Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough, thanks to my sideline of writing for a car magazine, to have driven some wonderful vehicles. I’ve also owned and raced a fair few powerful cars and many awesome off road vehicles, but perhaps understandably, none has meant as much to me as my Travel Truck now does.
It is after all, the fruit of five years planning (and saving), of innumerable decisions about space needed, creature comforts, security, practicality, of compromise between off roading ability versus on road comfort, and dozens of other choices which I’ve had to make along the way. It’s my home, my transport, my shelter and my creative studio, all wrapped up into one compact (OK, quite large) investment in steel, glass fibre reinforced plastic, solar panels and water tanks.
I did it my way
Having been involved in the design for so long, I’m acutely aware that if anything’s wrong – if the fridge doesn’t work efficiently or the spare wheel can’t be removed so easily, or there’s insufficient solar power to keep my cabin battery adequately charged – well, I only have myself to blame. And whilst some electro mechanical issues can always be resolved, what if I’m too cramped in the bed, or don’t like the shower head position or can’t reach the hidden exterior power socket? The fact is it’s too late to change those now, and I’ll just have to learn to live with those problems.
Aside from the time and money I’ve invested in this project, there’s also a rather less tangible asset I’ve committed, and that’s my future. I may be heading off around Africa initially, but provided I’m still enjoying life on the road when I eventually, one day, reach the UK, I shall only be stopping long enough to say Hi to my friends and family before setting sail for South America. And having driven from Argentina to Alaska, well then there’s China to traverse and of course “The Stans” and, and, and….
When I head out into the dusty brown yonder, I’ll be giving up my full time job, living off my savings, leaving my family behind and driving through what are, potentially, some fairly dangerous environments. So I’ll be spending a lot of time alone and imagine I shall be talking to my truck a lot; anyone who knows me will understand that even if it could talk back, it wouldn’t get a chance. We’ll be as reliant on each other as a Santorini tour guide and his donkey and even now, I’m not entirely sure which role I’ll play.
Of spiders and leopards
Between now (August 2016) and China I’ve got to learn to adapt to life on the road. It’s not as though I was an ardent camper in the past, nor am I a veteran traveler in Africa, or the hardened “huntin’, shootin’, fishin’“ type. I’m just a regular guy who, having hit my ‘mid-life’, decided that what I really needed was not an Aurora Blue McLaren 650S Spider with the lightweight wheels and carbon fibre pack, (although as you can see, I’ve given it some thought) or a farmhouse in Tuscany (four bedrooms, a pool, soundproof drum practice room, South facing photographic studio and a five car garage, Thank You for asking) but a six tonne, six wheeled, snail paced one of kind Sprinter van with barely enough room inside to swing a leopard. For the record, I neither recommend nor condone leopard swinging, or indeed the swinging of any wild animal, in an enclosed cabin, mobile or otherwise. But I’m sure I’ll get used to life on the road; I mean, what could possibly go wrong…..
So if you are hare brained enough to want to follow my tyre tracks and buy / build your own overland truck, can I just point out that psychotherapy and Prozac is a cheaper option. A LOT cheaper option. Failing that, if you really are determined to travel the world, discover new countries, enjoy spectacular sunrises, experience foreign cultures, talk your way out of armed robberies, catch malaria, get stuck up to your axles, break down (mechanically AND emotionally) make amazing friends, live life and acquire an enormous back catalogue of exotic stories with which bore your old friends senseless, you may like to view the following pages:
Choosing a chassis; My experience (for what it’s worth) erm, in choosing a chassis.
Choosing a cabin builder; Yep, you guessed it…
You’ll have noticed that I haven’t given my truck a name, partly because I’ve never named any vehicle I’ve ever owned in my life (although I did once have an orange Fiat 127 Sport which I called all sorts of things, but that was a piece of junk and the names I gave it are not fit for public disclosure) but also because I have yet to get to really know it. At some point, it / he / she (I haven’t looked so can’t be sure) may well acquire a nick-name, but that will almost certainly have a lot to do with some wonderful adventure or, equally likely, hair raising dice with death, which my truck and I will experience together in the future. Meanwhile, if you insist on wanting to name it, call it Brian, after the psychedelically challenged snail from Magic Roundabout. But don’t get too attached to the name – it’ll change.