Hello my name is Mattheu, I am 34 years old and I started traveling when I was 15 years old. So I’m traveling for 20 years now. The reason why I first left was to escape my home situation. First I was just hitchhiking or traveling by bike, later I bought a van.
My first real travel was when I was 16 years old, I left for Senegal by boat from Larouchelle. This was a really good trip, I lived in the south of Senegal with the people there in the villages and live the way they lived. People over there don’t really have a ‘job’ like we have over here in Europe, everybody just does something, like fishing or whatever. In the South of Senegal is a big forest and there is a lot of rice, coconuts, bananas, I helped out with fishing and working in the agriculture. That’s how i was able to live there without much money. I returned to Europe when I was 18 years old and then I went off to India and never stopped traveling.
When you start to move, you start to discover a lot of things.
You’re in different situations. You have to adapt yourself to everything really fast and when I come back in Europe everywhere I go feels like the same for me.
I know all, the type of cities, the people, the supermarket, the whole society is the same in Europe. To be really surprised in Europe is difficult. It’s not that when I take a walk Iwill see a lion on my path, or something else strange. When you travel further abroad you find really different cultures, the countries are really changing, the animals, the food, the nature, the way the people talk everything. This makes you feel like a child again. Everything is a new sensation, and that is like a drugs for me. I can’t get enough, I need it. That’s why I move, because I need this feeling of being surprised in my life. I hope I never have to stop this lifestyle. For a few months I could live in a normal house, if the time is good. You know, why not? Living in a truck is just a tool. Sometimes when you travel you need a truck, for other travels you need to go by foot, or take an airplane. When I'm in Africa and I stay for a few months I live in an African house.
But when i feel it’s time to move, i move.
This is my 4th van, I build all myself, It was a military truck and had place for 6 soldiers in the back. When I bought the truck I took off the back and replaced it with a caravan. Like that I went to Senegal in Africa and on the way back I stopped in Marocco, sold the caravan to a Marrocan guy for a 1000 euro and I bought metal for a 1000 euro. I welded everything made the plateau one meter longer and built everything up. When I arrived back in France I fixed the electricity and build the interior. This is the first truck I really builded all myself, and it’s very personal. I think I will never sell it, I will not live all my live in this truck, but i think it’s too personal to be sold to someone. I think this truck will end up somewhere in Africa or Asia where a family can use it for work and the case of the truck as an house for people who need it.
I live alone like every one, your life is your life. But in all these years i've met a lot of people, i’ve made a lot of friends, had some girlfriends. When live like me and you move all the time you need to make contact. When you live in a city all the time you have a social circle around you, you know all the people. When you travel, you don’t know anyone. And since it’s not fun to don’t have any friends you learn really quick to be social, to speak to people and make contact. If you’re timid you will learn really fast to not be like this anymore. It’s not possible when you travel around. For me it’s also the best way to find the nice places in the area, i try to don’t make a plan or a map of where i want to go or what i want to do. I follow the vibes. The people who have the real good information are mostly the people who live there, they know the spots and the nice things to do.
In the past I’ve travelled with some girlfriends, but in the end it’s hard. It’s hard to find someone who has the same ideas about live as me, who want to travel for the rest of their live. Most of the people like to travel, do it, and enjoy it. Also because in our generation it’s really easy to move, by airplane, whatever, it’s like an open world.
But there is a difference between traveling and being a traveler, I can not stop it’s like a fucking drugs. I will be 70 years old and will continue almost with the wheelchair like this. it’s like I need it. And it’s difficult to find people who will need it all their lives.
Most people choose to go to a fixed place after a few years and start a project there.
It’s difficult. But some friends of me found me a dog, as company. They gave it to me for christmas.. fuck haha. It’s the first dog i have and i never really wanted a dog in the first place, but it’s fucking cool. But to pay them back i will buy my friends, who also live in a van, a turtle for the next Christmas, they live for 90 years muhahaha.
Of course when you travel you also need money, what for me works the best is import/export, business. And I don’t mean drugs. What you sell can be everything.
For example you like music, and you’re in Africa. You meet a guy who has Jambee’s, you buy one jambee for yourself. But if you are clever you buy 10. Like that you don’t only have one for yourself, but you can sell them to your friends that might also like them. This is good for your African friend, for your friends, and for you.
This you can do everywhere you go, in India with handcraft or textile, or with jewels etc. If you love something, there is a big change your friends also like it. This is how I do. With the 1000 euro you have at the start of your travel, you keep 200/300 euro apart to invest in something you can sell later. Like that your travel in the end doesn’t cost you much.
I think in Africa i’ve experienced the most stressful situations i’ve had so far. I’ve been in places where there was war, my truck has been shot at, crazy things. For example in Congo a few years ago, the plan was to go to the South of Africa and take the boat to Madagascar there to visit my brother who lives there. When i arrived in Libera some people stole me my money and i had 2 options, or sell my truck and continue the trip and find out how i would manage to live after. Or stop my trip in Congo. I choose the last option, i stayed in Congo for 8 months, met people over there, fixed my visa and save enough money to return back to Europe with my truck. I still have the plan to make the Africa trip from north till south, next time, one day.
I’ve experienced a lot of special things, it’s really hard to point out one thing. One adventure I had was with my brother when I was 19 years old. I was hitchhiking to India and my older brother was there with a family where he lived for a while.
We stayed for a few months and we decided to go climbing the Kangchenjunga, the 3th mountain of the world. We were not really good prepared, had no good equipment and because of the heavy snowfall we had to stop for the night at 7200m high. We slept there together under a surviver blanket, it was really freezing! In the end we managed to finish the trip. My brother lost a toe in this trip, because of the cold hahaha yeah man, this is the life. It was crazy.
If you're thinking about making a trip my advice is do it.
If you dream about visiting a place or if you really want to see a lion or the amazon forest, don’t wait, do it. Think when you've come back an not too much before.