Traveling around the world for free sounds too good to be true, but there are two people who are getting pretty darn close to doing it.
I met Clement Kovalenko, 22, and Julie Elsenberger, 23, in a hot tub on the roof of the Hotel Aurora Clarion in Tromsø, Norway. While there were plenty of differences between our trips — I was on a family trip with my brother and these were two buddies off on an adventure — there was one thing that stuck out: We were paying for a room that night — and they weren't.
How did they pull off a free night in a four-star hotel? They just asked. This is the simple way they've been traveling around the world for free.
These are two people who are on the hunt to prove that there are still folks around the world willing to help someone out.
“We are surprised to see the solidarity and to prove that the positive attracts the positive,” Elsenberger told Travel + Leisure in a Facebook message. “When we ask for something free, we present our project and explain that we want to prove that anything is possible.”
So far, good deeds had brought them to Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands, and Finland, among other places, according to their Facebook page. They've not only received free hotel stays, free meals, free movie tickets, and even free plane tickets, but they've also met some incredible people along the way. And all they've done to do all of this is ask for it.
“The most incredible experience we've had so far was to see killer whales and the Northern Lights in Sweden,” Elsenberger said.
The pair met when Elsenberger asked Kovalenko for a place to stay while she was visiting Paris three years ago. Elsenberger had already been hitchhiking for a while. But it wasn't until Jan. 27, 2017 that they kicked off their conjoined tour of the world, depending solely on the kindness of others.
To eat, they check the garbage bins outside of grocery stories for fresh food that still has a shelf life. While I chatted with them in Tromsø, they had already been able to dine at some of Tromsø's most popular restaurants (Suvi and Emma, to name two).
Sure, they would save up and take these trips with long breaks in between to continue saving money to fuel their adventures (like many people, myself included, do). But this just goes to prove that there's no harm in asking for something that you want.
“We are now staying at a family in Sweden at Jokkmokk for a month for a workaway,” Elsenberger said. “We helped renovate a house and we get free food and a bed in exchange.”
So, what's next?
“We want to stay together and try to spend zero euro until the end of 2017,” Elsenberger said. “After that, my friend Clement Kovalenko wants to go back at Paris for studies, eventually looking for work in web marketing. For my part, I'll keep going alone. I plan to take my bike in France and cycle to Spain, and then sail down to South America — maybe not without money, but I'll try to use as little as possible.”
You can follow along on their journey on their Facebook page.