Stergios: Some people say that the best bike to set off for a big journey is the bike you already ride. I already knew my scooter’s simple engine, its quirks and the possible problems it could get me into. Plus, I was broke! I had a very limited budget, so my thought was: “If I spend money on a new bike, I won’t have money to travel”. As for any engine modifications / improvements, I took my mechanic’s advice at scootershop.gr and did nothing at all.
We’ve traveled across several countries in Africa, South America and Europe. You can find all the details about our route, here.
From Europe to Africa: we took a ferry from Igoumenitsa (GR) to Ancona (IT) and another one from Livorno (IT) to Tangier (MA). From Africa to South America: we flew from Johannesburg (ZA) to Buenos Aires (AR). For more information about the air freight, here.
The route is not strictly scheduled and we are usually open to other people’s recommendations when we visit a place. Our route planning is a combination of time, climate, company, mood and money. We don’t have a schedule on kilometers either. If we are tired we stop. If we don’t like a place we continue. We’ve covered distances as short as 10km or as long as 800km per day.
There are endless debates on the internet about traveling light or overloaded etc. For us, there is no certain rule. If something makes our life easier, we take it along. If we’re tired of something and have stopped using it, we toss it. We have bags, saddle bags, backpacks etc which we tie on the scooter’s front and rear rack, on the scooter’s floor, in the glovebox… You can watch Stergios explaining everything about his luggage in Africa, here (only in Greek for the moment).
Kitsos, our scooter, hasn’t suffered any major breakdown. All the troubles we faced could be fixed by ourselves. We carry a case with spare-parts and the tools we may need to fix it. Even in the DRC where we didn’t have a spare clutch (after the second time it got burnt), our mechanic (scootershop.gr) helped by shipping everything we needed with a courier company. Actually, this was the only time that we had to have spare-parts urgently shipped. Besides, we can find spare parts for the Vespa almost anywhere. We even have used cables from a bicycle store when the clutch cable was cut in Patagonia. Kitsos’ engine is very simple to repair.
There’s no plan about this, for sure. Traveling has become a way of living for us, so there’s no possibility of dropping anchor anytime soon. Read here how travelling became a way of living for us.
Stergios: When I decided to leave Greece and set off for my RTW trip, I was almost broke. So what I did was to work for one summer as a seasonal waiter in a Greek island and sell everything that could be sold from the stuff I had (my bicycle, my other motorbike, my extra motorcycle gear, some clothes, my mobile phone etc). I was lucky because when I started counting my budget, I found out that a scholarship I had been granted from my school was finally credited to my account, as well as the severance pay owed to me when I was made redundant. So, I had managed to start my trip with less than 10,000€ in my pocket. When Alexandra joined me, her main source of funding the trip was the savings she had for her PhD.
During the preparation of the trip, some people (through the businesses they run) who liked my idea of traveling RTW, supported it by providing me with useful gear: spare-parts, cameras, helmet. More supporters came along the way, who provided us with camping gear and a tent when ours had started to fall apart. Moreover, we should mention the donations made by people who appreciated the work on our blog and our videos, or simply the concept of our trip. The part of our trip that started on the 2nd of January 2019 is also self-funded – we worked hard the last two years – but we also have the support of some brands/companies that provided us with new gear (video) and of course, all our friends from around the world who support us by making donations.
Initially, the only “work” on the road was to update the blog with new stories and publish videos and pictures on our social media accounts. Gradually, we realized that traveling, shooting videos / pictures and writing are the things we love most, so we decided to dedicate ourselves to all the above and take things more seriously. Being able to make a living from what you love is for us one of the most important things to be happy. It is a difficult road we chose, but hasn’t every road its difficulties?
A bit more on the subject here.
The challenge for us is to travel on the lowest budget possible and this way, be able to spend on the road as much time as we can. We call our days of traveling “days of freedom” and we have adjusted our needs according to our lifestyle. The African leg of the trip lasted almost 15 months and the expenses including everything (petrol, food, accommodation, visa costs, insurances, spare parts, 2T oil, tickets, etc) were 5,491€ in total (12.53€ per day). You can find the cost of the trip across Africa in numbers here. As for South America, where we traveled 2up for the same length of time, we are currently working on publishing a detailed article with our expenses, but until now we estimate that we spent less than 20€ per day (cost for both of us).
We never felt that we have to deal with this or consider it as an issue. We acknowledge the fact that usually, couples who live together see each other in the evenings after they get back from work and during weekends – if their lifestyle gives them enough time. For us, being together means literally spending all day together, working together and, as we ride 2up, being in actual contact for at least 8 hours per day. It would be a lie to say that there is no tension between us whatsoever. There are difficult times, when one of us (or both) is in a bad mood or when we have to deal with complicated situations and have different ways of resolving them. The key to this is respect. We respect each other’s space and time and we try to “chose our battles”. Much of the tension is a result of “external factors” and has nothing to do with our relationship and when a bad moment comes, we try to keep our moths shut and think. There are also days when we ride in silence without disturbing each other’s thoughts. We know that we both like/need similar things in order to be happy and we always try to talk and be “updated” about if we are ok. More on the subject here.
Stergios: When I set off for my trip I packed everything I thought I’d need, but since that day back in 2013, many things have changed. I tossed a lot of gadgets along the way but also got new ones I hadn’t thought I’d need. But, this is a very subjective matter. What’s important to me can be simply nothing to another traveler.
Regarding our low budget style of living and traveling, this won’t change easily since, apart from a necessity it has also become a philosophy. As for our choice of vehicle, we don’t want to be dogmatic. Traveling 2up on Kitsos is great fun and it is an important component of our story, but since we don’t want to prove anything, if someday we stop enjoying it, we can change it for another vehicle. But, don’t worry, this won’t be happening any time soon! Maybe in our late eighties, when getting on a bike will have become a complicated procedure…
We generally don’t drink bottled water. It is a safe option for short-term travelers, but not for us. The cost is too high, plus there is no bottled water available in all the places we go. What we usually do is ask if the tap water is drinkable. If the locals drink it, then we drink it, too. We admit that this is not a wise thing to do, but that’s what we ended up doing. In Africa, if any of our fellow travelers carried a water purification system, we’d use it, but this wasn’t always an option. Sometimes we boil tap water before we drink it, but depending on the circumstances this is not always applicable. In South America, we bought a UV light purifier which we used when we had no idea about the quality of the water, but we found its use a bit complicated and costly, since it needs batteries. This time, we are going to use the Katadyne Vario. Once we try it, we’ll write everything about our experience using it.
We have traveled in the past with very low quality, cheap camping gear. It’s true that sometimes it can be annoying, but it’s also true that it can’t stop us from traveling! However, after all this time on the road, we now know our needs. We have concluded that for our kind of travel we don’t need extremely costly, professional gear. Mid-range gear, with attention to quality (durable, waterproof, lightweight) is more than enough. Here is a video we made with our basic camping equipment.
Stergios: For the first part of the trip, I left with what I already used: trousers and jacket by Colori, Sidi boots. The only thing that was new was my Reevu flip-up helmet, sponsored by the Greek importer of the brand. I was satisfied by my gear. The only issue I had was with the helmet, but only due to my style of traveling. The helmet itself was of great quality and I found its rear view system very useful, but I often rode with the helmet fully open due to the extreme heat and, combined with my slow pace, resulting to lose its good balance and become heavy for my neck. Alexandra: A simple jet LS2 helmet and knee and elbow protections. In this leg of our trip, we will have brand new gear (ARMR clothing & Vemar helmets). You can read our review here.
Stergios: At first I had 2 Drift Ghost action cameras + a Nikon DSLR (Thanos’ camera). When my fellow traveler, Thanos went back to Greece, I bought a Samsung NX1000 mirrorless camera with the 20-50mm (kit) lens. I bought it without thinking about it too much – it was on discount – in Bamako. In South Africa I changed the 2 Drift Ghost with a new Drift Ghost S, and my Samsung NX1000 with a Sony A6000 (and two lenses: selp1650 & sel55210). Alexandra had a Sony A6000 (with the kit lens), too. Also, for the two first years of the trip we carried two laptops: a Toshiba C660-1P3 and a Toshiba NB10T-A-101.
This time we have a GoPro Hero 7 Black action camera and two Sony A6000. Our lenses are: a selp1650, a sel55210, a Samyang 12mm f2 NCS CS, an SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 (with adapter) and an SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8 (with adapter). Last but not least, we have two laptops: an Asus VivoBook S15 S510UQ-BH71 and a Vero K147.
- LiveTrip traveller is a free app that helps us create a map with our route by taking the co-ordinates and dropping pins with info, photos etc. It is a great travelers’ community where everyone can share their trip and exchange information, meet or just keep track of their route. You can see our trip here.
- Triposo is an app that helps us find destinations, interesting sites, places to eat/drink etc around the world.
- Revolut (the app, the card and all their services) have saved us from hundreds – if not thousands – of money lost in bank commissions, exchange rate commissions and all kinds of commissions. It’s a company that provides banking services around the world with much more fair terms than those of the banks. If you’re planning to travel abroad (in countries with different currencies), look for it!
- LastPass or whichever app for online password management. Because nobody can remember all their passwords.
OsmAnd, an app that turns your phone into a GPS and works with maps that you can download directly to your device and use it without internet connection. It’s free for the first 10 maps and if you need more maps and updates, it costs only 4.50€. What’s also important is that it is based on OpenStreetMap (OSM), a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world (we have also contributed some POIs).