The why

The reasons for a trip of these characteristics in Latin America. Our motivations to make a zero waste journey and what we call low impact bikepacking, thoughts on the ecological footprint and economical implications of traveling.

This trip starts sitting on a rock of Montserrat, before starting a long climbing route through the beautiful massif. The motivations of each one, the desire to do things right and understand the systems that govern us, led us to reflect on how it would have to be to travel the world with care. Starting from the base that traveling is a privilege, since it is not available to everyone, either for economic, physical or because their place of origin does not give them the option to move to other countries with Freedom, it is necessary to do a reconsideration.

Why do we travel? How do we travel? Are we aware of everything that creates traveling at a socioeconomic, ecological and human level?

All these questions have answers that shake our beliefs, our existence and the system. The answers always end up being the same:

Why do people travel? To consume landscapes, meals, people and cultures.

How do people travel? Consuming petrol deposits, resources of towns and cities, people who work for us.

What does traveling bring along in an ecological and human level? Destruction of the environment, inequality and loss of local resources, exports the culture of consumption

Consumer tourism is neo-colonialism and perpetuates inequality and social problematics. We often hear the sentence that “tourism is wealth” is a deceit that only takes into account those people who win by invisibilizing the vast majority that actually loses.

With all these previous reflections, summarized in two paragraphs, a new philosophy of traveling is sustained. It is evident that the privilege of being able to move freely around the world is due to us being born in Europe and being able to spend time and money. Based on that, the only way of traveling that we see coherent is to take responsibility and diminish to the minimum the negative impacts:

  • Stop consuming as tourists and start discovering as people.
  • Don’t take part in big touristic resorts and instead support community initiatives.
  • Avoid shopping industrialized products wrapped in packaging, eat what the local people cultivate
  • Do not objectify people while taking pictures of their lives but try to sit with them to know them better.

The bicycle

The bicycle is a means of transport that respects the environment, it does not cause atmospheric nor acoustic contamination. This allows us to go through towns and mountains without damaging the roads, observing nature and being able to approach the people who live there. Every kilometer traveled is a personal effort that keeps us connected to the realities and to our body maintaining a calm and human rhythm.

The bike gives us freedom and flexibility, it allows us to stop at any time to visit a town on foot, climb a peak, start a long conversation or even take a bus or train if necessary.

The “bikepacking” anglicism comes from joining the word “bike” (bicycle) and “packing” (from backpacking). It’s based on the self-sufficient base of cycle-touring but it adds the minimalism of the backpacking: reducing the luggage to a bare minimum to make remoter places more accessible. We carry the necessary material to live (food, tent, kitchen, clothes, etc.) as luggage and everything has to fit in the bicycle bags while keeping the loaded bike still manoeuvrable on technical singletracks. Therefore, we must take the least Luggage we can and make it as light weight as possible.

Bikepacking diminishes the comforts but it provides accessibility to remote places, by all types of roads and most importantly, it allows us to escape from the tourism of consumption we are trying to change.

We travel using bikepacking setups because we want to enjoy the ride as well, not only as a means but also as a entertainment by itself.

The footprint

One of the transversal axes in all we do is Zero Waste. This concept was born when the three R’s (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse) where reconsidered. It is not about bringing a daily bag full of plastics to the yellow container, but instead about not generating this plastic. It’s the tiny action, which often makes you question yourself ‘What can we do at a personal level to reduce the human footprint in the world?’.

Is it useful what we do at home compared to the amount of waste that is generated at the industrial level?

We appeal to individual responsibility, which is the one that nourishes the system. Each decision adds when it comes to helping the change speed up. In a globalized and fluid society like the one live in, what happens in a corner of the world can reach the other end in a matter of a click. What we do can inspire the people around us, communicate a reflective and critical alternative to the mainstream systems. The tendency must be to question the practices and create new alternatives.

The capitalist system is responsible for the excessive and disconnected consumption of nature, where the care of the environment and people has disappeared and is governed by the capital.

Where did all this end up?

Our grandparents and grandmothers were still buying the bread with the handmade cloth bag or went to the market with their wicker baskets. They used cloth handkerchief to wipe their mucus and had cloth napkins on the table, they were looking for water in the fountains, growing their own vegetables, making food preserves, stitching their clothes, exchanging with their neighbors …

There has been a generational loss of care, self-sufficiency and effort to move to a nonsensical comfort that generates dependence on a rotten system.

Recovering and rethinking more responsible, sustainable and respectful forms of consumption makes us feel good, connected to the world, taking care of the place where we live.

but How?

Generating the least impact is our decision and, in this journey through Latin America, we concretize it within the following actions:

  1. From the comfort of the combustion transport to the effort of bikepacking.
  2. From buying in large stores packaged goods to bulk food shopping in local shops.
  3. From drinking bottled water and soft drinks to using a water filter that purifies it.
  4. From the use a lot of hygiene packaged products full of toxic substances to the use of handmade ones out of natural and non-packaged products; solid soap pill, menstrual cup and clothing menstrual pads, toothpaste with turmeric, etc.
  5. From a tourist’s musts and bucket lists to discovering every corner; Villages, mountains, valleys, less known ruins and secondary roads.