This is part of our Inspiring People series, in which we interview really neat people who are creating positive change in the world. Contact us if YOU have a story to share!
Meet Elsa, the moneyless traveler.
What motivated you to get started on this ’round the world trip?
Way back into September 2011, my best friend asked me for the fourth time to join her on an Australian adventure, then after 3 days of writing the pros and cons on my kitchen wall, I knew – I have to go. All the exciting and challenging things were on the traveling side, and the fact that I’ve been wanting to travel since 2004, were the BIG decision making factors. The quote by Steve Jobs was the driving force which made me realize that it’s now or never:
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? Whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
I wasn’t keen on getting a new job, settling down and getting my own place which I can pay off in 30 years. No, I just didn’t feel it.
Then after traveling and working in Australia for 2 years I had to make a move. Going home [to Estonia] wasn’t an option because I was already introduced to the amazing adventurous lifestyle of travel and a 9-5 in the office didn’t sound like me anymore. 1st I looked up Asia and in some miraculous ways I popped into an article that talked about moneyless or budget traveling. The concept behind moneyless travels drew me straight in but I guess I wasn’t ready yet, and so I choose Vietnam because it sounded like the most interesting country in Asia. When I got there I bought a motorbike before I even knew how to ride one and from then on I have just been following my spirit, leaving my future to the magnificent universe.
Coming back to the question.. I made the decision to travel the world when I was in Thailand but not just travel, do it without money. The concept was so inspiring and challenging that I couldn’t bury the idea and the opportunity that arose as I felt that I have the mindset to make it happen. So I have been undertaking an unsupported and unfunded journey around the world using only travel which is free or bartered for in exchange for work and professional services, since end of March 2014.
What are some of the challenges you’ve come across on your trip?
I think the most memorable and fresh moment comes from Indonesia where getting a passage on a cargo ship fell through and I had only 1 week to leave the country. Bob (an amazingly helpful friend from Indonesia) and I started brainstorming ideas, and the best we could come up with was to reach out to business people or businesses in Jakarta who would fly me to Singapore in exchange for work. The days went past and zero result, just countless hours out on the sun. I tried to reach out in many ways possible but nothing didn’t seem to work. I might have been my lack of skills which I have to work on 🙂 So in the end I posted on Facebook (which I didn’t like because it felt like an easy way out) that I would make a website in exchange for a plane ticket, and few hours later I had a ticket.
Second challenge was in Singapore where I tried in the 2nd biggest port in the world to get on board as a passenger on one of the cargo ships bound for Brazil, but it fell through. I had to come up with something else to make my 2014 FIFA World Cup Dream Journey come alive! And that’s when I came up with an idea to write my first-ever sponsorship letter in finding a company who would sponsor me in flying me to Brazil where I can continue my travels and hopefully find an awesome volunteer work, and be surrounded by the liveliest atmosphere that has ever graced a World Cup. After weeks of trying, while the World Cup was only coming closer and closer, I decided that its either going to be GOAL or NO GOAL, the bubbly crazy atmosphere or no World Cup at all.
Most memorable moment(s) so far?
After a night in the clinic in Siem Reap, Cambodia I was walking on the edge of the city to start hitchhiking towards Phnom Phen. 3rd ride was a policeman who’s generosity goes beyond my mind! He took me few dozen km closer to my destination, introduced me to his gorgeous family, arranged and payed for my bus ticket to Sihanoukville (down south) with a stop in Phnom Penh, and just before catching the bus he took me out to a restaurant where he bought me a delicious meal. I was literally blown away from their generosity!
Where are you heading next?
That’s a tough question.. Brazil or Malaysia. It all unfolds days before the ultimate of world events. Continuing my Asian travels sound as amazing as the World Cup, now I am just waiting because there’s not much I can do anymore, its left to the universe to decide my next leg 🙂 Whatever will be, will be and I will be swimming in that sea of awesomeness! (Editor’s note: see how you can help at the end of this post!)
Do you have any long term goals for your travels?
I pondered on that one for some while and then it hit me. One of the driving forces that got me on the road less traveled was self-growth. I knew that I would have more time and be more committed while traveling, and what’s absolutely amazing is that at the end of 2013 I got introduced to many new topics which are so intriguing and such an eye openers. I’ve been doing lots of self studies in the past years but 2014 has been miraculous in so many ways and it just keeps getting better and better in time. Everything is unfolding and makes more sense than ever before!
How can people help you?
As mentioned above, I’m trying to get a ticket to the World Cup in Brazil. I made a deal with the publishing company that I will write articles for their blog where they have a big audience and fundraise through my post. So that’s what I started doing. So far I have received ~200€ and ~1,300€ is needed. When I will get more and or run short then I will donate all the extra money to an orphanage where I spent 3 years of my life. I am taking a few days to see if I will get to the needed amount. If not then I will discover Malaysia, from there go to Thailand, then Myanmar and India.
(Editor’s update: thanks to fundraising efforts, Elsa has made it to Brazil!!)
Make a donation to Elsa’s Paypal account here.
Follow Elsa’s journey on her blog, http://trip.elza.ee