As travelling is on most people’s agendas, considering a more respectful, a cheaper and more eco-friendly exploration of foreign countries especially on a summer break is on the cards for some adventurers. Thomas Morelon – a co-founder of the project ” Stop Nous Si Tu Peux” (Pun intended here : Hitchhiking in French is “Stop”, Us If You Can”) – accepted to answer a couple of questions on his project.
Its concept leans on hitchhiking across Europe for little to no money spent, staying for the night at local inhabitants’ and finding food in restaurants or bakeries that would give away remains of the unsold items of the day. This project was lead 6 times over the past summer breaks to different destinations : England, Brittany, Czech Republic, Hungary…
How did you come up with such an idea ?
When we finished our studies, Quentin and I wanted to travel before starting our professional careers, but we also wanted to be helpful to other people. So, we decided to test travelling without money and to testify to a large audience about the positive impact of this type of alternate means of travelling, thanks to the social media, conferences, and movies about trips.
What was/were your goal(s) ?
Personally, we wanted to test and accept the no-money-trip challenge – Hitchhiking to move around, collecting food to eat, and knocking at people’s doors to find a shelter, in exchange for our services.
Beyond travelling, we wanted to share ethical and benevolent values of our experience – meeting other people at its core, bonding with people from all walks of life, travelling in a sober and more ecological way, exchanging other things than money ( help, sharing donations, solidarity…) and spread a positive message.
What was the easiest and what was the hardest part in fulfilling your hichhiking project ?
The easiest and even the hardest altogether was not to plan anything in advance! We only had a destination or a goal in mind, the rest remained improvised with discovering new people and facing challenges!
But it is sometimes straining, because it is necessary to listen to oneself and the others. We never knew what we were going to do and where we were going to sleep. The production of a movie is also a difficult thing : it is necessary to keep in mind how to frame our sequences. And after the trip, making the film requires time and energy, to classify and setting priorities, corrections, subtitles, adverts and communication pannels, community management… It takes a lot of time!
What did you learn from your different experiences ?
I personally learnt that there is good in most human beings, whatever their status, their religions or political beliefs. Many different people gave us, for various personal reasons. I learnt how to trust people and life, relying on my lucky star and what I simply got even if it is sometimes not much. Finally I learnt how to listen to the others, to feel more empathy and to love difference.
Which trip did you enjoy the most and why ?
It is hard to make a choice! I think I have enjoyed our last trip in the French countryside : we met authentic people in a place and a culture that is different from ours (rural) and the feelings were strong between Quentin and I but also with some people we met. The more we travelled, the more we were amazed by simple things with a great meaning : confidence, friendship, emotions and social interactions.
Taking into account the tremendous attraction for tourism and gap years, how would you motivate the youth into alternate tourism ? By suggesting them to watch our adventures and the rich contents of our experience! Alternate trips allow you to open up to co-depend on the others, therefore to offer more to the others. It allows you to create strong and sincere relationships, with no preconceived ideas, no judgements nor negative pieces of mind towards the others! Travelling better with less seems to be vital to continue to promote sustainable trips when the ressources are decaying and when communication seems to be hard at times between generations or social circles. Alternate trips are an incredible chance to immerse oneself in universes that are different from our everyday lives’ and it is easy to access. No need to go to the other end of the planet for a long time and to spend crazy amounts of money for such an experience! Your next challenge, if you accept it : what about an adventure of that type close to your home, over a weekend ?
Written by Adélaïde Uppal