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Fabienne and Adriano: Hitchhiking around the world

In July 2017 Fabienne and Adriano quit their jobs and everything familiar to them to do what many people simply dream of doing—hitchhiking around the world. Documenting their journey through photography and blogging they tell us more about their ultimate adventure.
Tell us a bit about your life before you started traveling?

Before traveling, we both lived an ordinary life in Switzerland. We were both in nine to five jobs, I (Adriano) graduated as a car technician and Fabienne qualified as a hairdresser—just standard careers in Switzerland. I lived in a small apartment in the mountains and Fabienne lived in the city with her sister. As fate would have it, we met and became a couple. After a few months, Fabienne asked me if I would like to travel to Australia with her—straightaway my reply was “Yes, I’m in!” We quit our jobs, gave up our apartment and sold our cars before getting on a plane taking us to Australia, where it all started—we got infected with the travel bug. After four months in Australia and New Zealand we came back to Switzerland, worked for three years to save money that would allow us to travel again. This dream came into effect in July 2017. We gave up our jobs, packed our backpacks and set off into the wide world with our new camera—our big adventure had begun!

Describe a typical day in your life.

There is hardly ever just an ordinary day. We usually wake up in our tent, the best scenario being that we can listen to the birds singing and the sun greeting us to warm us up for the day ahead. For us, the most important thing to start the day with is a cup of hot coffee which we prepare on our gas stove, taking a minute to sit there and enjoy the moment. We usually think of the adventure ahead for the day and where we might end up by evening. As hitchhiking is our mode of traveling, we never know our next destination in advance.

After a hot cup of coffee and a bite to eat, we pack up our tent and put on our backpacks. Then we have the task of looking for the place where we can most likely hitch a ride. Most of the time it does not take too long for someone to stop to give us a lift—but that’s not always the case! There was a time when we waited for nearly nine hours before a car finally stopped. This happened in Croatia. But usually, it takes 30-60 minutes for someone to stop.

Once we get in, we let fate decide for us. Sometimes we come quite far and sometimes only a few kilometres. Each time it is a great experience to meet new people and hear their stories. Occasionally we get invited by locals to stay at their home or join them for a meal. Therefore, there is no “typical” day for us, because every day writes its own story.

“Once we get in, we let fate decide for us. Sometimes we come quite far and sometimes only a few kilometres. Each time it is a great experience to meet new people and hear their stories. Occasionally we get invited by locals to stay at their home or join them for a meal. Therefore, there is no “typical” day for us, because every day writes its own story.”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years? That’s a tricky question as we do not even know where we’ll see ourselves in a year’s time let alone ten! But our dream is to be able to live somewhere in a small house by a lake. It is important for us to be surrounded by nature and animals.

However, we would love to live in a bus and travel the world with children and dogs. There are so many options and opportunities that we have no idea where we will be in 10 years.

When did you decide to pack up and travel?

After our first trip to Australia, we were never able to gain a foothold back in Switzerland. We always felt drawn into the wide world. We always knew that one day we were going to pack our backpacks again and just take off for as long and wherever we wanted. However, we had to save a little money first.

After working and saving for three years, we decided to quit and leave our jobs in February 2017. It was not easy, because we both had good jobs but we had to make a decision to either accept the day-to-day routine with a sense of security or risk something and to leave our comfort zone and embrace the hitchhiking travel life.

At any point have you ever thought of quitting and going back to the usual ‘daily grind’?

While traveling, it’s not always about experiencing beautiful days. Once in a while we have felt like cutting short our journey to get back into the familiar everyday life. But fortunately, these are usually isolated moments that quickly dissolve.

Where did your passion for traveling start?

When I was a little boy, I liked to listen to the stories my uncle told about his travels around the world. From that point on I knew that one day I would follow in his footsteps. However, the real passion came during our first big trip across Australia and New Zealand in 2014. From then on it was clear to us that we wanted to see much more of this big wide world.

What’s your top tips for vlogging whilst traveling?

In our opinion it is essential to remain natural and authentic while vlogging. Just be true to yourself without copying anyone else. Try to talk about your emotions during the journey and get involved with the people you meet. Always stay respectful and ask for permission before filming anyone. The most important thing when it comes to vlogging is you should have fun doing it, since the editing is very time consuming!

How do you plan your trip? Do you have a rough idea of where you want to go?

As we are hitchhiking, we take one day at the time without any concrete long-term plans. We have an approximate route of the countries we would like to visit, but this can change at any time. We do not want to plan every detail because we like being spontaneous and flexible.

Have you ever been anywhere and considered simply staying and setting up home?

Well, we have been to some countries where we could indeed have imagined staying—like Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia or even Albania. However, we are still looking for our future home. It must be a place where we feel, “That’s it! Here we should stay!” There are still some countries in question that we have not visited yet such as Canada, Ireland, Norway or Finland. Who knows where we will live one day.

What’s your favourite memory from your travels?

We have been able to collect so many great memories on our trip. One of our favourite ones happened when we travelled through Turkey. It was already late in the evening, we just passed Konya, a city with a couple of millions of inhabitants in the centre of Turkey and we tried to carry on by hitchhiking. Since it was already dark, most cars just drove past us. But we knew we had to get away somehow.

We were in an industrial zone and there were stray dogs everywhere. Pitching our tent for the night was not an option. We were really close to desperation when someone finally stopped. A friendly local gave us a lift however they didn’t speak a word of English or German—he spoke to us in Turkish and of course we didn’t understand a word he said. But somehow, we managed a form of communication—thanks to Google Translate! After about 30 minutes, we finally understood what the man had been trying to tell us all this time or in turn had wanted to ask us. He wondered if we cared to be his guests for the night. We could hardly believe our luck as it was not long before that we’d been afraid that we would have to set up our tent somewhere between gloomy factories and stray dogs.

The man took us to his home and introduced us to his wife and 12-year-old son. We enjoyed a traditional meal with them, sitting on the ground but having a wonderful evening, nonetheless. They then let us have their room. While the family slept in the dining room. We were given the largest and most beautiful room. We were nearly embarrassed by this hospitality and we tried to explain that it would be more than ok for us to sleep in the dining room. Of course, we had no chance—because we experienced the ultimate hospitality in Turkey. The next day we woke up in the best of spirits and a delicious breakfast was awaiting us. We were overwhelmed and thanked the family for the wonderful experience. It was one of the most impressive occurrences throughout the entire journey. Although our host had never met us before, he trusted us and invited us home to join his family—we will never forget that family.

Do you have a funny story from your travels?

Yes, there is a funny memory relating to photography. We were on a big street somewhere in eastern Turkey and grabbed a ‘Rivella’ (a soft-drink mainly available in Switzerland). Since it was a special moment to enjoy a drink from home, we thought we would take some photos with the smartphone and share it in an Instastory. During the ‘shoot’ we did not notice an old car stopping next to us. It was only when two older men in traditional Turkish dress called to us that we realised that they wanted to take us along.

When we first saw the men, we hesitated to get into their car. But then we thought “Oh, everything will be fine!” So we got into the old car and they drove off. Again, we did not understand a word they said and yet it was very entertaining. We all laughed a lot and our initial doubts quickly disappeared. We laughed, danced and even sang together in this little, old car. It was one of the funniest rides on our trip. We never expected locals in that particular area to give us a ride.

Do you have a bucket list for your travels?

We do not have an ultimate bucket list. Our goal is always to do what we feel like or to visit the country that interests us most at the time. Something that might be on our bucket list is to one day drive the Pan Americana from Alaska to Argentina. Otherwise, we take life as it comes!

Do you have an all-time favourite photograph from your travels?

Yes, our favourite photo is that of Cappadocia with the hot air balloons. This photo always reminds us of the moment of bliss on top of the rock. On that particular day, we had got up early in the morning to climb the rocks to see the sunrise. Hold on! It was not only the sunrise but also all the hot air balloons that rose with the sun. The sight left us speechless. It was one of the best moments ever. Not only because of the beautiful landscape and the magnificent sunrise—no—at this moment we also realised how far we had already made it and how happy we were to be together on this great adventure. We both had tears in our eyes and enjoyed the moment. Every time we look at this photo, we have to smile and realise that we are on the right track. This photo will accompany us throughout our lives and that’s what makes a photo, the memories that you can associate with it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring travelers?

Just do it! At that moment you will not be thinking of the times you spent at work, but you are more likely to wonder of what you might have experienced had you just done it. Follow your dreams and never let go. Respect foreign countries and their cultures. Approach the adventure with a minimum of expectations and become part of real local life. You do not have to be rich to travel. However, we still recommend saving some money beforehand, so that you do not have to live at the expense of other (possibly much poorer) people when traveling. In summary—leave your comfort zone and pursue your dreams!

“If you are dreaming of a journey, then you should do everything possible to make this journey happen. If you really want to make the trip do not say: I would like to, but—no! Just do it. Imagine you are old and frail one day. You will regret never to have lived your dream.”

What’s your photography setup that you’d recommend for traveling?

Try to travel lightly but focus on quality. Nowadays, there are numerous cameras that are suitable for traveling. For example, there are mirrorless system cameras, such as the Canon EOS M50 or the Sony Alpha 6000, which take excellent pictures. We travel with the smallest and most convenient single-lens reflex camera there is. The Canon EOS 200D. We are very happy with it. The camera is lightweight, compact and very good value for money. For this camera we can recommend the Tamron 16-300mm F / 3.5-6.3 DI II travel lens. So you have a lens for almost every requirement. For vlogging, we also have the Canon EF-S 10-18mm 1: 4.5-5.6 IS STM wide-angle lens and last but not least the Canon EF 50mm f / 1.8 STM lens for portraits. We use this with a Joby Gorillapod and a Rode Videomic Pro microphone for the best audio results. Our tip—you do not need the most expensive camera to shoot great photos. If you cannot or do not want to buy a camera, just take your smartphone.

What’s your top photography tip?

Go the extra mile!

That’s the best tip I can give. Do not expect that you can just take a photo from your comfortable location and it will be THE ultimate picture. Try to put yourself in an unusual position, change your perspective, shoot from below or go to a pedestal and take a photo from above. Get up early to catch the golden hour or plan the sunset well. Bring life and dimensions into your photos. Instead of just capture a sunset, include a person looking at the sunset or a nearby rock, which gives the viewer the feeling that they are standing in the same place as you. So go the extra mile—it’s worth it!

Where’s next for 2019?

We do not exactly know yet. However, we suspect that this year we will continue hitchhiking to Iran, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. We’ll see what comes next. Maybe something different will come up. As I said, our plans are not that concrete yet. We are looking forward to continuing our journey and taking photographs and videos from different places all over the world. Of course, we will continue to process the photos with Affinity Photo. The program is awesome! We love it!

“We are looking forward to continuing our journey and taking photographs and videos from different places all over the world. Of course, we will continue to process the photos with Affinity Photo. The program is awesome! We love it!”

About us:

We are Fabienne and Adriano from Switzerland. Since we got to know each other we have shared a joint passion for traveling. Since June 2017 we have travelled by hitchhiking around the world. We started in Switzerland, hitchhiked through the Balkans to Turkey and from there to Georgia. We love to take pictures and films while out and about.

You can find out more about Fabienne and Adriano on their blog, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel.