Xenia Sagesser is on a round-the-world off road adventure – and she’s not sure if there’s an end date.
You’ve probably heard of Xenia and her boyfriend Martin’s blog, XT Adventures, or seen their Instagram posts. The adventurous Swiss couple have been riding around the world for the last two years now, and according to Xenia, they haven’t decided whether there’s a homecoming date in sight…or at all.
So who’s the fearless woman behind XT Adventures, what’s it like to be on an indefinite off road adventure round the world, and what’s Xenia’s recipe for freedom?
We talked to Xenia as she and Martin await for their bikes to arrive in New Zealand.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a 31 year old former IT specialist from Switzerland. The last few years before my big trip I was working as a travel agent though, to do a little something different for a change. Since February 2017, I’m on a long world trip with my boyfriend Martin. We did several short motorbike trips before that but when we left for our RTW adventure, we went East towards Iran, central Asia, China, Pakistan and India. This is my third long trip and for the first time, I am not doing this by myself but with my partner and not as a backpacker, but as a motorbike traveler.
We hear you love riding off-road?
Yeah, I am totally in love with gravel, dirt, sand or forest roads and lucky me, Martin is the same. We try to do as many off road tracks as possible. There are countries where it’s quite easy to do, and others where it was a bit more difficult because of either weather, time or safety reasons, but we both love it!
Is riding RTW difficult?
I don’t think so, but I can imagine that it sounds difficult. Of course it is a bit different than backpacking, where you can always just hop on an airplane if you don’t want to travel anymore, if something happens or if a country with difficult regulations is ahead of you. On a motorcycle, it is always a bit more complicated as there is more paperwork involved as well as different regulations from country to country. I think this was something I was a bit weary of in the beginning, but after some time you get used to it and if something does happen there is always a way to get around it.
A lot of couples fear that a journey like this will either “make it or break it” in terms of the relationship. Would you say they journey has impacted your and Martin’s relationship?
Yeah, traveling with your other half for that long can be quite a challenge, that’s for sure! I’m a very independent woman and I was always traveling by myself before, so for me, it was really important to see if we could handle this. Luckily, Martin is more the type that tags along rather than likes to be involved in planning. He is the calm one that stands back until he is needed (which happens from time to time, haha) and is happy that he does not have to make a lot of decisions. We have been a couple for a little over 4 years before we started but we already knew that we’d work great together as a team.
We are very different and can complement each other very good. After one year of being together 24/7 this is still the case and we are very happy about that! We enjoy being together even if we have our ups and downs like every other couple. The trip brought us even closer together.
What’s the most challenging about riding RTW? What’s the best?
For me as a very organized person, it is sometimes hard to let go. I like to be organized when it comes to visas, paperwork and so on and I had to learn that things don’t always work out like you planned, and that is very challenging for me.
The best is that you learn so much about yourself, the world, your partner (if you do not travel alone), the bike and so many other things. I love learning new things, so I think that is what always took me on those long trips. Being out of your comfort zone becomes your daily life – and that means you’re constantly learning.
So many people assume that riding RTW requires expert level of riding skills, excellent mechanical knowledge, experience, and so on – in other words, that it’s a very daring and complicated challenge. What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t think it’s really difficult to ride RTW, but I can understand why people would assume it. If you are an experienced traveler, I think it does not really mater if you go by car, foot, motorbike or bicycle. But for someone who never traveled for a longer period, it might sound scary that you do not only have to take care of yourself but also of a motorbike, the traffic, more complicated paperwork and so on. So it probably depends on your experience as a traveler more than your experience as a motorcycle rider.
Lots of riders are interested in way to fund such a journey.
Yes, that’s a question we get asked a lot. People assume that we either have rich parents, are sponsored or earned really good salaries. Neither of it is the case. Martin is a carpenter and I worked as a travel agent. Of course, being from Switzerland helps as our currency is strong, so if we can save 10% of our income per month this would be a lot more than saving 10% in the same job in the US.
We worked very hard, sold everything we did not need, did not go out for dinners, cut down on every other expense, started to try to buy food on sale and so on. This way, we could put aside $1,000 each per month per person without much trouble.
While on the road, we try to be on a yearly budget of $15,000 each including everything – insurance, shipping, food, accommodation, petrol and so on, which so far worked out pretty good.
Have you met many women riders on the way?
I did! I met eight women overlanders (3 of them solo travelers, the others with their husbands or boyfriends) in one year. I would say that’s quite a lot but compared to the guys, still not so many. I loved meeting them and I hope I will meet more in the future!
What would you like to see more of, in terms of women and adventure riding?
Brands are realizing that we are out there and in need of gear! Changes are happening, but they’re happening very slowly. Nevertheless, it is much better than when I started five years ago. I had to go for men’s clothing, which is not a bad thing in general but it never really fit that well and was not really comfortable. I’m not talking about pink colors or sexy jackets, I just want to have pockets in my pants, good ventilation, proper gloves and fitting jackets in all sizes! It is a MUST that we can ride the same roads as the guys and are comfortable and safe while doing it.
We’ve launched an ongoing “Adventure is Attitude” campaign where we hope to inspire women to boost their self-confidence through travel, motorcycling, and adventure. Could you share some thoughts on that?
I LOVE it! I think for me, it was a big plus to start traveling by myself when I was very young. It shows you that you can achieve things by yourself and now with the motorcycle, I feel even more confident as it requires more skills and knowledge than backpacking. A big part for me is to know my bike, to be able to work on it and to have knowledge about gear and parts but this does not have to apply to everyone.
What’s important is that you are confident doing what you do and if you aren’t, make sure you get better at it. It helps in many aspects like how to behave at work, how you are around your family/partner/friends, and how you behave in daily life situations.
What would be your advice to those who want to go RTW but are hesitant or afraid?
1. Start small. Go on short trips first until you see that after three weeks of holidays you still want more! Once that happens, it is time to head out into the world 🙂
2. Talk to others who did it and follow other travelers (social media makes things easier these days) – you’ll see that it is actually not that big of a deal.
3. Go to events like Horizons Unlimited and meet other people who want to do the same and even better, who already did the same journey you dream of.
What’s the best way to build confidence riding and traveling?
For me it was that I started young, that helped for sure. If you are not an experienced traveler, maybe first start without the bike (in case the bike part is what you are afraid of). Learn some basic things about your motorcycle. There will always be people who help you change a tire and so on, but it is a good feeling to know the basics like oil and tire changes and which tools you need. Off road riding training is also a good idea; can you lift your bike on your own? Again, there will probably always be someone around to help you, but it’s a great feeling knowing you can do it yourself.
Follow Xenia and Martin’s off road adventure on: XT Adventures