January 9, 2015
Ten years ago, Ukrainian traveler Anna Grechishkina had no ties to motorcycling. Her family members didn’t ride. Her friends didn’t ride. But she was somehow drawn to it, and it has now become a way of life.
On a whim at the age of 25, Anna decided to get her motorcycle license (which she said is quite a lengthy process in Ukraine) and has never looked back. She spent nine years traveling by motorcycle before getting the idea to take a long trip. She visited India twice before deciding to plan a world trip, leaving her aunts and cousins behind in Ukraine.
“Of course they were worried and concerned,”she said. “They tried to talk me out of it.”
Anna calls herself a very careful rider who doesn’t take unnecessary risks. She admits to being homesick at times, but has really thrived during her “World Trip,” as she calls it, which began in July of 2013. She intends to visit 50 countries on five continents over the course of two years. In the past 17 months, she’s ridden from the Ukraine to Eastern Europe through Russia, and then to Southeast Asia, before covering Australia and the United States.
Anna reached out to sponsors to help her prepare for the trip and KTM stepped up to the plate by giving Anna a 2013 KTM Adventure 1190 to ride, and many dealerships along the way have provided regular maintenance. The bike was quite different from the cruisers she had ridden in the past—heavier and taller—but she quickly adapted.
“I was really scared and horrified at first, but it’s proved to be very reliable,” she said.
She had a few other sponsors lined up before she left Ukraine, but admits she only had enough money to carry her for a couple months when she first departed.
“I just had to start,” she said. “I told myself if my trip was meant to be, it would work out.”
So far, it has. Anna has a fundraising page on her website (ihaveadreamrtw.com) and a Facebook page where many people follow her journey. She often makes friends along the way and is offered accommodations in their homes.
“It’s just a miracle I’m still on the road with no money or sponsorships,” she admits.
The two-year trip may even be extended, as Anna has been able to take her time visiting new places and meeting new people.
“I’m not restricted with time limits,” she said. “The problem is only with finances.”
Anna’s adventure hasn’t only been about the travel. She’s focused on sharing her stories with others she meets along the way, and often sets up speaking engagements at schools and orphanages. She said that part of the journey has been the most rewarding.
“I like to tell them ‘Look, if you have a dream you have to pursue it,’ ” she said. “Because I was so passionate, I just tried to go outside my comfort zone. I’m just an ordinary girl. You just have to try. The first step is the hardest.”
Most of the speaking endeavors occur by happenstance since Anna doesn’t have the time or means to organize them very far in advance. Often, when she gets into a town, she visits with the locals and one thing leads to another and she is asked to talk about her adventure.
Anna is calling her world trip, “I Have a Dream.”
“It’s not just about my dream, but other people’s dreams,” she said, adding that she plans to write a book about dreams all around the world once she returns home. “That’s really inspiring for me. If I change somebody’s life, then the mission of my trip would be completed.”
Speaking by phone from San Antonio, Texas, where she competed the U.S. portion of her world trip, Anna was preparing to fly to San Francisco where she told her story to far larger groups of adults at the headquarters of Facebook and Google in mid December. Those speaking endeavors came about through the people she met earlier in her journey, which happened to have connections with the businesses.
Anna then flew back to Texas and is about to begin her motorcycle trip south to Mexico and South America, followed by a final leg in Africa. She said she is really looking forward to traveling to Mexico and the Central American countries, but has been told that it is much more dangerous there. She has been trying to make contacts with people there ahead of time and to find safe places to go.
So far, Anna hasn’t had many problems on the road. Weather has been decent and repairs have been minor. But a passport and paperwork issue when trying to ship her motorcycle overseas to Australia held her up for nearly a month.
Despite the challenges, she said the trip has really changed her—in ways she never imagined.
“I have more confidence in myself,” she said. “Everything happens in life and you have to accept it with gratitude. Everything happening is a lesson and wisdom for us. I’ve found a lot of potential inside me. I think that I’m a better person now.”
She said the trip has had such an impact on her life that she views it in two halves—before the world trip began, and after.
“I’ve learned to love the world and myself and other people more,” she said. “There’s something great inside of me that’s just growing. I’ve learned about myself so much.”
And what will Anna do when her around-the-world adventure comes to an end?
“After such a trip like this, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to settle down,” she said. “I think no matter what, I see myself as always moving and always traveling. That’s my vision.”