1. AN IDEA BORN IN NEW-ZEALAND
My name is Lisette, and in order to explain where the MagicBus idea comes from, I must first tell you about a trip that particularly affected me.
In march 2014, I went on a solo trip to New Zealand. I spent 4 months travelling between the two islands and experimenting with different ways of travelling.
I started my journey by travelling by bus and sleeping in hostels. As simple as it sounds, it was an incredible experience! I have met travellers from all over the world, with different cultures and different backgrounds. I discovered unique and interesting people, and I realized one important thing: every person, no matter what they look like or what their first impression is, has something to teach me. It's a fact, I learned a lot from these people, learned about our cultural differences, our differences of opinion, learned that "normality" doesn't really exist, since what is "normal" for me is not necessarily normal for others. These experiences made me question myself, listen without judgment and be more open-minded. And the most fascinating thing is that all these changes and realizations were caused by simple human interactions! Who knows, it might even have happened at home, in France, if I was as attentive to others as I am during my travels. I had left without programming anything, in order to improvise as much as possible and I gradually realized that it was human interactions that guided my steps.
Always in search of something new, I then decided to start hitchhiking. This new way of travelling was a way for me to get closer to the local culture of the country. Sharing a moment with a local person in a car for a drive. Being fair to each other and knowing that we' ll probably never see each other again. What a strange feeling! This leads people to talk about themselves, their lives, their ideas, and sometimes to open up more than their best friend; whether it is to kill time, to fill in an embarrassing blank, or out of curiosity. It is a unique moment that will never happen again and that you will never be able to relive through a photo or an instagram story. A moment of life without a trace that you are the only witness to and that you will never forget. I naturally came to the conclusion that this was the most authentic way to travel. But what is less said is that hitchhiking is not only a ride, it often becomes a new adventure! For example, one day we were already waiting for an hour on the road with my Dutch friend, when we decided to change our strategy: on our sign, instead of marking the city we wanted to go to, we wrote "Your way is our way!". And here we are, five minutes later, in a big truck with a sweet old man. As we chat, we discover that the driver was actually a farmer who lived alone a few miles away in a beautiful house, lost in the middle of nowhere. It was late, so he offered us to stay at his house and share his meal. Yes, people are generous! The next day, I offered to help our host at the farm and we left for a day full of new experiences. In the space of a few hours, we put ourselves in the shoes of this farmer and lived his daily life, which he was delighted to share. A memorable experience that happened thanks to the hitchhiking!
And then, one thing led to another, I arrived in the South Island. In New Zealand, the South Island is the most exotic, it is full of breathtaking landscapes! To make the most of these natural beauties, I wanted to be able to go to the middle of nowhere and do it whenever I wanted. But I couldn't do this by bus and youth hostel: hostels are mainly located in cities, and buses timetables and stops are too precise and restrictive for my taste. So I decided to buy a van and drive around the island. WOW! I could finally feel total freedom and be as spontaneous as I wanted. But after a little while, I was still missing something: human interaction! This way of travelling was perfect, but it was harder for me to meet people...
I had now been on the roads of New Zealand for more than 3 months, and I felt as if I had always been there. On the way south, I was thinking about all these ways to travel. I couldn't find one that was perfect for me, but I still managed to determine the ingredients of a perfect travel experience (from my point of view):
The authenticity of hitchhiking,
The freedom and spontaneity of travelling in a van,
The human aspect of travelling in a youth hostel.
I had just determined the 4 pillars of the MagicBus concept.
The idea of MagicBus was born!
2. A CONCEPT DEVELOPED IN CANADA
MagicBus was an idea. Now I had to make it happen. So I went back to France to continue my studies. At the age of 21 I already had a degree in architectural technique and was therefore able to create something technically realistic, but I wanted to learn more about interior design. So I went to Paris to do a degree in interior architecture. After that, in order to know how to manage the logistical aspects and to develop my creativity, I moved to Montreal (Canada) to do a DESS in event design.
At that time, I had the technical skills and creativity to make a unique layout, I knew how to organise the whole trip, but I still had no idea how to put together a business plan, go and get funding or even manage a project of this scale. I thus decided to do my last year of study at HEC Montreal in management, in order to build this famous business plan and to have a minimum of contacts and knowledge to make MagicBus a viable project on the long term.
In other words, after having had the idea in New Zealand and having confirmed the interest with other travelers, I spent 3 years studying in order to build my project. MagicBus definitely came to life when I moved to Canada. This is where the complete concept was developed and refined with the assistance of my professors. I wanted to be sure of the project's value and its ability to meet the needs of our increasingly nomadic generation.
3. A PROJECT MADE FOR EUROPE
Europe has always been my goal for MagicBus: a continent with open borders, great diversity and reasonably sized countries that give us easy access to multiple languages and cultures. Moreover, as I travelled further and further away, I came to realize how culturally rich Europe was and I was very attracted to the idea of going back to explore my roots. So it was obvious to me that MagicBus would travel to Europe first!
But here I was, I'd been living in Canada for almost three years. Canadians loved and supported the project, Canada is full of pure and incredible landscapes that I also dreamed of traveling through, and I was surrounded by such inexpensive American buses. So at that point, I was taken by a doubt: I had always imagined MagicBus in Europe, but wouldn't it be wiser to start it here in Canada?
After weeks of thinking, considering the pros and cons, I finally came to the conclusion that I had to follow my first wish: MagicBus will be in Europe. I am European, but I know Canada and New Zealand better than my own continent. And, because I am a traveller of "non-tourist landscapes and places" and Europe is rather known for its capitals, I saw this as a challenge: I want to show Europe in a different way, off the beaten track. Of course, we will stop in the capitals, but the cities will not be the main destinations of MagicBus, I will make the travelers embarking in MagicBus discover the different European cultures and the natural richness of our good old continent!
[ Canadian friends, don't worry, I plan to make the second MagicBus in caribou country! ]
Let's go for Europe!