The Backpacker Interviews: We Are From Latvia

We Are From Latvia

Tell us about yourselves.

It was May 2013. I asked Una: “What do you think, maybe we could cycle across India? It could be an interesting adventure.” Four months later we were at the airport with one way tickets to India, and our bicycles packed with us. Almost two years later we are still on the road, traveling and working in different parts of the world. We talk about our adventures and share stories about other people on our blog, We Are From Latvia, in the hopes of inspiring you to go for your crazy ideas and dreams.

Do many Latvians hit the road?

Not too many Latvians are traveling, and even fewer are traveling long term. But we are happy to see that this is changing, and these numbers are growing. Two years ago, when we were planning to travel long term, we had no one to ask for advice, so we mostly read about the experiences of people from other countries.

On our blog we also have interviews with other Latvian adventurers. You can check them out here!

You pedalled all across India – when did you decide to do that? Tell us about it.

Well, that wasn’t something we were thinking about a lot at the beginning. Everything started with an idea: to live in another country for a year or so. We started to read more about moving abroad, and then about traveling. Later about long term traveling. About budget traveling.

And then, with a head full of ideas, but no any real plan or even savings, I asked Una what she thought about cycling across India. It was less than a year after the initial idea about moving abroad was born, but four months later we were at the airport ready to go to India, with no plan B.

Cycling across India turned out be an amazing experience that made us stronger in many ways. And now Una hates cookies! In five months, each of us ate about 50 kilos of cookies, because in many rural places cookies were the only edible things you could buy. Sometimes we went to the “shop” and bought all the cookies they had.

In the end, we did about 5,300 kilometers of cycling in some 100 days.

We Are From Latvia

What kind of bicycles did you have?

Una was cycling with her six year old mountain bike, which she bought for 150 euros, and was previously used for some 10,000 kilometers. She even finished cycling with the original tyres! I bought the cheapest mountain bike I could find, which cost me about 80 euros.

For bike repairs in India, each of us spent less than 50 euros. You see, adventure really doesn’t cost a lot.

Were you tempted to get a cycle-rickshaw and pick up hitch-hikers?

It was enough to just handle our bags, even though we didn’t carry much with us! We each had about 10 kilos of gear, including some spare parts for the bicycles, tools, and a three person tent.

When thinking about our next trip to India, we want to try traveling with a motorcycle. Or with Tata Nano? Or maybe with a tuk tuk?

Tell us about your first volunteering experience

Our cycling adventure across India was finished, and our savings were vanishing, but we still wanted to travel. Again, we started to read about other people’s experiences, but this time more about traveling with very little money. We had heard about volunteering, but we didn’t know too much about it. But a few days later we already had decided: let’s try volunteering.

We registered on Workaway, paid the registration fee, and sent out some messages to all the places in Malaysia (our next destination after India) that looked interesting for us.

After one month we were on a tropical island, living on our own on a small farm, and looking after the property and animals. Half of the time we were helping our host, who had a yacht business, to prepare food for the charters or to do maintenance jobs on her yachts. But time after time we went on the charters as well, sometimes to help, but often just as guests. We went there to try out volunteering for two weeks, but we wound up staying for almost three months!

We Are From Latvia

You guys volunteer a lot, why exactly?

We have done it four times in the last year, and there are a few reasons why we do it. For one, we like it! We like to learn new things, and to meet new like-minded people. But even more, we like living with local people, and learning more about the culture of their country. As we like to travel slowly – stay in the places we like for month or more – it suits us perfectly.

Of course, it’s also because of money. When volunteering sometimes we spend as little as 10 euros per month. But at the same time we are in the place we like. Isn’t that awesome?

How do you arrange your volunteering projects?

Currently we only use Workaway, which makes everything very simple; you find a place you like, you contact a host, and you discuss the job. When searching for new places we do it in a similar way to how we plan our next travel destination. We choose a region (Asia, Europe, South of Europe,…) and we think of the countries we like the most. Then we look through all the hosts in that location. Next step – getting in touch with them.

Do you know, where are you going next?

We are returning to India on January 1st. For the last year we’ve known that we would return to Asia, but we didn’t know which country would be the first this time. We really like this part of the world, and we want to explore more of it. On the last trip we visited India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

This round there’s a whole new adventure waiting for us. We will work on making this kind of travel lifestyle possible for the long term, because now we know that it’s what we want. We want to create a life, where it’s possible to travel whenever we want and wherever we want – to live in a places where we like rather than where we should. That’s the reason why we’re currently in Europe, working hard and saving every penny just to have the financial freedom to leave for a longer period, to work and experiment.

We Are From Latvia

How much stuff do you carry with you?

We travel lightly; my backpack is about 8 kilos, and Una’s is 7 kilos. That’s how we traveled in the winter in Italy, France, and Spain, when it was around 0 degrees and sometimes even -5 C. When we go to Asia our bags will be even lighter.

We figure that it’s better to feel bad one day when we miss something than to carry unnecessary things for months.

Your piece of advice for the people preparing for their first long-term travel?

Do not try to plan too much! Save some money, decide which region is most interesting for you, do a little research about it (visas, cost of living, etc.), buy a one way ticket, and just GO!

We Are From Latvia

About Kaspars and Una: Kaspars and Una are a traveling couple from Latvia. On October 2013, after giving away all their belongings and leaving their jobs, they went on a five month cycling adventure across India. Now, almost two years later, they are still on the road. Follow their adventures on WeAreFromLatvia.com. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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