He started his journey from Munich, Germany and flew east around the world in 57 days from January to March 2020. His main stops were Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada. Some plans had to be adjusted on the way and the whole trip shorted by a week because of the growing world crisis. Dorin (@dorins_travels) is ready to answer some questions and share his first solo travel story for the smileyioana.com ‘s readers and community. 🌍
Tell us how was your first experience as a solo traveler?
Dorin: I think the most appropriate word to describe this experience is “intense”. This is mainly due to the fact that I tried to do a lot of activities in a short amount of time. It was also mentally very demanding – more than physically. Yes, sleeping in a different hostel room every night and jumping time-zones is exhausting. But I am a very shy person. Sparking conversations with strangers at bus stops, in the hostel lounge or just asking the reception for advice were the true challenges I faced. There were moments when I felt very lonely, but also moments when I had very insightful conversations with people I had barely met. Thus every day seemed intense.
How did the crisis affect your journey?
Dorin: The Corona-Virus was a small topic when I left Germany. During my stay in Australia, the Virus spread in China and the world was becoming aware and anxious. I considered if I should stop my trip and turn back. But I decided to continue and see how the situation develops.
During my time in New Zealand and Hawaii, Corona was just a far-away issue. This is also because I was so focused on my daily activities and traveling, that I did not really pay attention to the news. Only once I reached Vancouver (Canada) did the outbreak become a serious challenge for my trip. The first countries were closing their borders. The news in the media was contradictory. I worked out a couple of scenarios. My first option was to continue my trip (next stop would have been New York). The second option was to get back to Germany. When I noticed that I could not reach any air carrier by phone and that people started buying in panic, I knew it was time to return to Europe. In retrospect it was a good decision.
Photo Source: @dorins_travels
How did you handle unplanned adventures?
Dorin: I did not really have a lot of unplanned adventures. I would spend every evening planning the next day. If anything spontaneous happened (e.g. I would see a poster for a concert or someone asked if I want to grab a drink), I would just go with the flow. The key for me was to have a vague plan and schedule, but be flexible enough in case anything came up. I knew I did not have time to do absolutely everything. So I tried to make the best of every occasion.
What was the most exciting and rewarding experience?
Dorin: I think the most rewarding experience was my hike to Roy’s Peak near Wanaka, NZ. It was my second day in NZ. I was pretty anxious about NZ, so I barely slept the night before. In the morning I was late for my bus from Queenstown to Wanaka, so I skipped breakfast. Once in Wanaka, I started a conversation with an individual who so happened to be on the same bus and stay at the same hostel. Whilst talking, I realized he was going to Roy’s Peak – a hike I also planned on doing. I asked if I could tag along. An hour later we had rented bikes, peddled about 15 km and started hiking in the brutal heat up the mountain. Once at the top I realized I did not have breakfast. It was 2p.m.! But the squashed sandwich I had together with the superb view made me forget about all my worries. It was pretty much the moment I knew everything is going to be alright and I started enjoying my trip.
Did you have trouble finding toilet paper around the world?
Dorin: Up until the 14th of March all was fine. It was only then that I walked into a supermarket and all the aisles were empty. Including the one usually holding the toilet paper! It was a funny yet scary sight. Otherwise the hostels and Airbnb rooms were always well equipped with toilet paper.
Looking back is there something you would do differently?
Dorin: In retrospect I should have done a trip of this magnitude far earlier in life. Besides that I think I should have booked a single room in an Airbnb or hostel from time to time. Staying in shared hostel rooms is great, but you don’t really get a lot of rest. And if you are hiking or mountain biking every other day, your body needs a good night’s sleep. 🙂
Do you have a message for other first time solo travelers?
Dorin: To quote a YouTube video (“This is backcountry”) I like: “Maybe you think it’s all high-fives and Redbull, but it ain’t”. Traveling alone can be very fulfilling and rewarding. You get to see spectacular places and experience foreign countries at your own pace. But it is also mentally very hard. Do not underestimate the loneliness you will inevitably experience at one moment. Be (mentally) prepared for those moments. Yet, looking back, these moments are the ones that allow us to grow as individuals. That is why I definitely recommend to plan and undertake at least one solo trip during your life!
SPREADIG TRAVEL LOVE
Dorin & ioana