I met Noami and Dustin one hot New Orleans day while moving a piano from one house to another. Dustin was a project manager for a construction company and Noami was an environmental scientist studying the coastal systems in Louisiana. They seemed like your average couple, but what I discovered throughout our friendship was that they were anything but average. Like myself, they also suffered from a particularly strong and itching wanderlust. For this, they found and created a pretty fascinating solution: why not get a van, hit the road, work remotely, and explore?
Thus was born their adventure, which they interestingly named “Irie to Aurora“. Their time on the road is now nearing its first year of completion. Along the way, they’ve amassed over 8,400 followers on Instagram. Here’s a sneak peak into their #vanlife journey.
Who’s idea was this? How did you come up with it?
I think the idea to buy a van and live on the road was both ours. When Dustin and I met it was one of the first things we talked about, and throughout our relationship, we fantasized about the idea until we finally took the leap. Best idea ever.
We both love to travel. We’ve taken road trips together as often as we could since before we were even dating. As our relationship grew, these trips became more frequent and for extended periods. We also followed other people on social media who were doing the same thing, living on the road. This inspired us to do what we had always dreamt of and talked about.
How long has this journey been and how long do you plan to continue?
It has been eleven months on the road and we would like to sustain this lifestyle for as long as we can.
How did you come up with the name “Irie to Aurora”?
Noami is from Trinidad, and the word Irie is slang meaning “powerful and pleasing; a state of feeling great.” Initially, when we planned the trip, our destination was Alaska to see the aurora borealis, hence Irie to Aurora.
What has been your greatest challenge to date?
Dustin works remotely so this requires us to stay on the grid most of the time and often hunt for wifi. His schedule is fluid, so finding a routine has been challenging.
What do you guys do for work while on the road?
Dustin currently works remotely as a construction estimator. On the road Noami works odd jobs and freelance gigs online.
What have you been the most homesick for?
Overall, I don’t think we’ve been particularly homesick. There have been moments where we reminisce about New Orleans and miss the little things, like the food, and the music, and the people.
In what ways has this trip changed you individually and as a couple?
Living on the road and sharing 80 square feet has come with its fair share of challenges. But I think it has brought us closer together. We’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses in ways we never thought we could. Living in such close quarters 24/7 has forced us to be more mindful of our attitudes and how we impact each other’s “space” because tempers do flare. We’re more compassionate with each other and with ourselves. We have created a space where simplicity can flourish, a lifestyle we have both come to value. Learning to let go and let be, keeping an open heart and mind is the everyday lesson and this attitude has led to so many new friendships and experiences. Overall, life on the road has been deeply transformative, it has brought us closer to ourselves and to each other. Dustin and I are better people because of this decision and we are so grateful for each other and our life together.
Plans for another road trip in the future?
I think the journey we’re on is perpetual. There will be a few pit stops along the way but that’s all part of it. However, we do have plans for Canada and maybe Central and South America, after Alaska of course.
What was your favorite place along the way?
Hmm… Choosing a favorite place is tough because each place is so unique with its own beauty, but we love Baja, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon.
Van life might not be for everyone, but their journey is enough to make you want to buy a one way ticket to a random spot on the globe. In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to be fluid with your roots was once an impossibility that the internet is now making possible. Perhaps this is a leap we should all consider, at least once in our lives. Just like Tolkien said, not all those who wander are lost.