For most families, a long car journey is the bane of any trip. But for the Zapp’s, their 83-year-old vehicle has become a home for the last 11 years, as they travel around the world on a never ending trip of a lifetime.
Spanning four continents, Herman and Candelaria Zapp have covered an incredible 142,000 miles while becoming parents to Pampa, eight, Tehue, five, Paloma, three and Wallaby, one.
Instead of returning home to buy a house, the couple decided to keep driving and show their family the sights of the world. Former IT specialist Herman, 42, and his wife Candelaria, 40, set off from Argentina in 2000 and began driving across South and North America, as well as Australia, New Zealand and now Asia.
Herman, who was born in San Francisco, moved to Argentina to work on his grandfather’s cattle ranch when he was a boy. While in Argentina, 10-year-old Herman met his child hood sweet-heart Candelaria when she was only 8, and the couple have been together ever since. They married in 1996.
When the money quickly ran out on their first trip, they decided to rely on the kindness of other people who give them shelter, food and petrol. ‘We were happy, we had everything a young couple could want, but we felt we had to go,’ said Herman, currently in the Philippines with his family. ‘My grandfather knew that we wanted to travel and to never stop so he gave me the old Graham-Paige car he used on his farm and gave me some advice.
‘He told me, ‘If you want to get far, you need to go slowly’, so what could be better than a vintage car.’
The only hard rule the couple have to stick by is the 40 mile per hour speed limit the 83-year old car is restricted to. The Zapp family are always on the move, only stopping for short periods on their journey.
They have been travelling ever since, with a trip around South America between 2005 and 2007, then central America, the U.S. and Canada until 2009. The car was shipped to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea as they travelled those countries and they are currently in the Philippines on a tour of South East Asia. The longest they have spent in any one country was the 13 month trip around the U.S. in 2008-9.
Remarkably, each of their kids has a different nationality, with Pampa, eight, being born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Tehue, five, being born in Argentina, Paloma, three, a native of Vancouver Island and little Wallaby, one, obviously from Australia. Each night the six Zapps either sleep in or around a tent set up next to their car, but more often than not they find a friendly local who will put them up for the night.
‘This isn’t just a feat by my wife and my young family,’ said Herman. ‘This has a roll call of 12,000 people who have helped my family over the past 11 years. ‘Almost 90 percent of the time we stay in people’s homes. ‘Once in the Philippines we were in a family’s home which had only one room. ‘They gave us their only piece of meat to eat, their only bed and when we left they apologised for not having more.’
The children are home schooled by their parents through an on-line service that gives them a regularly updated curriculum. Every time they stop and are near a computer they print off the latest classes and teach them to their kids. ‘What better way is there for my children to be educated than to see the world,’ said Herman.
They see the kangaroo jump and a grizzly bear roar in their natural environment. ‘My children have seen the space shuttle take off and have learnt different words in different languages and experienced so many different cultures.’
During the first trip to Alaska they printed the first book, Dream Chaser, which was the best selling book of the International Book Fair of Costa Rica. The couple sold 12,000 copies since and their second, ‘Spark Your Dream’, is a best seller in Argentina following its 2005 publication. And as for any plans of stopping - ‘We have driven almost the distance to The Moon from Earth and we aim to keep going,’ Herman said.
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