I Live In My Van So I Can See The World on the Cheap


Cruising the California coast. (Photo: Travis Burke)

Two years ago outdoor adventure photographer Travis Burke was already pretty much living full-time on the road traveling from shoot to shoot.

But after several back-to-back three month road trips in a small Toyota Tacoma with a camper unit on the back the 28 year old wanted to find a more long-term solution to his nomadic work life and his wanderlust.

“The Toyota was not very comfortable. I couldn’t even sit up and I would have to work lying on my back with my laptop,” Burke says. “I started thinking that if i wanted to do this more full time i needed to get a vehicle that would be able to handle being on the road longer and where I would be more comfortable.”


Camping in Escalante, Utah. (Photo: Travis Burke)

He took his grandmother’s old Dodge van and converted it into an all-terrain camper.

“It wasn’t really what i was looking for,” he said. “There was blue shag carpet inside and old moldy cabinets. It was like an old school creeper van. People though i looked ridiculous driving it around. It was so far from what I wanted but i knew i could make it work.”

The adventurer sold the Toyota truck for $5,000 and put the money he made into the van, paying for new paint, raising the suspension, adding new wheels and completely renovating the interior—most of which he did himself.

With the truck complete, Burke sold all of his furniture and got rid of his apartment.

To signify a new year and new beginning, he chose his birthday, April 17th, as the day he would set off on this new adventure—a year long journey to circumnavigate the continent.

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Finding winter constellations in Joshua Tree. (Photo: Travis Burke)

The journey has gone on longer than a year. Sixteen months later Burke is still driving the van and documenting his travels and adventures through his breathtaking photographs.

“Society leans towards traveling or adventures being overseas and that they have to go to Europe or Australia to see something incredible or to have an epic adventure vacation,” Burke says. “My whole trip is really to show people in the U.S. that you can pack up you car and drive for a few hours and find something beautiful and incredible.”

Related: 10 Tourist Free Travel Destinations


When you live in a van, home is where you park. (Photo: Travis Burke)

When he began, Burke had a rough idea of the route he wanted to take, working clockwise around the continent from Southern California and then heading up the Western coastline towards British Colombia.

“As far as the day to day plans, I wanted to keep everything very flexible. I didn’t know what weather was going to come through, or if I was going to meet new people who could tell me about secret, cool spots,“ he said.

But despite all the incredible places he traveled through, Burke found himself getting lonely on the road.

Related: We Live in a School Bus to Travel All the Time


Riding the Wave in Arizona. (Photo: Travis Burke)

"At least nine months of the trip I was solo. For the most part I have done this road trip alone and that can be extremely hard,” he said. "A lot of my friends are now getting married and having kids so I am missing out on a lot of things that I thought I would be around for.”

When he hit the one year milestone he thought about stopping, but new opportunities kept popping up and a new relationship blossomed. Now his girlfriend is traveling with him full time and he is much less lonely.

He has a good philosophy about how much longer this will go one.

“I will keep going until I get sick of it.“


Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada. (Photo: Travis Burke)

Keep up with Burke, his travels and his amazing pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

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Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad.