Camping in California [Source: SD's photostream Flickr Creative Commons]

Camping in California [Source: SD’s photostream Flickr Creative Commons]

It’s tempting at this time of year when (in the Northern hemisphere at least) the daylight hours are short and sun-drenched holidays a distant memory to dream of packing up and taking off to warmer climes.  The reasons we don’t, I guess, include family ties, work commitments and lack of money.

But when Rich Ligato saw an advert promoting the California Lottery jackpot of $14 million one morning while he was commuting to work in San Diego, one question nagged him all day: “What would I do if money was no object ?”.  When he asked his wife, Amanda, later that day her answer was the same as his: travel the world.

In their case the itch to scratch the travel bug was so strong that they spent six years scrimping and saving to raise the $50,000 needed to buy a 1978 VW Westfalia camper van and take it 60,000 miles across the Americas and Africa over three years.  Their website – VW Vagabonds – has some useful hints and tips for others considering a similarly ambitious adventure.  While some items they took with them didn’t last the course, their faithful VW van passed with flying colours.  As they say on their website:

“This simple yet versatile vehicle faced the greatest challenges any vehicle could confront and passed with flying colors.  Not the newest, most expensive model with all the buzzers and gadgets.  Not the most powerful or the most durable.  Not the most spacious camper or the best off road performance.  In fact, not the most or best of anything.  But it just keeps chugging along, slowly but surely, and it takes us wherever we want to go”.

Another couple who also embarked on a 2-year, 60,000 mile road trip with their VW bus across the Americas and Europe are Pat and Ali Schulte.  They already had the travel bug, having previously sailed around the world in a 58′ catamaran and raced across the United States in a 1956 Porsche.  But this time they decided to do it in a 1958 VW panel van which they converted into a camper – and you can read all about it on their website, Bumfuzzle.

Like Rich and Amanda Ligato, they didn’t have any prior experience of VW vans or even sailing.  They simply had a passion for adventure and picked everything up along the way – including a couple of kids.

In a slightly more modern VW camper, Jill and Manuel are currently driving down Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Argenina in their VW California.  They shipped their van over from the UK for the trip in May 2013 and after six months on the road have so far travelled 22,000 miles and are nearing their journey’s end at the tip of Argentina.  Their blog makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in undertaking a long road trip, highlighting the sights and experiences of life on the road as well as some of the more challenging aspects.

I could have given many more examples of folks who have driven VW campers across far-flung parts of the world; these are just three stand-out examples.  I hope that they provide some inspiration for those of you depressed by the dark, cold winter and dreaming of adventures in sunnier climes.  It’s clear from these examples that with a strong sense of adventure, some careful advance planning and a realistic budget, any of us could planning an epic road trip in the future.

Further inspiration:

Epic VW camper road trips – The Beatnik Beatles

Epic VW camper road trips – Digital Nomads

The Roadtrippin website contains information for travelers who are looking to take extended road trips to exotic locations, particularly in the Western Hemisphere to places such as Alaska, Mexico, Central America and South America.  Roadtrippers houses a collection of inspiring roadtrippin stories and includes travel tips and links to road trip websites and blogs.

How to road trip around the world (National Geographic)

Travelling the world in a camper van (Wanderlust)

Want to swap your motorhome with another family’s somewhere else in the world ?  Why not have a look at the Motorhome Holiday Swap website ?

9 Comments on “Epic VW Camper Road Trips – Itching the Travel Bug

  1. Hey, this is fantastic ! I spent quite a bit of time searching around for some good road trip blogs and they’re all here in one place. Some of the writing and pictures are just so good and unsurprisingly I guess, many people are funding their road trips through books and sponsorship. Inspiring stuff !

  2. Yes, with self publishing much easier now, writing a book does seem to be getting popular. There are some good ones out there. The Natcho book is good, they have a very humorous style of writing.

    Not VW, but ‘around the world in 10 years, the book of independence’ by Pablo Rey is excellent. They have it on Amazon.

    Originally written in Spanish, but translated very well. They’re still out there travelling, 13 years in a Mitsibishi Delicia!

  3. Can’t beat a trip in a camper/kombi. Short or long they are all adventures! Couldn’t cope with 13 days ina Mitsubishi Delicia though- keep it air cooled!

    • Thanks ! Talking about adventures, I enjoyed reading your account of your little jaunt up the hill to Super Bagneres. Great stuff and an enjoyable read !

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