About 1

About Us Our names are Chad and Ana Memmel.  We met in 1998 while backpacking in Europe after college.  We kept in contact for a few years, started dating a few years later, and now have been married for 5 years.  We have always shared a passion for traveling and hoped that one day we could both take time off from work and go exploring all over the world. The time is now here and we are ready to go exploring!

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Purpose This website was started to help document our traveling experiences, and to share these experiences with our family and friends. We hope that our encounters with people of other cultures, places, and experiences will be interesting and educational. We also hope to dismiss some notions that the world is an unsafe place outside the U.S. border. On the contrary, our previous travel experiences have taught us that most of the world is filled with great people and interesting places. We feel the vast majority of people outside the US border are similar to you and me in terms of what they want out of life. Most people are just looking to earn a decent living while enjoying their lives and sharing some quality time with those around them.  Lastly, we really just hope to relax a bit while enjoying ourselves.  We plan to meet some great people and experience beautiful places and gorgeous scenery.

Central, South America Our Trip begins in Colorado where we have been living very happily for the past 3 years. We purchased a cheddar-cheese colored orange 1977 VW camper bus and have been working on getting it ready for our drive from Colorado to the southern tip of South America, Tierra del Fuego. We plan to drive along the west coast of Mexico to its southern border, then head east to visit the Yucatan Peninsula. From Mexico, we will drive into Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. In Panama, we will ship the bus around the Darien Gap and Colombia to a port in Ecuador. We will then drive along the west coast of South America, through Ecuador, Peru, and Chile all the way down to the penguins in Argentina and Tierra del Fuego. Other than this general outline of our travels, we don’t have detailed plans because we want to stay flexible to take advantage of locations and experiences as they develop. We hope the trip from Colorado to Tierra del Fuego takes approximately 6-8 months.

Asia, New Zealand, Australia From South America We plan to fly to China after leaving/selling/shipping our bus to Seattle from Chile or Argentina. From there on, we will be traveling with our backpacks and using public transportation. We plan to traverse China from East to West and head into Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Nepal and into India for a couple of months. We would also like to visit New Zealand and Australia if time permits. At the end of our journey we plan to fly to Romania. Ana is from Romania and we hope to spend several months there to meet with friends and family and for Chad to become more familiar with the language (ie: to learn it). In total, we plan to be out of the U.S. for up to 2 years.

Financing We both come from backgrounds where our parents taught us to work hard towards our goals while saving some money along the way. Chad’s parents are both teachers and Ana’s parents are Romanian immigrant engineers. We’d like to thank them for teaching us from an early age about financial responsibility and making sound decisions in life. We had the idea of doing this world trip almost from the day we met, and consequently tried to save as much money as possible. Chad worked active duty in the Air Force for 9 years and Ana was employed as a biochemist for 6 years. After we moved in together, we found that we were able to live on one person’s salary while saving and investing the other person’s salary. We bought a house that we could afford, kept most of our college furniture, and always drove good but used cars (“semi-new” as they’re called south of the border). Basically, through saving and investing from an early age, we were able to finance this trip by ourselves.
Our Bus

Our new house is a 1977 VW Type 2 bus. It is called many things to many people including Kombi, Westfalia, Hippie Van, Transporter, Type II, Microbus, VW bus. We used to just call it “The bus”. However, because we spend so much of our time in the bus, it has taken on an almost lifelike quality and we have begun to call her “Mango”. Mango is predominantly cheddar-cheese orange and rust colored. The orange color is the first thing Ana loved about Mango when she first saw her parked for sale in a neighbor’s driveway a few blocks from where we lived in Colorado. Mango has a 4 cylinder 2.0 liter fuel-injected, air-cooled engine with hydraulically adjusted valves (no valve adjustments every 3000 miles). We have done some work on her to make her more comfortable and hopefully a bit more reliable also. Below is a list of things we have fixed or modified so far:

• Replaced the orange pop-top roof with a white one that came with the bus from the previous owners, Jeff and Misti
• Replaced the pop-top canvas with a new one from BusDepot.com (thanks for the help TB, Al and Cathy!)
• Remodified the old faucet with a variable-flow pump and faucet from Shurflo (thanks TB!)
• Resurfaced the table with linoleum tiles (thanks Lindsay, our friend in Denver who donated the table!)
• Cut and re-upholstered the foam cushion and armrest on the back seat
• Replaced the turn signal switch
• Replaced the fuel pump relay
• Re-gutted (new tubing) on the entire window washing fluid system
• Replaced the windshield
• Replaced the passenger side door panel
• Replaced the stereo with one that has an MP3 player auxillary port
• Fixed the passenger side wiring for the right front speaker
• Added weatherstripping to the head lights, doors, and engine compartment seals
• Replaced foam engine seal with a new one and sealed off larger holes in engine compartment
• Mounted a fire extinguisher behind the passenger seat
• Installed an auxillary battery with charging mechanisms via the alternator or 110 Volt plug-in (thanks Kevin for the use of your garage!)
• Wired 2x 12 Volt male receptacles + a 1200 Watt inverter with 2x 110 Volt outlets
• Rewired interior lights to the auxillary battery
• Installed an electrical deactivation switch for when the bus is parked unattend
• Added locking lug nuts to all four tires plus a cable chain around the front spare tire (under cover)
• Modified some retractable seat belts from a VW bug to fit our bus (the old ones were not retractable)
• Placed padding on areas where your head tends to hit a lot
• Added storage containers above the sink
• Bought felt fabric to create a drop down curtain behind the front seats
• Sewed a cover for the porta potty (it looks like a storage bin now!)
• Replaced the carpeting with more durable and easier to clean black plastic matting

Our Cats We have two cats that have been temporarily adopted by my friends Emily and Hal for the duration of our trip. I miss them already, but they enjoy living with their new family which makes it much easier for me. I look forward to being reunited with them at the end of our trip. Thanks Emily and Hal!