Life on the road with The Haircut Sessions

My name is Matthew and during the summer of 2015, I quit my job at a hair salon, left my band and the place I lived.

I had worked in different hair salons for about 12 years, and for quite a while I played with the idea of combining passion for music and hair with traveling. 

I owned a huge Peugeot mobile home and lived in it for a while in a parking lot near my work (before moving into an empty school building). But because I really like driving and I wanted to travel more off the grid, I went searching for a van.

I came across a 1995 Toyota Hiace 4x4 and immediately fell in love. Now, I’m the third owner. The first owner was in the Dutch government, and the second owner was a badass old lady.

The interior was really simple when I bought it and it still is. It has a couch that can be changed into a bed and has some storage space. The best thing about the van is the spotlight on the roof that I can move with a joystick on the dashboard.

The first thing I did when I got the van was put in red theater curtains. I wanted to play music in front of the van and it seemed like a nice setup. The further my travels continued, the more stuff I gathered to use inside. 

A friend made a sign for me after I gave him a free haircut. That same guy found me a door frame that I put my chair behind at festivals. I bought the chair second-hand and placed a seat on it that I found in the garbage. I take it almost everywhere I go. 

So far, I’ve traveled through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Germany. I was in Australia for five months and bought a station wagon and some music gear to play music in small venues. In May, I returned from a three-month trip through Spain and Portugal.

Throughout my trip, I cut hair on mountain tops, in the snow, at students' houses, on farms and at music venues, campsites and hostels.

I just finished a full-time festival tour through my home country, the Netherlands. I cut hair at 14 festivals in three months. Besides cutting hair, I play music on the streets, in bars, cafes and at festivals.

I like to give people haircuts that suit their personality by offering a unique and relaxing experience using all of my skills and attention.

“People who aren’t comfortable with salons, mirrors and conversations about the weather seem to enjoy the experience.

The environment where I'm working is very important for me to feel comfortable. The best spot for me is in front of my van. To me, it's like my house. That’s why I like to have it with me at festivals. I like to be in nature or in front of a stage with good music. During some festivals, I walk around with my chair so I don’t miss out on the best music.

My dream is to get invited to awesome locations all over the world and gather people for haircut sessions, creating positive vibrations and learning from each other—sharing my skills in exchange for cool experiences. For example, I’ve given haircuts as trades for massages, meals, places to stay, guitar lessons, songs and interviews.

“I get to have all these experiences and share my skills with other people.

After living like this for two years, I’ve changed a lot. I’ve learned to recognize what’s important. I’ve learned to not get caught up in things outside myself. I take time to connect with nature, and I meditate and practice Qigong and yoga.

I still find it challenging to be in new situations and places so often. When I was younger, I wanted my friends to come and play at my house instead of going to theirs. I guess that’s why I have my own van. I get a lot of offers for places to stay after I cut people's hair, but I like that I have my own space. 

I’ve learned how to be more comfortable with myself. I feel a lot more connected to myself, which allows me to be connected to more around me.

What I find the most challenging is processing all these memories when new ones take over. Everything is always moving. Most people try to have as much security as they can so they don’t feel things moving. Breaking out of that is challenging. But at the same time, it’s awesome when you realize life always guides you in the right directions. This is what a lot of the songs I write are about. The shadow side of traveling, love and a life that’s changing all the time.

“As for now, I’m gonna continue this lifestyle for as long as it makes me happy.

I feel more destinations coming. Where that will be? I’m not sure yet.

“I’m going to take it as it comes.

Follow Matthew of The Haircut Sessions

Produced by Kathleen Morton of Tiny House, Tiny Footprint.
Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to Matthew Jansen.