LEARN about MagicBus story.
Once upon a time...
1. An idea born in New Zealand
The idea comes from New Zealand.
Four years ago, I (Lisette) traveled on my own in New Zealand. I spent a few months traveling around the two islands and went through many different ways of traveling.
First, I started traveling by bus and slept in hostels. That was an amazing experience! I met a lot of travelers from everywhere and every culture. I’ve discovered amazing people and realized that every single person - whether he (or she) looks good or not, is intelligent or stupid, scary or welcoming - has something to teach me. In fact, I learned a lot about different cultures and different point of views which made me think about my own life, my own views and about my « normality » which is definitely not the same for everyone. The craziest part is that all that thinking and learning happened just because of human interaction! It could have happened in my own country if I had paid as much attention as I do when traveling. Plus, I didn’t have a travel plan, so humans were actually driving my trip. I did woofing with an English man I met in a hostel in Auckland, I hitchhiked with a crazy Dutch guy I met in a hostel in Mount Maunganui, etc… I realized that humans are probably 80% responsible for a travel experience.
But this way of traveling didn’t suit me. I wanted to have more freedom and be closer to the New Zealand culture, so I started to hitchhike. Sharing a moment with a local person in a car for hours and being just the two of you while knowing that you will probably never see each other again is a weird feeling. But it makes people talk about themselves, sometimes even more deeply than they do with their best friend! We get to know each other. It is just a moment in life, a moment which cannot fit in a picture or in an Instagram story, a moment in which I am the only witness and that I will always remember. This was a perfect way to understand the local culture. Plus, hitchhiking is much more than just a drive. It often becomes a new adventure.
For example, I was waiting on the road for an hour with my Dutch friend when I decided to change strategy: on our sign, instead of writing the name of the city we wanted to reach, I just wrote, « your way is our way ». A truck then stopped, picked us up, and took us to an unknown destination: how exciting! The truck driver was also a farmer and he was living alone in this wonderful house in the middle of nowhere. Since it was starting to get late, he offered us accommodation and food for the night so that we could continue our trip the next day. See how good people are? The next day, I really wanted to see what this man’s life was like, so I offered to help him and spent the day working on his farm with sheeps. I will never forget that experience and to see how generous this old man was even though he had just met us 24 hours earlier!
One month later, I decided to visit the South Island. New Zealand’s South Island is full of breathtaking landscape. I wanted to be able to go in the middle of nowhere, whenever I wanted but I couldn’t do it by bus and by staying in hostels, because hostels are mostly in cities and buses have precise schedules. So I bought a van and travelled around the South Island. This was another sort of travel experience! I could finally feel the total freedom and be as spontaneous as I wanted. But there is still something missing: the human interaction! This way of traveling was almost perfect but it was harder to meet people.
I was now traveling for more than three months and I felt like I had done it forever. I was thinking of all those ways of traveling. I couldn’t find something that suited me but I could determine what makes a perfect travel experience, according to me: I want to find a way of traveling to feel the authenticity of hitchhiking, the freedom and spontaneity of traveling in a van, and the human interaction of traveling through hostels. I just identified the four pillars of MagicBus.
The idea of MagicBus was born!
2. A concept developed in Canada
MagicBus was an idea. Now I had to make it real. So I came back from my New Zealand trip to continue my studies. I already had a diploma in technical architecture so I knew how to build technically but I wanted to learn more about how interior design works. I then completed a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture. After that, in order to plan the logistics of the bus and to increase my creativity, I moved to Montreal to complete a master’s degree in event design.
Let’s see: I had the technical skills, the creativity to make a unique interior design, I knew how to organize the whole trip but I didn’t have any skills in business or management. So I decided to make my last year of studying in HEC Montréal in order to build the business case and have a minimum of knowledge to be able to build MagicBus as a business that could last.
After having the idea in New Zealand and sharing my vision with other travelers, I spent three years studying in order to make it as perfect as I can. It started to be tangible when I moved to Canada and the whole concept was developed and refined for a year with my HEC professors so I can be sure it will fit for our generation’s desires.
3. A project made for Europe
Europe has always been my goal for MagicBus because of the open boundaries, the diversity, and the small size of countries which would let us experience many languages and cultures. Also, as I traveled around the world, I realized how Europe is rich and wonderful and so I wanted to go back to my roots. It was obvious that MagicBus would take place in Europe for his first version!
But, I lived in Canada for three years and I saw how Canadians liked the project and how Canada was amazing in terms of landscapes. Plus, I wanted to do it in an American school bus and they are very cheap in Montreal. A this point, I had a dilemma: I always imagined MagicBus going to Europe but wouldn’t it be better to start it here in Canada?
After weeks of analyzing the pros and cons between Canada and Europe, I decided to stay with my first feeling: Europe. Europe is the continent I grew up in but I know more about Canada or New Zealand when it comes to traveling. Since I am a ‘landscape and non-touristic places’ kind of traveler, and with Europe being known for its cities, I took it as a challenge to show Europe differently, out of the beaten tracks. I still plan on stopping in cities but it won’t be the main purpose of MagicBus trips. I want to make people feel and experience the different cultures and the natural richness of our historical continent.
Let’s go to Europe!