A journey around the world with the Mercedes-Benz LA 911 B

The couple celebrating on the roof of the Mercedes LA 911 in front of the pyramids in Sudan.

Through 54 countries in the classic Mercedes-Benz: for Sabine Hoppe and Thomas Rahn, travelling in their own vehicle is the perfect way to discover the world.

Around the world in their own Mercedes-Benz LA 911

How long do you need to travel around the world in a classic van? When Sabine Hoppe and Thomas Rahn set out to answer the question in 2009 with their short-nose Mercedes-Benz named “Paula”, they expected to take three years. “Initially, we simply wanted to pass through the countries. But when we noticed just how much there was to see while on the road we realized that the journey around the world was going to take a lot longer”, reminisces Sabine.

A world map shows the route travelled by Sabine Hoppe and Thomas Rahn.

Six years, 54 countries and 120,000 km later, the adventurers are certain: having your own vehicle is the best way to travel. “Thanks to Paula we could freely and independently discover the world,” says Thomas enthusiastically with a glance at the classic blue and white van. “At the same time we always had a home with us – that was a great feeling!”

A mobile home with added appeal

When they discovered Paula it was love at first sight: “When we walked up the steps into the living area, we knew: this was our vehicle.” Any initial doubts about whether the short-nose van was the right choice for a journey around the world quickly disappeared.

A blue and white Mercedes-Benz LA 911 B crosses the Laguna Verde in Altiplano.

Every centimeter of the Mercedes-Benz LA 911 B is optimally used: The 11 m² contain everything one needs on the road – even a small wood-fired stove. Sabine and Thomas never had a problem with lack of space while travelling: “We got used to Paula so quickly that she actually seemed larger over the course of time.”

A blue and white Mercedes-Benz classic van stands in the Sahara in Sudan.

The classic van’s most important feature is its worldwide sympathy bonus: it makes people smile wherever it goes.

Photos versus wanderlust

While Paula has become a rarity in her German homeland, the robust Mercedes-Benz short nose trucks are still on the road in many other countries around the world. So it is no surprise that the classic van reliably handled every challenge and every task. Whether as a changing room for Mexican Aztec dancers, as a taxi in Malawi or a sheep transporter in Mongolia: wherever Paula appeared she had curious experiences and encounters. Since their return to Germany, Sabine and Thomas have revisited the most beautiful moments and presented their journey around the world in the classic van in photo documentaries live narrations. And if wanderlust ever strikes them again then Paula will be ready for new adventures.


When Nitja, Ralf and their three children set out on vacation, they are always accompanied by an “old man” named Elliot. This Mercedes-Benz L 319 is simply part of the family.

> Read more about Elliot the Mercedes-Benz L 319

The mint green Mercedes-Benz is a real eyecatcher.
Vehicle profile: Mercedes-Benz LA 911 B
Production year: 1977
Engine: 5,7 litre 6-cylinder aspirated diesel, 130 hp
Weight: 7.5 tonnes
Top speed: 85 km/h
Vehicle details: All-wheel drive, rear differential lock, MPT tyres 335/80 R20 on SDC split ring rims
Interior equipment: Bed (1.20 m x 1.90 m), seating corner, shower, toilet, refrigerator, wood-fired oven, gas cooker, gas heating

Five tips travelling around the world in your own vehicle

  1. “Do not be scared and simply get started.”
  2. “Being informed is essential: we have compiled useful information for a variety of countries on our website, www.abseitsreisen.de.”
  3. “Calculate the costs in advance: how much funding is necessary? A long journey does not have to be expensive: travelling in a suitable vehicle saves money on hotels, restaurants and public transport.”
  4. “Join other travelers: driving together and sharing the day-to-day tasks is very helpful – and you also have pleasant company.”
  5. “Only take the most important things: we believe that you can do without anything. In emergencies only the locals and their ideas help – not the vehicle jack.”

Freihung | Germany

Photos: Sabine Hoppe and Thomas Rahn