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Living the dream in a VW Campervan


The seeds of our wander lust were sowed many years ago … We could never be accused of letting the grass grow under our feet, always up for a new challenge, a new direction in an already vibrant world. Moving home has been almost like putting on a new pair of shoes and just about as frequent. Both Wendi and I immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom in the 70’s seeking change and excitement. For many years we lived a typical suburban lifestyle as we raised our children putting our thirst for travel largely on hold. Then the catalyst we needed happened…

With our children well into their teens an amazing work opportunity in Indonesia had us chomping at the bit. We would yet again shake things up …There was no way I was going to be soaking up the joys of jungle living half way around the world while Wendi was stuck in snowy frigid Ontario! With gasps of horror from most of our friends… ‘You’re moving WHERE?’ We sold our house and everything in it, including our treasured MGB, and relocated to Indonesia … And why NOT!

Campervan in Utah

There was no turning back at this point… nothing like selling your home and all the furniture in it to ensure one is committed to a direction! This was all too gripping for us not to leave our ‘Hang Ups’, fears, and security well behind and turn each corner with the thrill of what was to be!

The tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001 changed the world. It also cut short the work in Indonesia. But We would not be denied… We put our possessions in a shipping crate to Canada, donned backpacks, T shirts, shorts and sandals, and wandered around SE Asia for 6 months… Living on a budget of $25 a day. It was easy to survive on such a small amount in most of the South East Asian countries. Younger world travelers might spend $5 on a room and blow the rest of their budget on partying and booze and perhaps some recreational herbs, we spent a little more on the accommodation and a lot less on the partying.

Steve and Wendi in New HampshireWe were now completely re-connected with our true adventurous selves and trucked right into the new nomadic lifestyle and never looked back. Even after being stranded on a dock waiting for a ferry in a flooded town on an Eastern Indonesian island, after a 16 hour bus ride! Although that came close to breaking our resolve.

After a period of living and working as ex-pats in the UK, we returned to Canada, it was time to make the ultimate move… It wasn’t as if we did much planning, in fact our plan is to have no plan. In 2009 the time seemed right to take to the road more permanently. A chronic health condition caused us to think about our life long dreams of travel, and there was no prognosis to indicate just how long Wendi might be able to travel before the effects of the illness would take its toll. So we simply sold our home and furniture once again, downsized our personal belongings and headed out on our worldwide odyssey. We had always envisioned backpacking around the world however due to Wendi’s health condition this was not to be. We were determined not to let Wendi’s illness deter us so changing gears we purchased a vintage classic 1972 VW bus or Kombi and hit the road. There was no destination or schedule, it was always going to be about the journey and as long as we were having fun then the journey would continue.

We thrive on meeting people, which in different countries means experiencing the unique cultures, lifestyles, traditions and languages. We meet so many interesting people both local to the area we are in and other world travelers from all over the world. Everyone has a life story that adds to the richness of our journey, experiences that we learn from and are able to pass on to other people we meet. Knowledge that inspires us and others to view life and the planet from a new perspective and with an open mind, without prejudices and with a greater understanding of the differences between people and nations that seems to cause the world so much trouble. It’s also good to see and experience the unique architecture and wonderfully beautiful natural sites around the world, many times just sensing a place with our eyes, ears, and sometimes nose, the sensual experience that a camera shot just can’t capture.

Guanajuato, Mexico

We believe strongly in Karma and live our life in the moment, greeting and treating everyone with respect and kindness regardless of race or status. We firmly believe this is paid back multiple times over in the richness of our travel experience. We rely heavily on intuition in new places and believe this has kept us safe and well, but we are always respectful of local customs and laws.

We have met many like-minded people as we have meandered around the globe, and everyone has a different story to tell and they come from every corner of the world. The reasons people opt for the vagabond lifestyles are numerous and the age of fellow travelers is from the teens to very senior years. We recently met a world traveler who is 88 years old and still going strong! What an inspiration! He has been doing this since the 1960’s, not continuously but frequently. He and his wife of around a mere 80 years old, have navigated the world in many different ways including a 5 year sailing trip just a decade ago, when they covered most of the Pacific ocean taking large amounts of time to get to know Australia and New Zealand and every island you can think of. We met them in Mexico where they were using public buses to find their way around.

Lalitpur, NepalWe wonder if we would have had the courage to take up this lifestyle many years earlier when our children were young, now we know many people do. There is a couple we have become very close to, meeting up with them in Mexico, the United States, and India, as they and we have travelled. They started to travel when their children were just 2 years old and they bicycled with the little ones in a buggy pulled behind one of the bikes. Too big for that now they are 6 years old so they find cost effective travel of a more conventional type. Had we realized what was possible, and that children need not be a hurdle to world travel we may well have continued our travels when we first met over 30 years ago”.

A common question we are frequently asked is ‘How can you afford to live like this? You must have a lot of money.’ We smile, and probably very unconvincingly tell them that it is actually cheaper to live the way we do than when we lived the more conventional life in Canada. We don’t think we are always believed, but it is true. It’s all about decisions on what you want to spend money on and everyone works with a different budget and has different priorities. Achieving a sustainable lifestyle does not mean depriving ourselves of things that are important to us, but it does make us think through our choices. Maybe we can’t justify the entry fee of every museum we come across, or the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, or buying souvenirs’, and there are countless places where we enjoy the world with no admission charge. We believe we get full value for the things we feel are important. It costs nothing to take time for people, to talk and help them, and learn about the place they live and teach them a little about where we live and where we have been. And we can always find a little change to give to someone less fortunate than ourselves. We like to think of ourselves as ‘International Citizens of the World’, if only we could all get along together what a different place this planet would be.

Perhaps this is where our karma works for us every step of the way.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

There is no question the last 4 years have been a life changing period. We have chosen a more spiritual lifestyle with as much yoga and meditation as we can get, supported by a vegetarian and non-alcoholic diet. Not everyone’s choice, but it works for us and perhaps helps Wendi to cope with the health issues that could or maybe will one day prevent us from traveling, so it’s a good investment for longevity of our chosen lifestyle.

Our family is always on our minds, it is a compromise that is always difficult to make. Even with technology enabling us to stay connected from afar, we take time periodically to get back with our grown children and other family and friends but know it can be difficult just parachuting in on people and hoping they have time for us. After all we are the ones that decided to just take-off. We think sometimes that perhaps our friends feel abandoned by our absence, but very few questions are asked about our experiences when we get back together. It’s almost as if friends don’t want to admit we have been away. Maybe not surprising it is other travelers that take time to find out about our adventures and that’s reciprocal, it’s something we all have in common, it connects us, and information shared among us all is the life-blood of this adventurous life. But the lack of connectedness with our past lives is something that concerns us and is often the subject of discussion between ourselves and other travelers.

Badlands, South DakotaWell into our 5th year of travel we often toy with the idea of making the journey less challenging, living in a tin can has its drawbacks, and we occasionally take time out from living in the bus and rent an apartment for a few months. For now we enjoy the charisma of our bus and recognize she is a magnet for people. We are thankful for the many connections that have been made around the world with our bus ‘Pumper’ the ice-breaker and introduction on many occasions.

We are very pragmatic about what we are doing: No one is handing out medals when this journey is over. No one will really care how many miles we have travelled, how many countries we visited, how many years we were on the road, or how many volcanoes we saw up close. Sure our grandchildren may exclaim what crazy grandparents they had and maybe have a little admiration. Hopefully they’ll have an open mind and tolerance toward other cultures and people… that would be a wonderful legacy. But it isn’t a competition. We simply enjoy the not knowing what we will be awaking to in the morning, where we will be going next and what outrageous and memorable experiences we will have. It keeps our lives spicy! For how much longer? We don’t know! That would sound too much like a ‘Plan’.

Living the Dream, and sucking every ounce of passion and enjoyment from Life is a daily ritual we work hard at perfecting!! Doing that together and experiencing the joy of so much and so many… Rocks our world!

VW Campervan in Albania

Steve and Wendi are currently in Ixtapa – Zihuatanejo, Mexico. To read more about their adventures you can find Steve’s newest blog post here: http://www.vwheritage.com/blog/2014/03/18/living-the-dream/

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