Prepare to Travel with Planet Lew
Our seventh installment of our ongoing series, Prepare to Travel, is with Lew of Planet Lew. Lew is an Aussie living in Oslo, Norway, who’s working her way through Europe or wherever the road may take her. Her website, Planet Lew, has all the latest information on her travels, music, and eating her way through life. Join us as we learn how to prepare to travel with Planet Lew. AfterGlobe (AG)- It seems that many people can’t believe that others are able to continually travel the world and wonder how they are able to do this. What travelers did before they left to travel always seems to be a hot topic. Would you agree? Do you get a lot of questions about what you did and how to be able to do it? Plant Lew (PL): I am always asked why am I in Norway and what did I do in Australia. The move to Norway was easy, my partner is Norwegian. What stumps them is that it’s not my partner who wants to live here! I’m the one who wanted to live overseas and the destination was purely based on who got a job offer first. First step: start looking for work.
AG- When did you first start thinking about traveling? What changed to go from dreaming about it to actually making it happen? Was there anything holding you back from travel? PL: Living overseas for a solid period of time has been on top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Probably sometime after my first overseas trip. It was a matter of timing. At first I thought I’d go after I graduated university, but need to work a bit to get some money together. Five years slipped by and I studied again. During this time I met my Norwegian partner. I thought to myself, he’s doing it, why can’t I just let go of my safe job and go and do it to? We talked about where we wanted to go and as soon as we both graduated from our Masters, we started aggressively networking and applying. Nothing was holding us back from short term travel. We jetted off international at least once a year. But that was expensive and from Australia, everywhere was a long-haul flight. Also, we were pretty comfortable in our Sydney lives. We worked, started paying a mortgage on an apartment and like many others, could have continued along that route. But my desire to see the world was too strong and around April 2012, the wheels were fully in motion. AG- Once you decided you were going to travel, what did you do to start working towards that goal? Did you make a plan, budget or any other goals? Was this something you actually wrote down or just had in your head? PL: First it was a bit of a scatter-gun approach of where to go. We spoke about different countries where we could both get work. Some were dreams, and some were more real. The plan was to start applying and the country that offers a job wins our lives for a while. Having purchased an apartment that we didn’t want to sell, we needed to budget how much money needed to flow to our Australian bank accounts and how much we would need in the new country while only one of us was working. We had some ideas on how much rent we would need to help with the mortgage and ideas on how to make the move. I’m a planner. I had this stuff written down. Spreadsheets with different scenarios of incomes and expenses. Timelines with how much money would last in different scenarios and key dates for visas, flights, etc. AG: How long was it from the point you decided to travel to the actual day that you left? Looking back do you think it would have been better to have left sooner or later than you did? PL: I finished Uni in June 2011, but had already been discussing with my work for at least six months about transferring to an international office. My partner finished Uni not long after, but had been looking at different roles on-line for a while. I think it was in January that he started to look at a couple of roles in Norway that interested him. We knew the visa process would be a bit smoother than having us both need to apply in a new country. He left in May 2012, I moved in with Mum & Dad to save and start earning rent on the apartment. I joined him in Oslo at the end of August 2012. I’m glad I waited to finish Uni first. Had we made the move earlier, we may not have entered the property market at one of the best times I’ve seen. While this may not seem important to a long term traveler, it was to us. We needed a financial safety net and this apartment was it. Plus, we knew we probably weren’t going to be on the road to forever. My partner had to also consider his Australian residency visa and the timing restrictions imposed. Moving to a country where English is the second language, I wish I had started to learn Norwegian sooner. It’s not such a big deal day-to-day, as everyone speaks English really well. I wish I was fluent (or more fluent) for employment purposes.
AG: What did you do to save up enough money before you left? Any advice that you think will help others save for traveling? PL: Like I said above, I moved in with Mum & Dad, rent free (thanks guys!), for about three months. Lucky, they went on holiday for seven weeks. The commute to work wasn’t too different, which made that an easy choice for me. I also reduced how much I ate out (and drank). We had just one holiday, which was pre-booked and paid for. A very affordable trip to Nepal in October 2011. The next plane ticket was to Oslo! I used my bonus to pay down my credit cards and banked my tax return. I at least doubled my savings effort in 2012 and I sold my car. Its cliché, but every bit helps. I would suggest paying down consumer debt as quickly as possible. As that will just eat in to your savings while you’re on the road. AG: How did you figure out how much you needed to save to travel? Do you think your savings was enough? Should you have saved more or less? PL: Because we were guaranteed at least one income, it was more a matter of making sure we serviced our mortgage and new rent. The plan was for me to start working within six months, and then savings would no longer be an issue at all. Because I didn’t start working within six months, my savings were not enough. It’s now been nine months and I’m still not earning an income. My trusty parents have been very kind to help me out in the short term, as has my friend Mr Mastercard. He’s not going to be so nice to me when it’s time to pay it back. More, more, more. Should have been saving more all through 2011 and not dipped in to it like I did. I think your savings accounts should be harder to access. AG: What did you do with your possessions before you left to travel? Did you keep anything and put it in storage or sell it and/or give it away to others? What was your reasoning behind getting rid of and/or keeping items? PL: We sold a lot. What we didn’t sell, my Dad built a storage shed in their backyard and it’s all in there. I’m over 30, but geeze my parents are just great. So supportive. This meant we didn’t need to pay for storage. Keeping in mind that we would return in a few years, we didn’t want to start from scratch, so kept bulky furniture and any items we had invested a bit of money. I kept all of my books (one day I hope to have a lovely home library) and my baking stuff. We sold excess furniture and both our cars. I’ve been without that stuff for nine months and when I go back I can tell I’m going to get rid of a lot. I have realized now that there is so much stuff we’ve kept and probably will never use it again. My advice, be more scrupulous with getting rid of stuff.
AG: What did you find was the most difficult for you while preparing to travel? Did you ever feel like your day to leave was never going to come? PL: The expectations of family and friends. How long are we going for? What will we do to earn money? What will we do when we come back? Because the move was phased, I felt pretty in control of the move. Although I’m sure my colleagues noticed my motivation start to slide as my leaving date got closer. AG: Do you have any additional advice for those who want to travel the world long term? PL: There are many different ways to travel long term. Some will suit you, some will not. But I am sure there is a way for the majority of people. Find your strengths and use them to help you travel. Maybe undertake a little study to help you earn money along the way – teaching English, assistant in nursing even a barista or cocktail course can help with casual work. Thank you very much to Lew and Planet Lew for doing a Prepare to Travel interview with us today. Be sure to head over to Planet Lew to read all about Lews’s adventures in Norway and her travels. All photos provided by Lew. Follow our blog with Bloglovin