One of the most exciting parts of planning such a huge road-trip is deciding where you will live. Stefan and I became happily obsessed with looking at all kinds of different possibilities. This part has literally taken years! Yet it never became boring. We searched high and low on Kijiji, Craigslist, eBay, auto trader, and even mobile.de.
We toyed with the idea of converting a Mercedes-Benz Vario, a bus, a Sprinter like Jimmy Buffett’s (green, far right), buying a pricey Sportsmobile and reselling it upon our return (apparently they hold their value and only lose 5% per year), finding a hard-to-find VW 4×4 Syncro, or a truck camper.
In the summer of 2011 I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii for the Hale’iwa Arts Festival. We made a vacation out of it and rented a VW Westy to live in for 3 weeks to test out the living space for our trip. While fun for a short trip, we decided quickly that it wasn’t an option to live in for an entire year.
In 2012 we were set on importing a Mercedes-Benz Vario 814. That summer we came across a couple from Germany who had just picked up their Vario in Halifax that they had shipped over. It was week #1 of their year long adventure! They were so kind, showing us around their custom-made home, sharing their own plans with us. The fellow had told me about the mobile.de website, where he had found their van. He even offered to help with translations when we decided to buy one.
Then in the winter of 2013, Stefan and I travelled to Mexico for a week away with family. It was during this trip that we decided the most practical option would be a 4×4 truck with a slide-in camper. Many roads are narrow and full of pot-holes. It seemed as if every second vehicle was a truck. This makes finding a garage and parts for repairs easier than a large imported vehicle like the Vario.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ” ~ Lao Tzu
And so it’s settled! We’ve narrowed our truck down to a full 8′ bed used 1-ton Ford 7.3L or Dodge diesel (not yet sure about a dually or 4×4) crew cab, and our camper down to an old model with the following features: 3-piece bath, stove with oven, a/c, enough headroom on the bed to sit and hang my feet over (I love sitting on counters; in this situation I will make do with a bed), lots of storage, a solid leak-proof roof, aluminum construction, but no more than a 1-2′ overhang out the back of the box.
Our budget? Max $15,000 CAD for the truck and camper. We plan to outfit the camper with a custom roof rack to hold our surfboards, sups, and gear box, plus a solar system that enables us to live comfortably 100% off the grid. We expect these extras will run us another $2000-2500.
The best part is, we’re just mere days or weeks away from buying our home for the year…
~ xo DS