Brendan and Kelly decided to take their creativity and expertise on a the road in order to appease their thirst for adventure. Being able to combine these two things allowed them live their lives to the fullest! Their story is pretty inspiring so I’ve decided to interview Brendan to know a little more about their lifestyle and some tips about living on the road.
Where is your home town?
Kelly grew up in Newport, RI and I grew up in Moorestown, NJ.
Which vessel are you driving?
We drive a white ’84 VW Vanagon Westfalia — for those interested, it’s a rebuilt 1.9 water boxer engine [rebuilt by previous owner].
How many miles/km did you put on your van since you got it?
We have put over 16k miles on it since we purchased it last March, 15k of which were between June and November.
What’s the best thing about the van life for you?
The freedom — being able to pick up and go whenever something strikes you, or being able to hang around for longer without having plan is really great. You can go with the flow a bit more and follow your gut!
What do you do for a living, and which job did you quit for this new lifestyle?
Kelly and I were both freelancing in photo/video production so we really just brought our work on the road! We own our own studio, West Falls, that keeps us working and moving. We do lots of photography, video, and design for budding companies making cool things. It’s really great to bring that aspect in freedom into as many facets of life as we can.
What would be your advice for other couples living on the road?
“I would say that patience and understanding are the only real things to focus on when traveling with your partner. If you can be patient in tough situations and understanding when things go wrong, you can get through just about anything. I think it’s a great thing to strive for in life, so getting yourself in practice and keeping yourself in check with those two things help greatly. Also, just know that living on the road is a constant learning experience. It’s all going to work out…just stay patient and understanding. ”
Your favorite spot where you ever stayed at?
We had so many great places we stayed at, but one of the coolest was some random BLM land in Idaho. It was our first time camping on BLM land and we weren’t too sure about the protocol. We drove a few miles out on a dirt road and pulled over where we felt like it made sense. I set up a camera to capture the van throughout the night and we fell asleep to the sound of coyotes howling not far off. In the morning I woke up to find one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken – the van underneath the stars.
The worst bad luck that ever happened to you on the road?
We had some really great luck so our bad luck wasn’t even that bad. That being said, we did break down in the middle of no where, with no cell service, and nothing around but horses. I was working on the engine for over an hour and things were looking down…..until I hear the sound of a car pulling up behind me. I turned around and there was another Westy coming to save the day. This awesome retired couple gave me tools, parts, and advice on how to get her back up and running. I guess you could say this is a story about good luck…but without that really incredible person, this would’ve been a story about the worst luck.
Do you pick up hitch hikers? Any funny story about that?
We actually didn’t — though we brought it up to each other multiple times. We were torn between our desire to help others out, and opening ourselves up to some high-risk situations when we have lots of expensive photo/video gear on board. We ultimately decided to keep it just us in the van, but we found other ways to help people out.
What’s your favorite item you always keep with you when you’re in the van?
For me it’s my Buck knife — it’s actually from my birth year and is really great. It’s versatile, in fact it was my only knife (utility, food, etc) for the entire trip. Kelly’s favorite Item to have on the road is her camelbak filter water bottle. It’s so important to stay hydrated on the road and this allowed her to fill up water anywhere, without worrying about a filtration system.
What is the best road trip itinerary that’s on your mind?
After our 5-month trip, we really came back with more places we wanted to visit than when we left. I think Kelly and I are really excited to go back in Montana, Idaho, and Utah (all the way down to Zion) at a leisurely pace. There’s so much good hiking and climbing around there, we’d love to just explore as much as possible.
What would look like the van of your dream?
I think our van right now is pretty close to our dream…maybe except without all the engine troubles haha. We love how it can maneuver through cities and feel at home out on dirt roads. Though every once in a while I do yearn for a Syncro with 4WD.
Photo : Brendan H. Banks