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Photo: Silvia Lawrence

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“Norway is the most beautiful place on earth”

After traveling to 85 countries, travel blogger Silvia Lawrence, with 70,000 followers on Instagram and 10,000 daily readers on her blog Heart My Backpack, finally found a place to call home in Mosjøen in Northern Norway. “I wanted to see the entire world before choosing where to put down my roots – but I will never stop traveling,” Lawrence says.

Professional traveler Silvia Lawrence grew up in Worcester in the US and has both American and Norwegian citizenship. She comes from a family of travelers – and apparently it rubbed off. Having spent over 10 years traveling the world in search of somewhere to settle down, year she checked off the 85th country in 2019. Not that it impressed her Norwegian grandmother, however.

”She was like, ‘Is that all? Not even a hundred?’” Lawrence laughs.

Couch surfing pro

Her nomadic life started after university, when she worked in Japan and managed to save up enough money to realize her dream of becoming a full-time nomad. Backpacking off the beaten track, on a cheap budget, her savings lasted four years.

“I did a lot of couch surfing and hitchhiking, and I could survive on $10 a day.”

She started off in Thailand with two friends and ended up in Uzbekistan and Kazakstan. But when her friends returned home to live “normal lives,” Lawrence continued on her own to Iran, Caucasus and the Middle East. She also started a blog Heart My Backpack.

“I wouldn’t have chosen that name if I’d known it would one day become my job. I had a love-hate relationship with my backpack, but it was still my home.”

In 2013, there weren’t many women writing about traveling on their own and her travel blog became a big hit.

Photo: Silvia Lawrence

“I’d been told not to go alone to Iran as a woman and got a lot of reaction from other travelers who were excited that a woman could travel there on her own,” Lawrence says.

Even though she considers herself to be a shy person who even finds it challenging to go to the grocery store alone, traveling on her own doesn’t scare her.

“My travels have taught me to be very trusting. You have to put your trust in strangers when you’re traveling. And it’s a lot easier to meet people when you’re on your own, because they approach you,” she says.

Get tips from locals

Today her travels have become her livelihood, thanks to blog ads, partnerships and sponsors, and she’s off to new places every month. Lawrence prefers traveling off the beaten track and off season to avoid tourists.

“You can have an off-the-beaten-track experience even in London or Paris if you stay away from the main sites and avoid big hotel chains. Try Airbnb, talk to locals, go to the local market,” she advises.

Photo: Silvia Lawrence

Traveling in Norway

In 2015, Lawrence got tired of not having a home and moved to her mother’s home country Norway. She made a list of 10 towns she thought she could live in and went on a road trip to find that one she could call home. The second stop on the list was Mosjøen, a small town surrounded by mountains, sea and fjords, with a train station and easy airport access.

“After 20 minutes I knew this was it – I just felt like I was home. I’d never experienced that before,” Lawrence says.

The more time passes, the more she loves her new home country.

“I want to see every little corner of Norway and Scandinavia. But there are also many places that I miss around the world and want to go back to. I will never stop traveling!”

Her travel habits have changed a bit with age. Now she prefers beds instead of crashing on couches and in all honesty, mostly travels with a suitcase. But her daypack, with camera, tripod, chocolate bars and wind and waterproof layers, always comes with her. The one thing she’s learned during her travels is to be flexible and not to plan too much.

“Things always go wrong. But I try to think that later, when I look back, I’ll see that it was for the better. The best experience is often not the selfie on top of that mountain, but having waffles in the cabin after your hike.”

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