Last year we shared an inspiring feature of Emilee Kunas’s Austin condo. As we toured the space, the common themes were minimalist design, beachy details, and clever space saving ideas that gave so much inspiration to incorporate into our own homes. Fast forward just a few months, and it turns out that as gifted as the designer is at nesting, she’s equally equipped to wander. All that custom plywood furniture and those DIY details we loved so much? Who needs ’em! Emilee, Victor, and their dog Diggy traded it all in for adventure in the form of life on the road. Following along on Instagram served up a feast for the eyes, and once again, food for thought: Could we trade our creature comforts in for Airstream living? If for you the answer is “Yes,” read on for Emilee’s tips, tricks, and lessons learned.
When asked what inspired her road trip, Emilee replied with an almost obvious,
I mean, why not?! We’ve both dreamed of taking some sort of adventure, but didn’t know exactly what that meant. Whether it was backpacking through Europe or living abroad for a bit, we knew we wanted to do something. As time went on and the stars aligned, we realized we needed to take advantage of the opportunity we had. We sold our house and were ready to embark on a new chapter of our lives.
I can’t even begin to fathom the planning that went into this. What were the preparations you had to make before hitting the road?
There was A LOT more to get in order than I initially thought — some fun and some not so fun. Because we had no house, we sold all of our furniture and moved all of our stuff into a storage unit which is great… but then what do we do with our mail? We ran into a lot of little things, like refilling prescriptions, getting insurance for the car and airstream for Mexico, and making sure we have all the necessary tools in case anything were to break or we got a flat in the middle of the desert (which we did not!)
I enjoyed the challenge of organizing the Airstream and car. It was like a puzzle! Since it is so small, everything needs a place, which presented a fun challenge and led to a lot of trips to the Container Store, REI and endless hours on Amazon.
We love that you opted for a classic Airstream. How did you choose it? What were you looking for?
We had a lot of ideas! We initially thought we were going to take just the car with a rooftop tent, and that idea evolved into what we have today. After really thinking about it, we came to the conclusion that the more comfortable we are, the more longevity we will have on the road, and that’s when we started exploring Airstreams. We started looking at the 16ft Airstream and slowly worked our way up to our final decision: the 20ft Flying Cloud Airstream. Since we both love to cook, a functional kitchen was important to us. We looked at the floor plans, and the 20ft had the best kitchen set-up. Fun fact: we ordered the trailer through Airstream without ever seeing it in person!
Now for the fun stuff. Tell us about your road trip route?
Our route/intinerary was kind of non-existent, which is exactly how we wanted it. We knew we were going to head south and the rest was up in the air. We’d plan as we went and if we liked a specific spot, we’d stay longer. If we found ourselves at a surf spot with no swell, we’d move on! On average, we spent about 10 days in each location.
Describe a day in the life of your airstream adventure. Is it as dreamy as it looks?
On the road, our bodies are synced with the sun. We get up when the sun comes up, and we crash hard when it goes down. A typical day consists of an early breakfast to fuel the big day head — usually fresh fruit for me and breakfast tacos for Victor, and of course coffee. After breakfast, time to search for waves! We always try to surf in the mornings, as the wind always picks up in the afternoon. Depending on how wiped we are after our surf session, a little siesta can’t hurt! And after our reset, we might drive into town and do a little exploring and shopping, followed by early dinner prep and sunset grilling.
We’re so curious: what are the must-have things you brought with you that have been the most useful?
1. Snow Peak collapsable to fire pit and grill.
2. A broom for battling sand in a very small space and with a dog and a boyfriend who grew up near the beach and doesn’t mind sand in the bed!
3. Hawaiian Sling – for catching fresh fish!
4. Extra gas cans – for the long stretches of nothingness.
5. LOTS of Surfboard Wax – the water temperature varies greatly in Baja, up to 20 degrees. And with the intensity of the sun, if you leave your board out uncovered, your wax job will be toast quickly!
6. Head lamps – they come in handy for everything!
Anything you brought along that you quickly realized you didn’t need?
Generator to power the Airstream. We never used it once! The Airstream ran off solar polar the whole time.
What’s been the biggest surprise about life on the road?
The extent to which safety was never an issue. So many people told us not to go, or that it was a bad idea, but thankfully our intuition and research was right. We felt extremely safe the entire time and everyone that we met along the way agreed. Baja is a magical place and it brings all different types of people together. Everyone looked out for one another and each other’s belongings at the campsites, and every single person we met was genuinely special.
Any challenges you didn’t anticipate?
The roads! Towing a trailer, the travel days can be tough sometimes. Dirt roads with endless washboard and paved roads with potholes, the width of the road was the toughest part. It was completely doable, but you just have to take it SLOW.
What advice would you give to someone looking to take on a similar lifestyle?
Just do it! If you are thinking about it, just dive in. Don’t over think it. You really don’t need much, and being on the road, you quickly realize that. You discover what is important and necessary, which is a beautiful thing.
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