From Chile to Alaska: Ben Jamin’s Kombi journey

You’ve just embarked on the road trip of a lifetime, a map in your hand and $10 in your pocket. There’s just one catch— that $10 is the only money you can spend all day.

In fact, 10 dollars a day is your budget for the entire duration of a trip that will take four years. Four years of navigating unknown roads, unfamiliar cultures and unusual languages you can only attempt to decipher. Sound difficult?

It’s not what most of us would consider wise. To Ben Jamin, that sounds like adventure.

Jamin is the producer, director and star of a series of unique adventure videos, shot and produced by ordinary people turned nomadic explorers. Born in a classic VW Kombi Bus, the project’s first adventure, “Hasta Alaska,” followed the peaks and pitfalls of Jamin’s epic trek from Santiago, Chile, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Motivated by a desire to see the world, Jamin recognizes his need for adventure stretches far beyond traditional hostel-hopping.

“I’ve always been driven by an innate passion to explore our planet,” said Jamin. “Doing so from a vehicle allows me to reach further off the beaten path and immerse myself deeply in the cultures that I visit.”

Finding that vehicle, however, was no easy purchase.

Ben Jamin's Kombi van

“I had to go about the almost impossible task of buying a car as a foreigner,” said Jamin in his first ever installment of the Hasta Alaska series. “This wasn’t helped one bit by the fact that I spoke absolutely zero Spanish.”

Fortunately, Jamin’s search took a turn for the better when he stumbled upon a classic VW Kombi Bus, the van he would soon call home for the next four years. Yet, as he hit the open road, Jamin realized he invested in far more than a place to lay his head. He had entered into an auto community all its own.

“The Bus has touched the lives of almost everyone that we encountered on this journey,” said Jamin. “We found it has an almost magical method of turning strangers into new friends.”

Forming these new friendships quickly became a key component of Jamin’s Hasta Alaska’s journey. Over the course of his travels, Jamin invited more than 100 fellow adventurers to share his space, asking only for help with food and gas money in return. For him, leaving his comfort zone behind was vital to the experience of full cultural immersion.

“I’ve had an open door policy since the outset, which means I’ve shared my Bus with strangers from all corners of the globe,” said Jamin. “It bridges generational and cultural gaps, and defies language barriers.”

Ben Jamin's Kombi adventure

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As picturesque as the journey was, it did come with its fair share of road blocks. Yet, despite difficult moments, Jamin believes these trials were a vital part of his journey, balancing his positive experiences and providing wisdom from what he calls the “University of Life.” By sharing his travels collectively and conquering fears head-on, Jamin views his adventure as an ultimate example of the good that comes from putting happiness first.

“It’s about sharing the adventure with everyone, inspiring others to see the world and above all about loving our lives every day,” said Jamin. “No matter how hard it gets!”

With his trans-continental quest finally complete, Jamin’s decided to use his adventuring spirit to pay it forward by giving away his prized VW Kombi Bus.

“To me, after years invested, it is not just a vehicle, it is my home,” said Jamin of parting with his beloved Bus. “This final act will be my greatest challenge to date.”

As for Jamin, he’s eager to see what excitement awaits in the rest of the world, this time with friends—fellow traveler, Leah, and his dog, Alaska— by his side.

“I’ve ran out of road to the north so the compass now points east,” said Jamin. “But, for the first time, I won’t be starting an adventure alone, for I have two loyal companions, and the makings of an entirely new adventure.”