Hanne has been to over 50 countries, and we interviewed her about her adventures. She has managed to do what most people dream of – find a way to travel while working it into her career! With opportunities to live in so many different places, usually for a much longer time than a typical traveler will stay in one place, she has been able to dive deep into many amazing destinations around the world.
What motivated you to start travelling?
There were many factors that motivated me to travel out in the big world. I always loved to travel and figured that it was when I travelled I was really happy. Furthermore, I have strong wanderlust, and wanted to see the world and experience other cultures.
I also thought about my career, so I started to travel by doing intern-ships, as I knew it was hard competitions to get jobs within my field in Norway. I really liked to travel this way, as it was a way to stay for a longer time in a country and really get to know the locals and their culture, and it ended up with that I took many more intern-ships.
After that, every time I came home to Norway, I got what they call reverse culture shock (a kind of depression due to that you do not feel home when being in your home country) and I just wanted to go out to travel again. And that is how it has been ever since.
Where have you gone, and where are you going?
I have been to over 50 countries, divided on five continents. I guess it will boring and too many if I mention all of them here. However, I have been living for longer times in New York, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Cuba, Bolivia and India.
That being said, I dream about going everywhere I have not been yet, so that is where I will be going. But my next trip will be to Central America, again. I will be visiting Mexico, Honduras and Belize. This will most likely be in June.
How much have you planned of your itinerary and how much is spontaneous?
Most of my trips are pretty spontaneous. I am a person that usually books my flight ticket a couple of weeks or days before. But usually have been thinking about travelling to that country for a while. Furthermore, I usually do not plan what to see. I arrive to country, and when I am there I figure out what I would like to see, based on the locals advices and tips. I have never been disappointed when following the advices of the locals, as they are the ones that know their country best. Furthermore, I very rarely book hotels beforehand as well.
Once, before a trip to Iceland, I planned very well. There were no surprises on the trip, as I knew what was coming all the time. That is when I stopped planning, and my trips became more spontaneous, and that is something I enjoy so much more.
How did you decide which places to go?
I like to travel to places where few tourists goes to. Where I can discover interesting and kind of untouched cultures. And I find these places by reading blogs and by talking to people I meet on my way.
When I am in a country, I relay mostly on the locals. And based on their tips I decide which places to go. For several reasons, I do not like to read guide-books, and therefore do not base my travels on that.
How do you travel around?
Getting to a faraway countries, I usually use flight. Then from country to country or city to city, I use bus or train if the distances are not that far. I have taken many over 20 hour’s bus rides. When I am in the country I love to take the local transport, whatever that is. Tuk tuk, trufi, or motorbike.
What have you learned about yourself, or what do you think you will learn during your next trip?
All this travelling alone have made me very independent. I have proven to myself that whatever hard situation I get into, I am strong enough to fix it by myself and survive it. I have been without any money in Hong Kong, I have lived in an armed conflict zone with bombs and killings in Nigeria, a half year without water and electricity, been in a horrible motor-bike accident, I have had big problems with emigration officers several times, I have been seriously sick, but I survived it all. In other words, I have learned that I am much stronger than I thought.
What’s the most surprising place you’ve been so far, and why?
That must be Ganvie in Benin. Before arriving to Benin, I had no idea that this floating village existed, so it was a pleasant surprise. It is the biggest community living on water in the world and the city is built on stilts. It was so amazing to see that the locals did everything from their wooden canoes. Shopping, transporting, and working. It was really eye-opening as I had no idea that people could live like this. But it is a testimony that we humans can adapt to everything. Even living on water.
How did you manage your budget and finances for your trip?
I have some savings, as I worked in Norway. Luckily, these money have gone very far, as everywhere is cheaper than Norway. Then I usually travel sustainable and stay longer time at each place, making it cheaper. I have also often stayed with locals, and then I did not have to pay for accommodation, nor often food and transport.
Furthermore, I have also worked while I have been travelling. While I was doing my intern-ships my accommodation, transportation and food was covered. This was I used only 50 USD on 2 months in India. And that was used on chocolate, bottle water and a saree.
I also worked 1, 5 years as the director of a foundation working with street kids, and this was getting me some income. I have also given English classes to children, earning a little.
What’s the craziest story you have from your trip so far?
In Nigeria, due to that I lived in an armed conflict zone it was illegal for public transport to drive after dark. Around 7-8 pm to 7 am. This because the government was afraid of suicide bombers. My friend and I went out dancing in a club a Saturday night. In the night when we wanted to go home, there was no way to get home. So that night, we had to sleep in the bar.
Do you have any advice for other travelers?
Meet the locals. Try to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Learn from those who live in the country you are visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.
Thanks Hanne, and happy travels! You can follow Hanne’s adventures on her blog at PlacesPeopleStories.com.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.