My goal is to build a life I don’t need a vacation from

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Erika Kantonen is our newest writer. She used to live in Stockholm, Sweden. In her first text here on the page she writes about how she felt alone pretty much everyday for about three years even though she was surrounded by heaps of people all the time. She felt depressed all the time. But she put a smile on her face everyday even with all this anxiety inside. She just kept on going. Till one day, when she had enough. Now she’s traveling the world without any plans for the future. On this page she will share her traveling life with you. Stay tuned. The show is yours, Erika:

Hello guys! Or Kia Ora! That’s how we would say it here in Aotearoa ”The land of the long white cloud” aka. New Zealand.

160 metre waterfall, Milford Sound
To the left. Erika at a 160 meter high waterfall in Milford Sound in New Zealand. Photo: Private

I thought my first post would be a little bit more of an introduction of me and tell you about my life at the moment. I will of course focus on specific, cool and totally awesome spots and adventures along my travels around the world here further on.

I was born in Sweden as a blonde, pretty fat, but still kind of cute, little shit and got named Erika Kantonen. Sitting here today I’m 27 at the moment and enjoying life to it’s fullest.

I would definitely describe myself as treasure hunter. With that said, for me treasures are not material things in life. For me treasures are new experiences and moments. Sometimes I love to have a full agenda with a big variety of stuff to do that brings results, adrenaline and new interactions to the table.

It could be anything from challenging myself to try out surfing in uncomfortably big waves, dive for mussels along the coast, cook lunch infront of a 160 meter high waterfall, share life stories with girls who are victims for trafficking and forced into prostitution in India, discuss politic with interesting people, climb a mountain, swim with turtles in Sri Lanka, or have a super delicious meal at a really cool restaurant in France.

Other days I enjoy the peace in reading a book or watching a documentary; why not spending time with people I adore and appreciate, Sleep in the back of the car and wake up with the ocean by your feet or have a cosy bonfire with people you care about while watching the stars above your head.

Huka falls, Taupo
The waterfall ”Huka Falls”. Photo: Erika Kantonen

My favorite animal in the whole wild world is Orcas aka. killer whales. And that’s also on the top of my bucket list to see one in the wild.

At the moment I’m living in New Zealand I arrived here in the end of December after spending almost a month in Kolkata, India; Former Calcutta. I must admit that I loved this
country from the first second I arrived. People are super friendly and the landscapes are just out of this world.

I live in a town called New Plymouth on the west coast of the north island with a population approximately around 50 000 residents. I’ve been here for about a month and a half now and have already seen heaps of cool stuff and places.

Surf at Back beach, New Plymouth
Erika lives next to the sea and like to go down for a surf at ”Back beach”. Photo: Erika Kantonen

In India I did some work with a friend and some volunteering. Main focus there was getting a better understanding and try to work on finding good solutions to how we can help and save more girls and women from being trafficked and forced into prostitution. I think women rights are at the wall for discussion all over the world at the moment and that’s something I am very passionate about. Equal rights between gender in many countries should be way a head of where they actually are today.

Anyway…

I really grew from that trip. It maid me realize how blessed I am and always have been in this world. I think everybody at least once in their life should do some sort of volunteer work because you’re not only doing a good thing for others, but you as a person evolves from it.

A part from all my talking here, I also love to write about many different things. I don’t have any education to back me up at this point, but it’s a passion and I always find it very peaceful for the mind and soul to let go of stuff through my writing. It’s also a very good and funny way of being creative and play with your thoughts.

Mount Cook, Aoraki
Erika and her boyfriend infront of the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook.

If someone would ask me why I started to travel at this point of my life, I would be brutally honest. To start with, I think it’s a very basic reason. I also think most of us who travel the world will understand what I’m talking about. After working as a bartender for almost 6 years in Stockholm, Sweden at the most trendy places and see all the superficial stuff going on around me almost 24/7 (of course part of me included at the time cause you get swept away with it.)

One day I just had enough. I felt alone pretty much everyday for about 3 years even though I was surrounded by heaps of people all the time. My mind was just paralyzed and my life was not satisfying at all. I felt depressed pretty much all the time even if I never really showed it to anyone. I put a smile on my face everyday even with all this anxiety inside. I just kept on going.

After a new years resolution, 2014 turning into 2015, I decided that this year I was going to start traveling more. And the first thing I did was to book a ticket to Sri Lanka with a very good friend of mine. We spent about 3 weeks over there and I loved it.

After approximately 15 years of civil war and being very badly affected by the tsunami in 2004, this was still a place with pretty much no tourism at the moment. I meet awesome people and the locals were just amazing and very generous with sharing their knowledge. The nature was so alive and this was just a really good start for me and my expectations of starting a ”new” life.

When I came home I just knew that I had to get out of Sweden. Like Sanne said in her interview (read here) at ”Ett annat liv” I think it’s a great country to grow up in and we have a very affective and good system for our society from birth till we get old. But I just don’t feel at home in Sweden at the moment. I’m curious to see what’s out there for me in this world.

Also I see traveling as a really good education. I always felt the pressure that I have to study to become someone or to have a decent job and all of that. At the moment I see it from another perspective and I learn new stuff on the road here everyday; I meet new teachers as in new people; I see different cultures and environments which would be new classrooms. Not to forget we live in a modern world (or at least most part of it.) So we pretty much always have access to internet where we can find out pretty much anything we need to.

So far starting this journey have been the best choice in my entire life and I’ve never been so ready to see where this will lead me.

Thermal spa and hot springs, Taupo
”Thermal spa”. Foto: Erika Kantonen

I’m a person who loves big contrasts. So if I could make someone laugh, feel inspired or even make them shed a tear, it would be a great deal to me. I’d like to write about things that are important to me and play with the imagination to make people feel something in general. I also love taking photos even though I’m rockin’ my iphone 6 camera at the moment.

I think this little self portrait story is starting to come to an end for this time, but another thing for you guys to think about along the way and a recommendation for those of you who want to do a big change in your life, always remember:

”All the best things in life are free”
I think that sentence says it all.

At least for me. To actually decide to break free and start to travel was free, to choose happiness is free, to come to that point where I feel satisfied with my priorities is free.
Even bloody good sunsets are for free.

Of course all the stuff in between cost money like tickets, rent, food and basic stuff. The things you feel in your heart and things you choose to put your mind into are free. I think that’s where you need to start. Let go of your material world and start breathing everything that was given to us for free. Oceans, forests, mountains, wildlife, nature, your loved ones.

Once you let go of the thought that you can buy yourself happiness and I mean let go of it for real. Not in a cliche way. Let go FOR REAL. Then you will wake up and be able start writing a new chapter in your new book.

Cheers.

And thank you guys for the word. If you wanna join me on my travels around the world you can also follow me on Instagram.

My account: @mybucketlistchallenge

erika

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hej! Intressant att läsa, tycker du gjorde helt rätt val! Skulle också jättegärna göra som du gjort men vad får du pengar ifrån till flyg, boende, mat mm?Hade du sparat mycket innan du åkte?

  2. Hej Anna! Vad kul att du skriver och tack för peppande och fina ord.

    Jag jobbade på rätt hårt i ca 4-5 månader innan jag åkte på den här resan. Letade niga efter enkelbiljetter till bra pris och var beredd på att vara anpassningsbar.

    Indien och just Kolkata var väldigt billigt och väl på plats så bodde jag tillsammans med min vän hos hennes moster där det även lagades och bjöds på mycket mat.

    Så Indien är ett suveränt resetips om man vill vara borta under en längre period på en mindre summa pengar. Lätt att flyga och billigt att flyga över till både t.ex Sri Lanka och Andra delar av Asien.

    Här i Nya Zeeland bor jag med min kille (som är från NZ) hemma hos hans pappa. Här bor jag gratis men mat och äventyr etc. Kostar självklart mer. Ungefär Samma priser som i Sverige. Dock har jag ett 12 månaders working holiday visa som det heter. Så jag är berättigad att arbeta här och letar förfullt just nu då cashen börjar sina.

    Hoppas att du är nöjd med svaren på frågorna.

    Jag är övertygad om att man kan bara man vill. Och det finna jobb runt om i hela världen om man vill och är beredd att släppa sargen. Ett annat tips är ju att utnyttja kontakter.

    Om du är nyfiken på ett specifikt land så kan funka alltid lägga ut en tråd på Facebook och fråga om någon sitter inne på en kontakt där? Du kanske kan få bra tips eller t.o.m bli erbjuden en soffa under en period eller liknande.

    Lycka till Anna! 🙂

  3. Hey erika i found your article incredibly inspiring and i hope to fufill my life long dream of traveling the world. I was wondering how do you manage to fund and support yourself financialy during these trips?

    • Hey Levi!

      Thank you very much 🙂 Always nice to hear when someone appreciate your work.

      I think you should. Don’t wait for it just make up your mind and do it.

      Well I was working heaps back in Sweden for a couple of months before I left to save money. Another advice is to check out your network with people around you. Facebook for example is a good option. One of your friends maybe know someone in a country you want to go to! Maybe that person can help you out with cool recommendstions on your trip or even offer you a sofa for a couple of days. Bring a tent or buy one on the way is never a bad idea. In many places you can hitch hike and travel around for free.

      My mind was set on living cheap from the beginning when I started my travels. I’ve been lucky and been living with friends and at the moment with my boyfriend and his dad in New Zealand.

      Working on farms now and then is a good tip aswell in exchange for work you usually can live and eat for free. Same with aupair.

      Hopefully you found some of my answers inspiring and I will tell you this; it’s worth it. It’s a bit of a planning and many thought in the beginning but when you’re one with the road… Maaaan it’s good out here in the wide world! 😉

      Take care, cheers!

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