Two years ago, Emily and Corey set out from New England in their 1987 Vanagon named Boscha to roam the country and live a more simple life while working from the road. First inspired by a man in a van they met on a trip to South America, their idea was to merge the adventure of nomadic life with a traditional job–just one that could be done from anywhere. There have been adventures aplenty as they criss-cross the country bumping into fellow travelers with similar aspirations. One of those connections has even turned into a partnership with fellow travelers Idle Bus Theory: the two traveling couples (plus one dog) are now producing a Web series that tracks down and interviews other nomads, called “Where’s My Office Now?” We caught up with Emily to find out her favorite places on the road and her advice for how to hit the road yourself.
Where are you right now?
We are currently in San Diego, California.
Which came first, the Vanagon or your nomadic lifestyle?
The idea of a nomadic lifestyle came first, followed by purchasing Boscha (our 1987 VW Vanagon), then finally hitting the road and embracing nomadism.
When did you first have an inkling that a standard office job might not be for you?
I had always dreamed of traveling and, although I never quite put my finger on what it was, I knew I desired something different. I first acknowledged the inkling that a typical 9-to-5 wasn’t for me when I was working as the marketing director for a real estate agency. I was fresh out of college and on the career-driven path and had even considered relocating from Maine to NYC. Rather than being driven by passion, I was attempting to fulfill the external expectations of my parents, teachers, friends, and society. Within three years, I found myself experiencing extreme anxiety, and through the help of doctors and yoga, realized that my sensitivity to an office environment had something to do with it. So, I quit and decided to pursue acting. Acting was something that was new to me, and incredibly thrilling and challenging. It was something that scared me, put me in the moment, and helped me get more in touch with my inner desires, emotions, and thoughts. Now, I work for myself as a freelance website developer, which enables me to pursue my passion for storytelling through photography, video, and writing. Although working for myself has its challenges (like time management!) I know I will never go back to a job simply for work’s sake. I realize this life is a journey and one day I hope to be able to generate income directly through my passions of filmmaking and movement.
Do you see yourself as part of an American nomadic tradition in any way, or more a product of the digital age because we can pretty much work from anywhere now?
This is an interesting question. I don’t feel like I am part of any sort of tradition. The nomads of America–settlers and Native Americans–were pioneers charting untraveled lands, risking their lives, and truly living outside of their comfort zones. Nomadism then was more of a necessity; they traveled for food and fertile climates. For us, it’s more of a luxury. However, the more I process this question, the more I realize that perhaps we are doing this out of necessity as well. Perhaps this movement is a result of the necessity of spirit, seeking happiness and freedom spurred on by the realization that today’s society must change for ourselves, future generations, and this earth. Although we have our smartphones, Internet hot spots, auxiliary batteries, solar panels, and Web-based work, perhaps we aren’t too different from our nomadic ancestors.
Who are a few of the most memorable people you’ve met in your travels?
We’ve met some amazing kindred spirits–people we immediately connected to and shared a deep bond with. Some of these people are Matt McDonald of 63mph, James and Rachel of Idle Theory Bus, Hawk and Kenz of Van of My Dreams, Dave of VanagonLife, and the guys over at GoWesty (who specialize in VW parts and service). Honestly, the community that we’ve become aware of is a constant source of motivation and inspiration to us. They are one of the reasons why we are redeveloping our website, because their stories must be told to help inspire others to live the dream, whatever their dreams are.
What are your favorite little-known places discovered on the road?
We love quirky places like the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona; towns on the coast of Oregon; and secret cliff dwellings from past civilizations. What surprised me the most was the beauty that we experienced in Southern Utah and Idaho–breathtaking beauty that leaves me humbled and yearning to go back because it is in places like this that I feel the most free.
What have you learned or encountered on the road that’s changed your perspective the most?
The most perspective-changing thing that I encounter on the road is myself and my reactions to situations that we find ourselves in, like breakdowns, getting lost, work stress, and broken bones. Being on the road has allowed me to observe what it is that makes me uncomfortable and I’m learning to accept my discomfort and move through any fear and limiting beliefs that I hold. As I accept myself and the circumstances that I find myself in, I realize that I become more accepting of others and where we are as a society.
Do you have any advice for people who want to make that transition to working from wherever they are?
Decide that you want to do it, and begin taking steps each day toward your vision. Even if they are baby steps. Remember that it’s all about the journey and embracing its ups and downs. Some may already have a job that can be accomplished remotely. For others, this process may involve a lot of soul searching, realizing passions, and getting creative to find ways to generate income–whether working for yourself or for a company. Don’t forget to identify your needs versus your wants, because when you live in a van, you don’t have the room to buy stuff. Plus, if you cut your spending, you can either save more money, or work less and have more free time to pursue your passions.
Photos courtesy of Where’s My Office Now?