Couple complete gap year fuelled by cooking oil

6th Sep 2011
Written by: Macca Sherifi

Couple complete gap year fuelled by cooking oil

After nearly two years of travelling Andy Pag and Christina Ammon are nearing the end of their gap year. However, unlike most gap years, theirs was unique.

They travelled in a recycled truck made out of trash and travelled round the world fuelled only on waste cooking oil.

Andy (36 from London, UK) and Christina (36 from Oregon, USA) have driven their biotruck over 30,000 kilometres across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.

Andy started this epic adventure in 2009. He said: “I bought this old school bus from a scrap yard and with the help of friends, got it running, refurbished the inside into an eco-home using reclaimed materials, and converted the engine to run on used cooking oil, to see if we could drive around the world using things that others have thrown away.

“It’s an experiment to see if we could recycle our way around the world. I’m as surprised as anyone that we got around the world without putting any fossil fuel in the tank.”

The couple had a number of challenges on their journey. They always had to find waste vegetable oil to fuel their truck, no mean feat in countries like Iran and Pakistan, and they were constantly dogged by breakdowns.

In India, Andy was arrested on suspicion of terrorism and imprisoned in the infamous Ajmer Prison, holding up the trip for months. But the couple carried on taking everything in their stride.

“The breakdowns were the best bit.” said Christina. “That’s when we met the most interesting, friendly people and had the unique sort of adventures and insights which you can’t have travelling any other way.”

Andy reiterated the point: “We couldn’t have done it without the enthusiasm and help from the strangers we’ve met along the road, and from our sponsors. The random acts of kindness have given us an overwhelming faith in how great humankind is.”

You might be wondering how someone can dream up and adventure such as Andy’s. Well, it’s not his first. In 2007 he drove a “chocolate powered lorry” to Timbuktu using biodiesel made from waste cocoa butter, and a year later he organised the Grease to Greece Rally across Europe for cars converted to run on restaurants’ waste cooking oil. It was a trip that inspired him to bigger and better things.

On why he took the trip, Andy said: “There’s a point to all this, somewhere. There’s no doubt any more among the consensus of scientists; man made climate change is happening. The real questions are; how bad will it be, what can we do to reduce its impact. This is just a way to highlight alternative methods of travelling that are more environmentally friendly.”

If you’re wondering how you can have your very own overland adventure but don’t know how to organise it then looking at out Overland Tours section for more ideas.


The biotruck at its worst.

Looking much healthier.

Andy and Christina in the Death Valley, Nevada.

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