Meet the Design Roadtrippers!

Hey blogosphere!


We are so, so pumped to introduce you to our newest team of Roadtrippers for the Design Roadtrip 2014: Sofaya, Martha, and Ben. These three will be traveling across the country this summer in our Green RV, interviewing leading design innovators all along the way. This will be our 13th summer hitting the road, and we can’t wait!  Fun fact: Sofaya, Martha, and Ben will be our 73rd, 74th, 75th Green RV Roadtrippers. What!? Crazy.



Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more in-depth info about our new Roadtrippers…including the hard-hitting & important stuff, like what their fave road trip snack is.


In the meantime, here’s a tiny introduction to our newest team:


Sofaya Philémon

22, Graduating Senior at Rhode Island School of Design, Industrial Design Major


Sofaya’s parents are immigrants from Haiti, and she’s feeling pressured by her family to choose a “safe” path that will ensure a lucrative career. She has interests in many aspects of design, but facing graduation and her pending transition into the “real world,” she’s questioning exactly which direction in her field to take.


Martha Snow

22, Graduating Senior at Skidmore College, American Studies Major


Martha comes from a family of designers. Her father is a video game designer, and her mother is an architect. With a wide variety of interests, she ultimately chose a broad major in order to keep her options open. But now, with graduation on the horizon, she says “everything in my life in uncertain.”


Ben Sienko

24, Graduate of University of Rhode Island, Marketing Major


Ben feeds off creativity with interests ranging from marketing and branding, to surfing, and writing original music. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he’s craving exposure to all the opportunities outside of the small borders he was raised within.

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5 Reasons Why Teaching is Awesome

Throughout our many years of road-tripping, we’ve come across the whole gamut of livelihoods, and each one certainly has its fair share of joys, perks, and quirks (and potential dangers from alligator contact. Yep, we’ve seen it all). But of all the vast and varied walks of life we’ve had the privilege of observing, teaching definitely ranks high on the list of most rewarding. That’s why we’ve partnered with the folks at PivotTV and Participant Media to offer the TEACH Roadtrip, which is all about changing the world through teaching. Read on to see how teaching offers serious life-affirming benefits (not to mention, great discounts at cool businesses), and apply to hit the road with us this summer here.


1.You get to read hilarious test/homework answers that make you realize young people are sometimes smarter than adults


Kids perceive the world through an untainted lens—a lens that’s free from the scuffs of societal conditioning and really, really focused on fart jokes. Kids are not at all afraid to point out the absurdity of our societally-accepted norms, or how dumb George Washington’s hair looked. So while grading tests and homework can be tedious, it can also be eye-opening, inadvertently genius, and will often make you spit out whatever’s in your mouth with a chuckle. The adult brain would have to be afflicted with a severe head cold and hopped up on copious amounts of Nyquil to produce the kind incisive commentary on the human condition that kids effortlessly spout, and even then, we wouldn’t be able deliver it with the same kind of crayon-scribbled charm. Essentially, if you’re ever looking for the answers to existence, skip the Sartre books and just turn to your students!


2. A legitimate part of your job is getting to play with school supplies




Every year as summer draws to a close, students everywhere are swarmed with sorrow as they realize they can no longer spend every waking hour fused to a couch pressing buttons on rectangular electronic devices. The prospect of making their brains actually do stuff again is daunting, but you know what quells the anxiety? MARKERS AND GEL INK PENS. That’s right: returning to school means you have to get up before noon, but it also means you get to pick out a mountain of technicolor school supplies that you’ll use for projects and taking notes and drawing unicorns in the margins of said notes. Remember how fun it was to wander the linear aisles of Office Max? As an adult, that feeling of excitement wanes because you buy supplies for yourself and realize that stapler cartridges actually cost more than the stapler itself (wtf?). But as a teacher who gets a supply budget, you get to forever experience the giddiness of popping open a new marker. And yes, part of that giddiness might stem from inhaling the marker’s toxic fumes, but most of it is because markers are AWESOME.


3. You get heartfelt gifts from students (including enough Starbucks gift cards to take every meal there)




Every day, life surrounds us with unsolicited little gifts, like sunshine, rustling leaves, and Jennifer Lawrence reaction gifs. But when you’re a teacher, life’s gifts aren’t just intangible joys—they’re actually concrete stuff you can eat or hang on the wall! Teachers are doing the critical work of shaping young people into their future selves. As such, people (especially parents) want to express their appreciation for the fact that you’re helping the nation’s future count without an iPhone app. And that appreciation tends to come in the form of touching hand-written letters, delicious cookies, and Target gift cards. Basically, teachers get to enjoy multiple Christmases/Chanukahs/Kwanzas throughout the year. But the gifts gained from teaching are even better than the ones collected from holidays because people aren’t just giving you presents out of societal obligation or because it would be awkward to ask you to pass the gravy without at least exchanging a card—they’re giving you heartfelt tokens of thanks because you’re touching their lives. Best present ever.


4. The ability to use summer for personal growth & skill cultivation (and occasionally sleeping in)




Common myth would have you believe that teachers are completely absolved of responsibilities during summer, and spend their days watching The Price is Right in Snuggies eating cereal directly out of the box. While teachers certainly can spend a few days doing that, they’re still bound to their teaching duties during prime beach months, and they complete a multitude of work-related tasks to prepare for the coming year, including crafting lesson plans/assignments/tests, undergoing (often mandatory) training, and participating in professional development courses. While they might not be lounging at the pool every day working to get rid of their t-shirt tans, it’s still a benefit (and necessity) of the profession that teachers dedicate their summers to self-improvement so they can better serve their students and become stronger pillars of knowledge. Of course, there are still a few days free to take that jaunt to Thailand or watch every single episode of Breaking Bad in one sitting.


5. Seeing your students flourish after leaving your class




There are many avenues to job gratification, but making an indelible impact on a young person’s life definitely tops the list. We’ve all had teachers who pushed us beyond our perceived limits, challenged our preconceived notions, and ultimately made us view ourselves and our place in the world in a completely different light. Being able to be a catalyst for someone’s life trajectory is a rare reward, and now with platforms like Facebook, it’s even easier to watch that person evolve throughout life. Katrina, one of Roadtrip Nation’s curriculum writers and a former teacher, had the privilege of watching a student come into her own and go on a Tom’s trip to Guatemala after she realized that a big part of her life happiness is rooted in helping others. That student is now harnessing her passion for helping others and directing her efforts towards (drum roll please…) teaching! There you have it: Impact begets impact begets more impact…and pretty soon the world starts to change. That’s what teaching’s all about.


Apply here to road trip across the country and interview these awesome educators.

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Meet The Crew: Tiffany Chow

Howdy, blogosphere. Hannah here. I’m excited to introduce you all to one of our newest employees, Tiffany Chow—she’s terrific! I sat down with Tiffany to find out what makes her tick. Here’s what I found out…
Tiffany comes to Roadtrip Nation by way of DC, although she’s an Orange County native. What makes her most excited to be back? The sunshine and the beach… she loves being outside! Here are a few more fun facts that’ll help you get to know the newest member of our Development team.
1) Tiffany has a great sense of direction, and has done quite a few road trips herself.
2) She studied political science and international relations for her master’s degree. She is one smart cookie!
3) She really loves to travel. Roadtrip Nation resonated with Tiffany because she has personally had travel experiences which have shaped her life. She believes that travel can be a great tool for self-discovery! In fact, she just recently traveled to Patagonia and can’t wait for her next adventure. This girl is a true explorer.
Warm welcomes, Tiffany!

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 10.29.13 AM

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Throwback Thursday: Meet Monaco

We love looking back on our history and remembering our old Roadtrips. Since we’ve been hitting the Road since 2001 we have a lot of photos and memories to share!
In celebration of #Throwback Thursday this week we’re throwing it back to 2010, with a very special member of our RV fleet…
Meet Monaco, the RV we took on our 2010 Roadtrip! He’s now retired, but in his day, Monaco had a penchant for looking at lovely scenery and being really comfy to sleep in. He’s demonstrating that first skill in the photo below.

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So Fresh and So Green: RV Painting Day

Ever wonder what it takes to get our RVs from looking drab to looking fab? RV painting is a team sport! Here’s a peek at the process (featuring our 2008 Roadtrippers).
Here’s the final product, in all of its green glory!

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2013 Holiday Gift Ideas from Our Designers

Every year, the holidays seem to elicit the full spectrum of human emotions. We get excited about time off work; anxious about picking gifts; embarrassed at being caught singing along to Mariah Carey Christmas songs. The combination of seasonal joys and stressors certainly make for a topsy-turvy month, but the important thing to remember is that we’re all in this together! That’s why our Design Team has come up with a handy holiday gift guide to help ease your consumer anxiety and make you considerably less likely to have a panic attack in the middle of Target. Whether you’re shopping for your artsy aunt, your tech guru cousin, or your coffee-snob brother who corrects the way you say “espresso,” we’ve got you covered for all the unique characters in your life. We hope these items serve you well—and hey, if you’re still feeling a bit on edge, remember that this is the one time of year where you can add eggnog to every conceivable beverage and not feel guilty! That’s bound to make things more manageable.


Onto the shiny stuff!



Ryan’s Picks:

It seems like every year, it gets more and more difficult to go holiday shopping for friends and family. Okay, I admit that there are those on my list that make my journey to the local mall pleasant and most importantly, brief. However, there’s always that one (or two or three) person(s) that leave me scratching my head in between stores. That’s where these gifts come in! The following gems are not only lovely in their design, but are also bound to put a smile on anyone’s face.


Ryans_Picks1. FOR THE SURVIVALIST: Max Brook’s The Zombie Survival Guide

Really, the most impressive thing about this book is the attention to detail. After reading just a few pages you’ll actually believe you have what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse–that is, if one were to ever occur. The Walking Dead fans will love this.


2. FOR THE MAN’S MAN: TRVR’s The Gentleman’s Apron

Let’s face it: The negative connotations of a man wearing an apron are a thing of the past. Especially if that man happens to be wearing this apron. Sorry, did we say apron? That’s not the correct moniker, because this leather and canvas wardrobe protector is more like a utility belt that would make Batman jealous. It has pockets and holsters of various sizes that will fit everything from a spatula to a hammer, so whether you’re whipping up a batch of raspberry macarons or fixing a leaky sink, you can do it all–and do it in style!


3. FOR THE INNER NINJA: Ninja Umbrella

I know this is a little nerdy, but who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to be a ninja at least once? I bet we can all think of at least one person who would smile from ear to ear when they receive this rain-fighting legend.


4. FOR THE PRAGMATIC: Impress Coffee Brewer

French Press, you’ve met your match. This nifty gadget acts not only as a classic French press, but an insulated travel mug, as well. The only question is: who wouldn’t want this?



Angie’s Picks:


Gifting is something that is really tough for me. I love the act of giving—it’s just the deciding what to get that makes me anxious. I always want to pick out the perfect gift that is thoughtful, useful, and of course, creative and fun. So, these are my gift picks. I’m all about objects and items that are designed well and will be well utilized, that tell a story, and that are surprising and playful.


angies picks-5x7


1. Rainbow Puzzle Blocks

These aren’t just for the kiddos (but they are nice to have around when kiddos appear!). They’re great to have hanging out around the office or at home and can be used for playful decoration or as a creative tool. It’s amazing what kind of ideas are generated or what problems get solved when blocks are pushed around, stacked, and knocked over.


2. Sight Glass Coffee Subscription

Sight Glass is my favorite coffee roaster based in San Francisco, and I think they may make magic. They are very serious about their coffee and one small cup will have me checking off everything on my to-do lists and finding new endeavors to explore. Yay for gifting creative productivity!


3. Pebble Tape Measure

It’s always nice to have a tape measure close by! Camouflaged as a sleek-looking stone, this is a fun and surprising item that would be a great functional and attractive desk accessory.


4. Health Ceramics Mug Set

Health Ceramics is a great company, making objects that are simple, classic, and long-lasting. I love the idea of gifting items that last more than a season or fad, that are based less on trend and more on quality and craftsmanship. This would be a gift that would pair well with Sight Glass coffee!


5. Bagu Duck Bag (blue)

This is a simple heavy-duty tote that is fun and useful. It’s a great gift for just about anyone—a girl, dude, student, or professional. This bag is super versatile, whether you’re taking it to school, the library, work, or gym. It can hold books, a laptop, groceries, or a yoga mat. It’s the perfect anything-and-everything bag. I love the electric blue!


6. Mast Brothers Chocolate: Origin Collection

Chocolate is a great go-to holiday gift, but Mast Brothers chocolate is a step beyond your run-of-the-mill confection. The Mast Brothers are Brooklyn chocolatiers that make the most amazing hand-crafted chocolate. Even their packaging is eye candy—pun intended—and almost as amazing as their sweets!


Nate’s Picks:


Nate_gift guide-web



1) Little Bits

This is the gift I get my daughters but end up playing with myself. I wish I had these electronic modules as a kid and am glad I can fiddle with them now under the guise of being a parent! Get crazy and hack them together with Legos for some epic weekend fun.

2) Kern and Burn

 Great book for designers looking to start their own thing. I enjoyed the read!

3) Home Is Where You Park It

The journeys of living in a vehicle–something I can relate to and long for often. Author Foster Huntington ditched his home, set up shop in a VW Vanagon, and traveled the country taking photos of others doing the same. This whimsical coffee table book documents his experience with sweeping landscape photos and anecdotes from the road–in other words, the perfect gift for the wandering wanderlust in your life.


4) Joey Roth’s Ceramic Speakers

This is just pure crazy town–like win-the-lottery-style. I don’t imagine I’ll ever own these, but as someone who loves to make thing things, I enjoy virtual window shopping these beautifully crafted speakers that would make any audiophile’s heart flutter. Watch the videos at the bottom of the page for a little design appreciation. Buy them if you’re rich and tell me about it.

Monique’s Picks:



1. Casual and Gothic Alphabet Guide by New Bohemia Signs

Last year I suggested a book about traditional sign painting as part of my gift guide, and voiced a hope to take a class and start learning—and I actually did! I ended up taking a weekend workshop at New Bohemia Signs which I loved (that’s me in the front with the letterpress sign). So this year, I thought I would have one of my suggested gifts be the great resource they created for anyone to learn the Casual Alphabet style of sign painting. This is a beautiful screen-printed poster that you can place tracing paper over and paint away to practice the cool Alphabet style of letting.


2. Pantone Chip Flash Drive

Every year, Pantone deems one color as their color of the year. Emerald was the choice for 2013, and one of my personal favorites! Snag this Pantone flash drive for your Pantone enthusiast.


3. Little Book of Letterpress by Chronicle Books:

Ok, I admit it, I’m a Chronicle Books fangirl. I love everything they put out and I really have to try hard not to go overboard when they have new releases. Their Little Book Of series is super cool, but of course, being the Letterpress printer that I am, my favorite is The Little Book of Letterpress which highlights some really great studios around the country.


4. Copperplate Kit: Basic with Book

I also took a calligraphy workshop with Molly Jacques this summer and I had a blast learning from her! For my fourth pick, I’m suggesting the kit she had us get (that comes with an oblique pen, nibs, paper & book) AND her Skillshare class ‘The Art of Modern Calligraphy‘ to dive into the awesome technique of calligraphy.



Happy Holidays!


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Throwback Thursday: Snapshots from the 2006 Roadtrip

Happy Throwback Thursday! This week for #TBT we’ve selected some snazzy snapshots from our 2006 Roadtrip.
Do you want a chance to drive the Green RV this summer? The keys could be yours…but the application deadline is approaching quickly, so don’t delay:

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Throwback Thursday, Round 2

Today we’re celebrating Throwback Thursday, Round 2! Roadtrip Nation has come a really long way since 2001 when the Founders hit the road in their big Green RV. Hundreds of Leaders have been interviewed. Ten seasons of Roadtrip Nation have aired on public television! Here’s a video that shares a little bit of Roadtrip History with you:

This week we’re focusing on throwbacks from the original Roadtrip once more–when Brian, Nate, and Mike hit the road in an RV to talk to people who paved their own Roads in life.
Throwback #1 is a glamour shot of “The Legend.” On the side of the RV it reads, “what’s your road, man?” Good question!
barn 6
Throwback #2 is a snapshot of the RV ceiling, where Leaders wrote snippets of advice for the Roadtrippers. One reads, “Big RV, Big Vision. You will get there for sure.”
front windo ceiling
Throwback #3 is of the crew driving the RV into Dallas:
into dallas
And finally, here’s Throwback #4, an interview with Beth McCarthy-Miller. Beth has been the director of Saturday Night Live, and has also worked on the MTV Music Awards. She was one of the many Leaders interviewed on our first Roadtrip! Check out this interview excerpt to hear a little bit about her Road:

Happy Throwback Thursday, blogosphere!
- Hannah

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Happy Thanksgiving!

There’s no denying that Thanksgiving is an awesome holiday. Many of us celebrate by eating copious amounts of pie and turkey, taking tryptophan-induced naps, and enjoying the company of friends and family. Thanksgiving time at Roadtrip Nation involves a large office-wide feast, and our ping pong table is temporarily transformed into a banquet table. Nom!
photo 3-6
In the whirlwind of stuffing and gravy, it’s also important to realize that Thanksgiving provides us with the perfect opportunity to practice gratitude. It’s a day dedicated to giving thanks–a friendly reminder that although life will always involve stressors, it’s still awesome.
How are you practicing gratitude this Thanksgiving? What do you feel thankful for?
For many of us (myself included), it’s easy to default into thinking about what we DON’T have. We think about how our lives would be easier with more money, or more stuff, etc., etc. Roadtrip Nation Leader Tony Hale says, “People think, ‘When I reach that [one goal], I’m gonna be done. I’m gonna be happy.’ But in actuality, contentment is a discipline. Practice contentment. Enjoy where you’re at. Because if you don’t practice that now, when you get where you think you want to be, you’re still not going to be content.”
Tell it like it is, Tony!
That’s why Thanksgiving is such a powerful holiday. It reminds us of all we DO have. It reminds us that we always have the choice to be happy with our lot in life. And it reminds us to practice gratitude.
This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to practice contentment. Practice gratitude. And, of course, don’t forget to practice napping!

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Bobby: the man, the legend, photographer!


When I was tasked with writing this blog, I thought, “crap.” This is a daunting post to write, because there is no combination of words, no well-strung sentence that could eloquently and justly describe the amazing Bobby Lee. The pressure is on. Bobby works on our web team and is one of the most talented and passionate nature photographers I have the pleasure to work with and call my friend.


Bobby has always been the one behind that quiet omnipresent camera lens, who silently moves through space and is able to capture a memory, a feeling so accurately and beautifully that you can’t help but feel something when you look at the end product.


For a while, photography was well-hidden talent of Bobby’s. He was a mystery. He was just the quiet guy that occasionally snapped pictures around the office. And then, one day he started sharing his art, photography. And we all realized “Daaammmnnn, Bobby’s got game.” Bobby isn’t just great at snapping photos of work events–he is a masterful, calm and collected explorer who photographs nature by delving into its wild depths on weekend hikes.



If you want to truly experience someone’s passion in all its glory, then look at Bobby’s photography. Or better yet, support Bobby’s photography.

How? Bobby is planning to go live in the magnificent New Zealand (as an Australian, I will put aside my rivalry) and commit a year of his life to his passion– something that many of us have thought about but speaking personally would be too terrified to do! It’s an understatement to say we are all so proud of him and the amazing adventure he will be having next year!


mountain landscape


So, if you want to help fuel an amazing project and get some perks along the way, you can donate to Bobby’s Kickstarter right here!


Do it!


Think of it as an investment (trust me).


Your Australian Community Manager,

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