After 3 years on the road and with over 100,000 Instagram followers, you’ve probably heard of Adam, Emily, Colette and Sierra sharing their inspiring Open Road. Their 12-month plan project finally became a lifestyle! This life on the road brings them so much joy they had to keep going, in spite of the ups and downs coming with the nomadic lifestyle. Read their story here:
Where are you now? And how do you select your next destination?
We are currently on the Big Island of Hawaii visiting family and will return to our van and life in South America in a few weeks. Our twists and turns are determined by many factors-both spontaneous and planned, in the grand scheme and on the daily! Weather and finances help determine what activities we do. Tuning into the energy of a place, we decide where to camp and how long to stay. We have a loose idea of where we want to be for, say, a season, or we need to be to a certain place to meet someone in 3 months, so we adjust our course accordingly. Early on we adopted a standing rule that if one of us does not like a campsite, we move, no questions asked. On the road, you are stripped of so many outside filters and your intuition is your best, most vital gift. We are in love with the breadth and diversity we’ve encountered on the road. We adore high mountains and warm oceans, the cultural delights in big cities and the slow charm of small towns, deep forests and vast deserts so life on the road suits us quite well, wherever that may be.
What was your life before leaving 3 years ago?
We left a life surrounded by inspiring, talented folks; a busy life of alarm clocks and rent to pay. A life of moving the car from one side of the street to the other to avoid city parking tickets, of escaping the layer of smog as many days a month as we could muster to breathe rich air. Art shows and beach days, fancy cocktails and farmers market, friends and family, city stresses, perpetual wanderlust. When we departed, it was for (what we thought) would be a 1 year journey at the end of which we would return to this ‘normal’ life in California. After over 3 years on the road, we are happy to report this life of fulltime travel is our new normal.
How was it to give birth to your second child while on the road?
Having lost our first child at birth, a son we named Aaro, we know and intensely rejoice in the gift that is life. Sierra is our third child. My first trimester pregnant and on the road with Sierra was very difficult, as most of it was spent around 12,000 feet. The challenges of that elevation coupled with early pregnancy hormones left me quite green. Luckily, Adam was able to spend a lot of time caring for Coco, so I was able to get a lot of rest, which is all I was capable of doing. My first pre-natal appointment for Sierra was in an old shipping container that served as the hospital in Cusco, Peru and cost $6. Once I hit 16 weeks, as we left the alti-plano and entered lower elevations, I regained my strength & enjoyed the rest of my pregnancy. I had regular checkups, in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, carrying in my file of papers and explaining our nomadic life to the bewildered and bemused staff and doctors. We chose to have Sierra in Florianopolis, Brazil where is the only non-Spanish speaking country we have been to on the trip. We thought our lack of Portuguese would be a challenge, but it proved to not be as difficult as we imagined. Florianopolis is the center of the natural birth movement in Brazil and the free and public care we received was so supportive. Parenting on the road (and in life) gives us the deepest joy.
Did you ever imagine getting ove 100,000 people following your stories on IG ? Is it a motivation to keep going?
Our motivation for adventuring is not driven by a number; it is a fire within, a joy found on the road, of a life lived slow and connected to our children and with the world. We are truly flattered that so many people are following along as we share pieces of our life on the road.
The 24h bazar is pretty cool can you elaborate on this, and can you make a living out of it?
When 5 months into what we planned to be a 1-year long voyage, as we were departing Colombia entering Ecuador, we had approximately 8 weeks to reach Tierra del Fuego before the weather would make it improbable to safely reach our southernmost destination Ushuaia. So we opened to the possibilities set before us, decided to embrace a future unknown and the rewards of slow travel. We knew we were (are!) on the journey of a lifetime and rushing to check off places visited seemed very unlike the purpose of our departure. That was the decision that changed it all! We did not have the finances to stay on the road longer, but felt confident that with our hearts open and heads together, we could figure out some way to support our life on the road. Our finances are minimal needing food, fuel and not much else. We discussed juggling at street lights (a talent which neither of us possess), turning the van into a mobile kitchen and selling food after bars close (not very conducive to having a young child), having Adam work with a scuba outfitter as an underwater cinematographer (fun if you want to live somewhere, but quite un-nomadic), so when we mulled over the idea for 24 Hour Bazaar- we instantly knew we had found our winner! It is incredibly liberating to have decided not to return to the safety of normal life in California, and to see our brainstorming session turned into a viable business.
24 Hour Bazaar has created a circle, which connects the artisans, an international audience, and us. All the craftspeople we work with are stoked to share their goods with a wider audience and make a fair wage doing so; to support tradition and process in the arts is infinitely rewarding to us as artists. This flow of finance, art and inspiration is a pairing that we could only have dreamed of before our departure, and are thrilled to now call our work reality. 24 Hour Bazaar is a flash sale of curated, fair trade, artisan goods that we host when in craft rich regions. Items include rugs, textiles, blankets, clothing, hats, jewelry, masks and vary according to our location. The one-of-a-kind items are available for a limited time and ship worldwide directly to our customers’ door. Send you email address to [email protected] to get on the list. As that stabilized our income, we have also diversified to include working as contributors to various online and print publications via Adam’s photography paired with Emily’s writing. We also take paid assignments, producing original photo content for the every hungry global audience. In October 2014, Adam had a solo art exhibition titled “Terra Incognita” which featured over 50 new original collage, photo, painting and mixed-media works. Emily has now hosted two “Puertas Cerradas” pop-up 6 course vegetarian dinners inspired by our time on the road, cooking for up to 45 folks, sharing the stories of each course set in an intimate environment.
How do you plan to school your children?
As Americans, we have many options for schooling our children; we home-school the girls on the road or “road-school” them. Education is very important to Adam & I, it is not a separate experience that is relegated to sitting behind a desk reading a book (although we certainly read many). Colette has many workbooks and loves when we ‘do school’ practicing reading, writing and arithmetic. But beyond books, we like to foster an environment for asking questions through child-led learning which leads to wonderful discussions that link many subjects together. Viewing each experience we have as an opportunity to learn, we discuss geography when hiking diverse landscapes, practice Spanish with locals, use money to learn real-life math, and so much more.
Can you describe a recent magic moment you had in your travels?
For Adam’s birthday, we parked the van & hiked down a remote beach to a small cove in the central Chilean coast. There were fantastical turquoise blooms atop many cactus that seemed out of a Dr. Seuss book dotting the cliff-side overlooking some perfectly peeling waves. We made a fire, camped beneath the stars and relished the slow moments of magic.
Follow Emily, Adam, Coco and Sierra here :