We’ve all been there before. We scroll through our Instagram feed while we’re stuck at our dreary desk job until 5 p.m. We pass by the typical slew of food photos, selfies, and dogs but revel in our favorite travel accounts. Luno recently connected with Jessica Lefroy of @heretodayvanagontomorrow, one of our favorite accounts, to learn more about what it’s like to live the travel blogger dream. Jessica travels with her sweet family; her husband, Robbie and their 6-year-old daughter, Henley. Together, the Lefroy’s have taken on Eastern Europe in a Volkswagen van and continue to make the most of every weekend near their home base in Canada. They were kind enough to offer a peek into their life as car campers on the road.
Why do you travel in your van?
We travel in our van because it pares life down to the essentials so all we are left with is our family and the time we get to spend together.
What advice would you give to someone who has never camped out of a vehicle before but would like to start?
You need less than you think to be happy and comfortable.
Do you have an item or product that you like to bring even though it isn’t necessary?
The is no place for physical or emotional clutter! I am fanatical about no dead weight in the van—absolutely everything in the van is used and has a purpose. It's one of the things I learned early on when we were living and traveling in the van full-time.
Actually, I've just remembered that I have a juice-squeezer thing that we bought at a dollar store in Spain that is collecting a bit of dust...we used to buy bags of oranges from the side of the road and make fresh orange juice. We don't use it that much anymore but I am emotionally attached to it.
A caption on one of your recent Instagram posts mentions the eternal struggle to choose from your beloved car camping meal repertoire. If you HAD to pick ONE car camping meal to live off for the rest of your travels, what would it be?
I am going to say spaghetti carbonara because it is a classic, simple camping dish that our parents made us when we camped as kids and it has carried on as a family favorite.
What’s a simple camp meal you like to make when you’re in a pinch?
In life it would seem that I am never without a can of chickpeas, so if we are pinched for time I usually whip up a chickpea curry of some sort. Our camp kitchen is always stocked with key spices and dry goods, so it is a simple and quick meal we all love. With garlic and chickpeas everything is possible. I make every meal in our cast-iron dutch oven, so any kind of one-pot stew or curry is my go-to.
How do you pick your travel destinations for a weekend trip?
If we’re just going out for the weekend we have favorite spots that are a few hours up into the mountains. But we'll never tell you where they are! If we have the time for a road trip we like to head south into Washington or Oregon state, or even hop on the ferry and go to the Sunshine Coast or Vancouver Island.
What do you most look forward to when you set out for a weekend road trip?Just the time that we get to spend together with no distractions and nothing to do. We love hanging out together and spending time with Henley when she is this little—we know she won't want to hang out with us forever! There is something about our routine of setting up camp and playing games and going exploring that always feels fresh, no matter how many times we do it. Getting out with each other in the van always allows me to take a few deep breaths, be present and appreciate the little things.
How do you plan for your weekend trips? Are there any preparations that must be done for a successful adventure?
We keep the van loaded and ready to go at a moment's notice, so there isn't much planning to be done. If we have the time, we hop in the van and set off to one of our favorite spots. A little organizing every season ensures we have everything we'd ever need when it comes to extra clothes and outerwear. We also keep our van kitchen stocked with spices and dry goods, so pretty much all we need to add are the fresh fruit, veggies and beverages that we'd like for the trip. The Westfalia has a surprising amount of storage space and there is room for everything we need.
Do you have a travel mantra that you live by?
Lately our travel mantra seems to be the Indiana Jones theme song.
Which season is your favorite for traveling?
I love a good rainy camp. We find ourselves camping most often in the fall and winter. We have always been attracted to the 'off seasons' for traveling and camping. Off season means no crowds when we are traveling; and when we are camping it means we can have fires, our beer stays extra cold, and almost the guarantee that we won't see any other people out there.
Does Henley have a favorite destination out of all the places you have traveled?
Henley: “France. Because I love the food and it's really pretty. And there's lots of landmarks and castles that I like. I loved the Eiffel Tower because it was really pretty when at night it would glow up. I loved baguettes in France, but my favorite treat was the rolled up cinnamon buns in Slovenia and the gelato in Italy. I love traveling the van because we get to see new places with my parents. I love camping in it. It's amazing.”
What is your most frequently played game while camping?
We love having dance parties and playing 'Ninja' on driftwood if we are on the coast, which is basically pretending the ground is lava but incorporating martial arts (which we know nothing of) into our movements. We also love Uno, but our absolute go-tos are 'what's in the box' and 'would you rather'. Robbie and I play a lot of cribbage and Robbie will always tell the story of when he double skunked me but I can assure you it only happened once.
What is your most frequently played game while driving?
I really dislike 'Eye Spy' for reasons I can't pinpoint, so we try to be creative and invent games we all like to play. 'Guess the Dinosaur' is very popular, but mostly we sing, make up jokes, and sometimes create fake newscasts that focus on entirely fictional current events, weather, and traffic reports. Sometimes though, we all happily daydream in silence.
Which wins in a battle between s’mores and sunsets?
Why choose? S'mores at sunset.
Coffee or ice cream?
I think a bag of Old Dutch regular ripple chips would win over both. Maybe. Coffee. No, ice cream. I am questioning everything I know about life.
Beach or lake?
Nothing beats falling asleep to the sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean air, and there is no better camping activity than beach-combing. Our dash is covered in beach treasures and our van is covered with rust...constant reminders of our adventures on the coast.
. . .
The Lefroy’s are truly living the travel family dream. Their tricked out van and international car camping escapades have us leaping out from behind our desks in hopes that their sense of exploration may be contagious. We can’t wait for the day we can chase sunsets on the road. But for now, we’re just happy that it’s finally 5 o’clock.
Photography from https://heretodayvanagontomorrow.com/our-family/