Last Summer Erki Quit His Safe Office Job To Become A Full-Time Solo Traveler
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Erki is from a little country in northern Europe, called Estonia.
17th Jun | 13 min read

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    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this article, we are featuring Erki, a solo travel lover from Europe.

    Erki is from a little country in northern Europe, called Estonia. He started solo traveling in the summer of 2020. The reason why he started was to have a lot of spontaneous adventures with unforgettable memories. Now Erki is traveling again solo, doing some volunteering, working online, and running several websites. One of the websites is a travel blog that is about backpacking adventures called Genem Travels. Also, you can check him out on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. You can also connect with Erki on GAFFL

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    Why I Travel

    When I was younger and I went on a trip, I always had such great memories from the visited countries, but the problem was that it was a short period once in a year. Something inside told me that I need to travel more and therefore have more great memories. I started to listen to various podcasts about fellow wanderers who have gone traveling for a longer period and how it has changed their lives in a good way. I was so inspired by these stories and wanted to have the same lifestyle so badly. To do that I quit my safe office job and went on the journey with collected savings. Now after a year of big change, I am super grateful for my decision.

    To be true, it’s a bit complicated to travel and work full time at the same time. Because of that, I have some periods where I am more focused on either traveling and enjoying life or working hard. I have two websites that I am running actively and I am doing some projects for other companies to fund my travels or volunteering. As there is much work, then on traveling mode I do only the most urgent things like writing articles or building my website authority. I do work in the early morning or late at night before sleeping while traveling around. A good tip is to plan your work at least a week ahead. Then you don’t need to think about what to do in your “work time” each day, and instead have a productive workflow.

    I Recently Started Traveling A Lot More

    Until the last summer of 2020, I didn’t travel much, but after an awesome and long backpacking trip to Europe, I am more abroad than home. So now, I am traveling often and every journey takes months rather than weeks.

    I like to do lots of outdoors and other adventurous activities. For example, I like to hike in mountains, explore hidden paths, or do something extreme for the first time. Of course some days I feel that I like to be like a normal tourist and see the famous landmarks, eat local cuisine or enjoy the nightlife. But mostly I am more into hiking in mountains than soaking in the beach.

    I Want To Travel Full-Time

    I am not traveling full-time, but I am working my way there. 

    At first, my family had some question marks about my decision to quit my safe job and having a total U-turn in my career. But after I explained my situation, that it didn't feel right for me to work all day in an office, they understood my lifestyle. You can’t do something that you don't like, so I did a restart.

    When I was in traveling mode for the first two months, I had no worries at all. I enjoyed my life to the fullest and lived day by day. But after a break from traveling it was the first time when I thought that was it the right decision to leave my old organized life back. Everything didn’t go as planned, like finding a job during the covid time, but it was alright. I felt much better and stressed less because now I had a vision of where I want to reach. 

    How I Choose Where To Travel Next

    Firstly I am looking for countries that I have never been to. Then I do some research about the things to do and see. I pay extra attention to outdoor activities and natural landmarks. Then after a short research, I straightly book a flight, so I am not overthinking. Simple and spontaneous.

    As said, my trips are rather longer than just some days or weeks. I only buy a one-way ticket, so I don’t have any time pressure.

    I am not so good at preparing, I only have some main pins in my Google Maps, that is a must-visit, other things I figure out on the way. I also ask for suggestions from locals and in overall keeping my “travel plan” and schedule pretty flexible, because the best-unexpected things happen when you do things spontaneously and without a strict plan. So mostly I go day by day and see what this kind of spontaneity brings me. As they say, no plan is the best plan, so I go with that travel mindset.

    How I Pack For My Trips

    I travel around with my backpack, so I travel as light as possible. My backpack consists of clothes for a week, a laptop, a camera, a sleeping bag, an air mattress, a water bottle, and some other essentials. All the stuff needs to fit into my 65-liter backpack and I still have room left for food and water.

    As I am working on the road, then the first thing is for sure a laptop. Laptops are pretty heavy, so I use a lightweight and small-sized laptop for web work. Also, I’d like to take lots of photos of my trips, then my small mirrorless camera also needs to fit into my bag. 

    As an adventurous guy, I spend some nights under the stars aka wild camping. For that, I need at least a sleeping bag and for comfort sleep also an air mattress.

    I Love Meeting New People

    For me, it’s not just the new places I see around, but more the people I meet in those new places. So every time I arrive to a new place, city or country I try to meet new people.

    For example, many times I have used Couchsurfing for a house stay in local's homes. A great authentic experience I recommend for anyone, it’s so easy to get new contacts through Couchsurfing. 

    Also from time to time, I have some travel buddies. For example, I traveled together with Slovenians in Italy for four days. We had so many unexpected situations (but fun), wild camping on the beach, and exploring new places.

    But the most memorable memories are probably invitations to parties because there you're going to see very open people and real local culture.

    For example, once I walked through a Hungarian village. It was already late and I was still without a roof. I saw far away that next to the road was happening some kind of “event”. With my backpack and sweaty look, I wasn’t unnoticed. One guy from the crowd raised his arm and stopped me. He asked where I’m going and soon he realized that my preferred destination was about 10 km away. He offered me to sit down, eat, relax or have fun. As I was hungry and tired from a long day of hiking, it was an easy decision to stay there. I had a great night.

    Countries I’ve Visited So Far

    I don’t have a long list of visited countries. It’s probably around 20 countries and almost all of them are in Europe. 

    For solo traveling, I would recommend starting in Hungary’s capital Budapest. It’s such a lively city with a nice vibe. There are so many things to see and do and other travelers from all over the world. That city is famous for its thermal spa culture, nightlife, and on top of that, it’s super affordable in terms of average prices in Europe.

    I would like to explore more places outside of Europe. Probably on top of my bucket list is the South East Asia region. It’s a perfect place for solo travelers and adventurous people. I hope I can make it happen soon.

    My Favorite Travel Apps & Websites

    The first I would recommend for anyone is previously mentioned Couchsurfing. It’s not only for getting a couch in someone's home. There is also a feature called Hangouts, where you can meet the locals or other people to do something fun together

    For moving around I mostly use Rome2Rio. It’s such an effective app, that in most cases it finds all the small local transportation companies. For example, when you are in the middle of Tuscany countryside, it gets you a local bus company with a schedule.

    I started with my travel blog last year at the time I decided to quit my office job and go solo backpacking. At first, it was something for just travel stories and about my backpacking trip. But as soon as I took a little break from traveling, which ended up being a several month break due to covid, I started to write more for my readers. 

    I have several in-depth travel guides about destinations I have visited and also content mostly about backpacking. I aim to write about adventure travel and how to get the best memories in visited countries. With my recommendations and tips, I am hopeful that my readers have more fun, affordable journeys and in any way more adventurous trips.

    How I Manage My Costs While Traveling

    As any backpacker, you can say that he or she is on a budget, so I am no exception. I have a budget table that I fill mostly daily. It’s always good to have an eye on spendings, so it’s easier to avoid “bankruptcy” in the last traveling days.

    I first set down a monthly budget, then for a week, and lastly for a day. If the daily budget goes over the limit, then I have to have some days that are below the daily budget. Most important is that I won’t exceed the weekly budget, otherwise it’s so easy to go over the mimits and mess up the whole trip budget plan.

    One Of My Craziest Travel Experiences 

    My cool travel stories always include locals and all the fun stuff we do together. My story begins again with a few spontaneous decisions when in the middle of Slovakia I reached the small town Banska Bystrica. I didn’t know much about it. I got a recommendation about that spot a day before from a hostel by a Serbian guy. He said, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Slovakia, you need to visit that. 

    As I didn’t have any plans and that city was close to the Tatra mountains, which were my only goal in Slovakia to visit, I decided why not. I tried hitchhiking for the first time in my life. I thought it would be an easy task and I would be at my destination in hours. It turned out to be a long trip with no luck with my thumb up next to the road. I reached Banska Bystrica late at night and I was ready to do my first wild camping. 

    To my luck, I got a host from Couchsurfing at the last minute. It turned out to be the most awesome hosting experience in a small mountain cottage house without proper water and electricity. My short stay ended up being there for three nights and in that period I saw a real Slovak country life, interacted with locals, hiked with them in the Tatra mountains, and overall it was such a cool travel experience.

    Some Things That Prevent Me From Traveling More

    Some obvious reasons: time, money, and responsibilities. I have websites and freelancing jobs to fund my travels. I need to make time for these responsibilities. These are the main reasons why I don’t travel so much. Also, I need a break from my travel flow, to settle somewhere for a while and take it a bit more slowly. Last year I traveled at a fast tempo for over two months. In the end, I felt really tired and settled down in another country for a while.

    The biggest challenge when traveling solo is that you feel lonely sometimes. Even though I met many people on the road, there were a lot of times when I was on my own. But on the other hand, it’s also one of the biggest advantages of traveling solo. I got more courageous, raised self-esteem, relied on my decisions, and became more open to approaching strangers.

    Lessons I’ve Learned From Traveling

    I think the main thing is that you are the only one who can make your adventures unforgettable. Being more flexible, courageous, and open to new experiences will make your travel memories something unique. From the start, I recommend doing lots of out of comfort things to get the best travel experience.

    But on the other hand, you need to be aware that everything isn’t going the way it was planned before. For example, last year at first I planned to travel for a longer period, at least a year, make money online and enjoy life. Many things went the other way as covid happened, and it wasn’t so easy to make a living with a laptop and wifi. Maybe I was a bit lazy on that also. So it’s not exactly a wish, but it would have been nicer if I already had an online job before I started traveling. Of course, anything can be figured out in a way. But it would take your precious traveling time and a bit of stress because money only decreases in a bank account.

    The biggest lesson and advantage I have learned through traveling solo is that for your wellbeing you need to be more decisive. Every day I needed to think about where to go, where to sleep, what to eat, how to get there, and solve problems on my own. There wasn’t anybody on my side to make decisive decisions, only me and my gut feeling. An essential skill that will be helpful in any trip and overall everyday life.

    In conclusion, I recommend everyone to travel solo at least once in their lives. You will have exceptional memories with new awesome people, you can have your schedule, and you will have lots more courage. 

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