Hailing from Adelaide in South Australia, Elise Halina now calls home anywhere that her wheels take her. Elise and her partner Josh have been living and travelling in their self-converted van since April of 2017. We chat about life on the road and her favourite travel memories..
What are the three things you never travel without?
My camera, a drink bottle and my iPod classic with a good set of headphones - travel and music go hand in hand.
What has been your most eye-opening travel experience?
My travels to India a few years back. You hear so much about it but you can never understand what it is truly like until you get there. All your senses are pushed to their limits on a daily basis – the colours are bright, the smells are intense, it’s always noisy, you’ll be laughing one second and crying the next. You see the depths of poverty juxtaposed with the riches of the city. Its madness - organised chaos. I also did part of my university placement in a small village up in the north, that was a big an eye-opener, working in and learning about India’s health care system.
But I have to admit, the pinnacle of my travels is happening right now. We’ve been living in our van for nearly two years. Two years of internal discovery and external exploration. I have learnt so much and am always learning new things everyday. Its constantly moulding and remoulding who I am. It has strengthened my passions, brought light to new endeavours and completely changed my mindset towards life. We’ve met some incredible, inspiring souls and have had some amazing adventures. Its been a wild ride, and there’s no looking back.
What is it that you love about travelling? Have you noticed a change within yourself or do you see the world differently since you've been exploring it?
Immersing yourself in the different cultures, adapting, learning, widening your awareness. The food… of course. Travel on an individual level is so sacred and important, after your trip you’ll return to a familiar place but you won’t be the same person you left as. I’ve definitely noticed a change within myself, its hard to put my finger on what it is exactly as it’s a whole array of changes, feelings and thoughts, but it’s definitely positive and constructive.
Was there a particular catalyst that pushed you towards a life of wandering, or have you always had itchy feet?
Yes to both. I’ve always used my time off wisely, I worked a couple jobs while I studied and would save up all my pennies, then every semester break I’d jump on a plane to explore somewhere new. This current voyage was inspired by wanting to lead a more simple and wholesome life, whilst also exploring the lands of our home country, Australia. The goal is simple - live the life you love, love the life you live.
What's your favourite place you've ever travelled, and why?
Oh man! That’s tough question. Everyplace is so unique and most of the time its not even the place that makes it memorable – it’s the people you meet and experiences you have along the way. But, if I have to name one place, I’d say Samoa. It was our first overseas trip together, our friends living over there kindly lent us their car, and we slowly circumnavigated the two main islands in the front seat of a pimped out Islander car, haha. Samoa is home to the kindest people and the most enchanting landscapes. There were almost no tourists and we had a few crazy, crazy adventures. Also, Australia, it’s such an amazing country with such a unique terrain. I’m so lucky to call this place home.
Best piece of advice you would give to another traveller?
Go with no expectations, be open-minded, pack light, don’t over plan your trip, be flexible, stay alert, things will go wrong but don’t panic, try not to cram too much into your time, eat local, learn to haggle, be patient, bring a good book, and most of all enjoy the ride.
Where to next?
Europe! We’ll be giving van-life a go for a few months over there. Then back to the van here in Cairns where we’ll cruise down along the east coast - finish off QLD, head through NSW to Vic and Tassie too! We’re doing the slowest lap of Australia ever… 2 years later and we’re still not even half way through!
To see more of Elise's adventures, head to @elisehalina