Ernestas Tyminas felt “stuck” in his role as marketing manager at a newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
So he asked for two months off to backpack through Asia, he said, landing in Beijing in January 2019.
“On the first day…I meet this one,” he said, pointing to Darina Karpitskaya, who was seated next to him.
The couple, speaking to CNBC via video from Dubai, said they met through travel app Couchsurfing, which connects solo travellers. Karpitskaya, 31, and a flight attendant at the time, had been grounded in Beijing for two days due to mechanical problems on her flight home.
Although more solo travelers agreed to meet that day, Tyminas and Karpitskaya were the only two to show up.
After a day together, they planned to meet again in Asia a month later.
Karpitskaya returned to Asia, and the couple’s second date was a “month-long crazy adventure” in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, Tyminas, 29, said.
It was in the Philippines, he says, that he decided not to return to his old life.
“We were… lying on the beach under the stars,” he said. “We were kind of starting to dream about this lifestyle.”
After returning to Colorado, Tyminas quit his job, sold his possessions and moved to Europe, he said.
Karpitskaya wasn’t quite there yet, saying, “At first it sounded like, Oh my God, you’re quitting your job. You’re quitting America. Maybe it’s too soon. But at the same time, when I came back from this trip, I felt like I was living a life that I don’t enjoy.”
Tyminas flew from Denver to Paris with his dog – an 82-pound borzoi, formerly known as a “Russian greyhound”, named Cosmo, who stands over 6 feet tall on his hind legs.
“They gave me three rows of seats and the dog was lying on the floor,” he said.
From there, the couple traveled often — to places like Italy and Iceland — but not yet full-time, they said.
Ernestas Tyminas and Darina Karpitskaya have taken her dog, Cosmo, to 26 of the more than 40 countries they’ve visited together, Tyminas said. Cosmo is a great networking tool, added Karpitskaya: “We meet a lot of people walking their dogs.”
Source: Dream Team Journeys
Then Karpitskaya got what she called her “dream job” – a position with the airline Emirates. She moved to Dubai, but the couple continued to meet and travel together.
Then Covid hit and Karpitskaya accepted four months unpaid leave from her job.
“We said: we have four months – we can go and explore whatever is open,” Tyminas said.
The trio – including Cosmo, who traveled in a huge bed in the back of their SUV – traveled first to Croatia and then slowly through much of Europe, including many former Soviet states , Karpitskaya said.
She never returned to work and the couple have been traveling ever since, she said.
At first, they were spending between $1,000 and $2,000 a month — all from their savings — staying in cheap accommodations, cooking at home and looking for free activities, Tyminas said.
As the money began to dry up, Tyminas took several online jobs, which paid between $2,000 and $3,000 a month, not far off his $3,300 salary in Colorado, a- he declared.
Tyminas said the couple stayed longer in Romania because “we’ve seen how nice the people are… how much they have to offer. Sometimes you Google and you’re like, ‘There’s nothing to do here”, then you get there and [realize] it’s only because nobody travels here.”
Source: Dream Team Journeys
But the work was heavy and “I felt like I still had a job,” he said.
So the couple decided to open a marketing and graphic design business, despite the fact that “we didn’t know much,” Tyminas said.
They contacted thousands of people, they said, often working late into the night. Potential clients would ask, “Can you design book covers?” “Can you promote the music? Tyminas said his answer was always the same: “Of course I can.”
In reality, he was learning on the job, he said, relying on YouTube, Google and online research. But the customers were very happy, he says.
“They paid me half of what they would pay other marketing agencies and the results, they said, were better than before,” Tyminas said.
In the first month, the couple earned $6,000, he said. Now they sometimes earn several thousand dollars a day working with real estate companies and music labels, he added.
“We write blogs for people – we do everything,” Tyminas said. Moreover, “we don’t have to answer to anyone. We are our own bosses.”
Over the past six months, the couple said they spent an average of $4,000 a month. More than half goes to accommodation, which varies by location – from $3,100 a month in Dubai to $1,500 in Lisbon, Portugal, they said. They limit stays in expensive places, such as Switzerland, to no more than a week, they said.
One way to save money is to book month-long stays on Airbnb, which lowers average rates per night and lowers service and cleaning fees, Tyminas said. But even when they bounced from place to place to visit European Christmas markets last year, they ended up paying around $2,500 that month, he said.
Karpitskaya said she didn’t want people to be scared off by these costs, because they spent a lot less in the beginning. They used to spend about 80-100% of their income back then, but now Tyminas says, “we spend about 30% and…save the rest.”
The couple told CNBC they still travel modestly — not five-star hotels — and still cook most meals at home. But they spend more on the activities they film for their YouTube channel. Dream team trips — another “completely self-taught” company, they said.
A life of constant travel isn’t all fun and games, they said.
They encounter filthy Airbnbs and hosts who cancel reservations at the last minute. They also had their camera gear and clothes stolen on two occasions – once in Mexico and more recently in France – as well as an attempt to steal their belongings from their car in Barcelona, while they were sitting in it. .
They also thought about settling down when they found a place they really liked, like the beaches of Portugal or the French Riviera, Tyminas said.
“But then…we drive somewhere else and think this place is just as good,” he said.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, quickly occupying the Kherson region where Karpitskaya’s parents live, Tyminas emailed CNBC to say they had stopped traveling for the time being.
Tyminas and Karpitskaya (pictured here in Abu Dhabi) stopped traveling at the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Karpitskaya’s family is now out of Ukraine, except for her brother, who “joined the army to defend his country”, Tyminas said.
Source: Dream Team Journeys
“The first few weeks we didn’t even leave our apartment,” he said. “We spent a lot of time arranging the transportation of civilians as well as many shelter dogs out of dangerous areas for adoption in Europe.”
By summer they had started traveling again, but were still helping to evacuate Karpitskaya’s family.
“Just a week ago, we were finally able to get Darina’s parents out of Ukraine,” Tyminas said, adding that they are currently at her family’s home in Lithuania. “We also made a trip to Romania to pick up Darina’s sister and her five-month-old baby from the border and took her to live in Germany.”
The couple are now in Malaysia, they said, and plan to explore Southeast Asia over the next two months.