What’s better than getting the chance to travel the world? Well, it’s only getting to travel the world with your partner! Sebastiaan Rijntjes and Alexandra Reynolds are known for their curiosity and courage, not only for dropping everything to travel but for visiting some of the most non-touristy destinations in the process.
Connecting for the #IamLivingIt series, we from Team Livingit got in touch with Sebastiaan, with stories on how he got to where he is today, his love for backpacking and his passion for adventure.
Their blog, Lost With A Purpose, describes their expeditions, good and bad, with or without plans….
Livingit: Tell us something about yourself.
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: Hi there, I’m Sebastiaan, and I form one-half of the travel blogger duo Lost With Purpose. The other (better) half is Alex, my girlfriend. I’m from the Netherlands, she’s from the US. We’ve been travelling for more than a year now, visiting places such as Armenia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and India.
Livingit: What first drew you to Backpacking and how did you discover it?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: The first time I went backpacking was in 2007. I had just finished high school and didn’t feel like starting university yet. So instead, I used some of the money I saved to go on a 4 month trip to Australia, Thailand and Indonesia.
While travelling, I decided that 4 months weren’t enough. So instead of enrolling in university when I got back, I started working full-time to fund my second trip. This time I went to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Needless to say, the travel bug really got me, and I tried to travel as much as I could while studying in university. I even took up a course in Thailand (where I met Alex) and did an internship in Vietnam. I think it’s safe to say I really love travelling.
Livingit: Do you prefer to go solo or with friends? How different are the two types of experiences?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: My first two trips I did were solo. I love not having to take anything or anyone else into account, and being completely free to do whatever I want. People often ask me whether I got lonely, but since there are so many other people travelling in the region, there’s always someone to meet up with.
Now I travel together with Alex, which is quite a different experience. You have to take each other’s needs, likes and dislikes, into account, and since we’re travelling in less-visited regions, we’re basically together 24/7. There are some struggles, and sometimes you wish you were alone, but I can’t say I have a preference for one over the other.
I would recommend everyone to try solo travel at least once, as it’s a great way to step outside of your comfort zone and teach you some social skills to boot.
Livingit: Tell us something about your gear – your current collection/brands you use.
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: I’m not very particular when it comes gear. As long as it works it’ fine by me. Incidentally, we both have Osprey backpacks, but this is more a coincidence than it is an active choice.
We try to travel lightly, but as travel bloggers, that’s nearly impossible. Our travel backpacks are quite light, but our normal backpacks are bulky and full of electronics. Sometimes I miss the days where I travelled with only an analogue alarm clock.
Livingit: How do you stay fit/train for your backpack trips?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: I am pretty lazy, and don’t do any sports. I used to cycle to work if that counts. Alex is more of a fitness freak and tries to run every day. We don’t do anything extra to prepare for our trips.
Livingit: What is one of the craziest experiences you have had during your trips? Could you elaborate a bit?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: One of the most intense parts of our trip was crossing the Iran – Pakistan border. The border is in the Baluchistan province, which hugs Afghanistan. Needless to say, it’s not the safest place on earth.
The entire journey took us five days, and we were under 24/7 police surveillance. We had to switch cars 25 times and had to register at 12 different checkpoints. Most of our days were spent in the back of a pick-up truck with an armed guard or holed up in a hotel waiting for the police to escort us to get the necessary permission slips to move on. Needless to say, quite an adventure.
Livingit: What is one of your best backpacking memories?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: There really are too many memories to pick just one. People all over the world have been incredibly kind to us, shown us around, fed us, and gave us a place to stay.
Travelling shows you that no matter where we’re from, what our backgrounds are, or how we look, in the end, we’re all people. We all want to hang out with friends. We all want to make sure our family is doing well. We all want to have a nice hot meal at the end of the day.
Being reminded of this on a daily basis is something I will cherish for a long time, and is probably the best memory travel can produce.
Livingit: What was one of your worst experiences while on a backpacking trip and how did you overcome it?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: Most of our bad experiences involve illness. Travel just isn’t fun when you’re incapable of moving, and the only place you want to be is the toilet. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about it. You just have to sit it out, and hope it’s not Ebola.
Livingit: How do you deal with unpredictable factors such as the weather while on a trip?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: Just go with the flow. That’s one of the nice things about long term travel, you don’t have to go anywhere quickly. Sometimes it can be annoying when the bus breaks down, or when it rains while you’re on a hike, but in the long run, it’s pretty insignificant.
We do know people that let these factors influence their experience to the point where it becomes a hindrance. We think that everything can be seen as an experience, and sometimes the unpredictable can lead to unforeseen encounters that end up creating awesome memories.
Livingit: How do you plan for your trips in terms of overnight stay, finances, route…etc?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: We’re terrible at planning, hence our name Lost With Purpose. We usually have a vague idea of where we want to go, and how to get there, but nothing is set in stone.
What we are good at is financial planning. I especially like to know how much things costs, and how much we’re spending. I keep a spreadsheet of all the expenses we make so that we have a good overview of how much everything costs.
Livingit: What advice would you give a fellow aspiring backpacker?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: Don’t plan too much. Some people tend to over plan everything. They create their entire itinerary weeks before they head out, book accommodation well in advance, and stress over the smallest details.
We think travel works best when you let it happen. Sure, some planning is essential, but going with the flow will yield the most unexpected and fun experiences, in our opinion anyway.
Livingit: What are 5 essentials to pack while backpacking?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: A Powerbank, headlight, sleeping bag, book, water bottle and aspirin.
Livingit: What places are next on your bucket list?
Sebastiaan Rijntjes: Our bucket list is seemingly endless. We want to see the world, and if possible beyond (we’d love to travel to space one day, but don’t think our finances will let us). For now, we’re still enjoying India, and are planning to visit Nepal and head back to Pakistan. After that we hope to settle for a while in Georgia, to replenish our funds and work on monetizing our travel blog.
Not only do their adventures bring a sense of wonder but, also inspires us to go wandering. Taking the less traveled road, making experiences, friends and memories along the way. But most importantly, the life skills it teaches us. One day you say, well, that day is today, start packing and start planning…wait don’t plan, just start living it!
Lost With A Purpose , really brings out the wanderlust in all of us.
Also read: Outdoor Adventures with Rohan Ratnapal
If I were you, I would start packing, leave the planning for later!