Why Practicing For Retirement? It's just a bit of fun... for us it represents flipping life into reverse and doing the best bits first!
We love to travel. Its the sort of thing that gets in your blood. Since our first trip abroad in 2005 we haven't stopped. Andrew's work as an electrical engineer, and mine in marketing management, has provided us the income and flexibility for us to indulge in our passion; and for that we feel truly lucky.
The most common questions we get are people asking us "how do you afford it?" and "How can you travel for so long?" Really, the answer is simple - it's because it matters to us. As humans we are driven to achieve that which we desire the most, and for us that is to see the world. We forgo the things that others strive for - the house, job stabilty, to be surrounded by family - because we understand the payoff. Every fancy restaurant dinner we skip when home represents a week of camping meals whilst overlooking a glacier or beach. The money we save by buying a second-hand couch or fridge is for fuel to carry us 5,000kms. We rent and live cheap when at home, we keep our physical possessions to a minimum, we work hard and we save as much money as we can.
The other question "how do you not kill each other after travelling together in close quarters for so long?!"... well, sometimes we go close! Jokes 🙂 Honestly, we just make a really great team. We communicate well and we trust each other. We fight, and we resolve. We get stronger together. To walk through this world with your soulmate is the greatest prizeof all; and when it comes to that I think we have won the jackpot.
This is our story.
My idea of a good time:
Tortoise or a hare?
What's for dinner?
Things I can't live without:
Day job: Marketing and Brand Manager for several large organisations (traditional, digital and strategic)
Dream job: I like keeping busy, planning events, and I like using my hands - so something that combines those things.
Favourite Place: Nepal, on the rooftop of Helena's restaurant overlooking Kathmandu.
Travel Style: Budget, off-the-beaten-track, Finding hidden treasures in everyday occurances.
My idea of a good time: Kicking back in a camping chair, overlooking a dramatic vista. Book in one hand; coffee in the other.
Tortoise or a hare? A hare for sure! I get in trouble for walking too fast and bowling into people.
What's for dinner? I have simple tastes and don't think too much about food. Toast with butter is enough for me!
Currently Reading: Orphan Train, by Christina Kline
Favourite Quote: "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” - Barak Obama
Pet peeves: Large crowds, cold coffee
Things I can't live without: Andrew (of course!), a passport, internet access, our trusty chess set and a good book.
2015 to today: Ella
Ella. 2007 4Runner. And badass.
Ella didn't share her name with us quickly. In fact it was several months until she revealed herself. We couldn't fugure out whether her masculine or feminine traits were more dominent, with her beefy exterior and soft delicate interior, so her name reflects the spanish 'El' for the masculine side, and 'La' for the feminine.... and like that she became Ella. And since at home Ella is a girls name, she became a girl... weird but true story.
It took a month to find Ella in the mean streets of Santiago, Chile. It was by far free from stress and frustration. Most cars in Santiago are very poorly treated, and I think it was during the test drive of a Rav4 that had its battery wildly catapulting around its engine bay (no, apparently they don't always need to be tied down!?) that we thought about giving up.... but then we found here. No, she didn't have the 4x4 or sunroof we had on our 'must have' list, but she was well cared for, and her previous owner didn't give us the heeby-geebies. 6.5 millone pesos later (ever seen that much money in cash? its impressive!) she was ours. For all the details of how we made it happen you can see our buyers guide for Chile on the front page.
So far we are a few (ok, 15,000) kilometers into our life with Ella. And she is pretty cool. We have pimped her out so much it blows peoples minds. With a full side bed, running water (with reserve tanks underneath), full electric running from the aux battery we put in, lights, plush furnishings.... she is a total babe. But don't think that makes her a wimp - oh no, she can run with the best of them. From sandy beaches to volcanic fields and everything in between, she goes where she likes.
This is Pickles.
She is a 2004 Limited Edition Chrysler Town and Country, and we were destined to be together. Its a long story, but after having a previous vehicle suffer catastrophic transmission failure just two weeks into our trip we were feeling pretty sad... and then Pickles came and saved the day.
After finding a similar van on Craigslist we met her previous owner and were offered Pickles as a better option. We agreed that she was pretty sweet and just like that, she was ours. On went her sexy green numberplates, out went her back seats and in went our mattress - we are ready to hit the road!
For $2,400 USD Pickles comes with heated seats, cruise control, a DVD player and a host of fancy doodads controlled by her onboard computer. Her mirrors and seats align to our personal preferences with a push of a button and all the doors are automatic. Its pretty impressive 🙂
So far she hasn't skipped too many beats. With 160,000 miles already on the clock to begin and some rust from the salty Vermont roads she is a bit creaky but to date her struts haven't given way against all the topes and potholes put in her path. She has been to the doctor three times; once for a wheel bearing in Vermont, again for a flat tire in Zacatecas and finally for new brake pads and fresh oil in Palenque.
We think it is a match made in heaven, and we couldn't have these great adventures without her.
Update: We sold Pickles in Las Vegas in May 2014 for $2,800
Gorg, or 'Weisenberger' as he is otherwise known, is a 2002 Citroen Berlingo. From what we know he began his life as a plumbers van until we came along to buy him in 2011. Buying him wasn't difficult, but there wasn't a lot of information available at the time so I wrote a website after our trip to help make the process easier for others into the future.
With flame-like streaks of water shooting along both sides, and proudly proclaiming his services in german, we gave Gorg a new role in life by ripping out his guts and filling him with the contents of the local IKEA catalog.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, with his clutch snapping in two just three weeks into our journey, stranding us at midnight in a chilly Estonia with a dead battery, popping a hole through the radiator in Spain and going dark in the UK by having both headlights fail simultaneously. But for the most part we loved our time with Gorg as he took us across 21 countries in six blissful months.
The lessons we learnt from living and travelling in our tiny little van have been invaluable in teaching us about the important things in life - what constitutes a 'need' over a 'want', how much space two humans can inhabit without killing each other, and the importance of understanding the weather conditions of a continent entering a snowy winter!
After adding 22,000km to the clock (pushing him over the 200,000km mark) Gorg was bought by a guy in West Ham for 500 pounds and (hopefully) is continuing his life in the African country of Ghana. We still have his numberplates as a momento on our wall at home.
We love you Gorg xx
Picasso was our first 'car baby' and took us on an epic honeymooning adventure across Europe and back.
Born just a few months before we arrived and with 5km on the clock when we picked her up, Picasso is a child of the DriveEurope leasing system - a way of circumventing the tax laws in France by having foreigners 'own' the car first. When we were done with her we had completed a 10,500km journey across 21 countries, and with only one little scratch to show for it.
Besides all the cool things - sunroof,cruise control, mirrors that automatically tuck in to squeeze through the tight European alleyways, suspension made for cobblestones, the ability to get up to 180km/h on the authbahns - she also came with built-in satellite navigation that meant we never struggled to find our way from Paris to Istanbul, and back again.
The only thing Picasso lacked was sleeping space, and the effort of finding a place to stay was a constant hassle; thus leading to our future vehicles Weisenberger and Pickles. But she planted the seeds of joy that a driving holiday can deliver, and we couldn't imagine travelling any other way since.