To celebrate the launch of Bambu products in the Airstream Supply Company, we met up with Tim and Ursulla, who have been living full-time in their Airstream since 2018. Freshly back from a long adventure in the Last Frontier, they caught up with us to talk life on the road, share tips for eating fresh when you’re miles from a market, and explain how they find community in an ever-changing environment.
First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you came to the decision to go full-time in your Airstream?
5 years ago both of us were working professionally on the West Coast– Ursulla as a staff nurse and Tim as a restaurant executive. One day, Tim received a call from his parents informing him that his dad had developed Pancreatic Cancer and had less than six months to live. We knew that if we only had six months left with Tim’s dad, it wasn't going to be spent 2,500 miles apart.
So, we ended up selling our house and almost everything we owned. We left our jobs and moved into the Airstream to live and travel full time. Ursulla has always wanted to be a travel nurse and this seemed to be the catalyst for making that change. 50k miles on the airstream and over 120k miles on the truck later, we’re still going strong.
You recently made the long drive to Alaska. What was your strategy for keeping the lengthy journey enjoyable?
When we started planning our trip to Alaska we knew that a caravan (a group of fellow travellers) was what we needed. Traveling in a caravan helps minimize the number of supplies you need to purchase, split ups the extensive research needed for a trip like this– and it adds more fun and face time with friends along the remote 2,000 miles between Seattle and Alaska!
Beyond caravaning, we also broke up our drive with smaller adventures. Keeping daily driving miles low makes the crossing longer– but there are waterfall hikes, animal viewings, frozen lakes, beautiful vistas, historical markers, and hot springs that make it well worth the extra time.
Tell us about your time in Alaska– what were your favorite destinations and experiences?
What we didn't realize before we went up is how large the state is, in every sense. You can observe the vastness on a map but it doesn't do it justice. For example, one of our first Alaska experiences was Wrangell - St. Elias National Park. This park has four peaks that stand over 16,000 feet in elevation, which is just massive (the tallest peak in the lower 48 states is a little over 14,000 feet). The Kenai Peninsula was another highlight. It’s where most people spend a majority of their time, and we found it to be wonderful. From glaciers and amazing hiking to fishing charters and grizzly bear sightings– everything can be found on the Peninsula.
Traveling through remote areas and living on the road means that access to things like fresh food can be a challenge. How do you handle meal planning and eating on the road?
We plan everything out one week at a time and take a day to “reset” each week. Our “reset” day is our time to clear our black and grey water tanks, fill up with fresh water, and grocery shop. But when we travel in remote areas, that changes a bit. We make it a point to do small resets along the way if we know we are going to be traveling 500 miles to the next town or small city. For getting to Alaska, we were mostly concerned about fuel. Besides our caravan group, we could go days without seeing people or fuel stops. We made it a point to fill up regardless of price when we were at half tank or less. It was the same for food. We bough fresh food when we could, and we got creative with the ingredients that we did have. Spending a month or more between big “resets,” you adapt, overcome and improvise.
Do you have any tips or go-to products for days when you need to simplify your on-the-go cooking and eating?
Ramen or instant noodles seem to be what we do the most after big travel days. We love to add soft-boiled eggs, veggies, and spam to it to spruce it up. Our go-to easy meal when we’re on the go is meat and cheese boards or boards with chopped fruits and veggies. And of course, doing the dishes after a long day is never fun (and it can eat up your water stores). So to save on water, many road warriors end up using paper plates. We found ourselves loving the Bambu plates and utensils as a sustainable alternative. They are reusable for several days and pack away easily when we are on the go or heading out for a hike. And we love that we can compost them when we’re done!
What’s your favorite meal to share after a new adventure?
This completely depends on what is available to us. Ursulla loves to cook new things and she gets inspired by our local travels. Often, we’re cooking regional favorites as a way to experience the places we travel in a different way. When in Alaska, we tried to catch fish and prepare it the way the locals do. In New York, we tried our hand at making our own pizzas. When we were in Maine, we ate a lot of lobster!
Can you tell us a bit about how you find and build community during your travels?
Community for us has always revolved around our local area. When we settle in for work contracts, which are three months long, we have a chance to spend more time in one area. Everyone has been very kind and welcomed us into the local communities we’ve visited. Instagram has been another great resource for us to build community. Everyone that we carravanved with to Alaska, we’d previously connected with on social media. You end up meeting people with very similar interests when you're boondocking and as a result, the community naturally forms around you. It really has been the best part of being on the road.
While going full-time on the road might not be in the cards for everyone, many of us want to spend more time outdoors. What’s your advice for those hoping to make nature a bigger part of their lives?
Start small and explore locally! Discover hikes that get you into the wilderness with cell service. Then, branch out and find the ones that don't have service. Disconnecting from the modern world can be very difficult, but we’ve found that it’s an essential part of the experience. Before full-time travel, we enjoyed tent camping but never towed anything or stayed in an RV before. It doesn't take years of experience with towing or RVs to make the move, so if you are interested in going full-time, don’t be intimidated!
Tim and Ursulla are currently travelling through Canada, and you can follow along with them on Instagram @airstreamvagabond.
Ready to explore the great outdoors? Shop Bambu goods at the Airstream Supply Company, and discover sustainable camping tips and tasty recipes on our outdoor page.