In June, Brendan and Kelly set out on an adventure they hoped would get themselves out of their usual routine and push themselves into new experiences. Both were living and working in New York City helping others bring their visions to life when they decided that they were ready to put creativity into their own projects. So they bought an ‘84 VW Westfalia, left apartments behind, and hit the road with the goal of creating and seeing all that America has to offer. All along this 5-month journey they’ve been taking photos, writing about their experiences, and making videos.
Why the sudden life change?
From the perspective of just about everyone but us, it definitely looks and feels like it was a really sudden change…but to us it had been forming for a while. We each slowly were feeling as though New York City went from being the energy we needed to keep going, to the type of energy that gets in the way of our creative endeavors. We had both come to the city looking for something and I guess we found it….but it was time for a change.
What inspired you to start the vancrafted adventure?
After a trip to Big Sur together in October of 2013, something had changed in us and we needed to shift our lifestyle. We craved more space and a connection to nature. In February we had had enough and by March 1 we had a plan. By May 1 we moved out of NYC and in with my parents to renovate the van and get our trip in order — funny thing is that moving in with my parents was the first time we moved in together, the second time was into our van.
Why a Westfalia?
Haha, sometimes I ask myself that too. On our trip to Big Sur we saw SO MANY Westys out and about. Kelly immediately fell in love after our campsite-neighbor showed us her white Westy and I don’t think there was ever another vehicle for the trip. When I showed up on Kelly’s doorstep one day in Brooklyn, proclaiming we need to go on this trip and do something together, we agreed hastily to get a Westy and do the trip in the summer. I guess it was never a question, some things just happen that way.
The “home is where you park it” concept is growing rapidly, why do you think this is and what are the benefits of this lifestyle?
I think there’s a general trend toward “owning” whatever you’re doing. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve always been more interested in finding my own way and I think that’s something a lot of people are into right now. The days of staying with a company for 30 years, building tenure, and slowly climbing the ladder are potentially behind a lot of people. I’ve seen a lot of friends go into small business ownership and the challenge and joy it brings and that’s a cool thing. Plus, the industries Kelly and I work in are so New York-centric that people think it’s crazy to work anywhere else. We’ve started a business and a creative pursuit out of our van and it’s going great — it gives us such freedom to follow what strikes us.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on the road, have you had any key insights?
Patience, haha. It’s really a huge one that I am learning every day. Patience with the van that breaks down everyday until you diagnose the problem; patience to find a campground to stay at after the last 5 were full; and patience to understand and appreciate other people…especially your van-partner. It’s something I’m learning more about every day and trying to cherish as much as possible.
Why do you think it is important for people for people to get outside and explore?
I think that every time you get outside you find space. Even standing in your own back yard and walking around can give you the physical space and fresh air you need while emotionally giving you a break from everything around you. Exploring opens you up to new possibilities you never knew existed and helps even more with that fresh perspective. One thing we’re excited to do is explore places we’ve been to in a new way. Take the other path, bike it instead of hike it, put yourself in a new situation and find a new part of yourself. It’s always worth it.
What’s to come for you guys?
Well, we’ve decided that this isn’t a one-off thing – adventuring is now a part of our life. We are going to set up a base-camp in southern Rhode Island for the winter (in an off-season vacation property) and constantly go on micro-adventures. We’re really excited to continue creating photo and video content for ourselves and for others! Who knows, maybe we’ll use the winter to plan Tour 2…
How can we follow you?
Best question. For daily photographs and snippets of our adventures check us out on Instagram @vancrafted. Larger photos and longer stories are posted on our blog, vancrafted.us. We love hearing from people and meeting up, so don’t be shy.
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