October 3, 2022
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(CNN) — He set off on a round-the-world journey in December 2012 and, nearly a decade later, traveler Tom Grond continues to be globetrotting.

The Dutch blogger, who beforehand labored for the Netherlands authorities, now describes himself as a nomad and says he has no plans to return to his former life.

Grond has traveled to round 130 completely different international locations, together with Syria, Jordan, Colombia and Burkina Faso, and as soon as took 58 flights in a yr.

Earlier than setting off on his ongoing journey, he’d saved sufficient cash to maintain a lifetime of journey repeatedly for round three years, and set himself a $30 a day finances.

Like many backpackers, Grond, generally known as “Traveltomtom,” stayed in hostels and lived as frugally as he presumably may to maintain prices down.

“Individuals assume you will need to have come from a wealthy household,” he says. “Sure, I’m very privileged. I’m from the Netherlands, so I’ve a extremely good passport.

“And I saved some huge cash to go touring. However I restricted myself to residing on a finances. That’s what truly stored me on the street for so many years.”

Nomad way of life

(*10*)

Tom Grond has been touring the world for nearly 10 years, however he says it was his 2019 journey to Syria that had the largest affect.

Tom Grond

As social media started to evolve within the 2010s, and platforms like Instagram gained traction, Grond realized that he may earn cash by writing and posting about his adventures around the globe.

“I used to be already touring and posting images of cool locations anyway,” he notes.

Grond launched an Instagram account in 2014 and shortly constructed up a big following, gaining round 30,000 followers in a comparatively quick house of time.

Again then, though journey running a blog was positively not a brand new phenomenon, “journey influencers” who make a residing by sharing their globetrotting experiences on social media and private blogs or vlogs had been rising in prominence.

In consequence, Grond discovered himself being approached by lodges and organizations providing free stays and experiences in change for promotion.

“I couldn’t imagine my luck,” he admits. “At first I cherished it. Individuals would acknowledge me, which is admittedly cool.”

However Grond started to wrestle with the strain of getting to consistently produce content material for social media and located this explicit way of life was not sustainable for him.

He launched his weblog Traveltomtom, the place he shares updates on his adventures around the globe, in 2016, and is now capable of fund a lot of his travels by the earnings it generates.

“The weblog is the key of being a full-time nomad [for me] actually,” he admits. “I’m tremendous blissful.”

Nevertheless, he nonetheless makes use of Instagram, in addition to TikTok, to publish about his travels, and has round 300,000 followers mixed throughout the platforms.

This finally means he’s advanced from a backpacker to what he describes as a “mid-range traveler,” and his days of staying in packed dorms are behind him.

“I did it for three or 4 years, most likely, and I cherished it,” he says. “You meet so many attention-grabbing folks, you get impressed by different vacationers.

“It’s an effective way of exploring international locations. You might have essentially the most wonderful adventures. I sort of miss these days. However I don’t wish to sleep in a dorm room anymore.”

Continuous goodbyes

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Grond has visited nearly 130 international locations, together with Myanmar.

Tom Grond

His lodgings could also be fancier now, however Grond says his strategy to journey hasn’t actually modified.

“I nonetheless wish to discover and meet native folks and see what their life is like,” he says. “With out this ardour, I’d have stopped doing this a very long time in the past.”

In fact, it’s not simply the social media panorama that has modified whereas Grond has been on the street. The international pandemic led to the world being just about dropped at a standstill in 2020, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has introduced but extra uncertainty over worldwide journey.

However whereas restrictions meant he was lastly compelled to remain in a single place for quite a lot of weeks, Grond hopped on a aircraft as quickly as he was capable of, touring to locations like Mexico and Turkey, the place Covid-19 restrictions had been much less stringent.

Though he’s dedicated to the nomad way of life, Grond factors out that one of many downsides to consistently being on the transfer is that relationships could be a wrestle, admitting he’s turn out to be extra conscious of this as he’s gotten older.

“It’s unattainable to take care of a relationship,” he says. “Positive, everyone seems to be inside attain with WhatsApp and social media these days, however I’m shifting to a brand new place each couple of weeks, typically each couple of days.

“It may be troublesome if you happen to meet somebody that you just like to hang around with. You’re mainly all the time saying goodbye. Each few days, I’m saying goodbye to folks. It has been a wrestle.”

And whereas he’s had primarily optimistic experiences throughout his travels, there have been a couple of setbacks alongside the best way.

Grond says he was not too long ago detained by immigration police in Gabon, a rustic positioned on the west coast of Africa, because of a misunderstanding, and the ordeal made him all the extra conscious of simply how far-off he’s from his family members.

Nevertheless, he stresses that the positives far outweigh any negatives, and he’s consistently in contact along with his household and pals again house, in addition to the chums he’s made on his travels.

“I don’t have time to overlook folks,” he says.

Altering perceptions

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Grond says he has no plans to return to his former lifer, and considers himself a “nomad”.

Tom Grond

Of the numerous locations he’s been to, Grond says it was Syria that had the largest affect on him.

Whereas all journey to the nation is currently advised against as a result of ongoing battle, he was capable of go to in 2019 after discovering a tour company who had been prepared to rearrange a visa and take him round.

“It was a extremely costly journey,” he explains. “I needed to pay for safety and every kind of issues, however it was all value it. A few of the cities had been fully destroyed.

“There was nothing left however a pair buildings. The whole lot was simply fully in ruins. However seeing the dedication and the boldness that the locals we met nonetheless had was simply insane.

“They’d nothing left, however they had been decided to construct up their lives once more, and assured that all the pieces may return to regular. That was a visit that positively formed me in some ways.”

After his go to to Syria, Grond traveled to Pakistan and Iraq, and was struck by the response his on-line posts acquired from these with preconceptions about these explicit locations.

Though he’d already been touring for seven years, it was at this level that he determined he needed to go to each nation on the earth.

“It’s truly cool to go to those locations and alter perceptions,” he explains. “In order that acquired me impressed so much. I needed to go all over the place to indicate folks what it’s actually like in these locations.”

However Grond is in no hurry to finish this explicit problem. In actual fact, he plans to take his time, and is disheartened when he comes throughout different vacationers who seem like racing their approach across the globe to be able to tick international locations off their bucket checklist.

“I left that rat race of life when it comes to getting a level, getting a job, having a profession and a household,” he says.

Steady adventures

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Grond visited his one centesimal nation, Jordan, in 2019.

Tom Grond

“However once I see all these folks on-line making an attempt to go to each nation on the earth, it feels prefer it turns into concerning the quantity [to them]. Each individual is asking ‘what number of international locations have you ever been to?’ I don’t wish to be a part of a rat race once more.”

He says he’s been to at the least 71 of the nearly 130 international locations he’s traveled to greater than as soon as and can typically return to locations he’s notably keen on.

“I’ve been to Pakistan 4 instances,” he says. “I went to Thailand 17 instances and I’m going to Turkey a pair instances a yr. I like Istanbul.”

Grond tries to not plan too far upfront and sometimes has no concept the place he’ll be staying, or the place he’ll be in per week or so. He’s at the moment in Panama, however will probably be flying to Bogota within the coming days after which shifting on to Paraguay.

“The tough plan is to spend a few weeks in South America, and somewhat little bit of time in Central America. Then I’ll truly go to see my household [in the Netherlands].”

He’ll even be heading to West Africa within the coming months, and plans to spend eight weeks touring to locations like Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, in addition to Equatorial Guinea.

“I’m actually excited to return to Africa,” he says. “It has been a extremely, actually attention-grabbing a part of my travels within the final two years.

“Individuals all the time ask me once I’ll go house. However I don’t have a house, and I don’t know once I’ll cease touring.”

Grond will formally rejoice a decade on the street in December, so will he be marking that day in any particular approach?

“I haven’t actually considered it,” he says. “I don’t even know the place I’m staying within the subsequent couple of days. Quickly I’ll have handed 3,333 days of steady journey. In actual fact, it could have already handed. I’m probably not positive. Nevertheless it’s a cool quantity anyway.”

Prime picture: Grond in Burkina Faso. Credit score: Tom Grond

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