The ul­ti­mate squeeze

Life & Style Weekend - - READ -

TWO peo­ple who have been liv­ing in very close quar­ters since ship­ping their ve­hi­cle to South Amer­ica in July for a year-long road trip share their ex­pe­ri­ence with Week­end.

◗ Names: Ash­ley Seiler, 34, and Me­gan Shee­han, 34

◗ Make and model of ve­hi­cle: 1987 Toy­ota Land-Cruiser Troop-car­rier

◗ Mod­i­fi­ca­tions: Pop­top roof for sleep­ing plat­form, heat ex­changer for hot water, two water tanks (to­tal 80 litres), sec­ond fuel tank (to­tal 150 litres), so­lar pan­els, in­vert­ers, sec­ond bat­tery, sus­pen­sion up­grade, liv­ing quar­ters.

◗ What we’ve done: We shipped to Mon­te­v­ideo, Uruguay, and have driven 21,000km down to Ushuaia be­fore head­ing north again, criss­cross­ing be­tween Ar­gentina and Chile and in­tend to con­tinue north.

◗ Ad­van­tages: The sin­gle big­gest ad­van­tage of liv­ing in a small house on wheels is hav­ing the free­dom to go where you want and choose a new view ev­ery day. You could do it with a car you bought here but by tak­ing your own you know the ve­hi­cle is trust­wor­thy, how to fix it and have set it up to your re­quire­ments with mod­i­fi­ca­tions that make day to day life easier and al­low you to go fur­ther and have backup re­sources. Driv­ing a novel ve­hi­cle also proves a talk­ing point with lo­cals and trav­ellers and can be an ice­breaker.

◗ De­scribe the liv­ing space: There’s not a lot of it, but what lit­tle space we do have has been max­imised. Ash­ley de­signed the con­fig­u­ra­tion con­cept and we did the fitout our­selves – mak­ing ev­ery­thing from cup­boards to seat cush­ions to the hot water sys­tem. We used lighter coloured woods, clean lines with flush fin­ishes and neu­tral tones to try to en­hance a feel­ing of space. Along one side is a bench seat with lids fit­ted with gas struts and stor­age un­der­neath and side pan­els that fold out into a bed for sleep­ing in ex­tremely cold or windy con­di­tions or an ex­tra bed if we have another per­son trav­el­ling with us. The other side of the in­te­rior wall has cab­i­nets and cup­boards for stor­ing clothes, elec­tron­ics, cook­ing uten­sils and food with a space near the back door for a bench­top, fridge, stove, switch­board for things like in­te­rior lights and water pumps, tap for the shower etc. The shower folds out from one side and a shade awning from the other side. The awning bags also make a con­ve­nient stor­age spot for thin things such as fish­ing rods.

◗ How to live in it: It might sound ob­vi­ous or bor­ing but never be­fore has the say­ing “a place for ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­thing in its place” been more im­por­tant. It’s quicker and easier to move around when ev­ery­thing is tidy and or­gan­ised and aside from cre­at­ing a more pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment it’s also safer to have ev­ery­thing put away than have loose items rolling around in the car when driv­ing. If we’re not out ex­plor­ing a new place we tend to make the most of the out­door liv­ing spa­ces and gen­er­ally cook and eat out­side and use the in­te­rior space mostly just for driv­ing and sleep­ing.

◗ The big­gest chal­lenge: The in­cli­na­tion is of­ten to fill what­ever space you have and chuck ev­ery­thing in “just in case” – a mis­take we made at the start. The first cou­ple of months was spent whit­tling away things like that gui­tar we might one day get around to learn­ing. If an item has more than one use, all the bet­ter.


The in­te­rior of the Troopy Ash­ley Seiler and Me­gan Shee­han are us­ing to travel through South Amer­ica.


Ash­ley Seiler and Me­gan Shee­han's troopy in Lon­quimay.

Ash­ley Seiler and Me­gan Shee­han are trav­el­ling through South Amer­ica.

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