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Unique ExperienceI've been to almost 150 countries on a 15$ budget. This year I'll visit every country in Europe, climb the highest mountain and paraglide down. AMA!

Jan 24th 2018 by Meph248 • 25 Questions • 87 Points

My short bio: Hey everyone! My name is Patrick and instead of doing sensible things like attending university and getting an education, I instead decided to travel the world. That was 10 years ago and by now I've been to most countries.

The part that's most likely interesting to you is that this can be done with a really low budget and I'd be happy to help you plan your own trip.

In addition to that I love crazy outdoor experiences. I've cycled to most countries, crossed the Sahara by bike, cycled in the Siberian winter, I climb mountains, big rocks, and generally spend time in rather remote regions.

I've ridden everything from touring bikes, road bikes, MTBs, folding bikes and ebikes on tour. Aluminum, steel, titanium, carbon, even a bamboo bike.

Lets talk all things travel, cycling, gear, ultralight and general crazy ideas. :)

Since I kinda ran out of places to cycle to, I spend the last year trying out new things and I came up with this idea: I'll go on something I call the High Point Ride. I want to visit every country in Europe, climb the highest mountain and (weather and law permitting) paraglide down.

That means 47 countries and peaks, over 20000km of cycling, over 125000m in altitude on foot and who knows how many flights. :)

You can read more about it and follow the tour on:

Or read a bit more about my previous trips on worldbicyclist.com.

My Proof: Proof on Twitter

As always: I'll stay till everything is answered. :) If you want to do something similar, ride or hitchhike or backpack around the world, please let me know what I can do to help. I love getting people out on the open road.

Cheers, Patrick

Edit: Well, this Ama starts really well. I'll head to bed, have a look tomorrow. Can't get worse than 0 points. ;)

Q:

Which places defied common stereotypes the most?

I’m particularly interested in places of unexpected affluence, cultural/natural diversity & hostilities.

Which places would you absolutely not visit again?

A:

I guess that depends on the stereotypes you know. For example the Middle East and Northern-African countries are full of extremely hospitable people, incredibly friendly and curious about foreigners in their lands. Especially strange ones, on bicycles.

I can't even begin to count the times I've been invited to dates (the fruit) and tea in Sudan or Djibouti or Somalia. Especially Somalia; the very first day I had a discussion about philosophy and world politics with an older gentleman, who made me try somali-coffee: Black tea with powdered coffee and lots of sugar. :)

Another stereotype that I found to be not true at all were the coldness or distance of northern people in Europe. Be it Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes...

I have a few places rather low on my list of enjoyable experiences, but that's just it: It's subjective experience. I just had bad luck. For example in Indonesia I almost drowned, I got stolen from, I got dengue fever (a tropical diseases a bit like Malaria) and the overall trip was downright miserable at times.

In Lebanon I got robbed at gunpoint, in Mozambique I got into a tangle with a crocodile, in India I got threatened and harassed...

But I'd still go back. Because for every negative experience, I had several positive ones. The visit to a Lebanese Christmas market with a local family; the three weeks I spend in a beach hut and the people I met on a remote island on the Andamans in India; the fascinating tribal rites on Sulawesi... all worth it. :)


Q:

Do tell us about Ethiopia!

A:

What do you want to know?

I did ride through it early in my "career" as a cyclist, on my first big bike trip. Apart from being tough terrain with lots of passes and windy roads; often unpaved; I had quite some trouble with kids. They run up to you, ask for pens or notebooks (because that's traditionally what western tourists hand out to the kids there), and when I don't have any, they get super-aggressive. Like throwing-stones aggressive. Or they just do it for fun. Once I rode uphill on gravel, slower than you can run... with about a dozen kids pelting me with stones and laughing. For no reason.

Then, I finally got rid of them on the downhill, and on the next hill, I saw 3 other kids. Which had nothing to do with the ones from before, different area, no way that they made it there this fast. Still, they also had great fun throwing rocks at the foreigner.

Even the lonely plant makes mention of that. I vividly remember reading once "We visitied the lower Omo valley. A great trip, although we were attacked by hundreds of kids (yes, literally attacked)." That was a few years later and I could only wisely nod to myself when I read that. :/


Q:

If you ever come back to Germany (cologne/Bonn) you can sleep and eat with me :D It is such a cool story!

A:

I'm in Wuppertal right now. :D One of my sponsors for a few trips was Fahrrad XXL in St.Augustin.


Q:

Then it wasn't just $15. Fucking click bait.

A:

I did travel round the world on $15 a day, and to this day it's my average travel budget. That excludes the gear, but you don't need expensive gear to travel.


Q:

I've been to almost 150 countries on a 15$ budget.

That's what you said and you know it's misleading and a clickbait.

A:

15$ a day - budget? Is that more clear? I didn't spend 15$ in total.


Q:

I circumnavigated the globe with only a 5 dollar bill and a wool cozy on my dangle

A:

People getting upset about budgets: https://i.imgur.com/t8JjQix.gif


Q:

I must say you're living my dream about traveling the world!...minus the physical activity part haha

What does your family think about you traveling? Were they on board with it in the beginning or did it take time for them to accept your passion?

A:

Considering that I was in school when I told my parents, they were not amused at first. Especially my mother worried a lot. In ended up with me doing things and telling her later. "Hey, you know Syria? Yeah, I just got through there." "Oh, heard of those active volcanoes in Guatemala? Those looked real pretty up close."

By now they are used to my antics and support that lifestyle. But the beginning was tough for them.


Q:

have you been to Patagonia?

A:

Yes, in 2012. Went down to all the way to Ushuaia, to Torres del Paine, Perito Moreno, hiking in El Chalten... spend 3 days around Mt. Fitzroy without ever seeing it because of the clouds. :D

But Torres was fantastic; I was there a bit early. The lodges in the park were still closed and I barely met anyone in the park. 2-3 people a day.

I should really go back there... the mountains are some of the most beautiful in the world.


Q:

What place had the best food? The worst? Also, my family and I have been thinking about going to Japan, what are the best and worst parts about the country?

A:

Glad you mention Japan, because that's certainly in my top 3 of best food countries. Japan, Mexico and India I'd say.

Worst... no clear worst I'd say. I didn't have much fun eating Injera three times a day in Ehtiopia. Or the dry rice with fish-heads on the cheap, multi-day ferries in Indonesia.


Q:

How do you afford food on a 15$ budget?

A:

More than 2.5 billion people can afford food on about 2.5$ a day... I'm lucky with my budget in comparison. Especially when you travel in third-world countries. I spend way less than 15$ there, it's more an average daily cost.

For example I spend 3 weeks on the Andaman islands. The beach hut was 1$ a night. A masala chai (tea) was 5cents. Breakfast about 50cents. Book exchange for free. What more do you need?

In the end I spend 100$ in those three weeks, about 5$ a day. And lo and behold, suddenly I have 25$ a day for the next three weeks in another region.

In the first world I mostly just buy food in supermarkets and prepare it myself. That's more expensive than lets say India or Bolivia, but still manageable. I know about a couple that cycled a year through Europe, and their daily budget came to about 4€ per person. They were really hardcore.


Q:

After doing a quick search i am amazed you found a beach hut for $1... how can this be? I can't find anything less than 30X that.

A:

Two reason.

  1. It was almost 10 years ago.

  2. You look online. Anything that has a website or wifi, marketing online... that's not one of the cheap places.

It was on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Island on the Andamans. I don't remember the name of the accommodation, but there were only 4-5 options on the island back then, with 1 lone hotel in construction.


Q:

How much money did you spend on the initial gear and how long does it last?

Can you point to anyone specifically who does this type of thing using way less money than yourself?

A:

That was 10 years ago, so I don't really know... but it wasn't much, that's for sure. First trip was backpacking, so no bicycle involved. Only a backpack, a cheap tent/sleeping bag, foam mattress, clothing I took from home. At one point while packing I realized that I might need cutlery, so I just went into the kitchen, took a spoon, a fork and a knife and put them into the backpack too. Completely oblivious to smaller, lighter camping gear that I might have taken. Full sized, ordinary towel too. :D

Not anyone specifically no. I mostly know adventurer/outdoor-people that take expensive gear to remote areas now, not so much the cheap backpacker style travellers. Just different experiences I guess. But there are tons of blogs out there about travelling without money. Some focus on alternative lifestyle, dumpster diving, hitchhiking, couchsurfing... while others show you how to make money while travelling. Teaching English in Japan, China or Korea for example is a really good option to save money. If you are a native English speaker, it's super easy to get a position, and for example in Korea I was hosted by /u/farmerhandsome who, and I quote, was told first thing when he arrived: "If you don't save at least 1000$ a month, you are an asshole". That's how much you can easily put aside while teaching English there. He was a bike courier in Texas before that, making... far less.

He, guess I can point to someone. Hi George!


Q:

what was it like going to the most unsafe countries ( like mexico and brazil) where you ever mugged or threatend and if so how did you deal with it?

A:

I had no bad experiences whatsoever in Mexico or Brazil, those wouldn't even be on my list of unsafe countries to be honest. In Mexico for example I stayed with the salvation army in Tijuana... not on purpose, it was pitch-black when I arrived and I think the person I asked about "do you know a place to sleep" took that too literal... but it was a good experience.

Unsafe, at least for me, where Somalia, where I had military or police escort. Or Lebanon, while the civil war in Syria brought over 1mio refugees, some of them ex-soldiers that still have weapons. One of them did in fact rob me at gun point, but he only took money and electronics. Sadly I couldn't really communicate with him, since he spoke only Arabic, and I don't.

I dealt being robbed by getting the heck out of my camp spot, cycling down the coast and setting up camp somewhere else. Luckily he never spotted my bike bags (the tent was half-collapsed and he only saw my backpack), and I still had my laptop. That would have been a really bad day if that would have been gone.

I ended up writing a post on social media later and within 48h, followers and friends and other crazy adventure-people had donated enough for me to replace everything stolen. I did lose a couple thousand photos though. Silkroad, central Asia... a lot of that gone.


Q:

How much time do you spend learning the local language? Or do you mostly expect to find someone who speaks English? I'm pretty introverted, but super interested in traveling and learning new languages. The idea of just going somewhere with little to no preparation just kicks my anxiety into high gear.

I've always been extremely apprehensive about going somewhere completely unfamiliar where I don't know anyone and being unable to communicate. How do you go about meeting people that are willing and have the time to show you 'the ropes' (do's and don'ts, parts of the city to avoid, things to watch out for, places of interest, etc.)?

A:

I usually learn a few words, but do that in the country itself. It helps to speak English, Spanish and French, because they are spoken in a lot of countries... but often there is no local language that would be of great help. For example Tanzania has over 100 languages... which one should you start to learn?

Usually you can find someone to speak English with, or you improvise and smile and talk with hands and feet and point at stuff. Make funny foreigner noises. Someone will understand you.

Toughest places for that where countries with languages that I can neither read, write nor pronounce. China comes to mind... but that's rare.

You kinda just meet those people. Either they talk to you, because they are curious about the foreigner. Or you stay in a hostel, which is always great fun and full of other travellers. Or you couchsurf and stay with locals directly. Or you ride into the parts of the city to avoid, unknowingly, and spend your time there... not knowing that you should have avoided it.


Q:

What advice do you have for someone who wishes to visit every country in the world?

A:
  • Start with trips in your local area.

  • Be prepared to sacrifice a lot for that goal.

  • Realize that it's a long-term goal.

  • Learn Spanish and French. Together with English, those three languages cover most countries.

  • Read up on vaccinations, visas and laws. It helps to be prepared to avoid unnecessary trouble.

  • Write bloggers/travellers that have just been (or are at) the places you want to go next. Because they know best what it's like and can put you in touch with people on location.

  • Try to generate either passive income or income that is sustainable from on the road. Because every country in the world is a lot, and will cost a lot in the long run. Some countries are crazy expensive, like North Korea or Bhutan, with 200-250$ a day minimum. Stick to cheaper places at first.

  • Be prepared to wait. Saudi Arabia had tourist visas in 2011. Now they don't. Travellers visited Syria before 2011, now it's not the best idea.


Q:

What are your thoughts on beg packers>?

A:

I had to google that.

Not a great idea I'd say. I mostly met people like that in South America. Been a while since I did traditional backpacking places/trips like in South East Asia, so I didn't get into contact with that scene a lot.

I do my tours independently. I have my own transport, I carry a tent, and if I do need extra services, I pay for it myself. The only time I did ask for money was after being robbed in Lebanon, and I asked on a crowdfunding platform, with followers and colleagues donating, not poor locals in developing countries.

So... not a fan of the idea to beg my way around the world.


Q:

Last Questions: -Where you in it for bragging rights or the Experience? -Do you feel that traveling has made you a better person than the person you we're before you started travelling? -Do you have any regrets with spending that time you had travelling? -And lastly what would you say to a Kid who wants to travel but cant cause his parents want him to live like a normal person and work a 9 to 5 job?

Thanks for Answering my Questions, I'm planning on traveling after I graduate from College, I like your style of cycling instead of riding cars or motorcycles.I hope I can experience the stuff you went through when I travel

A:
  • The experience for sure. I mean, at some point past 100 countries I realized that there was some kind of "bragging rights", but I find it a bit silly. Stuff like the travelers century club or so... thanks, but no thanks.

  • I'm certainly a different person, with different perspective and more self-confidence. A lot more optimistic and patient.

  • No. :)

  • I'd say that the sentence is flawed. "He can't, because his parents don't want him to"... that makes no sense. If he is 18, his parents should act like grown-ups and respect the wishes and desires of their son.

If you want some more detailed ideas about planning a tour, write me a PM. :)


Q:

Have you visited or are you planning on visiting any of the countries in the Balkans?

A:

I've been to all the countries in the Balkans, but I also plan to visit all of them again this year. ;)


Q:

So what are your thoughts on the region? Are there any places that weren't really worth seeing?

A:

I'm looking forward to it. Especially the mountains. :)

Depends what you are into. For example I will avoid large population areas, aka the capitals and larger cities, but maybe you are into nightlife and party, in which case you wouldn't want to avoid them. Anything specific you are looking for?


Q:

Not looking for anything, I'm far from being able to travel anywhere atm. :/

You say you avoid capital cities, so then what places did you visit in Bosnia? What are your thoughts on the country?

A:

Booking the flight well in advance saves a lot of money, couchsurfing/camping, getting your own transport... like hiking or cycling. Anything that gets you away from hotels and busses.

I said I'll avoid them this time. ;) I've been to Mostar and the more southern parts of the country. Some detours from when I cycled down the coastline.


Q:

I'm a guy in his early twenties working full-time in the electronics industry who wishes to do something akin to what you did. Would it be worthwhile risking a stable source of income for all that travel? I mean, given the stability and comfort of a well-paying job (and of a very tightly-knit, stable family), are the places and the travel worth letting go of all the aforementioned factors?

A:

For me, yes. For most people I met while travelling, yes. But! keep in mind that we are all young and out there and doing things, going places...

No one I met was the "former travellers 20 years later" who wished that he didn't abandon his career or education.

I mean, how to judge something that long term, unless you already experienced it.

I love what I do, but I never had a well paying job to compare lifestyles.

I'd say go for it, because worst case you'll end up back home, applying for a job again. Considering that your education and job experience stays the same, you can usually get a similar job again.


Q:

This sounds amazing and myself not having done much travelling really want to find a way to lower the costs so it's affordable. However I feel that most of your savings come only because you hopping from near by country to near by country therefore lowering travel expense. As well as a moderately experienced traveler could never find shelther/housing you speak of without actually being there. What advice do you have for someone who can only research and plan via the internet?

TL;DR I assume most of your savings come from being able to continuously travel - how do i reduce cost for a single trip?

A:

How long is the trip, and from where to where do you go?


Q:

I don't have a detailed plan but would like to spend roughly 2 weeks in Europe

A:

He... Europe has big differences in price. Compare Norway with Albania or the Ukraine, and you could barely believe they are on the same continent. I remember 40€ for a pizza in Norway, and 6€ a night in a hostel in Kiev, with 1-2€ caviar in the supermarkets. :D

But in Europe you'll find couchsurfers all over; the same for public transport. Flixbus is the cheapest bus service, they are great for long distance tours. If you stick to southern and eastern Europe, you'll probably spend a rather low amount in comparison to Scandinavia, Germany or the UK...


Q:

Is there anywhere you have no interest in visiting? What did you do to prepare for this (physically,mentally, financially)?

A:

Yes and no. There are certainly places I only went because I've never been there. A bit bland or empty at times, but at least I know afterwards that I don't want to head back. :D

Most of the preparation is bureaucracy. Visas, vaccinations, open border crossings... or climate charts, distances, elevation... since I'm outdoors a lot and have to cover distances on my own, I need to collect a lot of knowledge beforehand. I don't do any special physical or mental preparation. Financially I want to have at least 1000€ as a backup, that's pretty much it. I do a trip, come back to Germany, start saving up some money again, head out.


Q:

Hi, first of all, as an Israeli, how was your time here? did you enjoyed your time? My question is something i'm struggling in my own life, i'm really hesitant on every major or big decision in my life, cause i always have these thoughts of "what if" or "what am i losing". On your trips, you kinds of decided to give up on conventional life as most people lives, don't you have these thought of what if? Or did you have a thoughts of "what different life i would've lived if" thoughts in your trips at foreign countries and cultures? Most importantly, because you live this kind of lifestyle, even if you met really nice, smart beautiful girl in your journey, or an amazing man who became a close friend to you, don't you ever wonder what would your life be w/ them? I'm just really curious, for the past couple of years as a young adult i have been trying to figure what is the best or the right path to take in life, but it is so fragile and changing, and there is no absolute answer whatsoever, and when i here stories like yours, it just amazes me.

A:

I had a good time in Israel, even though some things are certainly unique... like your approach to security. Metal scanners on bus stations and shopping malls. Lots of assault rifles in public.

I think everyone has these thoughts. It's really tough. I often had to decide between travel and a woman/girl I like, and getting that in any sort of compromise is one of the hardest thing to do.

I guess you have to figure that one out for yourself, like everyone else too.