Like popup

Join Me On Facebook

Please Wait 10 Seconds...!!!Skip

Sunday, 3 February 2013


My good friend, Kait, who I met in Prague, asked me to do an interview for her is her questions and my answers. Hope you enjoy and you can check out more posts on her great blog here: Where is Kait?

My Friend, The Traveler: “Swiggy” from the States

It’s baaaaaaack!
Man, I absolutely LOVE these interviews I have been doing with friends that I have made from around the world. They always remind me of my own stories and experiences I have had, and get me so pumped up for all the traveling I still intend on doing. 
It is my hope that by reading these, you also have a similar desire to embark on your own journey and have your own crazy stories to share with the world. 
Maybe skip that next Starbucks, or buy generic instead of name brand, and instead, put that extra money in savings towards a trip for yourself…that money starts adding up.
Even if you only want to go to a city that is only a 2 hour drive away, GO. It’s still traveling. It’s still adventuring somewhere new. 
This week on My Friend, The Traveler, we meet Mike “Swiggy” Swigunski. We met about a year ago through mutual friends when I was in Prague, and he was teaching at a university there. 
Swiggy has done quite a bit of traveling and living in different places, so he, of course, has a lot of insight to share with those who have never done much travel, or are just starting out. 
1. What do you think the difference is between being a tourist and a traveler and would you describe yourself as one or the other or both?
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been….travelers don’t know where they are going.”
–Paul Theroux
This quote does a great job explaining the difference between tourists and travelers. Tourists and travelers have very different priorities when on a trip. I think tourists have more of a set itinerary, tend to stay on the main path and try to cram everything into a short amount of time.
Travelers come in a bunch of different shapes and sizes.  They are in a city to meet new people and are there for the experience, not to just check off landmarks. Travelers are lot more spontaneous. They live out of a backpack versus a suitcase, stay in hostels instead of hotels, take 10-hour bus rides to save a few bucks. Although travelers sometimes do the “tourist stuff” it doesn’t define their trip. 
2. If you could pick anywhere in the world to live for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
Ideally, it would be somewhere close to a beach with all my friends and family. As of now, after traveling to 37 countries, Prague is still my favorite city in Europe. I would spend 9 months in Prague and 3 months in Croatia on the beach. However, I plan to keep traveling so this might change.

3. What is one thing that you have learned while traveling that you wish you had know before you left?
Traveling has taught me so many different things; it is hard to pick one. I really wish I had done a better job of recording funny stories, great restaurants, and overall experiences. I recently started to keep a short journal, which will be the basis of my travel blog (whenever I get around to publishing my posts).

4. What is the most challenging thing that has happened to you while traveling and how did you overcome it?
By far the most challenging thing to happen to me was something that happened before, not whilst traveling. The challenge has still not been defeated and never will. It is a challenge I face every day and something I am still coping with.
On April 18th 2011, my mother, Fran Swigunski, passed away after two years of fighting a very late stage of breast cancer. May 2nd my senior Finals started and on May 7th I was moving back home from college while trying to pack up for at least a year abroad. May 12th I was on a one way plane to Europe, in charge of 35 study abroad students for a month, no job lined up afterwards and had just lost the most influential person in my life.
To have the closest, most loving and caring person in your life taken from you is not something you overcome, but is something you learn to live with. Each day I think about how much I miss her, but always realize how lucky I was to have such a wonderful person in my life.
So much happened in less than a month that I actually think the chaos helped me manage my emotions in a better way.  It gave me a very different perspective on life. I would follow my dreams and not take the boring cubicle path after college. Since 2008, when I first traveled to Italy, I knew I wanted to live in Europe and this dream would come true.
So to answer the question: I think traveling has been the solution for overcoming the most difficult time in my life.
5. Tell me one strange or funny incident that has happened to you while you’ve been abroad?
There has been a ton of strange and funny things to happen to me while abroad. I guess one thing that is always strange and makes the world seem so much smaller is running into people unexpectedly while traveling.
Coming from Munich and heading to Paris, we shared a 6-person sleeper cart with three random guys from England who were super nice. After the train landed, we said our good byes and never expected to see them again.
After arriving in Paris and settling down in our rooms with my two friends we decided to head out for some dinner. The two girls I was with knew a friend who was in Paris, but had no way of contacting. We started walking and walked past a restaurant where we randomly spotted their friend. So we decided to join him and afterwards walked to check out Eiffel.
After watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle we decided to go home…on our way back to the subway we ran into the three English guys we never thought we would see again. Said hey and had a drink then continued onto the metro. In the metro, we ran into four guys who I knew from high school.
It really is a small world after all. Paris has a population of 2.5 million people, so the odds of randomly meeting all these people must have been very low. Especially within 4 hours of walking around.
 6. Is this your last big traveling experience or do you plan on doing another big trip (or trips) in the future?
After living in Europe for a year and a half, my traveling is far from over. I am moving to Australia on February 25th 2013 and plan to stay at least a year. I plan to be in Brazil for the world cup in 2014 and my life goal is to travel to every country in the World.  
7. What is the best day that you have had traveling so far?
This is a super tough one because there are so many amazing days while traveling. I think the most exciting day was when we hopped on a bus and started heading to Pamplona, Spain with no accommodation (aka we slept in the park for 3 days on towels). The first night we planned to not drink anything then run with the bulls the next morning, well that plan immediately failed. We met up with some English guys and drank/partied all night until 7 am right before the running started. Still a bit tipsy and very tired we took to the cobblestone streets to stretch for the most adrenaline-filled moment of my life to date. It was time to RUN FOR OUR LIVES from some huge bulls. We ended up surviving and touched a few bulls in the ring. Something I will remember for the rest of my life is the 3 days in Pamplona, Spain!

8. If price didn’t matter, would you choose to stay in a hostel or hotel and why?
If price were no option, I would always choose Hostels over hotels! Hostels are an amazing way to meet new people and honestly the best way to see a new city. They are cheaper and overall a lot better experience!
9. What advice would you give to people who are about to embark on their adventure?
  • Sign up for a frequent flier miles program and a good Airline credit card (just got a $50 1 way flight to Sydney w/ a 3 day layover in Honolulu using miles)
  • Use hostels not hotels…so many cool young people from all over the world.
  • Start a couch surfing account NOW! (I am still a bit new, but all my experiences have been awesome!)
  • If you are in Europe, use for the cheapest flights AND use their fly to everywhere search feature. (For example- when I was living in Prague I would choose “From: Prague” then “To: Everywhere” finally pick the dates you are looking to travel. This would generate the cheapest flights out of Prague. This is how I did cheap weekend trips every month for a year.
  • Keep a journal and stay in touch with the awesome people you meet along the way
10. Besides friends and family, what is one thing that you miss from home?
This is the question I have been asked the most and I have finally come up with a decent answer. Besides family, friends and my dog…It has never really been food or drink. Once you have had a good Kebab or the best Czech beer, it makes all the food and drink cravings cease to exist.
The ONE thing I miss the most from the US is the ease of doing stuff and not having my car! For example, one day in Italy we tried going to a bank during the only time we had class break.  The banks and pretty much everything else closed down for about 2 hours mid-day. It was an important for my friend to actually meet with a teller because of a credit card issue and was a huge pain. There have been countless other frustrating experiences…some simple things can be very difficult in other cultures. Dealing with the visa process in the Czech Republic was by far the most inefficient system I have ever seen.
Not having a car falls into the ease of doing things category, but is also just something fun I miss doing. While living in Prague the public transport was so amazing and cheap, so not having a car was more of just a luxury I could live without.
BONUS: Tell me about the most exciting hookup you have had on your trip. (You know you had at least one!)
Ahh the best for last, not sure if I want to go into so many details about this aspect of my life, due to the fact that I still in the back of my mind think I will be running for president in the near future.
I will however be covering dating and relationships while abroad in my new blog.
You can read more about Swiggy and all of his traveling and adventures at his brand new blog, From Tourist to Traveler, or contact him directly at  

No comments:

Post a Comment