Ernestas Tyminas felt “stuck” in his role as a marketing manager at a newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
So he took two months off to backpack through Asia, he said, landing in Beijing in January 2019.
“The first day … I meet this,” he said, motioning to Darina Karpitskaya, sitting next to him.
The couple, speaking to CNBC via video from Dubai, said they met through the travel app Couchsurfing, which connects single travelers together. Karpitskaya, 31, and a flight attendant at the time, had been grounded in Beijing for two days because of mechanical problems with her return flight.
Although more solo travelers agreed to meet that day, Tyminas and Karpitskaya were the only two who showed up.
After a day together, they planned to meet again in Asia a month later.
A second monthly date
Karpitskaya returned to Asia and the couple’s second date was a “crazy month-long adventure” in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, Tyminas, 29, said.
It was in the Philippines, he said, that he decided he wasn’t going back to his old life.
“We were … lying on the beach under the stars,” he said. “We were starting to dream of this lifestyle.”
After returning to Colorado, Tyminas quit his job, sold his belongings and moved to Europe, he said.
Karpitskaya wasn’t there yet, saying, “At first it was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re quitting your job. You’re leaving America. Maybe it’s too soon. But at the same time, when I came back from that trip I felt like I lived a life that I’m not enjoying”.
A dog in tow
Tyminas flew from Denver to Paris with his dog — an 82-pound Borzoi, once known as the “Russian Wolf,” named Cosmo, who stands over 6 feet tall on his hind legs.
“They gave me three rows of seats and the dog was lying on the floor,” he said.
From there, the couple traveled frequently — to places like Italy and Iceland — but not yet full-time, they said.
Ernestas Tyminas and Darina Karpitskaya have taken his dog, Cosmo, to 26 of the more than 40 countries they’ve visited together, Tyminas said. Cosmo is a great networking tool, added Karpitskaya: “We meet a lot of people who walk the dog.”
Source: Dream Team Travels
Then Karpitskaya got what she called her “dream job” – a position at the Emirates airline. She moved to Dubai, but the couple continued to meet and travel together.
Then Covid hit and Karpitskaya accepted four months of unpaid leave from her job.
“We said: We have four months — we can go explore anything that’s open,” Tyminas said.
The trio — including Cosmo, who traveled in a large bed in the back of their SUV — traveled first to Croatia, then slowly across most of Europe, including many former Soviet states, Karpitskaya said. .
She never returned to her job and the couple has been traveling ever since, she said.
How much does it cost to travel around the world?
At first, they spent between $1,000 and $2,000 a month — all from savings — staying in cheap accommodations, cooking at home and seeking out free activities, Tyminas said.
As the money began to dry up, Tyminas took several online jobs that earned between $2,000 and $3,000 a month, not far from his $3,300 salary in Colorado, he said.
Tyminas said the couple stayed longer in Romania because “we saw how nice the people are … how much they have to offer. Sometimes you Google and you’re like, ‘There’s nothing to do here,’ and then you get there AND [realize] it’s just because no one travels here.”
Source: Dream Team Travels
But the work was hard and “I looked like I still had a job,” he said.
So the couple decided to open a marketing and graphic design company, despite the fact that “we didn’t know much”, Tyminas said.
They reached out to thousands of people, they said, often working late into the night. Potential clients would ask, “Can you design book covers?” “Can you promote music?” Tyminas said his answer was always the same, “Of course I can.”
In reality, he was learning on the job, he said, relying on YouTube, Google and Internet research. But customers were very pleased, he said.
“It paid me half of what other marketing agencies would pay, and the results, they said, were better than before,” Tyminas said.
In the first month, the couple earned $6,000, he said. Now, sometimes they earn several thousand dollars a day working with real estate companies and music labels, he added.
“We blog for people — we do everything,” Tyminas said. Plus “we don’t have to report to anyone. We are our own bosses.”
In the past six months, the couple said they spent an average of $4,000 a month. More than half goes to accommodations, which vary by location — from $3,100 a month in Dubai to $1,500 in Lisbon, Portugal, they said. They limit stays in expensive countries, such as Switzerland, to no more than a week, they said.
One way to save money is to book month-long stays on Airbnb, which lowers average nightly rates and reduces service and cleaning fees, Tyminas said. But even when they hopped from country to country to visit Europe’s Christmas markets last year, they still ended up paying about $2,500 that month, he said.
Karpitskaya said she doesn’t want these costs to scare people away because they were spending much less to begin with. Back then, they spent about 80-100% of their income, but now Tyminas said “we spend about 30% and … save the rest.”
The couple told CNBC that they still travel modestly — no five-star hotels — and they still cook most of their meals at home. But they spend more on the activities they film for their YouTube channel Dream Team Travels — another “completely self-taught” venture, they said.
Hickups on the road
A life of constant travel isn’t all fun and games, they said.
They encounter dirty Airbnbs and hosts who cancel reservations at the last minute. They’ve also had their camera equipment and clothing stolen twice – once in Mexico and more recently in France – plus an attempt to steal their belongings from their car in Barcelona while they were sitting in it.
They’ve also considered settling down when they find a place they really love, such as the beaches of Portugal or the French Riviera, Tyminas said.
“But then … we drive somewhere else and we’re like this place is just as good,” he said.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, quickly occupying the Kherson region where Karpitskaya’s parents live, Tyminas emailed CNBC to say they would stop traveling for now.
Tyminas and Karpitskaya (pictured here in Abu Dhabi) stopped traveling at the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Karpitskaya’s family is now outside of Ukraine, except for her brother, who “has signed up to be in the army to defend his country,” Tyminas said.
Source: Dream Team Travels
“For the first few weeks, we didn’t even leave our apartment,” he said. “We spent a lot of time arranging transport for civilians as well as many dogs from shelters to be taken out of dangerous regions to be adopted in Europe.”
By summer, they had resumed travel, but were still helping to evacuate Karpitskaya’s family.
“Just a week ago we were able to finally get Darina’s parents out of Ukraine,” Tyminas said, adding that they are currently at his family’s home in Lithuania. “We also made a trip to Romania to pick up Darina’s sister and her five-month-old baby from the border and take her to live in Germany.”
The couple are now in Malaysia, they said, and plan to explore Southeast Asia for the next two months.