Génération Tour du Monde : Le voyage d’une vie

We all have dreams, we all hanker after faraway places, exotic cultures and remote lands. We’re the Coflocs, Florian and Laurent, we’re roommates, and we produce travel and adventures videos. We have discovered some travellers on the web and set out to meet them to draw their portraits. These women and men went off on their own, as couples or as families; they broke up with their daily routines and stepped out of their comfort zone to take a trip around the world: the real journey of initiation of our generation. WORLD TOUR GENERATION
The trip of a lifetime. I’m Inès, I’m 34, I’ve been traveling for seven months, and here I am today, at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy! Hi, I’m Mickaël, I’m 29, and I work as a sports coach in France, I started a solo trip around the world that will last for sixteen months. My name’s Marge, I travel around the world with my children: Elias and Andréa. We will travel for a year. And before that, I worked as a teacher in Marrakech, Morocco. Hi, I’m Samuel, and I’m 30. I was eager for freedom, and I needed to go back to basics and to share experiences with people. I’m Antony, I’m 28, I’m a real estate agent. I went off on a world tour for an indefinite period of time, roughly between at least fourteen up to twenty months. I’m Quentin. Before I left, I worked as an automotive expert in Biarritz. And I’m Lucie, I worked as a desk officer in the retail sector of chocolates, in the South-West of France. We decided to spend a year touring the world. My name’s Florence, I have been hitch-hiking and boat hitch-hiking around the world over the past five years. Before that, I worked as a journalist and photographic reporter for France 3, a local French TV channel. I’m Hélène, I’m 30, I work as a manager on prevention projects for health insurance companies. I’m Stéphane, I’m 33, and over the past thirteen years I’ve mainly worked in retail trade. We take part in the United Schools project, so we will visit some schools in the different countries that we will cross so as to help them connect with one another using a secure social network which we have created. We are the Cassaflo family, we come from the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the South-West of France. We are currently touring the world thanks to house swapping. This concept allows people to exchange their home. We are the Fakarêver family, and we are sailing around the world with our 12 and 8 years old children. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – PAOLO COELHO Well, actually, I’ve had this dream ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always wanted to go around the world. Why did I go off to tour the world? Well, simply because it was a childhood dream, I’ve been dreaming of it since I was 18 or 20 years old. Every couple of years, I’d tell myself, right, in two years I’ll be off, and, again, two years later, I’ll be off! I was scared to take action, and leave everything behind. So I’ve postponed this project quite a few times, year after year, after year, after year! I had my nose to the grindstone, I focused on my career and worked too many hours, I couldn’t take time for myself. I went on a trip to allow me to release and ease the sorrow and anger I felt, and to make sense of some things. I had to do it. In 2008, I had a work accident (I was specialized in acrobatic works). I fell twenty feet to the ground (about six meters) and broke both the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae. Then I remained for three months in a resuscitation unit, and then I spent three more years in a medical rehabilitation center. I had to follow lots of rules, and I certainly wasn’t used to that! So I craved for freedom and large open spaces. Soon I bought a small vehicule which I specially equipped to face my needs as a quadriplegic. Actually, we wanted our world tour to be meaningful, we couldn’t picture out ourselves going on a trip around the world without making sense of it. I really wanted to travel cheap and without any time limit, so I figured out that I only had two options: hitch-hiking or cycling. I had already hitch-hiked quite a lot before to travel around Europe, and decided to do it again, because I think it is a great way to discover a country and meet its local people. My road-trip project, “Sam fait rouler”, is inclusive, since it allows me to visit universitarians, researchers and associations. I want to find out what the lives of handicapped people are like abroad. I mean, are we priviledged in France, and are there any interesting practices that could be brought back from across the Atlantic? We’ve always enjoyed traveling together, even before our children were born. And we wanted them to travel with us so that they could open their minds and open up to the world. Ten years ago, I wasn’t ready, but today, being 34, I feel a bit more mature, more self-confident, and less apprehensive. My life was great, yes, but it was always the same routine: commute, work, sleep! And suddenly I understood that I had forgotten my dream! I mean one day, I’ll have kids, I’ll get up in the morning and I’ll would go to work, and then when I’m 45 I’ll wonder: “Why didn’t I go off when I was 20!?!” So, here I am, I’m 28, and I’m off! I think the turning point simply is when you feel ready to do it. I didn’t have any girlfriend, well, I didn’t have any girlfriend anymore, and I didn’t rent any flat: so it was the right time! You can be ready to go when you’re 20, when you’re 30, when you’re 40, 50 or even 60! No matter how old you are! You wonder: “Why postpone further? What is stopping me from doing it?” And, that’s it, we’re leaving, right now, it’s become obvious. Before leaving, we wrote down the names of the places that we had dreamt of. “Life should be about grown-ups paying tribute to their childhood dreams.” – SYLVAIN TESSON I had dozens of dreams before I left. I wanted to see the wonders of the world, and look where I stand right now! First, I wanted to go to the United States and to Canada because we’ve all spent our childhood watching American movies, and we grew up with that culture. And I was attracted to the great spaces, it’s like there’s something really powerful about nature here. We had dreamt so much and for so long of the Trans-Siberian Railway that we decided to take it right away to start our world tour. Then we wanted to see lake Baïkal, and well, here we are! After that, we’ll go to Tibet, the Great Wall of China, Ushuaia, and Easter Island. And then, I’ll have done the tour of my dreams! Our dreams of distant travels? In fact, we didn’t have any specific dreams in terms of countries that we would like to visit. Meeting local people and spend time with them to understand their culture was really what we dreamt of. I didn’t want to go on holidays for two weeks, spend two perfect weeks and then go back to France, back to daily life. Taking a real break was what I wanted, and live in many countries. I made a list of all the things that I had always dreamt of doing, not only places to visit but experiences to live too, like I wanna see a killer whale, I wanna see a glacier, I wanna ride a scooter without falling, I wanna ride a motorbike. That would be to do many things, with many different people, and learn loads of new stuff! And then come back home with something extra! I went to Okinawa, Japan, to train in martial arts with a traditional Karate master. When could I do that, if not now? My dream was to see animals. Seeing dolphins was really my biggest dream, and I wanted to see what palm trees and coconuts looked like! The dream turned into clear evidence and became certainty, I told myself: one day, one day, it will be our turn! However, those who decide to break away from their daily routine to embark on a 25 000 miles (about 40,000 km) one-way trip, must first go through three steps. And facing their own fears is the first step. “To stay is to exist, but to travel, is to live.”
GUSTAVE NAVAUD The major obstacles to traveling are mind-forged! You must face your own fears, your deepest fears. Now, you should pay attention to your fears because they protect you from the unkwnown, but if you listen to them too much they can act as sleeping pills. You are afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone, you tell yourself: “Well, my daily life’s not so bad after all!”, and it’s the fear of losing something that prevents you from heading out into the unknown. Well, this type of project had never been done before, and so, that’s what held me back before I left. So I had to worry about logistics and organization. Well, at first, I did not want to leave at all! You actually did everything you could to deter us from going on a world tour! Well, over the past fifteen years, we’ve always found some good excuses not to leave. But, after a while, we’ve told ourselves, come on, no more excuses, let’s go, now! I think that money, language and family are the three main considerations that hold us back. Second step: you have to face the army of those who do not want you to leave and who worry for you. “Some people will always throw stones in your path, it is for you to decide what to make from them: a wall or a bridge.” – SENOUFO PROVERB (IVORY COAST) I think that my parents, just like any parents, would have preferred me to get married at 27, have kids, and a steady job. But it wasn’t my thing at all! But still, I left, telling them I was just off to tour the world! Then, when I saw them again a month later, I told them: “Actually, I’m off for a year!”, and then I told them I may leave for two years, and in the end I told them that my trip would be longer. So I broke the news to them step by step! (She laughs) When I told my parents I was gonna leave with Quentin rather than on my own, they were already a bit more reassured. But then again, on Christmas day, just before we left, they thought that, as a present, we may tell them well, that in the end we decided to stay, but we didn’t! My parents are happy, definitely. They think I fulfill myself seeing the world, it’s great, and I think that, somehow, they’re proud of me. I don’t know if it was my goal, but, I feel I have to give them back at least a bit of kindness in return for the unfailing support they showed me for four years when I was in rehab. It’s my way of telling them: ”Look! I’m doing fine!” They’re delighted for us, they follow us on the blog, they’re our greatest fans, and I think they’re proud of us! I think my mother didn’t feel very reassured that I would hitch-hike. But my father doesn’t really mind. Well, the funny thing is, that they themselves hitch-hiked their way through their honeymoon! Our friends made us feel guilty telling us we were leaving them all alone! And they asked us questions, such as: “Why are you leaving, don’t you like it here?” Some friends told me: “This is you, go ahead! It’s a great project!” My father’s eyes shone in approval, but my mother was a bit worried, which is normal, that’s what mothers do. At first, my mother was a bit worried, but in the end, everybody was expecting it. Everybody knew it, because, for years, I had kept repeating: “I wanna travel, I dream of going around the world, tomorrow I’m gonna pack it all and go off!” Third and last step: free yourself from daily professional life! For some, it means putting their careers on hold. For others, it means leaving everything. “Sometimes you have to bite the hand that feeds you.” For the anecdote, as I’m a 30 years old chick, when I requested an appointment with my boss, he thought I was pregnant! But when I told him I wanted to tour the world, he answered it was a rather unusual project! Now, I must say that I love my job, and because this adventure around the world is just a break in my career, my application for sabbatical leave was accepted. Well, historically speaking, sabbatical leaves were devised for the employees, so that, once in their life, they could spend time off work to start a project, any project, without having to justify their decision. A company with less than 300 employees may refuse to validate a sabbatical leave whatever the employee’s project may be. But a company with more than 300 employees can’t refuse because it’s a legal right, like a maternity leave, but you must have six years of professional experience. In my case, as the company is rather small, my bosses could have refused my application; but they accepted it because they put forward similar values of openness and solidarity than the ones we defend in our United Schools’ project. So I think that in the end it may have helped me get it. How did I free myself from my job? Well, very simply, I became self-employed, so, even if I still offer my services to a group company, I’m not really accountable to anyone! Anyway, I’m part of a great team, and my boss is super cool, so when I told him about my project, he said: “Go ahead, mate, go ahead! We’ll be waiting for you!” French law allows you to terminate an employment contract by agreement, so I asked my boss about it, but he said: “Stéphane, we need both to agree to terminate your contract, and I disagree! (He laughs) So, I had to resign. Anyway, I want do a completely different job when I’m back, and I’m convinced that touring the world will help me go inward to get in touch with my ambitions on a deeper level. I’m a teacher, and as a civil servant I’m legally entitled to take sabbatical leaves. So it was quite easy for me to take a year off. I started to talk about it to my bosses about two years ago, so we worked on this project together. I had lots of responsabilities so I couldn’t just leave the company overnight. And I left peacefully, my colleagues looked serene, and I hope to come back with great serenity! (She laughs) At the restaurant, you first take pleasure in reading the menu; similarly, when you get ready for a trip, you enjoy repeating the names of unknown cities like a mantra. And then, you get rid of useless things. “There’s nothing more beautiful than the moment before a journey, the moment when the horizon of tomorrow visits us and tells us its promises.” – MILAN KUNDERA I love getting ready for a trip; I love that moment when you wonder: “What should be carefully planned?” You want to give yourself the least causes for concern as possible, so that you can leave with peace of mind, and travel peacefully. We bought backpacks and clothes, and we just took off! – We didn’t plan anything!
– No, we didn’t! (She laughs) – Yes, we did! We didn’t even take time to think of it, we left on a whim! – No, we didn’t! We had a plan, you see, I had planned our route! I’ve planned my trip very carefully, I’ve paid great attention to minute details and left absolutely no room for doubt. Someone provides me with full-day assistance, and all trip long, I know what’s gonna happen to me the next day. As for me, I did not plan anything at all! In fact, I got ready in the space of a single week. I moved, and I received my last vaccines. Well, actually, it was my dad who gave me the last injection the day just before I left, it was pure madness! But I think it’s very difficult to get ready for a world tour, in fact, you never feel ready, even right up until the last minute. I’m the most organized person in the world! I bought a large world map which I hung on the wall in my bedroom, and I spent nine months getting ready. I used Post-it notes to remind me of the vaccines. I wrote down everything that had to be done. I put crosses on a calendar to signal my appointments. I carefully wrote down the serial numbers of all my computers as well as my phone numbers, actually even my friends can access my phone, in case something should happen to me on the trip! We just sail away, and that was it, it wasn’t a laborious process, but still, a bit difficult maybe. It certainly did feel laborious to me! (She laughs) A month before we left, we got registered on the website of the ministry of foreign affairs to be informed in real time, in case some special, political issue should arise while we are abroad. In any case: deal with visas. You should check the websites of consulates and embassies to know if you must ask for a visa before you leave (it should keep you from any unpleasant surprises!), and get a special travel insurance, I’ve compared different travel insurance policies. Well, there are plenty of quite serious diseases in many countries, so we got vaccines. So you have to wait for ages to get just three of them, and they break your arm for a whole week! (He laughs) – We weren’t even given any sweets! So the nurse told me:
“Give me your arm! There it is. Next injection. Done! Let me press here, does it hurt?”, « Ouch, yes, it does !!!”, “Right, well it’s normal, wait over there. That will be 600 euros, please.” (He laughs) Then the time has come to leave, and soon you spend your first day all alone. You face the vastness of space and time. At first, you feel free since nobody knows you, nobody judges you. “Your second life begins when you realize you only have one” – RAPHAELLE GIORDANO In Halifax we spent our first day in a hotel, we waited for the specially equipped van to get there. Then we went to the port to fetch it. I put the key in the ignition, turned it, and magic happened as the engine roared to life! I accelerated, all went well, the project really began, you see, your bloody/fucking dream was actually happening! I spent two frustrating years planning this trip, I hardly ever went out although my friends would ask me: “Come on, let’s get pissed!”, “Sorry, dudes, I can’t, I gotta plan the trip o’ my life, yeah, I got a whole life ahead to plan!” And, at last, I drove the first miles in Halifax in my truck, and the guy in the passenger’s seat has a great smile coz he believes in my stuff, and it rocks, let’s go! Then, progressively, you settle back into a daily routine. Travel styles are as diverse as travelers themselves, but planning your daily life is not a vacation, it’s a full time job. “The road is life”
JACK KEROUAC Hitch-hiking is my only way to travel. I’ve tried boat hitch-hiking, and even plane hitch-hiking! In city centers, I cycle or I use public transports. We wanted to be in tune with our ecological values, so we mostly use public transports, and, in the end, we travel at quite a slow pace. Our goal is to make the lowest possible carbon print. Someone travels with me. I’ll do all the driving, so I’ll be driving over 44 000 miles. And the other person will do all the rest, like cooking, dealing with logistics, or helping me get dressed. So we share the chores, and that’s why things work smoothly on a daily basis. That’s awesome! I have this little van, with all I need in it, like food, I also have a small bike so I can ride for miles and miles. I can drive, so I’m the one coming up to people. I have electricity because I have solar panels, I have water, I have everything I need! What’s up? I’m the one who proposes things to people, I can offer you a beer! I’m independent, no more handicap, no more dependency! Prices of food and accomodation really differ from one country to another. To reduce the cost of accommodation, I’ve travelled a lot sleeping in a tent and I’ve couch surfed a lot, meaning I’ve slept for free on other people’s couches. I’ve slept in private houses, I’ve slept in youth hostels, I’ve slept in nice hotels, I’ve slept outside, I’ve slept in airports, I’ve slept anywhere, really! (She laughs) We fall asleep very easily since we love sleeping! (She laughs) So I don’t think it’ll be a problem for us. We are currently touring the world thanks to house swapping. This concept allows people to exchange their home. House swapping allows us to be welcomed within families in other countries. I think home exchange is a very good way to meet people because you can become friends. From time to time, they can have you taste traditional food, and some families have kids too, so I can play with them! I just love house swapping! House swapping has actually allowed us to meet all our needs, and all the many desires that the four of us had, and which widely differ obviously. I try to spend time cooking. In Asia, I didn’t cook at all because food was very cheap. Food is something quite important to me. So if I can’t go to a restaurant to have a nice meal, I try to cook one myself. We can’t cook as many dishes as we used to when we were in Paris because we would need too many ingredients, and we don’t have them here. But we can cook plenty of other stuff like coconut puddings for example. We couldn’t cook them in France because we didn’t have any coconuts! What about school then? If you don’t behave, I’ll switch the TV on. Mathematics, French, reading and writing! So on top of being “world-tourers”, we’re also part-time teachers, a pleasure that we equally share. Well, I’m being ironical when I say “pleasure”! (She laughs) And these are all the countries we’ve been through! – What about this country in green, what is it?
– Erm…, it’s Russia! So what do you write in your logbook whenever we visit a new country? Well, I write how many inhabitants it has and how big it is. Traveling can be considered as an entire teaching subject in itself because children discover new cultures, they learn how to respect nature, and they will naturally become responsible adults, respectful of their environment. You’re so lucky to spend all your time travelling! “Every single winner tried their luck.” – LA FRANCAISE DES JEUX We didn’t get up one morning and found a letter in our letterbox saying: “Congratulations Cassaflo family! You’re the lucky winner of an all-included trip around the world! You’re leaving for a year!” No, it didn’t happen this way. We wanted it, so we made it possible, and luck has nothing to do with it. Well, lots of people tell us: “Waou, you’re so lucky, what you’re doing is just so great!” I think that financially they may be much better off than us, so they can leave whenever they want. Mum simply had enough courage to take a credit and sell her car, so that the three of us could set for adventure. I see things differently. To me, luck has nothing to do with it, it’s a matter of choice, I’ve always wanted to do it, so I’ve done everything in my power so that, one day, it could happen to me. Just like some friends decided to build a house or have children together, I, for myself, chose to tour the world first. I think I’m lucky to be European, and thus to have a European passport. I think I’m lucky to be in a good enough physical and psychological condition as to be able to tour the world. And, I think I’m lucky to be born in a family and in a country that have allowed me to develop the capacity to think of myself as free enough to take a world tour. For were I born in North Laos, I wouldn’t be touring the world right now. As for the rest, it’s not a matter of luck, it’s a matter of choice. I have loads of luck because I’m French. Were I born in another country, I wouldn’t be there. I’d be dead, because they wouldn’t have been able to put a piece of titanium in my neck that allows me to carry on moving, and smiling and just being there well alive. That’s how lucky I am! And I’m also lucky to have a very supporting family, who brought me up opening my mind to travel. I feel very much lucky right now, look, the sun’s shining, we’re so lucky, it was supposed to rain! I have luck every single day!
I’m having the time of my life, I don’t even know how to tell you about it! I feel lucky all the time! Even when it’s rainy, I’m lucky enough to bump into someone who may offer me a beer. It’s all about how you look at your life, and how you decide to face things. If your approach is negative, then, yes indeed, you won’t be lucky! But if you look at the glass as half-full, well, you fell lucky all the time! (She laughs) When you tour the world, you collect souvenirs, you add up countries, you have your passport tattooed, and you don’t own anything anymore. “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Truth is, it’s less expensive to travel than to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Actually, touring the world isn’t that expensive. I thought it would be far more expensive than that. It all depends on your travel style. Transports are the most expensive things to afford when you travel. But, cycling or hitch-hiking won’t cost you anything. I bought a €2,200 round the world flight ticket (about $2600) including nine stopovers,. so I made a rather good deal An all-inclusive flight itinerary is more interesting financially, it enables you to discover many places and it’s cheaper than spending money on individual flights. All in all, I paid €15,000 (about $17 600) for a seven months’ trip, which is a substantial sum, credit card, vaccines, and daily expenses included. Our travel budget is €50 a day (about $58) for the three of us. I try not to spend more than $10 a day (about €8,5), and it works for me. Mum tells us: “Today, we can either go to see animals, like leopards and so on, or we can go to the restaurant. It’s up to you, kids!” So, what do we choose? Well, obviously we go for the animals! And then mum feeds us on bananas, and with my brother we’re like “Hurray!!! Let’s go see animals!!!” We estimated our annual expenses and decided to lead different lives, in different countries, with the same amount of money. The boat doesn’t belong to us, the bank is the legal owner through leasing, it means that the bank owns it until the financing is paid off. So you pay monthly instalments, just like for a car loan. Saying that you can’t afford to travel because it’s too expensive is wrong, because it depends on the comfort that you want. We chose a comfortable boat because we travel with kids. Had we travelled fifteen years ago just the two of us, we would have repaired an old boat. This vehicule is extremely expensive, it has specific adaptive equipments customized to my needs, so it’s very costly. I borrowed money and I also asked my family and relatives to contribute financially. I spent all my savings on it, and I called upon sponsors. I had to kick myself in the butt to save up €350 to €500 a month! ($510 to $590) I’ve always had this lifetime project, so, whenever I had a holiday, I would work, and save the money up. I used to spend all the money I had, I lived one day at a time. We used to go clubbing, buy drinks, and so on. Then we took on a different lifestyle, we had to pay attention to our expenses, and our friends got used to it. Thanks for adapting to us, mates, that was cool! I spent a working holiday in New Zealand, and then another one in Australia. I also save up a bit of money working as a freelance photographer and movie maker. What I earned in the space of two months in Australia allowed me to pay for my living expenses touring the world for another two years, it was huge! We emptied our saving accounts, the money was intended to buy a house, but in the end, we changed our minds and took that money to tour the world. I worked my ass up my whole life to earn this money which I’m spending now on this adventure. When you decide to tour the world, you stop contemplating your life passively and set out to make new experiences. This long-distance journey is made of unique moments, for each new country destabilizes you with its own specific culture. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
VICKI CORONA Well actually, I’ve had loads of memorable moments on this world tour, it started nearly five years ago. The best moments don’t happen when you most expect them to, they take place on a daily basis. In the middle of the vastness of the USA, or Canada, where anybody else would get bored and fall asleep, I have a blast just thinking I’m not doing so bad for a quad! My most beautiful memory is fairly recent. I spent some nights sleeping in a tent, self-sufficiently, in the middle of nowhere, and it was magic! I opened the tent in the morning, and was the only one contemplating the landscape, now that’s the best present ever! Our school visits are definitely among the most memorable moments. They give a special rhythm to our world tour, they make us feel lots of emotions because children are genuine actually, wherever they live. Frankly the best moment I had was when we saw dolphins. There were quite a few of them, eighteen or twenty, we saw them jump and we sat at the front of the boat to watch them, we even saw a little one with its mother! The most thrilling moments for me were when I watched them live, I mean live the trip to the full. And when I’m very old, I could always revisit these memories, they’re a source of happiness. If your life comes to an end, let’s say, in a week, the past sixteen months, take on a greater dimension, in fact, they become much more valuable. Time spent travelling becomes much more precious, much more intense. You live incredible things, and that is… I feel an incredible sense of euphoria, of freedom, of intense joy and exhilaration! On the first month I kept smiling all the time, like a child, and on top of that I was in Nepal, so it was quite a great first destination. It was like a dream, and I kept laughing to myself! The scariest thing that could happen to me on this world tour, would be to break a limb or get injured. For that would be the end of the trip. One of the most difficult moment was when I lost my passport in Chile and I absolutely had to join the Coflocs in Argentina. It wasn’t exactly the best moment to lose my passport and I had a hell of a time! I had to fly to the embassy in Santiago, go to the police station etc…, get a temporary passport to finally meet you! With Audrey we ended up like fools in the Canadian boonies, in a garage at about 1,700 km (about 1,000 miles) from Vancouver, waiting for the van to be towed. What can you do then, when you’re a quad, and your van just broke down, and you suddenly feel you don’t have anything in the world, that’s what I call a hell of a time, you see! The hardest time for me was when my girlfriend decided to come back to France after a month and a half, and I ended up touring the world on my own. It was quite difficult because I wasn’t expecting it. She just realized that she had accepted to follow me out of love, but that she wasn’t driven by any desire to travel. Once, my mate and I were walking along a river, she was actually walking in my direction, when, all of a sudden, a bear came out of the forest, it was pure madness!!! So we did what must be done in such cases, we quickly flung our arms and waved so that the bear could see us and wouldn’t be scared. But actually, the bear peacefully swam across the river, because bears can swim! And I was like: “Fuck, there a bear swimming right there!!!” Late at night in Australia we couldn’t find any good place to park so we slept in the car in a parking lot. At 7 am, we heard loud knocks on the window. Some policemen with strong Aussie accents said: “150 dollars.” “If you don’t pay before Saturday, the fine will increase.” And he left. We knew that we would have to go through quite a dangerous passage, off the coast of Honduras because some acts of piracy had recently been reported. Some fishermen, apparently, have attacked sailboats to steal their valuable items. We found ourselves stuck between many fishermen’s boats, and that was the scariest bit! Fortunately, the night fell down and we turned off all the lights, and sail away quite easily. Actually, I have quite an optimistic temper. So I think that what one may consider as a major difficulty wouldn’t seem so to me in so far I’m still alive, I’ve never been attacked, and I wasn’t even stolen anything so far. I had a hard time but I don’t talk about it very often. The first day we spent in Thailand, I was so fed up with traveling, I was crying all the time, I was just fed up, I couldn’t stand it any longer. Of course, over the past five years of travels, my mood has gone up and down, and my enthusiasm hasn’t always stayed strong. Sometimes I’ve felt so good, so at ease in a country, so connected with the people that when I had to leave it, it really tore me apart, it felt just like breaking up a relationship. And I questioned everything and wondered what the hell I was doing here and felt like coming back. Sometimes I think: “Oh, I’d like to come back to France!”, or “I may shorten my world tour!” But these thoughts linger on my mind for a few hours only, a day or two at most, and there it goes again, you meet some incredible people and you tell yourself: “Oh no, I want to carry on traveling, it’s so cool!” We regularly take some days off. On these days we don’t do anything special, we don’t have any plan, we don’t visit any places. We just stay somewhere, do a bit of reading, just chill out and relax. You must give yourself some time off. You must tell yourself: “Right, now I stop traveling, I stop doing whatever it is I’m doing and I’m gonna treat myself to a whole week off in a heavenly spot.” This time off is like a holiday within the world tour itself. Now I know it may sound provocative but I’ve done it many times! So far traveling hasn’t made me feel tired, it’s quite the contrary actually, I feel full of energy! I wake up very early in the morning though I go to bed very late. When I am in France I find it so hard to get up when the alarm clock goes off at 8 am! But here, when I open my eyes at 7 am, waou, I feel so eager to start a new day, to go and see new things, it’s just fantastic! Traveling solo opens your mind to the world. Traveling with many people brings you closer together. As the journey unfolds, age and language barriers are overcome. You get to meet many people, say many farewells and make promises to see each other again. “If you travel without meeting other people, you do not travel; you merely change places.”
ALEXANDRA DAVID-NEEL I have understood something along the way; you may see thousands of buildings, thousands of monuments, and thousands of tourist sites, if you don’t connect with other human beings, you miss something… Well, so far I’ve only travelled to Africa, so I’ve mainly met some local African inhabitants. We live extraordinary moments with the people we meet through house swapping. We are in symbiosis, in communion because we share lots of emotions, and we’ll definitely remember these moments. When you’re having a hard time, and you feel cold in the middle of Canada, well people come up to give you a hand, they don’t leave you in the shit. People show solidarity. You come up in your little cart, you need help, well, they’ll just take you all around. I met people on the way and we hitch-hiked all together. Sometimes I met other couch surfers who were sleeping at local people’s places for a few days, so you’re not alone at all. When you travel alone as a woman, or as a man, I think there are pros and cons in either cases. Traveling alone is THE best way to travel. When you travel with someone, both of you are in your own little world because you take care of each other; but when you’re alone, you have to meet people, and people who travel on their own can come up to you. So I wonder if I could ever travel with people again! Well, traveling as a couple doesn’t prevent you from meeting other single people. And we, as a couple, can also get to meet other couples. I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of people who have become my friends, though I’d never thought that these people would actually become my friends one day! But at times you feel like being alone, you just want to enjoy a bit of solitude, you don’t feel like talking. Sometimes I’m in a hotel and I don’t want to talk, I’m fed up with the hustle and bustle, there are too many people around me! Besides in daily life back home you’re alone most of the time, you’ve got space to breathe. But when you travel, there are too many people around you all the time, it feels too much, but it’s awesome! I feel rich because my trip was filled with human encounters! “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
MARK TWAIN Well, yeah, I did tour the world and it’s awesome but it’s also wearisome because with my sister, let’s say that we’re not on the best of terms, so we often fight! Actually I think we’d never spent 24 hours a day and 7 days a week all together. Spending time with your loved ones, well, it’s awesome! But you still need to make space for yourself because on the boat everybody knows what everybody’s doing at any time, and it’s just nerve-wracking! So I need to go swimming sometimes. Traveling with kids is no vacation! Sometimes, it can be quite tiring. But they allow you to go and meet people easily, especially local people since they will look at you kindly straightaway. And it forces me to adopt a fresh look on the world, I have to look at it from a kids’ perspective, and feel immediately amazed or disappointed, we live our emotions without a filter. I think that our relationships are much stronger when you tour the world as a family. I mean, good moments are awesome but we fight too. Our fights break out very suddenly and are very intense, but then matters are very quickly settled. We also have more insights into our children’s personalities and motivations than we could have back home, because we’ve had extremely busy professional lives, so we’d see them a bit in the morning and in the evening, at the week end, or during holidays, but then time would go on. Right now, we get to discover them thoroughly! “Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.”
ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY Love? Love? What about it? (She laughs) Pfff… (She laughs) Find love on the trip? I think it’s a cliché! In France, before I left, people told me:
“You’ll find love everywhere! You’ll find a girl and never be back!” But in fact it’s not so easy, because when you travel solo you sleep in youth hostels and you change places all the time. Love on the trip? Not on my agenda! (She laughs) My children give me lots of tenderness and for the rest, never mind, I’ll see to it later! In fact in my case the question is not about finding love on the trip, but rather about finding love on a very long trip! I think the hardest is to remain single for so long a period; because actually, you meet people, but either they’re travelers or they’re locals. I mean they live here so they’re committed to their place, they have jobs, friends, and they won’t let go of everything to follow you! To be honest I think I fell in love plenty of times! Along the way I met travelers who were living out exactly the same experience as me, and, traveling may make us reach a greater level of sensitivity. I’ve travelled with many men but I’ve always preferred not to start a relationship for fear that it’d ruin the experience, so I hope I’ll see lots of them again! (She laughs) Until that day when I met a guy who let go of his flat, his job and his mates to follow me on my trip! And we’ve travelled together for a year now. C‘est vrai qu’on avait plutôt l’habitude de ne pas être tout le temps l’un sur l’autre. We weren’t really used to being together all the time. And right now we spend all our time together, but things go quite smoothly. We try to communicate as much as we can, especially when we don’t feel good. We think that the trip could either bring us closer or tear us apart. But most of the time, we complement each other. When it comes to intimacy, well, we suffer a bit from a lack of it, because we regularly sleep in dormitories in youth hostels, or we couch surf. So from time to time, but it’s quite rare, we take a single room. And that’s it, we don’t need to tell you more about it… Oh, come on, go ahead, we’re listening to you! Oh no, sorry! (They laugh) My sweetheart is waiting for me in France, and her daily life really contrasts with mine. It’s complicated to be in a relationship when you don’t share the same time and space. So I try to explain her than if I do not travel, I still exist but I am, somehow, less alive, and I think I would wither away. Sometimes I’d love to be with her, it’s a bit difficult to travel alone! I kicked myself so many times as I admired a beautiful sunset, because I really wished someone had been there right next to me to share that special moment. And in such moments I can be jealous of the people who travel as couples. From one trip to another, somehow their world tours became ours. On ne les connaissait pas avant, We didn’t know them, and they became our new best friends. The journey has changed us. “When you travel you set out to discover others. But the first person to discover, is you.”
OLIVIER FOLLMI That’s why the interview lasted for an hour, it’s because I must tell you all about what it brings to me! (She laughs) I think touring the world has given me two things: a sense of freedom and connections with other human beings. It made me learn things I didn’t know. It made me discover a different culture. In the space of seven months, I feel as if I had piled up ten years of memories. And right now, I feel alive, you see. Traveling solo is going deep down inside. I’ve learnt more about myself on these past sixteen months than over the past twenty-five years of my life. What does traveling gives me? Serenity. I feel serene. I think that traveling has taught me to be more open-minded and more tolerant. I developed an ecological awareness, because on the way, I realized how small I was as a human being living on the vast and beautiful Earth! I’m fully convinced that to be happy you must lead a simple life. And I’ve been thinking: what have I still got in my backpack that was there right from the start? Nearly nothing, in fact, just my driving licence and the backpack itself! A piece of paper and a bag are the only things that I’ve kept with me since I started my world tour, which shows that nothing’s absolutely necessary! Over the past two months, I’ve felt that my brain has become much freer to think about other things than my daily routine: “commute, work, sleep”. So I’m going to spend more time thinking about my family than I was doing before, I’m going to think more about my friends, and, therefore more about my future. And I want my future job to be more meaningful. I feel stronger now, I face problems in a completely different way. I know there’s always a solution anyway, and that, whatever happens, I can deal with it. Traveling made me grow, I’m a bit more mature. I’m more self-confident and I hope I’ll bring back in my daily life the serenity which I gained along the way. Now let me ask you a question: can you remember your first travel memory? Most people will answer you that they do, that they remember that they went there and lived this and that. These memories stick to your mind because they give you happiness. In the end, when you die, you only take your memories with you, you won’t take your money, nor your super cool shoes, nor even your beautiful car. Well this trip is now part of our family life, it is part of our family history, and our children will surely withdraw something out of it. So we also took this trip for them to have extra memories to live on for the rest of their lives. Before the trip with my brother we didn’t have any strong bond, we’d rather behave like two single children. But now he’s my little bro! And therefore, it created a real link between us, an even stronger and indestructible one. Along the way our mum remained our mother and she also became our best friend. Without knowing it, we had looped our first world tour. Going from one culture to another so that we can see not only one stone but the whole monument of the world. Fulfill aur dreams and turn a short break into a major life transition. “Follow your dreams. They know the way.”
The trip of a lifetime. I’m convinced that it’s a major life transition, maybe I will see it like a short break in twenty years, but right now, I see it as a major life transition. It’s a major life transition, a huge life transition. For me, it’s a life transition, I hope it is. It’s a short one year break in my life that took place at the right time, and that may have helped me to make a transition too. It’s not a short break, it can only be a major transition. And in the future I hope I can find a job that makes me happy. I can picture out myself before I left a year ago, and I feel as if I saw a totally different person, who thinks differently, who talks differently and behaves differently. And I think a whole chapter of my life came to an end, actually I haven’t just turned a page. It’s a new beginning, a new springboard, I have plenty of new ideas. One of my dream has come true. I have others to fulfill, and I believe in them. It’s not merely a short break that I could easily forget. If I ever forget about it I’d feel miserable. I will definitely make something out of it. When I’m back I won’t relapse in the same daily routine. It will definitely change our relationhip. As a couple, we feel stronger because of what we’ve been through together. No, it’s definitely not a short break, but it’s a transition among all the other life transitions that I’ve already known and those yet to come. Life is an ongoing process, so it can’t be interrupted. That was a life transition, it was very important, I really needed it, it was definitely a major life transition, and now I can move on to other things, things a bit crazier maybe!


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