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Interview with Sascha Grabow, Germany's Most Traveled Person:
A backpack, very little money, walking, hitchhiking, often sleeping outdoors,
waking up in the morning without the slightest idea what's gonna be in the evening ...
That’s Sascha Grabow – Germany’s most traveled person.
Sascha Grabow is an ex ATP professional tennis player and now has been traveling the world for over 25 years already.
He’s been to 181 countries and more than 800 islands so far and doesn’t think of stopping any time soon either:
His goal is to visit all of the world’s countries. And not just that …
He moved with nomads through the desert, slept in Afghanistan on the roof of a house in the local manner rolled into a heavy rug.
He walked all night through the Sudan because it was too hot during the day, always hoping not to encounter wolves. He walked
one month through the Congo, hitched on pickups sitting next to hunted armadillos & monkeys, bathed in 1,8 degree cold water in
A writer was following him around the world for two months, traveling together for a while, from Canada to Australia.
Now I was also able to pepper Sascha with a few questions:
1. How did you start traveling?
I always had the most fun during holidays, skiing in winter or summers in Croatia, Mediterranean Sea, etc. At age 17, I wanted to hitchhike to southern Italy in order to be able to practice tennis outdoors year-round (indoors very expensive & cold !).
2. What has been your longest trip without touching German territory?
20 Months / 606 Days
3. Which jobs have you had while traveling?
Guide, fitness coach, flight courier, photographer, motivational guru, extra (Egypt), author, bartender (Fuerteventura), soldier, sailor (Caribbean), car deliverer (towards Kazakhstan), English teacher (Uzbekistan), camp manager & convoy leader refugee repatriation (Sierra Leone), social worker (Mother Teresa mission, Calcutta), cook (Faroe Islands), washing dishes in hospital, Professional Tennis Player, ATP tennis tour coach, tennis coach (Germany, Spain, China, USA), animation/GO as dancer / show / theater, ski instructor (Switzerland) and bouncer (Dallas).
4. What fascinates you most about traveling?
The more other-worldly, the more interesting and horizon-expanding. Trying to escape modern life and capitalism.
5. How do you finance your travels?
Scale down budget to around 150 $ per month, selling photos, giving tennis lessons & doing writing jobs. Working on a book project.
6. Is traveling still a challenge for you?
It's always the opposite of boredom. Since everything is getting more expensive all the time, this alone, managing the costs, is always challenge enough. Even if one is trying to eliminate all the "difficult" countries at a young age, at the very end you'll still most likely be left with some of the more difficult places (Somalia, Iraq, Algeria, etc ...) - those are definitely not falling-asleep-in-countries :)
7. What's your style of traveling?
Hitchhiking, eating, reading, swimming, walking, meet new folks or sleep outside, hotels if up to 3-4 $ (Indonesia, Thailand, Bolivia, Africa ...)
8. How much does it cost to travel the way you do it?
2000 to 2500 Euros per year (1500 last year in Africa!), and this constantly for the last 20 or so years.
9. What's your advice on saving money while traveling?
Shop at super markets, taste what the locals eat, travel with CouchSurfing only in western countries (the West anyways isn't
THAT interesting!). Book flights or ships at Sascha Grabow Travel Agency, have sufficient time, take your time, manage your timing so that you can catch off-seasons, since then less tourists, more interesting and cheaper. Liquidate your household, and sell your car!
10. Any plans you someday "permanently" settle down?
Always where love pushes one! :) Normally you don't love a country because of its monuments and sights, but for the people that you've happened to meet there! I just love life too much to spend it "locked up" in one place.
11. What can you recommend Planet Backpack readers who wish to make traveling their lives and want to follow in your footsteps?
Simply do it! You only live once. Whoever waits for the conditions to improve will just find out that in later life things will get more complicated rather than less, and peope will only have MORE objections (and anxiety / inhibitions), although he/she may have thought, if he/she only yet gets this one thing sorted, then he/she would at last be 'ready-to-travel '. Always those will be really great travelers, who are the most dedicated, the most fanatic about it and want it strongest. You have to sacrifice some stuff, but I can tell you one thing ... as Prozac-dependent as almost 50% of the elderly population in the West is by now ... to become like that, you absolutely needn't have any fears or worries at all!