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Vagabundos in a van: Meet the Vanabundos

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For Gabriella and Sandro, every day is an adventure in their rolling home, Luz

“Everyday is an adventure, really. We never know what is going to happen.” This is what Sandro Alvarez, 37, has to say about life on the road with his partner Gabriella Hummel, 26.

Originally from Switzerland, the couple say they have always wanted to go travelling together. Two years ago they went on a trip to Bali and rented a van from which to explore the island. They both fell in love with the independence of this style of travelling and by the end of the trip had decided to buy their own van and, “discover the American Continent in it!”

They started living in their converted van, Luz, eight months ago and have now been in Mexico for a little more than half that time. Currently exploring San Cristobal de las Casas, they plan to move on to Palenque and the Riviera Maya next. In their 1988 Volkswagen T3 Syncro, Sandro and Gabriella hope to get all the way to Argentina, where Gabriella’s family are based. She says, “We have a long trip ahead! It will take us at least another one or two years.”

It is good to know then that, according to Sandro, they, “Love living in the van together and it doesn’t feel like it’s a small space at all.” Where they are currently based, bad weather is rarely a problem so both are spending most of their time outside anyway. Even in their first experience of a few rainy days in Mexico, he says they, “enjoy cuddling up under warm blankets and reading or watching a movie instead.”

Freedom is a huge priority for both Sandro and Gabriella. They adore the freedom van life gives them to roam where they like and stay in their own rolling home. Being free to decide exactly what they want to do, when they want to do it, is a big part of the dream. Sandro adds, “We have the time for everything and we also take it. If we like a place we stay as long as we want and make it our temporal home, which is beautiful!”

Even better is the experience of meeting new and like-minded people on the road. He says, “The locals, the other travelers we meet – that’s what really makes this experience heart and mind opening!” Despite their passion for their new life on the road, there have been times when van living has not exactly been easy. A break down at Lake Tahoe just days before they meant to be at the Burning Man Festival was a particular low for them both.

Despite such breakdowns, both Gabriella and Sandro cannot praise their home on wheels enough! They bought the Volkswagen from a couple in Switzerland who had already completed their own dream of driving around America in it. It was empty when the original owners made the purchase and they had it kitted out in Germany. Gabriella adds, “We don’t know the guy but he’s a genius. The van has it all: a high top, solar panels, a water filtration system, fridge, hot water outdoor shower, even a toilet on rails, and it looks beautiful with the wood he used.”

More than practical and beautiful, for the couple, their van has a distinct personality. After all they do spent a lot of time with him. Gabriella says, “The van is a boy. His name is Luz: like light in Spanish, but also like our favorite Swiss drink, Kafi Lutz (which is coffee with Schnapps) and like Lucifer because the plates start with the numbers 666.”

Though there may be a little of the devil in Luz, Gabriella and Sandro wouldn’t have it any other way. Van living has been life changing and they can’t wait to continue their adventures.

If you want to know more you can follow the Vanabundos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or take a look at their own site here.

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