Searching for the Perfect Wanderlust Vehicle

When I saw the current cover of ReadyMade magazine, it got me thinking about road trips. Artist/Surfer/Mechanic Jay Nelson from San Franscico outfitted his little 1991 Honda Civic for some serious adventures. Upon some reflection, I realized that I not only love the idea of hitting the road, but also adore the process of living in little, temporary nests along the way. And, of course, it’s all about being outdoors!
But what is the best set-up to see the country? 
As much as I would like something compact, stylish and eco-friendly as this little pod-car, also designed by artist Nelson, you have to consider your needs. For us, who will be back to “couple” mode this time next year (youngest off to college), we need space for two adults and a really great dog.
My husband would be happy just to pitch a tent everywhere,
 but I’m ready for a little luxury when I travel, such as a cushioned sleeping surface.
 One strong option is a little camper that you pull with your car or truck.

Like a lot of travelers, I’ve been smitten with the idea of buying and restoring a vintage one, like this sweet little vintage Scamp, owned by Lily Stockman, an artist, blogger and peripatetic soul
 living most recently in Joshua Tree, California, and now in India.

She chronicled the restoration and year-long trip across the U.S. in her blog, BigBangStudio.

OK, this is way…




As you can see, with her descriptive prose and dreamy photos,
 I think she made it all look a bit too effortless and romantic.

  Maybe I’m smitten with the idea of buying one that’s already been restored…

Even without the restoration hassle, how do you choose the right one?  The options are endless, including Holiday, Shasta, Aljoa, Scotsman, Aloha, Fireball and even those silver bullets, Airstreams. Each one has its unique combo of what you want and what you don’t want.

The tiniest are these sweet Tear Drops, which save gas and you don’t need a huge car to pull–but what’s the point of dragging that around if it’s so dinky? Where do you put the bed? (photo via

 There’s actually a herd of women driving around the country now pulling vintage trailers and camping, fishing, hiking, and having a ball. The most popular group is called Sisters on the Fly. They seem like a super friendly bunch, but also heavy on the cowboy themes for my taste. Photos via
One of my favorites–and every else’s it seems–is the VW van. Way back in the early ’80s, a friend and I bought a ’72 VW van for $200 and drove it around Mexico. There was nothing fancy about it, but just bouncing around with that elevated perspective, all those windows, and the buzzy engine, was so fun. If you’ve never bombed around in a VW van, one option would be to rent one for a road trip.
 If you are anywhere near the LA area, a super friendly couple rents all types of VWs–from Westfalias to  The Thing–at Vintage Surfari Wagons. They even rent all types of camping gear.

As much as I adore them, I’m just afraid I’m not up for all the noise and bouncing anymore, especially for longer trips. That’s really sad to admit, especially looking at this photo from Vintage Safari Wagons.
 Am I doomed to a Winnebago?

Well, I did find one modern style that I really like on the TinyHouseBlog. It’s called the T@B, or just TB, and has all the conveniences of a larger trailers, heating, fan, sink, frig, stove, storage, etc., but is light enough to be pulled by a smaller car.
 It only looks vintage, and I think the prices are competitive.  

Another option is a small pickup truck with a trailer that you can take on and off of it. A lot of places you want to explore when you arrive and don’t always want to drag the camper along with you. But I have not even begun to explore trucks. They just aren’t as fun to think about as vintage trailers!

The reality is that it probably will be a long time before we come close to the decision, and a purchase, but like most road trips, a lot of the fun is in the planning–and dreaming!
 (I’m trying to convince my husband to go with me to the Vintage Travel Trailer Show the weekend of Feb. 25/26 in Palm Springs, during their big Modernism Week. Will post follow-up if we go!)

In the meantime, Happy Trailers to You!

One thought on “Searching for the Perfect Wanderlust Vehicle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *