You know that guy living next door? With his motorbike? Yeah, the one who is never at home in the summer. Also he is gone during the winter vacations. Actually he is gone during most free days. Setting off towards exotic destinations. Or maybe the national park around the corner, who knows? This is what I call “The next door adventurer”.
In this piece I’ve interviewed your neighbors. People like you and me, who made journeys of every kind. By bike, by motorbike, with and without backpack. With a camper or with a transport van. They talk about their journeys and give you some tips ’n tricks on travelling. This is part one, enjoy!
Erwin: Hey Isa, what kind of journeys did you make?
Isa: During the years I’ve made different journeys; of course the random vacations towards France (edit. every Dutch person does this). I also joined a friend for a photo project in Bosnia, but my big trip was in 2013. That was a journey to Australia and New Zealand. This journey took nine months in total.
E: What did you do during your journeys?
I: Well, I always try to link a goal to a journey, in stead of just going somewhere for the sake of going there. The project in Bosnia was the first journey with a goal. Together with a befriended photographer we tried to give a positive impulse in the country. It was totally ripped during the war over there, we tried to add some positive impulses by photographing positive things. We went to a all-girl soccer team, but also to a political cafe for the youth. They tried to fight the corruption on their schools for example, where you can buy good grades. By making journeys this way, you meet totally different people and get to special places you’ve otherwise wouldn’t meet. I want to meet people that inspire me, and where I’m able to learn from.
E: How did you get around during your journeys?
I: Hitchhiking, cycling, hiking, renting a camper, renting a car, camping, basically everything.
In New Zealand a lot of people go round with a campervan, it gives you loads of freedom. Way more then with public transport or even with a car. With a car I’ve noticed you tend to stay on the big roads, and with a campervan you’ll be able to find some more awesome spots. Cycling is a bit too slow for me in New Zealand, with a campervan you’re able to see some more of those sweet spots.
E: And you’ve also been travelling on a bicycle?
I: Haha, yeah! I did a tour trough the Netherlands with a 40 year old bike, still with the original tires. After 32 kilometers the gears broke down, so I had to walk to a bike fixer. Luckily there was a camping spot next by so the next day my bike was fixed and I was ready to go again. I really liked this; just grab a bike, ask your neighbor for a cart and go!
E: Is this your style, low budget and take what is available?
I: I would say it’s more impulsive, I just do what I want at that moment. Just following an idea. Maybe this makes me a little naive too, though. For example, when I was cycling in the Pyrenees I had totally wrong gear inches, so it took me all my energy to get up that mountains! But then again, it was kind of funny to get in a situation like that, and find your way out of it.
E: Do you have a tip for other travellers?
I: Well, I believe very strongly in intuition. If you want to do something, just do this and don’t let yourself be distracted by your own thoughts, surroundings or even your family. If you have a certain feeling that you want to do something, something comes your way what makes it doable. If you follow your feeling, you’ll find something good on your path. It will always be OK.
Erwin: Hey Remco, what kind of journeys did you make?
Remco: Well, it started with a couple months of backpacking trough South America. Then Eastern and South Africa. And from Egypte trough Syria to Turkey. I went to India and some other countries in South East Asia. Then I went by motorbike to the Sahara desert. But before motorbiking I was backpacking, and travelled with public transport. Always in between the locals, that was great!
But travelling by motorbike was the best. I wanted to make a really long journey, but decided to make a “short” journey at first, to see if I liked it. I left a week after I got my motorbike license, to ride for Marocco. It was so different then the backpacking I did before! Hostels, carrying around all your stuff on your back, getting taxi’s to airports, I didn’t like that too much. And when you’re dependent on the public transport you mostly miss the great nature area’s like national parks. Basically, you’re less free.
E: So you chose for a motorbike
R: Yeah! Backpacking costs a lot of energy, sometimes it costs a lot of time to go to a nice natural area, with a motorbike its way easier!
E: Yeah, but you can also do this with a campervan, right? Why did you take a motorbike to make journeys?
R: Well, my original idea was to cycle round the world. At some point I got two Couchsurfers over, and they came with their motorbikes, touring trough Europe. I saw this, and thought: “damn, this looks awesome!” The prospect of ploughing for days on end trough the hot desert, or cycling up huge mountains didn’t really appeal to me actually. I’d rather take those roads with a motorbike, that’s way more fun in my opinion.
E: It seems you’re not really searching for something extreme or finding your limits.
R: No, thats right, I think you can see way more when you’re on a motorbike then on a bicycle for example. You can just take a 80 km detour to see a nice site and follow your planned route later on. With a bicycle this is a bit harder, so I think you’re more route dependent. With a motorbike you’re more flexible.
And next to this, I love being on a motorbike! I had no clue what I started when I got my drivers license, but after a week of tiny tours I knew I was ready for a big one!
E: Do you have some tips for people who want to explore the world on a mechanical horse?
R: For sure! There are loads of forums and online communities for motor travellers. One of the most important forum is “Horizons Unlimited”. It’s from two Australians who started in 1987 with motorbike travelling. They travelled for 12 years around the world. They started the forum to share their knowledge and now they organise (especially in the summer) monthly meet ups around the world. At these meetings long distance motor bike travellers come together. I’ve seen people in Germany coming all the way from New Zealand with their old rusty but trusty bikes. Sadly these meetings don’t find place in the Netherlands, but they do in Germany, Hungary, the UK, the USA, Australia and more.
And I have an extra tip! If you have the idea to make a journey, be it on a motorbike, on foot or by any other mode, just go for it. Don’t let the idea float around in your head, really go for it! If your idea sounds awesome to you, it will be.
Remco currently is on a little tour again, from his hometown of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands, to Mongolia. Of course with his beloved motorbike. I will try to interview him now and then about this awesome journey.
In the meantime you can like my Facebookpage and keep track of this space for the next part!