Bogdan Budai: “I travelled to know and to find myself”

Forthcoming, sociable, nonconformist – that’s how Bogdan Budai described himself. He was inspired to travel by three different persons in three consequent months. Bogdan believes in coincidences. He thinks that they have a significance in everyone’s life and are signs from the universe. In November 2012, Bogdan met a girl who travelled in Europe alone, without any money, and her experiences made him think about this idea. In December, a friend came home from a journey through Europe with the same fascinating stories as the first one and in January he met Josh, a Canadian who also travelled without money and told him about the opportunity to do chores in exchange for accommodation and food.

“I also wanted to travel because I really appreciate the freedom we earned after the Revolution of 1989. I’m very fascinated by the Revolution and I have a great respect for what happened then. Another reason for travelling was to really know and find myself. I was afraid to show maybe ten percent of my personality, in order not to be judged by others. When I left, I realized that I have nothing to lose if I am truly myself. Travelling was a way of discovering who I am.”

Before his travels, Bogdan Budai was a volunteer and a member of the “Choose-life” Anti-Drugs Association, at the age of fourteen. At the same time, he was attracted to speleology and mountaineering, so he was already convinced that he loves adventure.

His parents were terrified at the beginning, especially his mom. A month before his leaving he told them about his plan. “Back then, there wasn’t a day in which my mom wouldn’t cry before we hang up the phone. An aunt thought that I wanted to kill myself because when I packed, I’ve donated everything else and I visited my relatives to say goodbye just because I had no idea when I was coming back.” Bogdan said that the most difficult part came when he had to tell to his older brother. He had always seen him as a role model, but then he became his biggest supporter.

“My first obstacle in my trip was leaving the country, because it was my first time, I used the website “” in order to know where to hitch. Loneliness was my biggest fear, not the possibility that I could be robbed, kidnapped or killed. I am a very sociable person and by that time I could say I was addicted to people. Maybe now I am too, but I’ve learned how to handle this. I was terrified that there will be moments when I was going to be alone with myself, but I think that the obstacles you encounter give you the opportunity to grow. In my case, this is what happened.”

He said it wasn’t hard to leave everything behind because of his determination to travel. This is the reason why he burned all the bridges: donated everything, quit his job, talked with his roommates a month before his departure. From a social perspective, he thought that he will never lose his truly friends, no matter where he goes.

“Back then I had a 2 months’ relationship and I will always respect that girl. When she saw that I wanted to travel, she encouraged me and told me that if I think to stay in Romania because of her, she will break up with me. I’ve put myself first and I think it’s a sane selfishness and I promote it. It’s good to be selfish and to take decisions that will make us feel better first, then everyone else. I’ve noticed that we tend to do the other way around. We first think how other people will feel if we take a certain decision and we make up our mind only after that.”

The most important thing he has learned from the trip was to accept his feelings and after that, to act responsibly. Bogdan said that the project “WorldWide HitchHicker” changed his life because he learned new things about him and about the world we live in. He said that the most interesting moment in his journey was when he spent a night in an abandoned house in Ljubljana with a couple of homeless by choice.

“Her husband, the guy she fell in love with was homeless. She had a house, but they decided to live like this and now and then they go to her parents’ house to bathe and eat, but 99 percent of the time are on the streets. I’ve liked to talk to them and I understood why some of them are drug addicts. Until you know them, you only judge them for what they do and what you see, but it’s important to know why. I’ve noticed a connection between addiction, abandonment and the lack of affection. No matter how trivial it may sound, the lack of love is the source of many problems. Because of it, they didn’t have moral, affective and physiologic support, role-models and other choices, so they only knew this path for dealing with their problems. They started with various chemicals when they were small, and they ended up by doing heroin. The couple said that they’re not addicted, but they take a dose once a month, when they have too many problems to handle. The girl said that if she didn’t have this, she would lose her minds and kill herself. And after someone tells you that, you understand. It doesn’t sound so wrong, it’s just sad that there are people who don’t have another choice.”

Bogdan said that he is now happy because he found a job which combines two of his passions: travels and public speaking. He gives workshops’ on how to travel without money and how to enjoy your truly self, in different cities in Romania. He wants to show people that what he did is possible for everyone who wants it bad enough.

Photos: Bogdan Budai’s personal archive