INTERVIEW WITH DAN GREC FROM "THE ROAD CHOSE ME"

Dan Grec Interview Image 1
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me

"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams" (Oprah Winfrey)

There’s a guy outside, who’s doing exactly this since a couple of years now… his name is Dan Grec.
Dan is a 36 years young adventurer, traveler and blogger who believes that dreams are meant to be lived.

How right he is!

In 2009 he started his first amazing trip and drove all the way along the Panamericana, starting from Prudhoe Bay (Alaska) down to Ushuaia (Argentina), the most southern tip of South America.
Then, at a certain point, he noticed more and more, what it means to live and he started to write a book about "Working less and living your dreams". [Amazon link]

This book influenced me a lot, partially changed my life, motivated me to think different and changed my consciousness.
After following him since then and virtually accompanying him on his current travel, I thought it’s time now and might be a good idea to speak with Dan about his dreams, his life, feelings, money-things, as well as about his stunning 80000 mile circumnavigating journey through Africa.

Dan Grec Interview Image 2
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me , Canada, Yukon, Attin Lake
T:K

Dan, welcome to TRAVELcandies-On-Tour and thanks for your time in participating on this interview.
I hope you are doing well. Where are you at the moment?

Dan

Hi, and thanks for having me!
Right now I am in South Africa, closing in on the Southern-most point of the African continent!

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T:K

Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us a bit about you, what kind of guy you are, where you are from and what you did for a living.

Dan

I'm originally from Australia, and have been living in Canada for almost ten years now. Lately I have been living in the Yukon, right up next to Alaska.
I love being outside whether it's camping, fishing, hiking or just relaxing and reading a book near a lake. Genuinely I believe dreams are meant to be lived, and so I make sure that whatever I'm doing, I am working towards my dreams.
I actually went to university for Computer Software Engineering, and that was my most recent desk job, which was a great way to save up for my current adventure.

Dan Grec Interview Image 2
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Meager Creek and Placid Hot Springs
T:K

When did you get this "inner feeling“ that something seems to be wrong with your life? Tell us a bit about the progress you’ve been through.

Dan

I was working a desk job in Canada and watching the world outside my office every day. Every day when it was sunny, snowing, hot or cold, I simply had to sit inside and watch. As the months turned into years I became more and more certain I did not want my life to pass while I just sat inside and looked out - I was certain I wanted to BE outside and actually living instead of just watching.

Once I realized that I knew I had to start saving money - without a savings account I would be trapped into going to work every day for the rest of my life. But I knew if I had a savings account, I could buy some time away from work and actually do what I wanted with my life.

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T:K

Let’s talk just a little bit about money. Do you actually only live from savings or does blogging and writing books generate some serious incomes too?

Dan

My first adventure from Alaska to Argentina was entirely paid for by my savings account. While working I tried hard to spend less money every day, so those habits continued during my adventure and so I really didn't spend much money. Over two years I spent around $1200 per month, which was exactly what I was spending to live in the city and go to work every day.
Now in Africa I am earning a very small income from writing books and writing for magazines, though the bulk of my adventure is still being paid from my savings account. By the time I am finished in Africa, I will have no savings at all.

Dan Grec Interview Image 4
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Panamericana Trip
T:K

After calculating a bit, I noticed that you seemed to have spent round about 56.000 Dollar for setting up your Jeep, not yet included the money, which you would need for the journey itself. How is it even possible to save such an amount of money within 5 years?

Dan

Let's set the record straight - my Jeep cost nothing NEAR that amount of money. I bought it used for just under $20,000 and I did all the modifications and work myself. Where possible I bought used equipment and I sold the parts I was taking off the Jeep, so in the end the Jeep cost around $35,000.

How quickly you save money is entirely up to you and depends on how aggressive you are prepared to be. For me, driving around Africa was the dream of a lifetime, so I was very, very motivated to save money as quickly as possible. I had no cell phone, I walked to work and never bought food at restaurants. For entertainment I would throw a frisbee in the park or walk along the river. I have no TV and share internet with my neighbour. By reducing my spending to the absolute minimum I was able to save most of my income for the adventure.

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As a simple example - when I got back from Argentina I moved into a basement apartment with a room mate. I paid $500 per month rent for my room, which was a bit small and dark, but adequate. A friend at work had also just moved to town and wanted her own place, so she paid $1200/month for a small one bedroom apartment above ground. Her apartment had more sunlight and was newer, but that price difference adds up fast!
Months turned into years, and before I knew it four straight years had gone by while I lived in that basement and went to work. The difference in rent compared to my friend meant that I was saving $8,400 per year in rent, which adds up to a whopping $33,600 !!!!
That money went directly into my savings account without me even seeing it with an automatic transfer I setup at the bank.

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T:K

Wow, ok… good to know… „Life is what you make it"... as always 🙂
Enough money-talks, let’s talk about your amazing 80.000 mile trip through Africa.
You are doing this trip by your own… totally alone… are you just crazy or is it the one and only way for finding yourself?

Dan

Haha - I might be crazy!
I have planned all along to have friends and family fly in and travel with me, it has just turned out that not many people are able to take a good amount of time away from full time work. Everyone has car payments and mortgages to worry about, so coming to West Africa for a few months is simply out of the question.
Ideally I would have a team mate, it just has not worked out that way.
When it came down to it I had to decide to go alone or not go at all, which was an easy choice.

Dan Grec Interview Image 5
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Alone In West Africas Jungle
T:K

I read about Emily, your girlfriend.
How is she dealing with the fact, that you’re away for probably more than two years?

Dan

Emily traveled with me in the Northern part of Africa, and she has re-joined the expedition now in Southern Africa. We hope she can stay many more months, but we're just taking it one day at a time.

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T:K

Don't you feel lonely sometimes and now – after 25.000 miles driven – do you think, it has been a good idea to travel alone?

Dan

Oh yes, absolutely I feel lonely sometimes. During those times I go to a local bar and have a beer, or I call my family, or I try to find other people traveling to team up with.
Without a doubt I am happy I went alone rather than not going.

Dan Grec Interview Image 6
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Emily - Travelmate... sometimes
T:K

What does the current trip do to you, how have you changed so far?

Dan

It certainly makes me more self-reliant and more able to problem solve on my feet. Things happen quickly and situations change in a heartbeat, so I find I'm always switched on and carefully watching my surroundings and the body language and tone of voice of those around me.
On the negative side I think my two grand adventures have somewhat taught me I can live alone forever - kind of like I don't need anyone else in my life, which is something I need to work on to change.

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T:K

So, you are circumnavigating the whole continent, how do you like Africa, its people, the landscapes and its nature? Isn't it kinda paradise or rather a survival trip?

Dan

Africa has been spectacular. The people are more friendly than any place I have been on Earth. The landscapes are stunning, the wild animals are hard to believe and to top it all off there are virtually no tourists anywhere. On many, many occasions I have been invited into the house of strangers to share a cup of tea or food simply because they are nice people. Without tourists these places have no been corrupted and I feel like I'm getting to glimpse how these places have been for hundreds of years.

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© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me
T:K

You are traveling with a JEEP Wrangler Rubicon. Why have you chosen this car, rather than a Landrover, a Nissan or a Toyota for such a material stressing trip?

Dan

I drove my first Jeep 65,000 km from Alaska to Argentina and it never had a single mechanical breakdown. based on that alone, I was very confident in the Jeep's reliability. Combined with that the Rubicon is equipped with serious 4x4 equipment from the factory (diff locks, extremely low range transfer case, sway bar disconnect and strong front axle), so I knew it would not only be up to the task, but actually thrive in the extremely difficult conditions West Africa has thrown my way.

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T:K

So, how is the Wrangler doing, aren't you afraid that something might brake down one day? I guess the supply of replacement parts could be a huge problem.
(I must admit – as a Wrangler driver too – that I definitely wouldn’t dare 😉 )

Dan

The Wrangler has been outstanding. It has never let me down, never been stuck and I have barely had to turn a wrench. Now in Southern Africa I will perform a big round of maintenance and I'm very confident it will see me through the rest of the expedition in the same fashion.
Parts are not a huge concern - the mail system functions just fine throughout Africa and so I would simply have a friend from the USA send over whatever parts I need if something major was to go wrong.

© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Grecs "House On Wheels" - A Rugged JEEP Wrangler Rubicon - Part 1
T:K

How do you deal with problems on your way? The streets in some countries aren't really streets rather than the „hell on earth“. Are you driving super careful and how often did you already get stuck?

Dan

Problems are part of everyday life here, and they just become another thing to think about and solve during the day. There is no reason to be stressed or concerned, the locals here are experts and solving problems and are always happy to help out when I need something.

The streets are nothing like "hell on earth" - please don't perpetuate that myth!
Sure the streets are mud and often require 4x4, but the people always smile and wave and the street food is always hot and delicious! far from hell!

Touch wood, the Jeep has never been "stuck". Knowing I am all alone in the middle of nowhere, I'm always careful about what I go into, but I'm also confident my recovery equipment (winch, maxxtraxx, shovel, hi-lift and straps) will get me out.

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T:K

Regarding your travel-rig.
Is there anything you can highly recommend, like the Ursa Minor Hardtop tent, suspension, tyres, which already did a superb job? Your experience is for sure highly valuable for other overlanders, like us.

Dan

The BFG A/T tires have been excellent, as has the Ursa Minor pop-up tent which turns the Jeep into a house. I built a water tank/pump/filtration system which has also been a key feature and something I highly recommend. Also my Dometic fridge is a must. I can't imagine driving West Africa without access to cold water and quality food.
Remember when Overlanding you live out of your vehicle, so spend time thinking about cooking, sleeping and eating. You do those things many times every day so it's important they are convenient and enjoyable.

Dan Grec Interview Image 8
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Water Filtration System
T:K

At some certain point you'll need to cross the Sudan and of course you already had some struggles at borders. Crossing Egypt, Libya and Algeria could be a problem too. What's your plan for such ("dangerous“) countries like some of those?

Dan

My plan is always to take it as it comes. I will talk to other Overlanders, border guards, military, embassy staff and people on the roads I travel. I will ask about conditions ahead and what makes sense. Armed with all that information I will make decisions about my route and about the safest way to successfully complete my trip.

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T:K

Safety: I know of all those "urban legends" about safe traveling, but never ever experienced any issues. How safe you felt so far?

Dan

I have felt extremely safe and have almost never even worried about it. I am careful to not drive in the dark and no wander around drunk however. With a big smile and handshakes, roadblocks are not a problem at all - in fact the Military guys there are often friendly and hilarious. They're just bored.

Dan Grec Interview Image 9
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Bored Border Guards - Mostly Friendly
T:K

You already suffered from Malaria (nice butt-picture on your Facebook-Page 😉 )
Illness is a big deal, especially when traveling alone. What is your masterplan then? Are you well equipped with lots of hospital inventory and how about the medical care?

Dan

I do have a lot of medical supplies and a lot of first aid training (I was a ski-patroller for a few years in Canada). On top of that every single little village in Africa has a pharmacy with knowledgeable staff and they know the way to a Doctor or clinic. People here are used to dealing with things like Malaria every single day of their lives, so it's not a big deal. I only need to say the word and they hand over the medication I need.

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T:K

You still need to drive 55.000 miles, what dou you think how long it'll take until you'll finish your trip? Do you think, you’re still in time and do you follow a strict plan?

Dan

There is no strict plan at all, I just take each day as it comes. As of today I think there is something like a year remaining on my expedition, though I really don't know anything for certain. I will enjoy everything that comes my way!

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© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Daily Rituals And Acid Bugs
T:K

And then? I'm so much curious, what's next. Do you  plan to work again or do you decide to keep going as a Digital Nomad?

Dan

My savings account is quickly falling, and so it's very likely I will have to get a full time job again. It is exciting to think about, because it means I can immediately start saving for whatever adventure I dream up next!

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T:K

After such a long time of traveling - do you think you still can get used to work 8 hours a day? I mean, living your freedom and dreams isn’t for free and  I guess, you’ll need to generate some income again, after finishing your current journey.

Dan

I'm sure it will be difficult, but at the same time I am sure I will enjoy eating well, having stable friends and the ability to work on fitness again. I very much enjoy the working and saving aspect of my life as much as I enjoy the grand adventures, so I'm not worried about it.

Dan Grec Interview Image 11
© Dan Grec - The Road Chose Me - Sunset In Namibia
T:K

If you could start over again, what would you do differently, would you do anything different at all and do you already regret some of the steps you‘ve done so far?

Dan

The adventure has been one thousand times better than I ever imagined, and virtually everything has turned out better than I could have planned. In honesty - I would not change a thing!

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T:K

Please describe in one sentence what you want to tell people who have big dreams.

Dan

Every day work towards your dream and you can make it come true! Don't ever let anyone tell you it's not possible, because it is!

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T:K

Dan, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and amazing stories with us. It has been a such a great pleasure to chat with you. Sonja (ma girl) and me wish you the greatest trip and experiences of your lifetime.
Keep well and safe whereever you are and hey:
If you are coming over to Spain in a few years, just let us know! If our timetable fits, we can meet up in Algeciras ( We love Andalucia 🙂 )

Dan

Thanks very much, it has been a pleasure to share my story with you!

For further informations about Dan, his books and his journeys, just visit his blog „The Road Chose Me“ and follow him on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram.

One last word from the Author:

I highly wanna recommend his book „Work Less To Live Your Dreams“ (Amazon Link).
It’s a real eye-opener and maybe it will open yours, as well as it opened ours. Or did you even know, that we're actually paying for being able to go to work?

I hope you like the interview, so please share, like and comment.

For us it has been a real pleasure, so we'll keep going, saving money for living our dreams one day 🙂

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