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Heiko Gärtner und Franz Bujor am Karfreitag 2015 in Italien, Bild: Lebensabenteurer.de

Freedom – world trip without money

Many people like to hike, whether it’s a day trip, a weekend trip, a few weeks or just for an hour to get some fresh air, hiking connects, makes you happy and provides an inner balance. However, it is very rare to decide to start a journey that has no end to it for the time being. But they do exist, people who care so much about the most natural and healing locomotion that they want to grow a steady rhythm of life from it. As if that wasn’t enough, there are two adventurers whose mission is to wander around the world without money. How this can work and from what the idea of leading a life without money was born is told here.

Who are the two adventurers in freedom?

Heiko Gärtner and Franz Budjor on the day of their departure, Image: Lebensabenteurer.de

On 01.01.2014 the time had come, Heiko Gärtner and Franz Bujor wanted to find out whether a life without money is possible. The urge to escape from society and the regulations was so loud that they could hardly ignore it. Because the previous sedentary and unfree life was absolutely no longer an option for both of them, so the idea was born to hang up the old life and start a new one in freedom and enjoyment of life armed with two pilgrims’ chariots. Until then, Heiko did an apprenticeship at Allianz and took over his father’s insurance agency. And Franz studied pedagogy and led class trips and youth programs. Afterwards, they wanted to help students and participants in their joint wilderness school to re-establish their connection to nature, which they were happy to pass on for quite some time. Finally, the wilderness school was handed over to a successor in order to be able to work on the preparations for her world trip without money at the same time.

It is without a doubt the greatest adventure of her life, which took a year of preparation, but it was worth it. Since the beginning of their adventure, they have been living as nomads, wanderers, researchers, healers and writers without money in order to learn as much as possible about natural healing methods and the healing art of different cultures.

The trip became the longest charity walk in the world without money

Since Heiko and Franz wanted to contribute something to the well-being of the world and its inhabitants, they also opened the longest charity walk in the world. The aid projects of the charity run were joyfully supported by private individuals and companies in order to ensure a more peaceful, healthy and happier life together. By running without money, projects such as for the protection of indigenous peoples but also for environmental protection are supported, but above all and this is particularly important to Heiko and Franz, that those who can no longer walk should also be supported. This is how the mission “Walk for people, who cannot walk” was born.

A dream became reality

They not only want to be web nomads, healers, researchers and globetrotters themselves, but also pass on their knowledge and the many possibilities to all people who are interested and also feel the call of freedom within themselves. Every person can become a light or kindle his light and they want to encourage everyone to become a seeker of truth in their own life.

From childhood dream to task in adult life

Heiko Gärtner takes an ice bath, Image: Lebensabenteurer.de

Even as children, Heiko and Franz carried large and adventurous travel plans independently of each other at the age of about four or five. But above all, as a researcher and explorer, to travel the world without money. Nevertheless, like many others, they started as adults with a completely normal job and put the world travel plans of their childhood on hold for the time being.

When they both set out as adults to visit an American medicine man, they already suspected that a big task was waiting for them. They were allowed to take part in a healers’ meeting, where the old Indian healing knowledge was to be reactivated. As you can quickly imagine at this point, it didn’t take long for the childhood dream to flare up again like an unmistakable fire. There was no longer any doubt for both of them, they felt that it was time to break down the tents and go.

Why walk around the world?

Our feet have more nerve cells than our hands, so they are a lot more sensitive. This enables us to establish a connection to the earth while hiking, in order to create a healing for the earth but also for us, as long as the steps are carried out consciously. Therefore, a hiking trip is also a healing journey at the same time, where you experience first-hand who you are, what needs to be healed and how you can heal your contact with the earth.

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How can you imagine a life without money?

Since both pull a pilgrim’s chariot behind them by means of an attached hip belt, they can stow their belongings in it and are thus flexible and without travel costs. Each of them carries around 60 kilos of luggage and equipment, as this weight would have been impossible with a backpack on their backs.

If you travel with a higher goal that people find supportive, such as supporting the aid organizations during Heiko and Franz’s trip around the world without money, you will also meet people with a big heart. This made it possible for them to find out in which region which methods and systems work to get food, sleep and equipment. Churches, museums, castles, yurts, caravans, cafes, community rooms or host families are suitable for accommodation, as long as there is a positive intention and a feeling of confidence.

Due to the abstract system of society, there is a lot of waste and overproduction, which on the other hand has developed a dense social network to catch people who fall through it. Nobody uses food that is available in surplus anyway, considering how much is thrown away. 70% of what is grown in the fields is thrown away before it reaches the end consumer. Actually, you can go anywhere, both report, where food is sold, to ask with a friendly request and a short explanation why you need the things. Of course, not everyone says yes, even if they could, but usually you always find enough to get full.

A lot has changed for Heiko and Franz since they left

The time spent hiking has become a kind of ritual in their journey. Especially in regions like Extremadura, where the landscape does not change for many weeks, you have the opportunity to look into your own soul cellar and get out everything that is slumbering there and wants to enter into harmony. Both were able to gain many small and large insights about themselves in the course of their travels. But the most important and central insight that both were able to gain for themselves is the sentence: “Everything is one!” A sentence that can be found in any religion or philosophy of life and sounds totally simple at first.

What this sentence means, however, can throw the entire world view overboard, because the meaning of our lives is suddenly completely different. The explanation that there will always be joy and sorrow in life and why we are confronted with certain situations or topics that we perceive as negative is also becoming more and more conclusive. Both now see and feel the world with different feelings, they feel how strongly omniscient love surrounds us and that everything and every encounter has a meaning. They are incredibly grateful for everything that has happened in these 7 years of being on the road without money.

About the authors: Heiko Gärtner and Franz Bujor are survival experts and extreme journalists who have been wandering around the world on foot and without money for a good cause since 2014. All information about her journey, the ideas behind it and her experiences so far can be found at www.lebensabenteurer.de

Interview with Heiko Gärtner from 28 November 2021

What were your biggest concerns about embarking on such a travel adventure without money?

The biggest concerns were that we would get involved in a very hard and uncomfortable life. Before we left, we weren’t sure if we could even rely on any form of support from other people. So what if no one wanted to help us with food, places to sleep, or other things? We had already trained often enough on how to survive purely with what nature offers. So we knew that we would definitely get through, but we also knew that this would be very hard and deprivation. Fortunately, however, these concerns proved to be completely unfounded. In the seven years we have been on the road so far, we have not had to go hungry for a single day and only on about 10 or 15 nights we did not get a place to sleep. But even that wasn’t bad, since we had our tent with us.

How do you have to imagine the daily routine on such a trip?

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As a rule, we got up every morning around 8:00 a.m., packed our camp for the night and then left around 9:00 a.m. Most of the time we had fresh fruit for breakfast on the way. Sometimes we also ate together with our hosts before leaving or took a short breakfast break along the way if we found a nice place for it. The hike then took an average of about 6 hours before we looked for a new place. Depending on the location, we then went on sightseeing tours without luggage or simply worked on our projects. Wrote articles for the world travel blog, edited pictures and the like. Or we have had long and intensive conversations with our hosts or with other people we have met. In the evening we had a proper dinner and then we ended the day with a series or a movie on the computer. That’s more or less how our “everyday life” went. Of course, there were completely different days, because nothing could really be planned. It could be that we passed a thermal spa and were invited to test it. Then we spent the afternoon in the sauna. Or we hiked until late at night because the next place where we could find a place to sleep was 80km away from the last one. A lot of things could be planned or at least assessed in advance, but things often went completely differently than expected.

Which countries did you like best on your way? Both from nature and from the hospitality of the people?

As far as nature is concerned, our favorite is clearly Montenegro. In no other country have we been able to get to know so many different natural beauties in such a small area and with almost no traffic. There were gorges, mountains, forests, endless meadows, steppes, beautiful lakes and much more. As far as hospitality is concerned, Slovenia is our number 1. Here we sometimes had problems making any progress at all in one day because we were invited so often. But Kosovo, Romania and Bulgaria were also very hospitable. Here it was enough to show a crumpled piece of paper on which it was written in poor translation what we needed and the people helped us without us knowing a word of their language. However, we were also positively surprised by the Germans, who were much more open and helpful towards us than they are usually credited with. However, we have had the best experience in Central and Western Europe in France . Here the people were not only very hospitable, but also real connoisseurs. We were able to taste hundreds of cheeses and many other specialties.

Were there any considerations during the trip to cancel the project?

A few times. There were always situations in which you were fed up because nothing just wanted to work out as planned. There were areas that were so ugly, loud and unfriendly that you just wanted to leave. But those were always only short moments in which you didn’t see a way out. Most of the time, it only took minutes for the mood to improve again and then we made new plans or adapted our previous strategies to the situation. The good thing was that it would have been impossible to give up immediately anyway. In any case, you would have had to go to the next city to book a plane or a train there and just thinking about how to do that already led to the fact that we preferred to look for a solution on how to proceed instead.

What are your plans for the future?

We are currently taking advantage of the situation with the Corona crisis, in which it is no longer so easy to travel without money, to prepare for our next stages. From the very beginning, the goal of our journey was to walk through every country and continent on earth. The plan is still in place and in order for it to be feasible, we need an escort vehicle as a mobile base station. In Europe, you could easily wander from one place to the next and get a new place to stay and new food. In Africa, Australia, Russia and also in the USA and Canada, this will no longer be possible so easily. There are regions where you have to overcome hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to get back to a populated place. You can’t take enough water and food with you on foot. In some regions it doesn’t matter, because you will find enough on the way, but if you have to go through deserts or steppes, that would be our death. Therefore, we take our expedition vehicle with us, in which we can transport food and water and which also serves as a living and working place in the afternoon and evening. After all, we want to continue our documentary and it would be a shame if we couldn’t report on the particularly exciting corners of this earth.