Duo gives up stable jobs to go around the world in a VW bus
The Norman Transcript (Oklahoma) - published october 2, 2008
Pat and Ali Schulte are driving around the world in their 1958 Volkswagen panel van. This week they visited Norman on their way south.
The young people had stable jobs in Chicago five years ago -- Pat as a commodities trader and Ali as a secretary at a law firm.
"And one day we just realized we wanted to do something different while we can, while we're young," Pat said.
The Schultes sold almost everything they had, bought a boat and sailed around the world for three-and-a-half years.
"When we left we just wanted to do something different, and adventure," Pat said. "Life kind of gets mundane."
But the couple, now in their 30s, liked traveling more than they thought they would.
"That started the bug," Ali said of the sailing trip. "Now we can't get enought."
So about a year ago the couple set off on an overland tour of the world. Why did they pick a restored Volkswagen bus?
"Style," Ali said.
Pat added that nearly everyone has a Volkswagen story. The bus has been a great conversation starter for the couple.
Beginning September 2007, the Schultes left Minnesota, where they both grew up, and drove to Portland and then down the West Coast to Mexico and then back up to Portland, where Pat's mother lives, and then they summered in Alaska. Now they're heading south.
The Schultes stopped in Norman Saturday while the brakes for their van were fixed. They left Wednesday morning. They'll drive down to Panama where they'll load the bus onto a boat and travel to South Africa. Then they'll get behind the wheel again and drive north along the African coast to Cairo. From there, Europe.
"And from there, I don't know," Pat said. The Schultes think that will take them about the next year, but they haven't planned further than that. They avoid the interstate and sleep most nights in the fold-out mattress they had built in the VW bus. There's also a sink in there, but not much in the way of cooking. Ali said they generally stop and eat out one meal a day: "lunner."
During their stop in Norman, they stayed with Harlan Butler of Norman, whom they met through their web-site, bumfuzzle.com.
Butler was their pit crew last year when the Schultes came through Norman as part of the Great Race. They won the rookie division of the old car competition -- in a Porsche, not the VW.
Butler said he was surprised the couple opted to stay in their bus rather than in a bed most of the nights. He likened the Schultes' journey to an extended camping trip. It may not be for him, but Butler said there were aspects of their travel he envied.
"I think it's something almost everybody would love to do but are too afraid of doing even a tenth of what they do," he said.
The Schultes pay for their world travel with their savings. They know that money will eventually run out, but they're going to keep traveling as long as they can.
"At some point we need to work again and settle down," Pat said.
"We have no idea what settling down means. It's a little different for us than it was five years ago."