The original plan was to cover 20 countries in 20 months. The best-laid plans often go astray, especially those made prior to the unexpected emergence of COVID.
No one knows that better than Chris and Marianne Fisher, who began a worldwide odyssey in January of 2020 from their native England only to run right border shutdowns and an eventual need to reverse their route.
The Fishers expected to be finished their intended TREAD The Globe (Travel Responsibly Eat Adventure and Dive) tour in their Fiat Ducato, a 19.52 foot commercial vehicle-turned-camper Trudy, but they’re still on the road. In fact, the tour has taken on a completely different life, and may continue indefinitely as they explore new horizons.
The Fishers took time out to chat with Black Press Media while visiting their aunt Julia Barton, in Chemainus, B.C. while on the Vancouver Island leg of their revamped tour.
“It’s like a yo-yo, we keep coming back,” laughed Chris, 52. “I love Chemainus, everything about it is nice. It’s got a really lovely feel and people are very friendly. It’s a welcoming, nice place.”
And that’s saying something considering the abundance of places the Fishers have already visited in Europe, Central America, the United States and Canada so far.
The Fishers have become YouTube sensations since the start of their trip. Their videos have surpassed 13 million views and they have 89,000 subscribers.
A series of circumstances led to their decision to sell everything and make this trip 10 years or so ahead of the usual retirement age.
“Our friends were retiring and dying or not reaching retirement,” Marianne said.
“Quite a few of our friends went within a year and Marianne donated a kidney to a friend,” Chris elaborated.“I had a bit of a panic that I wasn’t going to make it to retirement. We all want to make it to retirement to do what we want to do.”
“You think, ‘I don’t want to be one of those people,’” said Marianne. “If I have something to do, I want to do it. I want to be on my death bed saying I actually put my head under freezing cold water in the Arctic Ocean and took on challenges.”
They made that quick dip in the Arctic Ocean and everything else they’ve done to date has been entirely worthwhile.
“Who gets to say they drove from the Georgia-Russia border to Vancouver Island via Alaska?” queried Marianne.
Marianne was a hospital administrator and Chris’ last job was the head of catering at two large hospitals. They both left their jobs and sold many of their possessions while keeping their house and renting it out.
They also bought the camper van. An 18-year-old vehicle with 40,000 miles under its belt upon purchase, it has now logged another 70,000.
The trip began in earnest on January 5, 2020 at Telford in Shropshire, England.
“We cut a ribbon, we got filmed by the BBC and we drove off into the sunset before COVID,” said Chris.
Everything went well the first three months through France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia until they hit Turkey. That’s when the full impact of COVID became apparent.
“We were only supposed to be in Turkey three weeks,” noted Chris. “We were there 18 months.”
But the people made it all more bearable.
“We’ve found the countries that have the least will give you the most,” said Chris.
With changing circumstances, including the Russian conflict with Ukraine, the trip literally turned in another direction once the Fishers could get moving again.
They shifted from Istanbul taking the camper van back to the United Kingdom for a couple of weeks and then shipping it to Charleston, South Carolina. They eventually arrived in B.C. after traversing through Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and other states along the way.
They then headed north to Alaska via the Dempster Highway through the Northwest Territories and the Yukon to the Arctic Ocean and back to Chemainus.
Chris has been taking extensive videos of all their experiences on YouTube where they have paid sponsorships helping to pay the bills.
“I think it’s been a real test of everything,” said Chris. “You don’t know where you’re going to sleep, where you’re going to get water from. I prefer to stay in the more remote places. It’s been fascinating to see. Travelling like this you get another perspective on a country.”
“I don’t put high expectations on many things,” offered Marianne. “I find it leads to a much better experience. I always go with a fresh open mind.”
The final chapter is a long way from being written. Chris intends to write a book someday.
The Fishers are going to tour a bit more of B.C. next and into Alberta before heading south, likely as far as Mexico, then ship the van to Melbourne, Australia. After a brief sabbatical back in England, extensive travels Down Under and probably into New Zealand will follow – unless the plan changes.
“I’d say we’ve got about two years to go on this one,” said Chris. “The world situation is constantly changing. It’s like a game of chess. You just have to make sure you don’t get check-mated.”
You can follow the Fishers under Tread The Globe on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and on the web here.