Leya and Jules-Erik (Billy the Def)

Today's Explorers

Leya and Jules-Erik (Billy the Def)

January 17, 2022
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

Leya is from France and I’m (Jules-Erik) from Switzerland

When did you start your interest in exploration?

Long time ago when I was just a kid, I traveled as much as I could by all possible means, everywhere. For Leya it’s an answer to a growing curiosity for the world.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

Adventure has always been part of ourselves. It’s a way to discover the world, but is also a means to understand ourselves, to find answers.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

We are both architects and curious a lot. Leya is conscientious so it helps a lot to plan the road (border crossing, ferry, schedule). I've been rebuilding cars since I’m a kid, principally German and Italian race cars, so I’m not bad as a mechanic. We already rebuilt our Land Rover after a crash. We added a pop top that completed our way of living inside.

Where have you explored so far?

Actually we are living in Aix en Provence, in the south of France. So north of Africa is an easy choice. We have been to Morocco many times, twelve for me. Then Tunisia and Algeria to explore more. In Europe we love the Pyrenees in Spain and the Alps in Italy. We have also been to the Portugal coast and the forest of Slovenia. We are actually back from Iceland and on the boat to Poland from Sweden.

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

Keep traveling, it's the best way of living.

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

We are planning a big adventure from France to Singapore next year in June for at least one year. I hope it will be ok with that virus …

Where would you recommend others visit?

I think that there is no need to go far. Explore and visit your own country, you will be amazed.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

For us it is 4x4 to be off the beaten tracks. We travel with a 110 Land Rover defender from 2007. With 250.000km. 100.000km in two years by us. We rebuilt the interior and added a pop top roof. I love it.

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

Good running shoes, Swiss knife, a big huge jacket, two pair of sunglasses

What inspires you to explore more?

We are so small and the world is bigger than we can imagine.

How do you engage with others?

We share experiences as much as we can. And during the journey we are open minded and friendly with the amazing people we meet.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

Learning about other cultures is really important for us. As architects we always have a look at traditional construction which is a perfect combination of an economic, ecological, well-made house.

What are your goals when you explore?

To discover what we are not used to.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

Unfortunately or fortunately I don’t know. Many. But it always ended well. Traveling backpacking in Brazil during the night someone stole my bag. I was there with no more passeport, no more clothes and no money. It was a bit complicated, but I met extremely honest people there at the same time.

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

It’s definitely when we are like a family with the people we meet. In Morocco we have been welcomed like nowhere else.

How has exploration changed you?

We might have grown.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

There are hundreds of lessons learnt.

How do you explore locally?

By running. It’s the best complement of the car.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

It’s a community of passionate people who know how to travel, explore and meet others.

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Grab a car, a bike or a bag and GO.

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