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Couple from Arizona travels the world in their 1984 Volkswagen bus

26 April 2013 @ 9:48 AM  / Automotive Blog / Customer Stories / Outdoor Blog /


NachoDrive8Brad and Sheena had been traveling in their 1984 Volkswagen bus for eight months, all the way from Arizona, USA, to Columbia in South America, when their transmission failed, leaving them stranded in a remote area somewhere in Columbia. To make things worse, the  Colombian government had passed a law prohibiting the importation of used car parts, making it virtually impossible to get a new transmission. Ironically, it turned out that this was one of the better things that happened to them on their trip. Not the transmission failure but what followed as a result of it.

Brad and Sheena met Hernando and Constanza, a farmer couple that was able to offer them a little cabin in the middle of the Colombian mountains. "Our patio overlooked a meadow of tall green grass with weeping willow trees, grazing dairy cows, and little frolicking baby cows," wrote Brad in a blog post."Each day, our hosts would show up at our door bearing housewarming gifts. Some days they would have a pitcher of fresh squeezed juice from one of their fruit trees, or a platter of fresh fruit.  One day Hernando dropped off a bag of fresh coffee that he had just roasted using beans from a neighboring farm...Somehow, the importance of choosing an option for how to fix our transmission seemed a distant second to living the good life...Being stranded in Susacón was really a blessing and we didn’t much care to leave."  

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It seems obvious to ask why you would ever travel the world in a car that's almost 30 years old and destined to break down at some point. But when you consider what happened to Brad and Sheena in Columbia, it seems to make sense: It's all about the journey and what you experience on the way. It's an adventure, risky and uncertain of what's going to happen. The many different vehicle failures they experienced on their way forced them to stop at places they would've otherwise probably just passed by.

Let's rewind eight months and find out how it all started. Brad and Sheena decided to quit their jobs at the end of 2011 to travel the world in their 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon. “The idea was borne of coincidence, an unsettling feeling of complacency, and a festering itch for adventure,” said Brad. How do you finance a trip like that? Both of them actually saved money for two and a half years, following a strict savings plan. "We identified the expensive aspects of our life, and created an attack plan to kill (or severely maim) each one. We were ultimately able to reduce our spending by more than half. This allowed us to put all of my (Brad’s) paychecks into savings while we lived off of Sheena’s," explained Brad in a blog post that outlines the entire plan.  

NachoDrive21Using a 30-year old VW bus is not the only way Brad and Sheena tried to challenge themselves. Brad told us in an email that they actually drove all through Central America without a map (not even a paper one - just the overview maps in their Lonely Planet). "We figured it would be a good way to get in touch with locals, by stopping to ask directions. Well, it did get us out of the car talking to locals, but there was one thing we didn't count on: most locals don't have cars, and have no idea how to get to the next place. There's also another problem: they're too proud to tell you that they don't know, so they just make stuff up," wrote Brad in an email. After a couple of months in a state of continual lost they had enough and bought a Garmin nüvi in Panama. "The rest is history; I won't turn the key until the GPS is up and running now," Brad continued.

Now how did Brad and Sheena solve the problem with their transmission in Columbia? Hop over to their blog to check out the full story. We'll make sure to follow Brad and Sheena as they travel through Asia over the next couple of months, so stay tuned for more posts right here on the Garmin blog. If you enjoy what they write on their blog, you can also help them fund their book project on Kickstarter.

(Image Credits: Kickstarter and Drive Nacho Drive)


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