François Membré, 22 years old, originally from the North of France (near Lille).
During my childhood, I had the chance to have parents that loved to travel and a father that worked internationally. Also boyscout, I learned resourcefulness by living in a simple way in the nature. Filled with this desire to discover the world around me, I first make a semester in the US in 2015 during my engineering studies at ICAM Lille. The same year, the viewing of alternative travelling programs (including “Nus & Culottés”) reveal in me a huge desire for adventure and change of scenery.
The turning point of my life will mainly take place during the summer 2016 where I make a 4-months Europe tour with no money: 22 countries and 20 000 km traveled by hitchhiking, finding homestay accommodation and asking for food leftovers.
After that, in parallel with my studies, I civically commit myself more and more from an ecological point of view and continue to move and travel by hitchhiking. In 2017, I go to China to carry out 6-months internship.
After graduating in 2018, I decided to take the road again to make a hitchhiking tour around the world to discover the inhabitants of this world and their culture, while traveling in an ecological and responsible way. I set up the project and I left in October 2018 to realize “The Thumb Tour“.
Tourist or traveler?
Let’s begin with this. There is a big difference for me between tourism and travel.
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
It is cliché to put quotes, but I like it.
I think that says enough. A tourist will go to the most viewed places on the planet, take selfies in order to share them with all his friends. The finality of tourism is the photo. This famous photo in front of the tower of pisa, while supporting it. This famous photo touching the top of the Eiffel Tower. There is nothing wrong with this, it is just something that does not fit me.
The travel is going for the unknown. It’s sometimes choosing to get lost and find isolated places. It’s meeting the locals and talk with them. It’s wanting adventure, a change of scenery. It’s getting out of your comfort zone and testing new things. It’s taking risks too.
So, I should consider myself a traveler.
Traveler, yes. But not any kind.
It was mainly by searching online for advice on backpacks that it shocked me. I was looking for bags of backpackers. That’s a word that says a lot, right? We imagine immediately the bag on the back, the big hiking days, the sleeping bag, the sleeping mat and why not a tent.
I imagined that too! Except that for a lot of people (according to the internet at least), take the plane with his suitcase, then a taxi to go to sleep in a hotel before taking a small backpack for a ride in the city is considered to be backpacking. Well I caricature a little, not all of them are like that. But for a very large majority in any case, a big criteria for the backpack is the fact that it is accepted by the airline, which is the opposite of what I want for my trip.
I really have nothing against them, everyone is obviously free to do what he wants, but I do not want to be confused and put in this box.
I would rather consider myself a roving traveler or a modern adventurer.
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