Hey there and welcome to my travel blog, self-titled ‘Danik the Explorer’ and if this is your first time coming across my blog then a huge welcome to you and I hope you will keep on following my adventures as well as checking out my photography, advice, guides amongst other things here. I am not one of those ‘big-time, full-time’ bloggers as I do have a ‘real’ job in central London but my life is devoted to travelling as well as keeping fit (I am also a marathon runner).
My name is ‘Danik’, well not really, it’s the Russian nickname for my real name ‘Daniel’ which was given to me back in 2006 and has kind of stuck and I come from one of the first ‘new’ towns of England, Stevenage, located 50km north of the British capital. Born in August 1982 in the small historic market town of Hitchin, UK, I am the eldest child in my family with two younger brothers.
Whilst growing up myself and my brothers were dragged all around our home island on caravan vacations and slugging it out in holiday camps whilst exploring the areas intensely. After my college days (where I obtained two A-levels in Leisure and Tourism and obtained an ABTA travel agency management certificate), I joined the movie industry by working in the local cinema in Stevenage before moving on to work in the railway industry in London, France and surrounding areas.
This is where I have remained but outside my ‘real’ job I do a lot of travelling (well, hence the travel blogging) a lot of photography, keeping fit by doing a lot of running, cycling and hiking as well as going to watch sports team like Stevenage FC in the English Football League, Dinamo Riga in the KHL ice hockey league in Latvia and sometimes the odd jaunt to watch Lille FC in France’s top football league.
I have done crazy things in the past like being smuggled into a Palestine backdoor from Israel instead of an official check-point, nearly hitting a turtle on an American highway at full speed, trekked in the Arctic, got stuck on an inhabited island in the Indian Ocean and got speeding fines in whilst driving cars in several countries. I have also ran up the Jungfrau mountain in Switzerland and cycled from my home town of Stevenage to Amsterdam (Netherlands) via France and Belgium in under four days.
How travel has changed my life
I haven’t tried the nomadic lifestyle (yet), or travelled for months on end as I haven’t had the chance to do so (relationships and mortgages do get in the way), but if I had the chance, I would take it. When I do get away be it a trip to a state park with a stately home in it in nearby London or flying to a tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I will always take it if given the opportunity. I have been pretty lucky so far with my job as I get ample of time off and get paid a good wage to pay the bills and travel.
I have read quite a few testimonials from other bloggers and everyone who does travel, they travel differently. It is true I am a different kind of traveler, I love to do a bit of everything from backpacking (sleeping at train stations in the middle of a European winter springs to mind), to being a typical tourist and checking out the sights (New York City comes to mind), working in a foreign country for a very short while (Paris & Lille in France was great in my younger and wilder days), to doing luxury resorts (Maldives) and hopefully soon I will do the Nomadic way or if can’t, to travel for longer periods of time.
Since I have left college I am not the same person as I used to be. I have grown up; I have learnt a lot whilst on the road, I am more eager, full of life and not the shy little boy anymore. Whilst growing up I travelled a lot with my family, most of it caravanning around my home islands and thanks to my parents by shoving an world atlas in my hands when I was a child, I was looking at places I could travel to when I was older. I also wanted to learn about new cultures and pick up new languages. I may not be great at them but I do pick up a few phrases. Still, the French language will always be my second language.
I find spending a short time in a city or a new country is not enough time to appreciate the area. When I first started travelling with no-frills airlines, I would do a day or two trips into Europe but felt after a while I was rushing my visits. Now when I plan trips, they are for longer! I have done a four week backpacking trip around south-eastern Europe, spent Christmas in the Maldives, road trip around New England in the States, travelled to the island of Svalbard in the Arctic, and spent some quality time in Tunisia taking in and sleeping in the Sahara desert.
I am not the sort of person who buys souvenirs whilst on the road. I like to create memories and hold onto them. I also love taking photos and I am lucky that looking at the photos I have taken, it doesn’t get mixed up on how I remember the place I have visited. I also love sharing my memories and experiences and decided that travel means the world to me so I have created a website so that anyone in the world can follow me if they like to. I have done some crazy things in the past like, jumping off boats in the sea, playing guitars in bars in Israel and Maldives and of course eating 50cm sausages in Moscow. I have so much more to do; my bucket list is getting longer and longer every day.
Will I have time to complete it? Probably not but one day when I am a lot older, I will look back and hopefully I can say, I lived my life and enjoyed every minute of it. For now, I am going with the flow and see where my life will lead me next but if it was not for the travelling, I be stuck in a 9 to 5 job, bored and getting drunk every Friday night. There is much more to life than doing the routine, born, school, job, married, have children and then die. My advice, take any chance given in life and take risks. It could be for the better.
What travel has taught me?
1) My British passport is very valuable document to have and I am lucky that I can travel anywhere in the world (even through some countries like to give me problems regarding visas and other documentations). Lose this and I am in huge trouble and also in a very sticky situation this can also cause huge problems!
2) Despite the fact I love to travel aboard, my own country (that is the United Kingdom) is in fact a pretty fantastic place to explore. I may live on a small island but with so much history, cultures, sights, food, and so forth, makes my home a fantastic place to visit and there is so much to love (like Stonehenge and the White Cliffs of Dover).
3) Every place I have visited I do not fall in love with the place or even like. In fact there have been a few places I dislike and it’s ok to dislike them. If I loved every place in the world, then traveling would be become boring for me.
4) Don’t always believe what the media says when they describe places which have troubles. Yes, there are people out there who kidnap tourists, pickpockets, scammers and places where terrorism is widespread, but don’t let this stop you! The world is not as scary as the media makes out to be (as I found out in Palestine and Ukraine).
5) When I was younger I thought traveling by myself would be boring and that I wouldn’t be capable of doing it! I thought I would have to travel with family and friends all the time. I was so wrong.
6) Budgeting is a major factor for me when traveling and one thing which helps me in this is staying in hostels. I love them but also hate them. They are very affordable, mostly located in centre of places and it’s a great place to meet other travelers.
7 ) When traveling, I found people in other countries not to be that much different from people back home. Yes, skin colour, religions, cultures, languages make us different but people still think about the same things like family, being successful etc. Not that different are we?
8) Certain parts of the world which has had a terrible time in the past should not stop visitors from visiting them. (Talking about conflicts here etc). Every country has its problems but don’t let it stop you. Also if you think you should not visit a country because it started a war two million years ago against the dinosaurs, then what drugs are you taking?
9) Is been British a positive thing or a negative thing when hitting the road? I would say this is a positive thing as we can basically travel anywhere in the world and I know the United Kingdom isn’t the best at doing world policies but this shouldn’t have a bearing on traveling. A lot of people I have encountered love Britain, especially our friends from across the pond.
10) I also learnt that I when visiting a new country, place with a culture I have not encountered on, then I must go there with an open mind. I learnt not to pass judgment until I have understood the locals way of life, religion and traditions.
11) Am I going to see the whole world? Probably not because our planet is big and if I did see everything, then I have to live to the age of 500 years old. It is a shame but I can live with it. On my death bed, I will look back and think I done this much on my travels in my life time, then I be happy with that!
12) I always have a saying that I will never return to the place I have just visited unless I got something to go back for. But if I do go back to places I have already visited then it’s ok because there is always something new to see.
13) My travel style isn’t compared to anyone else’s. I don’t do certain things whilst traveling such as ‘I just check out the restaurants in new places and do nothing else’ or ‘just do backpacking holidays’ etc. I do a mixture from traveling luxury to sleeping it out on airport benches inside terminal buildings. There is no ‘right way’ about how to travel. It’s taken me a while to drum that in my head but I got there in the end and I am still learning whilst life goes on.
14) Technology has changed the way I have traveled. I was regarded as a C.U.#.T a few years (Can’t Understand New Technology) but now with smart phones, laptops, I can keep up to date on updating blogs, taking photos and posting them on Instagram, tweet and post when I want to (that’s if I want to). I can still live with technology but its handy to have now especially if I need to check out a map on the phone (as long as I have a signal).
15) Going back to point 14, reading a map is crucial. Without the skills of map reading, I would still be wandering around the Sahara desert looking for a way home.
16)I love getting lost and never follow a plan. This way I find new things like crazy looking buildings, cheaper priced and better restaurants and also this could take me away from the tourist traps. As long as I don’t walk into a danger zone then I am fine.
17) Have I made friends on route – yes and some of them are great friends who I have kept regularly in contact. Also it is great to make new friends in other countries as you never know when you might need their help or advice or vise versa.
18) When I go to new places such as the Middle East or Asia or Africa, then yes, nerves do set in. It’s totally different compared to Europe like language barriers, culture, food, etc but I am the kind of person who can adapt very quickly (well, the food side I am a bit slow on) and the nerves soon disappear.
19) I have also learnt that people back home never quite understand me unless they travel themselves (noticeably the family sometimes). In all fairness, I am the only person who can truly appreciate on where I have been and what I have done. There is always something from my travels I want to tell the guys back home but most of time they are not really that interested as they might be jealous, or prefer to get on with their daily lives, so because of this I have had to come to terms and just remember not to be too hyper when I return home.
20) I get a lot of people back home telling me how they wish they could travel all the time! I hate this! Stop making excuses and get out there and do it. There are many different ways to travel, even if its traveling to the city next door, it is still traveling.
21) Whilst traveling, it has changed my life. It has inspire changes in my life, to do things I would never think of doing, to go to places I have never think of going to before, to try new foods I wouldn’t dare to it, I will say it again – Travel will change your life! It has mine!