Alexis hails from France and did some hitchhiking in Europe when he was a teenager. After working for a while in France, he quit his job and lived as an expat in a few countries. He met Carol in Brazil, where they’re now based, and they’ve been traveling together ever since.
Recently, Alexis and Carol completed a 2-year round-the-world trip. They’re taking a break now, but it looks like they’ll get moving again soon. They just signed a deal with a production company, so if you see them on TV, remember that you first saw them here! ;)
Wanna watch that awesome video I mentioned? It’s a good rendition of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. Here it is:
You’ve been traveling full time for almost two years now. How much do you spend per year on your travels?
First, you have to know that we are not traveling anymore. We moved to Switzerland for 1 year, then we traveled the world (44 countries) for 2 years. It’s been now five months we are back in Brazil — okay, kind of still traveling cause we’re doing projects in three different cities.
We spent US$58,000 for both of us in those 2 years. $38,000 the first year with RTW tickets and only $20,000 the second year to cross Latin American countries by land from Bolivia to Mexico, plus 2 months in Europe.
You hitchhiked from France to Scotland when you were 18. I’ve featured hitchhikers before in an interview and the issue of safety kept coming up. Did you ever encounter any real danger when you were hitchhiking?
Not at all, only met nice people all the way up and down. There are so many more good people than bad people anywhere you go. In Europe is quite safe to do it anyway. Here in Brazil, everybody is afraid to hitchhike or to take a hitchhiker, so it doesn’t even exist.
When I was 14, every week for 1 year I used to hitchhike home after school. I finished class earlier every Thursday afternoon and my city was 35 km away from the school. The bus would only come at 6 p.m.
Once a guy stopped but I thought he had a face of someone I couldn’t really trust, so I stayed away from the car to show him I didn’t need a ride. I’ll never know if I over-judged by appearances or if I saved myself, but sometimes we can feel things, so it’s good to follow your instinct and find a reasonable balance between trusting too much and giving a chance to opportunities.
You also do a lot of Couchsurfing. What is your top tip for a newbie?
We try to do at least one Couchsurfing by country we visit, not only because it’s a free acommodation but because it’s the best way to see the culture of a country from the inside. No hostel, hotel, or (even less) resort can offer that incomparable experience. Okay, it’s true, we couchsurfed more in expensive countries like the U.S., Japan, Europe, Israel…
Our tip: we used to not trust those who had no references yet on their Couchsurfing profile. And one day we thought, “If nobody gives them their first chance to receive someone, they’ll never have comments or references!” So we tried and it was the best! When you are the first guest, it’s new, it’s exciting, so you are kind of treated like a king!
We did a lot of Couchsurfing for the last 8 years, both hosting and being hosted. We never had a single bad experience, a couple of kind of weird people but, hey, we are kind of weird people to some people too. :)
You’ve lived in England, Germany, Brazil and Switzerland as expats before you started traveling full time. What kind of work did you do?
In France, I was a college teacher; in England, I was bartender at a fancy French restaurant; in Germany, I was an entertainer in a center for young people; in Brazil, I was dubber for TV, French teacher and also had a rock band.
I met Carol in Brazil. She had a big career in a multinational company. They offered her a 1-year job opportunity in Switzerland as an expat 3 months before we planned to quit everything to travel. So we said, “Okay, let’s go there, save some more money and we will travel next year.” We feel free enough not to be bought with money, but we know how to take advantage of opportunities. In Switzerland, I used to play guitar in the streets, making around $100 per day. Unfortunately, the winters were too cold to play all year long, so I did photography classes, cooking classes and wine classes.
I always quit my jobs for the unknown; it can be scary for many people, but it’s actually easy. I don’t want to be rich; if I do, fine! What really matters is to live my life and not let my life live me.
My family and friends begged, ”Don’t quit that job, you’re making good money. You have a safe job with lots of holidays.” All I was hearing was, ”Bla bla bla bla…” I am so glad today that I didn’t do what people and society expected from me. I would probably — today, 12 years later — be still in France with that same job, in my comfort zone and boring small life.
You were inspired to do your 2-year RTW trip by a couple of your friends. What was it about their RTW experience that made you take action and start planning your own trip?
This couple didn’t really inspire us with the trip itself, but they made us realize that it could be very cheap to reach the dream. We couldn’t believe it; we had to meet and talk to them!
After that, it took us like two weeks to make a decision. Once you decide and say, “Okay! Let’s do it!,” even without the money yet, you are already halfway there.
For the next 2 years, you saved money to travel. How much did you save and how did you know that was enough?
We had money saved already before starting to save for the trip. At the end, we saved something like $120,000. With that kind of money here in Brazil, we could afford a small flat or a luxury car. We both had good salaries, we had no cars, no kids, no house, just the bills and rent of the apartment. And we were trying to spend less money every month to save more so we could travel more. It was kind of a happy competition.
This money was budgeted for 1 year of travel and we wanted to have money to survive for at least 1 year after the trip. We actually traveled 1 extra year because we learned to travel very cheaply and we met so many backpackers at the end of their long trips who were going back home with almost nothing.
We knew it was enough, we just had to budget and stick to it.
Did you work along the way during your 2-year RTW trip?
We never worked during these 2 years of traveling. We were very open to any opportunities, but it never really happened, and we never really went after it either.
You take beautiful photos. Do the proceeds from these photos also help you fund your travels?
Not at all! I always liked taking photos very much. But today yes, I’m doing a lot of exhibitions of my photos. (Nomad Wallet note: check out Alexis’ photography website.)
I heard you might be on TV soon. How’s the negotiation with the production company going?
Yes, the negotiation is going great! We just signed a 1-year contract with a big production company, but we prefer not to say too much about it. Once it is sold to a channel, we’ll be back on the road…and on TV.
(End of interview)
You can find out more about Alexis’ and Carol’s adventures on their website Kiki Around the World.