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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

A day with our expedition vehicle "Hugo" - insight into our everyday travel

Housekeeping in limited space, a logistical challenge
Tetris for advanced users - storage space and order are essential
Tasks are clearly assigned, everyone knows what to do
About living on the road - a failure to secure the load can have bad endings

We've been traveling for more than 6 months now - non-stop. Where it felt a bit unfamiliar and chaotic at the beginning, it has now become almost everyday life. Of course, no day is like the other when traveling, every place is new, there is something to discover everywhere. The constant, however, is our “home” – Hugo. We shipped our Toyota Landcruiser with cabin from Germany. So we could bring all the household, clothing and equipment with us. You'll be surprised how much space there is. But that is another topic that will follow.

Michael Marquardt mmq Photography Expeditionsmobil Toyota Hugo Reisen auf der Panamericana
We spend a lot of time in lonely places in nature

Let's start in chronological order. Our cabin has to be set up every evening. We have a liftable roof with foldable aluminum sandwich walls, supported by telescopic gas pressure dampers - a special construction from the "AlphaCab", commissioned by the previous owner. When driving, the side walls are folded in. This has enormous advantages. The low height not only has a positive effect on possible obstacles, but also offroad, due to the lower center of gravity, and last but not least on fuel consumption. This is not to be neglected, especially in Patagonia with dramatic wind speeds. However, this means that we always have to set up the cabin. In the meantime, that's going to happen within seconds. In about 30 seconds the side walls are set up. Then it's just a matter of arranging a few things that have their place during the journey. See for yourself:

And so we come to 1.97 m headroom in the cabin! Brilliant :-)

Most of the time we are self-catering. We have enough supplies on board, and some fresh stuff in the fridge. Micha usually is in charge of the kitchen and prepares very varied dishes. And that with a two-burner gas stove. We have two 5 liter gas bottles on board; one serves us about half a year. Enough time to have the second gas bottle filled in the meantime. Our European gas bottles can only be filled with a special adapter - a service that is not that often available. By the way, we don't have an oven. But there are solutions. Baking bread, for example, also works quite well on our gas grill. And often campsites have an oven.

I'm responsible for washing up. We installed a 300W boiler to provide hot water. Most of the time, however, we don't use it because it's a real power guzzler. For small, immediate needs, we have a clever system in our Toyota: The engine's cooling liquid is routed around our boiler and thus heats the water while driving. Immediately afterwards we have really hot water and it stays warm for up 12 hours. What a treat not having to do the dishes with cold water :-)

Our evening program is as diverse as the places we stay. At special places we make campfires, stargaze, take pictures and and and. But often we just feel like reading. We have eBook readers with us and are therefore independent hardbooks and Internet. From time to time we watch films on the laptop. Micha is responsible for the on-board entertainment. On the rare occasions when we have a stable WiFi connection, we stream. Otherwise we have a small supply in our offline media library. We've just finished all seasons of Game of Thrones; from time to time there is also a thriller or an interesting documentary.

Camping Van Live Streaming Fussball
....or just a football game, which the VFB always loses anyway.....

Before we go to bed, you have to set it up. Sounds more complicated than it is. In the end we put a 50 x 150 cm plank across our seating area as a footboard, padded with our seat cushions. Ready! In the morning, of course, the same backwards... One seat can also be used when it is set up. Good for a morning grouch like Micha :-)

In the morning I'm usually the first one in the kitchen and preparing coffee. Breakfast is served depending on the location and weather, sometimes outside or inside, sometimes more comfortably or faster. Depending on what we plan to do during the day.

Michael Marquardt mmq Photography Expeditionsmobil Toyota Hugo Reisen auf der Panamericana
Micha already plans the day :-) - while I prepare breakfast

By the way, we also have a shower in our car. A wet room including toilet with suction system is installed. So far, however, we have never used it. Since the walls are only half-height, we prefer to go outside. The outdoor shower is simple. The shower hose is laid outside through the bathroom window and off we go. Of course it's more pleasant if we have warm water from the boiler. By the way, we don't have a shower curtain - so it's only for less frequented places :-) To be honest, we don't use the car shower very often. It's quite water consuming. We usually stop at a campsite every few days. And often petrol stations also offer a shower.

By the way, blow-drying your hair is great with the heating. My travel hair dryer cannot be powered by our battery (due to the tension). Looks funny but works perfectly.

Michael Marquardt mmq Photography Expeditionsmobil Toyota Hugo Reisen auf der Panamericana
Necessity is the mother of invention :-)

Of course, before driving we have to building down the cabin. It's even faster than setting it up. At first we had concerns about how it would work in wind and rain. But even that is not a problem. We've never gotten the inside of the cabin wet. Speed ​​​​and skill are of course essential in such extreme conditions. And we make sure to park the narrow side in the direction of the wind. Not to be underestimated, especially in Patagonia. Otherwise it can shake you up quite a bit at night, in the worst case the car could even tip over. No joke, we've heard those stories from travel mates...

A very important topic before departure (especially on ripio roads or off-road routes) is load securing. Everything that is not properly stowed is moving in the car. In the best case. You can't imagine how many times our drawers have fallen off their hinges, wine bottles have spilled and cereal cans have emptied. We learn quickly. So we have developed our own load securing system suitable for off-road use. In addition to the lever lock, the drawers are secured with long bars, the bathroom cabinet is secured with velcro, the refrigerator with a wedge etc. The process meanwhile went in out blood, but still is partner checked.

Michael Marquardt mmq Photography Expeditionsmobil Toyota Hugo Reisen auf der Panamericana
DIY development for load securing - not nice, but very efficient

What else?

Micha is responsible for our battery management. We have a LiFePo battery with a capacity of 160 AH on board. With an app, we can check the status via Bluetooth. We have a few ways to get power:

  • When driving, our reinforced alternator charges the battery. However, you have to drive for a while to charge it. About 7 AH are charged per hour.

  • If we have land power, e.g. at the campsite, we can charge the battery directly.

  • In addition, two 70 watt solar panels are installed on the roof. If the performance is not sufficient, we have a mobile solar panel with peak performance of up to 7 AH, which we can also set up.

So we're pretty much self-sufficient. Of course, everything depends on the power consumption. The more electronic devices we charge, the higher the imbalance. Laptops and camera gear use a lot of power…

We also have 110 liters of water on board. We make sure that only clean drinking water gets into our tanks. Especially in Patagonia it's not a problem and we can usually fill up directly from the tap. For other regions, we have a mobile activate carbon and microfilter from ALB on board, which we operate in combination with a water pump to draw water from rivers or lakes. Of course, we can also connect the filter directly to the tap. In such cases, the water runs a bit slower, but we don't have to worry about the quality.

Michael Marquardt mmq Photography Expeditionsmobil Toyota Hugo Reisen auf der Panamericana
Marion - Zodiac "Aquarius"

Our heater from Autoterm-Planar with an altitude kit of up to 4,000m runs on diesel and is quite economical. We could heat for almost a whole day with just one liter of diesel. In most cases, however, this is not necessary. First we are (almost) never in the camper all day and the heating is so strong that - even on the lowest level - after a few hours we have a sauna :-)

Of course, there are always unexpected things to be done or repaired. Blown fuses or broken brackets are not uncommon. In addition there is planned maintenance. For example, various filters of the Toyota have to be changed, tire pressure, oil level, brake fluid etc. checked. We've been learning a lot about our car.

Michael Marquardt mmq Photography Expeditionsmobil Toyota Hugo Reisen auf der Panamericana
Micha lubricating the joints and the cardan shaft

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Mar 28, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great post!! Thanks for sharing, we are bringing our landcruiser to South America too. I hope to see you along the way. Check our travel blog here:


Mar 18, 2023

Wieso muss man das Auto auf und abbauen zum Schlafen? Wegen der Aerodynamik beim Fahren?

Mar 18, 2023
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Die wesentlichen Vorteile sind in der Tat Aerodynamik, Schwerpunkt im Gelände, Masse für Containertauglichkeit zwecks Verschiffung, Durchfahrtshöhe bzw....schlecht freigeschnittene Strassen

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