A round the world trip? I did it.

A round the world trip? I did it.

There was a time when it was just a dream. There was a time when I thought I’d have to have a million to do it. Or perhaps half a million at least. In Czech crowns as I lived in the Czech Republic. Actually I don’t think I ever thought it would ever happen. Ever. But fortunately for me things changed. I changed. My mindset changed. I became a person courageous enough to follow his dreams. I had a dream. And that dream came true. And I didn’t need a million. Neither half a million!

I remember writing an article days before starting my round the world trip – an article outlining my trip. I was full of dreams, ideas, expectations and excitement. My round the world trip wasn’t going to be JUST a round the world trip. I thought big. I wanted to do a lot of things. I’d like to reflect upon what I wrote that I wanted to do and what I really managed to do.

Ukraine: St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kiev
Russia: Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

The plan was to go around the world in 365 days, unlike Verne’s Phileas Fogg who made it in 80 days. When I set off I didn’t know how long I would manage to travel. But I made it. I travelled 365 days. And I made it around the world. From one continent to another without having to come back. Europe – Asia – Oceania – North America – Europe.

I had 5 must see countries – Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia and Canada. I really wanted to see them. And I did. Going to Australia was my childhood dream and I finally made it happen. I visited 16 countries altogether: Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and France.

Kazakhstan: Kaindy Lake
Kyrgyzstan: Alakul Lake

My planned itinerary: Slovakia – Ukraine – Russia – Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan – China – Vietnam – Laos – Myanmar – Thailand – Malaysia – Singapore – Indonesia – Australia – Canada – Mexico – Belize – Guatemala – El Salvador – Honduras – Nicaragua – Costa Rica – Panama – Europe.

My actual itinerary: Slovakia – Ukraine – Russia – Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan – Kazakhstan – China – Vietnam – Laos – Thailand – Myanmar – Thailand – Malaysia – Singapore – Indonesia – Australia – New Zealand – Canada – France – Slovakia.

Like I wrote in the article the part of the route from Mexico to Panama would make the trip longer than 365 days and so I decided to go there some other time.

China: Muslim Street (food street) in Xi’an
Vietnam: Trang An
Laos: Luang Prabang

I wanted to complete visiting all continents (except Antarctica) and I did. I have been to 6 continents by the age of 35!

I am a huge fan of travelling by train, so my dream was to go all the way from Slovakia to Vietnam by train. And I really made it. This was my train route (detours excluded): Zvolen (SK) – Košice (SK) – Lviv (UA) – Kiev (UA) – Moscow (RU) – Petropavlovsk (KZ) – Astana (KZ) – Almaty (KZ) – Alashankou (CN) – Ürümqi (CN) – Turpan (CN) – Xi’an (CN) – Chengdu (CN) – Kunming (CN) – Nanning (CN) – Hanoi (VN). In addition, as a keen train traveller I took trains in almost every country apart from Laos and New Zealand.

I also wanted to get to Singapore overland and as much as possible by train (there is no rail link between Vietnam and Thailand). And I really made it. From Slovakia to Singapore overland. In 8 months. During those 8 months of travelling I didn’t fly a single time.

Thailand: White Temple in Chiang Rai
Myanmar: Inle Lake

I also thought of going all the way to Australia without flying but it would have proven to be more of a challenge than getting overland to Singapore. I decided not to pursue this goal. It would have taken more time and money as well. In addition, while I was on a four day boat trip in Indonesia I realized that sea travel wasn’t my thing. For one thing, I really missed freedom. For another thing, a rough sea doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep.

I was also tempted to add other beautiful countries to my itinerary such as Tajikistan, Nepal, New Zealand, Fiji, Palau, Samoa and African countries like Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar, Morocco and Ethiopia. I didn’t make it to any of them but New Zealand. I was on the verge of going to Tajikistan but thought better of it because of limited time. Going to New Zealand wasn’t part of the initial plan. I only decided to go there because the prices of flights from New Zealand to Canada were HALF the prices of flights from Australia to Canada. It was a no brainer. And a good decision, too. I loved New Zealand even though it was winter there.

Malaysia: Cameron Highlands
Singapore: Gardens by the Bay
Indonesia: Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

I wanted to couchsurf as much as possible and I did. I couchsurfed 141 days (almost 5 months!) with 54 people of 26 different nationalities in almost every single country apart from Laos. I wanted to hitchhike more than I used to and I did. I hitchhiked over 11.000 km with 184 drivers in 8 countries.

I wanted to to try teaching English abroad, ideally in a developing country and also do some sort of volunteering. But after realizing I didn’t need to work to finance my trip, i.e. my budget was high enough (and again it was neither a million nor half a million) I decided to only travel and enjoy the adventure.

Also, as a lover of languages, I wanted to spend some time in a Spanish speaking country, where I would improve my Spanish. This, however, will be part of another adventure.

Australia: Uluru (Ayers Rock)
New Zealand: Mt. Cook National Park
Canada: Moraine Lake (Banff National Park)

Overview of what I wanted to do and what I managed to do:

Go around the world Yes
Travel for 365 days Yes
Visit 5 must see countries Yes
Visit Australia – my childhood dream Yes
Complete visiting all continents Yes
Go from Slovakia to Vietnam by train Yes
Go from Slovakia to Singapore overland Yes
Get to Australia without flying No
Visit extra countries Yes/No*
Travel across Central America No
Couchsurf as much as possible Yes
Hitchhike more than ever before Yes
Teach English abroad No
Volunteer No
Stay in a Spanish speaking country and improve Spanish No

* only New Zealand

France: Paris as seen from the Eiffel Tower

On August 1, 2017 my parents waved me goodbye and I left by train at 2.25 am. On August 1, 2018, I arrived at 2.25 am by the very same train just from the opposite direction and my parents welcomed me back.

I made it! A round the world trip in 365 days!

A dream come true. An adventure of a lifetime. One of the best decisions I have ever made. One of the best years of my life.

I made it because I knew it was possible and because hundreds of amazing people helped me along the way and so became a part of this adventure.

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