Meet Sandra Budžytė. She’s the kind of person who thinks saving the nice cutlery or THAT special dress for a one-day a year occasion is pointless, because you never know what tomorrow may bring. She’s the kind of girl who embraces imperfection and difficult circumstances, transforming them into positive memories. She doesn’t live her life for tomorrow, she lives it for today, because who knows what the future may hold…
Sandra is a 25 year old Lithuanian who left her home country after finishing high school to participate in EVS volunteer programs: two short-term in Greece and Poland and one long-term in Kenya. She’s been travelling on a budget for the past 6 years, funded first by the program organisers during her projects and following that, hitchhiking her way around Europe. A roamer at heart, she currently lives in London, where we caught up with her for a quick chat…
What inspired you to leave home and start travelling?
I think I’ve always had this wanderlust inside me. I would just read or watch movies about people who explored the world and felt a craving to have a similar experience. I thought, “if they’re doing this, why can’t I?”. So one day, I did.
Financially, how did you manage?
Funnily enough, money wasn’t the first thing I thought about. I always knew there were so many ways to travel without having a single cent in your pocket, and I kind of just had faith that the universe would take care of me. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true: you just happen to be at the right place at the right time, and the less you stress about it, the better it works. Money makes travel more comfortable for sure, but for me personally it makes it more boring. If I had the choice to travel in luxury, I wouldn’t. The best experiences I’ve had were when I was completely broke and met wonderful people.
When you’d be in a situation where you would literally be money-less and couldn’t pay a ticket back home, what would you do?
I’ve had that. Of course you naturally feel frustrated and at that point you might think “why don’t I live a normal life” and “why am I doing this to myself?” But at that moment, I still believe that one day this will be the best memory of my life since I’ll have faced a challenging situation, and still somehow managed to find a solution. Also, to be honest, I think I’m f’ing lucky most of the time…
Tell us a story of when something totally unplanned happened and it ended up being wonderful…
Oh my god, there are so many! I don’t like to plan anymore when I travel, I just go with the flow. To give you an example, a few summers ago I wanted to hitchhike around Europe, so I did, and it ended up taking me all the way to Morocco. I hadn’t planned to, but I felt like it at the time. When I arrived, I was instantly charmed by this country full of life and excitement. I met so many wonderful people and visited the lovely cities of Casablanca and Rabat. The country has so much to offer that I ended up staying there for 2 months with only 20 euros in my pocket. How’s that for an unplanned holiday?
How would you describe the way in which you live your life?
On the edge! I feel like my life is really unpredictable and spontaneous, but at the same time right now I feel like I have a goal that keeps me focused for what seems like the first time in my life (saving money to fund a degree in African studies). I’m moving towards a direction but at the same time I try to have a good time and take the best out of every experience.
Does this make you happy?
It might sound strange to some people, the way I describe my life – inconstant and without a routine- but I feel very calm inside. I have inner peace and happiness because I appreciate every moment and turn mistakes into life-lessons. During these years of alternative lifestyle, I’ve learnt that if you worry about tomorrow, it won’t make it easier to face it. Dealing with unplanned situations is also what makes you stronger as a person.
Do you have a secret to taking more risks in life and living more according to your heart and not your head?
In general, I like to take risks. It’s like this adrenaline shot that I’m addicted to. I feel like if I’m not being spontaneous then my life is dull and boring and I’m always in need of something. Pushing my boundaries, that’s what life is all about for me. Taking risks is cool, it spices up life, makes it more enjoyable.
What is your biggest regret?
Maybe it’s my fatalist side but I don’t believe in regrets – what’s the point? Of course I’ve made mistakes but why would I let them drown me down? Why should I sit down and allow myself to analyse the situation when I could be living my life. When I reflect on my lifestyle and get frustrated that at 25 years old, when all my schoolmates have graduated and established a life, I’m still starting new beginnings, I feel like I shouldn’t regret because whilst they were studying, I was out having life experiences that changed me as a person.
If you had an advice to give to someone about living with no regrets, what would it be?
I can say any cliché thing like follow your heart but you just have to basically listen to yourself and not be afraid. At first, the fear of making a mistake and thinking you can’t make up for it was hard to get over, but I realised I had to stop overreacting. We actually live in a world spoiled by choices so if you don’t like how you live, then make a change! I used to think “Oh, I have to do this, because everyone else is doing it”, but once you free yourself from this mind-set and realise that you’re not forced into anything, there’s really no excuse not to do whatever you want with your life.
Want to take a lesson out of Sandra’s books and have your own no regrets travel experience? Head on over to www.contiki.com/thetravelproject, where we’re challenging some familiar faces to travel Europe with absolutely no regrets.