Travelling around the world with the family in a truck is the slightly crazy challenge that Laurent, Virginie and their three children embarked on when, one day in July 2010, they decided to leave Paris and head off on an adventure. They will be undertaking this 120,000 km mammoth journey in a Renault 110/150 4x4 that they found on a classified ad Internet site. The truck and the project were then given the name of Chamaco. Fitted out with the help of a body builder, the former fire-fighting tanker truck took on a new lease of life. Apart from the need to radically change their lifestyle, the aim of this family world tour was to raise the three children's awareness of the need to respect the planet, the rarity of its resources and the problem of waste. Currently travelling through Tanzania, the "Chamaco" family and their truck have been able to rely on the Renault Trucks network throughout the whole trip.
One day, they decided to head off on an adventure, putting behind them the comfort, but also the stress, of life in Paris. Laurent, Virginie and their three children took the decision to leave on a marathon round-the-world journey in a truck that would take them three years! On 14 July 2010, they left on board a Renault truck for a 120,000 km journey through Europe, Africa, Asia, and finally North America. The truck, nicknamed "Chamaco" after the children - Charlotta, Marine and, Corentin - is a 1981 Renault 110/150 4x4 which they found on a classified ad Internet site. Formerly a fire-fighting vehicle, the family fitted it out to create an original, sturdy and reassuring home for globe-trotters! Travelling slower than a car, the truck makes it easier to meet people and allows them to sleep wherever they want such as, for example, at the foot of the citadel in Alep, Syria!
"Since we've been travelling, we have been much more economical than a sedentary family, heating its home, running two cars, etc." explains Laurent. "Our solar panels, batteries and a generator make us self-sufficient in terms of electricity, hot water and heating. That only leaves water, which we manage very strictly and the Diesel fuel. By adopting a flexible driving style and replacing the off-road tyres with on-road tyres, I've been able to cut the vehicle's consumption."
When the truck has encountered mechanical difficulties, the "Chamaco family" has appreciated the presence and efficiency of the Renault Trucks network throughout the world.
Such an incident led to the family meeting the director of the Renault Trucks workshop in Cairo under rather stressful conditions. Laurent explains: "Our engine had seized up in the white desert between two oases. Our temperature gauge wasn't working, and we didn't realise the engine was overheating. We were 60 km from any human habitation, and had to be towed into Cairo. It's the first time Mohamed Mostapha had ever seen a family come into his garage! He treated us like princes: unlimited sandwiches and drinks and a Christmas tree covered with Renault gifts for the children! He learned all about our adventure, and took the pressures we were under into account - our Egyptian visas were running out and the boat for Sudan was waiting for us at Aswan – so he really pulled all the stops out to get our repairs done in time. Looking back on it, we realise what a superb job he did on our engine."
A little later, in Sudan, the welcome was equally warm! A problem with the starter and the water pump inside Chamaco led to the family meeting the managers of the Khartoum dealership, who took care of the repairs but also gave them help, advice and a guided visit of the town as well as inviting them to a meal in a local restaurant!
The word "welcome" has taken on a whole new meaning every time the family has come into contact with the Renault Trucks network in the course of their adventure, leaving Laurent and Virginie with excellent memories of the time spent with the manufacturer's local representatives.
At the moment, the family is travelling through Tanzania. They make regular posts on their exploit in the log book, when Internet connections permit, at www.chamaco.fr. And the more adventures they have, the more the family is getting to appreciate life in this little truck despite it offering no more than 10 m² of living space. "The more we travel, the less we feel like giving up the truck," says Virginie with a smile. "It's an extraordinary means of transport for travelling as a family. Why don't we keep it for travelling around France afterwards?"