The ultimate squeeze
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.