But that’s what we do, that’s what traveling is all about, you have to spend money to have the experiences sometimes.
This is an interview with a Tasmanian traveler by the name of Sofie, who is currently on a journey through Balkans and Eastern Europe before she is scheduled to take a job at the Hague in the Netherlands.In this interview, I talk with Sofie about the the reasons for traveling, the balance act between saving money and experiencing places, and the benefits of having travel insurance. She has no plans for returning home anytime soon.
Old town of Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Why did you want to begin traveling?
Well, I have always enjoyed traveling and I had just finished my law and international relations degree, which took six years, and I am traveling for a while, and then I have a job lined up for a while, and then I will be traveling again.
A job doing what?
It is a job working in international law in the Netherlands.
How did you get this job?
Through my university back home, they have a scholarship lined up.
How long are you planning on traveling for?
At least a year I will be away from Australia. But I don’t really have a whole heap to go back to, or nothing that obliges me to go back anyway. So I’ll just wait and see.
So you’re pretty much free to go?
Yeah, it is nice, it is kind of nice to know that I have a home to go home to but don’t have to go back at anytime soon if I don’t want to.
How did you earn the money to come traveling?
Well, a part of it was from the scholarship from my uni [university] and part of it was from working throughout uni for the past two years.
What did you do for work?
I worked for my university, in the law school. I just sort of helped the lectures with their research and doing a little teaching as well.
For how long were you planning for these travels?
Only the last five or six months. I kind of knew it was all in the cards, but this is when it became definite.
What countries have you traveled in so far?
On this trip I flew from Australia to Hong Kong and stayed for a day there. Then I flew to Warsaw [Poland] where I have some family, and stayed there for a few days. Then I caught a plane to Budapest [Hungary] and then caught a train to Zagreb [Croatia] and then from there went to Split in Croatia on the coast, then from there to Mostar in the south of Bosnia and then to Sarajevo.
Wow, so you have been busy.
[laughs] Yeah, it’s been three weeks.
How much money do you think you spend a day?
Oh, I have to try not to think about that. It really depends on what you get up to during the day and I think it is more expensive traveling alone. Because it is more difficult to cook for myself because I have to buy all the food and sometimes you hop on to a website [a hotel website] and it says price per person and then you get there and have to book the whole room. So you have to be a bit careful. This was one of the reasons why I did not end up going to Dubrovnik, cause it looked far too expensive.
So how much money do I spend a day? . . . . probably around $50 Australian dollars (35 USD).
Do you find your self really trying to save money?
Haha, yeah, even though I probably don’t have to think about it too much, you are always like “oh my god” when you think about how much you are spending. But that’s what we do, that’s what traveling is all about, you have to spend money to have the experiences sometimes.
So what do you do for fun that doesn’t involve spending money when you are traveling?
I love just walking around cities and getting lost and then getting found again. I try to get into a new city around the middle of the day, and then spend the rest of the day just walking around getting my bearings, and that doesn’t cost anything. But I also just spend a couple of dollars and go into a cafe and have a coffee and read a book and watch people go by.
If you woke up tomorrow and you had no money, what would you do?
Probably find a job [laughs].
Good answer. I was wondering if you would say that or say that you will try to call home to get money.
I have also traveled enough to know that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel. And it is also really important to have a couple of thousand dollars in the bank to get home if you need to. Because I have had to get home pretty quickly once before and it was really a good thing that I had the money to get a plane ticket and then get my travel insurance to reimburse me latter. I hopefully will never get into a situation where I have no money.
So your travel insurance reimbursed you for that? For changing the day of the flight?
Yeah, it was an emergency and I had to get back home, so they reimbursed my plane ticket and I had just started a tour, which was in Cambodia, and they reimbursed the tour, costs, all the phone calls I had to make to get home. So that was pretty good.
And this was pretty easy to do?
Yeah, it was.
Why do you travel?
I love just getting involved in new cultures and getting to know the history of a place. I don’t really like to travel without learning a bit about the places that I’m going. I really like being here because I know a bit about Balkans history and politics, so it has been really good being here and seeing it all.
What advice do you have for people who want to travel but keep making excuses to not do it?
Just be brave, be brave but be safe. Make sure that you always take precautions and that your loved ones can always get in contact with you. But be brave because the world is a big place and life is pretty short.