Life On The Road With The Jeepsies

Joshua SchukmanAugust 17, 2019

Life On The Road With The Jeepsies

Just when my wife and I started thinking we were cool for spending two years RVing full-time, we met Eric and Brittany. Eric and Brittany are the husband and wife duo behind @jeepsies. Jeepsies is one of many businesses they have grown during their five years on the road. 

Not only that, Eric and Brittany added another warrior to the road two years ago when their son Caspian was born. Caspian has spent his whole life on the road and adventures through it all with his parents. Whether on a jeep trip through Mexico or a backpacking excursion to the middle of nowhere, the three of them are an inseparable team.

Eric and Brittany with their lil’ road warrior, Caspian.

The sad truth is I meet far too many people who believe they cannot get on the road with their kids. I want to share Eric and Brittany’s story to show you how feasible it is to live an Outdoorsy life with kids. To do this, I sat down with Brittany and Eric to get their perspective. Here it is:

Tell us the “when, how, and why” behind starting your life on the road? 

“Both Eric and my life journeys brought us to the point of deciding to travel full-time starting in February 2014,” says Brittany. “He spent 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, with a lot of sea-time under his belt. I grew up in Texas, but all of my extended family lived in Canada. My parents always took us on extensive road trips to see them, including driving to the Arctic Circle. Travel was in our blood.

To enable this change in lifestyle, Eric and I started our online marketing company in early 2011. We spent the next three years making intentional choices so we could be location independent. Our long-time clients trusted us and knew they could count on us even with our alternative lifestyle. Beyond that, we needed to invest in internet connectivity and camp in places where we could receive a signal during the workweek.”

Tell us about the RV you currently live in — and a bit about your Jeep camper too. 

“We purchased our second RV in March 2019, a 2016 Winnebago View 24J. It’s considerably smaller than our first RV, allowing us to be more maneuverable on the road and flexible with our travel schedule. The previous owners, the Holcombe family of Famagogo, maxed out the solar space on the roof with 420 watts. It’s amazing to be able to live life off-grid so easily.

In between RVs, we lived out of our Jeep Wrangler for three months. In anticipation of our trip to the interior of Mexico (Jan. – Feb. 2019), we added all kinds of modifications for overlanding. We have a rooftop tent with a king-size bed, ARB fridge, cabinets, and a propane heater.”

Believe it or not, that’s a Jeep transformed into a camper.

Being a full-timer myself, I run into a lot of folks out there who wish they could get on the road but “can’t” because they have kids. What’s your response to this?

“Caspian was one day old when we brought him from the hospital to his home on wheels. Now two years old, he doesn’t know life apart from full-time travel.

With few exceptions, ‘barriers’ to full-time travel are excuses. Out of all the reasons not to travel, having kids is at the bottom of my list. Travel is good for children! It fosters integrated learning, promotes language growth, strengthens people skills, and develops other life skills like flexibility and resilience. RV travel, in particular, offers a stable, familiar environment for all of this learning to take place.

When you say you can’t travel because you have children, just make sure you’re honest with yourself about your own priorities. At the end of the day, it’s okay if you don’t want to travel full-time. It isn’t for everyone.”

Caspian’s school is wherever they park it.

Caspian tags along with y’all for the full journey. Why do you feel it’s important for him to have these experiences? What are some of the practical things you do to keep him safe?

“I love seeing Caspian thrive in this atmosphere–so friendly and so flexible. One of our outdoor goals is that he walks a mile for each year of life. When he was one, he walked a mile unaided. Now two, he’s met and exceeded the two-mile goal. He walked six miles total during our week at Yosemite National Park. I have written about this at length on the WinnebagoLife blog.

As far as keeping him safe, I don’t think I do anything beyond what common sense dictates. It just requires more vigilance, since we are purposely and constantly taking him into strange environments. We don’t mess around when it comes to water and carry a life jacket with us in the Jeep at all times. That way we can spontaneously play by swift mountain streams and take advantage of kayaking opportunities with him protected by a flotation device.

Other than that, we’re big on consistent, predictable discipline. He was taught to listen immediately from a young age because, otherwise, he could be in serious danger on a busy street or steep hiking trail.”

The family at Yosemite National Park.

What are a few of the ways you think camper life can bring a family closer together?

“In an RV, there are no bedroom doors to close. All of our space is common and there’s not much of it. In this environment, you are forced to accommodate everyone and quickly work out conflict.

There’s no commute or working days away from the family. Though Eric and I work throughout the day, we’re still present when family needs come up. Having both mom and dad around, all day, every day, has impacted Caspian in an obvious way. His vocabulary is huge and his people skills are better than mine sometimes. All of this is because he has two adults to interact with all the time — plus he hardly watches any television.”

Beats the heck out of cartoons.

Tell us briefly what the two of you do for work and how you balance that with life on the road?

“Our work life is a little crazy sometimes, and the balance tends to be precarious. We offer social media management, content creation, and consulting through our boutique online marketing company. We also own a member-driven platform called Coast Guard Jeep Club, and juggle our two travel blogs, RV Wanderlust and Jeepsies. Because we’re self-employed, we decided early on that we wouldn’t put our eggs in one basket financially. Eight years later, that philosophy has led to a bit of chaos. But we’re able to keep the wheels turning, so we’re motivated to keep hustling. We’ve also finally started to hire some help!”

Brittany and Eric work early mornings so they can explore with Caspian for the rest of the day.

What is one of your favorite memories from getting off the beaten path and out into the middle of nowhere?

“Just this year, we had one of our greatest wild camping successes just outside Yosemite National Park. Our spot in Sierra National Forest was free, and easily accessible by forest service road. We were only 15 minutes from the nearest town and a few miles from Yosemite’s border, but we were immersed in nature and completely self-reliant. 

A little farther from home, we had an amazing overland trip with our Jeep through Sierra Gorda in the interior of Mexico. We handled dozens of river crossings and 45-degree switchbacks with our toddler in the back seat. It was the trip of a lifetime, but we plan to keep pushing our limits.”

Just Jeep Campin’ in Mexico, no big deal…

What’s a ‘typical’ day look like for you?

“We never stop moving. I wake up at 5 a.m. and work until Caspian wakes up at 7 a.m. At that time, Eric wakes up and starts work while I spend the morning with Caspian. We might stay at home and work on his preschool workbook, build with Legos, or read books. More often, we go out to a bookstore, coffee shop, or playground, so Eric can have some quiet to concentrate.

At 10 a.m., Caspian goes down for a nap and I go back to work. By lunchtime, Caspian is up and we stop working. Usually, we spend our afternoon exploring the surrounding area. We might go to a National Park Service unit for some hiking, walk the main street of a small town, tackle an off-road trail with our Jeep, or we’ll run errands. After all, this is normal life and we still need to get things done!

Five o’clock is dinnertime for us, so we’re usually back to the RV around then. After Caspian goes to bed at 7 p.m., Eric and I usually go back to work. This is when we’ll write articles for our blogs, or do projects we didn’t get to in the morning. I turn in by 10 p.m. because I get up so early. Eric usually wraps up his day with Netflix or Amazon Prime.”

What is the biggest thing that #roadlife has taught you?

“It’s hard to pick one, but in the times we live in, I think the most important lesson is that I don’t have to be afraid of people who are different from me. I may not speak the same language, believe in the same things, or even agree with what they do, but that’s no reason to fear them to the point that I don’t want to visit their country or have them visit my country. This is also true of regions across our vast country, with all its micro-cultures.

We met the most beautiful people throughout our 43 days deep in Mexico. Everyone was so kind, hard-working, and generous. I want to encourage my son to be like that, so I always check my assumptions about people- the things I think without even thinking. Caspian doesn’t care what a person looks like and wants to be friends with everyone. So I just try to learn from him.”

Joshua Schukman, Outdoorsy Author

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