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Family of 7 Travels from Alaska to Argentina in Veggie-Powered Truck…

in Do What You Love, Travel, Videos

Yes, this headline is for real…

Last week, Courtney and I had the pleasure of crossing paths with another family on the road… The Denning Family.

Like us, the Dennings are on a road trip as a family.

Unlike us, they have 5 FREAKIN’ KIDS with them! Holy moly. And they aren’t just going around the U.S. – they are in route from Alaska (where they lived for a year) all the way down the west coast to… ARGENTINA.

To top it off, they are pulling this off in a veggie-powered truck (read: paying nothing for gas) and a rooftop tent to sleep in.

We were so impressed and inspired by our short time with the Denning family – I wanted to share their story with you.

Below, I sit down with Greg and Rachel – while Courtney wrangles 5 kids total (thanks honey!). :-)

Additional information and video summary:

  • Follow the Denning Family here: DiscoverShareInspire.com // Twitter // Facebook
  • [00:00] - Introduction to Greg and Rachel
  • [01:15] – Where the Dennings have been as a family (Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, India, Canada, Alaska…)
  • [02:05] – Ages of their five kids that travel with them (All under 8!)
  • [02:50] – I ask the Dennings if they’re crazy – and if the lifestyle feels “strange” to them.
  • [03:35] – Details on the Veggie-Powered Truck they are using for their roadtrip.
  • [05:55] – How the Dennings can afford to travel (different from what we do)!
  • [08:00] – Rachel and Greg’s top parenting tips for managing 5 kids on the road.
  • [10:40] – What is the primary goal for the road trip?

Full transcript of the entire interview…

Hey everyone. This is Baker from Man Vs. Debt, and I am honored to be joined today with Greg and Rachel Denning, who—we’ve met a lot of people while we’ve been traveling along this road trip. But maybe—these guys have maybe the most unique story of them all. So I wanted to get them on camera while we’re spending a few days here in Redding, California, or outside of Redding, and share their story and get some of their expertise for what they’re doing.

So before I let them talk, I’m going to do so more talking. And that is, we get a lot of people that email or message us and say, “Hey, with so many people that are traveling and young, we really appreciate that you guys share your travels as a family.”

And so we’re very flattered when we’re able to do that, and sort of help other families realize that it’s possible. But even we need inspiration, and when we turn for inspiration, these are the type of families and the type of people that we turn to.

They don’t have just one kid. Not two kids, not three kids, not four kids. But they are doing this with five kids.

A family of seven, with five kids. And I guess, Greg, if you would, give us a quick recap of the last few years. We’ve talked about it, but I want to hear in your own words of where you guys have been. Just the quick version.

We got excited about travel, and Rach and I had a quick trip to Mexico. We both went, “Wow, we want to do this.” And so after our fourth child was born, we drove from the States down to Costa Rica. Lived there for a year. Then we moved and lived in the Dominican Republic, out in the Caribbean, which was fantastic.

After that, we ended up in India, and just loved that experience. Flew back from India while Rachel was pregnant with our fifth, and drove from Atlanta, Georgia, up to Homer, Alaska, where we spent the last year. So now we’re on our next adventure, which is Alaska to Argentina, to Tierra Del Fuego.

Yeah. So that’s why I wanted to get them on camera, for that specific reason. With four kids through most of that, now with the fifth, little baby Atlas, who is so cute. And what are the ages now, Rachel? What’s the breakdown?

Our oldest is Kyah; she is 8. And then Parker’s 7. Kimbell is 5, almost 6. Aaliyah’s 4, and then Atlas is eight months.

8, 7, 5, 4, and eight months. Correct? Wow, that is—I guess the follow up question to that is, “Are you crazy?”

Yes.

Serious question. Do you get that a lot?

Sometimes.

Do people really ask you? Do they see you, hear about what you’re doing, and they really—Honestly, do they check in to see if you’re a little loony?

Yeah. I think people think we’re a little strange sometimes.

It’s just so unconventional.

Is it really that strange though? So let’s get into this, ’cause I want to talk about this. We have people ask us this question too, and it’s not even close to the same scale of what you guys are doing. Does it feel strange, in day to day life for you?

No. To us it’s just, you know, you get up in the morning. You have breakfast, you get dressed, you—Except for us. Then we go to the beach or we go to the Redwood Forest, or we—

To Mt. St. Helen’s, or Rainer. Or today, up to the lake.

And I think that we’ve run into that same thing too. And I keep telling people, with life in the RV, because I want to get into what you guys are doing this most recent tour in. But people ask us all the time, when they see the RV, is “Can you do this for a long period of time?” And I always tell them, “After the first month, it was just life. And you adapt, and you learn how to live and operate in a small space, like the RV.”

Or even a smaller space, because you guys are actually doing this in a truck that has benches in the back for the kids, and a rooftop tent. So picture this: a truck and a rooftop tent. We think we need the RV, which is 31.5′ with a slide-out, a bathroom, kitchen sink. And here they are, making it happen, all the way from Alaska to Argentina, in just the truck. And not only is this a truck with a rooftop tent, this is a veggie powered truck, right?

That’s right, yeah.

Tell us a little bit about that, Greg. What—How in the world—We’re spending $1,000 to $1,500 in gas. And we just went to Shell before we got here to meet you guys, and filled it up for whatever, $220. Tell the Man Vs. Debt readers where you guys went to get your fuel before you got here.

So yesterday before we got here, we stopped at a restaurant. I walked back to their veggie bin. They had over 300 gallons of veggie. I took what we needed and what we could carry.

Well, explain what the veggie is.

It’s waste vegetable oil. They take it out of their fryers after they’ve cooked the fries or the chicken, whatever they’re doing. They take the waste vegetable oil, they throw it in their bins, and then we recycle it, put it in the truck. It costs me zero, in dollars, to get that. There’s an exchange rate. I have to work a little bit for it. Took me a half hour to get 30 gallons. It was the slow way, but we—

We filled up for $220. You stopped by a restaurant with half an hour of work and did the exact same thing.

Right.

And a lot of people, I hear—I hear about this a lot. But it really—the vision, my mind comes up with two hippie-type people going around to restaurants. It doesn’t strike me as a family of seven actually pulling this off. Where’d you get the idea from? Or have you always been passionate about this issue? Or did you just jump into it?

No. We bumped into it. And our whole life has been like that. We just meet great people along the road, and new ideas. And once your mind’s expanded to a new idea, you grab hold of it. And we had been toying with this idea of a long road trip, and we kind of solidified it: “Hey, Alaska to Argentina.” And then the idea came across, if you can do this on veggie. We thought, that’s thousands and thousands of dollars.

Yeah, probably approaching at least $10,000.

Yeah, it’s going to be huge.

I don’t know. I’d like to see the math on that. But yeah, that’s a huge thing. So let’s do. Let’s talk more about the finances. ‘Cause one of the questions I get a lot is, how you guys afford this lifestyle. And I work, work way too much, as a lot of Man Vs. Debt readers—I go back and forth. But we’re working and living on the road. While you guys have a slightly different system of—Well, I’ll let you guys explain it. How are you affording this trip?

I think our main philosophy is that we eliminate everything that we can that’s not essential for us. So that we free up the time and the money to do what we really want to do. So—and that’s why we went with the rooftop tent option and everything, is because we’re eliminating rent, we’re eliminating accommodation expenses. We can basically—

Eliminating gas.

Right. Basically living in our truck, but it gives us the freedom to go all the way to Argentina.

Yeah. And so primarily I guess what you did is, you guys—stage one is just to be ultra frugal, and to realize what’s important to you guys, spend money on that. Which we’ve talked about as well. But also just to eliminate these sort of expenses that people think are necessities when they’re traveling.

Like I said, we’re spending almost $1,500 a month. And it had Courtney and I scratching our heads to be like, “Wow, maybe we should’ve thought more about this” or “Maybe there are more ways that we can stretch ourselves,” when we heard about your guys’ story.

See, and we love to ask that question: “Is there a better way?” And you start questioning—We take our living expenses, and we’re like, “Is this the bare minimum?” And then you figure out, no it’s not. You can squeeze it, squeeze it. And so you give up some luxuries, some comforts.

But for us, with our priority—Hey, the trip’s our priority. Family time’s our priority. I can skip a little bit of comfort, luxury, here and here. Personally, I can give that up in order to say—[CROSSTALK]—time and other things so we can do what we really want to do. So we’ve gone totally frugal. And so our living expenses are cheap. So now when you find a way to cover those expenses, you get to do what you want to do.

And that’s great. And I want to now dive into what you just said about the family time. Because honestly, we’ve encountered this again in both the positive and negative of traveling families. And I might offend some people here. But a lot of times when we have—when we meet home schooled families, or we meet a lot of traveling families, at times the kids can be less than social. Or the parents themselves can be less than social. There can be some barriers there that we’ve seen in different families, and that we help—we’re taking strides to make sure that we’re healthy in that aspect.

But your kids—Seriously. This is not just because you’re sitting here—are so curious and so well-behaved, and really just amazing kids. So Courtney and I are looking at you guys, looking for parental tips. How do you guys travel, live so close together, and give the—What are your top parenting tips, is what I’m trying to get at. Because I really look up to you guys in that instance.

I think that one thing I always try to focus on with the kids is just personal responsibility and being concerned about being the kind of person you want to be. So if there’s some type of issue, I really focus on, “Are you acting how you want to be? Are you doing the kinds of things that are going to make you the person you want to be? And how do you feel right now? Do you feel good when you’re fighting with your brother or”—That’s my area of focus, really.

And is there one that sticks out for you?

Yeah. Rachel and I are really passionate about personal development, and trying to be our best selves. We’re aware of the stigma of social retardation or whatever. “Oh, no, you won’t be social. You’ve got this recluse.” You imagine this person that can’t communicate. We’re on a quest together. We’re passionate about personal development, and trying to make the most of ourselves. So we go about it with passion, and the kids follow along.

I was just going to say that.

And we encourage them. We’re outgoing. We love to meet people from all cultures and places and backgrounds and ages. And be able to interact with all of them, and learn from them, and grow and learn in every situation. So we’re passionate about education. We’re passionate about being people of influence that can make a difference in the world and just try to be good people.

Model that for your kids. Lead by example.

And they follow along.

Yeah.

And obviously this is a softball. But you guys believe that travel enhances that in your kids? And enhances that in yourselves?

Undoubtedly.

Which we do too. And again, I said that was a softball. But that’s sort of what Courtney and I keep coming back to, is I think that we think in general that travel is leading us, and then by in return Milligan, in the direction of where we want to grow as people.

Absolutely.

So that’s really great. So let’s talk a little bit of shop. Let’s talk a little bit about your guys’ site, ’cause I really like it, and that is discovershareinspire.com. Is that right? What is the goal now? Let me ask you this.

What’s the primary goal of your trip? Have you thought—That’s a tough question for us. What’s the primary goal of the trip from the West Coast, and literally the West Coast of the entire hemisphere, I guess. That’s what it is right?

The entire West Coast, yeah.

That’s awesome. What’s your guys’ primary goal?

It just started as what—we thought, “What do we want to do?” Based on the travel we’ve done, based on the experiences we’ve had, what are we really passionate about? And our thing is discovery. It’s really about that. We love going to new places and seeing what they have to offer and learning from it. But then we really tend to get bored after we’ve been there for too long. So we realized that we love that change. We love to—exploring new things. So when we thought about it, we were like, “Well, let’s just drive and keep driving”—

And just keep going south.

And keep going, yeah.

And share all the great things that the world has to offer. But if I can step back, it’s all priority. Our main focus is family closeness. We want a tight, close, growing, loving family that we become well-rounded, developed people and stay tight as a family. And so that priority’s important. That’s the basis of this discovery, sharing, and this travel. Hey, we’re going to do this trip, but the goal is just a solid family. So often, so many of us get distracted by work or other pursuits or hobbies or whatever it is. And so our main priority is that. How can we really do that and then tie in discovering, a desire to share. Always experience and then share it.

Yeah. So let’s take that. And Rachel, you’re I guess the primary writer, or the primary face of the website itself. How does that tie in? You guys have this personal message of family first and then evolving. Together as a family, evolving, is what I’m deciphering from you guys. How does the site tie in to that? How does the site—What’s your goal with the site?

With the site, I just like to share our experiences. So I’m writing about what we’re doing. I’m also offering tips and advice about how to do it. How to manage education and where to go and everything.

Sure. It’s almost like a megaphone for your guys’ experience. Get those out to other people that may be looking at, “Well, it’s nice if you want to travel, but I have three kids. I could never do that.”

Right.

Absolutely.

Emails I get all the time. People who say, “When you guys have your second child, things will change.”

We hear that all the time.

So when you guys have your sixth, it’s definitely going to be different. I love that, because I think that we need more megaphones from people who break down barriers, who break down excuses. And I think—I’m flattered that we get to do that for a very, very small group of people with one kid.

But it’s awesome to be able to share your guys’ story, to say, “Hey, there is almost no excuse. You can make it happen. You can be frugal. You can go with five kids. You can realize whatever is your priorities, and you can make those happen.” So that’s why I’ve enjoyed having you guys on and I enjoy sharing your story.

So I always finish up, wrap up these sort of interviews. And I haven’t told you guys this before. So this is a little bit of a surprise. But I want you guys to ask a question of the Man Vs. Debt readers. You guys have to come up with a question. You ask, and we’ll get the feedback from the readers. Either one of you can jump in, and I know it’s—I love surprising people with this question. If you could ask one thing, what would you ask?

Tough.

That is tough.

There are no wrong questions.

A question for your readers.

I would think, “What is it that holds people back?”

You’re on the same page. Go with it.

“What is it that holds people back from doing what they really want to do?”

If I—I may even be able to evolve that a little bit. ‘Cause I love this question. When it was asked to me one time, I think it literally changed my life. “What’s the #1 thing that’s holding you back?” Right now, what’s the #1 thing that’s holding you back?

And eliminate that, and then your next #1, and move that one.

Yeah, keep moving it on. If you guys can help all of us out by listing out what the #1 thing is holding you back, and again, Greg and Rachel, thanks for joining me today.

Thank you.

Thank you.

And it’s an honor to be able to share your guys’ story and spend a couple days here with our families together.

Thanks.

The Dennings Ask: What’s the #1 barrier that’s holding you back from your own goals?

What a great question!

What’s the number one hurdle – right now – that’s keeping you from your own vision of the life you want to lead?

I hope you are as inspired by the Denning family as we were! Follow them here!

xoxoxo,

-Baker

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam May 26, 2011 at 4:38 PM

It’s inspiring to see people like this taking risks. The life lesson here is risk failure every day. Great interview and post!

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:13 PM

“Risk failure everyday” < – love this. :)

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom June 1, 2011 at 9:23 PM

I love this! And I agree with you, Baker, I love the “risk failure everyday” quote as well! My girlfriend grew up in a family of 7 and it is extremely commendable! All five kids were home schooled and grew up well-adjusted, successful and frugal! I love this family’s mentality. It is inspiring!

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Jorge Silvestrini June 3, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Agree with you guys! We have changed our lifestyle thanks to our society and status. We should forget society and get back to learning how to live within our means. I think we are part of this new culture to live with what we have and be HAPPY!

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Rachel Denning August 9, 2011 at 2:31 AM

Totally agree with you – live within our means and be happy!

Sunday May 26, 2011 at 4:43 PM

Un-freaking-believable!! How cool!!

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:14 PM

I know, right? Was fun to hear their story. :)

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Sean May 26, 2011 at 4:58 PM

So awesome! We just met the Denning fam a couple of weeks ago! They are very cool people with a very cool journey.

I really like the point made about breaking down any barriers. People hold themselves back with all kinds of excuses on why they can’t do something. But when you see a family of 7 roadtripping from one tip of the Americas down to the other tip, there’s really no more excuses. It’s really about wanting something bad enough and just doing it.

The Dennings are awesome! Great interview Baker! Thanks.

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Yeah, we talked about how amazing you guys were – Sean! Hope to cross paths soon. :)

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Casey Armstrong May 26, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Thanks a lot for sharing this Baker. I traveled by bus/hitchhiking from Santiago, Chile to Mexico City and that was just by myself. I love that this family got out there and pushed the limits. It is a dream of mine to convert a truck to veggie-powered and trek down to Buenos Aires. Thanks for sharing this and glad you’re fam is still enjoying the trip around the US.

Cheers,

Casey

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Wow, Casey – sounds like some adventures of your own!

I never imagined doing veggie-powered anything – until we met these guys. Now I can see that it’s much more reasonable (and doable). :)

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Candice May 26, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Both of your families are awesome and inspiring!

Though I am living a good part of my vision for my life, debt is the main thing holding me back from fulling living it. But I’m in the process of changing that, little by little, everyday.

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Thanks, Candice – appreciate the kind words. :)

It’s a day-by-day process, not just for you and your debt, but for us as well! Keep it up!

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Jorge Silvestrini June 3, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Amen – keep going! Candice, you are the only one who can start the change and make it happen! Proud of you, GO for it! Don’t let ANYONE stop you in your quest…

Keep working on your budget and remember the simple rules in life! Live with LESS than what you make and all will be fine…

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John Bardos - JetSetCitizen May 26, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Awesome interview. It is very inspiring to hear that a family of 7 can do this. There are not many excuses left for the rest of us.

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Haha, John – kind of made me look silly for complaining at times! You know?

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Rebeca May 26, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Great interview! We’re starting to make preparations to hit the global road with our four kids too. Can’t wait!

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Nice, Rebeca – congrats! Keep us in the loop about where your adventures take you!

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Rachel Denning May 26, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Adam and Courtney,

It was so great to spend time with you! Thanks for the interview – and Courtney actually wrangled 6 kids if you count little Milligan :)

Thanks again!

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:18 PM

It appears I can’t count! :) 6 it was!

It was so fun to spend time together! Keep rockin’

-Baker

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Karen May 26, 2011 at 6:42 PM

Wow, this gave me a rush! I am thirsty for info on big families hitting the road.
We’ve got 9, and we’ve driven across Canada a few times, and basically circled NA once with 8 of them, and hope sometime soon to drive to Mexico and possibly even south of that.

Thanks, Baker, for sharing an awesome interview. My dc loved it, and gets the dreams rolling again.

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:19 PM

9?

Oh my word.

You people are crazy – both the Dennings and yourself! :)

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Niki May 26, 2011 at 7:15 PM

I love when I see other families on the road like this. It gives me a lot of inspiration for when my husband and I travel and the possibility of having children. I’d love to know more about this veggie-fueled truck as well… Our biggest barrier before we start traveling the world in a year, is our college loans. We have a plan to get rid of it in one more year and then we’re off. :)

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Baker May 26, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Whoohoo! A year is not that long at all to wait to knock out those loans – it’ll feel amazing I’m sure.

This gives us inspiration to keep up a semi-mobile lifestyle when our next one arrives, too. :)

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Lisa May 26, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Hey Adam, I had just discovered the Denning’s website last week and was so excited to see them here as well. They are truly inspiring. Our families are too precious to spend so much time apart as in the typical American ideal worklife.
The biggest thing that holding us back…fear of needing health insurance (we only have four kids) and still figuring out how to finance a lifetime of discovery! Learning how other’s are doing it helps us take steps daily to reach our goals. Thanks to both your family and the Dennings for sharing and inspiring the world! Time to look up how to convert our car to run on veggie fuel…then sell the house…then…away we go! :)

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Rachel Denning June 3, 2011 at 6:24 PM

Way to go Lisa! Keep following those dreams.

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Regina Marie May 26, 2011 at 10:08 PM

I love, love, love this! My family and I live e very non-conventional life too. We’re getting ready to move aboard our new (to us) sailboat next week.

It’s so wonderful to see (well, read about) other families that are doing similar things. Granted, we’re not as big a family… (3 adults and 2 kids), which makes stories like this all the more inspirational!

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Rachel Denning May 27, 2011 at 11:26 AM

How exciting Regina! We’re honestly considering doing the ‘sailboat’ thing after this adventure. You’ll be a great resource. We’ll have to stay in touch, I’d love to hear about your experience.

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Carol Kaatz May 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM

This is my daughter and son-in-law!! They left me behind in Alaska and I love following their journey! Thanks for a great interview and I will enjoy following your site too, Adam!

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Michael May 27, 2011 at 8:44 AM

Baker, I loved the interview with the Denning’s! Being that our fifth child is on the way, I would love to be able for us to take some adventures like yours or theirs. First we have to actually get rid of a family member, her name is Sallie Mae! Take care and stay between the ditches!

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Kevin M May 27, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Thanks for sharing, very cool story.

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Jason May 27, 2011 at 6:59 PM

Hey Baker! Cool story, even cooler shirt. ;) Missing ya on the NF boards…

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randall May 27, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Thanks Baker, awesome. I’m at 75K waste veggie oil miles on my van – I converted for financial and environmental sustainability. Last summer I did a 5,500-mile tour on a tank and a half of diesel.

Using veggie for heating oil – both in WVO and bio-diesel forms – also rocks. The potential for personal, small-scale economic transformation is VERY real. Legislative change is much harder, but also very exciting. working on that here in Maine. anybody else interested, drop me a line.

Interested in conversion? Daryl will treat you right: http://www.greasewrench.com/

Travel safely,

Randall

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Kristin May 27, 2011 at 9:10 PM

I love this so much! I’m preparing for a 1 year long, food focused cross country road trip this fall. The one thing that’s been a challenge is finding a vehicle (my car was stolen in April). I can’t afford a new one so am hoping to find a kind sponsor to donate one for the trip. But once I get that sorted out I’d love to learn more about how fueling up via veggie oils works.

<3
Kristin

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Rachel Denning May 28, 2011 at 12:28 AM

We’ve had a lot of questions about our mode of travel and transportation.

Also, we didn’t express enough gratitude in the interview for our sponsors – without them we couldn’t do what we’re doing:

http://www.GoldenFuelSystems.com converted our truck. They’ve personally driven 750,000 miles on veggie vehicles (cars to RV’s)

http://www.CascadiaTents.com donated our roof top tent.

Thanks so much!

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Mike Stankavich May 28, 2011 at 1:14 AM

Hey Baker, Greg, Rachel, what a great story. It really shows that if you have a clear vision of where you want to go and what you want to do in your life that you can make it happen. Which is of course what ManVsDebt is all about.

My family and I are also travelers, but we like to stick with a home base for a while and travel from there rather than live on the road full time. Right now we’re living in the Philippines and enjoying Southeast Asia. In a year or two, we’ll move on to Europe, and after that, who knows? We’re starting up a blog http://familyonthemove.com to tell our story. Our designer is hard at work to have it ready to launch next month.

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Matthew theSmith May 29, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Is there any way to retrofit your RV so that it runs on the recaptured veg oil?

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Rachel Denning May 30, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Matthew,

The answer is yes. Charlie from http://www.goldenfuelsystems.com (the guy who did our conversion), just converted an RV and spent the last month driving around the U.S. in it.

Any conversion has to be done on a diesel vehicle though.

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Matthew theSmith May 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Thanks, I had just stumbled upon that system reading about a family called the Happy Janssens who retrofitted there RV using this system. They interviewed a family called the Ticknors who were traveling with 11 kids! Whoa…. Keep up the great work!

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Baker May 30, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Yeah, our particular RV is gas engine – so it would be much more difficult.

Diesel engine RV’s are much more costly (in our experience), but getting an older used one and converting it would save a lot! :)

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Sibyl May 29, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Really, really cool. It sounds like they are having an amazing experience and it really is inspiring to know that you really can choose and create your own lifestyle and reality. You don’t have to do things the way that other people always have. I really loved and was inspired by the statement he made that “once your mind expands to a new idea you grab hold of it”. I think those are definitely words we should all live by. Thanks for a great an inspiring interview this morning. Loved it.

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A May 29, 2011 at 5:24 PM

It’s so inspiring to see people like this! Apparently, kids are NOT the end of your life.

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marielna May 31, 2011 at 11:06 AM

This is what most Americans could achieve, if only they would believe in self.

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Ursula May 31, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Hi Baker and Denning family,
Thank you for sharing – I loved your interview! It was very passionate and inspiring!

To answer your question – I traveled a lot during the last years and also lived in Central and South America for several month but I think after digging deep enough the number 1 barrier that’s holding me back is pure anxiety even though I sometimes call it money or time.

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Sandy @ yesiamcheap May 31, 2011 at 9:58 PM

I don’t know if I could sit in an RV with that many kids for that long. At least 2 of us would end up on the evening news. :)

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Yes, I Am Cheap May 31, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I don’t know if I could sit in an RV with that many kids for that long. At least 2 of us would end up on the evening news. :) I need to be more zen-like.

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Essay June 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Wow this is really amazing to travel with so many children. Well done guys!

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Rachel Denning June 1, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Thanks everyone!

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Andy June 2, 2011 at 1:44 AM

Watch out for Columbian rebels. A friend of mine was grabbed by them and held hostage for over 3 months. He was only freed after his mother paid them $37,000.

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Satish June 2, 2011 at 10:28 AM

This is amazing that you can travel on a veggie-powered truck. This is great for the environment and personal finance as well. I wish more people would do this so that we won’t have to completely rely on foreign oil.

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Susan June 2, 2011 at 12:49 PM

I read a short piece about Man vs Debt on the Yahoo finance page (http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/112812/adam-baker-qa-man-vs-debt-creditcards), and had to check out your website.

This is the first post I saw and it is awesome. I like the question, “What is it that holds people back from doing what they really want to do?”. There are so many “practical” answers to this, but the first to come to mind are: how do I afford health insurance without a steady job / source of income; how do I save for retirement when there is no real income? As a middle aged person, these are important questions for me, but I would like to think that they would also be very important questions to the younger generation as well.

I love the idea of letting go of everything that ties me down and getting into an RV and traveling as the whim hits me, but how do I financially support that? Then there is the thought of someday being 60+ years old, with health issues and no way to cover those costs and no real retirement savings to get me through the last years of my life in comfort. I don’t ever want to become a burden on society and I guess that is what holds me back the most…the fear that I can’t financially take care of myself in my elder years.

Again, this was a great post and I am looking forward to following this blog in the future.

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Ginger June 3, 2011 at 8:42 AM

I completely agree with Susan, my first thought was that my mortgage is the #1 reason I am held back from such a desirable nomadic lifestyle. I had to explore my hesitation to simply sell the house, and realized it represents a comfortable old age for myself and my partner. That house is part of my retirement plan (even though I’m only 27!), in addition to investments in mutual funds, bonds, and a rental property. I have seen the stories of the older generation struggling to get by and I do NOT want that to be me.

What sort of plan do you guys have in place to ensure you live out your later years in some degree of security?

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Rachel Denning June 3, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Ginger and Susan,

These are some great questions and concerns. I don’t know the answers, but I do know what is working for us right now…

The ideal is to create a source of income that will support the lifestyle you want (including the cost of health insurance if that’s a priority to you). Income is important. Being nomadic doesn’t have to equal no real income.

That’s our area of focus right now – we currently use money we’ve saved for our trip, but we’re working on our online business so we can have a ‘location independent’ income. The internet makes that a very viable option now days (and Baker is a perfect example of making it happen).

There’s also options for jobs overseas, with non-profits, or foreign service if you want to go that route.

As for retirement – we take a very unconventional view (in fact I’m working on a book called Retire Now, Work Later.)

1) We’re already ‘retired’, and 2) We don’t plan on ‘retiring’.

As contradictory as that sounds, what it means is that 1) we don’t plan on reaching a point in our lives where we’ll ‘stop working’. We’ll always be working on the things we enjoy doing, that we’re passionate about and ‘experts in’ – (for us that’s writing, speaking, parenting, etc.). We’re willing to always work at doing those things, for the rest of our lives – that’s our ‘security.’ (This idea comes partly from Tim Ferris)

2) If retirement means reaching a point where you spend more time with your family, travel and do what you enjoy – well we’re already doing that.

We do save for the long term (10% of anything we make), and invest (our choice is precious metals). But we’re really questioning the wisdom (for us) of investing in real estate. Is spending $500,000-$700,000 over 30 years on a house really a wise investment? Of course we’ll always need some place to live, but do we have to own it? We just don’t know…

The point is to question what is status quo, to figure out if it really is the best/right thing for you, and not just to do it because it’s what everyone else has done or is doing.

Don’t know if this helps or not :)

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Mike Stankavich June 5, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Rachel, this is exactly what my family and I are doing as well. I also plan not to “retire” and have no intention of owning a house as an “investment”. We walked away from our underwater house in Oregon to take an expat job and haven’t looked back.

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Chandra Gillespie June 2, 2011 at 4:38 PM

The number one thing holding me back is the not knowing what I want to do in this time of my life.

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Donald Klelly June 2, 2011 at 4:45 PM

I just don’t understand this at all. It’s like throwing your lives away because you couldn’t control your spending. I ran across at new blog at thecocolounge.blogspot.com which looks like its geared towards personal finance but in a sensible manner, not just selling all your assets and hopping on a bus. The guy is not as good of a writer but makes much more sense. Check it out.

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Shelly June 2, 2011 at 6:56 PM

How cool is it that the day I saw your blog that you posted from my town? Great story and inspiring!
How do the Dennings make the money needed for essentials?
Our number one reason for not doing something like this is how we would make money while on the road.

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Rachel Denning June 3, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Shelly,

Right now we use money we’ve saved from working at ‘jobs’. But our area of focus is building up our online business so we can have a ‘location independent’ income.

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Shelly June 3, 2011 at 12:21 PM

This makes me completely re-think the way my family is living. I hope it has the same effect on my husband when I show it to him. Their’s is a life worth living!

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Kevin June 3, 2011 at 1:56 PM

That’s amazing, those kids are going to have some fantastic memories for the rest of their lives!

The one question I had (and maybe they answered it and I just missed it) is a more practical one: Practically speaking, how are they going to get to South America? Specifically, how are they going to get their RV across the Darien Gap? There’s literally no road connecting Central and South America. It’s physically impossible to drive the distance – there’s a stretch along the border of Panama and Colombia through which there is literally no road. Are they going to ferry the RV around somehow? Or switch vehicles in South America?

Just curious.

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Rachel Denning June 3, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Kevin,

Great question. You have to actually ship your vehicle from Panama to Columbia in a box on a freight ship…

There is a jungle road through the Darien Gap, but people have died trying to get through there. Don’t think we’re up for that adventure ;)

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Brian Cormack Carr June 4, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Great story, thanks for sharing – talk about “the art of the possible”! Inspiring.

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Randy June 7, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Great story! Baker, are you and your family going to make it to Idaho by chance?

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JT June 8, 2011 at 3:02 AM

Does it ever seem like you might be living the life that you have to live, and not necessarily the one you want to?

That might sound a little backwards, but it seems to me that most anyone could go off to some far off land, enjoy working a few hours a day at a developed world hourly rate, and live like a (relative) king.

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Rachel Denning June 8, 2011 at 9:15 PM

JT,

Sometimes I do question that, especially in those moments of insanity :)

We have lived like ‘kings’ before, in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and India – and it was awesome.

This journey is really a focus on exploration, instead of just ‘living’ in one place. We won’t do it forever, but it was something we wanted to try for awhile.

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Todd June 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Baker and Courtney, we love what you guys are doing and have now been inspired by Rachel and Greg as well!

We have 4 kids and we now know that it’s completely possible to travel with them. So we plan on doing something similar in the near future. What a great way to educate yourself and your children!

We’ve already begun working out a plan. We’ll keep following both of your blogs, and can’t wait to learn more from all of your adventures.

Thank you for sharing this amazing story!!

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Frederick June 11, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Wow, what an inspiration! And with FIVE kids! I’ve read several books about using veggie oil that said it really smells and all your possessions small like McD’s eventually. Has anyone had that experience? After reading that I was afraid to try – don’t think I could handle that… thank you, Frederick Sallaz

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Rami June 29, 2011 at 6:27 PM

My husband and I have been considering a similar trip – but without any kids and skipping the veggie fuel idea. I’m feeling like a real wimp now. This family has made me see I’ve been arguing for my limitations as to why I could NOT do something like this. I’m chagrined and encouraged at the same time.

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George Burley July 5, 2011 at 11:19 PM

Yes they are frugal. Yes they have eliminated excess and focused on the bear minimum. All great. But what do they do for money?

You can be as frugal as you want, but the money has to come from somewhere and that wasn’t really touched on in the interview. What does Greg and Rachel do for a living to support their 5 children while traveling?

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Frank July 23, 2011 at 11:58 AM

We are traveling with out three adult sons. It’s great to have the same values of frugality and togetherness and using it to live an exciting life…
Frank and Angie

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Tessa July 25, 2011 at 2:29 AM

Yes, the thing that gets me is where do these families earn the money to pay for their adventures? Some sponsors, it seems. And “online businesses”. But what about the people who don’t have these options? I mean, I can reduce the amount of things I own and sell off the excess things, but unless I have a job I’m not going to have near enough cash to live this kind of lifestyle.

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Rachel Denning August 9, 2011 at 11:56 PM

I’m reminded of a quote by George Bernard Shaw – “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them”

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Matthew Smith July 25, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Cliche-o-matic 2000 says: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right” and “If it were easy then every one would be doing it”.

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Rachel Denning April 28, 2012 at 12:37 PM

For those who have been asking:

9 Ways We Earn Money to Fund Our Travel Lifestyle
http://www.discovershareinspire.com/2012/03/9-ways-we-earn-money-to-fund-our-travel-lifestyle/

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Vincent September 26, 2012 at 5:40 PM

I’d say what holds me back is fear more than anything else. I like having a stable, safe environment and never really take any risks, (even though deep down I really want to). But the Denning’s story has really inspired me and I’m definitely going to give a couple of things a try that I’ve been putting off over and over again.

Amazing story guys! May you and your family always stay safe and healthy :)

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Rachel Denning September 26, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Thank you Vincent.

What I’ve learned is that the fear of something is worse than the actual event ;) Go for it!

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