FULL-TIME AIRSTREAM LIVING WITH SETH K. HUGHES

Seth is a professional photographer living and traveling with his wife Drea and dog Emma in their Ford F250 and Airstream travel trailer.  Three years ago they left the comforts of home in exchange for the ability to pursue adventure and since have covered countless miles throughout the US, Canada and Mexico.   Seth’s photography is magnetic and remarkably captures the majesty of the great outdoors.  Fun Fact:  Mark, myself and Seth all attended the Art Institute of Colorado at the same time but we never actually met.  However, I randomly came across Seth’s impeccable photography on Instagram and have been following his travels ever since.  He was kind enough to share some insights with us about life on the road and I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy this peek in to his lifestyle. 

Without further ado, meet Seth…

What prompted your decision to live on the road?

We basically realized we had became too comfortable and complacent with our lives. We both had respectable jobs, a mortgaged home, and all the trappings of the American dream. However, we had grown disillusioned and discontent. There was too much out there to see and experience. I had an epiphany where I realized time was our most precious asset, and it was slipping away. We were trading the best years of our lives for a comfortable paycheck and little else. I knew that we needed to shake things up. My wife took some convincing but when she got her first glimpse inside an Airstream I knew she was game.

 

An Airstream RV trailer travels across the historic Red Cliff Bridge, aka Eagle River Bridge, on The Top of the Rockies scenic byway (US highway 24) in Colorado.What was life like between deciding to live on the road full-time and setting off to do it?

A mixture of anxiety, excitement and exhaustion! It’s a scientific fact that objects at rest tend to stay at rest. That’s the law of inertia and it required a tremendous amount of effort to break free of the routine we’d settled into. A lot of critical pieces had to come together but this was the test. The barrier to entry that would allow us to live the life we’d dreamed of.

Once my wife gave the green light, it required about 4 months to transition into our new lifestyle. Thankfully, before this point I had paid off my credit card debt and stashed a bunch of money into a savings account. A.k.a “F@# you money”.   I resigned from my job, we sold our 2 cars, bought a truck, found the right Airstream online, drove to the midwest to buy it, installed a solar system on it, fixed up our house to rent, searched for a suitable tenant, and finally moved out.  It was a painful, laborious mess laced with the thrill of an extraordinary life change on the horizon. The thrill and anticipation of hitting the road is what kept me moving forward. Without it, I would have spun out or crumbled under the weight of it all. I regularly visited the blogs of nomads who had already made the leap and I drew a tremendous amount of inspiration from them.  Ultimately it all paid off. Finally, when the rubber hit the road, the feeling was euphoric!

 

Palmer-089Your truck and trailer are gorgeous.  How do you like your set up?  Is there anything you wish you’d done differently when deciding on a truck and trailer?

We love our set up. Our research and diligence guided us into choosing an RV with the perfect amount of space and a tow-vehicle with the proper horsepower and gross vehicle weight ratio (GVWR). I’m pleased to say we really have no regrets and I’m truly thankful that everything came together so well.

What are few of your favorite pieces of everyday gear?

I am a sucker for gear. It’s somewhat of a weakness actually. One thing I do regret is buying too much gear in the beginning before living on the road too see what was truly necessary. I’ve made a lot of tweaks and adjustments to our inventory since then. A Verizon Jetpack with an unlimited data plan is our most prized possession. It provides the high bandwidth data that allows us to earn an income and stay connected to the outside world. Our mountain bikes are our favorite pieces of recreational gear, and my DJI Phantom 4 (drone) is my luxury item.

A family enjoys recreation with their Airstream trailer and bicycles in the arid, desert landscape near Joshua Tree National Park, California.What are some of the challenges of full-time travel?

It does get tiresome to constantly be on the go, route planning and seeking out basic resources such as water, overnight spots and laundry. Resources you take for granted when living in a traditional home. Since leaving Denver, we’ve driven up the West Coast to Alaska, down to the tip of Baja, up to Alberta, across the South, up the East Coast and over to Newfound/Labrador. So after 3 years we’ve decided to start slowing down. The goal is to begin spending about a two week minimum in each new location so that we have more time, energy and money to spend on things other than transportation.

What have you learned about yourself from this lifestyle?

I’ve learned that I need to put more effort into relationships. It’s really easy to drop off the radar and become anonymous on the road. Especially given all the remote wild places you can retreat to. But in the long-term, nothing good comes from that isolation. I’ve learned that maintaining existing relationships and creating new ones is essential to happiness. This segues well into the next question…

What has surprised you most about this lifestyle?

I was astonished by the burgeoning nomadic community that was already out there. Within the first few weeks I was meeting a lot of wonderful, kind, supportive people my age who were doing the same thing. Thanks to social media platforms, mostly Instagram, we’ve all been able to connect and even travel together as nomadic neighbors.

JoshuaTree-287You’re a professional photographer and Fujifilm ambassador.  What does being a Fujifilm ambassador entail?

It requires a lot of shooting, equipment testing, feedback, and interaction with the Fujifilm community. Occasionally I am asked to write blog posts, speak at events and attend photo walks. All of which I’m happy to do because I believe in the company and love what they’re doing for the art of photography. They are dedicated to making photography fun and user friendly while advancing the mirrorless revolution with smaller/lighter gear. Since hitting the road, I’ve shed many pounds of Canon gear and reignited my passion for photography.

What’s the biggest misconception about your lifestyle?

That’s easy. Everyone thinks that I’m on a vacation or an early retirement. True, I’m spending time in some amazing places but if anything the amount of work and hustle is two fold. And I have to force myself to concentrate amidst a barrage of distraction. It’s a juggling act of logistics and meeting basic needs while maintaining a full time work schedule. It’s far from easy. I digress.

What are you most excited about for the future?

Discovering new places and making new friends. It never gets old.

Favorite quote?

I have a rotating list of them! Here’s one:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

 

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If you’re digging Seth, be sure to check out his You Tube channel.  Be prepared for a heavy dose of inspiration to pack up your gear and hit the road.  Here’s one of our favorites where Seth prepares for a 5 day backpacking trip thru Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, Canada.

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