Sometimes we need a radical change of life. Benoit Giffard chose roaming and a life traveling on 4 wheels. Today he is sharing with CaraMaps community his adventures.
1. Hello Benoît, can you introduce yourself in a few lines?
I am a professional musician since I am 17, in groups of all styles and leader in personal projects. I have been traveling the world thanks to my job since I’m a teenager, with a more or less established schedule and responsibilities to ensure. The life on tours is wonderful but exhausting. I have been caught up these past years by physical and moral fatigue. During spring 2019, I left my groups, roommate, friends and fiancée to travel the world by truck. I bought a large van, partly already fitted out, and tweaked it to my taste. I also added a sound systemic order to independently do concerts on the road.
2. How did this passion for van trips come to you?
I had no passion for this transport means before buying my truck. Aside from going on vacation in a caravan regularly as a child. I had little connection with road trips before I found myself confronted with a certain need to leave the lifestyle that was mine. I was quickly caught up by the freedom virus. It’s a great pleasure to sleep in beautiful and different places every day. I also appreciate getting out of a life ruled by watches, efficiency and performance.
3. Are you traveling alone or accompanied?
I travel alone. This change of life having been instilled in me by a need for solitude, calm and peace. I travel alone to find myself facing nature and facing myself too. The difference is notable between being alone or accompanied. As soon as you are in a place with a culture whose codes you do not have, you can tend to focus on yourself.
When you are with someone who speaks the same language as you, thinks like you, you can cut yourself off from experiences to live, people to meet… That said, loneliness can be a significant factor of doubt and resting on someone helps to not give up when something is discouraging. But this someone can easily be a stranger that you just met in a difficult time. The state of distress is one of the best engines to exchange and share.
4. For how long have you been traveling by van?
For the past year, my truck has been my home and I have already built a strong relationship with it. Especially since I intend to keep this state until it is no longer able to drive. I could then park it on a piece of land and keep it as a room / studio in a shared “flat”.
5. How many countries have you visited since your change of life?
I have visited 14 countries so far, staying there for up to 1 month for some and crossing others faster because of the temperatures this winter.
6. What was your first trip, and what stood out for you?
My first trip took me from Puy-en-Velay towards Singapore for a 2 years trip. I had to shorten it once I arrived in Cappadocia (Turkey) because of the resumption of armed conflicts in the east (in Iran) and in the south (in Syria) as well as the clearly increased administrative difficulties to cross Asia minor. What struck me the most, I think, is the observation that 75% of the landscapes I crossed could have been in mainland France. This made me realize the incredible chance we have of having a country with one of the richest geographic diversity in the world. 4 seas, 1 ocean, 3 large mountain ranges, 500 million years old volcanoes, gorges, cliffs, waterfalls, bays, arid zones or green, red, yellow, brown soils …
7. What does traveling in a van mean to you?
Traveling by truck means acquiring a certain freedom, in any case a practical freedom. Freedom is in the head, but multiplying the spaces of freedom is the best way to get closer to it. It is the possibility of choosing a place of peace every day. Waking up in the morning and not knowing where you are going to sleep in the evening is an exhilarating feeling when you consider this as an availability for the unexpected, surprises, meetings.
It is also a way to feel everywhere at home and to give a certain meaning to the expression “citizen of the world”. Finally, vanlife means setting up a constraint system conducive to a framework in which options close while others open. For example, it is often particularly complicated to park in large cities, which will push you to stay in the countryside, in nature, close to simple things and far from the tumult of large cities.
8. What is your best memory?
While going down the Albanian coast, I headed east to see the mountains. It should be noted that in this country a large part of the roads lead nowhere because their construction has been interrupted. After 80km on a road in a magnificent valley framed by wooded mountain slopes, I arrived face to face with a barrier signifying the end of the road. So I turned around to explore the area. From there I got lost in the mountains and found myself on a wonderful plateau, isolated and without any trace of human hand. This little corner of paradise became my residence for a week of hiking, meeting only 2 shepherds and their herd of goats.
9. Do you have other trips planned?
Since I came back to France, I started concerts and shows again. For now, I will mainly focus on taming my country and paying tribute to its beauty and diversity. I would therefore follow the track of my musical commitments. But I plan to go to Queyras, the Pyrenees,the Jura, the Drôme, the Monts d’Arrée …
10. What habits do you never lose while traveling?
Always having a water point in mind when I park.
11. What can you recommend to whose who would like to change life?
Often we tend to say that going on an adventure without a plan is preparing to live more problems than sunny days. But it’s wrong. Three times out of four, the adventure leads us to do, see, live things that we never thought possible. The unexpected is a talkative and caring guardian most of the time. Still, planning a minimum of things allows, at the beginning, a certain psychological stability. You must prepare to let go.
Thanks to Benoît Giffard for sharing his adventures and his change of life with the CaraMaps team and community.
You can also read other testimonies on our blog: “Interview of Bernard from Laperleencampingcar” and “Interview of ParentheseNomade, discovering the world with the family“.
Don’t forget: enjoy your travel in a motorhome, caravan and van with CaraMaps!