Interview with Vlad from vladcraciun

21 Sep

Vlad lives in Sibiu, where he works as a mountain guide and as a freelance content and copywriter. He is passionate about mountains and writing, loves flying, mountain biking, motorcycles, hiking, rock climbing, ski touring, swimming, running, and even sitting on a beach by the ocean doing nothing. Apart from all that, some of his daily activities include reading, learning other languages, photography, playing guitar, and traveling when possible.

Vlad is chill, organized, and loves a good challenge. He seems to be an introvert but he actually loves connecting with people on a more authentic level. He also is a minimalist and lover of simplicity, that’s why he tends to accumulate experiences rather than things. He started his blog Vlad Crăciun as a comfort zone challenge a few years back. There you will find his good stories and anything that crosses his mind.

Vlad Craciun at the Balea Lake, in the Fagarasi Mountains, Romania

Vlad Craciun at the Balea Lake, in the Fagarasi Mountains, Romania

Let’s hear what Vlad has to say about life, travel, and authentic travels.

What’s your concept of life?

Life is survival. The rest are stories – some of them remarkably good. For example, the creationist theory with God who created the world, Adam and Eve, the animals, and everything else. That’s probably the best story man has ever told and believed. Or there is the story of Icarus, or Zeus and Hercules and the Greek Gods. Then, there are all kinds of other modern stories, from the Big Bang theory to Apple.

Do you have a life motto? How do you integrate it into your present life?

I used to have many life mottos but one has stuck with me. It’s from the best travel book I’ve ever read (Vând Kilometri – ‘Selling Kilometers’ by Mihai Barbu, a Romanian photojournalist). After returning from his four-and-a-half-month motorbike trip to Mongolia and back, he said that during the trip he learned that ‘It’s never too early, but tomorrow is already too late.’

I’ve gotten to a point in my life when I’ve stopped doing things because I have to, or because someone else thinks I have to or the society. You know that feeling when everybody is trying to tell you what you should do with your life, but no single one of them has ever tried to do what you’re trying to do. So I’ve stopped postponing my life and my dreams and the way I want to live, and I focus on doing that first and ignoring what others want me to do. The quote I have mentioned reminds me to do that. I’ll probably have it tattooed on my left arm one day, right next to my watch.

When did you begin traveling or start traveling seriously? Is traveling a constant part of your life?

I think I haven’t started traveling seriously yet. I went to the United States two times on the East Coast, once for three months back in 2011 and the second time for a short 10-day trip in 2013. But it was for the job I had back then. There was some traveling involved but I wasn’t free to roam wherever and whenever I wanted. Before that, I had only wandered around Romania, especially in the mountains. I love to see new places, even if they’re in my ‘backyard.’ Lately, I’ve started doing some trips by myself but I’m far from consistency. I’m not the weekend getaway type of person, so I need more time and money for the way I like to travel. I’m a slow traveler.

Why are you traveling? What does traveling bring to your life?

I feel that there is more to life than what I see around the place I live in. I travel to discover other ways of experiencing life, to get out of my bubble, to understand that the way I live my life is not the only one and that there’s no ‘right or wrong’ way of living life. I believe traveling brings humbleness to my life. It’s like a reality check you get.

Almost one year ago, I was in Tenerife, in the village of Masca. I had an AirBnb there for three nights, so I experienced life there after all tourists left. I was talking to my host’s nephew one quiet evening and he told me about the hardships they had in the village. It’s such a huge difference from reality. Most people know Masca because its superb, isolated, and mind-blowing location, but few stop and think about the everyday realities of the people who live there. They come, take the same pictures everyone else takes, buy a few souvenirs, and then they go away. But there’s a lot more to it than that and sometimes, I feel that we – the tourists – ruin the places we go to in many ways. But you have to respect that place and the people.

Did you travel when you were a child with your parents? Did you like it? Has this affected you somehow?

When I was a kid, I didn’t travel too much. There was the usual 10-day vacation at the seaside – the Black Sea – during summer, but that was pretty much all the traveling I did with my parents. I remember I liked it and every time we left the seaside to go back home, I felt a sadness. I still feel that when I have to go back from a place I like, especially if it’s by the sea or by the ocean.

How do you feel when you’re traveling? What’s different when you are traveling than when you’re staying at home?

When I am traveling, I feel alive. I feel a lot more curious when I’m in new places. I feel the urge to walk around and explore everything, all the narrow streets, the hills, the mountains and the peaks around, the forests and the beaches, everything – every little corner of that new place I’m in.

I haven’t yet gotten to the point when these feelings go away. Even at home, I get them sometimes, so I grab my bike, leave my phone at home and go wander, looking for streets and corners I haven’t yet seen. But more often, when I’m at home, I feel tired of the routine of the everyday life. Tired in the way that there’s so much to do with your life and you’re only doing the same tasks every day. That’s when I feel the urge to go and explore new places, new lands, new cultures. And when I’m there, I almost never want to come back home because there’s just so much to see.

Where have you been traveling in the world so far?

I’ve been twice to the U.S. (on the East Coast, from Georgia to Washington D.C. and to New York). Two years ago, I wandered around Vienna for one week and last year, I spent three weeks on the island of Tenerife in the Canaries.

What’s your traveling style or your traveling pace? How often do you travel and for how long?

I love to travel slow, to stay in one place for at least a few days and get to know the local life, the people, their stories, and the less touristic corners of the places I visit. I’m a minimalist, I can camp or stay in basic places like hostels or Airbnb’s. In Romania, I travel for a few days, maybe a week, but in other countries, I try to plan at least a few weeks to get to know the places I’m going to.

Which places do you choose to go? How do you select the destinations?

I don’t know. It just happens. I feel an attraction for some place and then simply wish to go there. The selection comes in if I don’t have enough money for one destination and then decide on another because it’s cheaper to get to and live there. Sometimes it’s about something else. Vienna, for example, wasn’t even close to being cheap, but my girlfriend at that time was from there so I had to pay her a visit.

What’s the difference between ‘authentic travels’ and ‘simple travels’ in your opinion?

Authentic Travels’ means to really delve into the place you’re visiting, to go beyond the touristic must-sees and try to connect with the locals and the place on another level, to be part of that place for a while.

Simple Travels’ means to go the more minimalist way, without spending money on fancy resorts and restaurant dinners. It means going wild camping and doing the simple things. You don’t need to pay for an all inclusive to have an infinity edge pool when the ocean is only 10 minutes walking away. That’s stupid in my opinion.

Authentic traveling is the next level. It’s when you go and live in a community, in a tribe somewhere on an island for a month and really start to understand that place and its people.

Do you travel in your own authentic way or not at this moment?

Right now, I’m not traveling at all but usually, I’d say I’m on the authentic side of traveling when I do it. I hate to be in the touristic hot spots. I feel that everything is fake, overrated, and overpriced, so I always try to get away from them and find the normal day to day vibe of the place.

Do you give up your dreams of traveling in a certain way for the sake of something or somebody else?

Money. I usually don’t have enough of them to travel the way I like and for the – longer – periods I’d love to.

Are you planning to travel the same way from now on or you want to change something? You wish you’d travel in a different way?

I’d love to start traveling for periods of at least three months at a time. I’d like to stay for at least one week in every place I visit, even longer if it’s a big city. It’s tiring to be on the road every two or three days. Pack, unpack, pack again, try to work a little, and maybe get to see something. I don’t think you can understand anything about the place you’re in. Not to mention you’ll be very tired. So for me, the less is more approach feels the better option. See fewer places but get more from the experience. Get time to rest, time to work, time to explore, time to have fun, rather than cram everything into two or three crazy days. For me, that’s not sustainable.

What plans do you have in the future?

Patagonia, South America on a motorbike. I want to wander around the continent for a few months, maybe a year hopefully, on two wheels. The plan is to start in Buenos Aires, ride all the way down to the end of the world in Ushuaia, get back up through Chile, and maybe continue through Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia, and so on. Right now, this is only a dream. The plan so far is to make money to be able to afford such a trip.

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