The thing about the word Roam is that it means an aimless sort of traveling. To roam means that you don’t have a defined plan, you move about wherever the circumstances, weather or your heart takes you.
To roam freely is to allow these forces and places to pull you and take you down dirt roads and into new spaces.
Being free for such adventure takes some effort. It begins with a choice to live slightly untethered — you’ve got to be able to float with the wind.
This month we found three kinds of roamers: Brittany Grimes who lived full time in a bus with her partner and traveled in the Sonoran Desert. Matt White travels the world, to places you’ve heard of and some you have not, to buy interesting objects. Finally, we spoke to Courtney Branch about a more spiritual or meditative version of roaming: yoga.
Brittany Grimes is a traveler based in Asheville, NC. She lived full time in a bus, with her partner, traveling the southwest. @honey.bee.grimes
Tell us about your bus!
My partner, Jason, and I bought our bus in April 2018 from a nice couple in Asheville. Our bus is a 2000 Chevy Diesel short bus. Essentially she’s a Chevy van with a bus top. This makes it really nice because it allows us to fit into any average sized parking space. Her name is Sonora, named after the Sonoran desert for which she has spent most of her time since we’ve had her. One of the main things we love about her is that her ceiling height is nice and tall and allows both of us to stand up straight and maneuver with ease. She looks small but the inside is surprisingly spacious.
We converted her ourselves and spent a lot of time drawing up different floor plans to figure out how to use the space most efficiently. Which was super fun! She has a full size mattress, an L-shaped seating area, a mini library, and lots of shelves and storage compartments. Our main goal with the buildwas to make sure anything we built could easily be fixed ourselves. Inside there is a small hand pump sink, a camp stove that runs off of a propane tank, a Maxx fan (which has been a life saver!) and a solar powered refrigerator. We have two 100 watt solar panels on the roof which power the fridge, charge our devices, and a small energy efficient lamp.
Do you live in the bus full time or just travel?
We lived in the bus full time for a year from last April until about a month ago. During this time we were traveling but also spending the winter working in Tucson, AZ. We are currently renting out a room but because of work my partner lives in the bus part time.
What’s the best thing about living in the bus?
There are so many incredible things about living in the bus. Firstly, the incredible freedom to not be tied down by a rental agreement and sequentially the financial freedom that comes from not having to pay rent. Living in the bus keeps us outside most of the time, which is amazing! It also brings people to us. Jason and I tend to be fairly introverted but when people see the bus they often want to check it out. This is one of my favorite things. It gets us to have conversations with people from all walks of life. I can’t tell you how many times someone has seen the bus and approached us and we have had an hour long conversation. Often times by the end of the conversation we’ve all exchanged information and more often than not they’ve offered to let us park at their home.
These experiences always make us feel like the world is smaller than it seems and that there is still a lot of good in the world.
Hardest thing about living in the bus?
Living in a bus in the city is the hardest part. As much as I love how accessible we are to the outside world when living in the bus it can feel like there is no real separation between being ‘home’ and being out in public. When living in a vehicle in a city, you are, at all times, on public or private property. This can make it feel as though there is no real privacy, anyone can come knock on your door, day or night. As someone who works in the service industry and talks to people all day, it can be hard to find the quiet space I need to recharge. However, when we’re not in a city this isn’t a problem at all because most of our time is spent out in nature.
What does traveling in a bus bring you, that you feel is missed in normal (non-bus traveling) life?
Living in a bus allows me to live a life more aligned with my beliefs. Living in such a tiny space really makes you think about what you own and quickly helps you to eliminate anything unnecessary. I have previously been a super sentimental pack rat so living this way has really helped me to scale down my possessions.
It also helps me to be more mindful of my consumption of resources. On rainy days I am very aware of how much energy I use since our life is powered by the sun. The same goes for water, there is no constant stream coming from a tap so each drop is used with purpose.
Although we are not totally self sustainable by any means, even just these small steps help me to feel more empowered. It feels great to provide some of those things for myself and in turn allows me to appreciate them even more.
Lastly and maybe most profoundly, living in a bus has helped me to slow down.
In such a fast paced world the rudimentary ways of living that we have in the bus have taught me how to appreciate slow living. Not everything has to be instant. This idea has translated to all sections of my life. When we travel we take time to be still, to remember that our validity as humans isn’t based on production.
A piece of travel advice:
When traveling it is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that is the endless roads to places unknown. It’s easy to get caught up and want to see everything at once. My advice is to travel slow, travel with intention, even if it’s just to see something new, and to remember that there is no wrong road to take, only roads not taken yet.
Courtney Branch is a certified yoga teacher in Winston-Salem, NC. She teaches at many studios including: Yoga Dogz, Wildlight, Village Yoga, Lotus Yoga, YWCA, Footnote as well as offer private instruction. She holds regular Live Music and Yoga events throughout town in collaboration with different local musicians.
How long have you been teaching yoga, and when did it become a big part of your life?
When I moved back to Winston-Salem in 2013 I was really struggling with starting over in a new place. I was having to make a shift from the fast pace I’d grown accustomed to in Los Angeles and I had no job leads or direction. Yoga was a life saver for me when I needed to both build community and find purpose. After a month back in NC I had begun to integrate myself in the yoga community here and shortly thereafter I decided get officially certified as a teacher in Asheville. I have been teaching and practicing regularly ever since.
Yoga became a big part of my life because it pushed me to consider how I treat myself. Yoga is not just a physical practice it is a form of self-study and healing.
In the beginning of my practice I noticed subtle changes in my mind and body: Competition was no longer a focus, my forceful movements became slower and more compassionate, and I noticed where I held tension and how that related to my mental states. I was asked to observe my patterns and that reflection took me into my body and showed me all the places that I pushed away…all the places I was afraid to see. It teaches me everyday about my ego and the stories that I can choose to believe or let go.
We wanted to include someone like you in our post because there are more ways to travel than physically moving through the world. Do you have any thoughts on the idea of meditation and yoga as traveling?
In today’s world taking off for a trip around the world has become the norm. It seems more people want to get out and explore and more people value adventure over possessions. Travel presents new and unexpected experiences. Sometimes it is easy and effortless but sometimes it tests our trust and insecurities.
It is in these experiences of leaving the comfort of home that I always seems to grow. But does travel have to be a long road trip or flight? Can we travel just by sitting still or through a yoga practice? It depends on how you look at it.
I find that every moment we are traveling, and it’s how we travel that is the important thing.
Meditation and yoga cultivate mindfulness, presence, intention, and awareness among many other important qualities that allows each footstep we take to help us live our journey to its fullest.
Favorite pose and why.
Honestly, each pose (called asana) presents a challenge or opportunity of self study, but which one I tend to need is always changing. It depends on what I am working through physically or mentally at the moment.
Currently, arm balances (such as crow/bakasana or sage/ eka pada koundiyasana) excite me most. When I approach the challenge of a flying position I am often times getting out of my comfort zone of “safe and easy” asanas. To lift up I have to trust my strength, ability to balance, and find stillness and sit in those places where I am afraid or uncertain. Asanas, allow us to learn about ourselves through movement while also teaching us that there is room to grow. It all depends on if the mind is there and willing.
A piece of travel advice – either for actual traveling, or for internal roaming
- Have fun.
- Live fully in joyful moments as well as the challenging ones.
- Find the balance.
- Trust the journey. Do not think about the destination. Sometimes it’s good to let go of your expectations and just go with the flow!
- Be open and curious to your daily adventure, it always has something to teach you.
Matt White makes a living traveling the world salvaging building materials and unconventional items for his architectural salvage company, Recycling the Past. In addition to traveling the world he runs a hotel where guests can stay in converted shipping containers – and even swim in a shipping container pool! He is based in Barneget, NJ and Roundtop, TX.
How on earth did you end up traveling the world buying cool, and unexpected items?
I’m just lucky I guess! I’ve always had wanderlust. My grandfather shared traveling and food with me at a young age. I also grew up going to farm sales with my dad. Spring forward to when I was 21, I was a college drop out, and I guess it just evolved from there. I started buying and selling antiques and then the travel part came in as I wanted to find cool items in foreign places.
Of course traveling can be tiring and difficult at times, but you obviously like it enough to keep it a part of your life — what about traveling inspires you and motivates you?
I think it’s a hunter-gatherer instinct that is combined with the love for finding new things and meeting new people. I like to spread a smile wherever I can.
Travel has been the best education I’ve ever earned.
Each time I board a plane or a boat I learn something new and the education never stops.
Travel OFTEN, pack light and get lost- it will always be the best road traveled….and by all means talk to people and smile often.
get out there