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A couple quit their high-paying corporate jobs to go on an epic 38,000-mile, 16-month road trip


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Many people fantasize about quitting the rat race and exploring the world, but few actually have the guts to do it.

Nikki Levi and Jakob Celnik, graduates of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, quit their well-paying corporate jobs, bought a van, and drove 38,000 miles across the Americas.

Their journey lasted 16 months and took them across Canada and down the West Coast of California, through Central and South America, and down to Ushuaia, Argentina, an area also known as the "end of the earth."

Levi worked at Citigroup in New York as a high-yield credit-research analyst for four years before moving to Apple. Celnik worked at the Blackstone Group, also in New York, for almost three years before moving over to Soros Fund Management.

"While leaving our jobs, we were terrified," Levi told Business Insider.

"How can you leave finance? I mean the money ... that's all there is to live for right?" she joked.

"But in hindsight, we shouldn't have been ... We cannot buy time, so we try to enjoy the time we do have doing the things we love, with the people and animals we love," she said.

Levi, Celnik, and their dog, Leika, set off on the adventure of a lifetime in May 2014. Here's what their journey was like:

They bought a used 2008 Dodge Sprinter 2500 high-roof van, with a 144-inch wheelbase, and with about 90,000 miles on the clock.

It was completely empty when they bought it. With little carpentry, mechanics, or construction experience, it was a process of trial and error to figure out what exactly to build and how to build it. They figured out a budget and tried to learn as much as they could by reading guides like the Sprinter forum and the Sprinter conversion sourcebook.

The bed frame was one of the first things they built.

First, they needed to figure out the layout of the floor plan for their van build. They chose a Sprinter with a 144-inch wheelbase and high roof because its length allowed for parking in regular parking spots, while its roof was high enough for both to stand up — even Celnik at 6 feet 2 inches.

Then they worked on the storage units.

Since the space inside the van was so small, everything had to be precisely measured.

They managed to fit storage cabinets close to the bed for clothes, books, and toiletries and deeper cabinets at the end of the bed.

There are no straight lines in the van, except for the bed platform itself, and all four walls are shaped differently. They had to get creative.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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