From the outside, the BETTS family appears to be a fairly ‘normal’ British family, a family that you could easily imagine doing fairly normal things.. but on closer inspection, you will also find a family that woke up in 2018, in the beautiful Apennine Mountains of Italy, and decided that they wanted to live a VERY different life…. A life that many dream of, but few seldom attempt.
So, just 3 years after that decision, Nigel, Linda, and their 17-year-old son Oliver, spent the winter of 2020 selling everything that wouldn’t fit into their 23-year-old Land Rover Defender and, earlier this year, returned to the UK to prepare for the beginning of the next chapter… their plan to drive the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Argentina, as a family of permanent Vehicle Dependent Overlanders.
Yes, you read that correctly, permanent – it’s an important distinction to make, as they are not just camping in a car, and this is not a belated gap year. They will live permanently in a Land Rover for the foreseeable future. No fallback, no house being rented out… truly independent world travellers. Nigel, after a quarter-century within the high-pressure world of Formula One Motor Racing, felt ready for a very different pace of life and, thankfully, the family is coming along for the ride! As Nigel explains, “The relentless pace of F1 led me to desire something more out of life – something more peaceful and meaningful. The new life that we seek is a life without the suffocating structures and adult responsibilities of modern life – so NO MORE work, eat, sleep, repeat! We want to live each day in the moment, and hopefully leave the world a little better than when we found it.”Their Defender 130 goes by the name of Mandy and is now a fully kitted out 4 wheeled home, having undergone a full transformation from, in Nigel’s words, “a severely knackered German utility truck found rotting away in Frankfurt” to the super capable vehicle that it is today.
Amongst the host of high-end off-road and expedition equipment, the vehicle also features an outstanding Darche Outdoor Gear camping solution from Trek Overland in Yorkshire, UK. The set up includes 1.6M Hi-View and 1.4M Panorama Roof Top Tents with annexes and a 270-degree Eclipse awning. It seems that they are more than ready for the great outdoors!
The family is now anxiously awaiting International borders to open, but when they are, they are fully prepared for long-term off-grid adventure with onboard water, compressed air, and a comprehensive off-grid solar power solution from Portable Power Technology.
The Pan American Expedition is the first part of a plan by Itchy Feet Overland to circumnavigate the world within the next decade. They will document their journey on Instagram and Facebook as @ItchyFeetOverland and check out www.itchyfeetoverland.com to learn more about them.