By Mark McConville
THIS ALL-AMERICAN family of five is living every road tripper’s dream by packing up their lives into an iconic-looking vintage Airstream trailer to travel across the US.
In what is the ultimate family road trip Mary and Alex Herlocker, from Charlestown, South Carolina, USA, live in the 27-foot-long trailer with their three children; Georgi (8), Margo (4) and Jasper (2) as well as their two dogs.
Alex provides for the family by taking 13-week contracts at various hospitals across the country as a travel ICU registered nurse, which earns him around £20k each time for working 12 days a month with 12 hour shifts.
This has allowed the Herlockers to travel from the east coast to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California and Baja in Mexico in the last nine months.
“We were living the typical suburban life with a brick-and-mortar house in a nice neighbourhood,” said Mary.
“I watched as life rushed by, dropping our oldest off at school, kissing my husband goodbye before work just to repeat the same thing the next day. I had the realisation that this was not how I wanted the story of our lives to read.
“We craved adventure but figured that was something we had traded in when we became parents. I did not want to wake up one day with grown kids and a house full of possessions, but no real memories; only spending one week of vacation with them each year.
“My husband began researching travel nursing and both of us were hooked on this idea of travelling full-time. We did not immediately buy an Airstream, instead we got a small teardrop trailer and travelled to Washington State.
“We fell in love with the lifestyle of living with our family on the road and decided to trade in our teardrop trailer for a vintage Airstream and begin renovating it into a tiny home.”
Airstreams are seen as somewhat of a pop culture icon, partly due to the long list of A-list celebrities who have owned one over the years including Matthew McConaughey who lived in one in Malibu for years and eventually owned three trailers.
Other celebrity owners include Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Lenny Kravitz, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington and Sandra Bullock.
The couple afford to stay on the road as they live completely off-grid by using solar power and a compost toilet so they can wild-camp or boondock and not spend money on camping fees.
Mary, who is qualified as a paediatric nurse, also home schools the children and explained their education and cost-cutting in more detail.
“We get public water and filter it for drinking,” she said.
“This makes our monthly expenses very low and it is really dependent on how much we can spend on gas to travel, some weeks we travel more than others. My husband works full time but has four days off each week, and we take time off between his thirteen week contracts to explore more.
“We buy all clothing from thrift stores and practice a minimalist lifestyle with our consumption. Again, spending money on experiences instead of things and not purchasing many possessions.
“We home school. I want my children to have a love for learning and pursue their interests and strengths. Most of all I want them to form their own identities separate from the pressure of peers. Learning can happen in more ways than sitting at a desk, filling out worksheets that will eventually be forgotten and discarded.
“Learning through our travels and the different cultures and terrains we encounter will hopefully not only stick with them but also give them critical thinking skills that a traditional school setting cannot.”
The family plan to continue up the coast to Oregon, Washington, and hopefully into Canada and Alaska and have a message for anyone wishing to follow in their tyre tracks.
“We have a lot more destinations on our list but prefer to take it slowly and really embrace each state and the national parks they have to offer,” added Mary.
“Figure out what is holding you back and how you can make it happen. We had to problem-solve and prioritise this dream over everything else, it took hard work and dedication but it is possible, and it is worth it.
“Don’t worry about what other people say, everyone has a different idea of happiness and that is the beauty of humanity, just keep following your heart and live at your own pace. There is a way; you just need to find it.”
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