Travelling to over 35 countries before even hitting the age of 23 is a pretty remarkable feat. Throw in the fact that all of this was done solo on a bike and the just blows people’s minds. That’s exactly what Lone Wanderer, Rohith Subramanian did!
Rohith like most of us today, worked hard to get that paycheck and live from weekend to weekend. He worked in a startup where he used to pull in 12 hours or more every day. Eventually, the monotony of it all caught up to him and he wanted to break free.
He came across the story of a 40-year old American, who had made a bucket list of things to do when he was 21 years old. When he got to the age of 40, he realized that he didn’t do any of those things when he had the chance to and he deeply regretted it.
Rohith looked at himself and decided that he did not want to wake up one day feeling like he didn’t live his life. He always wanted to travel and thought to himself “If not now? Then when?”. He then left it all behind, his job, home, and family and began travelling full time.
Around India In 180 Days
His first major solo trip was a 180-day trip around India. He rode a whopping 31,900 km covering every state and Union Territory in the country. He kept to his rule of not staying in a hostel or hotel. If he didn’t get accommodation, he would stay in a Railway Station or Police Station.
He also tried his hand at different occupations every day, where he was a chaiwala in Karnataka, laid tar roads in Kerala, was a vada pav vendor in Maharashtra, and a mechanic in Leh.
Rohith’s first international trip took place over 8 months in South-East Asia, where he switched motorbikes in different countries. He covered Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar, all the while meeting new people and not breaking any of his rules.
Next, he travelled to Europe where he covered 23 countries, including Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the Southern Slavic states. He had a number of incredible experiences here, including getting rescued by a girl he met on Tinder!
His First Ever Trip
Rohith was always restless as a child. When he was 13 years old, during his summer holidays he was so bored sitting at home that he just packed a bag and went to the Chennai Bus Station. He got on a random bus, without even knowing where the bus would go and just travelled.
His first life-changing trip came when he was 18 years old and a friend of his took him to Leh. He fell in love with the terrain and peace of Leh. He took up a part-time job at a mechanic shop in Leh, where he sold a number of bikes.
The owner took to him and lent Rohith his bike to ride around the hills for five days. This was the first time he rode a Royal Enfield and after 2km of riding, he had his first fall. This fall changed his life for the better and that’s when he knew that this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Now he calls himself Misfit Magellan after the famous Portuguese explorer.
The World Isn’t Such A Bad Place
When we look at the media’s portrayal of the world today, most of us are under the impression that there is no humanity left. Rohith, on the other hand, believes that the world is an amazing place, simply because of how well people have treated him wherever he went. Rohith has never had to stay in a hotel or a hostel because someone, somewhere has opened their door to him.
According to Rohith, “When I told someone I was hungry, they had given more than enough food to eat. When I told someone I needed a place to crash, they treated me like a king. The kindness of the world is what allows me to live my dream.”
Managing A Budget
To save up on money, Rohith never stays in a hotel or a hostel. He also only survives on a meal a day to save up the money. He says, “For me, travel is so important, I don’t mind cutting down on my meals. I know one day I might get ulcers or won’t be fit enough to even get up on a motorbike, but for me the sheer joy of travelling an extra 20 km by cutting down on one meal a day is a beautiful feeling.” He says it’s a personal choice and doesn’t recommend anyone does it.
Rohith also travels light with only two pairs of jeans and a few t-shirts. He doesn’t pick up souvenirs either, saying “I carry memories of these places and these are the only souvenirs I need”. The only souvenirs he does carry are ones people give him on the road.
In addition to this, Rohith used to run a crowdsourcing company to crowdfund his trips. He has gotten to know a number of sponsors through the internet who are happy to fund his trips all over the world.
How Rohith Makes Friends
Most people are afraid to go up to a stranger and make a conversation in the day to day life, but Rohith has made a living on this. So how does he do it?
Rohith lives by this quote from Benjamin Mee from the movie We Bought A Zoo, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” He makes random conversations with people from all over the world and after they hear his story, most people are ready to invite him into their homes.
He says “Always Smile. A smile will take you a long way, wherever you go.” even says that 99% of the people he’s met trust him enough to give him the keys to the house.
His Most Memorable Moment
Rohith was headed to meet one of his hostel friends and another friend in Indonesia, both of whom didn’t know each other. They met for the first time through Rohith and began dating shortly after. A year later when he was in Europe he heard they were going to get married. He surprised them at their wedding after telling them he won’t be able to make it. The sheer joy he got when people recognised him as the reason his friends were together still has a special place in his heart.
Bizarre Incidents On The Road
When Rohith was riding across Europe, he had a fall in France and another one in Austria, both of which badly hurt his knee. As a result of this, he had to cut his riding time short every day, especially in Italy, where temperatures hit a scorching 45°C. He tried stopping wherever he could to save up on his energy. On his way from Tuscany to Rome, he stopped in a tiny village, where he met a large, bald man covered in tattoos. He spoke to him in broken English with a heavy Italian accent and invited him to his house for the night.
Here Rohith met the man’s wife who spoke fluent English. They began exchanging stories over a lovely home cooked meal and the couple was extremely fascinated with his life. Then it was the man’s turn to recount his story. He told Rohith that he was a hitman for an Italian mafia family and he was in hiding. Rohith dismissed the story as a joke and continued eating, after a while, he told them he couldn’t eat anymore and the man stood up next to him and held a gun to his head. Rohith laughed nervously and did stay at the house for the night. He couldn’t get a wink of sleep because of sheer fear and left at the first sign of dawn.
His Favourite Part About Biking
Most bikers when asked what’s their favourite part of biking reply with the now cliched “seeing the open roads before you” and “the wind in your face is a beautiful feeling”. Rohith agrees that this does happen, but just for about five minutes in a day. He says that when you’re on the road things start off happy and relaxed, but at some point, you will get frustrated with what’s going on.
According to Rohith, “I’ve laughed, cried, screamed, and felt at peace on the roads. The road has become a reflection of who I am today. For me that’s the best part about riding a motorcycle— I love how I can feel every one of these emotions during the day”
Travel Tips For Bikers
Rohith’s advice for fellow bikers like himself is, “Always, always, always wear safety gear on the road. Your life is more important than anything. If you’re sleepy, make sure you sleep. If you don’t feel right, don’t ride. The miles don’t matter. Respect your environment and don’t litter. Make sure you carry your trash and throw it when you find a place to dispose of it. When you respect the road, it will respect you back.”
Advice For Those Who Want Adventure
Rohith says, “You have one life and you have to do what you have to do. Step out and see what it means to you. If you like it, do it more often. If you don’t like it, don’t force yourself to do what you don’t like it. Do what makes you comfortable. If you like staying in a luxury hotel do it. If you prefer the outdoors, go out and camp. There is no wrong way to travel! Being yourself is what’s important at the end of the day.”
Where Is He Now?
If you thought Rohith couldn’t get more interesting, think again. He’s now joined up with a solo female traveller, Ankita Kumar and an Irish investigative traveller, William Meara for an exciting 100-day caravan trip around India. You can check out their amazing little van “Kiro” and their adventures on the road on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.