Overland Travel as A Lifestyle: Nico & Lola Interview

Friday, July 20, 2018

Welcome to our very first Overlander Interview where we've had a pleasure to talk with Nico & Lola. They're going to talk about their lifestyle and what it takes to be an overland traveler. We hope someone will get motivated by their story and start their own long-term traveling lifestyle. Let's learn more about their journey!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your name and where are you from?

We are Nico and Lola, both from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Nicolas Poggi. 30 years. He is always wondering how things work and he loves to put together and disarm whatever comes his way. What he proposes, he does with efficiency and dedication. He left Buenos Aires as an Industrial Engineer and during the trip also became a mechanic, a cook, a photographer, a craftsman, a merchant and many other things that he never imagined. Behind the facade of a serious man there is a child who loves to go out and play. He was the one that proposed to leave everything and start this adventure. He provides the logical and orderly part of the relationship.

Lucila Munilla Lacasa. 30 years. Journalist and lover of photography and writing. Restless, spontaneous, relaxed and quite messy. She is always looking for new projects and challenges. She enjoys food as much as a good song. She has a need to travel that can not be controlled.

2. You have done some amazing road trips, how did your journey start?

We started in Buenos Aires August 10th, 2014. We decided to travel like this after a short vacation in Peruinfo-icon. We sold everything we had, bought the van and started.

3. How was it to give up your old life and leaving your friends and family behind?

That was the most difficult: to leave everything we were used to, all the amenities. But we feel we didn’t leave behind our families and friends because we keep in contact everyday.

4. Please, tell us more about your overlanding experiences, where did you drive?

From Buenos Aires up to Alaska and back to Argentina (now we are heading Ushuaia), all the trip in our Volkswagen Bus from 1981.

5. You have visited many places and people, what were your personal highlights?

Enjoying the sight of the Aurora Borealis somewhere in Canada.

It is very difficult to choose one place because it depends not on the place itself but on how we felt there. Alaska was amazing, also Canadainfo-icon where we could watch the Aurora Borealis. Colombiainfo-icon has an incomparable human warmth and Mexicoinfo-icon a unique diversity and tradition.

6. How do you plan a new adventure and how do you find the ideal route?

Since we started in 2014 we never stop. For us, it’s not a journey, it’s a way of life. We don’t plan much, we let ourselves be led along the way.

7. What car are you driving and how are you usually sleeping on the road?

We live in a Volkswagen Bus/Kombi from 1981. We prepared it with a bed, kitchen and everything we need to live. We always sleep there, never go to hotels, sometimes to people's homes.

8. How is your mechanical knowledge, how much can you fix yourself?

We make everything we can by ourselves and if it’s very complicated or we don’t know what to do, we contact a mechanic, most of the times the one that the local Volkswagen club recommends us. About 80% it is done by us.

9. You travel as a couple, how do you manage being so close all the time?

We got used to it and now we cannot imagine traveling separately, we are together 24 hours a day. For us, the key is to solve problems quickly, not to get offended and to divide the tasks.

10. What does meaningful traveling mean to you?

We believe that a trip should change the way you see things, otherwise you must change the way you travel.

11. What are the worst things that happened to you on the road?

We didn’t have big problems, we cannot think of anything.

12. What is the best thing about overlanding, why are you traveling like this?

Freedom, meeting local people, learning about new places. Freedom, again.

13. Traveling is your new lifestyle, do you miss anything from a stationary life?

Sometimes we miss not having to make decisions everyday like where to sleep, whether to stay or to go and to have our own place were we feel in peace. But most of the times we don’t miss anything.

14. What is the most valuable lesson since you are on the road together?

Nico & Lola have accepted the minimalistic lifestyle, and they feel more free than ever!

We learned that we can live with much less than we thought, that by living like this we are more free. And that the most valuable thing is to learn about other people and customs.

15. You earn money by selling handcraft, what and where can we get them?

We sell earrings, bracelets, paintings, stickers, postcards with pictures that we take. We work on the street, our bus is also a shop so we sell from there, where we arrive we park and work. We also accept donations: https://kombipalnorte.com/ayudanos/

16. Do you have any advices for people who want to do their first big road trip?

Just do it. Don’t wait to have all the money or everything solved before starting, the road gives you the answers.

17. What are your next plans?

Just keep on traveling!

18. You are heading to Ushuaia, will you stop there or explore other continents?

We don’t know, we don’t plan much. For now, we just know we want to go to Ushuaia, then Chile, and from there everything is unknown.

19. Can you tell us a bit more about your journey?

Kombi pa'l Norte, a classic VW bus from 1981 is Nico & Lola's choice of overlanding vehicle.

Kombi pa’l Norte was born from our desire to travel, know and learn. After a 15-day vacation in Peru, we decided that we did not want to spend our lives in an office yearning for the time when the holidays arrived. That’s how we decided to give up our comfortable jobs, get a van and launch ourselves into this adventure that has been going on for almost 4 years.

The vehicle that we chose to make this trip is a 1981 Volkswagen Bus call Dora. After months of work, we turned it into a beautiful motorhome. She is not only our means of transport, she is our home and a faithful companion that never abandoned us in these more than 85,000 kilometers of road. She took us across cities and towns of America and let us know many landscapes, different customs and unique characters.

We left Buenos Aires on August 10, 2014 on a cold morning that turned into a warm goodbye surrounded by family and friends. We drove steadily and two years after we arrived to Alaska.

Alaska was for us a symbolic place. It was the easy answer to the repeated question “how far do you want to go?”. Alaska represented the farthest, the other side of the world. When we arrived on July 14, 2016, we felt it was not unattainable, Alaska has been always near.

Reaching the top of the world meant that we had to start going down. Now we are returning to Argentina slowly, visiting the places of America for which we have not yet passed and revisiting those that left a mark on us. We do not have a return date nor do we have any certitude about what to do when we get back. The only thing we know is that we want to travel through our country and why not, go to the end of the world (or the beginning of everything): Ushuaia.

20. How do you manage to travel so much?

We are not millionaires and we do not have sponsors. We were also worried about this issue before leaving and when we consulted with travelers, they all told us not to worry. We were not sure how that could be, but we confirmed it. We sell handicrafts (bracelets, earrings and necklaces we make ourselves), postcards with photos we take while traveling, T-shirts and stickers. People help us a lot! As we live in our van we don’t spend much, that’s the key!

If you want to learn more about Nico & Lola's journey, check out their website. You can also follow their journey on their Facebook page, Instagram page and Youtube channel. They also have a world map of their journey!

Adrian Sameli founder and editor of aSabbatical.com
Travel mindfully to meet local people around the world and embrace new cultures. Get inspired and inspire others!