We have surrendered stewardship of our most prized possession to the open seas. After careful consideration of the threats that include (but are not limited to) rogue waves, pirates, giant squid, and hungover longshoreman, we acknowledge that shipping our vehicle overseas seems, on paper, the act of a madman.
When we made the decision over two years ago to work towards a year on the road with our family, we knew that in order to survive the long-haul of planning and anticipation without losing our (my) minds, we would need to enjoy the process. The purchase of the van helped us fill the buildup to the trip with great adventure and quality time, but, more importantly, it affirmed our love of life on the road, and it taught us how to live in the van. We discovered the freedom of a full tank and the beauty of those lonely dirts roads, the comfort in the knowledge of an unfamiliar town just around the bend, and the value of slowing down and savouring the small, everyday moments with our young family.
I discovered that three nesting pots fit perfectly in our sink, I learned the ins-and-outs of wild camping, that cooking fish in the van will never be a thing, how to avoid concussion on the shelves and ceiling that make up our tiny home, how to make the bed in under twenty seconds flat, and how to maximize 80sq ft. of living space.
Caravan rental prices in Europe border on astronomical, because they are selling the dream. With prices as high as $1,000 euros/week to sleep in someone else’s living quarters, we never really considered just renting an RV or camper van. Call me a tight wad, but I don’t care to trust the cleaning prowess of a rental company when the living room is also the bed of starey-eyed lovers and surfers looking to get loose. Costs and extraneous bodily fluids excluded, I think living in someone else’s den of iniquity is less than conducive to the kind of quality time we are hoping to experience on this trip. We also lucked into the VW market here at home before prices hit astronomical levels. It seems you actually can put a price on living the dream. Sure, we could have bought a van in Europe, banking on the fact that we could sell it before coming back home, but that’s placing a lot of faith in unknown sellers and our ability to recoup a portion of our investment in an unknown market at the end of our trip. With round-trip costs far below what we expected for a shared container to Europe, shipping was a no brainer.
We chose World Cargo, a freight company who specialize in shipments of vehicles overseas. They held my hand through the paperwork and logistics of shipping the van and made the process as minimally insane as possible. I did exhaustive research and comparisons before choosing our shipping company, and World Cargo won me over not only with their competitive rates, but with their customer service. My (thousands) of emails were answered instantly, they were helpful, friendly, and I found them to be genuinely excited to be a part of our trip. I can’t recommend them enough.
Does this all seem like an awful lot of hassle and headache when we could easily spend a greater amount of time in a cheaper, far flung corner of the world, instead of dealing with the ‘character building’ experience that is long-term travel in a VW van?
“Some non-believers out there went so far as to kick us while we were down, suggesting—in the throes of transmission failure or other strandedness—that we should scrap Nacho and buy a Toyota, or some such nonsense. I always kicked myself when people made these suggestions, because it told me that I hadn’t done a good enough job conveying the spirit and purpose of this trip in the first place.
We didn’t set out to drive around the world. We set out to drive around the world in a VW van.
There’s a difference! If the point was to complete a feat of line connecting, we could have done it in any number of easier ways. But to drive a VW van is to have an experience bigger than a road trip. Nacho became a part of the family, and keeping him going was just as important as keeping Sheena going. Well, fine, maybe not quite, but you understand. Furthermore, everywhere we went there was a VW community there with their arms out, waiting for us to arrive. It’s a tight knit global community, and it made the experience 100% better than if we’d driven anything else.
So as you read through all…these…lines of maintenance, you should be picturing me eating papaya while replacing Nacho’s voltage regulator on a mountainside in Thailand, or bullshitting in Spanish under my van with a Colombian farmer, or throwing back a beer with a Turkish friend with grease on our hands—a man who we only met in the first place on account of us driving a VW van.
Many of our best experiences were a direct result of what most people call ‘misfortune’. What a terrible malapropism that is.”
-via Drive Nacho Drive