Hi, I'm taking a day off from the road in a comfy Honduran hideout called D&D brewery near lake Yojoa. I posted a picture of my ambulance on Reddit a few months back and it topped r/frontpage inundating me with questions while I had poor internet at best. Im here now with solid internet and happy to answer any and all of your questions about me, my travels, my ambulance conversion, living in the ambulance with all its ghosts and the reality of traveling with a dog through Central America.

Proof: Link to my original r/front page Reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/72k96h/i_bought_an_ambulance_from_ebay_turned_it_into_my/


My Imgur account, just created today: https://imgur.com/user/Ianternational

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/ian.dow84

As you can see I am Ian Dow and most my accounts are my name or my handle "Ianternational" including my Reddit account.

Sitting down to coffee and answering questions again. I'll start with the few that came in last night and any more you might have. Feel free to shoot

Comments: 338 • Responses: 78  • Date: 

IrishBA108 karma

Great adventure, any hairy moments? Hats off to you!

ianternational194 karma

I almost killed us all with a six wheel power slide around a curve down a hairy mountain road in Costa Rica. 2 passengers at the time

somethingtosay23336 karma

Did you pick up passengers as a way to get money?

ianternational37 karma

I picked up hitchhikers a few times, always for free. The way south I had a buddy with me and for a bit of the northern route another friend joined. He may come back for the duration and a few other friends have shown interest. More the better, as long as they can handle the lack of showers and sleeping in a tent on a paradisiacal beach I'm happy to share the fuel costs.

somethingtosay233322 karma

Can I be your friend?

entropic_apotheosis4 karma

Back off he’s my friend now

ianternational7 karma

Friends spots are a little full... There may be one opening. Fight to the death?

dopperpod45 karma

What do you currently do for work?

ianternational48 karma

I have a content agency managing some of my photos that have been circulating the international press since my initial Reddit post and a gofundme.com campaign. That's about it at the moment

andyq943312 karma

Are you able to live comfortably that way?

ianternational25 karma

As comfortably as I need for now. It's not putting anything in the retirement account if you know what I'm sayin.

DragonBank42 karma

I believe what you are saying is that it is not putting anything in the retirement account.

ianternational47 karma

You really know how to read between the lines

JonSnowboot25 karma

Dude lives in an ambulance, so ima go with yeh. hes aight

ianternational7 karma

Haha, touché.

Josvan13539 karma

Love your setup!

I'm traveling in a conversion van myself.

What kind of hitch carrier do you use for your bike?

I've been thinking about picking up a dirt bike or small moped to get around easier when I'm in cities or just want to go into town for a bite and don't want to pack up my campsite.

ianternational32 karma

There are a few good hitch options for smaller bikes but mine is a custom platform I put together and bolted to the frame of the ambo. It actually broke once in Tequila,Mexico where I had it reenforced with some extra steal. So far so good.

Josvan1356 karma

Nicely done!

I'm also finding it's easier to make your own a lot of the time.

I'm still workshopping a roof rack to fit over my fiberglass without putting pressure on the roof.

The umbrella and tent are pretty sweet also. Do you usually sleep inside the ambo or in the tent?

ianternational12 karma

I'm always in the ambo, it's just so comfortable. My buddy was in the tent every night and on the roof whenever it was most convenient.

Do you have rain gutters? I made gutter clamps to use as tie down points for the ambo and found some Thule ones for $5 at a garage sale for the rack over the cab

acwilan38 karma

Hello from Guatemala! Planning to visit us? I have been following on Instagram since your front page post. Say hi to Dino from me.

ianternational29 karma

Hi there! I do plan on visiting and I'll be there soon! Any secret recommendations? I'll be coming up from Copan in Honduras and go through Guate city then head towards Belize

acwilan27 karma

Antigua and Panajachel are a must for foreign visitors here. Antigua is 45 minutes away from Guate city and Panajachel is 4hr to the east. I you'd like to surf there are some beaches on the Pacific, mainly Sipacate and Monterrico/El Paredón. On your way to Belize you should stop at Rio Dulce/Livingston, which is the small Atlantic coast. Then you could visit Petén/Tikal before heading to Belize.

ianternational11 karma

That's just about the plan! I did antigua and lake Atitlan on the way down so I'll skip that his time and head east from the city. I have a friend that lived in rio dulce for a bit and like it so I need to go check it out. Awesome, loving Honduras but always looking forward to the next spot also!

Liltwel35 karma

Tips for someone who wants to do this sort of thing but pictures it as only a pipe dream?

ianternational60 karma

Scroll through some listings on Craigslist and eBay. You'll see some cool vans, ambulances, busses for cheap and it'll get those juices flowing

Russ16012 karma

How do you fund it? I’ve always wanted to do something like this but I can never figure out what I’ll do for money?

ianternational19 karma

It's not hard. What are your expenses in total for a month of life now? Not sure where you live but for me to have an 1 bedroom apartment, bills, car... in California where I'm from it would cost me 3,000+ a month easy. That's not including extras like nights out or trips (considering I didn't have the ambo) On the contrary this trip has cost me $7-800 a month total, I have no bills and no worries. When (if) I return to California I "could" sell the ambo for a profit and probably pay for the whole trip. But why do that when I can live in it there and not pay rent!?

throtic19 karma

What are you doing to generate that $800 a month though? I'm assuming you would have to quit your job to make this kind of commitment, so did you just save for several years? Or have some other form of passive income?

ianternational18 karma

I lived and worked on a farm in California for a season and saved a few thousand there. I had a job on a commercial building a set in January that got me a few grand also. On the road I sell my photos through a content agency and have a gofundme account that people I advise about travels and can build have contributed to. I also created music and had a YouTube channel with my ex that is doing very well but due to my lack of foresight there's no contract and I've yet to see that income. If you lived in a van and cut bills out of your life how long would it take you to save 10k?

DudeitsLandon7 karma

Man I was just thinking about ditching regular life and just be a traveling hobo in my car for awhile

ianternational12 karma

It ain't a bad life

4t2l2t21 karma

I follow you on Instagram and love your posts!! What’s been the greatest challenge for you in your travels?

ianternational16 karma

Hi! Thanks for following along! Most difficult thing in the trip has been keeping things clean haha. With Dino around and given the terrain (mud and sand most of the time) the ambo, my home, and my sheets are impossible to keep clean. I do my best though.

Armageddon_Blues4 karma

Same here! I love seeing how happy Dino is. Love your van set up! Glad your travels have been safe and fun so far! Good luck brother

ianternational12 karma

Thanks! Dino is a lucky dog, living the good life and eatin coconuts

franziaa2 karma

What was the process of taking Dino across the border? For some reason I was under the impression it was hard to travel with a dog, Dino is super cute by the way :)

ianternational4 karma

Sometime I just pass through. Sometimes the border guards play with him. Sometimes I have to take him to agricultural inspection and pay $5-10. It's not much of a hassle and beyond borders I've never been asked a thing about him. "Sneaking" him in or not speaking of him is always the easiest. I think it's more difficult if you were to fly into these countries.

pezgoon21 karma

What do you do for safe water/food?

ianternational73 karma

I eat everything! The safest food is on the streets where others are eating in my opinion. Everyone I know that gets sick has it happen from a hotel restaurant. They know you're only here for a day or two and seem to not care much about quality plus they have much less of a turnover. As for water I buy 5 gallon jugs ($1.20 in Honduras)

finlyn21 karma

A+ advice!

ianternational25 karma

It's just the truth amIright?

Roo_Badley3 karma

Also where do you shower?

ianternational8 karma

I have a heated (propane) shower in the closet accessed outside just behind the drivers door. There are also plenty of opportunities to shower at beach front restaurants and such while on the road.

Roo_Badley3 karma

Cool! How many miles are on your truck? Do you fix it yourself?

ianternational7 karma

When I bought it it had 120,000. It now has 137,000 and yes I did the build myself.

Grnmonster1516 karma

What kind of gas mileage are you getting?

ianternational17 karma

I am average of 12mpg of diesel depending on road conditions

AwfulMosquito16 karma

Do the flashy lights work?

ianternational24 karma

The few that are left do work, as well as the very loud PA and sirens

All-aboutPerspective16 karma

If you were to live and work full time in any of the countries you have visited which would it be and why?

ianternational31 karma

I'm looking at calling Nicaragua home for a while to build a business with a friend. Although there are plenty of places I could work and live for some time Nicaragua is good because it's cheap, the weather is great, the waves are great, the fishing is great and the business climate and incentives are very good for tourism based businesses. I also love New Zealand, Thailand, SriLanka, Nederland, Catalonia and Bolivia for various reasons.

ChinusX13 karma

Hey! Fellow Nicaraguan here! Glad to hear you found it cozy here haha any stories from your time here?

ianternational11 karma

Nicaraguan fireworks are awesome, I think my ears are still ringing! My favorite souvenir is my metal rebar reenforced mortar launcher! EPIC!

ChinusX7 karma

Haha damn right about that! How did you like the food? Any favorites or non favorites?

ianternational15 karma

The food is good, nice bit of Mexican influence that I enjoyed. Having so much langosta on the coast is awesome! I bought a few sacks from the divers and feasted!! Worst was the tourist spots. I had a meal in San Juan Del Sur at one and it took ages, was expensive and total crap food haha. Street cuisine is always where it's at

All-aboutPerspective6 karma

Thanks. I love your Instagram. I check it every day.

ianternational7 karma

Awesome! Glad to have you along for the ride

Deanpool91815 karma

What was the turning point in your life that led you to this adventure? Or perhaps is it something you have always dreamed of doing?

ianternational35 karma

I've actually been on an adventure for 10 years now. This one started when I split up with my Polish fiancé then did some soul searching on my motorcycle in the Pacific north west. All I had was the bike and my hammock after the move back to the states so I found work after a few months in Northern California. When harvest season ended i needed a place to live, crashed my moto and found the ambo on eBay. I bid low and won... initially I only wanted to build it into my home but as it was being built I decided why not just travel in the beast. So here I am! Dino is from the experience up in NorCal

trentj4614 karma

What were you doing when you were 15, what would you tell yourself to do if you could go back now, and what would you recommend I do?

ianternational26 karma

Wow, good question. I guess I'd say quit smoking so much pot, it's a waste of time. Honestly use your high school years to educate yourself and read as much as you can. Save up some money however you can and the second high school ends take off to see the world, focus on cheaper countries and learn how to travel. There's so much out here and nothing will give you a better education than coming out to experience it for yourself. If you can't make money before you go then all you really need is enough for a flight out of the country then you can find work in hostels and learn from other travelers how to live on the cheap.

ianternational9 karma

Also, asking questions like this to people you admire (not saying you admire me). This is something your generation has available. We didn't have Instagram, Facebook or Reddit when I was 15. I might have had Friendster or MySpace, both basically useless... although these platforms can waste time and suck you down rabbit holes of ideology they are also wonderful tools to access people who were only a few years ago inaccessible to the public. you can scour the internet to see what you like follow those people or the people that do those things and ask them questions. Most importantly, listen to them.

CosciAg11 karma

I have always wondered about working in another country and especially central America.

What type of visa or work permit is required as an American?

Always enjoy your posts on insta, give dino a pat for me!

ianternational19 karma

Hi! Thanks for following! Dino's looking at me with those heart melting puppydog eyes trying mindfuck me into giving him my burrito right now. I'm not really sure how difficult it would be to get a work visa here but to own a business and gain residency in Nicaragua that way seems relatively straight forward, although I don't know the exact process yet, check back in 6 months.

goldie87uk11 karma

Has it been easy or hard travelling with your dog? I'd love to do something like this with mine. Any tips/advice?

ianternational21 karma

Hardest part is keeping things clean. Dog hair, mud, sand... it's not like you can just change sheets and throw a dirty set in the laundry all the time. Borders are straight forward and easy. I'd say half, if not more, of the people I've met doing this same trip have a dog with them. I've even seen one cat! Oh and I also travel with my Beta fish Mr.Biggles. I would say take all your records for the animal and show them when asked. If you have required vaccinations (rabies is the most important) then your will be fine.

There is also a trick. If you have two people traveling you can have one of them take the dog for a walk while the other one does the border process. After everything's done just jump in the car and cross. Sneaky but works great and can save you $5-$10

BattlePope10 karma

How much did you save up to fund your trip? What was your planning like; did you pick a date and work towards it, or something a little more by the seat of your pants?

ianternational14 karma

I'm always flying by the seat of my pants. I spent $8,000 total on the purchase and build of the ambo, I like to think my work has made it worth more now. As for the trip I have spent less than most because I've met some awesome people that flowed me for a bit. I'm at 7-800 a month for the whole trip including maintenance issues. A good rule of thumb for doing a trip like this on the cheap is $1,000 a month. Having a passenger or two help on fuel and catching fish is a big benefit. Drinking beer is expensive so I avoid (paying) for it. The trip is the most important

D-Delta5 karma

Awesome work buying/building for $8k!

ianternational4 karma

Thanks! It's was a lot of work, 4 months all day every day but it was fun too. Totally worth the added effort making this trip very comfortable

estonist10 karma

Hey, have you ever thought about taking your adventures to another continent?

ianternational18 karma

I've actually been to 68 countries and 6 continents over the last ten years. I'd love to take the ambo with me on the next big adventure but it just doesn't seem economically or logistically feasible. I'm actually looking forward to exploring America for the next trip, or maybe on the tail end of this one

ButtsexEurope9 karma

How have you not been robbed?

ianternational15 karma

I had one break in in Nicaragua but they only stole some sunglasses and 2 battery packs. It could have been easily avoided but I had gotten cocky

ishfish1116 karma

Ok, isn't Honduras the murder capital of the world? Are you at all concerned?

ianternational14 karma

Honduras is a country with 2 "dangerous" cities. These murders aren't happening to tourists and are primarily drug and gag have related. I'm not worried at all but thank you for asking.

trentj465 karma

Is there any particular sources you’d recommend for people wanting to learn?

ianternational3 karma

The only source is going out there and doing it for yourself. There are so many ways to travel, you have to find out what's right for you. There are resources you can use to travel cheap. Couchsurfing.org is a great start. You could set up a profile and (if your parents are cool with it) allow travelers passing through your area a place to sleep. This is a great way to learn about traveling before hitting the road yourself. To see what overlanding is like you can download the app Ioverlander. It shows good places to stay as a vandweller or overlanders and has other services and sights mapped out. To read up on places I like to use wikitravel, lesser known places I talk to locals in person or through couchsurfing.org. There are Rideshare sites and hitchhiking sites all over the place. There are even sites that will tell you places and times to dumpster dive for your food if you want to take it that far.

somethingtosay23335 karma

That's pretty cool never seen someone do an ambulance.

what where the total initial costs? What was your budget going south? And for someone who is interested escaping himself, what where the unseen costs that most people wouldn't realize (please)?

Can I live like this possible? I mean is it feasible?

ianternational3 karma

Thanks, the ambulance base has worked out great.

The ambulance cost 2,800 and I flew to st.louis to pick it up then drive it home to California. I sold the gurney that came with it for $500. My build was around $5,000 and I did all the work myself with help from my father and use of his tools. Total all in registered it cost $8,000 but could be done cheaper as I used only the best materials including a lot of exotic woods. The trip would cost most about $1,000 a month. This is including maintenance and living frugal but still enjoying yourself and being comfortable. I'm at $7-800 a month for the trip. With 20k and about 16 months anyone should be able to buy and build a van into a home then travel for a year down here. If you build the van right you may even make a profit on your sale earning back a good chunk or even breaking even. I hope to.

Edit: stuff

Mityman2 karma

Love the clarity of your AMA. Long time follower here and I just wanted to comment and say that I appreciate the travel porn on my feed and that I really hope the rest of your trip goes well.

ianternational1 karma

Thanks you, I'm really glad to have you following along on the journey.

trentj463 karma

Are there any limitations this lifestyle brings? Maybe due to money or constant movement or something else?

ianternational12 karma

As with any lifestyle yes but I personally prefer my mobility to being stuck somewhere. My biggest fear is a desk job. Thing is you're not locked in forever but once you've seen other cultures and lived amongst them your prospective in the world will change for the better. You'll always take that with you even if you do end up liking a desk job down the road

HauschkasFoot3 karma

Have you ever considered converting a home into an ambulance so you could charge people exorbitant amounts of money to use it?

ianternational9 karma

Great idea! Keep an eye on airbnb, filter: highest price first! I'm thinking $1,600 for about 30 minutes

ThomasWayneMD3 karma

Hey man! I’m sure you get a lot of these but today is the best day of my life and you are the catalyst. I’m 26, live in Northern Ca and my marriage of 2 years has come to an end. And that’s a good thing. We weren’t happy with each other with her heading in one direction and me heading nowhere. I have a job and whatnot, but I’ve been immature and had no passion or goal to strive toward. And that was scary... Until I opened the Reddit app this morning and was blessed to come across you. I’ve realized that with my life heading where it was and even where it could have been with her, I always had this feeling of “what if.” So, I’m so grateful to say, your success on your adventure has given me a goal and a reason to go on. I’m sure you get a bunch of people telling you the same stuff who sound serious, but end up staying comfortable struggling. But to tell you the truth, I was going to shoot myself at 8pm yesterday. It wasn’t until I thought of you and Dino that I thought... Why not focus this determination on wiping the slate clean, and doing what Ian did? Financially, I think I’ll be ok, I was involved in an accident when I was 4 and am now receiving $2,500 a month for life. So, when I saw that you can live off $700-$800, I figured I could swing that. Again, thank you. You saved my life whether you believe it or not. Keep enjoying your life and adventure the way you do and maybe one day I’ll pass the ambo and we’ll grab a beer.

Take care my friend.

ianternational3 karma

Hi Thomas, man I'm sorry to hear about you being down. I have to admit I was in a similar position, no gun to my head but I was down too after a 6 year relationship ended, she stole everything I owned and the business we had created. I was on my motorcycle in the PNW sleeping in a hammock in the woods for months then I found a friends farm to work and live on in NorCal. On the farm I was working but I was just floundering around, feeling very betrayed and like a real big piece of shit. When I found the ambulance and developed my plan, it gave me a project that would better my situation. I put all my effort into it, I worked day and night avoiding friends and parties for 4 solid months. Having interest from strangers through my social media accounts and being able to answer questions helping others with their builds was really uplifting! By the time the ambulance was built and I was ready to adventure I was already happy and proud of myself for what I created. The travelers lifestyle is very cheap and very rewarding, especially when traveling in your own home that you've built yourself. With $2,500 a month you will not only be able to travel like a king! You will also be able to save money while you're on the road! You're in the ideal situation to go and explore my friend, take it, get out here and please get in touch with me through Instagram so we can leave the coincidence out of our crossing paths one day. Also, Thomas, don't do anything rash. If you are serious about traveling and feel it could save you from pulling the trigger then fly down here and jump in the ambo. I'll gladly take you for some adventures and show you what the lifestyle is like. Ps. Only if you promise not to murder me and take my rig. (I'm not afraid of travel but I'm still kind of afraid of Americans)

somethingtosay23333 karma

What auto repairs did you have to do? Could briefly list the most often problems you experienced?

ianternational3 karma

I haven't had many. On the trip Rocks between the dually tires are a bummer but I got new tires making the gap tighter and haven't had the problem since. I replaced my vacuum pump. Belt was wearing so I adjusted the pully for the vacuum pump when installing the new one and fixed that. The moto rack broke and need to be reenforced Voltage regulator went out and cooled the batteries. Replaced the regulator and got new batteries (expensive!) That's just about it for the trip. Before the trip I replaced a few old hoses and the O'rings on the fuel injectors and replaced another belt (same issue but didn't fix it.)

TravelinJebus3 karma

Do you get stressed out traveling in Central America? I know people are nice, been to Guatemala and couldn't find one complaints of how people treated me. But still, there is a reality out there that that region is pretty damn dangerous. Met many people who have been mugs and rob, and met some people who lost friends in Honduras due to the rise in drug trafficking. I am just explaining myself so people don't think I'm just blanketing Central America as all terrible, I know it's a beautiful area, but the reality is that it has some of the highest homicide rates in the world. So that's why I ask if you get stressed... sorry for the long explanation

ianternational3 karma

No stress, everyone had been nice and hospitable. I get a lot of interest because of my rig and dog but it's all been positive. Just like anywhere in the world there are hotspots where one should stay on there toes but that's about it. Like when driving through St.louis, are you scared? Maybe if you were visiting the dangerous part but why would you intentionally visit the hard part of town? Honduras gets a bad wrap as a country because of violent crime (drugs and gang activity) in its two largest cities. It's like if we looked at the stats from st.louis, Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland then came to the conclusion that all of America is dangerous.

TravelinJebus2 karma

Oh I completely agree with America having bad spots... and yes I would never drive through East St. Louis, or Camden, NJ or parts of Louisiana. I've heard this about small towns in Brazil, as in they are crazy peaceful compared to the large city. I'm glad to hear any good news about that region getting better.

ianternational3 karma

Yes! Now all we need is some good news about The US.

TravelinJebus1 karma

I'm just numb at this point

ianternational4 karma

Leave and the life comes back.

trentj463 karma

Would you recommend it? Would you do it again and if so would you do it sooner?

ianternational6 karma

I'm addicted, I love traveling because it brings me something new everyday. I've been on the move for 10 years and I would have been happy to start sooner but life, SO, family, home town are all hard things to leave at first

Sasha_Fire2 karma

Everyone says Honduras is the murder capital of the world, do you find it pretty safe to travel in? And do you find the dialect of Spanish changes quite a bit as you cross borders? What were your most unexpected difficulties along your travels? And what was a really impactful positive moment for you in your travels?

Looks like a super fun trip!

ianternational4 karma

Honduras has felt very safe to me. As with all countries there are place where precautions should be taken but the majority of the country and its people have been very kind. My Spanish is bad so dialects haven't been a problem. I know slang differs from place to place but it's not as dramatic as south americas dialectical (is that a word?) differences. Keep the van and my bed clean with a dog has been an unexpected issue.

Positive moments happen often and are usually unexpected. People offering to lend a hand is always wonderful. One moment that's not from this trip that pops out was when an ex north Vietnamese solder took me into his home when I was lost in the hills. We shared his rice wine and told sign language stories all night. He told me he had killed me to save his country. We had a great time and I gave him a machete as a gift when I left.

atlanta_martino2 karma

Have you tried the pescado frito at the Yojoa lake?

ianternational1 karma

I have not but I've seen pictures and it looks a lot like a lot of the fried fish I've had in Central America. Is it special in some way?

bpdilligaf2 karma

Hi,missed your AMA but hopefully this catches up with you.

Can you just legally drive in the S. American countries that you’ve visited? No issues with driver’s permits, etc?

Also, have you had the opportunity for romance along the way? I know the question sounds weird....not looking for details but was just curious if the ambulance “cramps your style” in the love department.

ianternational5 karma

Hi, glad you chimed in and I'm happy to answer. There is no problem driving with a US license in the countries I've visited anywhere in the world (been to 68) the nice thing about the panamerican drive is you don't even need a carnet (deposit = to the worth of your vehicle to promise you won't sell it) there is a TIP (temporary import permit) available at every country that you will receive or have to purchase. This allows the vehicle to stay in that country for a set amount of time.

The ambo has not cramped my style here or in the states. I think people like something different amiright? I'm also the only traveler that has a house/my own bed with me. Only bummer is few single/groups of girls do this trip. All the overlanders I've met have been couples. Where are all the female overlanders at?

cormamin1012 karma

What did this roughly cost to do? My dad had thought about doing something like this for years, and I'm wondering how doable this is.

ianternational1 karma

To buy, build and do the whole trip right in a frugal way you'd want about 20k and 16-18 months. This would be doing your own build to a vehicle in a similar price range as mine. Of coarse you could recoup a chunk of that after the trip if you'd choose to sell your van.

cormamin1011 karma

If one were to do just the build part, how much would you day it was? And where are you originally from? Where did the building start? Lol

ianternational2 karma

I'm from California and my build including the price I paid for the ambulance titled out to $8k and took 4 months of work

pedroordo32 karma

I heard that Honduras and Central American is really dangerous how you deal with fans or you haven’t had any encounter?

ianternational1 karma

I've had a lot of interest but none of it has been negative. Fans are great and I love talking to interested/interesting locals. I don't feel in danger and take similar precautions as I would in the states.

IThinkImDumb2 karma

I’m sorry if this isn’t a proper question but don’t you think this is the perfect camper vehicle?? I work as a paramedic and have always thought how perfect our trucks would be for a cross country trip, all the space and cabinets!

Though it would need an intense scrub before I would use it...

ianternational3 karma

I agree! It's turned out to be perfect! The only negative is the weight bit it hasn't really been much of a problem. The "patio" on the roof is epic and only usable because these beasts are built so strong and well

ToneCapwn2 karma

How accurate are the mapping apps in other countries on travels like this? Do you use map/GPS apps, or paper/gut?

ianternational2 karma

Google maps is perfect and apps like Ioverlander can help find places to camp if you aren't comfortable just posting up anywhere.

str8sin2 karma

How much blow have you hidden in the rocker panels?

ianternational2 karma

Not nearly enough

LouQuacious1 karma

Well I originally asked you how you planned to get past the Darien Gap now I see you’re turning back?

ianternational3 karma

Everyone ships their vehicles around the gap and meets them in Colombia. I've crossed the gap previously on the Caribbean side from Turbo Colombia north. I took small speedboats (with 4 Yamaha 250s! Like ALL the boats in Turbo have...) we bounced from village to village up the coast entering Panama and hitting some islands then catching a short flight to Panama City. Very cool adventure

Forbidden_Breakfast1 karma

What did you learn to be essential, both in supplies and tips, to sustainably live in the van that first year?

ianternational2 karma

Essentials are relative, all we really need is food, water, shelter. To be comfortable is another story. Fans for when it's hot, heat for when it's cold, power for lights and charging electronics is nice. My kitchen is an essential to me so I put extra care in designing and building a good (albeit little) one. The line between building enough storage and leaving enough space is a tough one, it all depends on where you will go in your van. Will you be spending time inside often or will you primarily be outside and just sleep inside? The things you find you need are always available so extensive preparation is not really needed.

atl_cracker1 karma

How did you like Costa Rica?

i saw in one comment you called it little America. i'd like to hear more about your experiences with the people there.

i've been to every central american country except el salvador and nicaragua, and a few south american ones. CR is my least favorite, though i acknowledge that is partly my fault.. though i'd heard alot about it's westernization beforehand from guides and other travelers, i still hoped for a good mix. i didn't find it, and left in a hurry.

by contrast, Panama actually seemed more Americanized, but still better than CR. i realize i really only saw them through traveler/tourist eyes.

ianternational5 karma

Costa Rica is expensive. The first time I was there as a backpacker I ran for the hills after 1 night. Straight to Nicaragua.

This time I had my own accommodation and could cook my own meals. Bananas and other local fruits are cheap, coconuts are free, the water is filtered/potable and the fishing is great. Rainy season is no joke brown there and it took a toll on the ambo but I left Costa Rica with a better taste than I did my first time around. Still expensive and very touristy, not my favorite place even though the people are friendly and the country is beautiful.

Lokky1 karma

When I read the title I totally thought this would be a perfect setup for my motorcycle travels and of course I see you got what looks like a dr650 up there? good stuff mate

ianternational1 karma

It is a DR650 and I dream of riding that bike or another DR from Alaska to Patagonia one of these days. This is my scouting trip haha.

AntiGroundhogDay1 karma

How is your Spanish? What temps are you seeing and how do you keep your pup comfy? Do you ever leave your pup alone in the van to check out a big city or museum/restaurant/concert?

ianternational2 karma

Not very good. It was cold last night, it's been pleasant T-shirt and shorts weather without sweating for months now. Southern Mexico in summer was hit as hell but with a fan and door open it's comfortable at night.

I bring Dino with me almost everywhere. Very few places don't allow dogs down here. I'm not a museum goer, been to enough in my travels unless there's something really specific and interesting. Dino has also seen a few bands with me and comes out to bars for a party nights here and there.

mjcc-p1 karma

Who are you? It is "Yojoa" not yogoa. Make sure you go to Copan ok?

ianternational2 karma

I am Ian. Yojoa, my bad. Copan is on my route.

mjcc-p1 karma

Too bad you wont be for eastern week, the place becomes colorful with lots of food. Make sure to stay a little bit more, the place is really peaceful and and there is always people form different countries.

*Catracho/Mayan breakfast and coffee should do the trick.

ianternational1 karma

Mmm, I'll try that. The climate is great. I might have to stay another day or two

mjcc-p1 karma

Also, baleada. Don't forget the baleada with avocado.

ianternational1 karma

Baleadas are the best!

Tehcaekisalie1 karma

Where did you start from??

ianternational2 karma

I started in California. Bought the ambulance in St.louis, converted it in California.

Put1demerde1 karma

How much is an ambulance, and how often are they up for sale?

ianternational3 karma

Type ambulance in the handy search bar on eBay. You'll find plenty! Mine cost $2,800

RinconImages1 karma

Did you run into any issues with borders allowing the dog to pass? Do you think you will encounter any on the way back?

ianternational1 karma

None, it's actually very easy to travel with a pet across borders. I don't think there will be any problems on the road north.

mixi_e1 karma

I see you have traveled a lot of countries not only in Central America, but a food fanatic I have to ask, what have been your favorite dishes/meals on this trip?

ianternational6 karma

On this trip Mexico reins supreme in food. Oaxaca has the best food in Mexico even though the whole country kills it. Some of Oaxacas signatures are a variety of moles that are all epic, tlayudas (big crispy tortillas the size of a large pizza painted with pig fat and filled beans cheese and fixings then topped with a chunk of meat), mezcal and chocolate based delicacies.

I'm also a huge fan of al pastor tacos, they just can't be beat!

mixi_e2 karma

Mole is life ❤️ so are tacos al pastor. In Mexico, I believe it’s a seasonal dish but if you get the chance to try Chiles en Nogada, do it. They’re amazing.

While you’re in Guatemala make sure to try shukos (literally translates to dirty. They’re Guatemalan style hot dogs), tamales (specially the sweet ones with chocolate since I see you mentioned you enjoyed the chocolate in Mexico) also if you can, give Kak-ik and Suban-ik a try and when you’re in Rio Dulce, as I see you’re going make sure to have some Tapado, I haven’t tried it since I’m allergic to seafood which is 90% of the recipe but people say it’s great

ianternational3 karma

Great recommendations! I look for a few of these. I have no allergies so most of the time I just stop where I see smoke and people then join in on whatever they're having. A huge part of my travels and explorations are through taste, food is life and everyone does it different. I love taking the tastes from my trips and re creating them as authentic as possible when I have a stable spot and a larger kitchen to experiment in.

MemoirsofCrime1 karma

I wanted to convert an ambulance myself.

two questions

Is it hard to do without much experience before*?

Since ambulances are sold after driving hundreds of thousands of Km...are they in bad shape? Does urs break down alot?

ianternational2 karma

I think it all depends on the vehicle you get. Try to get one with low hours and miles with good maintenance records. These things run hard but are maintained well so that they don't breakdown. I've only had a few issues, all fixable and nothing crippling.

Building is building, watch some YouTube videos and check out some Instagram feeds. You should be fine and hey, if you have any questions for me don't hesitate to ask in the future when you're looking for your ambo or youve started your project

hcnuptoir1 karma

I have a friend who is from Costa Rica. He tells me that it is "impossible" to drive from the United States to Costa Rica. Takes too long and is way too dangerous. He insists that if i want to go, I need to fly. What is a drive like this really like? What is the danger factor for a regular ass white guy from Texas on a trip like this? Also, how do you live in an ambulance once you're there? Just park it on the beach and act normal?

ianternational3 karma

The road is fine but long. If you went straight through it would take a week or so. There are so many great places along the way that I would recommend taking much longer than a week. Safe factor is similar to any road trip in the states. Break a law in front of a cop, get a ticket or get asked for a bribe drive bad or don't pay attention then get in an accident. Same as anywhere else really. Borders are straight forward, main roads are all good. Mexico has some super dangerous speed bumps that suck but that's about it.

Download the app Ioverlander for easy/safe places to camp for free.

Once your there you can park at the beach and camp for a while without issue, the locals do it all the time and costa loves tourism so you don't have to worry. I wouldn't move in though. Costa Rica is like a little tropical America, it's not 3rd world anymore.

Mech-Waldo1 karma

What do you do for gas and food money?

ianternational4 karma

I had a few bucks saved before the trip and have made some cash through selling my photos along the way. I also have a gofundme campaign that has helped. There are also plenty of ways to make money on the road. For instance I have a few friends that approach hotels to create content for them. Others promote products through their social media profiles, something I've yet to do.

trentj461 karma

That’s an interesting thought. Where would you recommend someone visit if they could only go to one place?

ianternational1 karma

That's a hard one, lots of factors.

How much money would said person have? How much time to visit? What is said person into, history, culture, beaches, party, Food, jungles, mountains, forests??? One place meaning literally one city, or one country or one region of the world (ex, south east Asia)?

Lookattherabbits-11 karma

Do people not just do things for themselves and their own experience anymore?

I x'ed for x number of days and am currently X

Just live for yourself and stop seeking validation from strangers.

ianternational11 karma

I'm giving interested people information about my trip so they can feel comfortable doing the same. Go back in your whole troll