So what has possessed us to sell what we can and pack the rest of our lives into the back of a four wheel drive?
I’m not entirely sure, but here’s how it started:
The conversation began when we were visiting Peru and Bolivia in 2010. As we travelled around we watched the country pass by through bus windows and couldn’t help but wonder what we were missing down side roads and in small towns that we didn’t stop at. We said to each other “Wouldn’t it be great if we could visit these places the way we explore our own country?” We imagined ourselves hopping into a 4WD and exploring. Stopping where we felt like it, driving down roads and not-quite roads, just ‘because they are on the map’, or even better ‘because they aren’t…’.
We returned home and continued thinking about it some more.
“Perhaps we could just start by exploring the United States with a road trip down Route 66?” Ben suggested
“Yeah, but I want to explore Bolivia by road, to see the Amazon rainforest, explore the salt flats and the altiplano…”
“Isn’t there a highway that runs the whole length of the Americas?”
“Is there? Google will know!”…”You’re right! There is—it’s the Panamerican Highway, but there’s a stretch called the Darién Gap, there’s no road there”
“Can we 4WD it?”
“Nevermind we can always ship around it!”
This was the first seed of an idea, it sat in the back of our minds for 8 months before we finally sat down and agreed this was something we should be saving some money towards. The savings started slowly as we didn’t really have a plan. But as the details formed in our minds we began to put money aside more seriously.
We’d start in Alaska in the northern spring, first heading further north to Deadhorse, then we’d drive whatever way took our fancy and finish in Ushuaia, Argentina. Perhaps if we had enough money we’d take a cruise to Antarctica, to complete the journey Arctic to Antarctic.
Next thing we were setting on a date.
“We’ll tentatively aim for 2014, that might give us enough time…”
At some point we started telling friends. At first, it was a far off plan, people thought it was just a crazy idea that would pass when reality set in. Over time people realised it wasn’t just a passing madness, soon everyone was supportive and said what a great idea it was.
We felt foolish telling people about a plan for something over two years away, something that might not happen—what if something else crops up? What if it isn’t possible?
Time passed and we began to realise that the trip will go ahead, it might be a crazy idea, but it’s a good one. Ben’s initial apprehension even gave way to a case of mild enthusiasm.
A little under a year away from departure, we are now determined that this trip will happen. We still need to save plenty of money and we have a lot of work to do to get ourselves ready to go, but our journey is no longer just an idea.
It’s a plan…of sorts.
So why are we doing this?
After talking about, planning for and researching this trip we have realised how very unappealing it is to live the rest of our lives 9–5. We want to explore places further away than our backyard, immerse ourselves in cultures other than our own, see things on a grander scale than we can in New Zealand and find out what is just off the edge of the map (Dragons, I’ve heard that it is dragons). We want a life experience we won’t soon forget.
If we had more money (or thought we could stick to s a stricter budget) we’d extend this trip further around the world, we’d go to Africa, Europe and finally to Asia. Unfortunately we don’t have the patience to save for that kind of trip on our current salaries, we have itchy feet now and want to leave as soon as we can. Maybe we’ll earn enough money on the road and the journey will continue, or maybe we’ll reach the southernmost city in the world and long for home. Whatever happens we’ll have done something we can look back on and know that we didn’t waste all our lives just paying our mortgage, saving for retirement or working 9–5.
We will have done something worth getting out of bed for.