Dubai: Couple travels to 17 countries without a plane, makes pit stop in UAE

The German couple started their adventure nine months ago and have been using buses, cars, boats and ships to get to and from places


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 11 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 12 Feb 2024, 3:35 PM

Imagine travelling halfway across the world without using an aeroplane. That is exactly what German couple Theresa and Dennis are doing. The duo have been on the move for over nine months now and made a pit stop at Dubai earlier this week. The UAE is the 17th country they have visited since starting their adventure.

“We have been using buses, cars, boats and ships to get to and from places,” said Dennis. “The idea to travel without flights was first taken on a whim, but now we have realised that we are inspiring a lot of people around the world. So we are trying our best to stick to it as much as possible.”

In Iraq, the couple opted for a 23-hour bus ride as opposed to a one-hour plane ride for visa reasons to stay true to their commitment. “Iraq has two types of visas — one for the Kurdish region and one for the rest of the country,” said Dennis. “We had the option to take a one hour flight from the Kurdish region and get our visas at the airport but we instead chose to get on a bus to Turkey and then re-enter Iraq through a different border.”

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However, here in the UAE the couple are still looking for options for their onward travel. “We want to go to either India or Pakistan by boat,” said Theresa. “But we have not been able to find such a travel option. Our other option is to travel by boat to Iran, however German citizens have been advised not to go into Iran and Russia because of the political situation. We are adventurous but we do like to have a safety net.”

Since they began blogging about their experience on social media, the couple have amassed a following of over 20,000 people on Instagram and have made friends in almost every city they have been to.

Travelling for the people

For Theresa and Dennis, the focus of their trip has been the people they have met. “While in Turkey, we got a message from a guy called Ibrahim who lived in Amasya inviting us to visit his family,” said Theresa. “It was an eight hour detour from our planned route. We debated whether to go or not and then decided we really wanted to meet him.”

At Amasya, an unforgettable experience awaited them. “Ibrahim’s wife had cooked a feast for us,” said Dennis. “They even had a small chocolate cake with our names on it. They then took us around the place. It was the best decision we took despite the fact that we had to spend 20 hours on the bus to make it happen. These are the kind of encounters that make our trip worthwhile.”

In Mosul, they met a rich Sheikh who hosted them in his mansion, while in Georgia they danced with a stranger for her birthday. However, Theresa admitted that she understood the true meaning of hospitality in the Middle East.


“The hospitality of this region is one of a kind,” she said. “Whether in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or here in the UAE, random people have stopped to help us when we were trying to figure our way out. They have given us a lift and even paid for our taxi. It has been the most amazing experience coming here.”

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

Travelling light

Theresa and Dennis have been travelling throughout the last nine months with just 4-5 pair of clothes. “We carry everything in our backpack so we try to travel as light as possible,” said Theresa. “We have a water and wind proof jacket, sports clothes and one outfit for the city. We use fabrics like merino wool, which don’t have to be washed often. Having said that, we try to wash our clothes at least once a week.”

The couple also carry one pair of normal shoes, hiking shoes and sandals. Apart from that they have a medicine bag, cosmetics, a neck pillow, laptop, camera and a specialized bottle. “The filter bottle is a plastic bottle with a filter on top of it,” said Dennis. “Wherever we are, we can drink the water. We just have to put water in it and let it filter. It has been a lifesaver.”

They also have a foldable bag that they carry during the day, a torch, a swiss knife and a set of cards with the photos of their friends, for whenever they miss home.

Bonding over a coconut story

The couple who met over eight years ago first bonded over the story of how Theresa was almost killed by a coconut. “I had done an internship in the Indian city of Bangalore and while walking back home after a meal with a friend, a coconut fell on my head,” recalled Theresa. “It gave me a major concussion and I had some difficulties because of it for months. When I returned home to Munich, a friend introduced me to Dennis at a party and said that he too loved to travel.”

Throughout the evening the duo shared their stories about travelling through Southeast Asia and bonded over it. “When she told me the coconut story, I remember thinking to myself 'oh she is interesting',” said Dennis. The couple then made plans to travel together. During the Covid pandemic, they saved up some money and in 2023 decided that it was now or never.

“We knew that we wanted to have one epic adventure and we had plans to travel for an entire year,” said Theresa. “However, we have been travelling slow, taking in all the experiences and the people. So I think we will be travelling for more than a year. We are only planning a few countries ahead at a time now. We will see where the universe takes us.”


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