Leavin' Home for the Open Road: Q + A with Stef and Jerimiah of American Frolic

I'm super excited to share Stef and Jerimiah's camper life story with you today. Stef and Jerimiah blog over at American Frolic.  Stef and I have been chatting over email for a while now and I wanted to ask her all about her decision to purchase and move into a vintage camper indefinitely.

Her story reminds me so much of Matt and I a few years ago. We didn't have a big plan or know exactly how we were going to make it work, but we did! If you take the leap, good things happen.

I asked Stef all about their decision to live mobile in the camper, what the biggest challenges have been as they transition into the camper life, and where they'll end up. I hope you enjoy this Q + A with these rad people!

 

COMET CAMPER: How did you guys decide that you wanted to live in a trailer? What other options did you consider? What motivated you - financial, wanderlust, ecological?

AMERICAN FROLIC: We had both decided we wanted to leave Chicago over a year ago.  We bounced around the idea of moving back to California or maybe to Colorado but knew we would have to put down a double deposit not matter where we went. 

Then we talked about maybe buying a camper to live out of and travel till we found a home wherever we went.  Then that turned into the idea of trying to see the country and find a place we would want to call home, broaden the search to everywhere we could hitch up and travel to. 

 

CC: How did you choose that trailer? Did you look at lots of other ones? Is it in good shape? (Also how much you found it for if you feel comfortable answering that - a lot of people want to know what our budgets are for trailer projects)

AF: We were searching craigslist everyday for about 5 months, and had some leads on campers but hadn't looked at any yet.

We finally found one that caught our eye but when we got there it just wasn't right.  The layout was weird and needed too much work for the price. 

Literally five minutes after leaving that camper we got a call from a gentlemen that we had inquired about a camper months before.  It was only 30 miles from where we were so we drove right over.  As soon as we opened the door and walked around we both knew it was the one.  The man we talked to was selling it for a lady and she wanted $1600 for The Frolic but Jerimiah could tell she wanted to sell it and the amount of work it needed he was able to get her to go down to $1300.  He helped Jerimiah hook the Frolic up to the truck and we drove off with it that day. We were so nervous and excited, that's when this crazy idea became real.  

 

CC: What modifications and renovations do you plan to make on the trailer?

AF: The Frolic came to us in pretty good condition but we knew if it was to be our home we needed to do some work on her. So far we have been able to replace the water damaged wood in the corners, the old insulation was replaced with a much newer updated insulation.

We also took out any water damaged ceiling and walls that were an eye sore and replaced them with new birch paneling. We waterproofed the roof and caulked any holes where moisture or air could get in.  Sanded and painted all the cupboards and drawers.

We were also able to add some more electrical outlets and switches and add some additional lighting. And lastly have reframed out the bed and added some storage compartments. Once Chicago thaws out we have to lay the vinyl hardwood flooring we have bought.

We also need to make new curtains and window screens and recover the cushions for the dinette and make a new dinette table or repair the one we have. It will also be a good idea for us to repack the bearings in the wheels, go through the brakes, make sure our propane is working safely and do a once over on the plumbing.

 

CC: How has the process been so far? What's the most challenging thing you've encountered?

AF: It's all hard but it's worth it, and I will say it now and I will say it a thousand times we couldn't have done this alone.  We have amazing supportive friends who have lent their time and talents to making this come together as fast as it has. We thank everyone of them from the bottom of our hearts. 

 

CC: If you guys have started downsizing, how has that been?

AF: We are basically selling everything we own, this is something we are totally fine with and actually very excited about.  Everything has a dollar sign on it as far as we are concerned and if it doesn't then it gets donated or thrown out.  We will of course keep our photos and some art and some things we hold close to our hearts but stuff is stuff and we can always get more of it.

We have just started to make runs through all we own and eliminate what we don't need.  We have started to take clothes to resale shops and to the Salvation Army.  When the weather gets better we will need to have yard sales and or post stuff on Craigslist. 

The plan for now is every month more and more has to go.  The same with our budget.  No more eating out, next month no more WiFi at the house,etc,etc.  We need to scale back our lives and save every penny we can.  

Whether we make it for a month, a week or 3 years we both know that we put everything we have at it and it will be something we will remember for the rest of our lives.
— Stefanie, American Frolic


CC: What are your long-term plans, a year down the line? Full time travel, slow travel, etc?

AF: The plan for now is to do this as long as we can, and our first destination will come as we get closer to June. Its looking like an East Coast loop for our first real set off but that will be determined as we get closer.

We are hoping to figure out how to work along the way so we can keep money coming in and stay on the road,  If this means we have to stop in a town for a month or two to find work so be it.  We understand this means thinking outside the box.  We are hoping to get our story out there and meet friends along the way that might know of work so we can keep our long term plan in motion.

Whether we make it for a month, a week or 3 years we both know that we put everything we have at it and it will be something we will remember for the rest of our lives.

 Feel free to follow our journey at www.americanfrolic.com or on social media, Instagram @americanfrolic, Twitter @americanfrolic, Tumblr @americanfrolic.