A Kelowna couple is sating their travel thirst with an expedition of a lifetime.
Claire and James Young are giving up their home and their jobs as a family physician and graphic designer in the Central Okanagan for a journey around the world they call One Big Road Trip.
Starting Jan. 1, the duo, along with their 20-year-old cat Millie, will fill their modified expedition camper and set out on their camping, hiking, run-racing adventure which is expected to take at least five years.
The expedition will allow the couple to experience different cultures after living in Kelowna.
“The best things about travelling aren’t the things you think are going to be good,” said James. “The best experience is the people you’ve met. Travelling for longer periods of time means you get off the beaten path a bit and you bump into those people more often.”
The truck camper that will be transporting them around the world has been modified for backcountry adventuring with solar powers, water filtration, large batteries and more.
The road trip will see them travel from Canada to Patagonia through the US, Mexico, Central and South America. Then to South Africa, through Africa and into Europe. The couple will then reach Russia and Central Asia, followed by Nepal, India, Mongolia, China, Russia, South East Asia and Australia before shipping to Alaska and driving back to B.C.
The idea started with a phone call. Claire suggested it one day and the couple began planning to purchase a proper vehicle and gathering information on how to import and export their vehicle into different countries.
James is excited for the journey, with a touch of nervousness. The pair are experienced travellers, having travelled together and separately to 40 countries.
“There’s always a bit of nervousness going into the unknown, but I don’t think I’m any more nervous if I was heading into any country where I didn’t speak the language. You’re in other peoples hands really,” he said.
The Youngs used the last 18 months to plan for the journey, at first not anticipating how much planning was necessary for the trip.
Some places require a visa, some don’t, said James. Some you show up at the border, some you have to go to the embassy in the previous country, and others require receiving a visa in your own country. If one country is at war with another, it may prevent you from entering if you have a stamp from one country.
“That fact that we have two passports helps because we can just swap between them,” he said, as they carry both English and Canadian passports.
James’s passion for travel is innate, he said. Coming from what he called a sheltered lifestyle, James began travelling with Claire after she asked him before she went to university.
“Claire was the one that really had the travel bug,” he said.
They ended up in Hong Kong. “Having never been there before it was a complete culture shock. It just looks like blade runner, half the places where you have to stay. You get used to feeling a bit weird in a different culture… and you’re kind of hooked after that.”
After selling their home in Rose Valley in West Kelowna and purchasing a smaller condo downtown, “we’re definitely coming back here,” said James.
Keep up with their travels online through https://onebigroadtrip.com/.