Believe it or not, I take pride in the fact that we lived in our 4Runner for a year and are about to embark on another journey in the Burro (sweet name huh? ;-)). Whenever the topic gets brought up I confidently announce that the first place Jamie and I moved into was a 1988 Toyota 4Runner, at which point Jamie rushes in with a solid explanation as to why we lived in a car. Apparently living in or out of a car isn’t a bucket list item for most.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that if you don’t know us, you are probably asking yourself that very question. “Why would someone want to move into an SUV with their significant other and 50lb dog?”. Well, I’ll tell ya…to travel the Pan-American Highway from San Diego to Costa Rica, that’s why! Yep, you heard it right, we took a year off from “adulting” and traveled from San Diego, Ca to Pavones, Costa Rica. Our route took us through Baja and Mainland, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras (for a hot minute), El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
The Pan-American or Pan-Am Highway is a stretch of road that runs the length of the Americas from Alaska all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina. According to Wikipipedia, at 30,000 kilometers, the Pan-American highway is the world’s longest “motorable road”. Traveling the Pan-American Highway by vehicle, bike, motorcycle, even on foot (yes a man ran it-click the link it’s incredible) is a journey that people from all over the world travel to Alaska to embark on. We met a ton of amazing people, both travelers and locals, and saw some amazing things along the way.
OK, now I’m thinking that your next question is, “How did you fit everything from your life into that tiny vehicle?!”. The answer is simple and can be explained in one word, purge. That’s right, moving into a small space gives you the opportunity to really look at your needs from day to day and get rid of the clutter. Do you really need 5 pairs of running shoes? 10 pairs of jeans? A juicer, 5 pie pans, a computer, laptop and iPad? What are the necessities and what can go? Last trip we went crazy with the purging and came back to literally, nothing. I didn’t have any clothes except what we had taken on the trip. We didn’t have any furniture or even a place to live and it felt good. It felt so good to be able to live a simple, uncluttered life.
Now we’ve gotten to that point again and it is so much easier to decide what stays and what can go. We are, however, keeping a few things in storage that were in “parental storage” last time. Just keep sakes and clothes that we will need when we come back through San Diego and head North into a cooler climate. We also learned what worked and what didn’t in regards to the 4Runner and our camp setup. So, without further adieu, here’s a quick glimpse into the Runner…
There were quite a few things that we brought along this trip that we also had on the last trip, surfboards, SUPs, clothes (obvi), bedding, etc. Although we were content during the last trip there were a few luxury items that we knew we wanted next time around.
The first thing that I desperately wanted this time was a fridge. On our previous trip we only had a small cooler and that did not keep ice for very long down in the warm climates of Mexico and Central America. Plus, we had traveled with friends that all had fridges and I was constantly green with envy when we went to the store. Cheese, yogurt, real milk!? So this time around we decided a fridge was a must and after months of comparing and planning we went with the ARB Fridge Freezer 50 qt. Considering everything that we wanted in a fridge, ample storage & divided compartments, plus the size & length, this was the best choice for us.
The second additions that go right along with the fridge are the Goal Zero Solar Panels and Yeti Solar Generator. This allows us to run the fridge through solar without having to pull from the main car battery. You can see the fridge in the background in the picture below. It can slide in and out of the car for easy access.
The third luxury item, our Tsuga umbrella, is actually more of an upgrade. Previously, we brought two Sportbrellas. They did the trick, kept us dry in the rainy season and out of the sun in the heat, but they were a constant battle. They would blow away on the beach and were a hassle to attach to the car. So, in order to keep our sanity we decided to upgrade and boy are we glad we did! The whole Tsuga system is fabulous, there is one large umbrella that can easily attach to the car or to the ground to create a tent like shape. There are also two side panels and a front and back panel that you can add. Most definitely a fabulous decision.
Along with the fridge, solar, generator, and Tsuga we also added a few smaller items, cast iron skillets, new Partner Steel Camp Stove, a new set of knives, & solar shower. When it comes to overland travel its the little things that keep you sane and comfortable on the road.
Not only did we add new things to the Burro but we also changed the setup within as well. Jamie extended the bed about two feet in the back, & two inches on either side so that it touches the walls of the truck and lowered it 3 inches to give us more head room. We added a shelf that runs along one side and netting that attaches to the bottom of the shelf to hold random stuff. Last but not least, we added a pullout drawer (pictured above) that holds our kitchen, including the stove, pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates & bowls.
So, that’s it! If you’ve stuck with me to the end thanks for reading!
Until next time…