In November, 29-year-old Tyral Dalitz made it to London from Australia. A long trip, but (in the modern age) not a particularly incredible accomplishment. Not unless you factor in the small detail that Ty didn’t get on an airplane once. He did the trip by sailing, biking, taking trains, and hitchhiking. It took him 845 days.
Living the nomad life for two and a half years would be a bit much for most people, but Dalitz thrives on the adventure. He goes with the flow, and lets his journey guide him. So far, the adventure has offered up stunning landscapes, wild parties, near death experiences, and some of the coolest places to pitch a tent on the planet. When you travel without ever getting on a plane, it truly is about the journey and not the destination, and Ty has seen more places already than most people see in a lifetime.
Talking to Dalitz, it’s easy to see how he convinces strangers to let him stay with them, hitch rides, share meals etc. He has an easy laugh and a sunny disposition. I got the opportunity to talk to Ty in between his travels and he told me fantastic, hilarious stories about the unique way he’s traveled the world.
So you’re in the Canary Islands? How’s that?
Yeah, it’s really cool. It’s nice to be in some warmer weather after being in England and London for the last few weeks. It’s difficult for an Australian there. (Laughs)
Where in Australia are you from?
I’m from a small country town in the Riverina, it’s between Melbourne and Sydney. It’s maybe, three hours from Melbourne.
What sparked the idea of traveling around the world without flying? I read, it was a drunken bet. Is that true?
(Laughs) To a degree. To a degree. It was just an idea that grew from a lot of drunken nights, talking with a friend and we were sort of saying, “Oh, it’d be cool to do this. It’d be cool to do the Trans-Siberian Railway.” And then it was like, ” Oh, it would be cool (to maybe do a trip on) motorbikes.” And then it’s like, “Oh, maybe we can sail around Australia.” And then we thought, “Well, we might as well just not fly ever and see if we can make it to London.” And then it just got to that point where we talked about it too much.
I committed myself and then I would have looked like a fool if I hadn’t of went through with it. (Laughs)
How many countries did you end up visiting?
I think, it’s around 41 or 42 at the moment.
Oh my gosh, that’s crazy.
Yeah, (laughs) But, it’s been an amazing time.
How did you save enough money to travel for so long?
For about 18 months before I left, I just worked seasonal jobs on farms and various jobs. So, I would work blocks of six to eight weeks where I would just do nothing else and just save everything that I was making with the idea that one hour’s work in Australia was almost like one day of travel. I worked solidly for 18 months and saved everything, and didn’t have much of a social life at that stage, but I’m reaping the rewards now.
Did you make any money while you were on the trip? Did you do any jobs?
No, I haven’t worked in three years. I’ve volunteered sometimes, so volunteering on farms and … Like working through internet sites like Workaway where you volunteer for free food and free accommodation. And I’ve used things like Couchsurfing, to save money. I’ve done things like that to sustain myself for longer periods of time.
Is there a place that you went that you were surprised by how awesome it was? Can you talk a little bit about the places that were surprising for you?
Yeah. Loads of places, but….highlights, I really, really loved China. China was … I wish I could have stayed there longer, because it’s so weird. It’s so different, and actually the landscape and the environment is so unique. There’s so many cool national parks, which I would have liked to see more of. China was really surprising … Surprising in how much I loved it.
And other countries like in Eastern Europe, I spent most of the beginning of this year hitchhiking from Finland all the way to Turkey, and through all of Eastern Europe. I really, really enjoyed that because every country was a little bit different and unique. Belarus actually, I actually really had a great time in Belarus, even though it’s, how do I explain this? Like, visually, maybe not the most beautiful country, but it was so different.
It was so different because it was so close to Soviet Union still and so different from our Western culture, from Australia.
Every country has been really unique and there’s not one country that I wouldn’t go back to.
You stayed overnight probably in every kind of place imaginable. What’s the weirdest place where you’ve slept?
Oh, wow. Yeah, I’ve slept in some weird places. (Laughs) I’ve slept under bridges, like a proper homeless person. I kind of like the thrill of trying to find a really unique spot to pitch a tent and to try and get away with it. So, I’ve camped on beaches like the beaches of Turkey and camped in abandoned buildings.
On a small island in Italy, we camped … Like, it was very touristic and there was hotels built into the mountain and one section of it had been just abandoned and not used anymore. So, we pitched our tent inside this abandoned hotel building in the (side of the) mountain. And we got to look out our window to the most scenic spot ever, and it was completely free. It was really cool, because we were getting away with something … The people just like, 100 meters away from us, 50 meters away were probably paying ridiculous amounts of money to see the same thing that we were seeing for free.
What gear did you bring with you, and what you would say are your “must haves”, packing-wise, for a trip like this?
An iPod. That is very important. (Laughs) Because you think a 12 hour flight or 20 hour flight is a long time, but if you travel by bus and train and hitchhiking, it’s a lot longer. An iPod with a decent amount of music is really important. I have my iPod and I’m very proud of my iPod. I call it the God Pod. It helps me through all the long trips.
Other gear…it’s just about trying to have as little gear as I can, because obviously carrying a backpack can be heavy. And when I left, I probably left with too much stuff. I was too keen and had clothes for every occasion, whereas now I’ve just like got, two or three pairs of clothes. I had a fishing rod with me until recently, which is a really bizarre thing that was a weird thing for me to backpack with. But I really like fishing so, I had a little fishing rod that folded up in my bag. My friends thought it was really funny that I carried a fishing rod halfway across the world. I think I’ve caught like, two fish.
But you travel with what you love.
I travel with what I love. Yeah. Clothes just to keep me warm, but an iPod for music and a fishing rod to give me something to do. I would say it’s supposed to feed me but it doesn’t feed me very well.
Were you ever scared or uncomfortable on the trip?
There’s been some moments hitchhiking that have been a bit borderline of, “Should I be in this car or not be in this car?” I don’t normally like hitchhiking after dark if I don’t have to, because it’s kind of when the crazy people come out.
One time in Bulgaria, I was hitchhiking with my girlfriend and we stopped this car. It was going to rain so we wanted to get somewhere a bit sheltered that we could camp. This car stopped and we didn’t realize at the time but it was obvious once we got in there with him that he was extremely drunk.
I had to often grab the wheel and just steer us in the right direction. He was talking to us without a breath in Bulgarian, and we had no idea what he was saying, but he was so excited to talk to us. We couldn’t understand a thing, but he was forgetting to drive so, I had to steer the wheel and keep us on the road. And then, he said something about trying to invite us back to his house, but we couldn’t understand what was really going on, and he ended up taking us off the highway, down these dark roads and stuff. I started to think at that point, “Are we going to get robbed, or what’s going on?”
He’s taking us down these dirt roads, when we should be on the highway. But even then, he ended up just being a really drunk guy who was actually, really nice. He found us a nice sheltered place to camp and gave us some food, and gave us a bottle of alcohol to drink. He said, “You will sleep better if you drink this.” Generally, everybody everywhere that I’ve went, has been absolutely amazing. Which has been surprising, because I didn’t think that like, when I first left, how friendly people are around the world. In every country there’s always someone friendly.
That’s awesome. Do you have any advice for festivals to go to? Like, what’s the wildest, coolest festival that no one’s heard about?
There are actually some really cool festivals in Indonesia, outside of the main touristy places. We went to some really cool festivals there, but that was because we were on a yacht. We were sailing to random islands, and when we would arrive…that’s when they would do their festivals.
The festivals we went to were organized because we were going to be there. There was this one where 20,000 school children (had been) choreographed to dance. Huge performance. And there was 25 of us there. 25 tourists who arrived on the boats, and that was actually the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen in my entire life. It looked like the opening ceremony of the Olympics or something. That was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life, I think.
As for festivals for Europe … There actually, there’s a really cool festival we went to, or we tried to go to in Greece on an island called Chios. I think. We went there for Easter, and they have a rocket festival where they … The two main rival churches in the town, all year they build these homemade rockets and then on midnight of Easter, they shoot all these rockets at each other and it goes from one side of the town to the other. We went to that but it was the first time in like, 100 years that it got cancelled. Some guy was protesting because his house gets covered in rockets every year and he just gets really annoyed about it. (Laughs) He was threatening to shoot the person who fired the first rocket, so the police had to get involved. So, we really hoped to see that festival but it got cancelled, but then everyone just got drunk afterwards because they all were like, so annoyed at this guy. They had a drunk party. We got invited to that party, but that is definitely a festival that not many people know, because it’s mainly just for locals.
Out of all the crazy ways that you’ve traveled and gotten from place to place, what’s the oddest way you’ve traveled, would you say?
Definitely the oddest way that I did was in Vietnam. When I first got to Vietnam from Cambodia, I just spent three weeks in Phnom Penh, which is the capital of Cambodia. It’s kind of known as the scam city, like the scam central of South-East Asia. I was there waiting for visas, so I got my Chinese visa and my Vietnam visa there. I was, kind of a bit fed-up with the non-genuine attitude of the people, because everyone’s trying to scam you.
So, I was eager to have a new adventure and hang out with someone actually friendly, who didn’t want to rip me off. When I got to Vietnam and I was on the border of Cambodia when I met this really nice guy who owned a bicycle taxi. They always … I don’t know if you’ve been to South-East Asia but they sort of hustle you as soon as you arrive and say, “Oh, I’ll take you on a tour and do this.” And so, I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay. You’re a nice bloke. Take me on a tour around the town.” Or whatever, on a bicycle taxi.
I only wanted to go to the hotel, which I had already booked, which wasn’t very far. I knew where it was. The guys like, “No, no, no, it’s okay. I’ll take you on a bike.” I’m like, “All right, all right, all right.” I’m like, “What I really want to do is go to Ho Chi Minh City. Take me to Ho Chi Minh City.” And he was like, “Oh, yes, yes that’s 270 kilometers. I take you three days, three days. 100 US dollars.” I’m like, “Huh, Yeah, yeah, sure you would, sure you would.” And he’s like, “Done it once before, done it once before. I’ll do it again.” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, whatever. No, it’s not going to happen.” And thought it was all funny.
He sort of worked at the hotel. When I say hotel, it’s not really … It’s just a guest house. He worked at the guest house that I was staying at and I stayed there for a few days and talked to him every day and he would always bring it up like, “Yeah, take you to Ho Chi Minh City. I’ll take you, I’ll take you.” And I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure, sure.” And then I thought well like, let’s see if he’s real. I’m like, “So, would you really do it?” He’s like, “Yeah, of course I would. Lets do it. It’ll be really fun.”
So, I did do it. (laughs) I think 100 US dollars, and we rode for three days. I was sitting on the back of his (taxi), a really, really uncomfortable little bicycle taxi.
Did you camp on the way?
We stayed in guest houses, but we would like … He was the coolest guy and he had pretty good English and he wouldn’t let me ride the bike. I was like, “Yeah, we’ll take it in turns.” He was like, “No, no, no, no.” He’s like a real determined guy. He was like, “I’m going to make it the whole way.” And he’d get really disappointed, we’d hit a hill and someone would cut him off and then he’d have to get off the bike and push it up and get really disappointed. He’d be like, “No, I’m going to make it. I’m going to ride every single mile.” We would ride for like, two hours every day and then we’d stop and he’d have like, four cigarettes and drink coffees and then he’d keep going. That was just what he ran off, just coffee and cigarettes. That was really cool, really funny experience. That was definitely the oddest thing I did.
What would you say the most beautiful trip you took was?
I bought a motorbike in Vietnam and rode the Ho Chi Minh Trail for maybe two months after the bike taxi incident. That was amazing, like the country … Driving through there on the motorbike was really beautiful.
But, there’s been some countries like, Albania, actually really surprised me in Europe. I didn’t research anything about that. Normally the ones that get a bad rep are the ones that I get more interested in. I just want to know … So we went to Albania and there’s some coastline in the southwest of Albania that is just amazing. So beautiful. Cliff, like, huge mountains that sort of just trail off into the ocean and then have really beautiful turquoise water and clean beaches. That really surprised me for a country that is not very popular to travel to.
If you had to pick, and this might be putting you on the spot, but if you had to pick a motto or a philosophy for your travels, what would it be?
Well, I usually sort of go with the principle of, “Never say no to a local.” With some common sense. (Laughs) But, so many times, if somebody’s being friendly to me and wants to invite me somewhere or just stop to have a drink or just talk for any amount of time, no matter what I’m doing, I just always keep the philosophy of just saying yes to them. Because those are the best experiences, like the experiences with people in individual countries. Traveling without flying, you’re not going from touristy spot to touristy, you’re doing everything in between, that a lot of people generally miss. I’ve had so many, so many random experiences where people have invited me back to their homes, invited me for a meal, or just invited me to have shots of really, really strong rice wine with them. Eat frog on a little barbecue, and stuff like that.
It’s just really … They’re little moments that make it the best. I try just to always be open, friendly and greet people with a smile no matter the situation, and never say no to a local. That’s kind of what I run with.
What’s your next big adventure that you’re going on?
Well, actually, the really cool thing that has happened just over the last month since I made it to the U.K., through social media and because people were interested in my story and stuff… I was looking for a boat to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, and and now I’ve found this boat (and they actually found me as well!) …A boat that is a part of a massive, massive project that’s huger than anything that I’ve already done. It’s called The Longest Swim. It’s actually an American guy from Texas, he was the first person to ever swim across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998 and he wants to swim across the North-pacific this year.
So the boat that I’m involved in with at the moment just sailed for two weeks from the U.K. to the Canary Islands. We left yesterday. I’m thankful. This boat is actually … I’m staying in this boat and if everything works out 100% then I’m with them all the way through San Diego, and then from San Diego we sail to Tokyo-And then from Tokyo, we actually … From Tokyo, Benoit Lecomte, the French-American guy, is actually joining us, and then he will attempt to swim from Tokyo back to San Francisco, which has never been done before.
It’s going to maybe take six months. At this stage, I’m involved in that project, which I’m really excited to be involved in. That is kinda just all escalated over the last couple of weeks. My story, sort of got their interest in me and then allowed me to be a part of this project. It’s a really beautiful project.
So, you’re in this for the long haul? You’re traveling indefinitely?
Yeah. So, I really want to make it back to Australia without ever flying. I was originally just looking to cross the Atlantic and then I was going to travel up to Canada where I would apply for a working holiday visa and I would work there and make some money to come back and do more of America, because I really want to spend some time in America. I was going to do South America, Central America before sailing home. Try to find a ride to sail home. So, that was the plan. But now I’m a part of this project. I still want to continue doing that but this has just put everything back, maybe, another 12 months because this will probably go until November, this year. And then, when this finishes in San Francisco, I’ll go on to Canada. Carry on as usual.