Where’s My Office Now?
Emily and Corey departed from New Hampshire in January 2013 in a 1987 Westfalia (named Boscha). On the road, Emily is blending a nomadic lifestyle with a career as a web designer. She makes it all work – Learn how in the interview below.
Emily’s take on the road, relationships, and cubicle alternatives:
How long had you and Corey been together when you hit the road?
We had been together one year and four months. However, our relationship was substantially tested when we traveled to Central America for two months of backpacking after having dated for five months.
What was the biggest obstacle in deciding to live a van life?
The decision to live the van life happened smoothly, and to be honest, without obstacles. This is not to say that planning for and living in the van was smooth, but the actual decision to live in a van and travel seemed natural and effortless. I think that this is due to where I was in my life including my desire to do something outside of the societal norm, and also the acknowledgement of my internet skillset which I realized I could do operate from anywhere.
After this decision was made, the biggest obstacle for me was having the patience to wait for everything to come together. After deciding, it took 6 months before we bought the van and then another two months of prepping. I tend to be spontaneous and at times impatient. I like to see results and there were times in this planning process that I had my doubts about it coming to fruition. I was thankful for Corey for constantly reminding me that it was going to happen.
VW’s are notorious for their maintenance and community of fans – any stories of help given by others along the way?
The Vanagon community is chock full of inspiring, passionate, interesting people that we immediately connected with. Once, we were broken down in Sedona, AZ (not a bad place to be broken down!) and we had been given the name of a Vanagon mechanic about 45 minutes away in Flagstaff. We had no idea what was wrong with our van at the time, and this guy drove all of the way to meet us to let us try a working part of his that may have been the cause of our breakdown. We’ve met people who give us gifts immediately upon meeting us … spare parts, food, and gas money. A year ago, Corey broke his collar bone in a remote location on the Lost Coast of California. We had to quickly plan a trip back to New England, and were faced with the challenge of finding a safe place to store Boscha and all of our gear. We asked our Instagram followers for some help and a fellow Vanagon guy, Dave, offered to store Boscha at his place of work. We’ve been friends with him and his family ever since.
How do you balance deadlines with the unexpected on the road? Do your clients know about your lifestyle?
Prioritizing certainly helps, as well as skills like planning and time management. This may mean playing it “safe” when an important deadline approaches by sticking to places where I’m certain there will be internet, either in the form of cell phone service, or a cafe. One thing that’s great about living on the road is that it can be inexpensive compared to apartment/house life given that there’s no rent or mortgage. Because expenses are less, technically I don’t have to work as many hours to support myself and this lifestyle. Thus, I work less (anywhere from 15-40 hours/week but usually on the lower end) giving me a cushion for emergency work tasks that may come up and more time for exploration and adventure.
How do you balance a web presence (social media and website/blog) with day to day life? Is the former time-consuming?
Balance is the ultimate challenge on the road. A perfect balance of work, travel, relaxation, and adventure is impossible to maintain. Currently, I’m working on redefining the picture of balance that I have had in my mind for a long time. I’m accepting the feelings of ups and downs and imbalance, and most importantly, energy management. Living on the road requires a lot of energy both mental and physical. Sharing the journey on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and our website is something that happens organically and doesn’t take a lot of time.
That being said, there are many unwritten blog posts and a lot of videos to be edited. These larger tasks have taken back burner the past few months. Short posts like photos and a caption are easy to fit into daily life and are not time consuming. The larger pieces like blog posts and videos are much harder and I’m still struggling to get into a routine with them.
What inspired you to make a web series?
I want to show people that living on the road is a viable, simplistic lifestyle option especially given the technology of today. Beyond this, I think it’s imperative for people to pursue their passions and live their dreams. The risk is worth it. The ups and downs are worth it. The unknown is worth it. From the beginning of this journey, we felt it necessary to portray this lifestyle as honestly as possible. We believe that the best way to do this is through video. We tried filming ourselves, but it was too time consuming and also pulled us out of the moment, and thus wasn’t the honest portrayal that we were looking for. So we ran an IndieGoGo campaign and hired a camera guy to live and film with us for a month. We are still releasing episodes. Perhaps down the road we will have a season two. 😉
What have you learned about Corey that you might not have without this excursion?
Before leaving, I knew that Corey liked to have things organized, but I had no idea to what extent!! He is the neat one, and I… I am the opposite. I’ve also learned how good a planner Corey is. He keeps the van together. Water, electricity, gas, van maintenance. His mechanical knowledge has really impressed me.
You say, on your blog, that you can’t hold grudges in such a small space. Do you have any advice for other couples thinking about traveling together?
Alone time is important, even for just 20 minutes a day. Also, working with my own feelings and emotions, through meditation and acceptance, keeps me from projecting them onto Corey. I also think it’s important to accept the emotional swings of both myself and Corey. Accepting simply means to not feed it with more negativity.
What piece of gear/equipment did you not know you would need?
We were given items that we’ve learned we don’t need, like extra clothing. We’ve donated a few bags and routinely perform a van purge. It’s amazing how little we actually need.
Snap a photo of your 5 must-take items for the road:
- Bedrock Sandals
Any “oh crap” moments?
In Sedona, AZ, we were hanging out having dinner at a friend’s house. When it came time for bed, they offered us their driveway to park in. We were about to say yes, and I had a feeling that we should just head out to the National Forest that we had been camping in. The next morning, we woke up to a message from our friend saying that a drunk driver had crashed into their driveway. Exactly where we would’ve been. “Oh crap,” is the watered down version of what was said. The lesson? Listen to your intuition! And we are probably just as safe sleeping on a city street as we are in a friend’s driveway!
You’ve been on the road for almost a year and a half – If you had to pull over and choose a town to live in, where would it be?
It’s a toss up between Pacific City, OR, Sedona, AZ, and Mt. Shasta, CA. Portland, OR is cool, for a city. But I don’t think I’d want to live in a city. Gosh, I really don’t know. There’s so much beauty and character out there.
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