By Rebecca Drew
MEET the couple who quit their day jobs for the trip of a lifetime in their 1988 Volkswagen T3 Syncro van called Luz.
The spectacular pictures show Sandro Alvarez (37), a sociologist and musician from Zürich, Switzerland and Gabriella Hummel, a freelance journalist and writer (26) from Vaduz, Liechtenstein, also known as Vanabundos, enjoying life on the road as they travel through The Americas after shipping their van from Belgium to Seattle, USA where their adventure started.
Other envy-inducing shots show Gabriella, who is also a yoga teacher, practicing early morning yoga on the beach in Zipolite, Mexico with a feline friend and Sandro taking to the driver’s seat.
In other breath-taking photos, the couple can be seen keeping up with the van’s maintenance with Sandro reading up on the van’s engine and Gabriella cleaning the solar panels. So far, the couple have clocked up 15,000 miles in eight months and are currently in Chetumal, Mexico.
“We always wanted to go traveling together, two years ago we went to Bali and rented a van there to drive around the island,” said Gabriella and Sandro.
“We loved the independence that comes with this style of traveling so we decided to buy our own van and discover the American continent in it.
“We started in Seattle, USA and drove to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in eight months, in between there were many stops and detours.
“We went to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, Gabriella did an Advanced Yoga Teacher Training in Baja California for a month and we rented an apartment in Mexico City for a couple of weeks and almost stayed in Zipolite on the Oaxacan Coast in Mexico forever.
“It’s exciting because every day is different and it’s our own responsibility to make the best out of it.
“The best thing is that we’re absolutely free to decide what we want to do, we have the time for everything and we take it, we’re reading and learning a lot because we can!
“If we like a place, we stay as long as we want and make it our temporal home which is beautiful.
“The absolute best thing of all is the people, the locals and the other travellers we meet – that’s what really makes this experience heart and mind opening.”
The couple say that there are two types of days on the road, driving days and non-driving days. They also say that the van does not feel as small a space as it is.
“It’s like having your house with you all the time, the van is the perfect match for us,” they explained.
“Not only does it look very nice inside, it is also very practical.
“The water filtration system and the solar panels do a great job in making us very independent.
“We love living in the van together and it doesn’t feel like it’s a small space at all.
“We are always very lucky with the weather so we spend most of the time outside anyway.
“There’s two kinds of days, driving days and no driving days, either way we usually wake up with the sun at around 6.30am, we oil pull and then Gabriella goes outside for her yoga morning practice.
“Meanwhile Sandro prepares the Maté, an Argentinean tea that you drink with a straw, and we drink and hopefully enjoy the view.
“Sometimes all of this happens inside, if we camp in a parking lot or in a city.
“After that we either start driving or enjoy the day reading, working, playing music, chilling and getting to know our surroundings by walking, hiking or swimming.
“Before dinner, Sandro goes for a run and at 9.30pm we’re probably already sleeping.”
The couple are enjoying traveling slowly and are planning the rest of their trip after Mexico.
“The plan is to drive all the way down to Argentina where Gabriella’s family is from, we’re travelling pretty slowly, so this could take us a while,” they explained.
“Right now, we’re having issues to get a visa for Belize for Gabriella, so we might have to skip that and drive to Guatemala directly.
“In four weeks, we’ll have to leave Mexico because our visa expires.
“We love this country a lot and almost don’t want to leave, but there’s so much more to see and experience.
“We’re currently trying to find out how to transform our work and to be able to do it regardless of our location.”
Gabriella and Sandro say that there is nothing stopping anyone from doing the same if they want to and say that they do not miss their old lifestyle.
“So many people tell us that they would love to do something like this and usually they come up with all kinds of reasons why it’s not possible,” they added.
“We always tell them if we can do it then seriously everybody can.
“When we decided to do this we had no money, no clue about cars, nothing but here we are now – because we made a decision, without excuses.
“It’s very interesting to observe oneself during a trip like this, the biggest shift is probably that the more time we’re away from ‘the old life’, the less we care about all the things we cared so much about before.
“We want less stuff and more time, we don’t want to eat good food in restaurants, we want to make great food ourselves.
“We’re much less scared of the future.”
For more information see instagram.com/vanabundos