Today, hundreds of signatures adorn the vehicle’s paintwork. “Everyone who helped us along the way was allowed to immortalise themselves on the W 201’s paintwork,” says the North German woman. Help could be in the form of water, a few litres of diesel, fruit, a place to park, a gas cylinder or simply a hug. Some celebrities have also left a dedication: multiple entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, YouTube star Casey Neistat, boxer Sven Ottke and Dr Dieter Zetsche, former CEO of Daimler AG.
The adventurers’ trip around the world was divided into three stages, with visits to friends and family at home in between. The first leg lasted one and a half years and took them from South America via North and Central America to Alaska, the east coast of the USA, Canada, Florida and New York. They started with €15,000 in savings. When they had almost got through their money – “We needed about a thousand euros a month,” says Stefan – he turned his hobby into a source of income: photographing luxury hotels with a drone. The two bartered the pictures for dinner, a place to sleep, or sometimes actual cash.