After 488 days and 23,133 miles we have heard many questions from friends and family as well as strangers we’ve met along the way. I thought I’d take a few moments to answer some of those questions.
We started living full time in our bus, Thomás, on May 1st. 2022, after three years of blood, sweat, tears, and love being poured into converting him from a short school bus to an RV. Here are a few things people want to know about our adventures living in him while traveling from Alaska to Argentina:
Q: Is it hard living in eighty-eight square feet?
A: It can be. At first, we were in the honeymoon phase with both our bus and our dream, but we soon learned the crux of our new life was going to be learning how to maneuver within such a limited space. For instance, the distance between the bed and our dining room table is too narrow for two people to pass at the same time; the kitchen is only big enough for two if one person isn’t cooking; and the dining table isn’t big enough to accommodate both of our computers, so we have to work in shifts.
It didn’t take us long, however, to master the dance of navigating together within that small space. It helps that Kevin and I have been married for a very long time. We not only like one another but are already in sync like two swans performing their elaborate mating ritual. Even so, I have discovered—and this is just me—about every three to four months, I need a break from our nomadic lifestyle. That can mean a couple of nights in a hotel ordering takeout and binge-watching TV, or a few nights at an RV resort where I can hang a hammock, take a long, hot shower, and swim in the pool. After that I am more than happy, excited even, to get back on the road and back to the dance.
I would definitely not recommend this kind of thing for a couple who are not best friends, however, which leads me to the next question we get a lot.
Q: Has your relationship suffered being confined together for so long?
A: Absolutely not. We knew what we were getting into, and we knew we were a good team going in. That’s not to say there weren’t some adjustments to be made. There are annoyances, of course, but nothing that can’t be overcome with honesty and kindness.
For instance, I never knew Kevin liked to smack his gum, so before I smacked him in the head, I “gently” pointed it out.
Some days I feel exasperated that he thinks like a man, other days I am grateful he does.
I know my compulsive need for cleanliness, order and symmetry can be annoying, (If I told him once I’ve told him a thousand times, the singing bowl is for meditations, it is NOT a catch-all) I finally got him a box for all the weird trinkets he finds along the way.
My fear of dying in a car crash even annoys me, this was something we talked about in the planning stages, and he promised not to kill me. When I see the look he gives me after I involuntarily wince and gasp at his driving for the thousandth time, I am thankful he’s a man of his word.
We are not getting any younger and I think this saying sums up our attitude, “Everyone has two lives, the second one begins when you realize you only have one.” I am savoring our time together as we never know how much of it is left.
One night while I was lying awake, Kevin started snoring. He doesn’t snore much or very often, and when he does a gentle nudge will get him to turn over and he’ll stop. I started to nudge him this night but then I realized, one day I may be sleeping alone and will miss that snore more than life itself, so I didn’t. I soaked in the sound of my husband sleeping peacefully in bed beside me. If anything, I believe this journey has brought us closer, even though I wouldn’t have thought that possible.
Q: What are some things you didn’t think you needed but now can’t live without?
A: This one is easy, but the list keeps growing.
- Magnetic screen doors have been invaluable for being able to keep doors open for a cool breeze but not be swarmed by mosquitoes and flies. They are like mesh curtains that Velcro to the door frame and are split down the center. They can be tied back during the day and when released automatically seal shut with magnets down the center.
- Dish drainboard that fits inside the sink. We have a double basin sink and I keep it on one side at all times. Before I acquired this jewel, I lost many a glass or ceramic dish after forgetting I had dishes drying on the counter before we drove off.
* a side note—Kevin has custom made a cutting board that fits over the second basin, which is also a must-have for me.
- A stainless-steel stovetop cover. Kevin fabricated one for, I didn’t think it was necessary at the time, but boy do I love it now. It gives me extra counter space, keeps grease from splattering on my oils and vinegars when I cook, and hides the no-longer-new-and-shiny stovetop
- One day I hope to add air conditioning to this list, but for now we just have fans and are melting.
On the flip side was,
Q: What is something you thought you needed but don’t use.
A: This list also keeps growing.
- My huge stovetop oven. The first time I tried to use it I realized it was way too big for the space and would be too hot for the things around it. Luckily, our friends Klaus and Sonja, from Austria suggested I get an Omnia oven, which I love and use all the time. It should have gone on the previous Q and A about things I can’t live without.
- This one is a little embarrassing—my ring light. I thought I was going to be doing videos about bus life and wanted to look my best. I still may do videos, but my face is my face, so I ditched the light at Melissa’s still in the box.
- A copious number of blankets. The number of blankets I brought brings to mind a story in my book, No Return Ticket about Band-Aids. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, get the book (wink). Here’s a link
Q: What’s your biggest expense?
A: Diesel, by far. Since May of 2022 we have spent $10, 225.70 on fuel—yes, I keep a ledger, don’t judge.
The second would have to be food, when it gets too hot to cook and I can’t stomach another sandwich or salad, we tend to eat out way more than we should. I have started cooking again so that number should get a lot better.
Q: What has been your favorite place?
A: This question is impossible to answer. We have been through two countries, three Canadian provinces and twenty-six states and all have something absolutely wonderful about them. I can tell you though, the best thing we have done is toggle on “Avoid Highways” on our GPS. When we set a course from point A to point B, Google maps takes us down country roads and through small towns. We have had some amazing, serendipitous adventures traveling this way.
If you have questions about our journey, our bus build, or anything at all, please feel free to contact me on FB messenger at Andi Crockford, IG at @travelinoldscool or through our website at www.travelinoldscool.com
Happy Trails All!