Travel Tales with Leif – The Runaway Guide

How many people do you know ran away from home at the age of 16 and ended up travelling the world without a penny to their name?

Meet Leif from

From living on the streets, being thrown into jail for an illegal border crossing, getting featured on Fox News, to writing books – this guy has both travel and life stories that will make you take notice. A very cool, smart guy by all accounts.

Leif from The Runaway Guide

Leif from The Runaway Guide

Tell us where you’re from, and a little about your blog “The Runaway Guide”?

My Name is Leif, and at 16 I ran away from my home in New York. I had no money and no idea what I was doing but somehow managed to survive and travel through Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It was a journey that opened my eyes to the world and changed my life. It taught me that travel is possible even on a budget of 0$ a day.

As a result, The Runaway Guide is not your typical travel blog. While it does have articles on finding cheap flights and how to pack, the majority of the content stems from my knowledge gained during my first year abroad. It is for ultra budget backpackers and anyone who has ever contemplated travel as a medium for change, enlightenment, freedom, and happiness.

Your blog was in the spotlight back in February – can you tell us a bit about that?

That was pretty silly. Long story short, a 15 year old kid ran away and was abducted by an armed gang. Fox news blamed the democrats first, and then singled out my travel blog as the primary reason this kid ran away. They claimed the boy met his captors through my site. As it turns out, the boy was at his Aunts house and had made up everything. You can read about it here if you’re interested, The Runaway Guide On Fox News


At the Pyramids of Giza

You have lived and stayed in some pretty unconventional places on your adventures – which one stands out the most for you?

In engine rooms on Israeli ships, in the moat of a French fort with a bunch of homeless people, in a group home, in a Bulgarian prison, on the Pyramids, and in cylindrical concrete barrel that looked nice enough the night before but realized it had been used as a toilette when I woke up the next morning to name a few. (fort pic)

What’s your country count at the moment?

I’m not too sure, but I think I’m at about 60.

Is there any country you’ve not yet visited that’s a must see destination for you?

Last year I made it down to Colombia and loved it. So, I’m actually really looking forward to visiting Brazil and the rest of South America.

If you had to choose your favourite destination so far, what would it be and why?

I like too many places to pick just one. El Salvador, Malaysia, Egypt, and Ethiopia are among my favorites though.


Ethiopian Kids

Name two things that you can’t live without while travelling?

Being part Japanese, I always take loads of salted seaweed and instant miso soup packs with me. It saves me whenever I’m down or after some devastating diarrhea.

What’s your most epic travel story to date?

I tried to illegally jump the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. I was caught and spent a month in Greek/Bulgarian jails. I was 16. I wrote a shot story about it here, Bulgarian Border Jumping

Is there one post on your blog that you prefer over all the rest? If so, then why?

I wrote a post after surviving the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan. I spent a lot time trying to convey the experience through the article, and I think it does that pretty well. An Earthquake State Of Mind

free as a bird

Free as a bird

What are your travel plans for the future?

I’m headed to Guatemala on Nov 16th and will set up base there while I complete my book. Then I’m planning on backpacking through Central America.



Do you plan on writing a book about your life story at some stage?

I’m actually working on it right now. It’s going to be called “Chasing Life.” Here’s a short overview, “From the damp streets of Paris to the chaos of Cairo, from quaint Scottish shires to the slums of Istanbul, by trains, planes, ships, hitchhiking, and foot, with various enlightening and eccentric peoples, a plethora of perspective altering drugs, crystal clear moments, near death experiences, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, border jumping, and Bulgarian prisons all through the eyes of a penniless, curious, frustrated, adventurous, middle class, 16 year old New Yorker, searching…for himself. “

Favourite travel quote?

Pour out your poison that it may refresh us!

This fire burns our brains so fiercely, we wish to plunge

To the abyss’ depths, Heaven or Hell, does it matter?

To the depths of the Unknown to find something new!”




About the author:

When Leif was 16 he ran away from home and explored much of Europe and the Middle East without a dime. He is currently working on a book about this adventure as he continues to make new ones traveling the world. Through his experiences, advice and adventures, he hopes to prepare, empower, and inspire others to travel. Visit, connect with him on Facebook, or check him out on Twitter.