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up front, with Priya riding 20 feet away
at the back of the motorhome.
“That’s not safe,” says Mike. “River
was up front. Even though it’s legal, it
didn’t feel very safe in an already unsafe
9,000-pound, 30-year-old RV. Then my
wife is sitting in the back, we can’t talk,
and it’s really bumpy for her back there.
“We were like, ‘We’ve got to change
something. We love camping; it’s our
way to manage day-to-day stress. If we
don’t have it, I feel like we’re not going
to be as happy. We need to figure out
how to get this to be a safer and more
pleasurable experience, because it’s just
not.’ I’m really impatient, and I went
into detail looking at what exactly we
were going to get.”
They ended up with a truck camper,
meaning that River can be in the back
seat of the truck’s cab in a rear-facing
car seat, and the new parents feel a lot
safer on the road—as well as having the
space that they feel they need for their
“It’s a really good use of space. It’s really
minimal, but with a really large bed area,
which is kind of the most important.
Everything else is just really functional.
It fit all of our needs, and I found it and
went nuts, and made it all happen in the
course of basically two to three months.
We’re just so happy. It’s awesome.”
For Tricia and Matt, the way they ended
up with their van was a little more
“I was always into the old Volkswagen
Westfalias,” Matt says. “We rented a
Westfalia for a week and drove it up the
California coast, and had such a great
time in it that we knew we wanted to
get our own van to surf and hike and
use as an adventuremobile. We didn’t
want to deal with the mechanical issues
that vans that are 40 years old typically
have, though, so we started looking at
Settling on a Ford Transit, the couple
got a modern van with a great engine,
but it was a commercial vehicle—not
a livable space. They gutted it and
self-built the entire interior, using
YouTube tutorials and advice from other
vanlifers. The build took a while, but
that didn’t stop them from spending
time on the road early on.
“We used it in a kind of in-progress
state for a good year or so,” says Matt.
“It took us a year and a half until we
considered it done. Like most things,
it’ll probably never be done. It was this
past summer, the summer of 2017, that
we finally christened it.”
Jaron and Diana took a similar “try
before you buy ” approach.
Diana’s father had recently gotten into
RVing and bought himself a Winnebago
motorhome, and they borrowed it for a
“We took two weeks off from work
and we traveled out to the East Coast.
We went to West Virginia, we went to
North Carolina and then we visited my
family in Pittsburgh. It gave us the bug
to travel,” says Jaron.
“Then we decided to downsize our
house and get a travel trailer. We knew
we wanted an Airstream—we’ve always
looked into them. We love that they ’re
so retro, and love the history of them.
We were really intrigued, and once we
did a couple tours of the Airstream, we
knew that’s what we wanted.”
Destination... known or
Mike and Priya find that, for weekend
adventures, it’s easiest to have a few
failsafe options; places where you know
exactly what to expect in terms of travel
time and amenities.
“It’s helpful to have spots that you
know,” says Mike. “[For weekend trips],
we don’t do as much adventuring,
finding new spots. We like to have a
list of places where we know the setup,
how long it takes to get there, the
process of [grocery shopping] and all
those things, because then it minimizes
that stress when you’re trying to figure
out whether you can go on a Friday.”
For Jaron and Diana, their work
schedules make it a little easier to
venture farther afield. School summer
vacations mean that they can travel for
weeks at a time, with Diana working
from the road.
“How far we go depends on time,”
says Jaron. “This past summer,
Madeleine and I went out for five weeks
straight. That was our longest trip.
We left Chicago and our first stop was
Montana.” For those playing at home,
that’s a pretty impressive 1,300 miles.
Tricia and Matt go where the surf
leads them. Luckily for them, they
live in San Diego, only a 30-minute
drive from Mexico and its awesome
Jaron and Diana Baker travel in their dream
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