“Is this the time for this kind of adventure?”, many questioned Louis, 62 and Janet D’Souza, 55, the Mumbai based couple, when they aired their view of travelling the world by car.
For the past 15 years, Louis and Janet have been running their logistics business. The couple took some time off and applied for visas. They have their own website and a Facebook page, called ‘The Lifetime Journey 2016′. The website narrates their intriguing adventure.
They had planned to take off in their BMW X5, charting a course of over 50,000 kilometers and visiting 40 countries over six months and driving all the way back home.
En route their trip from Mumbai to London, and back to Mumbai, the D’Souzas drove through 52 countries including Norway, Sweden, Myanmar, China, Armenia, Iran, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Kazakhstan, the U.K., Italy, Malta, France, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan.
Janet says they were bored with the daily humdrum of life’s rat race and living in a world ruled by consumerism. “We came across the story of this family from Bangalore, on Facebook – Little Indian Family of Explorers (L.I.F.E.) – that traveled by road from Bangalore to Paris.” They contacted the Baid’s from L.I.F.E., whose trip had inspired them to embark on their own journey. The Baid’s put them in touch with another couple who was driving to Russia and they all set out on the trip together.
They traveled together till Russia. In China and Myanmar, one needs special permission to enter, which requires payment of certain fee. So, when you go in a group, it becomes less expensive.
Not for a moment did either of them hesitate or have second thoughts, nor did they foresee any obstacles on this trip, she stresses. They shared the driving, stopping in each country to catch up on sightseeing and photography.
When friends and family were informed about the plan of driving from Mumbai to London by car, quite a few considered them insane and had several questions – “Is it even possible to drive through the continents over land?”, “Isn’t it dangerous?”, “Are you planning to travel through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan?”, “Is it safe?”
They commenced their trip on 20 May, 2016. The original plan was to wrap up on 18 December, 2016, but things did not go as planned. “We were well on our way back but when we reached the China border to come to Myanmar, we weren’t allowed to cross it because of the Rohingya Muslims issue,” Louis recalled. “So, we had to drive an additional 2000 km to Thailand, so that we could enter Myanmar. But we had a permit for China, which did not work for Thailand.”
So, after reassessing the situation, they had to leave the car in Myanmar for a few days. Taking a flight back home on 12 December, they celebrated Christmas and New Year and left for Myanmar again on 8 January and eventually finished the trip on 26 January.
Louis described the journey as incredible. “We especially enjoyed Central Asia,” he said. “People were so kind and the landscape is spectacular.”
The couple had also decided to give back to society through their trip, setting aside ₹10 for every kilometer they drove. Along the way, they also collected money for the two NGOs they support — Muskaan and White Doves. “We collected ₹6 lakhs and another ₹5 lakhs will be our own contribution,” Louis said.
The D’Souzas are now planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand. “As long as our health permits, we will keep on undertaking such trips,” Louis said, laughing.