Think that it’s just retirees who hit the road in their campers? Millennials, like Alex Kimball and Lillian Chiou, are doing it, too.
The couple started working remotely when the pandemic forced a shift in their schedules. Without an office holding them in place, the duo decided to work and live on the road full-time: Alex as an e-commerce business owner and Lillian as the chief of staff at an AI company.
As Alex explained, “I started off by taking a sabbatical from my job at Amazon in 2020. After Covid hit, I was told I could work from anywhere and had this ‘aha’ moment. I haven’t had a permanent address since!”
For Lillian, it was the ability to work remotely that ultimately opened up the possibility to live a “work from the road” lifestyle. “Previously, I have been working full-time in the office, and right when Friday afternoon hit, I would drive six to seven hours each way to spend the weekend in the mountains with my dog. So once Covid hit and everyone went remote, I broke my apartment lease and hit the road with Luna in my converted Honda CRV. We traveled alone for over half a year before meeting Alex on the road!”
Choosing the Cirrus Truck Camper
As for their current choice of transport, it’s a Cirrus 2021. “I found one of the last remaining new Cirrus 2021 campers for sale in Delaware and flew from Australia to Harrisburg, PA to pick up an F-350 and the camper a week later,” Alex said.
Why a truck camper? He listed the reasons: “Truck campers can park anywhere, and the truck can be swapped out if you have mechanical issues. Also, the camper can be removed and act as a ‘tiny’ home, allowing you to use the truck without all the weight!”
Adjusting to Life on the Road
The new lifestyle did require some adjustment. Alex is still getting used to working without a proper desk setup — “I do miss my big monitor and stand-up desk sometimes!” — while Lillian had to increase her personal mobile hotspot bandwidth to accommodate her work needs.
When it comes to living on wheels, so to speak, the couple’s natural tendency to follow their own path made this lifestyle a perfect fit.
As Lillian explained, “Alex and I are both independently unconventional, and our natural tendency is to go against the grain of what ‘society’ deems is the norm. We’ve both lived in huge cities — Alex in Seattle and Sydney, and me in New York City and San Francisco — and have experienced working corporate jobs and the never-ending rat race culture that comes from it. While there is beauty and admiration that comes from the ‘hustle’ of working towards promotions and more money, it’s so easy to be trained to think that that is the only way to live: like a donkey following the carrot at the end of the stick.”
Meeting new friends along the way
Another positive that comes with a mobile lifestyle is the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, she added.
“We’ve met a gold-panner with a converted army truck who lives on an island off the Alaskan coast, a cowboy born and raised in Wyoming and still living in the same house 70 years later, ex-surfers turned RV-park owners who live in their Sandpiper with their 15-year-old daughter (who loves the lifestyle), and a cruise ship light maintenance worker who’s still seeking out the road life even though he’s starting his career over after Covid destroyed his industry.”
Alex added, “Traveling to remote places and meeting like-minded people is one of my favorite parts of our lifestyle. Whether we are stranded with mechanical issues or camped out somewhere far from civilization, everyone has a unique story to share. Not to mention, I love touring everyone’s setups!”
The Cirrus also enables the couple to easily access even difficult locations, including one unnamed spot that Lillian’s CRV couldn’t handle before.
“I heard about the place on a previous road trip I had taken before I met Alex, but couldn’t visit it because my SUV couldn’t make it through the deep sand. But when Alex and I went back to it, the Cirrus made what seemed impossible very possible! We arrived safely before sunset and walked around with the golden glow illuminating all the formations around us. Seeing Luna, our dog, and Alex walking side by side exploring together, and just the peace and pure out-of-the-worldness of it all — it’s a place I’ll never forget!”
Traveling with a Furry Companion
Speaking of Luna, (short for Lunatic, noted Lillian), she’s an Australian cattle dog/shepherd mix that Lillian had rescued in 2016 during a weekend trip to Baja.
“She was sent down to Mexico by her previous owner after her cute baby phase was over and started teething and biting things, to be a guard dog for his property. She was left alone and tied up on a heavy metal chain 24/7 in a backyard without shelter and ate out of a giant tub of food and drank out of a muddy bucket of water that local workers would fill up once a week.”
After hearing her cries and yelps and learning about how she was living, Lillian arranged to become Luna’s new owner and bring her back to the States.
“She’s now my soul and heart dog, and I can’t imagine my life without her. She’s since been on countless adventures with me, and she and I are both so lucky to have found Alex, the best dad ever!”
“When I met Lillian, I accepted that I would always be second to Luna,” Alex added in jest. “She’s Lillian’s spirit animal and life companion — she’s truly a special dog. I couldn’t be more fortunate to have met them both and welcome them to the Cirrus family!”
Choosing New Adventures
The couple’s itineraries are more hobby-driven than destination-driven, influenced to a large extent by weather and conditions.
“We individually have goals to achieve and destinations to experience, so we constantly brainstorm and very loosely ‘lock in’ places to head towards in the coming months. Zooming in to weeks, we typically plan things out day by day. If there is a big snowstorm forecasted, we’ll start heading in that direction and start looking for campsites/spots to sleep for the night along the way. We are avid users of Google Maps, iOverlander, and freecampites.net! Ultimately, we are both open-minded and flexible people, which makes it very easy and seamless to live this kind of lifestyle!”
But they do have favorite locations.
For Lillian, it’s southern Utah, an area that has always been a special place for her—both for the landscape and for the memories.
“Luna and I fell in love with it when we visited two years ago. After Alex and I met on the road, we caravanned together (me and Luna in my CRV, and him in the Cirrus) for a month. We ended up taking Alex back to many of the same places we visited in southern Utah, and it was so fun to fall in love with the places again, and also with Alex at the same time.”
For Alex, it’s Baja, in part because it reminds him of Australia.
“After returning from Australia, the one thing I felt I was missing was remote and empty coasts begging to be explored. I pretty much accepted that there was no such place left like that in or near the U.S. until Lillian brought me to Baja last August. Driving down Highway 1 from Northern Baja to Todos Santos was an absolute dream.”
Looking Toward the Future
The dream has become more of a reality for the newly engaged couple since they are purchasing a plot of land on the Baja coast. “We fell in love with the low-key nature of the many fishing villages along the coast and can’t wait to make it a big part of our life in the future,” said Alex.
After checking in on their property, the couple will be heading back up along the west coast, with the possibility of spending a month or two in Alaska. And of course, there will be visits with their extended family: Lillian’s in Southern California and Alex’s in Chicago.
As much as they enjoy the scenery they view and locations they visit, it’s the stories they hear from others they meet along the way that has had the greatest impact on them.
“Through every conversation over a campfire or at breakfast by a river, their stories only raise the ceiling of what we think is possible to experience in this lifetime,” said Lillian, “especially as we talk about having kids in the future and the kind of experiences we want them to be able to talk about when they’re our age.”