Sunday, January 30, 2011

Herbie Around The World

Around the world in a 1963 VW bug towing a 1984 East Germany made travel trailer. That works for the young and intrepid couple -- Domi and Zainab. Leaving Austria in 2009, this map of their travel is posted prominently on the rear window of the VW bug.

When I left a nearby Starbucks, I noted the European license plates and the interesting and novel combination of VW bug and trailer. Time to get the full story. Thanks to Domi and Zainab for being so open in responding to my questions. Living very inexpensively, they have been able to travel the US for most of a year without paying camping fees but for one night -- at a National Forest Campground. Note those zig zag lines on the map as they have explored the US. There is no doubt they have seen more of the US than I have.

Domi is obviously a talented mechanic since he was repairing a clutch issue as I arrived. Domi didn't stop his work as I interviewed Zainab. They saved for several years. Forsaking the usual track for most people their age to acquire the "must haves" of culture, they pursued their interest in traveling the world.

The VW bug is affectionately referred to as Herbie from the movies (1968 version followed by a 2005 reprise) that featured a 1963 VW bug competing in car races -- and adorned with the number 53. Herbie is not some wimp with an air cooled engine towing the 750 pound trailer. Domi said that the heat of the deserts of the Middle East were a test to prove the air cooled engine could handle most anything.

Guessing that Zainab and Domi were in their late 20s, I was curious about their parents' reaction. Although concerned for their children's welfare, they encouraged them to live their lives. Bravo.

With no blog, Facebook or other such internet contact point, the only way to keep up with this dynamic duo is to cross their path as they travel.

To you Domi and Zainab.... Wishing you safe travels as you continue your journeys.

The Yuma Sun did more in depth piece on the couple and their travels


  1. Kinda' makes us feel unworthy of calling ourselves explorers. Great story Lloyd.

  2. Would like to read their story from them. This is beyond interesting!! Thanks for introducing us to them!

  3. I ran into these folks on the road as well. See

    It's amazing how many people have met and blogged about this couple.

  4. I past them on the 14 in Acton, Ca on Friday, and saw them parked in Lancaster, Ca yesterday. I briefly talked to him and told him good luck. I think this is very cool. I wish I had my camera when I saw them yesterday.
    What a cool opportunity.

  5. " they have been able to travel the US for most of a year without paying camping fees but for one night"

    .... any theories as to how they accomplished that?

  6. Been a long time since that conversation with Domi and Zainab, but I seem to recall that they used Walmart parking lots many times. Additionally with the unusual VW bug and small trailer combination they were an exotic novelty that allowed them to park where most RVers would not be allowed.

  7. This has got to be a little Internet BS... I owned a few VW's in my time , they only have 34 hp .... the newer ones only had 50 hp motors.
    No way that you can get that bug to tow a 750 lbs trailer 20,000+ miles around USA and europe. It still only comes out to less then 20 miles per day over 4 years...but no way the clutch and tyranny would take the abuse. maybe the top speed is only 30 mph on the back roads - its impossible to pull 55 on the highway or make it over 3% grade hills.

    something smells a little fishy

  8. Not a viral email and Photoshop. Met the couple, took photos and wrote the blog entry. Since Domi has some automotive skills, he may have done something to the engine. For the latest on their travels and current plans, check here:

  9. Hey,

    Forgot to read these comments...

    The engine is the classic 1,200 cc with 34 hp - single port. I haven't done anything to the motor except installing an electronic ignition system and using just fully synthetic motor oil as well as gear fluid. I go about 50 mph while pulling the trailer on the highway.

    Any further questions?

    Air-cooled regards, Domi ;)


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