Mark & Becky

Driving the complete Pan American Highway in our Toyota Tacoma for a year and half - north from San Diego to Alaska's Prudoe Bay, then South to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Hometown: 
San Diego, CA
When did you start your travels?: 
05/07/2017
Reason for taking this trip: 
About 20 years ago Mark met a young guy in southern Argentina doing the Pan American by bicycle, it had taken him nearly two years and lots of pedaling. Mark thought, "I want to do that to one day, but not on a bicycle."
Why did you decide to drive?: 
We like to get off the beaten path, to visit national parks and explore pot-holed dirt roads. We wanted to camp and hike and see the stars away from the cities - having your own vehicle is really the only way to do that.
Are you also taking along pets?: 
No
Are you also taking along children?: 
No
What type of car are you driving?: 
A 2014 Toyota Tacoma with a camper shell over the bed.
Did you make any modifications to your car for this trip?: 
Some basic upgrades to the truck to make it more overland ready - shocks, tires, air springs, and a hidden winch up front. We added a fridge and to power it installed dual batteries. We wanted to keep the truck very stock-looking, and not overbuilt and overweight to keep the gas mileage down and not look like too much like rich Americans. We built out a sleeping platform in the bed with storage below.
How did you save up or finance your trip?: 
We both worked for a long time, saving money mostly to buy a house, but with this trip always in the backs of our minds. As housing prices continued to grow and get further out of reach, we decided to spend what we'd saved for the down payment on an adventure, and leave the white picket fence for someday in the future.
How long do you plan on traveling?: 
The plan is a little over a year and half.
Where do you plan on driving? : 
We drove north from San Diego along the coast up to Alaska, and on our way south went through the Rocky Mountains and central US. We came through through central Mexico, and are now in Guatemala for a few months taking a rest from the road. Next is through Central America, then along the west coast of South America down to Argentina.
What were your family’s and friends’ reactions when you told them about your trip before you left?: 
None were too surprised, as we are prone to do things like this.
What languages do you speak? Will you learn more on your trip?: 
Mark can get by in Spanish, and we plan to spend about three months in Guatemala now to take intensive Spanish classes with the goal to both be fluent by the time we reach Argentina.
Do you have a favorite place that you've visited?: 
So far we have enjoyed the scenery of the the Yukon, the vast expanse of the Arctic, the mountains, hiking and hot springs of the Rockies, and the surprisingly cool climate of the highlands of central Mexico.
What was the weirdest thing you experienced on your trip?: 
We ourselves are probably the weirdest, but we might also throw in the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato, Mexico.
What was the worst border crossing?: 
So far so good! Our own country gave us the hardest lines of questions. We were nervous about Mexico to Guatemala, but we did our research and didn't get scammed by anyone, and the official doing our paperwork was patient and helpful. Big smiles seem to go a long way in this regard.
Do you have any advice for others who may be considering driving the Americas?: 
Before we left we read a lot of blogs and books of people doing this trip. In fact, it discouraged us from doing it, because it all seemed so overwhelming. In the end we decided to take it week by week, and not plan ahead farther than that. It's made things more manageable and us more adaptable.
MarkH