Why we Choose to Travel in a Van /// 2020 Trip: Canada to Central America

We’re back on the road!  This year we’re planning to drive at least as far as El Salvador and if we’re feeling extra ambitious, maybe all the way to Nicaragua.  I know – this plan throws a wrench in our blog title (‘Slow Sally Goes to Guatemala‘).  Oh well, you know what they say about hindsight.

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So many of you have already sent us well wishes on Instagram and Facebook – thank-you so much for that, we are feeling very loved!

Despite leaving a month earlier than usual this year, we did not escape the winter weather (much to Marc’s disappointment).  At our house in Quebec, the snow started falling in early November and it stayed.  When we woke up on departure day, it was a windy and frigid -9 C (15 F).

We spent the early morning hours of Departure Day loading up the van and cursing the icy driveway as we hauled bins back and forth from the house.  With Sally fully stocked, we said goodbye to our house and headed to Tim Hortons for breakfast – now a Departure Day tradition.  With stomachs full of breakfast sandwiches and barely luke-warm tea (not sure how Tims managed to screw up tea), we hit the road and headed south.

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We’re currently house-mousing with our friend Elias on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, enjoying the beach and sunshine while finishing up a few van projects.

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Why Van Travel?

It’s at this time of year – when we’re planning our travels and getting ready to leave for the winter – that we often get asked why we choose to travel in a van.  I figured this first blog post of the trip would be the perfect opportunity to share our answers to that.  There are so many reasons we love van travel and I’ve listed the top 5 below.

#1 – Dog Friendly

The number one reason that we choose to travel in a van is so that we can go on epic adventures and bring Walter along for the ride.  For me and Marc, long term travel without Walter is unthinkable.  As Walter would make a terrible flyer, overland travel is our best option.  When we adopted Walter, one of our first questions to the rescue was “Does he like car rides?”  They said he loved being in the car and well, the rest is history.

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Walter loves hanging out on his dog bed

 #2 – Flexibility

Travelling in a van means that we never need to worry about organizing transportation or accommodations ahead of time.  This offers us a huge amount of flexibility in deciding when to leave home, what destinations to visit and how long to stay in each destination.  We have become very spoiled in this regard.  I love being able to show up somewhere new, decide that I like it and stay for a month instead of a week.  Or on the flip side, if we are disappointed by a destination or if the weather is crap, we can just move on.

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When the weather doesn’t cooperate – we just move on!

#3 – Comforts of Home

Slow Sally is like a mini apartment, stocked with all the comforts of home.  We have our own bed and pillows, our favourite cookware, staples from home that are hard to find elsewhere (dark chocolate and good tea to name the most important ones) and our very own toilet!  No matter where in the world we find ourselves, Sally feels familiar, comfortable and like home.  This makes travelling in foreign places a whole lot easier and I personally think it helps ward off traveller burn-out.  When we become exhausted after too much travelling, we sometimes decide to hunker down in the van for a day or two until we feel ready to venture back out into the world.

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Slow, easy breakfasts in the van make Sally feel like ‘home’

#4 – Off the Beaten Track

When using public transportation to get around, it can be more difficult to get off the beaten track.  Buses, trains and planes, particularly if they are geared toward tourists, tend to bring you to the most popular places and attractions.  In the van, we can get to the places that are hard for other tourists to visit.  We often find ourselves overnight parking on the streets of little out-of-the way towns that no international tourist has heard of and often enough, these end up being our favourite places to visit.

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Sally takes us to places that would otherwise be very difficult to visit

#5 – Budget Friendly

Traveling in a van is not as cheap as people think but it can be a relatively budget-friendly way to travel.  To keep our expenses low, we camp cheaply or for free as much as possible (check out last year’s post about budget van travel), limit the number of kilometres/miles we do per day, cook in the van for most meals, choose attractions based on best value and do most van projects ourselves.

Do We Miss Other Types of Travel?

I’m not going to lie.  Sometimes we do miss travelling overseas and flying to far-away destinations – arriving the same day instead of the next month.  If we didn’t have Walter, we’d likely still be doing some of that.  But for now, I can say that van travel is absolutely our favourite way to travel.

Want to Keep Track of us While We’re on the Road?

You can follow our progress here on our interactive map.


2 thoughts on “Why we Choose to Travel in a Van /// 2020 Trip: Canada to Central America

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