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Our first travel year overview, from Paris to the Caucasus

At the end of our first year spent on the road (we left France on October 17, 2016), it’s time to look back: What about our challenge France to Australia without plane? Where are we now? What are the lessons we learned from this trip?… Let’s summarize our first year of adventure in this overview!

Overall assessment

Generally speaking, we had:

  • crossed 12 countries, from Italy to Armenia, i.e. 1 country crossed per month on average,
  • travelled 19,288 km, more or less; not to mention distances covered on foot, on a loan bike, by boat or ULM! 
  • stopped 467 vehicules – we say “vehicles” because we haven’t been given a lift only by cars…
  • spent in average €3.15/day/person by not depriving ourselves of anything… because we love to drink beers and cook French food for our hosts! But if we took our expenses in Italy out of the calculation, numbers would go up to €2.30/day/person… So, at this stage, we can hold out until Australia for a few years!
  • been hosted by 122 different hosts, who trusted us by agreeing to open their house to two crazy French travellers! We hope to return the favour by inviting them to France one day – even if there will be a lot of people to stay with us!
  • been involved in 7 different volunteering missions (3 months in total on 13 months of travel!) through platform and 3 missions of volunteering for people met on the road. As we used to say, “combining business with pleasure” has never been more meaningful than during our trip!
  • learned 48 cooking recipes! Enough to open a good restaurant, don’t you think??

Material assessment

After our first year of travel, let’s take a look at our material: what is the detailed outcome of this assessment? Here are some figures:

  • 1 accident for me(eyebrow arch sewn up and a broken nose) and 1 lumbago for Julien (a little rest, and a back like new!),

  • a cash robbery: the lack of caution cost us a lot once, but a trip is also about ups and downs!…

  • 1 broken camera lens, fixed since – fixed three weeks later by a professional, with a small adjustment made by Julien

  • 1 phone battery changed, for free, by a host for my phone

  • 4 haircuts for Julien done by me, and 2 haircuts for me (one by Julien, and one by a host!) – all done with the pair of scissors we brought with us!

About my stuff:

  • I lost 1 pair of sunglasses, and my pair of glasses was damaged in my accident
  • I was able to exchange my pair of shoes for a used one
  • I won a cap in a bar raffle and found a pair of gloves on the side of a road!
  • None of my stuff’s been tossed in the trash yet!

About Julien’s stuff:

  • 6 of his clothes had holes in them (now sewn!)
  • 2 t-shirts, 1 pair of socks and 2 new boxers were given to him
  • On the other hand, 2 boxers and 2 pairs of socks have been thrown away for good…

We didn’t spend anything on the trip (apart from repairing the camera lens) to adjust our equipment. Finally, by using alternative methods like sewing clothes by ourselves or bartering, we have also met our ecological and economic goals in this travel!

Our carbon footprint

It was also interesting for us, after this first year spent by hitchhiking roads, to calculate our carbon footprint since one of our travel objectives is to have the lowest possible ecological impact.

In order to do so, we have taken into account some data:

  • The total number of kilometers travelled: 19,288 km from France to Armenia
  • The percentage of the distance done by hitchhiking: 94% – because when conditions were not favourable, we took buses, trains or carpools… In addition to having started quite inexperienced, and travelled through countries known to be difficult to hitchhike!
  • The greenhouse gas emission balances for each mode of transport and the fuel consumption of a vehicle according to the increase in its weight, two parameters to be taken into account when calculating our carbon footprint, as we explain it in this post.

After calculation, it turned out that our carbon footprint was about 233 kg CO2/person versus 1.2 tons of CO2/person sif we had traveled all that distance by bus or 2.5 tons of CO2/person by flight. Then we can agree, a Paris-Yerevan journey by plane is more direct (3430 km), but as a comparison a one-way Paris-Sydney journey by plane (~17000 km) would have made us emit 3.6 tons of CO2/person… This should make us think.

How to calculate your carbon footprint by hitchhiking?

Our personal assessment

From this point of view, it’s impossible for us to quantify all the marvellous moments spent on the road, nor all the memories that we have forged thanks to encounters, exceptional landscapes, hazards of the road…

On the other hand, we noticed that this trip brought us a lot in terms of teachings – and that’s very positive!

  • We’ve learned to take our time. To be honest, we didn’t think this first part of the trip would last this long… We really took our time to discover each country we went through, meet people and learn a little bit about each culture (language, history, political issues, cooking recipes etc).
  • In a new situation, we know adjust faster and cope with itBy taking the road every 2 or 3 days, we had to get used to a new environment, new situations, new hosts with different habits rather quickly…
  • Generally speaking, we often take a step back, questioning ourselves more both from a personal and a more global point of view, in relation to our home environment and our education. Indeed, we have become more critical of the information and historical “truths” that we learned in school (managed by politicians in power).
  • We have learned a few lessons to keep moving forward together, as a couple! It must be said that we were very independent before leaving, and that we suddenly had to put up with each other 24 hours a day… So even if the transition wasn’t always easy, we came out of it stronger… as a couple!

Only one thing is certain: with such positive results, we will keep going until we reach our goal Paris → Australia for a time still unknown!

* Post written according to our personal experience *

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