Elliott Bakker writes: In this fast moving world where everything is instantaneous, there are also those taking the long road — the one going through the Mongolian steppe, the floating markets of Bangkok or the vastness of the Sahara desert. They all have different stories to why they are here, but one thing in common; they took the life changing decision of living full-time on the road.
Eugen Reimer, 28, with both a German and Russian passport in his backpack, is one of them. Born in Siberia, but of German descent, Eugen and his family returned to Germany when he was seven, following the footsteps of many compatriots at the time. Since then, Eugen has travelled to 52 different countries.
It all started with carpooling. The long hours spent in a car with complete strangers from different horizons, reshaping the world while driving on the German autobahn, gave Eugen a thirst for new adventures. A bit more than two years ago, Eugen quit his job as a supermarket manager and sold his car to travel the world. “I have been homeless since 2010” he said jokingly in a strong German accent.
But Eugen cannot be homeless anymore as he has made the world his home. “With the friends I‘ve made, I create my own world in every country” he explained. So many people, so many stories — like the man in Dubai, who after meeting him for the first time at the doorstep of his apartment immediately left for work, trusting him with the keys of his apartment, his dog and the swimming pool on the roof. Or the tiny Japanese woman, who despite having been robbed seven times and almost raped twice, still enjoys travelling like it is her first day. Or the teacher in economics and history, who after growing up in eight countries could speak 15 different languages. “He is the most impressive person I have met” said Eugen admiringly, “he could speak Russian with a better accent than me”.
After all these experiences, Eugen does not consider himself to be German or Russian, but instead a citizen of the world, “I try to get the best things from each culture, to create my own culture”. When asked where he would like to live after so many travels, he answers without hesitation: “I would go to a place I never been before”.
Eugen’s journey is not so uncommon today, as more and more people are leaving the daily grind to live a life of travel. According to the Travellers’ Century Club, a club only accessible to those who have travelled to 100 countries or more, “more people are travelling because it is easier to fly or cruise to areas that were previously not accessible. It is easier than ever to travel around the world with several hundred combinations with all airline groups”. An advice Eugen followed to the letter, spending hours on the internet, looking for that amazing deal. “I always try to find the cheapest way to a country” he explained, “sometimes I don’t sleep at night, until I get cheaper tickets”.
It took him 11 flights to get to Australia, but it only cost 750 euros. The travellers’ social network CouchSurfing has also been a great tool, providing him with free accommodation, carpools, but most importantly, the privilege of discovering a country with local peoples, far away from the beaten tracks of the touristic roads.
Of course travelling is not always fun. When he started to travel, he never told his parents that he was not coming back. What was supposed to only be a few months trip extended indefinitely. Travelling can also be dangerous at times, but “nothing bad ever happened to me” he says, knocking wood on the coffee table, although he got really lucky once, leaving a bus station an hour before a lone gunman hijacked a bus in Manilla in 2010, killing eight.
He wants the Travelers’ Century Club before he reaches the age of 40. This club of modern nomads boasts the motto: “World Travel…the passport to peace through understanding”. Today, Eugen is in South Australia, next month he will be in Fiji, next year, who knows? But his journey will continue, one country at a time.