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The Rocky Mountains, rough rivers, a dry desert, and the endless jungle: traveling the world might seem crazy expensive. But Peleg Cohen, also known as Lonely Peleg, has traveled to over 100 countries with little to no money. Here, Peleg tells Culture Trip about his adventures and how easy it is to delve deep into the lands you never knew you could come across.
When did you first start traveling” And for how long did you want to go for originally?
The first time I went traveling was in 2005, right after I finished my military service for three years. It is a norm in Israel that after you complete your service most soldiers go traveling, anywhere from a few months to about a year – maybe a bit longer. I went to Asia, and I really loved it, I kept craving to go back. I traveled to Australia and New Zealand and then went back to Asia. After about a year of traveling I came back to Israel and still didn’t know what to do with myself. I decided that I needed to go back to traveling. Then I just kept on going and never really stopped; I found out that it is actually quite easy to travel with little to no money and it is what I love to do.
What made you fall in love with traveling and eventually make it your life?
I think what made me fall in love with traveling, is how I learned more in three months than I learned in 12 years of school. I learned so much about my fears, about myself. There is a colorful variety of culture, language and food that formal education can’t really touch upon; it is through experiences that you gain knowledge. For example, everyday I would meet let’s say five new cool people that would teach me 10 new things.
What has been your most influential (meaningful) country/city?
There is really not one place that I can pin point exactly. I really love Cape Town, I have already been there eight times: there are good people, good parties, good wine and a lot of sun – the nature is also unbelievable. If I had to say one place that really affected me and changed my travels was during my time in the Philippines, which was my 100th country that I have visited. I went to Smokey Mountain, which is the biggest dumpsite in Asia, and I started a project to help combat malnutrition and raise funds for these kids. I think this is ultimately why I do what I do; I get so much satisfaction in return.
What are your top 5 tips on traveling with little to no money?
– Flights! People always ask me how do I get cheap flights; the key is being flexible with your location and time. For example I was in Kazakhstan and I wanted to travel to a new destination, I kept looking and for a few days I couldn’t find anything and then I finally found a cheap flight to Malta, where I had never been, so I booked and flew.
– Don’t buy anything you don’t need, I don’t buy anything for my parents or my siblings or my friends, it isn’t necessary.
– Cook, especially when you are with other people. It is one of the best things you can do.
– Stay with people you know, go and sleep in different villages, couch surf, etc. After someone hosts me, I always say thank you by cooking a meal, going food shopping and filling up their fridge. It is a great gesture.
– Finally, the last piece of advice that I can give is to go with the flow! Even if you had plans be flexible and just go with what the wind blows your way.
Do you think you will eventually come back and settle back in Israel” If yes, where would you live within Israel?
I do love Israel, I think that if I do settle somewhere it will eventually be Israel. But I don’t think it is going to happen anytime soon. I still have about 70 countries to see and explore, which I haven’t reached yet. I want to continue experiencing new and diverse lands, and most importantly creating new projects and getting funded to pursue them! But if and when, I settle down in the far far future, I will most likely settle in the Golan or Galil in Israel, in a very quiet place with my own solar panels and have my own garden with fruits and vegetables.
What are your future plans?
My future plan is to keep conducting my lectures; it has gotten really great feedback. A lot of people come up to me after the lectures, and speak to me and I feel that I have really inspired them. It is a huge privilege to have people come and listen to what I have to say. Next I am flying to Brazil to move into a pavella – also known as a poor neighborhood – to continue creating more projects through Lonely Peleg. I believe strongly that every Israeli who travels should correlate their travels with volunteering, I think it is the most amazing and satisfying combination, as well as extremely important.
What is the most unusual experience you have had’
I have a lot of unusual experiences. A few crazy things that happened were when I was arrested in West Africa because I didn’t have my passport on me. I left it at the embassy and they thought that I was trying to be illegal in the country. Another crazy one was when I got malaria and typhoid fever; I was in the hospital in West Africa and almost died. But the most unusual stories and experiences I have come across are from the people I meet daily during my travels. I have met people anywhere from boy soldiers to crazy doctors. Everyone has a unique story and their stories affect me a lot and drag me to places that make my life and travels very interesting.
What is your dream destination?
I really want to go to Iran one day, I hear that the people are extremely friendly and that the food is very good. Also I have an inclination towards visiting Alaska this summer.
Do you have an Instagram, Facebook and a website?
Yes, I have all of them all under the name Lonley Peleg.
The most important message I can give out to anyone reading, is that everybody should do what they love, and sometimes when things seem and feel impossible, it is much easier than we think. Giving back to the community is what makes this world a better place and helps our communities grow.