Travis & Shay in a Dodge Ram Van

I found Travis through his photography, and once you see the photos below, you'll understand why. While I was double tapping Travis's photos, I discovered I was also following his partner, Shay. As a Divemaster, Shay's photos feature her in crystal clear beaches and deep within rainforests. You can't help but want to escape with her into the water and swim among sea creatures and coral.
But for now, I will sit back, camera in hand, while I learn from two of the best on how they are able to live their passions on land and underwater.

Square Feet: 78

I love the rush of capturing and preserving the essence of the other passions in my life: action and adventure.

Make, Model, Year: 1994 Dodge Ram Van

"Betty" was my grandmother's van before I inherited it and took on restoring her into my dream adventure mobile. It was a few months of hard labor installing cabinets, a refrigerator and new flooring, lifting the suspension and adding new tires but well worth the effort!

The van right after I received it from my grandma and before making any modifications

Currently Living: Southern California

Home is where you park it!

My partner Shay and I cruise the United States for a living. I am an outdoor/adventure photographer and Shay is a Scuba Divemaster. Home is wherever certain projects take us.

We are currently in Southern California soaking up a little sun before heading out to Utah for a few fun adventure projects.

Backpacking with friends through Escalante, Utah

Years Living Mobile: 1.5

I started this adventure on my birthday in 2014! Shay has been roaming with me for about six months now, and we both live on the road full time.

What were you doing before you went mobile?

I went through a series of pretty awful jobs before I discovered the joy of being a photographer. The hard moments pushed me to reach for what I truly wanted to do and stay dedicated.

Why did you make the change?

Choosing the van life allows me to consistently travel and meet with other adventurers/athletes around the U.S. as well as carrying all of my gear (surfboard, skateboard, slackline and snowboard).

What was the process like to move into your mobile home?

Making the transition from a full-sized house to living out of something that's the same size as the average walk-in closet definitely takes some adjusting. Luckily I had been working on the road for a few months prior to choosing the van life full time, so moving into Betty became a fairly easy conversion.

Even when Shay and I decided to travel together, she had been accustomed to living out of a suitcase, so the process of adding another person was fun!

I tore out the entire interior and custom-built everything to fit my need for long-term travel.

Finished interior

How do you balance work and living in a small space?

Libraries. Loads and loads of libraries. We stop pretty frequently; there is a lot of behind the scenes work that requires Wi-Fi and a place to spread out on the computers to work!

We also backpack as often as possible, which allows us to camp in a tent and take a break from sleeping in the van.

What are your hobbies on the road?

Shay and I are both pretty active, so it's fun to take time trying different sports. We rock climb and backpack together frequently!

I introduced her to slacklining, and we've started trying to walk on the line together while holding hands—something we call "slack dancing."

She recently got me hooked on scuba diving, which opened a whole new world for me. Other than that, skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, free diving and mountain biking are all things that get thrown into the mix when we are at the right locations.

Finding serenity deep in the forest of Washington

Finding serenity deep in the forest of Washington

A few of my favorite things: Twin Falls, Idaho

What are your top three go-to items in your tiny home?

Goal Zero Solar Panels: These are on top of the roof! They power not only my refrigerator consistently but also all my electronics that I use on a daily basis for photography.
GPS: I do most of the driving, and Shay is directionally challenged, so plugging in a location makes travel so much easier.
Camera: I don't go anywhere without some sort of camera. Whether it is my DSLR, GoPro or even just an iPhone, being able to document the memories made on the road is very special to me.

What has been the most rewarding thing about living small?

Everything you need is right there with you.

People tend to accumulate materialistic items easily, but when space is limited, you really get a feel for what is important.

Roads this iconic were designed to be skated: Highway 101, Oregon.

What is the most challenging thing?

I think Shay and I would both agree that showering is the most challenging aspect of living out of a van. We have experienced everything from campsites, truck stops and even rivers to take a quick rinse!

Living out of a vehicle and traveling full time means we are bound to have some mechanical issues. But somehow when things go wrong we always stay in good spirits. Shay is the perfect roadside assistant! 

What is your advice to future homeowners who want to live small or hit the road?

Anything is possible with the right mind-set. Build or purchase something you are passionate about and comfortable in.

At the end of the day if it doesn’t feel like ‘home,’ you won’t enjoy it for very long.

Shay and I beach camping along the Lost Coast Trail in California

What's next for you? Any news you want to share?

There are a few things in the works. We've been talking about possibly stepping it up to a larger and even more rugged vehicle. We also might rent a van in a different country to travel for a few months.

The possibilities are endless with the right amount of imagination and dedication!

Follow Travis & Shay and their adventures

Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to Travis Burke Photography.