Big Island, Hawaii

Udo Jürgens sings in one of his famous songs “Ich war noch niemals in New York, ich war noch niemals auf Hawaii” and that is what you have to change. Hawaii is still one of our most favorites places on earth. And this time, when I’m looking back to my travels, I’ve seen a lot of islands. Hawaii is one of them which I can’t forget. Hawaii for me is not only an island; it has his own life spirit. It’s one of the magic places, where the world seems to slow down. A happy place where you can find tranquility and freedom. Yes, it is true, it’s not a secret anymore but the isolation in the Pacific Ocean makes this place special. It’s quite expensive to travel to Hawaii, especially for us as European budget travelers, but I think this helps to keep the spirit alive. Then when you are in Hawaii, you can still travel with a small budget. 

It was not our plan to go to Hawaii(ok true, after two weeks on the road we didn’t have plans anymore), but in Seattle, some people told us that Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world and that we have to see this place. The next day we flew to Hawaii from Seattle. At first, we flew to Honolulu and afterward to Kona, Big Island. Alone the arrival at the airport was an experience itself. You leave the airplane and you’re standing right next to palms, beautiful flowers and the speakers were playing Hawaiian music. Sandra had to nip me because I questioned myself if I’m still alive. We left the airport and hitchhiked to the next city for a delicious American pancake breakfast. We didn’t have any plans and so the next 10 days we hitchhiked through the whole island, it was fantastic. The people were unbelievable friendly and peaceful. They picked us up, invited us to their home and showed us this amazing island. We slept on some beaches, did some amazing Couchsurfing and stayed in homes from people where we met as we hitchhiked. And everywhere was this peaceful tranquility.

One of our most memorable experiences in a lifetime was the lava flow in the sea. It’s about 30 miles from Hilo (ask the people where the lava is and about the safety) and you can walk directly along the beach and old cold lava to the red hot lava flow. Go to the beginning of the evening and you’re there when the sun comes down. It’s amazing. You can stand directly in front of a lava flow and feel the unbelievable heat. Please be very careful and wear good hiking shoes, because the ground can be very hot as well. Some people wore sport shoes and the shoes melt almost away. And NEVER forget your headlight, because you have to walk back in dark and on the dark ground. Without a headlight, you can’t see where you walk. And please be careful you have to check the wind direction as well. Ask the locals. This adventure’s totally worth it. I will never forget this to stand right before a lava flow.

After 10 days on this beautiful island, we flew to Kauai, the garden island, Hawaii, but this is another story. We still remember this unbelievable friendly and peaceful people on Big Island and say thank you to everyone. One day we will come back to this peaceful and beautiful place.

When to go: It doesn’t matter. It’s a year-round destination.

What to do: Experience the Hawaiian life, its beaches, the amazing people and don’t forget the lava flow and it’s Hawaii Volcanoes, National Park.

Where to sleep as a Budget traveler: Camping on isolated Beaches with your tent, couch surfing

Where to sleep if you’re not on a budget: Take a look on the Hilo Bay Hale Bed and Breakfast.

How to come around: Hitchhiking and there is a bus around the island as well.

Flights: Use the flight apps that you love. You’ll find the cheapest flights if you chose at “depart” à “whole year” and at “return” à “whole year”. At “from” you can use the whole country like “Germany” or “United States”. And then click search and you can choose the cheapest flights on the date choices.

Why you should not buy an around the world ticket?

Don’t buy an around the world ticket. I can’t recommend it. Long before we started our trip around the world in 2010 we discussed whether to buy one or not. But one of our main reasons why we didn’t buy one, is that we wanted to be as flexible as possible.

1. Flexibility

Yes at the beginning we had a route what and which countries we want to visit, but we canceled it in the first two weeks. You don’t know what happens on the road. You will meet so many people and they will tell you stories what you definitely have to see or have to do that it is impossible to plan these things. One of the main reasons for me is flexibility when I’m traveling. I don’t want to plan what I want to do. You will change your plans anyway. I met so many people with a world travel ticket and 90% wouldn’t buy one a second time.

2. One Way Ticket

That’s what we bought and it was one of our best decisions at the beginning of our trip. We bought a one-way ticket to Halifax, Canada from Frankfurt for around 300€. Ha ha, I remember. We didn’t know anything about Halifax in Canada. The only thing we knew was that it is a city on the east coast of Canada. We only had a couchsurfer for the first two days in Halifax. We hadn’t any travel guide for Canada and didn’t know how to get from the airport to the city. So we hitchhiked from the airport to the city. That was our first autostop in our lives and definitely not the last. Again, you have to be flexible, with hitchhiking even more.

3. Costs

Yes, an around the world ticket might seem to be the cheaper option, but I think it could end up to be much more expensive than to buy every ticket individually. You will change your mind on a long trip what you want to see and you will have to change your following flights. Anyway, in Central America and South America, you will be better off by taking a bus than to miss this beautiful landscape. In Asia, you can find very cheap flights without an around the world ticket.

4. Time

An around the world ticket is only valid for one year. One year sounds like a long time, but I’m honest with you it’s almost nothing for a trip around the world. You can spend a year in a country in South America and you’ll not see the whole country. I mean if you go to a trip around the world, I’m sure you don´t want to see only the “highlights”, you want to meet locals and spend some time in a country. This takes time. If you have an around the world ticket you have to worry about the time. After two weeks traveling we forgot which date it is. It’s not important(except if you’re hungry and it’s Sunday and all the supermarkets in Canada are closed and you are almost starving to death…). To live day by day and no need to worry about the time is totally enjoyable.
And there is one more thing. I’m sure you can’t stop traveling after a year if you have still enough money and even if not it is hard to stop.

5. Visa

Don’t worry about to enter a country only with a one-way ticket. We didn’t have any problems with that. Nobody asked us about it. Not even when we entered the USA by bus. But if that’s the only thing that bothers you than I can give you the advice to buy a bus ticket to the next country. So you can prove that you travel further. That should be enough and it’s much cheaper than to buy a flight that you will not take.

6. Change

Yeah, I’m honest with you, you will not come back as the person you were when you started your trip. You will change even if you don’t think so. Don’t plan one year ahead. If you go traveling a long time you are looking for something. Maybe you don’t know it yet, but you will find something. Just let it happen.