Tomas Hromjak: The Man Who Backpacked Throughout the Pandemic

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Tomas Hromjak

While on his backpacking trip, Tomas Hromjak has been able to connect with locals’ cultures.

Tiana Salisbury, Photojournalist

Tomas Hromjak had been working a corporate job for a few years in Slovakia, but he decided to quit so that he could pursue his dreams of going on a backpacking trip. He left Slovakia in December of 2019 to go on a year-long trip, which would take him to destinations like Germany, Los Angeles, Indonesia, and New Zealand. However, a few months after Hromjak began his journey, COVID-19 began to rapidly spread around the world, resulting in lockdowns and border closures that would give him the trip of a lifetime.

 

For the first few months of Hromjak’s trip, he visited numerous countries in Asia, such as Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. He states that he first heard about the coronavirus when he was in Myanmar, but he didn’t take it seriously at the time. Since this trip had been one he was planning for such as long time, he did not want to quit like other travelers were; instead, he decided to keep going until things became worse. After spending some time in Myanmar, he flew to Tonga with the plan of staying there for only 15 days. However, Tonga closed down, which resulted in Hromjak’s 15-day stay becoming a 222-day stay.

 

While in lockdown in Tonga, Hromjak lived with a local family, giving him no reasoning to go back to Slovakia. He also realized that staying in Tonga was a better decision than returning home since Tonga remained COVID-19 free throughout the pandemic.

 

Hromjak was forced to abandon his plans for the rest of his trip; his next destination was planned to be New Zealand, but the country’s borders restrictions were too strict. So when restrictions around the world began to relax a little, Hromjak decided to go to Mexico and since visited Ecuador, Chile, Peru, and Panama.

 

When reflecting on his journey so far, Hromjak states that he has experienced several quarantines and lockdowns that have hindered his travels. For example, while he was in Chile, he had to comply with quarantine measures and curfews and ask for permission to go some places. 

Tomas Hromjak is very lucky to be able to travel during the pandemic and experience traveling without the crowds.”

— Madison Liao (11)

Hromjak also says that being a traveler in places where there are no tourists has also been an interesting experience. He has been able to connect with locals’ cultures and visit practically empty tourist spots. After hearing about Hromjak’s travels, Madison Liao (11) says that “he is very lucky to be able to travel during the pandemic and experience traveling without the crowds.”

Hromjak does not plan on ending his travels anytime soon. After returning home for Christmas later this year, he wants to continue his journey and proceed with experiencing the world like he never has before.