Eugene Reimer
 
Eugene tell us something about your background and how you became interested in travelling.

I started to be interested in travelling when I ventured in carpooling back in 2003. Since then, more than 1,200 travellers shared their car journey with me within Europe. Within our trip, they talked a lot about traveling outside Europe and different parts of the world, which is basically the main reason why I was drawn to plan and start my journey as a backpacker.

You seem to be the archetypal backpacker. What exactly does backpacking mean for you?

For me, backpacking is not only to see wonderful places within a country but to know more about the country’s culture, to understand how people live and how they think. Whenever I travel, I spend more time with the locals and other tourists because my focus is to know each country’s situation and culture – I think travelling is more interesting that way.

You organise a number of backpacking groups. Tell us something about them - how they function and what they offer for travellers.

Yes, I manage 80 groups in Facebook with approximately 300,000 members that keep increasing every day. I started my first group in 2010 which was an Australian Facebook page. My first page was created when I was in Australia while looking for travellers and partners, while at the time Facebook was also just beginning to soar its popularity. Now, with the number of group I’m managing, it is safe to say that I’ve been successful in building a stable network of travellers and backpackers.

Do you believe that anybody can be a backpacker or does it take a specific type of personality?

In my opinion, not everyone can become a long-term backpacker because of the fact that you tend to be away from your family and friends for months or even years. Some may endure being away with their loved ones, but there are others who really can’t bear the feeling of missing someone - even if it is only for a short period of time.

You have a website and are active on social media. Tell us a little about these - are they income generating? How do you finance your travels?

Yes, I do have a website but still under developmental phase. The website is searchable via search engine platforms but it isn’t really complete yet, as there are tons of updates that need to be done. The website doesn’t generate income yet. 

You have been to 90 UN countries. Do you plan to complete them all? Any timelines and specific goals?

Yes, I have already travelled to 111 TCC countries, out of which are 91 UN countries. Yes, it is my ultimate goal to travel all countries in the world, but I don’t really rush travelling from one place to another because I prefer to experience and spend time knowing the country’s culture and the country itself. At the moment, I’m here in Europe but my next stop will be in the Middle East.

Have you had to 'sacrifice' anything to lead your kind of lifestyle? Do you have a 'home'? What about friendships/relationships?

With the kind of lifestyle I have, it is somewhat difficult to keep romantic relationships. I have been into relationships though it didn’t really work out well; however, I’m still hoping  that there will come a time that I’ll be meeting a girl who’s crazy (not literally) and is also into traveling. Though I’m not romantically linked to someone at the moment, I do have tons of friends that I meet once in a while.

Of the countries you have been to which ones surprised you positively or negatively compared to what you were expecting?

I'd say in the Middle East. We always see news that somehow refers to Middle East as a dangerous place to visit, but I don't think that this is true. I think, you would have to visit the region itself, see how people live and observe their culture before making any judgement. There are numerous countries which the media have tagged as the worst places to visit, but once you're there, you'll definitely say to yourself "Good thing I've come here or else I would be missing a lot." As a backpacker, one thing you should learn is to not always believe what you see and hear in the news.

Do you think you will still be backpacking in 10 years or will you change your way of travel?

 Yes, I think so. No matter how old you are, you will continue doing backpacking so long as you don't need to jump mountains. If you really love and appreciate going into different places, age is not really a hindrance.

What are your travel plans for the next 6 months?

After a trip to Scandinavia, I also plan to go to Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, Turkey and Russia in the next months.

Finally - if you could invite any 4 people (from any time in history) to a dinner, who would they be and why?

I have known too many good people in the past until now, so it is really hard for me to decide whom I would invite for dinner. Although, among them, I would definitely invite my first couchsurfer friend from Dubai named Diggy, who trusted me so much even though we had just met. Second would be a close Backpacker-Footsteps team member, named Adelyn, who helped me a lot in the past and who's continuously helping me now. 

The third would be a lady from Thailand called Peetim. She has a big heart and helps the whole local community, especially the children in her town Singburi. I love what she is doing and therefore she is the third person I would like to invite.

There are really many people I would like to invite. It is difficult to decide. So I give the fourth place to all the people who have supported me all the years. All of them are amazing and great people.

The photographs accompanying this interview are from Eugene's private collection.

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