Our homies are on an epic road trip with their two dogs and their bus named Pickle. They’re able to travel on a super limited budget, read their story and learn from their experiences!
Can you tell us your story and tell us more about your van?
Hey! We are the Ramblin’ Dawgs : Tom, Anik and our two crazy dogs, Jett and West. We are from Montreal originally but we’ve always been nomads at heart. Last summer we decided to travel for at least a year across the USA and Canada. We did that kind of travels before, living out of our car or minivan, but always felt we were in a rush… We wanted to take it easy this time and see everything we’ve missed.
At first we bought a pick up truck with a canopy but it turned out to be to small for two adults and two small dogs.
A friend asked why not buy a Westfalia. Two weeks later Tom came back home with his ’73 green VW Bus. He bought it from a nice old hippie lady. We named it Pickle!
We sold or gave away almost everything we had, left our apartment, spent a couple months at Anik’s mom and then moved into the van for good. Tom added an auxiliary battery and did all the wiring for LED lights, radio and we now have an inverter to charge all our electronics. But we got no fridge. WHAT? No cold beer? Yep, this is hard. Pickle has a 1700 engine. He’s also an automatic. Which means you’ll have to wait if you’re behind us going uphill. We are slow. Reaaaally slow. But we have more time to admire the scenery. Can’t complain!And Pickle is the cutest bus in town. We love to see people smile and wave at us as we drive by!
How do you manage to work and travel full time ?
We always had a simple life. We don’t need much. We had savings and money from the stuff we sold. We dumpster dive for our food. We never pay for a campground. We sew our pants when they’re tearing apart. We do our own toothpaste. We forage wild medicinal herbs when we’re sick.
When we need money we look online for small gigs. We worked on a vineyard in the Okanagan for a month and picked blueberries in the Fraser Valley for two weeks this summer.
We also played music in the streets, which can be pretty lucrative. Anik has a guitar and Tom is playing the washboard. But we think we got most of the money because of our cute dogs and not our talents!
Also we are pretty lucky and we just find money. At the park, in a farm, on a trail… 50$ each time! Keep your eyes open folks!
What are the dumpster diving rules?
Dumpster diving is a science. For example you find a pizza in the 7/11 dumpster. You take a look a it. Looks good? Yes? Taste it. Tastes good? Eat it. Did it make you sick? No? Great!
The best places are grocery stores in small town. Big cities have compactors and you don’t want to go inside these death traps. Tom did it twice but Anik was holding his feet. (Don’t try this at home, we’re professionals)
If you have a dog or cat, don’t forget to hit the local pet stores. We haven’t paid for dog food since we found that one. You like coffee? No problem, check out coffee shops that sell coffee beans. They will throw the bags away at some point.
We prefer to go during the day because it’s easier to see what’s inside. Most of the time they keep the dumpsters unlocked during the day and honestly, most employees don’t care.
We share the best dumpsters with everyone and give food away when we have too much. Take only what you need and keep the place clean. Be respectful of the workers, they can give you tips!
One of our best meals were from the time we spent in Nevada. Eating sushis and ribs from the Albertson’s grocery dumpster every single night of the week. In Seattle there is what we called the magic chocolate dumpster. It’s a chocolate factory and the dumpster is only for chocolate bars. Everytime we’re in town we can stock chocolate for months!
Your Youtube videos are pretty funny, can you tell us more about this video series ?
We started doing those videos mostly for fun. We wanted to remember everything and this was the best way to do it. We never did that kind of thing before and we just thought why no give it a try! We called it Bus Life Series. It was and still is all about the road, the scenery, goofy things we might do and dogs. Because everybody loves puppies. Right? RIGHT?
We put more work on the series lately because we found out that we love to share everything we see with our family, friends and whoever is interested. Tom is also stoked to use his sexy dance moves all over the country and show them online! Don’t worry there will be plenty of them to come 😉
We plan on doing more mini-episodes soon about things that we learned on the road, like mechanic tips, diy pet health care and foraging edible plants lessons.
Where are you now and where are you going next ?
We’ve been all around the United States and across Canada since last summer. We are now in Alaska for at least a month. We will try to make the most of our time here, trying to see everything, the glaciers, the mountains, the wildlife… We only been here for a couple days now and the place is stunning!
We have an obligation in Quebec in October, so that’s where we headed next. We will explore more of the Yukon and northern British Columbia on our way down.
We’ll work for a bit and we have a herbal medicine project that we’ll probably start in Quebec too and take it on the road.
No big plan after, we will go where the wind blow!
Can you share your 3 funniest #vanlife moments with us? (photo for each please if possible)
#1 : Breaking the Law
So has some of you may now, we got married in a drive thru with the Pickle in Vegas this winter.
Our family came from Montreal and our aircoolers friends from California joined us too.
Tom had to get the bus back to the hotel (yes we got ourselves a nice and classy ghetto Motel 6 for the wedding) and got rear ended by our friend. No one hurt except Pickle. This is where the real drinking began. Everybody got drunk on Fremont. Tom started some of his signature crazy moves in the middle of the street and two badass police officers didn’t like it so they handcuffed him. They took our friend Rob too. And told them that they were detained because they were jaywalking. After making a big show out of it they finally let them go. And we got drunker. What a wedding night!
#2 : Ice Ice Baby
Everybody think of New Mexico as a warm sunny state. Well this is completely false. This winter was brutal. On our way to Roswell we received a rock and had to stop the heat to prevent further damage to the windshield. We couldn’t get it fixed in Roswell and we were heading to Santa Fe so we chose to take it there instead. Bad move! It was already cold but as we make our way north the temperature dropped even more.
Forty miles from the city, Tom was having problem with his feet. He couldn’t feel it anymore! We were dressed like if we were exploring the Arctic. Finally we made it to Santa Fe in -20°C temperature and chose the comfort of another charming Motel 6 over one more freezing night in the van. After warming his feet for 5 minutes, Tom went back outside like a true vanlifer, to do his oil change. Badass.
#3 : Reclaim your space
Ok this one is funny but not for the faint of heart. We had a friend traveling with us from Quebec to British Columbia last September. He was sleeping on the floor, we were sleeping on the bed with the dogs. It was tight. We went on a side trip to Lussier Hot Springs in the Kootenays and sneaked in (they were closed at the time) We let the dogs in the springs with us and at some point West the sheltie drank the water. Soon after he was having bowels problems. We found a spot for the night, drank some beers and went to bed. In the middle of the night, West sounded like he was gonna throw up but nothing happened. Five minutes later, he’s right next to the pillows having the most powerful diarrhea we have seen in our life. But the target was not our bed, no. The projectiles were heading straight for our poor drunk friend on the floor. Talk about a shitty night! He slept in his tent for the rest of his time with us and we had our space back. Yeah!