When Herman and Candelaria Zapp left their Argentina home to head out on a six-month road trip to Alaska, they never imagined that they would arrive back home more than 17 years later with 4 kids at their side.
In the last 17 years they have traveled to 73 countries, across 6 different continents and had experiences that most of us have only dreamed about.
“The idea was six months … It looked like enough time to go to Alaska and come back and have a family, and have kids and have a normal life,” Herman says from an auto shop where the family’s 1928 Graham-Paige was getting a tune-up and having the wooden spokes on its wheels inspected.
However, things didn't go according to plan for the couple. 6 months into their 12,000 km journey the $4,000 the pair started with was quickly running out. They ended up stranded in Ecuador, which was at the time, experiencing a financial crisis.
Determined to complete their journey the couple looked for ways to make money and stay on the road.
“It was such a wonderful thing,” Herman now remembers. “My wife started watercolour painting and we started framing them.”
This humble approach has kept these 2 travelling and pursuing their dream.
“All you need is a few coins to get to your next town,” Herman explains. “In the next town you’ll find a way to make another coin to get to the [next town] … then you look back and realize that you’ve almost seen half of the world.”
Almost 4 years after they originally set out the couple finally arrived in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. But they weren't alone. They were with their first child, Pampa, who was born in Greenboro, N.C.
After a quick return home, they headed back on the road and didn't look back.
They welcomed their second son, Tehue, in 2006.
The family's second trek found them travelling through Canada in 2008, where they gave birth to their only daughter, Paloma in Nanaimo B.C.
There were often times the family had to rely on the kindness of strangers for a warm place to stay or a hot meal.
“When we crossed from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island, I think we slept only five nights on our own,” Herman said. “All the other nights were in other people’s homes.”
The Zapp family funds their travel by selling copies of their book, Spark Your Dream, from the roof of their car. The story of their first journey became a bestseller in 2005 in Argentina and has since published 11 editions, as their journey continued.
The family has now reached Europe, the final continent on their world tour.
“The idea was to go around the world, not to travel forever,” Herman says.
“Seventeen years on the road, four kids born along the way, we are not planning very well,” Herman jokes during a stop in Barcelona. “If we would have planned, it shouldn’t have taken more than two years to go around the world.”
“Before we started, we never thought it would be possible to travel and build a family,” he says. “But it was such a blessing to be able to do that.”