Once just a small family from Kansas, we’re now just a small family from nowhere in particular. In 2011, we sold our giant house in the suburbs (and all the useless stuff inside) to live a simpler, more deliberate life. Currently, that means traveling around the United States in an Airstream travel trailer, using the national parks as stepping stones for making our way from one part of the country to another. Our long-term goal is to visit all of the national parks, learning as much as we can along the way and using our country’s most beautiful places as our ever-changing backyard.
Okay, but who are you? Why are you doing this?
We are the Works family! Josh, the damn pater familias, was born & raised in a small town on the pastoral plains of southeastern Kansas. Jessa, our glowing matriarch, grew up in sprawling Wichita, the homecoming queen of the state’s largest high school.
We didn’t meet until many years later, after we’d both graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan (the Little Apple) and had both gotten jobs working at the university. Even though Jessa worked as a graphic designer in the same building that Josh did web development, we actually met on Facebook: a synergistic match (design & development) made in geek heaven.
In 2006, we were married and moved into the largest house we could afford: a brand-new, beautiful five-bedroom behemoth in the suburbs. It was wonderful. Jack came along a couple years later and completed our family. At last, we had the house, the jobs, and the family we’d always dreamed of. We were left with only vague aspirations of acquiring additional possessions, taking annual vacations, and tackling a ceaseless stream of home improvement projects. We settled into a loop-de-loop routine of commutes, cooking, cleaning and being couch potatoes.
By 2010, we’d committed to completely change our lives, start over in a sense, and build a new life making deliberate decisions about how we spend our time, how much we own, where we spend our money, how much we work, and what experiences we have. And that process has led us here: Airstream owners, full-time travelers, self-employed freelancers, and full-fledged nature lovers. Over two years in, there’s no lingering doubt: this was the best decision of our lives.
Why are you doing this?
The short, vague answer is that we wanted to tighten the reins on our life, designing one that fits closer to our goals, ideals, and dreams. The longer answer can be found in our Manifesto.
Aren’t you too young to be full-timing?
It’s never too early (or late!) to decide you want to be living differently, or better, or more responsibly. It’s true that most RVers tend to be retirees, but we are also discovering dozens of similarly-minded, young families who are choosing to live in movable houses, rather than traditional bricks & sticks ones.
How can you afford to travel all the time?
The assumption that being a full-time traveler is more expensive than being a full-time homeowner is pervasive, and wrong. Of course every way of life has a continuum of frugality & opulence, but living on the road can easily be cheaper than the alternatives: the house itself often costs less; there’s less space to acquire unnecessary belongings; taxes, insurance, utilities & maintenance are all far cheaper. But what about fuel?, you say? Well, first of all, we don’t drive that much more than we did before. But more importantly, we now have the freedom to drive as little or as much as we can afford. If we need to save on fuel costs, we just travel less.
What the hell is a ‘1337stream’?
1337stream, pronounced “leetstream”, is what we call our Airstream travel trailer, and this website. It’s a bit of a play-on-words, spanning two worlds that have very little overlap: Airstream owners & internet geeks. Let’s break it down:
One of the richest traditions among Airstream owners is caravanning, or taking trips together that can span states, countries & even continents. Since Airstream trailers tend to look alike, early caravanners developed a system of putting numbers on the ends of their trailers as a means to identify each other in convoy, or at campgrounds. The official caravanning club even produces a directory to help you identify someone you might cross paths with on the highway. Early on, these numbers might have only been two or three digits, but now it’s common for them to be 4 or even 5. As an Airstream owner, it’s not required to have or display these numbers (and we don’t even belong to the organization that issues them) but we wanted to honor the tradition with our own choice of numbers.
So why’d we pick 1337, then? Although it looks like four numbers, ‘1337’ is actually a word, written in leetspeak. Leetspeak is an alternative alphabet where numbers and symbols replace traditional letters in words. It’s similar to how you’d write BOOBIES as 8008135 on a calculator in grade school, or “SHIT” as $#!+ with symbols. See how the three makes an E and the dollar sign doubles as an S? So it is that 1337 spells “leet”, short for “elite” and the namesake for the entire concept of leetspeak. Originally popular among computer hackers, choosing “1337” for our numbers pays homage to our inner meekness, our trailer’s supreme excellence, and our hacker’s approach to life.