Or: Home is where we are...
We love rooftop tents. If the weather is nice there is no better way to sleep. We love to have a Barbecue over a campfire. If the wind allows this food is better than any five star buffet dinner. We prefer to take an open air shower. If the temperature is mild enough it is really pleasant. We also prefer going into nature for a visit to the toilet J As long as there are no spectators, this is the most hygienic way.
Well … all of the above is no problem on a vacation trip for a couple of weeks and even for a couple of months. However, perspectives shift, once you have decided to make this trip your new way of living – a life where you will always be in, on and around your vehicle – wherever you go. In that case you need something much different than an SUV with a rooftop tent.
Our first idea was to go for a small van like a Sprinter or Ducato with a four-wheel drive system. But we dropped it rather soon. We didn’t want to buy a pre-owned van and preferred to determine the choice of interiors ourselves – so we would have ended up with a six digit initial cost price very quickly. And not to mention: it is impossible to close a sliding door tightly after thousands of kilometers on a bumpy road. Just forget it!
Our next thought was a Daily 4x4 with a mounted body. Nice one, but much too small to live in and again way too expensive for the value you get. So, we were not yet there…
Well, and then… we ended up where everyone ends up sooner or later - with a truck as the chassis. And that was when the questions really started. Well, a truck is not just a huge car… and it doesn’t compare to anything I drove before. Are we really sure we want to drive around the world in a truck? After the first road test and driving the truck for the first laps the answer was clear: YES! This is exactly what we are looking for: lots of living space inside and great panoramic views up to the horizon from the cockpit. But what about changing the wheels? Well, then we have to visit our fitness studio a bit more frequently… And the driver’s license? Well, we are highly receptive to learning and of course we will do it voluntarily!
Soon the choice became very clear: it had to be a MAN LE 10.220 truck with the „Euro 3 regulation“. Clearly arranged technology and an engine that can be understood and repaired easily is important to get ahead in the outback. But trucks of this kind are rare these days – we searched the web 24/7. In parallel we had endless phone conversations with several specialized body developers. A dozen of drawings, extensions and amendments … well we learnt a lot and grew along with the task at hand. The initially planned budget got completely lost somewhere on the way. With the necessities and our personal preferences the dimensions shifted dramatically upwards.
And then suddenly, there he was! No, not yet at our place, but with his creator. He caught our eye by a “For Sale” announcement sign. We sent an early and very careful price request – and having been already afraid of the answer, we were disillusioned accordingly. However, we were hooked and emails were exchanged in an hourly rhythm – so we got slowly in touch with each other. A date for a first visit was scheduled quickly. Our official “we just have a look” attitude was a bad way trying to hide the emotional decision we had made longtime already… And as if we would have known, once we arrived we found everything exactly the way we would have planned and built it ourselves only much more beautiful and perfect and ready to go. So we discussed additional requests we had and another round of negotiations started lasting several days. A second in-person meeting took place with a last desperate attempt on our side to stop the unstoppable emotional decision… but then finally a handshake confirmed the future together…
Welcome to the club! And many thanks to Daniela and Stephan Wirths – whose flexibility in making the handover of their truck „Temet“ happen paired with our unconditional intention to own it finally brought us together. And all that happened within only three weeks.
In the following months further equipment and appliances were added to our truck and then came the day we picked it up for our first test vacation trip. Oh my goodness, we were incredibly excited!
Now, we have slowly calmed down a bit and are able to explain more systematically why we really decided to choose a vehicle equipped by „Actionmobil“:
First of all, we realized very quickly, that it is a completely different story to equip a truck for expeditions compared to what a normal camper would be. It really is much more similar to building a house. All components like furniture, technology, appliances, etc., everything needs to be much more stable, higher quality and simply more perfected. And that comes with high cost.
Of course you can also choose an alternative way – take a used 30-year-old truck as the base, add a shelter from the German army and do all the works yourself and with the help of a local carpenter. Well, this is an option, however it will wrack your nerves, take forever and will always be a compromise solution. Plus, the work will never really end. Anyone who ever fitted the interiors to a similar vehicle as a do-it-yourselfer and who like me is not really the born handyman, will know what I am talking about.
Also with growing older convenience and comfort becomes more and more important and the experience from travelling a lot tells me what I surely do not want to miss anymore in the future … and if from a financial point of view there are no obstacles and you have the option to choose….
After we made the decision for a MAN truck as a base, we started to visit a couple of expert companies specialized in body fitting for expedition vehicles. First, not far from were we live, in Oberpframmern, we found a very friendly sales representative, who provided us with first insights into the new topic of body construction and interiors. But, as he didn’t have travel experience beyond Europe, it all reminded us very much of classic campers. So, we just couldn’t trust the equipment to sustain over a long period under permanent load.
So the search went on. Another company in the Swabian town Bingen was recommended to us. It made a solid high quality impression and they also had enough travel experience themselves. However, somehow our styles and tastes did not match completely. Nevertheless, we gained valuable experience for the decision to be made.
The next place we visited was a small firm in Bitz. They impressed us with their competency and paying lots of attention to the detail. A lot of good handicraft work, however we did not fancy the finishing. But again, we met great people and learned a lot.
Then further on to Hauenstein. Very kind people, highly competent. However they again did not have travel experience of their own beyond Europe. Offers and cost estimates were sent and revised – finally almost everything seemed to fit... until we saw the advertisement of „Actionmobil“ in Saalfelden.
Based on the experience I had gathered throughout all my conversations with partners for exterior and interior fittings, from all my observations of interior details and technology used and from all the visual impressions of reliable workmanship and practicable solutions I had collected, one thing was obvious to me immediately when coming to “Actionmobil” in Saalfelden: the people there have excellent know how. Everything they do simply works perfectly. Step by step it became very clear to me why an „Actionmobil” truck costs much more than any other brand. Well, of course you can travel the world in a truck with a differently branded body, or even do your own interior works, however it depends on how demanding you are. Any of the previously mentioned brands are suitable in their own specific way. They all have pros and cons. At the end, nothing but your personal experience and expectations are crucial for decision making. And of course your budget…
At this point we would like to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH to all the people in Oberpframmern, Bingen, Bitz and Hauenstein who helped us patiently with our decision making process in long friendly conversations. WE REALLY APPRECIATED YOUR HELP!