Cycling in Europe
Borders have vanished with the arrival of the EU, at least legally and bureaucratically speaking. This vast territory of more than 4 million km² comprises a unique space wherein young people can develop their projects and pursue their dreams and plans. An example of this dreamful, transnational, innovative and entrepreneurship can be found in Joachim Renmans, a Belgian living in a small village of Extremadura (Spain). He decided to dedicate some months of his life to live new experiences, traveling thousands of kilometers by bicycle.
More and more young people decide to take some time off from either studies or before they enter the job market, to have a completely new experience. The main idea is to mix a traveler's spirit with the curiosity to discover new countries, all this using a non-traditional way of getting around. Young people want to break free from traditional ways of traveling where everything is already established, where to stay, when to travel, what to visit... the traveler's habits become unpredictable, and improvisation is key to the day-to-day life of a young person leaving his home.
Renmans' trip is a clear case of this desire to break the daily routine; he started his trip in Fuente del Maestre to arrive to his hometown Leuven in Belgium a month and 3000 kilometers later, enriched by many stories and memories that will be part of him forever.
The desire to leave home and discover new ways of living can explain the success of programmes like Eurorail, the European Youth Hostel Association or the Erasmus Student Exchange Programme. Another initiative that allows young people to fulfill their desire to have new experiences is the European Voluntary Work, which is gaining popularity.
Our Belgian traveler used his bicycle to travel, another typical feature of young travelers; they chose new ways of transport when planning their trips; mainly for economical reasons. But the choice for new forms of transport are also motivated by a greater sense of freedom, allowing the traveler to adapt their routes on the spot and decide where to spend the night without previous reservation. The train, bicycles and even hiking are ways of traveling associated with young people.
Mutual solidarity between travelers and travelers and locals are vital during this type of travels. Joachim Renmans recalls how he had various problems along his one-month-trip but he always encountered nice people to give a helping hand, solving some mechanical problems and helping him to find places to spend the night.
When a young person travels abroad, he gets more sensitive to the need of other travelers. This is important because this experience improves his sensitivity and capacity to cooperate with others and maintain an open mind facing challenges.
The last explanation for the young traveler's habits is the desire to discover other societies and cultures. It's a necessity to live immersed in a country not as a mere visitor but forming part of its inhabitants. The necessity, after all, to dedicate a part of their youth to have new experiences that build their adult future and serve as a stepping stone to adult life.
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Instituto de la Juventud de Extremadura