Quit jobs. Build a bus. Drive south. Sounds like fun?

Dillon Vought and Tessa Ely bought a VW camper bus and have travelled over 26,000 miles in the last year.

Tessa, what made you want to shake things up and go on an adventure of a lifetime?

My boyfriend and I both wanted to do some long-term travel before we got too deep in our careers, had kids, or had a mortgage that tied us down. We both enjoyed travelling around Alaska in our truck with a bed in the back, and from that spawned this idea that travelling with a home on wheels would enable us to experience the freedom of the open road with the stability of having our home with us at all times – it’s the best of both worlds.

Where have you travelled so far?

We have travelled from Anchorage, Alaska to the southern tip of South America – Ushuaia Argentina. We mostly stuck to the pacific coast, scoring world-class waves at places like Scorpion Bay, Pavones, Chicama, Punta de Lobos, Rincon and everywhere in between. Our trip was not solely focused on surfing though; we would head inland to experience different cultures, get off the beaten track and to hike through mountain ranges.

What’s the best thing about van life?

The ability to completely control your life. If the weather is bad, drive away; if the surf is bad, drive to another spot; if you want to try a new sport like climbing, just move your home to an area with good rock; if a short-term job opportunity comes up, your relocation only takes as long as it takes to drive there.

What’s your advice to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

The biggest advice we give is to checkout your set up before you leave home – which means living out of your van for at least a week, in bad weather and good, just to figure out what you really need. Less is truly more when living out of a small space. The 80/20 rule is a good one to follow; where it’s likely you’ll only use only 20% of your stuff 80% of the time. So try to slim down that other 80% and you will spend more time enjoying life and less time constantly organising. 

Is there anything you both miss from your old life?

Definitely, we miss our families and friends the most. Being on the road for two years has enabled us to meet many great travellers, and to develop strong relationships in the van-life community, but there is no replacing family and lifelong friendships that we have developed back home.

Where next on your van life adventures?

Currently we are heading north from Baja towards the top of Alaska, where the road ends and the Arctic Ocean begins. We are going to be producing videos on this leg of the trip to give our followers a little more insight into our travels – you can stay tuned at @thebusandus

Follow Tessa and Dillion on Instagram: @thebusandus

This interview appeared in SurfGirl issue 58