L’Orignal World Traveler’s next adventure: one year free on Airbnb

Jonathan B. Roy and his partner leave at the end of October. First step: Morocco, a new country on its ever-growing list of destinations.

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After traveling the world for four years, visiting 40 countries and cycling some 40,000 kilometers on his bike, Jonathan B. Roy of L’Orignal is ready for a sabbatical year.

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But, characteristically, not just any gap year.

Roy, 35, is one of 12 people chosen to live for free for a year in any Airbnb accommodation in the world. Roy, who has degrees in engineering and law but plans to travel, speak and tell stories as his full-time job, intends to use that time to work on a book on his global journey.

Roy saw the contest announced in June and initially laughed at it as one of those crazy gimmicks “live a year on this island and make a million dollars”. But he still applied to answer the Airbnb question: “Why should we choose you to live the nomadic lifestyle?” Then he was asked to provide a video, which he edited in 24 hours. Next comes a phone interview with someone from Airbnb, after learning that he was going to be one of the participants in the Live Anywhere program on Airbnb.

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Roy and his girlfriend leave at the end of October. First step: Morocco.

It will be a new country on its ever-growing list of destinations.

Her epic cycling adventure began in 2016, a few years after her mother died from cancer.

“Most of us have dreams,” he said. “These aren’t even dreams, they are more like a list of things we would like to do. My mother would say, ‘Next year, or in two years, I’m going to go to Italy.’ It was never really planned because when you’re 53, like she was, you don’t expect to die the following year. And then she did.

Jonathan B. Roy from L'Orignal, left, spent four years cycling around the world, touring 40 countries and covering 40,000 kilometers.  This photo shows him with a family in Turkey.
Jonathan B. Roy from L’Orignal, left, spent four years cycling around the world, touring 40 countries and covering 40,000 kilometers. This photo shows him with a family in Turkey. Photo by Jonathan B. Roy /Handout

By his late twenties, Roy had made backpacking trips to Peru and Japan, but didn’t know much about cycling. He decided to start in England and then ride east for a year.

“I thought I could travel 1,400 kilometers per month. I got my gear, got visas, and figured out where and when I could go. And then I basically learned by doing it, ”he said.

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“I always compare it to a job. Any job, it takes about a year to get good. After three or four years you get really good. I think it’s a bit like cycling.

With his English and French and some knowledge of German, Roy made his way through Europe. There were bike paths to follow and grocery stores to buy food. The further east he went, the more difficult the journey became.

“It got harder and harder, but I got better and better,” he said.

He ended up in Malaysia, where he found a job for a year. After 25 months on the road, he returned to Canada to publish his first book on his travels: Histoire à Dormir Dehors. The book is only available in French, Roy’s native language, but he hopes to translate it into English one day.

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After a stint in Canada, Roy returned to where he left off in Kuala Lumpur, cycled to Singapore, took a ride on a container ship to Taiwan, then to China, Korea and Japan. . He jumped across the Pacific to Ushuaia at the southern tip of South America, then rode north through Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay. Roy was in Peru when the trip was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along the way, he went through 10 sets of tires and repaired 26 punctures.

His Surly Disc Tractor bike was tough and slow.

“My normal speed was 15 km / h and my top speed was 16 km / h,” he said with a laugh. “When I was 16, I was like, ‘Dude, I’m flying!’ And going up hills, I discovered that if you go four kilometers an hour, you fall.

Jonathan B. Roy of L'Orignal cycled the world for four years, visited 40 countries and covered 40,000 kilometers.  He wrote a book in French about his travels, titled Histoire à Dormir Dehors.  This photo shows him on horseback near the Pamirs in Tajikistan.
Jonathan B. Roy of L’Orignal cycled the world for four years, visited 40 countries and covered 40,000 kilometers. He wrote a book in French about his travels, titled Histoire à Dormir Dehors. This photo shows him on horseback near the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Photo by Jonathan B. Roy /Handout

The deserts were the most difficult parts of the trip.

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“People think climbing the Andes is difficult, but for me it’s not so bad. You are getting stronger and stronger every day. Mentally, things are more difficult. Crossing deserts, where it’s the same day after day, was difficult.

Crossing the Chaco Desert in western Paraguay, he said, “it was like being in a grilling oven.”

But the trip wasn’t so much about traveling, he said, as it was about meeting people. Everywhere he went people were friendly and helpful.

“I have met thousands and thousands of people and in countries, even when they were so, so poor, even if I didn’t ask for anything, they gave me half of what they had.

In return, Roy carried rubber bracelets, Canada stickers and other trinkets to give to children.

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“I brought them something they didn’t have access to. I’ll show them my photos. Surprisingly, they don’t have water in their house, but they do have a cell phone. So they can follow me. And I see that the kids I met three years ago still love my photos on social media.

Roy will be using his time at Airbnb to work on a second book on his travels. After Morocco, he hopes to live in Albania and Slovenia, then perhaps in Tanzania before returning to South America in the winter. The staggered choice of countries is deliberate, he says.

“These are less visited countries. It’s not Paris, it’s not Berlin. I think people are more welcoming. They say why did you choose our country? he said.

“I learned that the destination is not that important. Each country has a different culture. I will have a great experience everywhere I go.

Jonathan B. Roy from L'Orignal was chosen to spend a year in any Airbnb in the world.  This photo shows him at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.
Jonathan B. Roy from L’Orignal was chosen to spend a year in any Airbnb in the world. This photo shows him at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Photo by Jonathan B. Roy /Handout

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