We are Martin and Amy, from Bratislava, Slovakia and the northeast of the US respectively.
Both of us had an interest in exploration since childhood whether it was from fun family holidays, history books, a love of the outdoors, and so on. Exploration beyond a traditional vacation was never an idea until a few years ago and it was not a priority due to career ambitions or other life events. It took until our early 30s, but we decided that the time to explore was now or never.
Work, weekend trip, post-trip depression, repeat. During the pandemic we went from taking small weekend trips to taking advantage of the remote nature of our jobs to road trips around the US. We slept in the trunk of Martin’s car (a Mazda 6), worked where we could find WiFi, and explored many national parks. It was after this road trip that we began investigating converted vans, RVs, and other overlanding vehicles that we would rent for small road trips. We finally decided that a truck camper setup was the right one for us and agreed: 2022 we were going to South America!
Fundamentally, we have almost zero skills that are relevant to the overlanding lifestyle. Our most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills as we go. Truckito is our first truck and a year ago if someone said “tie rod” could not have told you what that meant. Martin came equipped with a set of DIY skills acquired from his industrious grandfather, particularly in regard to electrical systems. The rest we’ve managed to pick up from YouTube videos and fellow travelers.
During the pandemic we explored much of the US and now that borders have reopened we have explored seven of South America’s countries (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru).
Before leaving for South America our longest overlanding trip was a month. We’ve now been on the road for over a year. Originally we thought we would embrace the lifestyle for two years, but now we think: why not visit every country!
We get this question a lot and our answer is “what do you like to do?”
Do you want to explore the outdoors? We would probably recommend Argentina. History and culture? Peru. Are you really into birds? The Pantanal in Brazil.
Every country has something amazing to offer. It’s all about preferences.
With our trusty truck camper, El Truckito, a 2016 GMC Sierra 2500 HD with a 2016 Palomino SS 1200 camper. We are firm believers that a personal vehicle provides the best opportunities to explore wherever you want, whenever you want. It also means getting to camp in some pretty unique places that you might not otherwise experience.
As for the modifications:
1) Solar, Lithium battery and a DC/DC charger
2) ARB air compressor and rear airbags
3) Lots of stickers from places we visited!
Exploring never ends and our curiosity knows no bounds! One of the perks of living on our awesome planet is that no matter how far you go or how much you have learned there is always more out there to discover. There’s also somewhat of a time limit to all of these things whether it’s us getting older, climate change impact on nature, human impact upon cultural heritage sites… if we don’t see it soon, it may not be there by the time we get there.
We’re always ready for a coffee or beer with our fellow overlanders and the awesome locals we bump into. People are usually eager to share their stories, especially if you ask the right questions.
There’s always something we can learn from each other and it’s the best way to dispel prejudice and stereotypes. We might have different ideas and traditions, but when it comes down to it we are not so different from our neighbors near and far.
They continuously change. Our original goal went from completing our planned route and seeing as much as possible to visiting every country and seeing what is important to us. For example, for Martin that means climbing as many mountains as possible or for Amy visiting historic sites and cemeteries.
The biggest challenge for us has been living in a confined space as two introverts. Regardless of the size of your rig, the ability to “make space” is an essential survival skill. We have mastered the ability to “ignore” each other for a full day!
It was the moment when we handed over the keys to our apartment and were left with 1 truck, 1 camper, and a few essentials. Everything else got sold, donated. or ritually burned. That is the moment we felt that “we are really doing this”.
Exploration has made us reevaluate what is important to us. We have become more adaptable in navigating problems and surprises and improved our communication. Immersing ourselves in new cultures has given us a stronger understanding of the world and appreciation for the incredible diversity of humanity. We’ve also gained a greater appreciation for nature and our impact upon the natural environment.
There is no perfect way to do anything. Everything has tradeoffs and you have to choose what is important to you. We think this has made us better problem solvers and more adept at facing challenges on the road.
When we’re not on the road we are exploring our home base region of New England. There’s mountains, forests, and lots of coastline in addition to all of the neat hidden gems you can find within Boston or the charming towns of the region.
It’s a privilege to be able to interact with people and nature across the world. We feel an obligation to spread that sense of adventure and meaningful connection, especially now when people seem more disconnected from each other and the environment than ever.
Don’t wait for the “right time”, go now! Life is short and precious and waiting for the right moment or the right equipment is a drain on your most valuable resource: time.