Whenever we talk to folks about our Simply Adventure trip, everyone seems to be bursting with questions about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we decided to spend a year living in a van together to travel the country. We appreciate all the curiosity and support, so we reached out and asked people to send us their questions. Here’s what you wanted to know:
Where do you plan to go?
Everywhere. We plan on hitting up basically every state within the continental United States – except for Kansas and Oklahoma, because really, those states are no fun for climbers who have already driven through them a dozen times.
Here’s a very rough idea of it: on Thursday, we’ll drive until we cross out of Florida – finally! We’ll stop in New Orleans for lunch, since Niko has never been, and then we’ll move on to Houston and Hueco. After a few weeks of climbing in Hueco Tanks, we’ll move on to Taos, then J-Tree, then up to Salt Lake City and Moab in mid-March. After that, the plans are less ironclad, but we’ll pass through Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, travel up the pacific coast from San Fransico to Washington State.
After exploring the pacific northwest, we’ll trek through Montana and Idaho before heading back to Salt Lake City. Then we’ll visit Wyoming, Colorado, and head up to the Dakotas before journeying along the border states like Wisconsin and Minnesota. We’ll be at Red River Gorge in September, North Carolina for the Hound Ears competition in October, and then up the northeast for fall.
Did you ever name the van?
Yes! When we first got the van, we asked readers to come up with some potential names for it; Mike from Mike Off The Map came up with “Craggin’ Wagon,” and we loved the name.
Who drives better?
Niko says, “Obviously, I do.” But really, we’re pretty even. Niko is better at parking, tricky maneuvering, and driving at night (I hate driving in the dark), but he also tends to get a little distracted and fed up with driving. I can go for long hauls and am a bit steadier on the road.
How do you each plan to have your own space (in or out of the van)?
At least once a week, we’ll be taking solo hikes/adventures. To give each other a little breathing room, we’ll take some space for a few hours to do our own thing.
In the van, there isn’t much personal space – but we’ve divided up shelves and drawers. We also have two fabric bins we’ll use as a “catch-all,” so we can dump each other’s junk in our respective boxes when we’re sick of it being strewn all over the van.
It’s going to be a BIG learning experience for our relationship. We definitely want to end this yearlong trip still wanting to be together, so we’re putting a priority on keeping our relationship healthy and balanced.
Are you planning to post inside pictures of the van before and after the trip?
Yes! We’ve been doing before-during-after photos of the van retrofit, but we love the idea of taking a picture of the van on the first day, and another one of it one our last day of the trip.
Where are you going to use the bathroom and shower?
We got this question a lot during our going away party in Miami – some of my Cuban family didn’t quite jive with the whole “living in the woods” concept, haha! The answer? The bathroom is right outside the van door, and the shower is down the trail in the nearest river. The van is stocked with an arsenal of baby wipes and dry shampoo to help keep us clean in between proper showers.
We’ll also be stopping occasionally at truck stops with showers (haven’t tried that yet, we’ll see how it turns out), staying a night or so at campgrounds with showers, etc.
What’s your plan for accessing the internet?
Staying connected is a non-negotiable requirement for me, so I’ve been thinking about wi-fi since the beginning of our planning process. The current plan is to use my iPhone as a tethered hotspot, but if that doesn’t meet my internet needs we’ll invest in an air card.
Bonus: Spending an afternoon holed up at a little coffee shop to use their free wi-fi doubles as a great little escape from van life.
Where do you plan to camp/park each night?
The costs of paying for campgrounds each night would add up astronomically, so we’re planning to minimize our lodging expenses as much as possible by finding free places to spend the evening.
We are seasoned pros at spending evenings camping in Walmart parking lots, but we’re really looking forward to checking out BLM areas once we get out west.
How do you get power to make coffee in the morning?
Our trip is being powered by Goal Zero Solar – and so is Niko’s addiction to coffee. We’ll have a french press to brew coffee each morning, and will use a combination of our solar power and a gas-powered stove to heat up the water.
The only foreseeable coffee-issue is that Niko could down an entire french press of coffee by himself – so it’s a good thing I like to drink tea sometimes!
How did you get the funding to do this? Are you living off savings?
Saving enough money to support this trip has been a yearlong process. We are both planning to live off our life savings, and I moved back to Florida from Denver to save money while I was working with LivingSocial. We have enough money to support our adventure on just the basics, but I plan on using my freelancing work to help us with “luxuries.” Niko will be picking up temporary jobs when he can, like working at Miguel’s in Red River Gorge.
We are also incredibly blessed to have the support of our sponsors, who are supplying us with everything from solar gear to camping food.
How did you decide what was a reasonable amount of money to save?
Honestly, we just saved as much as we could. We calculated some basic costs, gathered support from gear sponsors, and limited our spending (and traveling) during the year before our trip. We won’t be living lavishly during 2013, but we’ll have enough to get by.
How long was the planning process?
The Simply Adventure trip has been in the works for over a year. We came up with the idea for a yearlong trip last winter in late 2011, and throughout the year it evolved into a more defined experience with a strong mission. In March of 2012, I left Denver to move back to Florida and begin the saving and preparation for the trip. We bought the van in October 2012, and once we had the van, the trip planning went into major overhaul.
How did you decide what to bring/not to bring?
Niko has always been a minimalist, but I’m admittedly a bit of a hoarder. My purging process has been going on since I moved back to Florida from Denver, but I somehow constantly accumulate stuff. We limited our clothing to last about two weeks in between visits to laundromats, and pre-packed gear for the various seasons to be shipped to us during the trip.
Will you be at summer OR?
We will absolutely be at Summer OR show. We had to miss the winter market due to trip preparations, but we wouldn’t miss the summer gathering at Salt Lake City for anything. See you all there!
Got more questions for us? Leave ’em in the comments!