It was in the spring of 2013, when searching for an inspiration and still only thinking about possibility to travel long term with Una, I found Linda’s blog. I read about her adventures traveling on an extremely low budget, and it struck me once again – hey, you really don’t need to have a lot of money to travel. This girl has done and you can do it, too!
While it’s impossible to evaluate how much exactly it influenced us to make a decision and just go and travel the world ourselves, it had its effect for sure. Simply because Linda Rinke back then was one of the first Latvian long term travelers that I learned about.
Read on to find out what made Linda to make this decision to travel the world and how traveling to New Zealand changed her life forever!
– Please, tell us a little bit about yourself!
My story is pretty easy and is easily summed up by saying – “been there, done that”. I was living just a normal life, just like most of us – business, sport, occasional parties, bills, 9:00-17:00 office life… should I continue?! We all are very familiar with all of that.
But what might seem happiness and fulfillment for some, was a torture for me. I knew for sure that I’m not living a life I should live, all of this was not for me and I got more and more lost in my daily life and frames of society, but for more – I was forgetting my own heart lines and that special travel bug which was calling me since I was a child. So I decided to sell everything I own, pack my belongings in a single backpack and travel the world.
I left Latvia in 2012 to return home in 2015 filled with beautiful emotions, memories, total peace in my heart and fulfillment. I thought I would travel just for 1-2 years, but everything extended when I got my dream job in New Zealand and decided to stay there longer.
In total it was around 30 countries in my pocket, thousands of kilometers hitchhiked, hundreds of special people met and miiiiiles and hours traveled by planes, buses and trains. I saw the world with different perspective and I truly fell in love with it and its people.
Right now I spend my days in Spain. I moved here in July, 2015, following my passions: my wonderful man, art and wine. I teach English to Spanish kids and live my life with ease and love.
– Did you think about going to New Zealand already at the beginning of your round-the-world trip?
Yes, kind of. As I thought I would travel by myself, my first idea was to just safely travel from one place to another, settle down at each place, get some local job and suck in the culture of that place. My main purpose was to get to know people, cultures and live like one of them.
I was curious about New Zealand, mostly about an island “close” to it – Tuvalu, but never knew for sure that I would go there.
Everything fell into right place when I met Ross who invited me to stay at his mom’s (soon to become my New Zealand mother and best friend in one person) place in New Zealand, and when my close friend Janis, big fan of Lord of the Rings, decided to travel as well, which meant that I could go crazy with my ideas and dreams. I had a close, and the same crazy shoulder right next to me.
At that point it was clear – we have to go to New Zealand, see all its beauty and earn some money there for upcoming trips. But we never knew when we would go there, will we even get our visas etc. Nothing was planned, we were open for suggestions and changes.
– What we should know about New Zealand Working Holiday visa?
To be honest, that’s a tricky question. Each country has to follow different criteria and gets kind of different rules. While UK and German citizens are most likely to get the visa easy, Latvians have to pass a specific health examination. But Spaniards are pretty much screwed.
Every country has only specific number of Working Holiday visas given out. While Latvians have only 100 visas, there are still not enough people who would like to travel to the other side of the world so you can basically apply for the visa any time throughout the year and get it.
But, you see, while Spaniards get 200 visas, they are gone in the first couple of minutes after releasing them, because everyone seems to be keen to travel to New Zealand.
It’s actually very easy to get all information about New Zealand Working Holiday visa:
- Visit the website of Immigration New Zealand;
- Choose the country You come from;
- Read on your own what are the criteria you must apply and what paperwork you must do. Always pay attention to the dates of quota openings to not miss those precious first minutes when the visa might slip to someone else. Also take in account that you must be at least 18 years old and not older than 30 to apply for Working Holiday visa.
– How is it to find a job in New Zealand, when you have Working Holiday visa?
I think it always depends on what you want to do. New Zealanders are used to international travelers who seek occasional jobs (according to the rules of Working Holiday visa you can work only for 3 months at the same place), so there would always be a place in hospitality, farming and seasonal jobs like harvesting of apples, kiwis, grapes etc.
But forget about proper office jobs. For these kind of jobs employers will always look for somebody with a residence permit which means that you are staying in New Zealand, have high level of English and are on your way towards getting a citizenship.
– Where have you worked in New Zealand?
I did my share of being a waitress, as most of us have done when travelling and trying to save up some money for further travels. While I might be a typical Latvian and do my job at high level, I would truly hate every second of serving posh and rich people visiting the island (Waiheke Island) where I lived.
I love working on my own, do everything according to my speed, my wishes and needs and most importantly – my standards of quality and art involved in all of it.
So I got extremely lucky when I met my future employer and got my dream job – for next year and a half I would become an assistant mosaicist which meant that I would be assisting my boss into development of the most wonderful mosaic wall inspired by such artists as Gaudi, Miro and Dali.
Meanwhile I also learnt the art of wine making and what it takes to take care of a vineyard. My employer and mentor at the same time changed my life forever and helped me to find my true passions!
– You went to New Zealand for a year to earn money for traveling, and stayed there for almost 2 years. Why?
Yes, me and Janis, we went to NZ for a year, but while slaving in a fancy restaurant, we decided that with those hours we spent there, we would be able to leave NZ much faster and head towards USA to be able to return to Latvia by august when our friends were getting married.
But 1 month before our planned departure, I got this dream job and I just couldn’t leave. I was over the moon with my new job and place we lived, I just couldn’t imagine leaving. So my and Janis’ paths separated.
I stayed in New Zealand for 2 years, yes. In fact, I didn’t quiet “stay” there – NZ became my place-to-return, while I would be still traveling the world and always returning to continue saving up money and living a dream in the most beautiful island ever.
– How it is possible to stay in New Zealand for more than a year? What kind of paperwork is necessary?
Well, first of all, it’s possible to extend your Working Holiday visa for another 3 months if you have worked in field of agriculture during your stay in NZ. But, secondly, to stay much longer that just 1 year (+ 3 months) you must get a work visa.
That means that during your stay you can find an employer who truly appreciates your work and wants you to stay longer, pass thousands of paper work and – voila – you can stay another 1 to 2 years more (regarding to the specification of your job, the immigration officer will decide for how long your work visa will be).
– You traveled across Europe spending about 5 euros per day only. How was it to travel on such a tight budget?
Honestly? It was all I ever wanted! We had no money for hotels, so we would always sleep in tent somewhere in the middle of the forest or hidden in the bushes by highways, or couchsurf, we would hitchhike so we would meet all those wonderful people and hear incredible life stories, we would walk at least 10-20 kilometers a day with our backpacks and smell in, feel cities, cultures and nature.
It was truly a most magical period of this around the world trip. And I had the best company for this crazy, spontaneous adventure! Because we knew each other so well, we would greatly adapt to each other and complement each other with ideas and wanderlust.
Even if I knew the beauty of traveling by myself, when someone reaches out to me to ask some tips for travels, I always point out how magical it is to have a perfect companion for your little “crimes”.
– Was it harder than you imagined before?
I think traveling in general sometimes might seem harder than we imagined before. Sometimes you will feel homesick, sometimes desperate in lack of money, sometimes sick of changing your location daily, or every 2 days, and sometimes you will not feel like meeting new people because you will still try to get over those amazing people you just said goodbyes to.
But at the end of the day all those experiences will be even greater than you could ever imagine! I never regretted any single step I took, I loved every single day of my trip, especially those months of hitchhiking through Europe without, basically, any money!
– What are your future plans?
To settle down. But according to my own life-criteria.
I was blessed by life when I met my boyfriend in New Zealand. And we share the same dreams and believes. So my new life is different from what it used to be in Latvia. I have finally learnt to live according to my heart and my mind is clear.
So in future I expect more travels, yes, but also a vineyard, nature right by my side and total internal peace.
Here you will find more interviews with travelers!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.