We have known for three weeks now. Three weeks with a permanent grin on our faces. Three weeks browsing through guides and websites, picking the brains of our friends and family, to draw up our incredible itinerary. Europe in 25 countries, almost as many languages, and 100 times more kilometers. “Drive your adventure” is a bold challenge launched by the folks at “we-van”, who were faced with the unenviable task of selecting a team to carry their flag and their values in support of the road trip concept. As crazy as it seems, the team they chose is… us.
I, Elsa, am the one writing this. I am almost 28 years old, having spent the first 15 of those years on the Ile d’Oléron off the west coast of France, then in Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence for my “cultural management” studies. It was there, in the capital of Provence, that I met Bertrand, 21 years old at the time, soon to be 27, hiding behind the viewfinder of his camera. I followed him to Marseille where I worked while he finished his studies in “marketing and sporting events”. Driven by the same desires and the same vision of life, we complement each other pretty well: Elsa, hyperactive and a planner at heart, and Bertrand, hyperartistic and a specialist in outdoor activities.
In 2012 we put the joys of spontaneous travel to the test, exploring a handful of European countries by train. From one train to the next, we set down our backpacks and pitched our tent wherever we felt like it. That was the start of our second love story, a love for travel. In 2014 we spent almost 8 months in Australia, 6 of which were behind the wheel of “Vaillant” (“The Valliant One” in English), our trusty old van. We were unable to resist Vaillant’s makeshift kitchen, real bed and water-tight roof.
What could be better than roaming the land in a house on 4 wheels? Since then, we wouldn’t travel any other way. Besides being “cool” and almost “trendy”, for us it’s the very definition of freedom. We are free. Free to go wherever we please, free to take a detour, free to stop for longer than planned, free to leave earlier than planned, free to sleep here or there simply because we feel like it, or because we can.
We strongly suspect that in the end, the trip we take will be nothing like the one we planned. That line on the map will shift according to roads we find, people we meet, and impulsive decisions we make. And so much the better. Living in a campervan also offers a sense of profound well-being. Thanks to our daily “room with a view”, to being woken up by the backwash of the waves, to our sun salutations (yoga is part of the routine) high up in the mountains, or simply to being able to slow down and enjoy every minute of this wonderful life.
All those who taste this way of life are unlikely to come back unchanged. They will be the same people but will have grown, will be more confident, calmer, more open to others. Imagine what “amazing people” Bertrand and I will be by the time we come back from this unique six-month adventure! At least, we will try our best, and that’s a promise.
© Bertrand Lawal