When your life long dream is to travel across the United States and explore the great outdoors, you make every effort to make this dream come true no matter what the cost. For some people it is hard to leave your life behind to embark on your journey. However, for people like PG Sunnyvale staff Travis Booher and his girlfriend Thais Kelly, their spirit of adventure burns strong and is fueled by the constant exposure to great outdoor climbs and discovering other areas outside the local climbing scene. Like many others who hashtag #vanlife in their posts, the couple have been working on building up their van to prepare for a year long climbing trip across America. We interviewed Travis about his upcoming trip across the country.
Who are you? What do you do?
My name is Travis and I’m the Assistant Head Coach for the climbing team at Planet Granite Sunnyvale. Get bufffff! I also teach technique classes, work the front desk, and beatbox into the loudspeakers.
Who or what inspired you to embark on this journey?
It was actually my girlfriend’s idea to live in a van. When she first suggested it to me, I didn’t think it could be possible. However, she mapped out a potential budget and timeline, and when I saw that we could do it, I was in! I’m excited to explore what’s out there and also to have the time and space to reflect on the next direction I’d like to head in.
What are your main destinations?
Part of the plan is to not have a completely established plan. The general idea is to start out the new year in Bishop, hit Red Rocks at the beginning of February for my birthday, and then meander our way along the south of the U.S., up the east coast, and then head back west next summer. Some places we’re super stoked on: Zion, Moab, Joe’s Valley- Utah in general, Horse Pens 40, Hueco Tanks, we want to visit the national parks, Red River Gorge…the list goes on. We would love any suggestions!
How have you planned to finance this trip? How are you planning on making money while on the road?
The original plan was to be super frugal and just save as much as possible, while trying to keep our building costs low. However, the van had a few more mechanical issues than we anticipated, so my girlfriend and I have both been working at a Christmas tree lot to try to cover the expenses. We haven’t met our savings goal, so we’re going to have to figure out some ways to make money while on the road. The best idea so far is street performing. I love to beatbox. I’m planning on bringing a small amp and a mic with me to perform for people in the different cities we visit. If we do run out of cash, we can always stay put for a while and find some work. We wouldn’t be homeless, after all. If you would like to help us out on our trip, you can donate to us on our GoFundMe.
How did you build the van? Tell us about the best add-on features.
We bought an E-350 club wagon van with nothing in the back but a plywood partition, one bench seat, rubber flooring, and some weird wood screwed into the ceiling. Since tearing that out, everything’s an add-on feature! We installed laminate flooring, insulation throughout, and walls. We are working on putting together a solar-powered electrical system and making a platform bed and a kitchen area with cabinets and a sink.
The coolest addition so far would have to be the high-top. This was really important for us because we want to be able to comfortably stand and move around in the van. Typically, people buy a van with a high-top already installed or there a few companies that sell high-tops, but those run for about $3,000. We decided to enter unchartered waters and make our own. There are not any Wikihows or Instructables on this- it’s not really something that people do- so we had to piece together all the bits of information we could find on the internet in order to plan and build our top. We built a wooden frame out of boards and thin plywood and then fiberglassed over the wood. The fiberglass adds strength and makes it waterproof- this thing is solid! From there, we cut off the roof of our van (the point of no return) and attached our new top. We took it for its first test-drive the other day, and you can hardly tell the top is there. It makes the inside incredibly spacious; I have about eight extra inches above my head. Dance party in the van, anyone?
Any last words to the PG community?
The past five years at Planet Granite has been an amazing experience. I have learned a lot and had so much fun along the way. I am incredibly grateful for the PG community. I have met so many cool people- thanks everyone for hanging out and sharing your beta. Bring it on back down to send town!
Travis’ last day working at Planet Granite Sunnyvale is on Wednesday, December 23 but will be still around the area climbing at the gym until after Christmas. If you would like keep in to contact with Travis Booher, you can reach him by email saysomething555 [at] gmail [dot] com or follow him on Instagram @sivartbooher and Thais’ Instagram @thaiskelly. They would also love your help to make their trip successful by donating to their GoFundMe.
We wish you well on your adventures! Safe travels, crush hard, and bring it back down to send town!