Summer may be over Down Under, but it’s calling our name over in the Northern Hemisphere!
As we prepare to escape the cold and head overseas for long days in the ocean, salty air and unforgettable road trips, we’ll be catching up with a favourite road-tripper every fortnight to inspire you to get out on the road.
First up we chat with Kim Leuenberger about all things summer...
Kim Leuenberger is a photographer, videographer and location scout, originating from Switzerland. She’s lived all over Europe before finally settling in London to complete a BA in Photography at London College of Communication.
Since graduating, Kim has been adventuring along coastlines, hiking up mountains, and roaming across some of the most beautiful roads in the world.
Her work focuses on travel and centres around her projects on road trips. Her love for the open road and adventure (by foot, car or motorbike) was passed onto her by her parents and grandparents, who taught her everything about exploring in any situation.
Her never-ending thirst for adventure has led her to embark on unexpected and mostly unplanned expeditions all around the globe, which she likes to capture with her trusted Leica Q while armed with her playful and easily amused gaze.
Tell us a bit about yourself in one sentence.
Hiya, I’m Kim, a 20-something world explorer, forever on the move, always ready to start a new adventure.
You were featured in our Life's a Roadtrip journal a little over 2 years ago... What does your life look like now?
The last two years have been pretty incredible. I've graduated from my degree in photography in London, and have travelled more than ever before. My photography jobs have taken me to the edge of the arctic circle, I crossed the world to Japan, hiked in Rwanda and I went on four epic road trips in and across the United States and finally made it to California, a lifelong dream of mine - on 3 different occasions. And, I'm about to go back there again in a couple of weeks!
You loved collecting toy cars, have you collected any new ones since?
I've calmed down a little. Kinda had to, haha. Leading an almost fully nomadic lifestyle and living off a suitcase doesn't work too well when half of my suitcase is filled with toy cars. Also, the toys are getting harder to find (and I pretty much have every single colour of the rainbow for each model anyway!)
Do you still go road tripping frequently?
Anytime I can tie in or pitch a job centred around my love and expertise of road tripping, I do! Luckily one of my biggest client is Hertz, so I get to do that quite often and I love it.
I also bought my first ever own motorbike (her name is Bichette, she's a Yamaha Virago and a beauty) and she's patiently waiting for the summer to be back at my dad's house in Switzerland. Can't wait to take her out for a spin!
Where was the last place you last road-tripped?
My last proper solo road trip was around New England, from New York to Vermont, Maine to Boston and Cape Cod back to New York last autumn. Before that I did a little tour of Switzerland with my motorbike, and last summer I road tripped all around California, Central Coast to Death Valley and then back up North the 395 to Lake Tahoe via Mammoth Lakes.
Earlier in the year, I also road tripped around Scotland, Ireland, Denmark and the West Coast of France.
Tunes you love listening to on the road?
These past few trips I've listened to a lot of classic bangers like ‘There is A Light That Never Goes Out’ by the Smiths or ‘Karma Police’ by Radiohead. But my soundtrack to most of my road trips last year was probably Kishi Bashi ‘Lighght’ and Ben Howard's ‘Noonday Dream’. I like music that make you feel like you're inside the film of your life.
What are your favourite roads less travelled?
I've been lucky to have done some of the most legendary road trips there are to do, but one I thought of would be to cover all the coastline of Europe. It's so dramatic and varied, and all the different cultures you'd meet along the way would be absolutely incredible. From Ireland and Great Britain to France and the hispanic peninsula, back up north to the Nordic countries. The dream is to one day start tackling that route in my own van, with my dog. Also the mythic route from London to Cape Town would be pretty incredible.
What's your ultimate road trip car?
I love a car that screams adventure right back at you when you see it, for this reason it would have to be a Landrover Defender or a Jeep Wrangler. I need to be slightly up on the road as well (so I can enjoy as much as possible of the scenery around).
Three most memorable moments of those trips?
- I've got a slight tendency to be followed by rom-com worthy, ridicule moments throughout my life, which at the time are awful, but when you look back are pretty funny. I was road tripping on my own around the Isle of Mull last year, when I stopped to take photos of cows on the side of the road (basic Scotland thing to do). I climbed on a little mound of grass (it was very very little) to get a better viewpoint over the road, and as I was heading back to my car, my ankle gave in and I fell to the ground. I sat there sobbing and laughing hysterically at the same time for 10 minutes, hoping someone would drive by and come help me, but because I seem to prefer places where no one goes to, well, no one came. It hurt pretty bad and I knew it was bad too, but still managed to drag myself to the car, telling myself it wasn't hurting whenever a streak of pain blasted through my foot as I was hitting the gas and drove to the nearest pub (and it was so far) and ordered a carrot cake, a hot chocolate and some ice to put on my foot.
- During a shoot for BMW, I drove with my friend Dan to the seaside park of Dungeness. Dungeness is what could be described as beautiful and bleak dystopian desert crossed with a beach and fishing village. We roamed around and played and looked all around for hours, when I suddenly realised the car keys were missing. What followed was a two hour hunt to find the keys on one of the most crazy, messy beaches in the world. Best part though, we found them. At the exact place I realised I had lost them.
- Crossing Death Valley in August with peaks of 52ºC wasn't my brightest idea, but as I stepped out of the car to go see the Sand Dunes and almost got grilled like meat on a bbq, I was the happiest in the world when I got back to the wonderful invention of A/C.
What's next for you?
Next is a motorbike trip along the Gold Rush Road in California. I'm pretty excited about this one as California is my favourite state of all; I'd love to move there on the Central Coast.
I went on a rally last summer to celebrate the reopening of Highway 1 after landslides forced it to close, and we ended our route in the little city of San Luis Obispo, which stole my heart.
After that, I should be road tripping along the Atlantic Coast of Canada, in Newfoundland. After all these years on the road, I've kinda realised that the best places are usually the most unexpected ones, so I try not to focus one place specifically so much, and see where the wide road takes me and what surprises it has in store for me!
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