Vagabonding Case Study: Ellen & Elmar van Drunen

Ellen van Drunen & Elmar van Drunen fietsjunks-3 (1) &

Age: 39 and 40

Hometown: Ridderkerk, The Netherlands (small town near Rotterdam)

Quote:  “Live the life you love, love the life you live!”

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” –
Steve Jobs

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?

Through Facebook, but I haven’t yet used it, sorry.

How long were you on the road?

We are now a little over 8 months on the road and plan to cycle on for another 1.5 years or maybe more. Depends if we are still having fun and of
course money to live the dream. 🙂

Where did you go?

We started our trip in Sao Paulo, Brasil and then cycled to Ushuaia in Southern Argentina. From here we are heading North to probably Alaska.
After that we don’t know yet, but we don’t want to fly directly back to the Netherlands. We want to cycle our way home. Actually, we don’t have a
home anymore in the Netherlands, so we are free to end up where ever we want. Only time will tell.

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?

We have no kids and have been saving ever since we started bicycle touring on holidays. 10 years ago now. In the mean time we did a lot of short
travels on our bikes, that’s why the saving may took a little longer. Elmar (my husband) used to be a bicycle mechanic in one of Netherlands
best bicycle travel stores. I (Ellen) earned my money through some photography and working as an internal communication adviser for a Dutch
insurance company.

Did you work or volunteer on the road?

No, not yet. If we run out of money and still feel the need to continue cycling, we probably will.

Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?

That’s a tough one! With still many miles/kilometers to go… 🙂
So far, the Indian Himalayas are top on our list, but during this trip we had so many great places. And we met so many friendly people. We’d really
liked the waterfalls of Iguazu and the volcanic area in Southern Chile.

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?

Least favorite: hmmm, difficult. We don’t really know. The fact is, when we don’t like it, we just leave! That’s freedom.

Most disappointing: Carretera Austral. Not that we didn’t like it, but our expectations were a little higher I guess. Maybe in time we probable
remember only the good stuff! But it was a lot dustier and dryer than we expected.

Most challenging: Patagonian winds.. man oh man, we’ll never complain about the wind again! And of course the high Andes passes were
challenging, because of the altitude and the long distances between water points and because it’s freezing at night!

Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?

Most useful: our Santos Travel Lites bicycles, no problem yet after over 11.000 kilometers and our Cumulus sleeping bags.
Least useful: Don’t know actually. After 10 years of bicycle touring I guess we’ve got our gear in place.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?

The freedom. Nobody tells us what to do, this is our life, our choices. No obligations tho whom whatsoever.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?

Leaving the people we love behind. When a close family member or friend is in need, we are far away… I sometimes miss the spontaneous visits or the
homely lifestyle.

What lessons did you learn on the road?

Take your time! Be patient! It’s not a race!

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?

I don’t know, difficult question.. We definitely don’t want to be ‘tramps’, we’d love to camp in the wild and it doesn’t matter if that are
many days in a row, but every now and then we do like a nice little hotel with a good bed and a hot shower. Maybe it’s our age (39 and 40), we are
just not the hippie kind. And we like our privacy. I guess this doesn’t really answer your question.. I just don’t know. 🙂

If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?

What’s with all the photography gear!! 🙂 Do you really need it?

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?

The first step is the hardest. If you really want to do this, set a specific date, don’t say: someday. Someday never comes! Better have tried
and failed, than not have tried at all.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?

Well, this one is still going on. I really don’t know, but our Bucket List is a long one… 🙂


Read more about Ellen and Elmar on their blogs, Fietsjunks & Travel the World by Bicycle , or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Website: Fietsjunks & Travel the World by Bicycle Twitter: @TTWBB

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Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Case Study: Ellen & Elmar van Drunen  | October 31, 2014
Category: General, Vagabonding Case Studies

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