During their last year of their Masters program, two French students carrying two giant backpacks decided to embark on an adventure. They’re aiming to see seven countries in just seven months. Their goal? Wanting to discover the world “through local people” and wanting to experience cities through its inhabitants’ eyes. The catch? They can only rely on the Sharing Economy culture. Ultimately, this has led them to create Sharing Roots.
“In our final year of Business school, we wanted a challenge, to learn about our motivations, and to affirm our values. We asked ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be? What is my purpose in life? These questions were difficult to answer from our own alienated bubble. We wanted to travel and meet new people from different cultures, backgrounds, and social classes, [and needed to ] to learn from them and about ourselves!”
Clémence Brière and Clémence Trébaol-Pelleau are currently in Cuba and already have 2 months-worth of souvenirs in their backpacks. They explained to RideLink the objectives behind Sharing Roots and detailed their first-time experiences in Iceland and Cuba. Two countries down, five to go!
#1 How do you define the Sharing Roots project and what’s your hypothesis?
Sharing Roots is the crazy challenge that we want to achieve: to realize the first seven-month around-the-world journey through 7 countries only using the Sharing Economy from Iceland to Russia passing by Cuba, Bolivia, Chile, Japan and Mongolia.
For a better understanding of a trip based on the Sharing Economy, we made this visual that put in a nutshell the means of traveling, eating, sleeping, fundraising and working used during our trip:
The thesis of our project
It’s to demonstrate that it is possible to travel with a low budget and above all to get into the local culture through locals thanks to the Sharing economy.
#2 Why a trip based on the Sharing Economy?
What’s best than the Sharing Economy to meet locals and discover a culture out of the touristic paths? Goodbye hostels and touristic guides, hello Icelandic farmers and Columbian sailors!
Indeed we both feel concern with the durability of our system. Today, our socio-economic system is in a triple crisis: economic, social and environmental. The purchasing power of people is decreasing since the 2008 subprime crisis and people feel less and less connected to the community – without mentioning the impact of our consumption on the planet! We think that the Sharing Economy is a model that can change our consumption habits and address this triple crisis by relying on exchange, location, and donation.
Sharing Roots’ main objectives:
- To realize our master thesis for our final year on the Sharing Economy by interviewing entrepreneurs of the Sharing Economy to understand the impact of their political ideology on the redistribution of value in their business models.
- To promote the Sharing Economy as a sustainable and alternative socio-economic model. For example, we organized a conference on the Sharing Economy in the French High School in La Habana, Cuba.
- To prove that it is possible for anybody to travel only using the Sharing Economy, for instance the website Workaway connects travellers eager to work abroad in exchange of accommodation. In Iceland, we have been hosted by a wonderful family working at their farm and we discovered the Icelandic culture living at real Icelandic people place.
- To take some time apart to think about our professional future.
#3 Why have you chosen those 7 countries?
We decided to select 7 countries with different political, economical, social, legal contexts to question the Sharing Economy. For example, in Japan, the legislation toward the Sharing Economy prevents the raising of such companies meanwhile in Iceland, the government helps such business to grow fast!
We want to be able after 7 months to have a clear view on the state of the Sharing Economy in the world to understand how it works, how it can be fostered, what are the obstacles and how some countries address it. Studying the Sharing Economy in closed countries would have been easier but our conclusions would have been biased.
#4 How has it been your experience so far in Iceland and Cuba? Have you been able to sleep, eat and move only throughout collaborative experiences during this first weeks of your trip?
Yes but in two different ways! In Iceland, people are really welcoming and the foreigners get quickly integrated to the community, meanwhile in Cuba it was more difficult. Indeed, the legislation prevents the Cubans to host or to take in their cars foreigners, thus we had to be more patient and flexible on our plans. For example, in Iceland, the average time of hitchhiking – before getting into a car was 15 minutes, in Cuba it happened to us to wait 3 hours (and the car who stopped asked us to pay more than a taxi)!
Nonetheless, we always explain to people the aim and the philosophy of our project and every time people help us.
#5 What’s different about travelling when you do it only counting on Sharing Economy based experiences?
When you are traveling in a collaborative way, you are in touch with the community: you are included in the local culture by locals. For example, when you eat at someone’s place, you can be sure to discover a typical meal meanwhile in most restaurants you can find international foods and you’re surrounded by tourists from all over the world! There is a doubled interest: you can meet locals and through them understand how their country work and you can reduce the cost of travelling! A win-win!
#6 Have you calculated the amount of money you've saved by using collaborative ways of travelling compared to a 'standard' way of travelling?
No, we didn’t make any comparison but we forecasted our expenses and our budget for 2 people for 7 months of travel is 17KEUR (including the plane tickets, insurance, visas). Of course it is much less expensive than ‘regular travel’!
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