Motorhome Road Trip
After years of hard work, Inma Bonilla & Andrés Valero, the Spanish couple from Barcelona finds the courage to leave the daily routine, to send their motorhome over the ocean and search for the better version of themselves on the roads of Latin America.
“Don’t wait until you have a lot of money to get out. If it is your dream, nothing should stop you. There are many ways to travel and get money on the road. We have met travelers who sell handicrafts and homemade cosmetics, who work during the tourism seasons in the countries they visit, people who prepare and sell food, coffee, cakes…”
When did you understand you needed a break from your daily lives?
Inma: It’s been quite a few years since I thought about changing my life, but I never found the courage to do it. As crazy as it may seem, it’s hard to break with the established rules and leave a comfortable life, with a comfortable house, a stable job, with a fixed salary at the end of the month that allows you to have certain things. There were already too many things but the most important thing was missing: time. Time to live, to enjoy this life, as we only have one! The only thing we can never recover is time. My work made me very bad-tempered and brought out the worst version of me. So it was time to fight for that life change. Luckily, my partner always had the same idea. I used to work as an administrator in the logistics department of a multinational water company. I had been with the same company for 17 years.
Andres: Many years ago the idea was going around in my head, but about 3 years ago, I had a major job change that caused me a lot of stress and problems with my back. There I felt that the time had come to do it because life cannot be all work. We have to learn to take better care of ourselves and fight for our dreams. And the dream of going around the world was in my head for many years. I started traveling with Inma when we got married in 2004, and since then, we have been planning which country to visit next on our holidays. Many times, we asked ourselves the same question when we returned home: why don’t we leave everything and go on a trip around the world? I’ve had several jobs during my 25 years of work. Most of the years I have worked in construction, ironwork and formwork. And in the last few years, I worked as a welder in a factory and finally in a warehouse preparing orders, managing stocks, loading and unloading trucks…
Which part of Spain are you from?
We are both from the city of Barcelona. Before we departed for this trip, we were living in a small village called Vacarisses, about 35 km from Barcelona.
How long did it take for you to get ready for this voyage?
Once we made the decision to go, we planned and saved for 2 years.
TIPS FOR A MOTORHOME TRIP
What should people know if they would like to follow your steps?
– Not everything is wonderful, don’t be dazzled by some Instagram accounts. We don’t regret for a second that we chose this path. There are hard days, but the positive ones make up for a lot.
– Don’t wait until you have a lot of money to get out. If it is your dream, nothing should stop you. There are many ways to travel and get money on the road. We have met travelers who sell handicrafts and homemade cosmetics, who work during the tourism seasons in the countries they visit, people who prepare and sell food, coffee, cakes… Others work online, others sell their photography, or volunteer seasonally to lower the costs…
– Traveling in a van gives you a lot of freedom and allows you to travel in a very economical way. The biggest expense is fuel and food. You would be surprised how little you spend -much less than living in a fixed place. There is no rent, no electricity, water or gas bills in this lifestyle.
– As for what type of vehicle to choose, you can travel with anyone. This should never be an impediment to leave. But if your budget allows it, it would be much better a 4×4, something not very big. The roads in South America are in pretty bad shape and there are a lot of dirt roads. We traveled with a European motorhome made in 1991. It is not a 4×4, which proves that you can.
– There is a very useful application used by all travelers in America, iOverlander. It points out places where you can refuel, buy water and gas, campgrounds, places to camp for free, supermarkets and auto repair shops… It is so useful that it gets the magic out of the adventure a bit.
– Talk a lot with the local people, the best advice is always given by them. They will tell you if the area is safe, where to buy cheaply, what places to visit…
– On the route you will meet many travelers, they are also a good source of information at all times.
TRANSFERING A MOTORHOME OVER THE OCEAN
What is the best way to get a van from Europe to Latin America?
Sending a vehicle from Europe to South America is not very complicated but expensive. It costs between 2,000 and 5,000 Euros depending on the size. They can be sent to Brazil, Uruguay or Argentina. Most travelers do it to the port of Montevideo because it is the one recommended for safety and ease of paperwork. Most ships leave from Belgium or Germany. We shipped it from Barcelona to Montevideo. If you want more information you can check our blog www.rumbovalebon.com where we have a post with all the details.
Have you calculated your average daily budget so far?
Yes, we write down all the expenses daily. We know how much we spend each month on food, fuel, entrance fees, pharmacy, laundry, tours… Our average daily spending is about 20-25 euros.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR SO FAR…
Could you give your personal highlights of the tour?
A: What I could highlight most is the people we have met along the way. In general, they have treated us very well everywhere, I could have a special mention of the province of Misiones, in Argentina. Many people opened the doors of their homes to us there.
I: There are many spectacular landscapes and I could highlight some like the Iguazu Falls, the beaches of Brazil (like Bombas, Bombinhas, 4 Islands, Garopaba and the area of Florianopolis), the Perito Moreno Glacier, the southern highway of Chile, Torres del Paine… And much less known ones. Our experience of volunteering in Sierras de Rocha in Uruguay was one of them. We lived with a Spanish family and shared time with a Turkish girl who prepared us some delicious meals. We learned what life is like in a community in the middle of the mountains. In Posadas, Argentina, we met a couple whom we were following on Instagram. They had traveled in their van from Argentina to Alaska. They opened the doors of their home to us and we shared a beautiful week with them and their family. In Andresito, Argentina, a man paid for our groceries and then took us to his house where we also spent a great weekend with his family. We have many more stories like this, so we always say that the best thing about this lifestyle is the people you meet along the way. People never cease to surprise us. They are very sympathetic to us and our way of life.
The longest stage of your travel was perhaps in Patagonia. What could you suggest to the people who would like to get down to there?
It’s a huge territory and the roads to some places are in very bad condition, so you travel very slowly. It is an incredible place with pure wild nature, an infinity of mountains, lakes, rivers, and glaciers… The trekking to the Torres del Paine in Chile or Laguna de Los Tres on the Mount Fitz Roy in Argentina is not to be missed. Regarding prices, this is a very expensive area, especially in the high season (December, January, February). This is the best time to visit this area, though, as it gets very complicated in the middle of winter with snow and ice.
What are your future plans?
So, our future plan is to continue to travel the world with our motor home for several more years. The idea is to continue with Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and perhaps Venezuela. We don’t have a deadline, so we’ll just let ourselves go and enjoy the ride. We will combine it with visits to Spain. And we don’t know very well how we will focus our professional lives in the future. We would like to dedicate ourselves to issues related to tourism but we don’t have anything in mind yet. We will see.
PITSTOPS >> Uruguay, Brasil, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile.
To follow the motorhome adventures of Inma and Andres on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rumbovalebon/
IGUAZU FALLS >> A special place that makes you feel the force of nature in an inexplicable way. You feel the force of the water first hand, you are soaked by its strength and the noise it makes is amazing.
PERITO MORENO GLACIER >> A giant block of ice that leaves you hypnotized, speechless, hallucinating that something so big has been there for millions of years. Its scandalous dimensions, 30 km long, 5 km wide and a maximum height of 70 meters. And to think that it’s not the biggest glacier in existence. Hearing it roar and seeing chunks of ice fall off is a spectacle of nature. There are many excursions to be able to walk on them or sail very close. Unfortunately, the tours are very expensive, totally out of our budget.
THE SOUTHERN HIGHWAY OF CHILE >> Wild nature, adventure, incredible landscapes, rivers, lakes, lagoons, mountains, fjords, glaciers… And they are also horrible roads, made of gravel and dust that sometimes make you despair. But it pays off!
TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK >> Just going through by car, you can see some incredible landscapes and if you like walking in the mountains, you can enjoy it a lot. There are several trails of different difficulty, even trekking for several days camping on the mountain. Going up to see the lagoon where the towers are is super nice and the views when you arrive are beautiful. This mountain is so perfectly sculpted, with its 3 imposing towers. The trekking is hard, it is 18 km in total and with quite a climb. You need to be in average physical condition. The last hour of the climb is very complicated, with a big drop and a lot of stones. We take almost 10 hours to do it. But the effort is well worth it.
MOUNT FITZ ROY >> The trek to Laguna de Los Tres to see Fitz Roy is of high difficulty. It is 20 km in total, about 10 hours. The first 2 km are uphill, then there is 7 km flat which is very enjoyable because it is easy, but the last km is very very hard. There is a difference in the level of 400 meters in 1 km. It takes at least 1 hour to climb. To do any of these treks it is important to take enough water and food. And adequate clothing. Up in the mountains, it is quite cold.