- Adventurer Benjamin Parent is preparing to cycle around the world for three years.
- He wants to encourage people to slow down, embrace low-carbon travel, and connect with locals.
- Parent plans to meet impact entrepreneurs along the way and document what he’s learned.
- This article is part of “Green Getaway,” a series exploring how people can make more eco-conscious choices while traveling. For more climate-action news, visit Insider’s One Planet hub.
Benjamin Parent has worked at Tesla, on ships, and as a part-time tennis coach.
Now, he’s trying his hand at documentary filmmaking as he travels around the world on a bicycle to tout the benefits of slow travel and raise awareness about the climate crisis.
The 36-year-old Frenchman plans to cover 50,000 kilometers and pass through 44 countries on the three-year adventure, beginning at the Sophia Antipolis technology park, which he characterized as France’s equivalent of Silicon Valley.
Parent wants to promote a more sustainable way of living and traveling. He plans to set off on September 22, which is also international car-free day, and return via Norway in 2026. “Traveling is not going to one place, taking a picture, and leaving,” Parent told Insider. It’s meeting people and experiencing new cultures, he said.
Slow travel typically refers to longer stays in destinations and a focus on the journey itself — ideally a low-carbon one. It emphasizes more sustainable travel and consumption practices, as well as a more mindful approach. “There is no other option. We have to slow down. We have to sink more into solidarity, into human relationship,” Parent said.
Travel and tourism account for up to 11% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, a 2021 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council found.
More people have taken to slow travel in recent years, including Icelandic tourism officials, who are encouraging fewer tourists to take longer trips to the country. Parent’s journey comes amid widespread backlash from European locals as record numbers of tourists flock to hot spots across Europe.
Along the way, Parent plans to meet with entrepreneurs who are working on solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He doesn’t have a set itinerary; he knows where he needs to be and when, but he’ll mostly use a physical map and follow waterways, he said. He aims to show others that slow-paced travel and traveling long distances by bicycle is possible.
He plans to document the journey, the entrepreneurs’ stories, and best practices for building sustainable businesses. He hopes to make a film and write a book about the trip. Parent is fundraising for the project, which he expects to cost 180,000 euros, or about $194,000, or 115,000 euros without including the costs of making the documentary.
Parent is part of a WhatsApp group of other cyclist adventurers and expects to bump into his peers on the road. He’s hoping that will combat what he expects to be one of the trip’s biggest challenges — staying positive.
Much of his preparation has been to get into the right mindset, given the potentially long stints he will face alone. “The ‘why’ is so important,” he said. “Why do you want to do it?”
For anyone wanting to undertake their own adventure, Parent suggested avoiding negativity and writing their motivation and values down on paper.
Ever since traveling across Australia after university, Parent has been keen to get back on the road and has wanted to undertake a “world tour” for a decade. Still, being mostly alone for three years will be tough, he said. The longest cycling trip he has been on so far was about three weeks, covering 900 kilometers.
Other than mindfulness, Parent isn’t training particularly hard. He goes out on his bike “once or twice” a week, covering about 50 kilometers. His bike, packed with everything he will need for three yearsm including a tent and camera equipment, weighs about 30 kilograms.
The good thing about slow travel is that he doesn’t need to train to cover crazy distances every day — it’s not performative, he said.
A typical day will consist of putting his tent away, finding somewhere to eat or food to cook on a camping stove, and jumping on his bike based on planning from the previous evening. He expects to cover 50 to 60 kilometers a day.
In addition to camping gear, Parent has a long list of items he needs based on the length of the trip and the different environments he will encounter. His kit includes waterproof pens, a gadget that charges his phone as he pedals, and basic bike parts in case something breaks. He will also have conventional items like gloves, water, and a first-aid kit.
For safety, he has a tracker that can be pressed if there is an issue. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s not an issue with people, it’s just an issue with the road and bicycle,” he said. He is worried about wild dogs, which “are very aggressive with bicycles,” he added.
He’s determined to get on the road, but so far, the trip is keeping Parent indoors, huddled over his laptop. “Don’t underestimate the work with planning, the time to plan everything,” he said. “Having a dream and realizing it, there is a huge gap in between. This is not to be underestimated.”