Lost in thought, Michaela and Thorben are standing in ankle-deep water. The sun is shining brightly again today. In the Indian state of Goa, everything is warm: the weather, the beach, the people. That does not make it any easier for the two globetrotters from Germany to stick to the decision they have taken. It won’t take long now until they will say goodbye forever. Say goodbye to the wanderlust. That’s the plan. The reason is that Michaela and Thorben Schmitt want to start a family. Therefore, the young couple have decided that this will be their last big trip. But now the first doubts arise: doubts about this seemingly sensible decision. Here on the beach in Goa, they begin to realise that they actually want both: to travel and start a family.
“Up until then, we were convinced that we could spend a holiday with children only at the North Sea or on a farm. However, the experience we had on the beach in India inspired us to risk undertaking even longer journeys with the family”, says Michaela. So instead of being the end of the wanderlust, their supposedly last journey turned out to be the kick-off for something new, something big. In Goa, the couple set themselves an even more ambitious goal: They wanted to drive along the Pan-American Highway, the longest road in the world – together with their child. Shortly afterwards when they were back in Germany, their daughter Romy was born. When she was two years old, on June 13, 2015, the trio really left everything behind. Calling them a “trio”, however, is not entirely correct. A faithful companion of the young family is also present. The three of them affectionately refer to him as a “frog”. It is a huge green Mercedes-Benz LA 911 B MA which is parked on a large ferry and will follow Michaela, Thorben and Romy on their way across the Atlantic, to the starting point of the big tour: Alaska.
Starting from the 49th US-state of Alaska, in the next two years the family travelled almost 100,000 kilometres and visited 19 different countries. The time they spent on the Pan-American Highway has given the Schmitts countless gifts. And the greatest of these gifts made itself felt at the very beginning of the journey. After only three weeks, while they were in Canada, it turned out that Michaela was pregnant again. “Once we had digested the shock of the pregnancy, we calmly considered why it should not be possible to travel while being pregnant and give birth to a child in a foreign country”, she tells us.
The Schmitts decided to continue their journey in spite of everything and were rewarded for their courage. “Apart from the fact that we lived together in a very small space and occasionally had to see a doctor in Canada, or in Alaska or Mexico, it was a completely normal pregnancy”, explains the mother of two calmly. Finally, their son Levi was born in the Mexican Caribbean in good health and without complications.
It is really unbelievable but during our journey of almost 100,000 kilometres, we did not experience a single breakdown with our frog.
The family of four also owed it to the heavyweight at their side that their onward journey – that was not originally planned – ran smoothly and without complications. “It is really unbelievable but during our journey of almost 100,000 kilometres, we did not experience a single breakdown with our frog”, relates Thorben. The Schmitts found their Mercedes-Benz LA 911 B MA – how could it be otherwise? – on a beach in Goa where they got to know its former owners. Until 1998, the lorry was used as a radio car by the Federal Border Guard. Afterwards, it was converted into an expedition vehicle. “We are the fourth owners and have made some changes to the living cabin”, Thorben explains proudly. At the right rear end of the extremely bulky vehicle, it says in white letters: www.hippie-trail.de. It is the domain of Michaela’s and Thorben’s blog. Their web presence, originally conceived as a travel diary, has earnt the Schmitts considerable fame in the travel scene.
This fame was due to Michaela’s book “Ausreisser: Abenteuer Panamericana”, which was kind of an extension of the online blog. “On the one hand, it was supposed to be a travel story with insider tips for sightseeing along our route. But on the other hand, the book also deals with contentment, gratitude, charity and a general reorientation in terms of consumption”, explains Michaela. The book became so successful that the Schmitts appear on German TV. On July 12, 2018, they appeared as guests on the talk show hosted by Markus Lanz and told their story in front of an audience of millions. So, was this the happy ending you were looking for? “No, certainly not! We have understood that travelling never needs to end for us”, says Thorben happily. The Schmitts look at each other and start to grin.
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