The Brown Bus

Becci and Mark are currently driving from Edmonton, Alberta down to Argentina in their ’78 VW Westfalia bus.  They’re set to wrap up in September 2014.  Check out their website for amazing photographs and adventures.

Make sure to check out the photos above – “Lo Gas” taken by Claire Broun, friend of the couple and companion for one month leg of the trip.  The remaining beautiful shots by Mark Galloway of The Brown Bus.

Meet Becci, after the jump.


Tell me how your trip came to be. 

The idea of a long road trip was born when we lived in London England. We talked about driving as much as possible from London to Australia. Then our plans changed and we moved to Canada in 2009. Mark and I were talking one day and I said something like “do you think we could drive to Argentina?” He laughed and told me he was already looking into it.

How long had you and Mark been dating when you hit the road? 

About 9 years, so a pretty long time.

What were the reactions of family, friends, and coworkers? I’ve noticed a combo of “you’re crazy” and “I’m jealous” – in that order. 

Haha yeah, lots of “I’m jealous”. The occasional “you’re crazy”, that was mainly in America. Our families say things like “you have to come back to the real world soon” and paraphrased (only slightly)…”when are you coming home to get married and make babies”.

Why the Brown Bus?

We both dreamed of having a vintage VW. We did a bit of research “to be responsible”, and it still seemed like a good option. Then it was just a matter of searching and waiting for the right van. Our other car in Edmonton (Canada) was a brown wood panelled station wagon, so we definitely have a thing for brown cars, they just seem to find us.

How has your relationship changed? 

I think that we know each other better, the good, the bad and the ugly. For a long time my relationship with Mark has been the biggest constant in my life. We had a friend visit us in Guatemala who said that we seemed closer. Its hard to tell sometimes when you see the person everyday, kind of like weight loss. But looking back I’d say we’re closer for sure.

Do you have separate duties in making van life work or do you share responsibilities? 

I think that we share most responsibilities and definitely make decisions together. Although, I am the boss of “the food” department, and Mark does the mechanical related work on the van.

What have you learned about Mark that you might not have without your little brown bus?

This is a hard one. I can’t think of anything specific because we’ve been together for quite a long time.

How do you get “alone time” when you share such a small space?

I think our driving time can be alone time. We both just sort of zone out sometimes and are alone with our own thoughts. Sometimes one of us will go for a walk or a bike ride. Having friends and family come and visit has been great, it helps to break things up a bit.

What piece of gear/equipment did you not know you would need? 

A food processor. We bought one in Colombia. We don’t have an oven, so it has helped broaden the range of food we can eat. I love potato chips, but I’m happy to be able to make healthier snack options as well, like avocado hummus.

Snap a shot of your 5 must-take items for the road. 

  • Aero-press (for coffee)/tea (it is hard to buy good black tea on the road)
  • -12 sleeping bags (have saved us on all those chilly nights)
  • Stove (its important to us that we can cook our own food)
  • Camera (obviously)
  • Fridge (has been really great for storing dairy products, produce and leftovers).

Any “oh crap” moments? 

Haha literal or figurative? We’ve had both. I’ll go with figurative…like driving two hours in the wrong direction, getting stuck/bogged, and locking the keys in the car. The worst would probably be getting into an accident on the mountain roads in Colombia, which was totally our fault. We scraped the side of the van and busted the front of the other guys semi. We paid $150, but most importantly walked away unscathed.

Is there a piece of advice you wish someone had given you before you set out on your trip? 

Just spend the money and get good gear before you leave. It took us months to get an awning and table, just because we were being cheap. The awning we have now is cheap and a bit flimsy, we should have just paid the money and ordered a good one.

Your plan is to drive to Patagonia until you run out of road. You’re almost to Argentina. Any idea what’s next or are you headed into the ocean? 

We are planning to move home to Australia so we are looking forward to camping and surf trips down under. Also, an Australian tour is in the dream phase of planning.


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