Hello everyone, I am here with another article! But this time I am not taking you to a camp. Instead, we are on a little bit more international route. What is more, we are doing this by living on the money that you spend for 2 days of the weekend for a month. If you’ve started wondering who this person is, let me introduce you Traveller Kutluhan Özdemir, who starts traveling with the motto “Traveling the world for $140 a month.” I’ve met Kutluhan Özdemir when he has already been traveling for 6 months. If I remember it right, it must have been almost 2 years since he started doing this. Then I realized that we have been chatting online since I first followed him. I told him about this blog that I created. There are many websites posting articles about him. “I also wanna do it”, I told him and here is our tiny little interview. Hope you like it!
Among all travelers, I am especially interested in the ones that travel with a little amount of money. The ones who only visit the luxurious or touristic places with their huge amounts of money are not travelers for me, they are only rich. But the ones traveling to the places that they don’t know with a plan, little money, and one-way ticket, like Kutluhan Özdemir, are the real travelers! Like most travelers, Kutluhan started his journey with places in South America which has no visa requirement. Like all other travelers, Kutluhan Özdemir said no to the system and urban life and started his journey.
Let’s begin with the questions!
How did you decide to travel the world?
The world is a beautiful place where our soul and body exist only temporarily. It is our home where one can find some part of himself, discover himself on every parcel and where miracles happen at any moment. It would be injustice first to the world than to ourselves to spend all our lives in the same place. My idea of traveling the world is just the natural outcome of my journey of honoring the body and making my existence more meaningful.
Can you introduce yourself? But I would be glad if you do it in a way different from usual blog articles. Along with explaining where you are from, how old you are, whether you are a student or not, can you tell me whether you had this traveling dream when you were a kid?
Hi, I am Kutluhan Özdemir. I was born and grew up in Adana ve I spent my time there until university. Then, for university and some work experience, I shifted to Istanbul when I was 17. I studied Math. While I was a student and after I graduated, I had a number of setting up a business and going to the wall experience. I have this interested in traveling ever since I could remember. The travel to the soul with which one discovers himself can only be done through isolation from the urban and embracing a more minimal way of living.
The quest of finding myself has pushed me to see and experience the ways people live back of the beyond. I traveled alone for the first time when I was 14. I spent summer visiting the Anatolian villages, and then I walked on Lycian Way and Royal Way. After having seen all those Anatolian people who let me stay at their homes, being a part of their lives and having such a cultural background made me deeply happy. I did not want this experience to be limited to Anatolia only and I decided to travel the world when I was chatting with a couple of people who lived in a village with few populations and let me stay at their home.
I traveled abroad for the first time when I attended a conference in Germany when I was 19. Since then, I’ve been to Europe so many times, I passed through Balkans by hitchhiking. That time when I was camping on a mountain in Bosnia, I decided to go further away. Since that day I’ve been trying to do what is necessary. I’ve started to look for the ways through which I can learn languages besides English and live using as little money as possible. I am 26 now, and I spent 1,5 years on the way without a break and in total, I spent roughly 3 years on the way.
When have you started doing this?
I took my backpack and left my beautiful country in April 2015. Since then, I’ve been traveling.
Did you first plan to visit a couple of cities? And then did it turn into this journey?
I started traveling with no day limitations, I am planning to stop whenever I think “okay, now I want to stop.” I am still doing it right now.
To where was your first travel?
My first travel was to South Brasil, Sao Paulo. It wasn’t actually my personal choice, it was more about the suitable conditions of the country. And what is more, the plane ticket was the cheapest among others. I spoke Italian and English before this travel. Portuguese that is spoken in South Brasil is so close to Italian and easy to understand. Considering all these, I set off on the 1st of April.
Did you have any money at the beginning? Did you start working out of necessity when you ran out of money?
After I bought my plane ticket, I had ₺2000 (almost $700). I started helping people in return for a bed and food, not for money. Actually, I don’t consider this as working, this was more like being a part of their lives and living the way they live which is the motto of my travels.
Back then, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to earn money. My only advantage was the fact that I didn’t pay for accommodation or food during the day. Then, I realized that what I need for traveling the world is courage, loving people, behaving with good intentions, never giving up.
Where did you work until now?
- I worked in a reception in a hostel.
- I rented surfboards, surf clothes, and bikes to the tourists in the hostel.
- I collected sugar cane and coconut and I sold their juice.
- I worked in the field.
- I did paint and whitewash.
- I did English, Italian, and Spanish translations.
- I gave conferences on how to do dry toilets.
- I changed money with the commission with the tourists who wanted to change money.
- I made cheese and ice cream, unreeled goats.
- I constructed houses with natural materials and gave seminars about this.
- I taught English to children.
- I was a horse-sitter.
- I worked in natural agriculture and permaculture fields.
- I made web design.
- I fished with Amazon tribes and sold them.
- I think there are some that I forgot to mention 🙂
Which countries have you been to and where are you now? Are you planning to continue?
I traveled to all Europe and the Balkans and then I went to South America with the aim of spending quite a long time there. So far, I’ve been to Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, and Panama in South America. Almost 3 weeks ago, the natural agriculture project that I designed got accepted and I got financial support from the European Union, that’s why I am in Europe right now. It is not that hard to realize that people integrated in European culture are unfortunately alienated from themselves and isolated from people around them. I will be in Europe for a while – at least during the grounding and development of my project- and then I am planning to travel to the Asian continent. I am thinking of discovering every part and parcel starting from Mongolia to Japan.
Have you ever had a problem with the food? I am not asking whether you found something to eat or not. Rather, I am asking whether you could find proper food for your culture and religion.
My approach to food is the same as my approach to life. I know that there is no way I could find the taste of simple, natural food in anything else. My diet mostly includes grain, fruits, and vegetables. I also try to eat fish whenever possible. I do not eat meat, milk, sugar, etc., that’s why so far the food hasn’t been a problem for me in terms of culture and religion.
What is the most delicious and tasteless food making you think “what did I just eat?” ?
I will tell the worst dishes I’ve ever had:
2. Donkey testicles
What is this thing about traveling the world for only $140 a month?
A couple of months after I started traveling, I took a look at my expenses and I realized that I only spent roughly $140 a month. $140 a month was the result of a very natural process. Then I decided to share it with people and “$140 a month” has become my title.
In the first 9 months, you only spent $140 a month. Has that changed or it is still $140?
I can say that nowadays I do not really spend money. I am a seller in the market (more like a bazaar) in return for which my employer pays for everything including accommodation, food, etc.
If I remember right, when you first got there, you were most of the time eating rice. What is the situation right now?
It is the same with rice since I don’t think a diet without grains could ever be healthy.
Which countries do you like the most?
The whole world, I think. On every corner of the world, one can find some part of himself and of the place that they come from. Beyond the geographical boundaries, I can say that I like the Amazons and the tropical climate of Caribbeans the most. It is priceless to witness the strongest state of nature and experience the magic by looking at that existence.
Do you have unforgettable memories? Could you tell me the most unforgettable one?
I can say that one month I spent on the border between Panama and Columbia was unforgettable. A fishing town where only 200 people live, the glimpses of civilization can only be seen after 2 hours of the voyage, and the forest where you can find uncountable numbers of animals…
Carrying water from the founts during the aurora that the sun creates by gradually rising in the morning and the little monkey family coming to the mango tree near me and feeding themselves with all these chirps during when the sun says goodbye to the sea lying there as calm as millpond… These are unforgettable moments for me.
I guess people will get curious about visas. We don’t need to get a visa from South America. Are there any limitations to the duration of stay? And also, I am really happy for you that you’ll be in Italy for a while and you also got the residence permit. You are such a brave and hardworking person, all the best!
In South America, you are allowed to stay for only 3 months but you can extend this period of time by going out and then going into the country again. My plan is to settle in Portugal. We’ll see how it is going to happen…
How did you go transfer from one country to the other? Did you have any problems with bureaucracy?
I usually travel in the cheapest way possible. It is sometimes by train, bus, and sometimes by hitchhiking. When I am to transfer from one country to the other, I use one of these ways. So far, I haven’t had any problems with bureaucracy. And there are so many people asking about how I handle the visa stuff but I should emphasize that we are not required to get a visa from any of the countries in South America. You are also allowed to travel to most countries in Middle America without any visa. This is also true for some of the Asian countries.
I should also say that I went into Panama a couple of times without my passport.
Have you used methods like working in return for food and accommodation like Workaway?
I’ve always been using Workaway, Helpx, and Wwofing.
Do you miss it here or your family? What did your mother think at the beginning? She is a Turkish mother anyhow, she must be worried.
I think it is impossible for a mother to simply accept this situation. It was really hard to explain all these things to her. I can say that she accepted quite reluctantly, nowadays I’ve realized that I miss my mother so much. It’s been almost 2 years that we are not together.
Could you explain to our readers why you do not accept sponsorship or anything like that?
At first, my aim was to reach as many people as possible. Through time, I’ve noticed that I have nothing to do with people anymore. Believe me, I don’t have any expectations. I don’t really care about being followed, liked, sponsorships, earning money, etc. When I first started this journey, I did not aim to travel and find sponsorship. I was just trying to show people that a different kind of life is possible. Not living according to your working hours, but living free…
In time, I’ve noticed that travel blogs are nothing more than those ridiculous tv series and tv shows. People do not really care about anything. Those who have the slightest interest just glance at some photos, that’s all. In short, I gave up. I don’t have anything to explain to people anymore; my only desire is to have a parcel of the earth on which I will create my own heaven and live there peacefully.
Office life and monotonous working life exhaust people most of the time. We are all required to spend the day in the office in order to handle a task which we can actually finish in 3 or 4 hours. So, we just sit there in the office because of the system instead of going out, enjoying the important moment, enjoying the sunny weather. Now I am a little bit speaking ill of all these but can you tell me how would you feel if you came back to Turkey and started working in an office from 9 in the morning to 6? Living so free, you would even find the idea of doing this to yourself terrible, I guess.
There is no such life for me after this point. I will get my own land and I will live in nature as soon as possible.
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