Interview: Meet Hanne of Places, People Stories
It’s been a while but I have interviewed another travel blogger - this time from Norway. Hanne has seen loads of little corners all over the world and has been to more than 50 countries so far - a remarkable number I think. However, it’s not just about the number of places we have been to but rather about our experiences. Hanne sees things differently and this is what her blog reflects: a somewhat different style of writing. Why always emphasize the positive side of traveling? Hanne speaks her mind and honestly talks about everything - the good, the bad and the ugly. Curious what Hanne has to say? Well, keep on reading and be inspired.
How long have you been blogging for? / Why have you started your blog?
I have been blogging for over 8 months now. For almost three years I have lived in Bolivia as my husband is Bolivian. The first 1, 5 years I worked as the director of a foundation working with street kids. After that, I left for Norway, and the plan was to stay there. However,things did not go as planned so I returned to Bolivia. As I quit my job, I did not have anything to do and I started my blog to fill my time. And I have been working as a full time freelancer since then, and I have loved every moment of it.
Has there been a situation that made you realize you have caught the travel bug and everything else except travelling the world would make you unhappy?
Since I started with long-term travelling five years ago, every time I returned home to Norway I got depressed, and just wanted to go out and travel again. The experts call this reverse culture shock, and I cannot count how many times I have had it. But the first time I had it was when I realized that just travelling will make me happy.
What kind of traveler are you?
I am the kind of traveler that takes everything as it comes. I never plan anything, almost. When I arrive to a new place, I talk to the locals on where it is worth to visit and stay. I try to travel local and sustainable, and stay longer time at each place.
How do you fund your travels?
I had some savings in the bank before I started to travel, as I worked in Norway during my studies. And that money goes far, as everything is cheap everywhere in world compared to Norway. I have also worked on the road by giving English classes, and as the director of a foundation that has given me some income. I also usually stay with local people which give me free accommodation and often food and transport, and that has helped me save a lot of expenses when I am abroad.
Is there one thing you never travel without?
My laptop, I always have it with me. First, I had it to do my assignments for university - now to write my blog. I also use it to keep in touch with my family at home.
What do you like most about traveling?
The people I meet on the way is what I like the most about travelling. I love to learn about new cultures and hear the stories of local people. That is why I usually stay with local families when I travel. That is when I learn the most and I am able to observe their daily lives, and see things a person staying at a hotel is not able to see.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
That must be my first long trip alone to a developing country, and that was to Nigeria. I lived without water and electricity, and in an armed conflict zone. However, this experience changed me as a person. It made me appreciate what I have much more, and it made me a much better person. Though it was a hard time living there, it is also the most memorable and important travel experience I have so far.
Have you had any bad experienced during your travels?
Yes, I have had some. I was in a bad motor bike accident in Bolivia. I have been robbed a few times; been a victim of sexual harassment several time. I have been close to bombs in Nigeria. I have had problems with immigration several times and been often sick while on the road. But all of this has made me a stronger person, and helped me deal with problems even better.
Of all the places you have been to, is there one you like best? Why?
San Blas in Panama. This area has over 300 islands with beautiful sand beaches, crystal clear water and colorful coral reeves. Besides being truly beautiful, San Blas also has an aspect of interesting culture as the Kuna Indians live on these islands. There are no hotels, and you live with them. This travelers’ paradise is still not ‘ruined’ by tourists, and that is another reason why I love it that much!
Have you been anywhere that turned out to be completely different from what you imagined?
When I arrived to Bolivia I thought it would be underdeveloped as the many countries in Africa I had visited. I had decided to go to this country as a volunteer as I had read that it was the least developed country in South America. When I came, they had everything we have at home. I was almost disappointed to live in such a luxury.
In your opinion, what’s the key to a successful, enriching travel experience?
Not to plan too much. When you are there, talk to the locals, and get advice from them. No one knows their country better than the ones living there. A guide book can never give the same advice as a local. There’ll also be more surprises if you don’t plan too much. You always know what to expect and what you will see if you plan too much. I for one always have the best experience while listing to the tips of the locals, because they know about all the hidden gems.
Last but not least: What’s your advice for all the other twenty-something adventure seekers out there?
If you would like to travel the world, jump into it! Do not come with any excuses about money, or work. It does not have to cost much to travel, and you can work on the road, or when you come back again. Life is too short, not to start you dream today!
Hanne Hellvik is from Norway, and has travelled to over 50 countries on five continents. Usually sustainable, staying at each place for a longer period of time. With a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Development Management, studying people, communities and their cultures, comes naturally to Hanne. Furthermore, she loves to write about it in her travel blog, Places People Stories. You can also follow her at Facebook and Twitter.
If you are interested in being interviewed by me and featured on the blog, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I will send you the questions. I am looking forward to hearing from you.