This is an interview with Ben and Linda of XPLORid who are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime: 7 years of cycling around the world!
Read more about the purpose of their journey, what inspired them, how they prepare for this adventure and how they will finance their trip.
On April 4, 2020, the Dutch couple Ben van Baardwijk (59) and Linda Reimersdahl (38) are starting their bicycle tour around the world.
They will cycle 100,000km in 7 years and travel the world 100% CO2 neutral. Whenever a sea or an ocean needs to be crossed, they’ll try to catch a sailing boat.
Ben used to work as an urban developer at a social housing company but went on early retirement in October 2019.
Linda used to work as a sales manager, studied to become a Health Therapist and currently combines a parttime job at a health shop and a parttime job at an outdoor shop.
They’re an adventurous couple and love to be outdoors. During their free time, they go mountain biking, inline skating, snowboarding and so on.
Even their honeymoon was an adventurous one: in 2018 they went to Peru where they went on a 4-day trek in the Colca Canyon and a 5-day trek from Salkantay to Machu Picchu.
They recently finished a 2,000 km bicycle tour in Ireland during which they cycled non-stop for 30 days around the country to test their new bikes and gear for their upcoming world trip.
How will you finance this cycling around the world trip?
We’ll finance our world cycling tour completely by ourselves using the rental money of our apartment in the Netherlands, Ben’s little pre-pension money and our savings.
It will be a very low-budget tour. The biggest costs for a trip like this are lodging and food and we’ll keep those costs down by sleeping in our tents and cooking our own meals using a Primus heater.
What is your motivation to embark on this adventure?
I, Ben, have always been dreaming of traveling the world by bicycle and I didn’t want to postpone this dream until I’d officially retire in 2027.
When I met Linda in August 2017, she told me how much she was fed up with the rat race and that she wanted to live a different lifestyle with less stuff and more freedom.
Linda wanted to walk to Santiago de Compostella but when I told her about my dream to explore the whole world, I convinced her that cycling would be a better option. Linda has made my dream come true.
What are your itineraries to cycle around the world?
We’ll leave our home city Maastricht (the Netherlands) in April 2020 and cycle towards the east to Turkey, Iran, China, and Mongolia. Then we’ll head south to India, Indonesia, and Australia.
Canada and the US will be next. Then we’ll cycle through Central America all the way down to Patagonia.
The plan is to finish this cycling trip around the world along the west coast of Africa back to Europe.
How do you prepare for a cycling trip around the world?
We’ve been planning this world tour for 2 years now and are mentally set to go.
Ben is physically a true cyclist. He has cycled The Ride (from the Stelvio in Italy to the Cauberg in the Netherlands), the Viking Tour in Norway, a route from Santiago to Madrid and the Mont Ventoux. He cycled all of these routes on his racing bike and without luggage.
During the world tour, he’ll need to cycle with 50 kilos on his bike. He tested this while cycling all the hills in Ireland and it wasn’t a problem. He even managed to cycle up the very steep hills (+12%) with all his gear.
I (Linda), however, will have a harder time. I often had to push my bike uphill in Ireland but I’m a true go-getter.
During this world tour, I’ll carry less load on my bicycle. During our last cycling trip, I cycled the Cauberg (+12%) without any stops and found out that by changing the sprockets, it’s easier for me to go uphill.
We’ll also bring some spare parts with us, like braking pads and spokes, tires, brake oil and so on. When we need other parts, we’ll buy them along the way or our bicycle shop in the Netherlands will send them to us.
The only thing that will be hard for us and for which we can’t prepare is to leave our parents and children behind. Although it’s much easier to stay in touch thanks to modern technology, it will be heart-breaking, especially for my parents and brother, that they won’t see me for such a long time.
They admire our world bicycle tour but they’ll miss us a lot and they are worried about the risks during the trip. We hope to see Linda’s parents and brother during our world trip as they’re all very fond of traveling. Hopefully they can meet us in Canada or America.
Despite leaving our loved ones behind, we believe that we have to live our own life. Otherwise, we’ll always be waiting and caring instead of following our own dreams.
Which resources and gear do you use for a world trip like this?
We first made a list of the countries we like to visit. Then we researched for each country which vaccines and visas we’ll need, if we’re allowed to wild camp there, if we’ll need to purify the local water and so on.
We’ll also keep the political situation of a country in mind by using the Dutch Foreign Affairs app.
Which part of your world trip are you looking forward to the most?
We’re looking forward to the quiet nights when we’ll be camping in our tent in the wilderness under a sky full of stars surrounded by animal sounds.
We’re also looking forward to meeting many different people. It often happens that people invite us to their home and introduce us to their family and community.
It’s so beautiful that complete strangers share their food with us and offer us shelter. They want to know where we come from and where we are cycling to.
When needed, we want to help these people through our foundation.
We’re looking forward to cycle through national parks with all its beautiful flora and fauna and will try to avoid big cities as much as possible.
What will be the biggest challenges during this journey?
We’re a bit worried about cycling in places where there aren’t many roads and having to follow busy highways. We’ll carry extra lights and flags for our bikes to make ourselves more visible in those situations.
The hardest part of our journey will be to find enough food and water in desolate areas. That’s why we’ll bring 4 extra water bags of 8 liters.
Which destinations are you looking forward to the most?
We will cycle through 80 countries. We believe that each country has its own charm so it’s hard to point out one specific destination. We’re looking forward to experiencing them all!
What is the message you’d like to bring with your world trip and XPLORid?
We want to show people that you can travel the world with a small carbon footprint and that you don’t need much to be happy. Freedom is the biggest gift.
Our main purpose is our XPLORid project: to help people living in poverty that we’ll meet along the way.
We collect 1 euro for every kilometer we cycle and our goal is to collect 100,000 euros. All the donations will be purely spent on aid projects as we finance this world trip ourselves.
Instead of giving the people we meet money, we want to help them in a more direct way. We want to use the money of the donations to buy them things they need like groceries at the market, medicines, shoes and clothes, a (new) fridge or even a goat, a sheep or a cow.
Or maybe we can financially support them with repairing their car, building a new roof or a much-needed visit to the doctor or dentist. Who knows, maybe we could even help someone with starting a small business and make a significant change in his or her life!
We want to keep everything transparent and that’s why we’ve set up a PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) Foundation named XPLORid.
PBO means that all funds are spent on aid to people living in poverty. The benefit of a PBO is if you donate, you can deduct your donation from the Dutch income tax or corporate income tax.
If you like the project of Ben and Linda and you want to support Xplorid to help people in need, you can send your donation to:
(IBAN) NL81 INGB 0008 44 33 82
Reference: Donation XPLORid