4×4 OVERLAND CAMPER Conversion
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4×4 OVERLAND CAMPER Conversion


I’m Amy. I’m Matt. This is Jagger and
that’s Blue Beauty. We were living in Maui, Hawaii. Matt and I
met in Nicaragua working at a surf camp. I lived in Oregon he lived in California
when we weren’t traveling and we decided to move to Maui Hawaii and basically as
soon as we started to set up our lives we were like, “well, we gotta go traveling,
that’s what we do.” We put together a list of all the places we wanted to visit,
talked about like why we wanted to go to those places. It kind of just was natural
for us to say, “well like, let’s do a big road trip.” We both like to surf. We
like beaches. We like warm weather and we decided that we were gonna go do the
rest of the Americas in North America so drive down to Panama and back. We don’t
have a lot of money. We saved and worked for about three and a half years but it
was important to us to not spend all of our money on a vehicle.
Our main requirement was to be able to sit up inside the vehicle as well and
Matt was insistent that we keep the surfboards inside hoping to not draw too
much attention to us and hopefully keep them from theft. I picked the Toyota T 100
because I knew that we could get parts all through Mexico and Central America.
It’s kind of like a random mashed together of different trucks that Toyota
came out with. The whole suspension is the same as the Toyota pickup or Toyota
Hilux. That’s probably the most popular vehicle throughout like Mexico Central
America and then the engine and drive lines all
the same as the generation one Tacoma which is also pretty popular down there.
It was offered in Crotteaus which their market here is the Land Cruiser
hundred series. This is Blue Beauty. She is a Toyota T
100 four-wheel drive. These are the solar panels. It’s 300 watts of solar power. We
intentionally did not mount them to the roof because we wanted to be able to
park in the shade as much as possible while we were traveling through Mexico
and Central America. And over here we have an ARB awning and this is basically
our kitchen and our living room. It’s like having a studio apartment.
We’ve got a king camp table and even though it is like a little tricky to set
up it’s really sturdy. We’ve used it for over five hundred six days and it’s
still holding up just as strong as the day we got it.
We have a Camp Chef Everest model stove and it’s been great it still works
although all those days on the ocean have rusted the hinges apart so, you know it still does its job. And then we have two boxes that
consists of everything that you would have in a kitchen. This is our pantry and
it’s well stocked right now because we were planning for five days out here in
Joshua Tree. This is everything else and the stove does fit in here. It’s all of
our pots, pans, coffee makers, silverware, everything. We purchased these boxes at
the Container Store and they are waterproof and they are ant proof, unless
you leave them open and then they’re not ant proof. We actually leave all of this stuff outside I’d say
95% of the time. We have some locks that we string through the boxes and then
we string it through the table and through the stove and our propane tank
and then that way when we go to sleep at night, we don’t have to worry about somebody coming by and taking something from us. Our
propane tank is a 10 pound propane tank so that’s half of the normal size and it
lasts us on an average of two months. We have these chairs.
I love these chairs. They’re the old Hillman Ox the original folding chair
and they fold into this little tiny bag. We installed a light here and this runs
off of our battery and solar power and this is our outside kitchen light and
inside here is the switch and we designed it so that if we did hear
something in middle of the night we could just turn it on from inside the camper
while we’re sleeping and fortunately for us that never happened except for some
pigs one time. We did modify the tires. We bought some new ones on the road. We got
a flat and we knew we needed some all-terrain so they’re BFG all-terrain
tires. This is also hooked up to our solar power but these are two twelve
volt outlets so we call the truck Blue Beauty but I call the camper
specifically Frankenstein. She is a regular camper shell that we cut the top
off and then bought five millimeter plywood and fiberglassed it to the top of
it. Alright this is the extended cab of our T 100 and it’s really hard to find
these things with bucket seats. We actually had a bench in here to begin
with and it was a split bench so this is the stock side of the seat over here.
This is out of some random truck. A friend of my brothers gave it to us so I
made some mounts and kind of made it work and then we made our own center
console and the whole idea is really just to maximize storage so in our
center console we take a folder this has all our documents and stuff we need for the
truck and for us and for the dog for crossing borders or if the police pull
us over. There’s a pretty solid tactic that we used for not paying bribes and
it’s understanding what the actual law is and
in most of these countries they’re going to take your driver’s license and I
think that that’s very scary for most Westerners. They’re supposed to take the
driver’s license to a police station you go to the police station or a bank that
the police station tells you and you pay that fine and then you get your
driver’s license back. It’s the law. So if a police officer tries to pull you
over and tell you how bad you are for whatever you supposedly did you just
have to insist that they write you a ticket. It sounds weird to beg a cop to
write you a ticket but we never got a ticket written. When you insist on that
ticket they give up. The last time I got pulled over he asked for 2,000 pesos.
That’s over a hundred dollars. Fines are not that much down there. Now he is in a
situation where he can’t write the actual ticket because then we would know
he was trying to bribe us so they try to say that you just pay the fine there but
that’s not true. So if you want to get out of bribes do it legally.
We got seat covers with pockets in the back so you can just shove stuff in
there. So we have like our shopping bags that we reuse. Amy’s got her
raincoat in there. TP gotta have that handy.
Most of the toilets down south don’t have toilet paper in them so you stop at a gas station or something you’ve got to have your own.
These are road triangles. Legally required down south so you have to have
them handy for when a cop stops you you can show that you have your
triangles. This is just a cooler so we actually make ice in our freezer which
we have back in the camper. All my tools are actually underneath this seat.
There’s like a stock storage space down there that I chose
to leave. Fire extinguisher ready. That’s also legally required down south so you
gotta have one of those and then this is the dog bed.
We removed half of the bench seat that’s normally in the back of the extended cab
and built this box and inside there we got a bunch more storage. We got our
first aid kit, toiletries, and our computers and games and stuff in there.
We have a little separated compartment and that’s where we keep our batteries
so we have two optima yellow top 75 amp hour batteries wired together. The 150 amp
hours is sufficient when we’re in areas like this where it’s not as hot. When we
were down south the fridge runs a lot more and so we were like constantly
monitoring it trying to like make sure we had enough and it was still enough if
we had good Sun. If we had like a cloudy day or something we’d end up having
to run the truck so I have the alternator wired into the house
batteries as well so we have that backup option. So this is our indoor living
space basically consists of a bed. The majority of the space inside the truck
we chose to use as storage. Up here we have six surfboards. We got a little rack
over here. I have a spear gun and a couple of fishing rods. Just a dry bag up
here that’s kind of our clothes that are handy and then we have another one
that’s our dirty clothes so the clothes kind of come out of here into there and our
fan which plugs into our outlets that we have down here along the fridge. One
thing that we did that’s handy is the awning on the outside. We attached it and put a
bunch of caulking in the seam so it works kind of like a gutter so we can
actually leave this window open even if you have heavy rains. We left the
majority of our space for storage and everything that we have set up all goes
down here. We also have 15 gallons of water
that are stored in three separate jerry cans. This one is our main Jerrycan. It’s
a lifesaver and it has a built-in water filter so you pump it up to pressurize it
and then you can fill things up with the tap down there so we filtered all of our
drinking water while we were down south. We’ve got a Lug Loo that’s our toilet if we need
it but we don’t really use it that often. We’re generally either somewhere that
has facilities or we’re far enough removed that we just dig a hole but that
we use it as storage mostly. Great for cooking on top of campfires and this is what
we call our toy box so we’ve got my day pack pack for hiking, the rest of the spearfishing
and snorkeling gear. Basically just all the stuff that we like to do. Keep it all
in plastic bins so it’s easy to like move around keep organized and because
we do a fair amount of four-wheel driving and stuff it helps keep things
clean like if we cross a deep river or something that’ll actually get water
into the bed through the little like drain holes so this way stuff still
stays dry. This is our refrigerator and freezer and I built a slide for it so it
can come out and that way it’s easily accessible from our kitchen space. This side is our freezer. This side is our
fridge and it’s the combined space is a 66 liter. This little section this slides
out and that’s where we keep the bulk of our clothing. We have this thing which is pretty
handy it’s a ARB mosquito net and it just
slides right into the awning. It’s a little bit of an extra set up but it can
make the difference between liking the camp spot and needing to leave. This is
my side of the bed so when the fridge slides in kind of becomes part of my bed so this
is my space. Amy gets to have the nice cushy bed
keeps her happier. We started out by getting a book, this was a game changer for us, called ‘Don’t Go There You’ll Die’. They have done the entire pan-american
and the first series is Mexico and Central America. The word Overland was
also a game changer. We didn’t realize that we were gonna be overlanders.
That’s I guess what the rest of the world calls people who drive across
multiple borders for extended periods of time. Other resources that I learned
along the road was there’s Facebook groups so if you just type in
pan-american into Facebook Google you can ask to be invited into the groups
and they talk about crossing the Darién Gap, current information on
borders, and then you have the app iOverlander and it was developed by the
same people who wrote that book. Everything from borders, campsites, where
to get water, where there’s propane refill stations. It’s an incredibly helpful
app and people are constantly updating it. WikiOverland that’s a site online
that you can go and check border crossings, the paperwork you need, how
long are you allowed to keep the vehicle in, how long is your visa permit gonna be,
that kind of stuff. When I use Expedition Portal, it’s a forum. It’s a lot of Americans
on it but there is like a decent international group I felt like I was
getting alright information from there as well. With all of it you have to kind
of find different sources and cross-reference things. Less is more. Less stuff equals more space and it’s nice to have extra space. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you did be sure to LIKE comment and
subscribe. If you’d like to join us on our travels through Mexico and Central
America you can head over to our YouTube channel The Traveling Together Journal. You’ll also find links there for our Instagram and Facebook pages.
Thank you.

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