Simplistic Overland Travel Lifestyle: Sergio & Eleni Interview

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Welcome to the next interview from our Overland Interview series, where we've had a pleasure to talk with Sergio and Eleni. They are a couple from Brazilinfo-icon who have given up on their comfort zone and embarked on the adventurous path. In this interview, they will talk about their life as overlanders and some life lessons this lifestyle has taught them. 

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

We are a couple from Brazil traveling the world. My name is Sergio, I'm 45 years old and I worked all my life as sales representative with many different products on whole South Americainfo-icon. My wife Eleni, 46 years old, was always very entrepreneurial besides having many different jobs. She has dedicated her last 13 years with a school bus transporting children from/to various schools.

We had a normal life in the past years, with our jobs, cars, apartment and with our monthly income that used to give us all comfort and security we were always looking for.

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

Sergio and Eleni initially started a project that would help homeless people and stray dogs, and it has grown so much from that!

We believe that everything you do for others will come back to you somehow. Due to this and based in our life experience, we decided to create a group of people to somehow support the homeless people in our home country and also their dogs. And after 7 years of working in parallel with this we decided to move a step further in our life in order to start traveling the world partially for this project.

That means feeding stray dogs along the way. This project called “Projeto Mundo Cão” is very simple, as our life is, and we are not trying to change the world but inspiring people to spread the love for the dogs without home, simply because these dogs have a lot to teach us due to their unconditional love.

If you use part of your time to help, to spread something good, you will be a better person, especially if this love, this action, is free of interest. It’s made for something that can’t give you something “material” back. Feeding a dog in the road is very simple but this simple action bears many  teachings for us.

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

We started our trip in Brazil in February 2015 and since then we visited 19 countries. In the Americasinfo-icon, from Patagonia to Alaska and Spaininfo-icon, Portugal and Moroccoinfo-icon.

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

We just follow our hearts and the desire to know different places and people. Once we have the next country of our list, or the country on the way, we do some research on the internet to know about basics related to culture, food and climate.

For more specific information we are always looking for other traveler’s experiences and try to create a basic plan. The ideal route is based on all this information together but we never made too many plans and the people along the way are the main source for everything we need.

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

This is the vehicle Sergio and Eleni are driving through their overland adventures.

We drive our sexy white Land Rover Defender 110 named Mundrunga. This model has a 2.5L, 300Tdi Diesel engine. Very simple and reliable. All the modifications we did on her was to enable us to sleep in our pop-up roof but also inside, in case we don’t want, or can’t camp. This helps us saving a lot of money and worries.

We usually try never to pay for overnight in order to save money. So, every place we feel safe (after asking locals, search for info, etc) is a place for sleeping. And talking about driving a Land Rover, this is not a vehicle, it’s a lifestyle. Love it or hate it.

No other vehicle will make more friends along the road than a Land Rover! It’s an experience!

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

I have basic mechanical knowledge and am always learning. It’s very important (or the most important thing) to have some experience dealing with the problems of your car. This is the difference between a safe and calm trip or the hell on earth. All maintenance we try to do ourselves, if not alone or with a friend, using the help and working together with mechanics as assistant, learning.

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

Knowing each other well is an essential thing when considering for a change in a lifesyle.

As said, we are together for 24 years already, and 19 of marriage. We know each other very well. This doesn’t mean too much if you don’t follow some basics of respect and friendship. On long term trips it’s very important to know each other, exercise the patience, be able to change your mind, learn, be humble, understand the limits each one has and keep the mind always open for learning.

We are really good friends and like to be together, do things together and keep the good mood trying to smile for everything. Keep the good vibe and NEVER go sleep without having solved any kind of problem. A little bit of everything of this is the key to manage a good relationship while traveling.

8. How are you funding your road trips? (savings, sponsors, working abroad)

We have an apartment rented in Brazil that gives us some income, running around 700 dollars per month. Some little savings in the bank for emergencies and all people offer that can bring some money were always welcome. Anything, if we can do it, we do. Simple like that.

Believe it or not, and a lot of people will not agree with this, the most important thing is not the money you have to fund a life on the road but the right amount of courage and determination to make it happen. Being strong and having this courage is much more important that money. If you have this you will be more open to the changes and challenges that will come and the transition from a regular life to something completely new and dynamic will be easier.

Another thing to consider, and we follow this on top of everything, is to live a very simple life. Simple life normally means less needs, less luxury, less worries and consequently less money for afford. Courage for the change and living a simple life are the perfect start.

9. What does meaningful traveling mean to you?

It means basically to meet people and make friends. Help and know how to accept help. Observe the nature feeling the freedom. Being a better person. The world is full of things and good people are just waiting that you find them. Through traveling we understand the world better and definitely the more we learn the more we see that we know nothing.

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

We were robbed two times in these 3 years. First time was in Puno, Peruinfo-icon. They opened the car and cleaned everything we had. After one year we bought everything back and in Villahermosa, Mexicoinfo-icon someone broke one window and robbed the same things again. Was a lesson for us to not relax so much while in big cities.

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

Overlanding gives us the freedom we were looking for. We go anywhere at any time, never being stuck with tour agencies. We make more friends everyday. Overlanding puts you to the test every day and makes you discover that you are capable of accomplishing much more than you imagine. Overlanding makes us stronger.

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

Have in mind that dreams are built daily through your daily decisions. Have goals and focus on them. Be humble, be simple, be open for the unknown and respect the fear but never let it become a wall impossible to climb. Excessive planning is also detrimental. Travel light without too much weight and most importantly, make sure to be happy on top of anything.

13. What are your next plans?

This year the big goal is to drive up to the Arctic ocean and after that ship our Defender to drive Europeinfo-icon, Africainfo-icon and Asiainfo-icon, or whatever the life brings to us!

Believe in you. Be always happy!


Interested in Sergio's and Eleni's journey? Make sure to check out their website and follow them on their Facebook and Instagram! We hope someone will get motivated by their story and start their own long-term traveling lifestyle.

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!