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What freedom means to me
Freedom is often seen as the ability to do whatever we want. But if we look it up in the dictionary one of the definitions is the absence of necessity. In my opinion freedom can rather be found by calming our minds and allowing ourselves to stop wanting it all. Financial independence is worth accomplishing if it doesn’t become a drag. Owning things only if they are useful and if we could as well live without them. Therefore I think we should learn to want less before we handle the endless possibilities our world offers today. In this article I want to tell you about the kind of freedom I found when traveling in Norway with the bare minimum.
How expensive is Norway?
Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. In monetary value it ranks as the second richest country in the world and even though the Norwegian Krona has fallen in value over the last years it can not be compared to the rest of Europe. Especially food, which is essential for cheap traveling, is expensive. But also hostels are three times more expensive than in other European countries. Not to mention Alcohol and cigarettes.
The right person in the right Moment
I wanted to revisit Norway since the first time I was there in winter 2011. Ada and I went there after knowing each other for only 16 hours. I hosted her through Couchsurfing at the beginning in 2016. She arrived at noon and and left Salzburg at five o’clock in the morning by train the next day.
We found out that our way of life is similar. That we value a simple kind of life and would fit as travel partners on a minimalist journey. My upcoming holidays matched her stay in Norway, her last destination before going back home to Taiwan. So we met again in Oslo a month after her stay at my place.
How we traveled Norway on less than a budget?
The plan was to go into the wild for two weeks. We wanted to survive on oatmeal and protein powder while sleeping in a tent and hitchhiking or walking. Not only for the sake of saving money, but for the sake of simplicity. We had a methylated spirits cooker, a Hilleberg high tech tent and the food packed and calculated in portions for each day. We didn’t care about seeing anything and had nothing to accomplish. Therefore the plan and the preparing could not have been easier and there is not much more to say.
The first day we walked out of Oslo and asked people where we can put the tent. We soon found Björn who accompanied us out of the big city to a nearby lake. He gave us his phone number in case we need anything. When we were back in Oslo at the end of the trip we called him to invite him for lunch, but he insisted on inviting us instead. Scandinavian people are known to be a bit closed, which turned out to be the opposite. They are more calm and serious, but i found them overly welcoming and generous. They are legitimately proud of their country and encourage visitors to enjoy it.
The everyman’s right and how it is applied
The everyman’s right also known as the freedom to roam is a law that allows everyone to camp on public or even private land as long as there is a distance of 150 meters to the house. One day we got a ride from a guy with an old fire truck. We were driving until late and setup the tent in the dark without knowing where we really are. In the morning we realised that we are next to a farmhouse. After a while the farmer approached us and expected to be in trouble. But he was not bothered at all. He talked to us for a while, showed us around and before saying goodbye he gave us some of the moose meat he hunted.
Another day we decided to stop in a small town. We asked someone at a petrol station where we could find a spot to setup the tent and were thinking they would send us out of town. Instead they looked up google maps and pointed us to the end of the street. We asked if it is allowed to camp there or if people just don’t care. They were sure that people would not care. We spent the night right in front of a private house without any problems. I knew about the everyman’s right in theory, but it seems that the practice is even more liberal.
Where to find Wilderness in Norway?
I thought the wild nature would be all the way up in the north so that’s where we were heading. Hitchhiking from Oslo. Only when we reached the north, at the end of the trip, we realised that the big national parks are in the south not far away from Oslo. Most of them are between Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. The north of Norway is rather barren. Gorgeous nature is everywhere, but there is no need to go far away from the capital to find wilderness. However the highway heading north has only one lane for each direction and staying on this road fully reveals Norway’s beauty as well.
How to hitchhike in Norway?
The cities in Norway are small and as mentioned before the biggest road has only one lane for each direction. No searching for the entrance of the highway. Due to the low population of Norway and the fact that it’s less and less populated the further north you go it can take a while to get a ride. However on all of the places on the way you will be surrounded by nature. If you don’t get a ride or it is getting late you simply put your tent next to the road and rest until the next day. Furthermore the cities are sometimes far away from each other. Many drivers go for long distances and gladly accept your company.
How I found freedom on this journey?
The idea to travel without money came from the fact that Norway is expensive. The idea to sleep in a tent as well. However besides saving money it erases other options. Hitchhiking takes away the choice of places to visit and people to meet. No more thinking about food, sightseeing and finding comfort. No more thinking about wanting anything made me not want anything anymore. Made me realise that i actually don’t need anything and we are rich only by being able to travel this way. The small gifts we receive from generous strangers are even more precious when we have nothing.