Teresa Bancewicz – 76 Years Old, See the World on $8 a Day

If she can do it, anyone can.

Many people dream about traveling, about seeing the World and meeting people but always find excuses to stay at home. Yes, excuses, because actually, if you want, you can hit the road whenever. What keeps us at home is laziness and lack of courage, not commitments, lack of money or time or anything else. The proof is the story of Teresa Bancewicz – a 76 years old Polish hitchhiking lady.

She was born in 1934. She graduated art high school in Wrocław. She is the mother of three children. She was working as designer in a provincial domestic trade company for 35 years but lost her job when she was 55. She got government benefits of 300 PLN per month (about 100 USD), now she is retired and gets 700 PLN (250 USD). When her husband lost his job they moved to the country but she soon fell into depression and bad health. Her doctor suggested a change of environment, but how to do that when it was tough to just get by?

By hitchhiking of course.

Teresa made her first hitchhiking trip in 1996, reaching Finland and since then she traveled across Europe, large parts of Africa, the Middle East and almost all of Asia. She slept in drilled rock houses of Berbers near the Sahara Desert and in tents on the banks of the Nile. Two years ago she reached Japan. One year ago she visited Cuba.

Of course she didn’t only hitchhike. She got to Cuba by plane, to Asia by Trans-Syberian rail. Where did the money come from? Donations. Her ticket to Cuba was sponsored by the residents of the town she lives in. She also used her initiative. She creates unique postcards from paint and glued ornaments. When she is running out of money, she sells them during her trip.

And what does Teresa carry with her? Her 30 kg (!) backpack contains:

8 to 10 kg of cereals and powdered milk (enough for 2 meals a day for 2 months)

250 cubes of dry alcohol fuel

A tin can with holes in it to use as a stove

An aluminum mug

A sleeping bag

A tent

Several kilos of handmade postcards

Hygienic accessories

Warm clothes

Spoon and fork

Teresa Bancewicz is still on the road. In November last year she finished her trip to Kazakhstan.

‘I don’t forget meetings, experiences, but I can forget the height of a mountain or the name of a beautiful building. I remember what I have learned by 12 years of traveling. I have learned to smile and be cheerful. I have learned that it’s good to always smile at people because everyone can repay a smile.’ she says.

Her story is enough to put an end to all excuses and inspire anyone to hit the road.

Alan Hynek