Ernestas and Darina from Dream Team Travels: “We really think that Lithuania should promote itself!”

  • 2021-09-30
  • Linas Jegelevicius, The Baltic Times editor-in-chief

Ernestas Tyminas, from Lithuania, and Darina Karpitskaya, from Ukraine, met after an airplane broke down in China. From the first day, they fell in love and decided to travel the world together and ended up creating Dream Team Travels to encourage people not to be afraid to travel with or without money, alone or with friends, and to show that each journey will help them grow. Ernestas Tyminas talked to The Baltic Times.

How do you make money for the globe-trotting?

When we met, I had a stable job in the USA as a Marketing Manager, and Darina was a flight attendant based in Ukraine. After our meeting and trip through South East Asia, I decided to quit my job and move to Europe to be closer to Darina. I sold everything, took one backpack and my dog (Russian Borzoi) with me. After one year of traveling and using up every cent of our savings, we decided we want to keep traveling non-stop so I took my marketing and business knowledge and started an online marketing company. In the first month, we ended up making a profit of 6,000 euros while working on average just 10-15 hours per week. Since then we have realized that nowadays online jobs are the future and we can earn more than doing our previous jobs. We believe that everyone can do what we have done.

And by education you are not a traveler, I suppose?...

While in the USA, I graduated from the University of Colorado with a Business Marketing degree and Darina has received a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Business, but she went into the aviation industry and has been a flight attendant for five years.

Is there any country or city you can call your ‘home base’?

In the last two years, we have not spent more than 1 month in any country. All of our clothes (winter, spring, summer, and fall), are inside our car and the trunk of the car is occupied by our dog and his bed. There are some cities we would like to settle down in, such as Munich, Rome, and Dubai, but, so far, we have not stayed anywhere long enough to be able to call it home.

Where do your parents live?

My mother and my stepdad recently moved to Washington DC, while Darina’s parents are located in Ukraine and have never been abroad. 

How many countries have you visited over the last 15 years? Do you remember clearly the sequence of the trips?

I have visited 40 counties and Darina has been to 43 so far. But in the last two and a half years, we have visited 28 countries together. And our dog Cosmo has already visited 20 countries! 

Both Darina and I can recall the sequence of each trip, not sure if our dog could do the same. 

What preparatory work do you usually do before setting out?

Our maximum time of preparation is three days, but most of the time our next destination is extremely last minute. For example, when we were in Croatia, we had booked accommodation which was canceled by the host last minute and we ended up just driving across Croatia and Slovenia into Italy and booked an apartment at 23:00 for that same night and the next day we got up and continued to drive to Verona. 

Once we planned to do some more hikes in Dolomites, Italy but our apartment lost internet and the host had no idea when it would be back, as freelancers’ internet is more essential than water to us. So again in the middle of the night, we booked accommodation in Germany for the next day not knowing if we would be able to cross the borders with covid situation/restrictions. 

Another time, when we were in Germany, we had planned to do some shopping for the next few days and realized we were there on a Sunday and Monday was also a holiday in Germany so we ended up driving through Belgium and into Normandy France. 

When Covid-19 locked everything down, a lot of destinations were closed for us and we went whatever was opened and ended up going to Mexico. After spending nearly a month there, we flew to Turkey and were able to record some amazing footage in these countries.

While in Turkey, we felt a bit stuck and didn’t know where to go until Malta announced it was open to travelers coming from Turkey and we flew there. 

Sometimes we were set on a destination, but we realized that we need to let go of the steering wheel and see where the road takes us.

Are there any countries you’re avoiding? Why?

We do not try to avoid any country in particular, but there are some countries that pull us more towards them. Some countries we end up avoiding because there are wars in them or are closed for tourists. We currently are trying to reach Saudi Arabia, but it is not so easy to get there and record the country.

Has your safety – and life –been ever in danger on the road?

Yes, a few times. When we were in Mexico, we decided to go check out one of the beaches in Tulum, we parked our rental car in a very popular area with a high amount of security, five minutes later we came back to find out car windows smashed. 

Someone broke into the car and broke open the trunk. Inside the trunk, they took our bags which included all of our camera gear, our brand-new Fujifilm Camera as well as our drone that was also hidden in the trunk. Around 4,000 euro of camera gear was stolen from us.

We called the emergency police number and they just hung up on us as soon as they realized we spoke in English. We flagged down the security police and they were not helpful at all and stated they do not speak any English. 

A local helped us with translation but the police ended up asking if we wanted to file for some sort of criminal report and told us that really nothing would be done if we did so. 

A while later we were told by some locals that police is often a part of the crime and they do nothing to report theft crimes as it is common and pretty much acceptable there, and some people ended up even blaming us for having such cameras, stating we were rich so we deserved it. However, when I bought the drone, I used up all of my savings and the camera was a Christmas gift for Darina and it was our first camera so it had a lot of sentimental value.

Another time we felt unsafe was in Spain, Barcelona. Darina and I were just sitting in our car thinking of which coffee shop to head to for breakfast and a guy on a bicycle rolled up to my driver seat window. He started pointing at something and making it look like there is some sort of issue with the car, I tried opening the door to see what he is pointing at but he blocked the door so that I could not open it. Suddenly we heard a bag wrinkle on our back seat and when we turned our heads and saw there was another guy who had opened our backdoor and was pulling our backpack out of the car. Darina suddenly jumped out of the car and started attacking the thief who instantly dropped the bag and sprinted away empty-handed. 

What safety precautions do you take when in a new country?

We try to read about the districts when we look for accommodations. While most of the time we try to stay with locals, in some destinations it is better to pay more to be in a gated community. 

We always hide our gear or take it with us in cheap bags to not stand out that we have something valuable in them. We don’t wear any jewelry and try to blend in with locals and not speak aloud in English. 

In some countries, for example, Mexico, we try not to go out late at night and wander the streets as we heard a lot of crime happens during the night. 

What would be your tips to somebody who’d like to follow into your footsteps and become a traveler?

The first step is always the hardest, everything is impossible until you make it possible. 

Our first tip is to find a source of income, Search for jobs on websites like UpWorks, flexjobs, or LinkedIn, don’t underestimate the power of social media. If your feel like your current skills don’t fit any online jobs you can quickly learn new skills like photoshop or premiere pro to help you find some easy jobs to make quick money. It took us around 6 months of searching and doing small gigs online before we figured out the process and made a steady income online.

Avoid luxury hotels, you can stay in hostels use Couchsurfing or airbnb. In hostels, you can find like-minded people and take away some new ideas. In Asia, there is a lot of freelancers from all over the world and a lot of people working as English teachers to make a decent income. 

When you are in a new country, don’t be afraid to talk to locals, get tips from them on what to see and where to eat cheap street food instead of wasting money in restaurants. 

Travel to affordable destinations. Although a flight to Eastern Asia may be expensive, the cost of living and traveling while there will be much more affordable than a cheap flight to Paris and an expensive hotel, transportation, and food in Europe.

Pack light – we managed to pack all our belongings into two backpacks and a suitcase. When we fly we only use two carry-on backpacks to cut the cost.

But we also want to say that travel is not always glamorous and it is not as easy and simple as everyone makes it look on their Instagrams. 

What are your top-five most beautiful countries?

Italy. It always has our heart with the charming coasts, impressive dolomite mountains, and, oh my God, the food!

Iceland. It truly feels like a different world, at one time you can be impressed taking thousands of photos of a glacier beach and 1-hour drive later by on top of a volcano. 

Vietnam. Kind people with the most beautiful souls live here. The whole country is located on a coast, it is a country where you can spend a morning hiking in the mountains and the afternoon laying on a beach.

Indonesia. Very chill vibes, where you feel freer than ever before, cheap prices that allow you to afford many surfing lessons while admiring the stunning nature.

New Zealand. Indescribable, just go there!

And those top-five least known yet amazing?

San Marino. It is one of the least visited countries in Europe, and, honestly, we didn’t even realize it was in Italy. On our way from Verona to Abruzzo, we saw a sign to San Marino and decided, why not visit another country. It was a huge surprise for us how lovely and charming it was. Our biggest discovery was their wine. We ended up buying nine bottles as souvenirs and ended up drinking them all… Their wine truly goes into our favorite!

Kyrgyzstan. Besides their incredible nature you can meet Eagle hunters, build and live in Yurts. Here you feel like you escaped the rest of the world.

The Philippines. While most people go to Thailand and Indonesia, we truly loved the Philippines and their empty undiscovered beaches where we swam sharks, and at night gaze at the stars while surrounded by hundreds of fireflies. 

Malta. An extremely beautiful country in the Mediterranean Sea that we had the pleasure to explore. In their fishing villages, you will see boats with eyes that scare away evil. Explore cities with miracle churches that survive bombs, cliffs that will leave you speechless and can even find the home of Popeye himself.

What is most fascinating to you about Lithuania?

Personally, I am very impressed with how Lithuania has grown since I left as a kid.

 I remember waiting at crosswalks and no one would stop to let us cross the street even police would fly by, I remember going to a restaurant and waiters being rude and having terrible customer service. Now I feel like people have become kinder, the parks are clean and remodeled. It really has changed a lot since I use to live here. I am still fascinated by how green and beautiful nature is here.

Darina fell in love with the food, I couldn’t pull her away from cepelinai (dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes and stuffed with ground meat) and šaltibarščiai (a cold beetroot soup)

She also noticed how patriotic Lithuanians are. They often talked about their basketball players, tried to teach her Lithuanian because it is one of the oldest spoken languages, and locals were proud of how far they have gone since their independence. When we flew on the hot air balloon over Trakai, Darina also couldn’t believe how green and beautiful Lithuania is.

How often do you get to visit Lithuania?

When I lived in America for 8 years, I visited Lithuania only twice. But when I came back to Europe, I visited my family in Lithuania a few times and also brought Darina to show her the country and explore it myself. 

What are Lithuania’s top-five sightseeing sites you’d suggest everyone to see?

We think both locals and tourists should have visited these five places to know a lot about Lithuania, its culture and nature: 

– Trakai for a romantic escape

– Hills of Crosses for history

– Nida for the beach

– Kaunas for authenticity

– Bottom of Lithuania for example Baltosios Ančios HES for a quiet escape/camping and nature.

Be honest: how well-known is Lithuania worldwide?

In Europe, a lot of people confuse it with Latvia. Sometimes I say I am from Lithuania and they instantly say: “Oh Latvia is beautiful”. People don’t really know about Lithuania or Lithuanian cuisine, sometimes they may know the capital is Vilnius but know nothing else. 

In the Americas, the first thing people ask us is if it is in Russia or a part of Russia. People here don’t know any cities in Lithuania but sometimes they can name a few basketball players from Lithuania… And they are very proud of knowing this knowledge. 

In Asia, people don’t understand or have ever heard of Lithuania unless you say it not in English. We often have to say Lietuva or Litva because that is closer to their language translation. If they are more educated, they have heard about the country but don’t know anything about it besides that it was part of the Soviet Union.

We really think that Lithuania should promote itself more and this idea inspired us to make a video about Lithuania and this beautiful country.

It can be seen following the link on the internet:

Can you share with us a story that stood out to you in some far-flung country?

One time, I was in a remote village in Vietnam where people said they have never seen a tourist in their lives when my friend’s dad asked in Vietnamese what country I was from. When I said a small country in Europe called Lithuania. His eyes lit up full of life and he started telling a story about how, during the Soviet Union, there were a few military people here in Vietnam doing training with him and his fellow soldiers. He remembers that the guys were very friendly and left a very good impression for him of our country. He also told me that he was surprised but proud that they called themselves Lithuanians and did not identify themselves as part of the Soviet Union.

How often does your mum call you to check on your well-being and safety? How often do you get to see her?

At first, our parents worried a lot more, especially when we would travel to far destinations like South Asia or the Middle East. They message us almost every day, but we often ended up going off the grid for a couple of weeks. 

Of course, being parents, they always worry about us, but they are truly happy seeing us being passionate and living our dream lives. 

On average, we only see our parents once a year or once every other year. For example, Darina’s parents we have not seen for two years and a week ago we finally managed to get to them. It was extremely hard seeing them say bye to us with tears in their eyes. We will try to change this when we end up settling down in the next few years.

Where is your next trip to?

Currently, the next trip is to Georgia, but we are still hoping to hear back from Saudi Arabia or Mongolia which might change our plans.