It’s been quite a while since we’ve been able to travel anywhere interesting, and therefore it’s been a long time since we’ve written to you. It’s not for lack of doing anything, however. We have actually been quite busy planning something. It’s not quite the same as before, but then, what is anymore? It is a trip that we’ve been working on planning, but since it’s so different than previous trips, there’s a lot more involved. We think it might be worth sharing the planning portion this time, unlike our previous posts that were more like suddenly we're in [location].
“What the heck are you guys talking about?”
Something we’ve wanted to do for a long time now is an extended road trip. Like a year long adventure. Maybe longer, we don't know yet. Our one main goal is to drive all the way down to the southern tip of South America. And back, probably. Initially, we intended to use our camper trailer that has been featured here a bunch for that task. But, we’ve discovered some issues with that plan. Chiefly, there’s no shower or toilet in the trailer. The kitchen is outside, which we love in good weather. But what about when the weather is crap? There’s nowhere to stand inside, and we can only sit on the bed against the headboard. It gets uncomfortable after too long. There are other issues too, like the increased cost to ship a vehicle and trailer around Darien Gap. And that we can’t camp inconspicuously, if needed. A long list of little things that could be improved and make our year on the road more enjoyable.
So we've decided to build a van that will resolve all these issues for us. A high-rooftop Sprinter van has enough ceiling height for me to stand fully upright at 6 feet tall. We’ll have room to walk around, or at the very least, room to stand and get dressed. There will be multiple seating options. We can cook, sleep, shower, dress, and hang out, all without having to open a door or step outside if we don’t want to. And it’s not that we don’t love being outside! Just the opposite. But, sometimes you just can’t. Maybe it’s rainy season, or below-freezing on a mountaintop somewhere. Or any number of other reasons, you get the point.
We have talked about the road trip plan now for years. But now as we are working on a detailed design of the interior space of our van, it’s suddenly become a lot more real. Tangible. We’ve also begun looking around our home, and small though it may be, it is far larger than a van. So we’re realizing all of the things we will need to get rid of. While we don’t feel like we have a huge number of things, and we’ve always tried to be mindful of not accumulating stuff we don’t need…it’s still a bit much.
And trying to make these decisions about what stays and what goes feels, in a weird way, like attending our own funeral. The lives we have been living are ending as we begin something totally new. It’s kind of sad, a little bit scary, and really difficult yet exciting all at the same time. We’re also trying to do our best to avoid simply putting everything that won’t fit in the van into the garbage because it just feels irresponsible. It’s not sustainable. And we’re not unaware or ungrateful for our privilege in all of this. We're extremely fortunate to be in a position to have so much stuff; even more that we are able to think about letting go. There are an overwhelming number of people who do not have anything at all to get rid of, and that’s not okay either. We just want to do our best to minimize our impact on the environment and maximize our impact on those around us. In a positive way.
So with that in mind, we’re trying to make sustainability a main focus of the van. We absolutely love having solar panels to charge our trailer electrical system, so of course we will be doing something similar again. It’s so nice to be able to use electrical equipment without having to plug into a grid. It’s freeing. And free! And it doesn't contribute to global warming. If we design the system just right, we should be able to cook, pump water, use lights, recharge devices, etc., all without having to burn any fuels. We will need diesel only to move the van from place to place as we explore the world around us and to heat water.
We will dive into more detail in the future, once we know what the details actually look like a little more clearly. At this point, we just have a small mountain of pencil-sketch layout concepts and a bunch of financials spreadsheets; planning how we'll arrange everything in the van, and how we'll afford it. Exciting stuff for us, but probably boring for you all. But for now, we just wanted to provide this update so you know we’re still out here, and still longing to travel.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.