Have you ever felt the urge to leave?
That burning sensation in your chest; the craving for adventure? That’s where I was three years ago. I had been working in sales for the last couple of years and wasn’t finding any sense to my routine life in Quebec anymore. Although I had some pretty fun music projects going on at that time, I really felt like the timing was right. I was ready to drop out of everything and go on an “inspirational quest” to discover myself as a traveling singer and songwriter.
At first, I bought a van in 2015 out of necessity because I needed a place to live, but it then became a really nice traveling perk. I named her Grand-Mamie in 2016, during my first cross country road trip. That summer, I traveled with @une.alex from Quebec to California, and then up the coast. A month of dreamy adventures.
After that, nothing was ever the same.
I had already been living out of my van for several months at the time, but the major game-changer that happened was during that trip to California.
Over there, I discovered surfing and busking. It changed my life! This connection with the ocean and the vanlife became an obsession for me. I had found my little paradise, where I could enjoy life peacefully, playing music by the beach to pay for my food and gas. At that point, I knew there was no turning back.
When I came back to Quebec after that first road trip, I knew it wasn’t going to last. In fact, the whole drive back, the only thought I had in my head was, “when am I gonna be driving back and how…?”
Two months went by before I was back on the road with two brothers from another mother: @gabrielcarrier and @stone.ranger. I was completely broke and full of hope. The initial plan was to leave for 10 months, but anyone who would have peeped at our bank account would have laughed in our faces. Good thing the border guy wasn’t too curious!
Those first 10 months were so fun, challenging, and gave me so much perspective on life.
From Quebec to California, down to Southern Mexico and back up to Washington, 2017 was the most intense and beautiful year I ever lived. I had discovered my fuel. I started writing songs more than I ever had before. While living in my van, I was able to really connect with the true essence of my creativity and finally had the time and space to let myself go.
I then realized that my routine life in Quebec was keeping me away from it all.
It’s so hard to be truly creative when you’re caught up in a stressful, money-making oriented lifestyle. Most of our creativity comes from what we see, hear, or read. When you’re doing the same thing with the same people every day, you’re not stimulated to your full capacity. Traveling creates this perfect setup where your mind is completely free to wander anywhere and get influenced by the constant new surroundings, the perfect combination for a traveling singer.
For these 10 months, all I had to care about was feeding myself and paying for gas to the next destination. Fortunately, music was the key to it. The roads, in the most natural and beautiful way, led me to busk as a full-time job
Coming back from Mexico, we barely had any money left. We headed straight to San Diego where I knew a few spots to street perform for tips. All I had to do was post up on the boardwalk around sunset time, play my tunes and smile at people. I became a master busker and every week, I would go back to the same spots to make my “donation-based” salary.
It would always vary, but by finding the good spots, I figured out a way to make a kind of regular income.
This allowed me to stack up some cash, and travel a bunch on the west coast. That summer, we traveled from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada, visited six different national parks along the way, surfed all over California and saw the total solar eclipse in Oregon. The more mileage we would cover, the stronger my conviction of what I wanted to do with my life became. I knew that being a traveling singer and songwriter was the right path for me.
Traveling in a van gives you so much freedom; it’s unbelievable.
Everywhere I was, I had the only things I really needed in life: homies, my guitar, and surfboards. I never felt trapped or restricted. My van became my house and anywhere I went, I felt HOME. The whole saying “home is where you park it” took on a whole new meaning to me.
When came the time to go back home after the first 10 months, I couldn’t do it.
I stored the van in Sacramento, took a three-week “vacation” to go see family, then went straight back to California. We stayed five more months in San Diego that winter, enjoying the endless summer and surfing almost every day. I could’ve stayed there forever, but then came the opportunity to go to Central America to teach surfing with Surf Expedition. In need of a new challenge, I took the gig, fixed my van and hit the road.
In February 2018, after 15 months living the Vanlife, we drove back to Montreal.
Since then, Grand-Mamie has been chilling in Quebec, waiting for our next adventure. She’ll need a little TLC this summer, but will be back on the road, stronger than ever, really soon. I’m really excited to get back to traveling in my van, especially since I started this new music project. It’s called Music with a View and the name says it all. I’m looking forward to more mileage with Grand-Mamie in the nearby future, chasing views all over the continent doing what I love the most.
Follow our traveling singer and songwriter adventures on Instagram: @po.zay & @grand.mamie