With this article we start our new series of world travelers interviews! We will post a new interview every week, learning from the experts and getting inspired. This time it's the Romanian-Canadian Radu to inspire us!
My name is Radu and I am originally from Romania, a country of contrasts, somehow stuck between the East and the West. However, when I was 15 I and my parents decided to relocate to Montreal in the province of Quebec, Canada and I’ve been mostly living here ever since, even though I did and still do move around a lot.
I will soon turn 25 but I’ve been traveling a lot since early childhood. My parents and grandparents were probably the first ones to inspire me to travel, and moving to Canada in 2004 gave me a whole new perspective about traveling and the world. It only made me more curious to discover and understand other cultures. Since then I have travelled to about 30 countries on 3 different continents and once you get the travel bug, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of it. Also besides traveling I started last year to do cycle-tourism and rode my bike from Denmark to Romania and I have big plans for the future in regard to that activity. Last but not least I practice rock climbing and mountaineering on a regular basis during summer time and plan on summiting some important peaks in the years to come.
When you started travelling and why?
When I turned 18, my godmother offered me as a present a ticket to Australia. She traveled to more than 60 countries and at the time she thought she might transmit her travel bug to her godson as well. What a wise choice from her part when I look back on it.
That summer I got to explore most of the eastern coast of Australia and for the last part of the journey I flew to New Zealand where I hitchhiked from Queenstown to Auckland and had some amazing experiences.
What's your travel style?
Since I love to get in touch with the locals as often as possible I love to hitchhike as a means to move around and couchsurfing when it comes to sleeping somewhere at night. I think these are the perfect ways to understand the place and the people and be a real traveler.
How many continents and countries have you visited so far and what are your favourites?
I have been to 30 countries on 3 different continents (Europe, North America and Oceania). Among these countries 23 of them are in Europe so Europe is the continent I got to explore the best so far.
My favorites…well if talking about nature, I love Canada for its vastness and untouched nature and New Zealand for its gorgeous mountains and landscapes. However, I keep my real love for Russia and the Western Balkans. Russia preserved sort of an old atmosphere, bygone elsewhere in Europe. It feels to me that people in Russia dress and act in a way that western Europeans forgot a long time ago. They keep it classy and I love that. As for the Balkans I love its crazy energy, I love the warmness of the people there and its interesting past.
What was your longest journey?
Rosia Montana, Romania.It was during the summer of 2013, when together with two other friends of mine we set on a 5500 km journey on bike and other means of transportation from Denmark to Romania, through Northern and Eastern Europe. More so, we dedicated that whole journey to a campaign aiming to raise awareness and stop a dangerous mining project in
What's the aim of your travels? What are you looking for while travelling?
I don’t think there is one thing in particular that I look for. Adventure is probably part of it but not always. I’d say though that wherever I go I look for a connection with both the place and the locals. It’s a sort of bond that you feel. I think I am far from being a simple sightseeing tourist. I nearly always try to get in touch with the locals and try to understand the place through their eyes and stories.
What's the best memory you keep from your travels?
Probably people’s solidarity and willingness to help you at random is what I always kept as the most precious souvenir from my trips. One such episode happened in 2011 when I was hitchhiking with a girl friend through the Western Balkans. We had just crossed the border into Bosnia, coming from Croatia and as it was getting dark it was harder and harder to get a ride. However two older ladies stopped and when they understood that we wanted to get that night to Sarajevo, which was quite far they took us home instead, fed us and put us on a train to Sarajevo the next morning. Not only did they pay for the train but they even gave us some extra money.
And the worst one?
When I was hitchhiking in New Zealand I got stuck for 5 h on a road where there were hardly any cars passing by. I did get picked up in the end but that was pure luck as I could’ve spent a lot longer.
Tell us a funny situation you experienced.
When I realized that my Russian visa was expiring that very same day I had to bike 140 km to the nearest border with the Ukraine and made it there 10 min before midnight. Bad luck though! The officer in charge of controlling the passports was having a cigarette break so I couldn’t get through before 30 min past midnight and at that point they did not let me pass as my visa had just expired. I had to go sign some papers in an office and go back to the nearest town the next morning to pay a certain tax but I eventually made it to Ukraine in the end.
What was the most important lesson you've learned while travelling?
To appreciate each culture for what it is and what it has to offer and to understand the fact that we are not that different as we may think we are.
What’s the item in your luggage that you couldn't live without?
Probably my computer, which I now plan on changing for a tablet. Having a means to connect to the internet is crucial as I either have to look on a map or search for a new couchsurfing host.
What's your average monthly budget?
It’s hard to say. I am nonetheless quite low budget and I usually manage to get by with 200 euros a month. I managed to travel for as low as 20-30 euros a week.
Do you plan to settle down first or later?
Definitely later! I feel it is now time to explore and discover as much as this wonderful world has to offer.
Of all the places you have been to, where would you like to live the most?
I know there are lots of other countries where I haven’t been yet but which are a good fit for what I fantasize as being the perfect place where I would like to live one day. I think a lot about relocating to Brazil one day. I have a special bond with that culture and the Portuguese language. However, if I am realistic, from the specter of countries I have visited so far, a Scandinavian country like Denmark or Sweden would be my choice for now. I love the combination of freedom with a strong civil society, the solidarity that is omnipresent in the society and the overall liberal mentality, so different from other parts of Europe and the world. Nonetheless I would like to return to Romania one day, I love my native country!
If you think of yourself in 10 years, how do you imagine your life?
I always imagined my life as being dynamic, moving a lot around and traveling to different parts of the world. As I am studying engineering at the moment I would like to help one-day developing countries in different technological aspects.
A valuable advice for a long-term traveller at the beginning of his journey?
Take it easy, don’t rush. Enjoy every single place you go and appreciate the fact that you got there. Try to understand the place by talking to and interacting with the locals. Don’t be a tourist, be a traveler. Oh yes, and you don’t need money to travel. All it takes is the willingness to do it and the passion for it.
World Traveler Biography
I am a young traveler and adventure is part of my life. I have tons of energy and I always look for new challenges and adventures of any kind. The day I will stop traveling and discovering you can call me a dead man. I consider myself being a real traveler in the sense that I prefer hitchhiking to paying for a train or bus and I do couchsurfing instead of hotels/hostels. You can read about my travels/adventures on my website www.radupaltineanu.com (available in Romanian only for the moment) or you can follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/radupaltineanu