Getting to know about Mihai Barbu, 36, a photographer from Romania was quite by chance. We read about his travel across 41 countries so that he could show his four old the colours of this world! We were impressed and wanted to know the guy behind this extraordinary (and successful) attempt. His straightforwardness stumped us and we are glad we pursued him to talk to us because it is rare that you meet such free-spirited people in life. All in all we found a true Bohotraveller in Mihai. Here he gets all candid as he talks about his famous travel, places that touched him, why Morocco was difficult to drive in, his love for bikes and turning a collector of them!
1. We are in love with your photographs; tell us a little about the photographer.
I'm a professional freelance photographer based at Bucharest, Romania. I was born and raised in a small mining town in Transylvania, called Petrila. When I was 18, I came to Bucharest to study journalism, and I've been based in Bucharest ever since. Oana, my girlfriend, is 33 and we have a son, Vladimir who is 5 now.
2. So we got hold of you because of your trip across 41 countries with your girlfriend and four years old son. How did that idea come about? And what about the planning part of the trip?
The nicest part about the whole trip was that we had no plan. What we knew before we left was that we had all summer and that's about it. We had no idea we'll be away for that long, and that we're gonna ride that long. When we left I decided we go north, just because none of us had ever been there, and then... things just rolled on. It was when we were around UK that I thought we should pass through as many countries as possible.
3. Could you touch upon the itinerary of your trip?
We started on May’2015 and were on road till End September. The country list is long, but here it is: Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. So we basically covered Europe and a tiny bit of Africa.
4. Were there apprehensions before starting out? And what about the reaction of people around you….friends, family? Were they supportive or felt that you guys had gone crazy to even try this stunt?
No, no one was apprehensive. As far as I remember, everyone was on our side. Well, maybe some of our friends didn't believe we'll be away for four months, but the truth is... neither did we.
5. Tell us about special precautions you had to take because a four year old was with you?
Really we did not take any special precautions. Of course Vladimir had a helmet so he would be safe, was always nicely dressed and he was the only dry person of us three, when it rained.
6. So kids too tend to fall sick often. Did you have any plan to counter and handle such emergencies? And did any such emergency present itself during the trip?
The plan was the same plan one has at home. If someone gets sick you go to the hospital. We did not ride in the jungle. We rode in a civilized part of the world. And we were lucky, but luck is not something you can control. What you can do is leaving as little as possible in the hands of luck, and that is called good preparation.
7. We agree with good preparation! Tell us a little about this preparation of yours please.
Well it was definitely not like visiting the corner shop near your house and we had to plan well for the road. We had all sorts of papers and documents to make the journey. Ample spares for the bike and tools, basic medicines for medical situations and camping gear were the top of the list. Most importantly the bike had to be taken care of during the whole trip, after all, in a way it was the most important among the four of us.
Checkout: Our Travel Store for the above items and more
8. Bike was the vehicle of your choice and we believe you were the only rider. How much were you guys riding everyday on an average? Did it take a toll since your family as with you?
If you make a short calculation, there's an average of 200 kms per day. But because there were times when we stayed for a few days in various places I can say that when we rode, we rode for about 300kms a day. If there's one word to describe the experience of riding in a sidecar, that's "fun". So it wasn't hard. 300kms in a day, when all you have to do from the moment you wake up till you stop to sleep is not much.
9. Where were you staying or halting? Was it a camping kind trip all the way?
Given we were travelling on a short budget, we had to camp. And we did this 80% of the times. The other percent is when we slept in friends' houses or budget hotel.
10. On a trip like this, what are your typical challenges and issues? Any particular difficult time and how did you guys manage to pull over it?
As strange as it may sound, there were no big challenges. Well, there was the weather in all the northern part of Europe that was cold and wet, and maybe the traffic in Morocco but except those, we were really fine.
11. Let us talk money now….how much the entire trip cost you? And how did you manage the funding part of it?
We spent around 2000eur/month on an average which includes gas, food and camping. How did we fund it all? There's no secret recipe- Work, that's how (when you do not have a sponsor)!
12. So 41 countries huh? Which one did you really fall in love with? And do tell us about the friendliest people that you came across your trip?
We have all sorts of charts. For instance, there's a place where you can find Paradise on Earth. And that's the Lofoten Islands, in Norway. Then, there's a country we would definitely live in - Spain. The country we felt best in, that's Morocco.
13. Which country/ies did you find particularly difficult to ride through and why?
Except for Morocco, it was all fine. The traffic in Morocco was hell, if you ask me. I mean... let's not exaggerate, but I didn't feel that comfortable. Concentration of reckless drivers was far greater in Morocco as compared to Europe.
14. Tell us a little about your love for bikes. Which one do you ride and why?
I always say that motorcycles are the best thing that ever happened to me. I now have three motorcycles and have been riding for 12 years. I own a 1995 Yamaha Virago 250, a 2000 BMW F650GS Dakar and a 2014 Ural Ranger. I don't sell motorcycles, and I might turn into what people call a collector since I dream of acquiring another 3 or 4 bikes. I have no car, still.
15. Who needs a car when you have so many bikes! Now to camera, lenses and associated equipment. Which one do you use for those spectacular photographs of yours?
I use a Canon EOS 5DMKII, but the funny thing is most of the pictures I took on our holiday were shot with a GoPro Hero 3+ camera and some with my mobile phone.
16. And what about the travel gear- things and equipment you carried including special clothing please.
First of all, we carried many spare parts and tools for the bike. And then we had the camping gear: tent, sleeping bags and mattresses along with simple equipment for cooking our food.
We had clothes for all kinds of weather, and we also bought some of the stuff on the way. I had a motorcycle suit on and rain suit when needed, but that's about all. For camping we had clothes that we were comfortable in along with some woollens for the cold climate of Northern Europe.
17. Any more trips being planned?
There's no plan for the moment. But that doesn't mean there won't be any. We dream a lot, and every journey starts with a dream.
18. What was this experience for your son? Enjoyed every bit of it?
I guess he did, but he's the only one who can answer that. Personally I see him as a happy kid. You should know that while we were away he never asked when we were going home. Never, not once. But thinking of it, I think the reason behind it was that he was with his parents. And that's home!
19. Any message for the parents who hold themselves from exciting adventures because of lil kids?
We're the proof that it's possible! Children, especially, should be raised with a curiosity of seeing the world, of meeting new people and wondering about the places. People who travel are good people. There's no better thing to do while we're here, on this planet, than to know our home.
(That last part vibrated with our hearts big time!)
That was Mihai Barbu in his honest and upfront attitude we absolutely love! He sure did inspire us and our team to break the barriers that exist in our minds and get our children to see the world! We will surely catch up with this dreamer whenever he kickstarts his bike on another quest. Do comment and let us know how you liked this interview. If you have made a similar trip that can inspire us , do contact us and we would love to feature you. In the meantime check out our awesome Travel Store to buy all the travel stuff for your own adventure