One year, 9 months and 29 days ago, I moved to San Francisco and bought an IKEA bedset from the Rehm Family – Angela, Jason and Bode.Â As I settled into San Fran, they headed out of the Bay area to live the dream—travel the world in their 1971 red Volkswagen bus. Little did I know my transaction would help finance one of the most epic travel dreams ever.
Good thing for the rest of us, we can live the dream vicariously on their well-documented and well-photographed blog, Bodes Well.
The start of the journey around the world in a VW bus. Aug. 2009 Alameda, CA via Bodes Well
“We spent our first year driving across North and Central America. We’re almost finished with our second year and we’re in the middle of South America. We have good days. We have bad days. We have amazing days. Join us as we look for inspiration along the way.” -About Us on Bodes Well
Most travel dreams or travel journeys that people live out seem impossible to achieve, and it seems as though the dreamers are people you would never encounter in real life. (The stuff fancy travel magazines are made of.)
That’s why I’m infatuated with this one–it’s real people who I know, who left real jobs to seek out a real adventure in a really awesome car.
The difference between dreaming and reality is doing.
Bodes Well is just that.
As they traverse the world’s wonders, repair their VW bus and follow the locals’ best recommendations, Angela, Jason and 6-year-old Bode challenge me to be a better citizen of the world and consumer of cultures. They inspire me to discover what’s possible in life.
To find out how they make their fantasy travelogue of a life possible, I asked Angela, now living in Bolivia for the moment, some questions.
What sparked the idea of your journey?
My husband, Jason, definitely initiated the idea. He had been wanting to spend more time with the family and was considering some major career changes. When he had a health scare, it was a catalyst to take action and live more deliberately.
We were pretty avid travelers, and Jason had always loved tinkering with vintage Volkswagens. I guess he combined the two and spent a good few months convincing me what a great idea it would be.
The VW bus route–so far. via Bodes Well
Bodes Well feature in a South African magazine. Full story here.
How were you able to leave work/house? What did that transition involve?
We sold, donated or gave away almost everything we owned, including 2 other cars. Getting rid of our belongings was actually one of the most time-consuming tasks. It is amazing the things you can accumulate over the years. We don’t miss any of it.
We’ve always been good savers, so we had a head-start. We continued to save every penny we could and made no extraneous purchases for a year. Taking our time to sell our belongings on the internet to maximize our return also helped. We became very familiar with the staff at the post office.
How long did you plan for your trip? And how do you currently plan your travels from the road?
We took about a year to refurbish our ’71 VW bus, get rid of our stuff and consider the trip logistics. We actually didn’t plan very much of the trip itself. We think it’s better to be flexible and figure it out as you go. Locals like to tell you about the next great spot, and it’s often not in any guidebook.
The Most Dangerous Road in the World,” La Ruta de Muerte, Bolivia… in a ’71 VW bus. via BodesWell
How is it traveling with your son–what’s his take on the BodesWell journey?
It’s great! He’s always been a good traveler and explorer. We have a new adventure every day, so we always have interesting things to talk about.
He very social and plays with kids that speak all different languages. Families are welcomed and celebrated in the Latin countries, so Bode has opened up doors to us that we would have never experienced if we didn’t have a kid.
Right now, seeing the world is Bode’s version of normal. He has a say in every decision and helps plan our destinations and activities. He’s already making plans for future trips when he’s older.
Machu Picchu with the family–Angela, Bode and Jason. via Bodes Well
How long do you plan to travel the world?
We are 22 months into a 1 year trip. The lack of planning mentioned above tends to do this. It’s also more fun. We just don’t know when it will be over.
What’s a typical day in your life?
There is no typical day. We still do typical things we would do at home. We eat every meal together, we read books, we play board games. Except, the location changes daily. Some days are really exciting, like swimming with pink dolphins or visiting Machu Picchu. Other days we spend looking for gasoline or doing laundry. But even trying to do laundry in some places can be pretty adventurous.
How do you keep up with your blog?
It can be pretty difficult to find internet service, especially with enough bandwidth to upload photos. And, writing and editing photos takes quite a bit of time. But, we love the idea of giving Bode something to look back on and read when he’s older. It also allows his grandparents to check on him.
What has been unexpected is that so many other people have found us and are traveling vicariously along with us. We’ve even been featured in magazines in Africa and Europe. The more readers we get, the more obligated we are to keep writing. People send us worried emails if we haven’t updated our blog recently!
Angela, travel blogging from the VW bus.via Bodes Well
What’s been the hardest obstacle you encountered?
Any problems we encounter all seem to have the same relevance. None of us can go anywhere until they are resolved. We’re all in the same boat(bus).
Mechanical problems with an old vehicle are par for the course. We’ve broken down in just about every country, but it’s part of trip. If someone gets sick, it’s always trying. Our whole family living in a 50 square foot space doesn’t make it any easier.
What advice would you give to people who want to travel the world?
Just do it! If you don’t do it this year, you’ll just be another year older when you finally do.
Angela and Bode in the setting Mexican sun. via Bodes Well
I sincerely hope the Rehm family travels as far and as long as their imaginations can stretch. (Thank you, Angela for taking the time to talk with me!)
As they remain my real-life travel dreaming, scratch that, travel doing role models, I know nada es imposible in life.
For a continuos stream of “oohs and ahhs” and adventure tales, you can follow their VW bus travels at BodesWell.org.
How do you plan to travel the world?
Katie dreams to complete her career transformation from corporate copywriter to world traveling health coach. In one year she’ll document the launch of her wellness travel business, Real World Wellness, on 8 Women Dream. Follow her progress–or procrastinations–every Monday.