Buslife Short & Sweet

We are two travel loving, back country camping, dune hiking Michiganders that have spent the last three months converting our short bus into a rustic house on wheels. Birdie's a 1992 24' International and saw her first Mountains last summer when we took her out to Telluride for some Colorado adventures. Now that she's been converted it's a whole new experience and we are so excited to check out the east coast. We left this afternoon on our maiden voyage in the new digs along side our dear friends @fernthebus and are stopping at Mammoth Caves before heading to Asheville, NC. We left with the mindset to live simply and bring only the essentials. All we really need is a warm fire and friends to share it with, but a comfy bed and home cooked breakfast in the morning is nice too:)

Follow along with Matt and Emily and learn more about what it's like to live in a bus click below:

In Between Vanlife


I remember seeing photos of people living #vanlife on Instagram and assuming they were always traveling. So it's no surprise my shock when I learned that these same people took breaks and sometimes lived in other structures besides their van between adventuring. You often don't see those photos posted, the ones where we're catching up on work or laundry or time with family.

But we all have periods of stop and go, don't we? Take Parker and Jenelle. They went from six months on the road to six months off, and now they're gearing up to head out again. What's it like to be in between vanlife? Parker takes us to living inside a house looking out to his van.

She looks neglected out there,” I said between sips of tea.

The rain pattered down just beyond the window, and with every breath, the sun dropped a little lower, taking with it any semblance of life. A storm moved in and the east coast was about to be coated in snotty, wet, heavy winter, as only the east coast could. Winter here—in New Jersey, specifically— doesn’t mean light, fluffy snow and sunshine. I learned long ago that my dreams of snowmen and sledding would only come once maybe twice a year. Winter here meant grey single-tone, chill-you-to-your-bones, wet, cold. The kind of cold that leaves you perma-chilled in November and doesn't warm back up until May.

So I stood, sipping my tea. Just above the white-columned cast iron heater gazing from our Airbnb window. Attempting to thaw from the inside and out, well aware of what we were in for and grateful for the fact that we were indoors. Our van, a beloved custom 1987 Chevy G20 Tern conversion, affectionately named Scarlet JoVanson, was not so lucky. She sat outside taking the full brunt of this oncoming nor’easter.

“You’re insane,” my fiancé, Jenelle, said from the kitchen in an effort to quell her own concerns.

Scarlet’s solar panels sat caked in ice and her new-(ish) awning and off-road tires sat horrifically unappreciated. We had been off the road for just over a month now and decided to stay back east for the winter. An effort to catch up with ourselves for a period of time. File taxes, organize photos, write and plan—maybe squeeze in a dentist appointment if there was time. When we made the call, it seemed like the right idea. But now, standing here straddling this heater, I was having second thoughts.

I had been in perpetual motion for just over three years while Jenelle had been moving in her own right for almost as long. Stagnation, historically, had not done me many favors. It stirred up anxiety and instilled restlessness, but now I wanted to challenge that. After eight months on the road, a brief period of sitting still introduced me to both Jenelle and Scarlet, which then led to another seven months on the move.

I began to think there was something to this whole sitting still thing and its potential to spark new adventures.
If life on the road had taught me anything, it was that our demeanor in the present was really the only thing you could control.

Flat tires? Blown engines? Poor choices in a rum-soaked haze? Those kinds of things we can’t possibly foresee, but we can adjust to make the most of them. It’s a fool’s errand to attempt to navigate the future or the past, and as soon as you try to get a grip on it, the now passes, like loose sand on a windy day.

This “ownership of one's self” mentality took 12 countries and almost 35 states to nail down, and I’m far from mastering it. But as I sat and studied the intricacies of our ice-crusted van, it seemed very important.

Jenelle called across our temporary living room as dinner was gingerly placed on the table.

I poured a glass of wine in seamless domestic fashion while my mind cruised the sands of beaches a thousand miles away.

I sat and met my fiancée’s eyes as we touched our wine glasses together. Her fluid probably needs changing, I thought, as I looked lovingly into Jenelle’s eyes. We haven’t checked Scarlet’s transmission since Florida and we’ve gone well over 30,000 miles since then. As a matter of fact, those solar panels that are caked in ice right now could probably use a resealing, and I have been itching to see if I could finish that reclining bed frame.

Maybe this go-round, stagnation could do us some good. I could finally get a check up. Maybe I’d have time to properly redo my website. Jenelle might have time to rebrand. This might not be so bad after all.

Maybe this will be more of a recharge than a forced stillness.

The road will always be a part of us and what we do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stop for a few weeks.
Perhaps we have room for stillness and vagabonding.

That’s what makes this adventure of life so beautiful. There’s room for all of it.

Nah, Scarlet won’t be neglected. She’ll be pampered. I cut into the seared tuna steaks Jenelle had served up thinking how it was a nice vacation from the rice and bean concoctions and stews of road life. I sipped my wine as if triumphantly finding my throne in the suburbs.

Jenelle took a sip of wine as well and sat despondent, lost in thought for a moment.

Her eyes met mine as she looked across the table, “I was thinking, we should take off for Canada next week…”

Follow Parker & Jenelle of Together We Roam

Produced by Kathleen Morton of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint.
Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to Parker Hilton & Jenelle Kapp.

Q&A with Sticker Art Founder Bryant Aucoin

When did you start getting interested in the outdoors?

I spent my adolescence in Charleston, South Carolina, and my parents' house was surrounded by saltwater marshes, creeks and thick mossy oaks. So I spent a lot of time exploring around that land getting muddy, climbing trees and would often have ticks that my parents would help pull off me.

Do you live in a tiny house?

I would say so, although we certainly have more space than the typical vanlifer. My wife, Emily, and I live in a 1-bed/1-bath 375-square-foot garage apartment and also share a Subaru Outback. We really focus on not collecting unnecessary things that will simply clutter up our life.

Most of our space is devoted to cooking and gear for adventuring.

What started the idea for Sticker Art?

Emily and I were adventuring around California one summer and ended up in Tuolumne Meadows, which is a beautiful part of Yosemite that everyone should visit. A couple friends from back home in South Carolina asked me to pick them up some stickers from the trip.

The ones I came across were overpriced, always seemed to have some name brand on them and the illustrations were lacking soul.

It got me wondering if anyone was producing beautifully designed stickers inspired by the landscape we adventure in, which as it turns out nobody was.

Tell us a bit about your company.

The hope behind the illustrations that make up Sticker Art is to connect with the person viewing it, reminding them of some epic adventure they once had and also to encourage them to get outside even more.

There's no name brands or logos on them; just rad art. In a world dominated by screens and social feeds, they act as a fun tangible item that helps to share their stoke.

Why stickers?

At first, I was just trying to see if this whole Sticker Art business idea would even work, and stickers were an affordable way to try out the concept. I don't like magnets or patches because they are limited to a certain medium of metal or textiles. Also, stickers aren't expensive so I knew that most people could afford them. I really like the idea of creating something small and monetarily cheap that might make a big impact on someone who connects with it.

Tell us about the vanlife sticker.

Every summer Emily and I live out of our Subaru for a few weeks to a month. While on the road, we befriended another couple who were living out of their van full time with their two dogs filming mountain biking trails all around the west. They were making a living out of their van by traveling to different trailheads, filming and uploading videos at cafes and libraries. It got me inspired to start looking into the lifestyle more and I found that people all around the world were living beautifully out of their tiny rolling homes. I used the most iconic road in our area as the backdrop, U.S. Route 163 in Utah outside of Monument Valley, to represent this lifestyle.

Is there an evolution from the idea of a sticker design to it being made?

I can't draw at all, but I'm pretty good at conveying a concept, so I contract out my sticker concepts to artists. For the most part, I work with Kayla Edgar because we really flow together well. She's pretty much an illustrating ninja, and I'm so grateful for her being part of this. I have worked with five artists so far including her.

The idea for a sticker design usually comes to me during a walk or some sort of meditative motion. Often I write down a few notes in my notepad app when the idea strikes. I let the concept churn in my mind for a few weeks before deciding to actually pull the trigger on it

I found that procrastination can be really helpful to work on ideas and ensure I’m serious about it.

I'll collect pictures of the scene, usually between 5 and 10 that are similar to the image in my mind. Then, I will write 5-10 correlating paragraphs to create a mood board. Sometimes, I include some really crude stick figure drawing, and thankfully the illustrators are able to pull from this the overall idea.

We go back and forth for usually between 4 and 5 rounds of rough drafts before coming up with the final product.

This whole collaboration process with the artists usually takes a month, and during that time I'm also writing the story that's printed on the removable backing of every sticker. This story is important as it lets people know the feeling and sets the tone for the illustration on the front.

Have you seen your stickers in the wild?

Yup, and it's such a cool feeling. Sometimes I'll even get text pictures from friends who see my stickers in some far flung place hundreds of miles away. My favorite thing is hearing people say something to the effect of "Oh, I have the backpacking sticker on my water bottle! It reminded me of my camping trip last summer in the San Juan Mountains. Solid work on that."

Our stickers are really connecting with people and having an impact.

To see such a small inexpensive item light up someone’s face is just awesome.

Do you have a favorite one?

For sure, it's the Tent View Alpine sticker. It's inspired by the Ice Lakes near Silverton, Colorado. It's the most beautiful hike I've ever been on and it's right in our area.

Where can people find you in the outdoors?

During this time of year, we go to Indian Creek, Utah, almost every other weekend to rock climb and sleep under the stars since it's only two hours away. Once it starts to warm up, we will go wherever we can based on how much time we have and how much money we want to spend on gas.

Most of the time that’s somewhere in the Four Corners area.

Any future outdoor adventures plans?

Emily and I are planning on spending two weeks traveling the northwest, climbing in Tuolumne Meadows, visiting the redwood forest for the first time and climbing our little hearts out.

Follow Bryant of Sticker Art

Black Pepper Abroad: Canadian Vanlifers exploring Australia

Brad and Agnes are two travel fanatic Canadians exploring the land down under with their French-Canadian four-legged companion, Sargent Pepper. They grew up just outside Toronto, Ontario and spent many years exploring provincial parks across Ontario. They love reconnecting with nature, exploring natural wonders and camping with their dog.

As a distant land on the other side of the planet, Australia had always been a beacon of mystery that seemed full of adventure. The allure of exotic wildlife, an ancient landscape, rich aboriginal culture and a somewhat dark penal colonial past, inspired wonder. So in 2012 Brad accepted an internal employment transfer and they relocated to Sydney, NSW.

Over the past 4 years Brad and Agnes have explored many state forests and national parks across NSW. They have had the opportunity to explore Uluru, The Great Barrier Reef, Port Arthur and even The Great Ocean Road. It quickly became clear that there was much more to Australia than the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

AWESOME YOUTUBE CLIP!!! 

Brad and Agnes longed to spend more time on the road, living a simpler life while further exploring Australia. The Vanlife seemed to be just the ticket. Over the past 8 months they decided to buy and renovate a vintage 13’ 1975 Viscount caravan to call home for the unforeseeable future. As they make slow travel across Australia a priority they will also be on the hunt for pet friendly destinations. With so many regulations surrounding camping with pets, Brad and Agnes hope to highlight as many pet friendly hiking trails, vineyards, campgrounds, beaches etc. as possible. Some people may see travelling with pets as a burden, but Brad and Agnes have been able to find many hidden gems that others may have overlooked.

Brad and Agnes have said goodbye to the corporate 9 to 5 and are now fully embracing the Vanlife. They will be sharing their adventures and Australian pet friendly travel tips on their website www.blackpepperabroad.com and various online social media accounts below.

       

How to Maximize Your Solar Power Setup

Laura & Shane spent two years converting their Ford Transit 250 into an adventuremobile. They learned about insulating their walls, installing a sink and floors and decorating their tiny space. Now they've just wrapped up their latest project, setting up two solar panels on their van's roof. I read Laura's piece on her blog and asked her to share it here as I knew some of you might have questions about choosing solar and how to maximize your power source on the road.

Solar is one of the things we have been thinking about since the early days with our van, but we did not know exactly how we would go about it, mostly because we did not know what our unique blend of vanlife would look like. After learning, testing and iterating on various setups, we have something that we really like and expect to fit our current needs, so we figured this was a good time to share. I’m not going to get too heavy into the technical aspects of the solar setup, but since we gleaned a lot of lessons from this process, I’ll cover some general advice on DIY solar setups, as well as some show-and-tell on the hardware Shane used to install Vanna White’s rooftop setup.

Note: If you’re reading this at the early stages of a build-out because you feel like you need to get your solar setup figured out right away, I would encourage you to perhaps wait until the later stages of the conversion so that you know how much power you’ll actually need to generate (more on that below).

Biggest Takeaways

Here are some of the major learnings we (and when I say “we," I mean Shane, who is now our van power expert) picked up from our time spent building out Vanna’s solar system:

Reflect on what you’ll be using energy for, and be honest.

If you’ve lived in your camper long enough, you can probably do the calculations fairly easily based on what you use that needs wattage to run. If you want a quick lesson on how to calculate wattage, try here.

For Shane and me, we had to start by guessing what we would use in the van. In fact, it was our continued wattage calculations that led us to installing solar panels. After hooking up our house battery to run off the extra charge created by the van’s alternator, we thought that we might not need a solar power setup. But after getting a refrigerator, which pulls a charge from the house battery regularly, it got us thinking about our consumption. Even though our power needs are generally small, we realized that the more we camp, the less we will drive, and the less the alternator’s charge will be effective.

The good news: You probably need less power than you think you do.

Unless you’re running a blender or a hair dryer in your van (and maybe even then), you probably don’t need as much power stocked up as you think, especially if you’re going solar. So before you go purchasing half a dozen house batteries, do the calculations and decide for yourself.

It’s all about the angles.

How much energy you can get from a solar panel depends greatly on the angle of the sun, and this varies by your latitude and the season. Before installing our permanent setup, we had a large, portable solar panel and really enjoyed being able to position it in just the right spot for maximum energy by propping it up against a plastic bin or a rock. Wanting to keep the same benefit with our new system, Shane got creative and came up with a pretty unique set up. Needless to say, the new install had to be a lot more sophisticated than just propping it up against the closest thing.

Long story short, if you want to get maximum energy, consider the angles. Here’s a simple calculator that will show what angles are best to use by season and location. Have fun with it!

A good charge controller is worth it. Get one with MPPT.

What is MPPT? It stands for maximum power point tracking. Why is it good? It converts the voltage from the sun into the optimal voltage for your battery. More easily digestible information about MPPT can be found here.

Get a good system monitor, because you’ll use it.

The cost of batteries, solar panels, and so on can really add up, so it might seem like overkill to spend some extra cash on a monitoring system. But believe me when I say that we use this thing. All. The. Time. It’s how we know when the battery is taking a good charge, and whether our refrigerator and other devices are draining it. We know when the battery is running to the red. We use the Blue Solar Victron Energy MPPT Control and keep it in a pretty accessible spot right on the outside of our electrical box.

The Solar Panel Install

Here’s a quick rundown on how we installed our solar panels. In building out this project, we wanted to make sure that we could accommodate two solar panels, allow them to adjust to any angle needed based on location, be able to lock them down safely for freeway driving and maintain enough rack space for rooftop yoga and naps in the sun. Shane did an excellent job coming up with a solution that we’re both really excited about.

The two solar panels are fixed together with some custom framing, making it effectively one giant solar panel. Thanks to our roof rack we could do the two panels lengthwise along the van, which optimized our space.

The U bracket in the middle has a vinyl-coated wire attached. This prevents the solar panels from moving past a 90-degree angle.

Shane also made sure our wires would say tucked neatly underneath the panels. Zip ties are your friends!

This cable box is what allows our wiring to go from the house battery up to the roof.

This is the large, custom hinge that Shane created with U-bolts and some steel tubing. The frame for the solar panels came in handy for this part as well.

In order to prop up the solar panels to the optimum angle, Shane used dinghy standoff bars, which are both sturdy and adjustable. Like tent stakes, these standoff bars can be clipped onto the solar panel frame when the panels are collapsed flat and only need to be adjusted when there is a change in location or season.

The white clip in this photo is the locking mechanism for the system. When the black toggle is screwed out, the lock opens and can be clamped over the cross beams on the roof rack.

This is the base for one of the standoff bars attached to the roof rack.

This photo shows the clip-in mechanism Shane installed.

Whew! That’s a lot of solar power talk for one post.

How do you solar? We’d love to know what your setup looks like. Leave us a message in the comments or use the hashtag #campermakersunite on Instagram. Until next time!

Follow Laura & Shane and their rig Vanna White

Produced by Kathleen Morton of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint.
Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos courtesy of Laura Hughes.

Scandinavia in a Campervan

What's it like to travel Scandinavia in a campervan? Max and Ana spent 14 months on the road, but eight of them were spent in Scandinavia. They fell in love with Finland, Norway and Sweden and their landscapes. Here's their story and their favorite places to see in these intriguing countries.

How did you find your van? Can you describe your interior setup?

We found our van on leboncoin, a community website for buying and selling items, similar to Craigslist in the states. We searched thoroughly for two months before we found what we were looking for. We ended up buying a 2006 Ford Transit van that was built out by a small company. Despite it being a small on the inside, we have everything we need (e.g. shower, stove, refrigerator and bed). The best part of the van is that we can live in it, which gives us so much freedom.

However, two disadvantages of our van are its size and age. The Ford Transit is a small van. Inside, it’s still a small space, and in bad weather conditions, we feel really squeezed in. Our van is old and requires maintenance often, which can be expensive when you have a particular budget. However, it was a great purchase despite its inconveniences. We met several travelers on the road and all of them told us our van was special because of its great features.

What led you to hit the road? Which one of you had the idea?

The idea to leave everything for a life on the road filled with adventures came from a two-week stay in Sweden for the holidays back in August 2014. When we returned to France, it was a difficult adjustment. The trip questioned our professional and personal choices, as well as, our priorities. After we graduated, we quickly found jobs. We lived in a nice apartment in the South of France—a life most people would dream about. But we were in search of real change. Forget the beautiful couch, big TV, cozy bed and big bathroom. We wanted to leave our comfortable world behind to discover another. We wanted to explore Europe in a van.

From the beginning, we knew that vanlife wasn’t going to be easy—leaving a nice apartment for a built-out van. And knowing it was going to be a 14-month journey, we knew the adventure was most likely going to be crazy. Our new, simpler life without unnecessary things might change us completely. But we wanted to wake up spiritually. So in June 2015, we left our apartment and our jobs to buy "Van Drogo,” our van’s nickname.

Which countries have you visited?

We traveled to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Norway. It may not seem like much for a 14-month road trip, but our idea of a road trip is to take our time visiting one country at a time. We like being immersed in a country with its culture and landscape, and that requires time. Some countries are much more adaptable and comfortable for people living vanlife. In Portugal, Sweden, Finland and Norway, you can find free water in most gas stations and open wilderness camping locations. We never paid for camping in those four countries, except when we had to wash our clothes. We learned near the end of our trip to use river water to wash our clothes by hand.

But not all countries are as easy for a life on the road. We had trouble finding wild camping spots in Italy. Vanlife is not always convenient in cities and near tourist attractions. We like escaping those areas. We tried to choose places with wild lands and where we could find camping spots easily. Because of this, exploring Europe in our van was a good compromise. In Europe, almost everything is accessible by car, and you don’t have to drive for days at a time. There is a diversity of landscape and culture. We could drive from the polar cold of Norwegian forest to the intense heat of Andalusia within one week. To drive in Europe is a real pleasure.

What’s it like to travel across Scandinavia in a van?

Our most memorable experience was being in Scandinavia. Out of the 14 months we spent on the road, we spent eight in Scandinavia. We began by traveling through Sweden, Finland and Norway. The most beautiful thing about those countries is their unlimited landscapes. Those big, open spaces make it easy for vanlife. Scandinavians like campervans. We didn’t have any issues finding places to camp for the night. Everything was setup for campers (e.g. free water and places to empty our tanks). Sometimes, we were able to use free electricity.

Europe has immense forests, thousands of lakes, magnificent fjords and islands almost everywhere. Nature is wonderful. There were always small pieces of forest, banks or even beaches waiting for us. We rarely slept in a campsite. We found campsites a bit expensive, and because we were following a strict budget, we avoided them. Life can be expensive over there, but we managed to find ways around it. We fished for our food and bought local products.

How did you manage to live on a tiny budget?

We had a budget of €30 a day and often this extended for two days at a time. It was a very tight budget. In the beginning, we went over our budget all the time. But when we were driving on the road day after day, we began to become more rigorous. In the Eastern countries—like Poland, Slovakia, or even in Portugal—a small budget can be manageable. But it was harder in Scandinavia, and especially in Norway. By fishing and eating local, we were able to save money. Nonetheless, our budget was a constraint. Every time we did something extra, such as visiting a museum, we went over our budget. But when you explore countries with greater access to outdoor spaces, there is less of a temptation to spend money. We walked often and chose outdoor activities. It was our daily happiness. We wanted to get lost in luxurious landscapes. At night, we didn’t pay for campsites. We wanted to be in amazing and wild places every day.

One of our favorite memories was getting lost in a big forest more than of 50 km away from any villages or cities. It was a peaceful retreat. A wooden road sign said "KampNatur," and nearby was a small wooden shelter with a barbecue cooking setup prepared with logs. There was also a dry toilet available. This camping area was less than 10 meters from a huge lake without any buildings nearby. We have several stories similar to this one from our travels.

Which country did you enjoy the most?

Norway by far! It is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and now we understand why. We stayed for three and a half months, driving more than 7,000 km between the north and south. Its landscapes are unique. In the middle of summer, we could go hiking, fishing or running under a beautiful sun at 4 o’clock in the morning! We could even surf in certain areas. Imagine surfing above the arctic on June 15 at midnight when the sun is still shining. It’s a dream! For some, it might appear to be heaven for vanlife.

What surprised you the most about this trip?

Our goal was not to meet closed-minded people or discover cities. We wanted to get lost in the middle of nowhere—an experience we had never done before. The shock was overwhelming, but it was also amazing. Quickly, we were captured by the wildlife. We could not be anywhere but in nature; it was like a drug! Every time we approached a city, our anxiety took over. So, for this reason, we stayed in Northern Norwegian for longer than we would have anticipated.

What are the must-see places in Scandinavia?

We liked everything in Norway, Sweden and Finland, but if we have to give you our top, must-see places, it would be the ones below.

Norway

The North Cape: “Eldorado” for van travelers. Expect lunar landscapes and reindeer everywhere. It’s disorienting, but so amazing at the same time!

Lofoten, Vesteralen and Senja Islands. These three islands characterize the Norwegian landscapes, and it’s one of the most beautiful landscapes we have ever seen. Fjords, turquoise water, paradise beaches, swells to surf, fisherman villages and steep hiking trails. There are so many things to see there. Be on the Utakleiv Beach or visit the villages in Hamnøy or Nusfjord villages or hike in the Reinbriggen. Let’s start up the engine and go!

Road 17 from Lofoten islands up to the centre of Norway. This road will lead you to North Cape, and it was impressive part of our vanlife adventure. On this road, you will find spots to sleep everywhere. It’s classified as a national tourist road, which means you should add it to your next road trip.

Finland

See the lakes over there. Our favorites were Lake Pielinen and Lake Inarjarvi.

Sweden

Visit the Swedish Lapland, the northernmost spot in Sweden. While you’re there, check out Moddus National Park and Sarek National Park.

Follow Max & Ana

Produced by Go Van.
Edited by Kathleen Morton of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint.
Photos courtesy of Max & Anna.

How to Stay Healthy on the Road

Maintaining our daily health and overall wellness is a prevalent issue on the road. When we sit for long periods of time or feel cramped in a tiny space, it may be difficult to get the exercise we need or eat just right.

When Rachel & Joackim chose vanlife, they knew they had to find ways to take care of themselves in between their travels. Because they are quite active—Rachel teaches yoga and Joackim is a professional surfer—they notice when they do not take care of their health. They have found these tips work well for an on-the-road lifestyle.

Joackim and I have traveled more than 5,000 miles through North America in our van, sitting for hours upon hours a day.

How do we manage to keep ourselves healthy?

1. Yoga  

Whether it was practicing outside the parked van or finding a yoga studio in the cities we visited, yoga was the number one tool that kept us going. In North Carolina, we went for runs on the beach and practiced yoga in the backyard. In Nashville, we ran in the park and did a little yoga session after together. One morning, we found a studio that offered $5 hot yoga community classes and the studio had a shower and amenities—what a bonus! After that class, we made it a habit in each city we passed through to find a yoga studio with showers so that we could get the best of both worlds.

Favorite Yoga Studios: One of our favorite studios, Shakti Power Yoga, is in an old Victorian-style house in Nashville. They offer community classes with amazing teachers, and the studio comes with showers and provided amenities. Our other favorite, Om Shala, is in Northern California. They offer class packages that you can share with friends. They have a sauna, showers and yoga classes for every level. If you're not into yoga, try signing up for a visitors pass at your local gym. 24 Hour Fitness offers them in every state.

2. Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse consists of organic lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and distilled water. This drink is from a detox recipe that's been around for ages. The cleanse is meant to last seven days as a way to detoxify the body, flush out toxins and extra waste, eliminate fatigue and rejuvenate the body from the inside out. Both of my uncles introduced it to me from a young age, and we all drink it a couple times a year. One of them lived off this drink for 40 days.

It can also be used as a spiritual detox as many people pray for something while drinking it.

We fell in love with the taste, so we decided to add it to our diet as a cheap bonus to alkalize the body.

Favorite Healthy Drinks: Some other favorite drinks we recommend are GT's Enlightened Synergy line of kombucha and the Sambazon acai berry energy drink. Most are familiar with kombucha, a probiotic drink that helps rejuvenate the body from the inside out. However, the Sambazon acai drink contains not only the super fruit acai but also natural caffeine from guarana, yerba mate and green tea. It's the ultimate energy booster without the crash that you might get from coffee, and it's perfect for an 11-hour or longer road trip.

3. Buy Local and Cook

Because it can be expensive to eat out for every meal, look for local farmers markets on your journey. Load up on fruits, veggies and grains. Anything you can add to your grill is essential. We use a Coleman portable grill, and cooking on the road is rather simple. For bulk purchases, such as bread and canned foods, consider Costco.

Eating on the road doesn’t have to be difficult.

Favorite Healthy Meals: For breakfast, you can buy local, organic eggs from the small stands you see on most highways, especially in California. You can also find potatoes or quinoa for your grain and/or starch; avocado; organic chicken and/or sweet or spicy sausage for protein; brussel sprouts or any type of green; and goat cheese if you're feeling fancy. For dinner you can do the same thing but instead of eggs, buy a piece of fish. We buy piece of tilapia that feeds two people for $4 at Trader Joe's and we pair it with what I mentioned above. Dinner for two ends up being around $11 or $5.50 each—not bad! While road tripping in the Redwoods, we also ended up falling in love with soups and sandwiches. Our favorite was the tomato bisque from Costco, six boxes for $10. Pair it with an avocado and tomato grilled cheese sandwich, and you've spent about $3-$4 a meal. I'd say you have yourself the perfect simple winter lunch.

4. Go Outside and Breathe Fresh Air

Whether it is waking up early for a sunrise walk, riding your bike, going for a run, catching a wave or two, taking a hike in the mountains or simply strolling downtown or in a park, get outside, smell the fresh air, breathe it in and out and move your body. Because you can.

Favorite Hikes: Our favorite places to hike have been in Big Sur, California. If you can get there outside of the rainy season, you will find enjoyable hikes open to the public and possibly some secret local spots. You'll be amazed at the magic the trails have to offer. We had one of the best natural waterfall showers. Our other favorite place to hike is in the Redwoods of Northern California. There are great trails near Trinidad Beach. Be sure to get up early to experience the most amazing wildlife sounds. We ran into a baby owl one morning and it was magnificent.

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How do you stay healthy on the road? Share your wisdom in the comments below.

Produced by Kathleen Morton of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint.
Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to Rachel Leah Peterson Guichard.

Beats Bus: A Rolling Home & Community Music Initiative

Welcome to Beats Bus & Beats Cartel! We are Christian and Kim, a couple based on the Sunshine Coast.  About 3.5 years ago we started our own original music company (Beats Cartel)  to create more opportunities for original musicians and original music on the whole.  Christian is a blues-rock artist in a nationally touring band called Transvaal Diamond Syndicate and I just love music and everything that comes along with it.  My talent in the music making field however is only about 5 songs on the uke! 

Our business focuses on original musicians and events that support those musicians.  We work with artists who are wanting to make their passion their career. We work pretty darn hard to do that too.  We book tours for a number of artists, manage bands, run regular original music events, book venues and run a number of small boutique music festivals.  We love what we do.  About 18 months ago we had the brain wave of creating a vehicle that would allow us to support original artists further afield and also expand outside of The Sunshine Coast.  So, we bought a bus.  A 20 seater Toyota Coaster from Victoria.  We ripped out the seats and gave all of our furniture away and the three of us (Christian, myself and our 50kg German Shepherd, Amigo) moved into the bus in January 2016.  We had nothing but a bed and a box for Amgio to sleep on.  

In the first few months we realised that living, working and buslifing in Queensland's summer heat wasn't as peachy as we imagined it to be.  However after four weeks of buslife we had installed cabinets and made our little bus more of a home.  We had learnt how three souls work together in a 6 x 2 meter house on wheels, practiced a LOT of patience and love and we had begun to really enjoy everything the bus gave us.  Morning beach swims, lunchtime surfs, afternoon beach swims... you get the gist. We haven't paid for camping once, we are free campers and proud of it.  We are very careful to not leave a trace wherever we stay and are so blessed to wake up on some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.  We have spent countless nights in hot pools of sweat wishing our fans were an air con and many nights rocked to sleep by storms and winds.  We have enjoyed the conversations with many from all walks of life, have cooked dinner and shared meals with homeless and wanderers, back packers, yachties and other vanlifers.  We have made life long friendships with so many of these traveling souls.  We have had countless parties and close to twenty five people on the bus at once.  The bus has really brought to us all kinds of interesting souls and all kinds of experiences we would never have been previously exposed to.  We are so grateful for that.  

Over the past 13 months we have had many ups and downs of buslife.  We have some hot tips on how to make it work for you, (eg. join a 24/7 chain gym for showers etc.) Slowly but surely we have watched enough Youtube clips to figure out how to renovate the bus to the state it is in now.  We have taught ourselves (with a little help from some amazing friends and Google) how to lay flooring, wiring, build cabinets, design and install signs, remove rust etc etc etc.  The bus is never going to be finished, but it is now at a point where we are able to do what we first envisioned.

Our dream for the BeatsBUS was to create pop up original music events.  A stage off the side of the bus, full sound production, a small guerrilla style bus stage that allows both musicians and DJs to perform their original material.  We wanted to create an alternative, creative, open aired hub for original acts.  We installed a pop out window, we have had the bus vinyl wrapped (with all our favourite and inspirational musicians on it!) and we have popped our first gig cherry on Australia Day to hundreds of punters.  Our plan is to continue supporting original music and through our bus we are planning regular beach front guerrilla gigs, attending festivals as an alternative stage, creating small and intimate gigs, having a space for band interviews and soon we will even have our own beer taps installed for those knock off craft beers.  Little by little our vision is coming to life and we are so excited. 

Jams going down from the bus!

Jams going down from the bus!

Being mad supporters of original music, we are also supporters of local and original industry and businesses.  We have tried to use independent suppliers for most of our renovations.  Apart from our disco lights, most things on the bus were sourced locally or independently. 

Our next gig is a guerrilla gig on the Sunshine Coast on Feb 19.  We haven't announced the bands, time or location yet but we are happy to invite you along, just hit us up in a PM and we will give you the deets.  We are also in the process of lining up a number of festivals and events.  The BeatsBUSwill be cruising around Australia bringing the original music to you.  We are also looking at doing aBeatsBUS National Tour, hitting up venues and bringing some of the best bands we know along with us for the ride.  

So in a nut shell, that is kind of us.  We have had an amazing year in the BeatsBUS and we will always own a bus from now on.  Buslife is great, hot, but great and we are ready for the next journey that our rocking BeatsBUS is yet to bring.  

FOLLOW ALONG & DANCE:

Pretty much, if you see the BeatsBUS rockin' original bands... come join us, we would love to meet you and hear your stories! 

The Day we bought the bus!

The Day we bought the bus!

Fresh Paint Job!

Fresh Paint Job!

Gotta have room for the dog!

Gotta have room for the dog!

Work station

Work station

Making up some signs!

Making up some signs!