot. There are clubs where cannabis is grown in large quantities monthly. You pay a monthly fee in order to, at the end of the month, get a certain amount of marijuana grown in a professional way.

 

Growing cannabis in home conditions

The trick is that you cannot buy cannabis in stores, you have to grow it yourself. Local shops dedicated to cannabis will give you some as a gift if you buy something. That is a grey area. But they say that it will be legalized soon. If you go to a park and ask someone for it, they will give it to you for free or a small amount of money because it exists in abundance.

Cannabis shop in Montevideo

There is also a cannabis museum where you can hear about its history and many purposes it serves. I was in that museum in Montevideo and it is nothing special, just a sensational story.

I feel bad that I did not have enough time to go to the hostel called THC that revolves around cannabis, not far from Montevideo. My friend went there and says that swimming in a pool next to which cannabis is being grown is an amazing experience.

Four things that Uruguay has in common with its neighbouring countries:

  1. Mate tea – is a coffee substitute since it has a large amount of caffeine. History of this tea dates back to the indigenous people from Brazil. There are several kinds of mate tea preparation- with hot or cold water, etc. What I found interesting is its way of preparation. A mixture of tea that makes up mate tea is served in a special mug that is made of yields from the tree Calabash. That yield is made into a mug that is additionally decorated and looks something like this:

Every other person in Uruguay walks around with a thermos of hot water and a mug full of mate tea. I still do not realize how they do not find it hard to walk around with something in their hands. It is huge, and everyone does it. That is how I was able to differentiate between people from Brazil and Argentina from those from Uruguay. 🙂

Picture taken from the link

  1. Shoes with a huge platform – for some reason, girls in Latin America adore wearing platform shoes. We do not talk about high heels, which they rarely wear, but about shoes with a huge platform. It is possible that that is because of girls being very short. This is a thing in Uruguay and Argentina. 

Platform shoes

  1. Trashcan is not on the ground – It was very interesting to see trashcans in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina that are located in front of their gates but not on the concrete but are a meter or two above the ground. Maybe it is because they don’t want the dogs to scatter trash around. 

  1. Dulce de leche – When I first tried dulce de leche, or in other words, sweetened milk, I thought that it was some kind of a bad tasting peanut butter. Every house had at least a kilogram of dulce de leche and they often used it as marmalade substitute. It consists of regular milk, condensed milk, vanilla and sugar. It tastes of caramel.

Climate and tourism

In Uruguay the best weather is from October until May. Average temperature is a little above 20 degrees and it does not feel humid at all as it is the case in Asia. In this pictrure you can see the average lowest and highest temperatures in Uruguay throughout the whole year.

Picture taken from the link.

Although I was in Uruguay in January during the peak of the season, there are not a lot of tourists in Montevideo. They are all on the seaside. Although Montevideo is a very cute city with a sea access, tourism is not very developed. Having a sea access means erecting residential builidings with a sea view. In these parts you will not find tourist shops, but rather a typical residential area.

Buidlings on the Montevideo coast


Montevideo coast

Tourists are usually concentrated around four cities depending on their interests. Colonia del Sacramento gathers typical tourists interested in history, while posh tourism is predominant in Punta Del Este where all the luxurious resorts are located. Middle-class hipsters and hippies go to Punta Del Diabolo that is located on the Brazilian border, while hard core hippies go to Cabo de Polonio.

Out of all places in Uruguay, Cabo de Polonio is a real discovery. A guy from a tattoo shop suggested that I go visit it. Cabo de Polonio amazed me because of a few reasons. There are no roads leading to it and it is 10 km away from the main road. You can reach it by walking or vans that go regularly. In this photo you can see a wonderful city of Cabo de Polonio- tucked between green dunes that guard it from the chaos on one side, and vast see, on the other. 

A van that takes you to Cabo de Polonio

This place has about hundred houses that do not have fences, but are all in the open, like a huge comune. 

What is special about Cabo de Polonio is that it does not have electricity nor water system. What I found very interesting is the fact that people who come there are predominantly tourists from Brazil and Uruguay. Rarely will you bump into an odd traveller like myself. Atmosphere is magical, especially during the night when every café and restaurant light their candles and light a fire in the middle of their gardens around which singing and friendly people gather. This place made me feel so safe that I decided to sleep on the grass in my sleeping bag. Everybody acts like a huge family.

One disadvantage about Uruguay is they have a monotonous cuisine. Lovers of meat and barbeque will be full, and those who want to eat diverse food and vegetables will surely remain hungry. Besides meat, they serve seafood which is usually imported from Chille. I was also bothered by the fact that things in Uruguay are quite expensive, especially the food.

This is my overall impression of Uruguay from the tourist point of view. In the next blog post I will show you the side of Uruguay tourists rarely have a chance to see.

 

The day I met Mujica – the richest president in the world

Jose Mujica “Pepe” – the 40th president of Uruguay. (2010-2015). He is 81 years old. He spent 14 years of his life in prison, during 70’s and 80’s, because he was a part of an armed political group and lived a life of guerrilla leader. During his presidency, he legalized marijuana, gay marriage and abortion in Uruguay. He is known worldwide for being The World’s Poorest President because of his modest way of life. I find that grotesque since being poor is a mindset. Besides, you can not be poor just because you have some things u don’t even need in the first place. And the other way around, you are not rich if you don’t have the things you yearn for. Pepe is one of the richest people I have ever met because he has everything he needs and he donates 90% of his monthly salary, which amounts to $12,000, to the impoverished and small entrepreneurs.

There is an interesting story behind my meeting the richest president in the world. Viktor, a writer and a traveler with whom I was traveling at the time, and myself arrived at one of the most famous wineries in Uruguay (later we found out that the winery is owned by Mujica’s grandma). As soon as we arrived at the winery we were not able to avoid the hole in the road and the car cooler broke. We were forced to wait several hours for the repairman to come. Waiting paid off, not only because we ate so much wonderful grapes, but because that was how we found Mujica. While waiting for the repairman, we were approached a journalist who was doing a report on the winery. She was interested in our trip around Uruguay. We jumped at the opportunity to ask her if she was able to connect us with someone who knew Mujica. After several calls, we were announced at Mujica’s place. The journalist knew the author of Mujica’s books- Ernesto Andres who called Mujica to tell him we would pay him a visit.

Several days before that event, we found ourselves in front of Mujica’s house, half an hour away from Montevideo on the property without a single fence. The only obstacle between us and Mujica was the security standing on the road blocking our way to his house. There were 4 guards and by talking to them we found out that they spent every day there ever since the very beginning of Mujica’s term at the office.

We arrived at his house at lunchtime and Mujica was asleep. We had to go back to Montevideo just to return around 5 o’clock. When we came to his house at 5, he was busy having a meeting with civil servants in his house. So we had to wait for the meeting to finish. Keeping in mind we had already been announced, it was just a matter of time when it would be our turn to meet him.

After waiting in the car for two hours and playing with the local dogs, it was our turn to meet Mujica. I was walking on the soil, million thoughts running through my head. What was I to ask such a legend, you meet a man like Mujica once in your life. So many questions so little time… After several minutes, I saw Mujica and thought: Is it possible that he had a meeting with civil servants dressed like that… I was not judging him, but I was rather surprised by that man’s greatness. He had his stained white shirt on, in which he works in the fields, unbuttoned just enough for us to see his chest. Even though I knew who I came to visit, my limited mind was not able to comprehend that such a man exists. He does not care about the form, he only cares about the essence of things.

I found this picture from the time when Pepe was the president. It definitely best describes the attitude Pepe has towards forms.

Picture taken from the link.

Picture on the left taken from the link. Picture on the right taken from the link.

Pepe does not speak English and my knowledge of Spanish was more than valuable at that moment. Talking to this man in his mother tongue is invaluable. I explained to him how we came to see him, to write about Uruguay. The first thing he said was: “There are a lot more beautiful things to see”. Whatever I responded in that moment was not important, because my confusion was apparent.

Pepe on his garden

After showing us his garden, we started talking about it. I asked him: How is it being a peasant?
Pepe: “Being a peasant is a form of cognition. Education is really important but it does not provide any practice. We adapted this irrigation system to our circumstances.” He said pointing at the improvised device.

Milica: “So you are a rural engineer?”
Pepe: “Exactly, that is what I have always been.”

I asked him what he grew in his garden and he responded that he grew almost everything- corn, squash, something similar to zucchini (something between the squash and zucchini we eat in Serbia), potatoes, flowers and many more things. I asked him to take a photo of him with all the vegetables. He responded: It’s enough, too much marketing.

We talked about his life

Did you start living this modestly because of your experience or because of the tough times or you were like that your whole life? (Pepe comes from a very poor family that immigrated from Italy)

Pepe: “I am a peasant, I have always been that and I have always lived in the village. I cannot renounce what I am by nature and cannot escape from my way of life. It is not better or worse, it is just different”

What I found interesting is that the farm he lives on with his wife belongs to her. While he was a president he did not like being driven around, so he drove his own car, a Volkswagen bug. Uruguayan newspapers Busqueda wrote about how he had been offered 1 million dollars for his bug and he denied the offer.

Picture taken from the link.

Are you a happy man now?
Pepe: Yes, of course, I have always been happy no matter what I was going through in my life, because I live the way I think and by the things I believe in.

You were in prison three times, and escaped two times from it. How was it to escape, was it excting, fun or were you afraid? Were you the one who initiated the escape and brought others with you?
Pepe: It was very exciting. I was not the leader, there were four of us and it was all team work. We dug a tunnel to freedom both times. I will never forget that experience.

How many lives did you have?
Pepe: I am 81 years old. I spent 14 years in prison and that accounts for one life. I escaped two times from prison. The second life I lived like Clandestino (a man living in secret, on the run). The third life I lived as the president of a country and the fourth my separate life with my wife.

You should go through life in pair

Milica: Your wife Lucia meant a lot to you, she gave you strength.
Pepe: ” Yes, we went through life together. She also spent 14 years in prison. She meant a lot to me. Having someone by your side is of the utmost importance. You cannot go through life on your own. Life in pair is the most important. Never go alone, always go through life with your partner.” He also added that he wouldn’t have achieved anything if it hadn’t been for Lucia.

Pictures taken from the link.

Pepe on Serbia

Viktor: How did you like it in Serbia?
Pepe: “I had a great time. Kusturica took me to a mountain (he was referring to Mokra Gora) and we spent a couple of days there. Serbia is very beautiful. ” I also asked him what he liked the best in Serbia, people, food, nature? He said that he liked the landscapes, nature and mountains the best.

What do you think what Serbs should change?
He took some tobacoo and started rolling a cigarette. Rolling a seemingly large piece of tobacco into such a small piece of paper, focused on what he was doing, he took the time to answer the question. After about ten seconds he answered:
Pepe: “You have to learn to live with what you have. Do not try to look like Europe, you should not want to look like Russia, be YOURSELF! You have your culture, your history, mountains and fruit. You have to be aware of what you have. ”

Viktor told me to ask him what he thought about a movie Kusturica did for him.
Pepe: “Kusturica knows much more about that than me and he knows what he is doing.”

On revolution, capitalism, and life advice

Milica: Viktor and me are starting a revolution with small steps in the world that surrounds us. We want to show people that we are all the same and that there are no borders in this world. Can you please give us some advice on how to be stronger and more durable in what we are trying to achieve? Where did you find the strength for all the things you carried out?
Pepe: “The first revolution you have to start is in here.” He said that holding my right hand and with his index finger on his left hand he was tapping my temples as if wanting to engrave it. As if transferring a part of his crazy drive. While he was saying that I stood paralyzed because he was looking directly in my eyes and that depth was hypnotizing.

Pepe: “A street is full of cars, coming and going. You have to cross the street and not get hit.”
The sound of birds chirping made his rhetorics even more beautiful and made what he was talking about seem even more important, as if afirming it.

Pepe: “Do not allow capitalism make you lose your mind, you have to learn how to be free in capitalism. Do not allow some marketing campaign and ads make you buy clothes, various meaningless things, anti-aging creams… Under no circumstances. The first revolution is our own, in our heads. You have to learn to live the way you think, because if you do not live the way you think, you will end up thinking of a way to survive. ”

Picture taken from the link.

Why do people find it hard to live the way they think?
Pepe: “The worst thing that happens is that people feel so much under pressure that they do not have any time to live their lives. You have to work constantly, change your clothes every day, pay the bills, and a car you already have is not good enough for you so you have to buy a bigger car, a much faster car. In this way, you spend your whole life buying things. You do not have any time to live. You have to work in order to live, and not to live in order to work.
Life is not only meant for working. You have to have free time for things you like doing. Life passes you by… You can buy anything at a supermarket. But you do not spend your money, but your time and that is how you triffle your life away. ”

One proof of Pepe living the way he thought is his limitless freedom. Everybody remembers his days as president because he always brought his pet Manuel wherever he went, among other things.

Picture taken from the link.

What message do you want me to convey to people reading this? 
Pepe: “Be alive because that is a miracle! That is the most valuable thing we have. You have to love life. In life you need freedom and freedom comes from the head. Do not allow yourself to be stifled by the noise, nurture modesty and humility. There are no triumphs in life, there is only a never-ending staircase you have to climb. Wins and triumphs are not the most important things in life, the most important thing is to pick yourself up whenever you fall and start over. Because such is life.”

This experience was one of the most valuable in my life. It is a proof that miracles do happen if you are positive and ready to take on new opportunities. I could only dream of meeting Mujica when I set off on my trip across Latin America. Some things Pepe said I already heard somewhere else, but when such a great man is the one saying them, words start having a much greater meaning. Especially when he looked me in the eyes when he was pronouncing them. All his words and thoughts are engraved in my brain so that they can carry on living with me as a weapon I will be using in this revolution I am starting. In this way, my success will someday be marked by words and energy of the Great Mujica. 

How I built a mud house in Uruguay

When we say “a mud house” people usually think of something belonging to a distant history, something primitive and impossible to build in urban areas. We usually identify this concept with the houses in Africa, India and other third-world developing countries. However, a group of hippies initiated this concept that became popular worldwide.

A mud house has multiple advantages:

  1. It is much cheaper than the standard brick house.
  2. It lasts for a long time, dependind on the construction, but usually between 200 and several thousand years.
  3. It absorbs moisture.
  4. It maintains an optimum temperature, it is a natural insulator so it definitely pays off.
  5. It does not cause any alergic reaction and provides a healthier environment.
  6. It is eco-friendly.

I am currently in Uruguay helping a 29-year-old guy called Federico. He opted for living in the countryside with his girlfiends instead of life in a city. He started building an eco-friendly mud house on one of his family’s properties.


Federico

The property is located next to the lagoon so the house we are building will have a nice sea view. Life conditions on the property are, for now, improvised, but everything is in a beautiful harmony so I do not need anything else while I live and work here.

I live in a tent. I sleep in a sleeping bag which I carry everywhere with me. I do not have a mattress so lying on the ground is a bit uncomfortable, and it is a bit cold during the night. If it rains it gets really wet since my tent is located next to the ponds. The whole property is surrounded by water, which is really nice.

There is no hot water in the improvised shower, it is only attached to a water hose. Federico brought a device that will be attached to the shower in order for us to have hot water.

When it comes to toilet there is a so-called dry toilet. A dry toilet is only used for number two, if we want to pee then we can do it anywhere in the field. In order to do the number two we have to climb this platform, move the board and finish the job. Instead of flushing the water, we put a little bit of soil over it to absorb moisture. A raised flag on the left is used for letting each other now when one of us is using a toilet.

Out of all these things I like kitchen the best. Federico makes sure that the kitchen is filled with food at all times. I usually cook since I find it interesting to experiment with new spices and various groceries and vegetables I have never seen before. We have the same breakfast every day- muesli with milk, dry fruit, berries I don’t know the name of but which can be found in abundance.

We have a fixed schedule- we wake up at 6.30 then we have breakfast at 7 a.m. After that we begin working. We have lunch at noon and then we go to the beach, or spend some time in the fields. When it gets dark we light a fire and gather around it. The job itself is physically demanding since it consists of carrying buckets and doing a little gymnastics. But that is nothing compared to the final product of our hard work- a finished mud house.

I have  had a chance to apply two different techniques when it comes to building mud houses- in Thailand and here, in Uruguay. Same materials are used but different techniques.

In Thailand we first mixed clay, water and sand which would then put into a wooden mould. This mud mixture took up to 30 days to dry and then the final product would be a dried brick ready to be a part of somebody’s house for a long period of time. Between these bricks we put a mixture of mud, cement and grit (just because the owner wanted to make the job easier, but it is usually made without any cement or grit).

In Uruguay, we make a house frame from large trunks and then we merge them by making a wall construction made from bamboo so there is some space left to be filled with straw, previously dipped into mud. You can see what it looks like in the picture below:

After the interior of the wall has been drying for a few days,  a layer of mud mixed with sand and some straw is applied to it in order to make a structure that can be attached so it sticks. Then we make balls out of mixture that we then throw from afar into the wall so the balls stick. A layer of mud that is applied the second time is much finer since there is less straw and it is more creamy so it can be nicely shaped with hands so the wall is flat.

A mud mixture is made in a trough. Soil is already enriched with clay so all we needed to do was make a trough and add water in order to make some mud.

Mud houses can look beautiful and modern. If you care about the aesthetics, and you probably do, the finishing layer can be coated with any paste so that it gives a nice finishing touch to the house. Take a look at some of these examples:


Picture taken from the link.


Picture taken from the link.

These eco-friendly houses can have two important additions- solar energy panels and organically grown food. This is the way of life that does not harm the environment and saves a lot of money, as well.

Mud houses are not some new kind of a posh solution, they can also become a solution for building homes in poorer areas. In Africa and Asia I had a chance to see many mud houses. I would love this trend to contienue. The only problem, I believe, is that I am not sure of how much time we need to overcome the fact that mud as a material does not have to be primitive at all.

If any of you decide to build a mud house, feel free to contact me when it comes to organization, plans, volunteers and other details. 🙂

One day in Rio

Brazil is beautiful, enormous and has a special vibe because of its very open-minded people. Out of all places I have visited so far, Rio is the one that left a great impression because of its uniqueness. If you are visiting Brasil, you have to spend at least a day or two in Rio.

Here is a route that includes all interesting places you can visit in a day.

mapa-rio

If you are coming from some other city or directly from the airport,  your first contact with Rio will probably be a bus station (which is marked in the picture).  There you can take a direct line to your first destination-  Christ the Redeemer statue.

Slika uzeta sa linka.
Picture taken from the link.

1. Christ the Redeemer

This statue of Jesus Christ is the most famous in the world.  It is 30 meters tall and its arms stretch 28 meters wide. It was finished in 1931 after 10 years of construction. The view of Rio from the hill is magnificent and definitely worth visiting. I suggest you arrive before 8 a.m. because if you arrive later than that you will not be able to approach it due to the large crowds. I also saw people coming with previously purchased online tickets, which is in this case a very smart move.

2. Copacabana and Ipanema

After visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer you can catch a bus which will take you to Ipanema and Copacabana- beaches in Rio. Two beaches are located next to one another and are 50 kilometers long. Copacabana is more popular but Ipanema is much cleaner and more beautiful. There you can get a glimpse of Brasil as seen on TV- women walking around in thong bikinis, topless, everybody is happy, playing basketball and socializing. You will not see this on other beaches in Brasil since they are quite conservative. Rio does not represent Brasil just as Belgrade does not represent Serbia. These two beaches have a special vibe because of people, energy and atmosphere. I enjoyed drinking coconut water directly from the coconut that I bought for 1 EUR.

3. Escadaria Selarón – Selaron Steps

Beautiful steps decorated with ceramic collages are one of the main attractions in Rio. Steps were named after Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who covered these steps 26 years ago by bringing tiles from all around the world to decorate all 250 of steps. Jorge was found dead in 2013 in Rio where he lived. Every part of these steps is a story of its own.

4. Lapa

Next to these steps is a part of the city called Lapa. I haven’t see many tourists in this part of the city, mainly locals living their lives, some even defying the law. This place is beautiful, there are a number of different graffiti and weird-looking buildings. There are a lot of police officers in this part of the city who are constatnly walking around the streets. I felt like a stranger because I was given some dirty looks that made me feel as if I was in a danger zone, but at the same time it was very safe because of the police circling around. This is the place where you can meet a bunch of different people, buy tasty food and witness the weirdest scenes. It is worth visiting.

5. Local flea market

After Lapa you can go to place number 5 where you can find a local flea market located in narrow streets. If you love shopping, this is the right place for you. You can find the most accessible things here, cool gifts and souvenirs. It is rather big so you will need some time to see everythig.

6. A walk along the coast

After the flea market you can visit the star next to the place number 6 which is the Museum of Tomorrow. They say it is really interesting, unfortunately I did not go inside.  You can get a wonderful view of the bay here. The day is coming to an end so you can slowly start walking towards the bus station following the coast. This landscape is very interesting because it is not a tourist part of the city and you get to witness different scenes of everyday life in Rio.

*Graffiti

What especially amazed me about Rio were grafitti. There are all over the place and each graffiti is unique. If I ever settle down in some city, that would definitely be a city filled with graffiti or simply- Rio. 🙂

I made a short one-minute video of my one-day Rio visit:

How to travel for free

This is the question people ask me most often both in person and via my blog: How can I travel for free or with little money? It is very easy and anyone can do it, the question is whether you want to.

If you have read the text that I wrote about how traveling is not for everyone and you are ok with the facts, then you can continue reading this blog post.

There are several ways to travel for free or with little money:

volonterski

Volunteer sites

If you are willing to help anywhere in the world and contribute to local community by working, you can get food and accommodation in return. Here are few options:

  1. www.workaway.info
  2. www.grassrootsvolunteering.org
  3. www.wwoof.net
  4. www.helpx.net
  5. Hippohelp.com – mew platform, give it a try

There are plenty of options, but you can start with these four. Each of them includes local hosts who are willing to offer you accommodation in their home and in return they ask for you to help with the organic farm, babysitting, school lectures, etc.

Some of these sites charge a membership fee of about 20 euros per year but this is acceptable because you get a lot in return. Look at the recommendations when choosing a host. Choose a host with a lot of feedback, and of course with the highest rating.

sama

Your offer

If you do not like what these volunteer sites offer, you can easily make your own offer and send it to whomever you want. This is what I did when I intended to go to Sicily: First I made a list of all the major restaurants that make pasta and started contacting them with a proposal to work in the kitchen a couple of hours provided I am given the accommodation and food from the restaurant in exchange. Most of them were open for this kind of agreement. I also promised that I would help them with the social media promotion and they appreciated the additional effort I put into it.

This part of the process is rather boring, but it is also great because you have the freedom to come up with whatever you want in whichever part of the world.

licu-estsa

On the spot

Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy, I travel without a plan. I go to a village and ask where the local school is. When they show me, I go there and explain to them who I am and what I could help them with. I say that in return I am looking for food and shelter, and that’s it. Some of them refuse, others welcome me with open arms because they find my suggestion interesting.

I do not recommend that you do this unless you have already traveled. It takes experience to identify potential threats.

david

Personal contacts

When you travel, you meet people from all over the world and mainly stay in touch with them through social networks. When I was in Kenya, I asked a friend from Nairobi whom I met in Israel, to help me find contacts in the villages. He helped me connect with a couple of people and he even invited me to be part of the jury in his startup competition for a couple of days in a town near Nairobi.

couch

Couchsurfing – free accommodation

You have probably already heard about this option where people from all around the world offer accommodation in their homes if they have an empty bed or room. This option is free and you can meet a lot of interesting people. I know people who have traveled the whole world just by using this site. Of course you always have good and bad experiences, but everything has its price. The best thing to do is to send requests only to the hosts that have the highest rating.

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Picture taken from the link.

Tent

I met a lot of passengers carrying a tent around the world who sleep in public spaces or in yards of locals, but usually these people travel in couples. In Thailand, I met a Russian couple who toured the world this way. I do not know if you remember this story of a young German couple. They also set off on a trip around the world and will be sleeping in a tent. The night before I met them, they put up their tent in some old lady’s backyardoutside of Belgrade As a farewell gift she gave them 10 chicken eggs.

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Travel costs

✔ If you arrange with someone to go and help them for two or three months, you may be able to ask them to help you with travel expenses. An owner of English language schools in Sri Lanka is willing to pay the full ticket price to anyone who wants to help him for two months or more. If you are interested, I can help you get in touch with him.

Hitchhiking is the most common means of transport among travelers. There is a great website that provides information about how safe it is to hitchhike in each country – hitchwiki.org/en/Hitchhiking

✔If you are looking to buy airline tickets and want them to be cheap, do not be lazy and make sure you find the best deals on  www.skyscanner.net. If you know the dates in advance, set a price alert and you will receive an e-mail every time price for that flight changes. When I was planing my hundred days trip to Asia, I kept an eye on the airline ticket prices from March to November. I was able to buy the following tickets: Serbia ✈ Sri Lanka ✈ Malaysia ✈ Thailand ✈ Hong Kong ✈ Japan ✈ Russia ✈ Serbia for 1050 EUR.

Also, look at other options and what the surrounding airports have to offer. The other day I flew from Budapest to Dublin for 50 EUR plus a bus to Budapest – 25 EUR. Otherwise it would have cost me about 160 EUR or more for an airplane ticket from Belgrade to Dublin.

✔An app called BlaBlaCar is excellent and it is used for sharing travel costs by car – www.blablacar.com.
I used it and I loved it. You can offer someone transport and you can look for a place in the car for a particular destination.

Modest conclusion

Notice that none of these options include the five-star hotel, drinking cocktails on the beach and doing nothing while someone pays for everything. If you are wondering how to travel for free and you already know all the above mention things, then you do not need a source of information but you need to work on your self-confidence and courage, pick one of these options and enjoy.

I have to be more honest here and say this: If you really wanted to travel, you would find a way, not an excuse. Do not be that person that is waiting all week for a Friday and frowns on Mondays, the person that is waiting for summer to arrive all year long and please do not be a person waiting a lifetime for the right time to travel. Just go! The whole World is waiting for you!

As I said, everyone can travel free of charge, the question is whether you want to pay the price of comfort and embrace courage.

Let’s be honest – traveling is not for everyone

People envy me for traveling so much, they write to me asking for advice on how to travel the cheapest, safest and fastest. In order not to respond to the same question asked in each e-mail and message, I decided to write a post explaining how I travel, what tools I use and so on. But before I publish it, I realized I needed to open people’s eyes and say it out loud – traveling is not for everyone!

It is one thing when you look at photos I post on social media, everything is nice, interesting and different. From your comfort zone everything looks nice, even photos of destitution seem interesting because they are different and they spark your curiosity. But only a few people know what I am going through that has to do with my mental, emotional and physical struggles.

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Cultural differences

If you are not ready to accept any challenges that a new environment might imply, do not even set off on this journey because you will be in a big trouble. In Thailand, people do not shake hands, they greet each other by clasping hands as if praying. Imagine going around wanting to shake hands with everyone… You must constantly watch what others are doing and be in their shadow repeating the same thing because these differences may sometimes vary even in the same country. In Japan no one will say “NO” explicitly but they will only keep repeating “SORRY, SORRY”. In Sri Lanka no one will point out that you are doing something wrong but will remain silent, trying not to criticize. In Kenya everyone will want to shake hands. All these things might be annoying, but you simply have to accept them because you are a guest in their country.

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Discomfort of everyday life

During my travels I have slept in many different places – mud houses, houses without electricity and water, on the floor of various rooms, airports, parks and so on. You simply have to give up comfort and embrace any place safe enough for you to stay. The food you are used to will not be accessible. You eat what you have and keep quiet or you will remain hungry and possibly sick. In the picture above you can see the kitchen where I prepared food in Kenya. In fact it was rice cooked in rainwater.

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Political situation and war

The situation in the world is far from stable, political situation is complicated everywhere in the world in its own way. Where there are people there will always be conflicts, from the smallest arguments on the street to much larger, such as wars. Towards the end of my Kenyan adventure, I received a warning from the Serbian embassy in Nairobi that it would be a good idea for me to leave the country because the situation there had been considered dangerous. Terrorist attacks were carried out by the Somalis. With the terrorist attacks becoming more and more frequent every day, you are not safe anywhere, even in Europe, not to mention some countries where war is in progress.

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Poverty

Poverty is everywhere. There is no part of the world that it is not poverty-stricken. The only question is how local people perceive it and how you choose to accept it. Overtime you become emotionally drained by seeing all these hungry people, how sad they are and how helpless you feel regarding that problem. The best thing you can do is help someone along the way but you know that it is not the solution to the problem. You learn to deal with this bitterness overtime but that does not mean that you do not feel like that every time you encounter something of this kind.

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Sex tourism

Poverty has in some countries led to the atrocious situation that forces women to sell their bodies to feed their families. You feel embarrassed every time you see something like this – you feel sad for these girls and ashamed of these men who go abroad to pay to have sex with local women. I had a chance to witness this in Thailand in some tourist areas. Pataya has the highest level of sex tourism rate in Thailand and do not ever go there if you do not want to see this. Sex tourism is everywhere, in some countries it is very public, while in others it is well-concealed, but it still exists no matter what.

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Animal exploitation

When traveling you will be seeing various animals. Of course it is interesting to see them and to play with the animals that you have never been seen before. The locals found a way to monetize this and exploit animals to such an extent that they make them perform in front of the tourists and take them from their natural habitats in order to force them to entertain people. TripAdvisor has recently banned scheduling tours abroad that involve animal exploitation. This is a big step towards raising the awareness of such a huge problem, but it is far from enough.

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Loneliness

Yes, I like to travel alone because that makes me more flexible and more focused on people around me – locals and tourists. In most cases this is very nice, I have time for introspection, talking to myself and getting to know myself better. But when the moments of loneliness strike they do not go away so easily. And the feeling takes over you more and more because, for God’s sake – we are only human. You learn to deal with loneliness, but that does not mean it will not affect you each time it happens. And do not let me start on how became a professional selfie-taker because if I want to have some photos from the trip I must do it by myself because there is no one else who can do it for me. 🙂

The fact is that this solo journey makes us get out of our comfort zone by setting off into the unknown. Natural human reaction is to fear the unknown and I see this kind of fear as something good because it keeps you alert, especially if you are traveling alone. And so with each successive moment you get more and more out of your comfort zone, and therefore your trip trasnsforms you drastically. You will only be able to see the change once you return home and realize that nothing has changed there but in fact you are no longer the same.

It was up to me to say all of these things out loud so that you become aware of all problems concerning safety and traveling comfort. Things are not always going to be amazing and you should be aware of what awaits you. Of course you will not experience all of the above everywhere you go, but it is very probable that you will experience some of it. In spite of all these aggravating circumstances, I think it is good to travel and you should not back out because of the things I said because it is definitely worth it. It is uncomfortable, but if you ask me, it is the way it should be.