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The whole world as a playground

Stevie is about to cross the cold river near Coles Bay. But first, a selfies. FOTO: Stephan Kleinhans

The whole world as a playground

Stevie, 35, was satisfied, but not really happy. It ended with him quitting his job and embarking on a long journey.

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29.10.2015 kl 17:03

The journey started in 2013 and is still ongoing.

"I lived an OK life, but OK is not enough for me," said Stefan Kleinhans, who prefers his nickname. "I wanted to live a life where I am one hundred percent happy."

"Before I started traveling, I needed security. Now I rather need insecurity"

The art of travel

He stopped only briefly a couple of times in Longyearbyen during his whirlwind and strenuous exploration of Svalbard. After he had just completed an overnight trip to Pyramiden and was on his way to Barentsburg. Next came the return trip with an overnight stop at Coles Bay. Then he arrived in Nybyen, tired but happy after the long walk to Barentsburg.

"I got to stay in a cabin," he said. "Very nice. And in Barentsburg I found private accommodation, saving lots of money."

The visit to Svalbard lasted two weeks. The trip from Barentsburg took place in two stages, totaling 20 hours of walking, wading across rivers and a deep night's sleep in a registered cabin in the abandoned Russian settlement.

The art of traveling around the world is the art of making contacts, and staying and traveling cheaply. Stevie said he lives cheap, often on about 50 kroner a day. That was the case in Azerbaijan and Sweden, but not in Svalbard since a flight was necessary for travel to and from Longyearbyen.

"In Svalbard, I found the first-ever couchsurfers, and was able to stay with one I met. I don't plan too much and just let things happen," Stevie said. "I have no need to be concerned about where I will stay or eat. Before I started traveling, I needed security. Now I rather need insecurity."

"I could not go back to an ordinary life in Vienna"

Best adventures

In 2013, Stevie quit a job as an IT specialist in Vienna that he'd had for ten years, got rid of the things he didn't need and started the first part of the journey: Azerbaijan. At first he lived in guesthouses, but gradually discovered it wasn't that important where he slept. He brought a hammock with him and his accommodations in Asia eventually ended up being abandoned buildings.

The journey lasted 13 months. A reunion with the Austrian capital lasted only one month before he had to get out again.

"I could not go back to an ordinary life in Vienna," he said. "Now I feel that I am living. Every day is full of adventure and I'm enjoying every moment."

"I am always hitchhiking. I don't pay for transport and sometimes you end up nowhere. I've had some of my best experiences when I hitchhiked. And now I'm doing Scandinavia."

Not picky

Backpacking Stevie's way is in no way a story of a life of luxury in the material sense. It includes hours by the roadside with a thumb out, couchsurfing (free accommodation in private homes), and diving in containers in search of food outside supermarkets. But it also contains small luxuries such as restaurant visits and he tries to find odd jobs in the countries he visits to supplement his funds, such as washing dishes at an eatery in Iran or at a farmhouse in Kyrgyzstan.

Now he is focusing on finding a job in northern Norway and remain for the winter. Then he plans to continue to Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries.

"Then we'll see where the journey continues, perhaps Portugal and the Caribbean," he said. "Before I left I was afraid of not finding any work, but I've found it so far. If you are not too picky you can find work anywhere in the world."

You can follow Stevie on his blog stevieonthemove.com



Translated by Mark Sabbatini

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