Martin and Amy (El Truckito)

Today's Explorers

Martin and Amy (El Truckito)

December 22, 2023
min read
Charles Forman

Where are you from?

We are Martin and Amy, from Bratislava, Slovakia and the northeast of the US respectively.

When did you start your interest in exploration?

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.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

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!

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

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.

Where have you explored so far?

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).

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

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!

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

  1. Mexico - Mexico is fascinating to us as it is a massive country with incredible cultural and natural diversity within its borders. We are very excited to start exploring it later next year!
  2. Southeast Asia (e.g. Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.) - While Southeast Asia is fairly well touristed, we’re not interested in the beach. This region looks like it has incredible nature, history, and, of course, food!
  3. Central Asia (e.g. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.) - These countries are very much off the beaten path. It’s not a region either of us is familiar with from a historical or cultural perspective, and from what we understand the nature is largely unspoiled!

Where would you recommend others visit?

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.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

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!

What are five pieces of equipment you always travel with?

  1. Duct tape - your immediate repair friend when you’re in a bind.
  2. Air compressor - sometimes you need to adjust your tires to road conditions or sometimes you just have a flat. You never want that in the middle of nowhere so it’s good to be able to get yourself out of that situation.
  3. Electric lighter - you wouldn’t believe the number of times our normal gas lighters have either run out of fuel or refused to function at altitude.
  4. Camera - the ideal tool for documenting adventures and preserving memories.
  5. Sense of wonder - You never know what the day will bring, but whether it’s amazing or mundane there will be a story to tell!

What inspires you to explore more?

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.

How do you engage with others?

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.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

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.

What are your goals when you explore?

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.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

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!

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

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”.

How has exploration changed you?

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.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

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.

How do you explore locally?

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.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

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.

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

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.

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