‘Don’t take anything that is not a photo, don’t kill anything but time, don’t leave anything but your imperceptible footprint.’ – this is the approach of a pre-COVID full-time traveler Rita Kulesovaite. At first, it might sound romantic, yet after visiting 76 countries worldwide, Rita refined what traveling is about for her. Even though the situation changed, Rita is optimistic and has found other ways to enjoy the joy of discovery. Rita shares her experience and somehow makes everything feel so simple yet extraordinary.
Rita, you have already visited 76 countries. How has your journey around the world started? Was it always your dream and desire to see what else is there?
I would say it started quite spontaneously. After finishing university and juggling various full-time jobs, I felt burnt out that led me towards deciding to take time off and finally travel. It didn’t feel like I was running away at that time, but now I understand that I needed peace and to slow down.
I went to Malta for a few days and met a fellow Lithuanian girl who admired my travel plan and randomly asked if she can join – we ended up as travel companions and are best friends to this day.
What kind of traveler would you say you are?
Explorer, wanderer, curious one, and most of all – a slow traveler. I prefer spending time in each destination rather than collecting as many stamps as possible.
The common perception about traveling is that it requires a lot of money. How did you manage to visit so many countries and not get broke?
It’s all about how smart you are with your finances. Travel does cost money for sure, but you don’t need loads. Budgeting and making compromises is the key to saving money. I started traveling only from savings, and like most backpackers, I stayed in hostels, ate street food, volunteered, and avoided paid tours. Later on, I realized that traveling is my passion, and to continue such a lifestyle – I need to work. That’s where my digital nomad career has started.
What is the first thing you do when deciding to go on the trip?
I do research. Getting all the information is a deciding factor of whether I choose to go there or not. Airfare costs, seasons, and what’s nearby that country in most important information I look for.
Name three things you cannot travel without.
My phone, lucky charm, and refillable water bottle. I also need air plugs but can’t decide which item to cross over instead!
What is your funniest or most embarrassing moment while traveling?
There was a time in Australia when I was casually walking by the beach and saw a classmate from school. It was an awe moment on how small the world is!
The embarrassing situation that happened a few times was at the airport. I travel light, and it raises a red flag especially entering wealthy countries. I got stopped and interrogated with questions such as: how much money do I have, and if I was a lawyer back in the UK, how come I don’t look like one?
It is difficult to avoid the Covid-19 topic these days. How has the global pandemic changed your habits? Have you found other ways to feel the joy of exploration?
The pandemic topic is simply unavoidable. At the beginning of it all, I went from being a full-time traveler to a little caged bird. Borders closed, but I kept saying it’s temporary until I came to peace that it isn’t and started looking for ways to cure the itchy feet. For the whole summer, I explored my home country and then started making short trips around Europe. It was a perfect time to do so as destinations that are usually super busy in summer were empty. Thus, I got an opportunity to see the beauty without tourists around.
Moreover, I started reading travel/history books to deepen my knowledge about the world and particular destinations.
I also had an opportunity to deliver seminars remotely to high school students in Lithuania, which was an incredible experience!
How has traveling changed in general over the years (putting the pandemic aside)? What have you noticed?
People became picture obsessed, image over the moment, over feeling. It became accessible to everyone, which isn’t a bad thing till mass traveling happens and places get overpopulated, losing their charm.
The first time, a decade ago, I went to my favorite place Bali (which later become a second home) – it was full of wild beaches. It mesmerized me and made me feel like I’m far away from civilization. Years went by, and I could see the infrastructure rolling in, resorts and bars taking over inhabited sands, and that magical feeling of wilderness & remoteness got taken away with it.
Tell me one thing that makes you angry while traveling.
I am a happy person, you know. But what makes me sad, rather than angry – are ignorant people who don’t respect the country they’re in. I believe in this approach – Don’t take anything that is not a photo, don’t kill anything but time, don’t leave anything but your imperceptible footprint.
Which destinations are next on your list, and what is one thing that you find exciting about them?
旅行することは生きることです (Ryokō suru koto wa ikiru kotodesu.) Japan! I’ve been to the Okinawa islands a few years ago but never visited the mainland. All attempts to go have been canceled so far. Japan strikes me as a different world full of exciting beauty, culture, and chaos. Also high on my list is Egypt – not resorts or camels – I want to slow travel around the whole country and see the hidden gems.
What is the one piece of advice you would give for someone going on the trip?
Research to know where you’re going and what to see. Take time to read other traveler blogs. Don’t over-plan, and don’t overpack – less is more. Respect the differences traveling brings, and most of all – be open-minded, and new experiences will help you see the world in different colors.