Jelena Stipanicev did what we all dream of doing: she packed in her 9-5 job to travel Australia. Living a life of travel 24/7, she and her partner have seen more of Australia in five months than they ever did before. Here, she tells us what inspired her to travel, where they’ve been, and why other people should do the same.
Name: Jelena Stipanicev
Occupation: Currently unemployed, previously worked in state government as a policy officer.
Originally from: Perth, Western Australia.
Why did you decide to travel around Australia?
I was pretty unhappy with my life back home being stuck in an office all week, and I was feeling the pressure to settle down with marriage, kids and a mortgage; but wanting to leave all that behind and pursue a life of adventure with my partner, who also felt the same way. We officially got the kick in the backside one night after watching a movie about rock climbing (as we’re both climbers), that made us realize that we still wanted to see and do things, and if we were to stay we’d never go and do it; so we decided to plan our escape after watching the movie. [The movie was Valley Uprising if you’re wondering!]
How long have you been doing it for?
Officially it’s been 5 months now and it has really flown by!
How much is planned and how much is spontaneous?
I’m such an organisational freak, whereas my partner is more of a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kinda guy, so I’ve been learning to be more spontaneous with traveling and I’d say that about 20% of our trip is planned and 80% is spontaneous. It has been made easier to travel this way because we’re in Australia, where we speak the language and are familiar with the culture, so being spontaneous isn’t too hard to do here.
Is there an end in sight?
At this point, I’m unsure if there is an end in sight. We were originally aiming for Byron Bay as our end point, but now we may keep going because there is so much of Australia that we want to see!
Where have been some of your favourite places so far?
South Australia is such an amazing place, it’s so underrated and pretty untouched by mass tourism. I also loved Patonga Beach up on the Central Coast of NSW, which has this really laid back beach vibe and when we were there it was like we were the only people around!
Where are you going to next?
The next destination is the Blue Mountains and Sydney in NSW, mainly for the rock climbing. The weather is getting better and I’m anxious to get back into climbing after the winter.
Can you give us a favourite moment from your journey?
We found a great campsite in Port Lincoln National Park in South Australia, that was on the edge of a cliff and overlooking the sea. With a bonfire going and some local produce for dinner, we watched the sunset over the water and fell asleep to the sounds of the waves; this was definitely a highlight of our trip so far!
What difficulties have you faced and how have you overcome them?
We’ve been lucky to have had only minor car issues, such as the time the speedometer died on me while I was driving, but with the help of the internet we managed to fix it. Other difficulties include getting lost (which happens with the GPS more than I thought it would), suffering from intense cabin fever from being in the car all the time, and missing friends and family; but nothing too terrible to be honest (knock on wood!). I’ve learned to be very patient on this trip especially when we get lost, as the temptation to throw a temper tantrum runs very high, but it’s also unhelpful and you just look like an idiot. Sometimes you just have to overcome whatever the difficulty is because it’s just you and your partner out there, and no one else may be around to help! You definitely learn to become resourceful and problem solve on the go, both very valuable life skills if you ask me.
How are you funding your travel? Have you worked while you’ve been traveling?
This trip is completely self funded and done as cheaply as we can to prolong our savings, but I had saved up as much money as I could before I left home, as I didn’t want to work and travel. Currently, I’m looking for some location independent work and also looking for work in Sydney, where I’ll stay for a few months and save before heading off again.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking of going traveling?
Firstly, save as much money as you can; secondly, there may never be an ideal time for you to go, you either do it or spend the rest of your life wishing you had.