He is a climate activist but still wanted to see something of the world. How do you travel if you do not want to fly? The 19-year-old student Elias Bohun from Lower Austria simply took long-distance trains. Now, together with his father, he founds the travel agency Traivelling, which organizes climate-friendly long-distance travel by train around the world.
ZEIT ONLINE: Elias, you wanted to travel to Sri Lanka after graduation and had already booked a flight. Then you did not fly. Why?
Elias Bohun: I've been active in climate policy for a long time. But after graduation, my girlfriend and I wanted to see something of the world and I always thought you had to fly if you wanted to go far away. Then I researched and found out that it is also different, that you can travel by train worldwide. Driving to Sri Lanka was impossible, so we chose Vietnam.
ZEIT ONLINE: How did you organize the trip?
Elias Bohun: We needed people in every country who bought and deposited tickets for us. In many countries you can not apply for a visa without the confirmation that you have a travel ticket. I spent three months researching travel agencies and agents in each country. In the end it worked. The trip to Vietnam by train took 16 days. Without stopovers, but also in eight days. We were then four and a half months in Southeast Asia on the road - three more weeks took the return journey.
ZEIT ONLINE: Which route did you take?
Elias Bohun: We traveled across Poland, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan and China - and back via China directly to Russia and via Ukraine to Germany.
ZEIT ONLINE: How did you come up with the idea to start a travel agency?
Elias Bohun: Of course we told a lot of people that we went by train. That was well received. Friends finally asked me if I could book such a trip for them. They also wanted to give up the plane. So I realized that there is no offer for people who want to travel very long distances by train.
ZEIT ONLINE: Mr. Bohun, you are the father - what is your motivation to join the travel agency?
Matthias Bohun: I used to fly a lot and Elias stopped me - he is a role model in our family and in the circle of acquaintances. He became a vegetarian and became involved with GLOBAL 2000 (an Austrian environmental organization) very early on. I've seen that as a way to reorient myself in my values, I've also been to Fridays for Future demos, and it's enriched me. I am a teacher and I want to stay that way, but now I have reduced my work and would like to start a great project together with Elias.
ZEIT ONLINE: A train journey to Vietnam takes a long time. On your website you recommend 14 days including overnight stays. Who has so much time?
Elias Bohun: It's also about seeing the journey as part of the holiday. When you fly to Vietnam, you enter here and it's cold and you get out there and it's hot and tropical. By train you drive through every climate zone in the northern hemisphere and see what's on the way. For me, the train rides were the coolest part of our journey.