Dan Grec loves his Jeep. He also happens to be living in it for the next two years while he circumnavigates Africa.
Grec didn't choose life on the road, it chose him. Hence the name for his blog, The Road Chose Me, detailing his journey from desk job to jungle — and everywhere in between.
He was first inspired to begin this adventure after reading Long Way Round, a memoir about motorbiking around the world by actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. "I thought to myself 'It's too bad I can't do that,' " he told A Plus via email. "But after months and months of thinking about it, I couldn't actually come up with a reason why I couldn't."
For Grec, his dream was all the motivation he needed to save the necessary money.
"For years, I would talk about my plan, waving my arms wildly," he said. Many were skeptical of Grec's ambition and thought he was "strange" for devoting so much time and effort to it. "There were a lot of hurdles along the way, I just had to keep forging ahead and overcoming each as they came up," he added. "It wasn't until it all came together [that] people were finally about to 'see' my vision."
Gathering practical tips from his experience, he even wrote an e-book, Work Less to Live Your Dreams, to encourage others.
Within two years, he’d made enough to take some time off work — and the scenic route from Alaska to Argentina.
In a $6,000 stock Jeep filled with everything but excuses, Grec set off on a two-year "overlanding" adventure.
Described as "self-reliant adventure travel," overlanding focuses on the journey, rather than the destination. Most "overlanders," like Grec, make these extended, off-the-beaten-track trips in "mechanized off-highway capable transport," such as motorbikes, trucks, and jeeps.
Leaving his office cubicle for the open road has rewarded Grec in both expected and unexpected ways. By spending so much time driving alone, he's had a ton of head space and time to think. And because he doesn't begin and end every day exhausted from work, he's able to pursue his passions of photography and writing, either in his private journal or on his public blog. On this next adventure, he plans to film a YouTube series as well.
Perhaps the greatest benefit has been crossing paths with locals and other overlanders. "I meet new and interesting people virtually every day," Grec told A Plus.
One, in particular, inspired his next adventure.
After meeting two seasoned overlanders, Vince and Maryline, in Panama and Ecuador, Grec realized he wanted to be like them, with every day a new adventure.
Though he couldn't imagine going back to a desk job, he did in 2011. While re-assimilating to a conventional work schedule, he'd often have to look at old pictures and his blog to remind himself his dream trip hadn't been just a dream.
During this time, he stayed in touch with Vince. In an email, Vince wrote, "There is something about the earth here. I can feel it in my bones ... this is where I come from … Africa is where I come from."
Having heard from other overlanders the way traveling to Africa had changed their lives, Grec knew where the road would take him. "Many people have told me that once Africa gets into your bones, it's very hard to leave," he said, "And many people return year after year because it's so captivating."
While Grec enjoyed meeting other overlanders and learning from their experiences, his favorite parts of his Alaska-Argentina trip occurred when he was farthest from civilization. He hopes to experience even more of those moments on his 80,000 mile trip around the African continent. "It's so wild and free — unbounded adventure really is possible," he told A Plus.
Even with a detailed map of Africa outlined on the hood of his Jeep, the road could still take Grec anywhere.
"On a trip like this, the challenges are so large that the most important thing is to remain flexible and to adapt as situations arise," he said.
Grec plans to take advice from locals and other travelers on places to visit and sights to see. Having previously summited Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador, he's particularly excited to explore the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.
Every day the trip evolves, as more people reach out to Grec with housing offers and visit recommendations. After five years working the same 9-5 r‹outine, he welcomes the unpredictability of the next two.
As far as Grec is concerned, it doesn't always matter where he's going, just that he is.