Hashtag Community

instagramWhat the heck is a hash tag, and why should I use them? We get this question all the time and usually answer it by saying the # is a way of “filing” your photo into a world-wide folder with photos that also have that same hashtag. The purpose is to link up people who have similar interests. So for instance, say you were into tea, you could start an instagram and use it as a way to document different tea shops you’d visit, teas and big hats via photo and then when you post those photos, you’d hashtag something like #teaaddiction. When you had a moment, you’d click on #teaaddiction and find all sorts of kinfolk who love tea. You could look through their photos and maybe even click on their profile, eventually making friends, finding solace in your tea fanaticism.

For us, social media outlets that use hashtags, specially Instagram have allowed us the privilege of meeting so many wonderful traveling kinfolk along our way. Just hashtag #busconversion,  #familyontheroad, #ditchingsuburbia, or #homeiswhereyouparkit and boom, they are all there; nomadic kinfolk, wanderlust rangers and road-school families. These tools provide opportunities to make an initial contact, where we can develop a slow adoration for those we follow, bonding over shared experiences and eventually leading to a #meetup. That’s when the real fun starts for us! Those moments of serendipity when we find ourselves in the same neck of the woods as fellow travelers, reaching out, setting a meeting time and place and making that first face to face connection, is sheer excitement and delight.

IMG_2192We’ve met up in MI with fellow bus owners, Herd of Turtles (The Shanks Family riding in an Eagle) and Scott and Heather Bennet (MCI owners), sharing a meal, stories of our bus conversions, and music by the campfire. Also, fellow bus owners Technomadia, who we met up with in California. When we pulled into the state park, they heard our 2stroke engine and came a running. We spent that evening sharing bus stories and tricks of the trade.

Our nomadic community isn’t just limited to bus owners, as we’ve met up with “The Van With No Plan” brothers, Josh and Matt in Phoenix AZ, where we learned about their adventures in multiple vehicles and drive to bring joy wherever they go. We met up with “meredithmarieyo” in Austin TX and learned the Texas Two Step. Also, in Austin we met up with world troubadour, Andrew Jones, from Jonesberries, one of our greatest inspirations and in our opinion, the original traveling family. And, then there was that quick but fruitful breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Lafayette, LA with One Year Road Trip (The Webb Family). We can’t forget The Wayfaring Family in Lexington, KY hosting us for a few nights, sharing stories of their one year of world travel, and adjusting back to home life. Then there was our recent link up with 5th wheelers, Wandering Jess (The Marshall Family) in Pensacola FL and The Boyink family (aka Ditching Suburbia) at Silverspring State Park, Florida. Both of which shared stories of faith, motivation for full-time travel and raising teenagers on the road.

They all have their own beautiful stories of how they transitioned from life on the ground to life on the road. They all make their way doing different sorts of jobs, some work remote corporate jobs, some IT jobs, some bloggers, some pick up odd jobs, some do photography and some are film makers. Some have children and those who do have all sorts of ways they home school, from online resources to unschool. Some have pets, some have spouse and some have both.  They all travel in an array of vehicles from 5th wheels, classic airstreams, campers, buses, vans, to cars & bicycles. Some have converted their vehicles and some have bought them off of the lot. Some folks, downsize all the way, some still have homes, etc… Some have an abundance of resources and some live day to day. One thing they all have in common however, is their commitment to swimming upstream, seeking freedom, asking tough questions about societal norms and pushing against the status quo.

IMG_0155Everyday a new traveler, family or couple ends up in our different hashtag folders and when they do we reach out welcoming them to this community of drifters and wanderers. We’re always keeping an eye on the whereabouts of our fellow travelers, hoping that the wind might blow us together sooner than later. These moments of connectivity with our nomadic community are inspiring and reassure us that we’re not odd or alone, we are part of a bigger picture, in it together. #neverstopexploring #community

You can find us on Instagram at The Hollands and on Twitter at The_Hollands


Family Adventure Podcast

Erik from Family Adventure Podcast interviewed us recently. Have a listen, be inspired & please comment/share.

49 – Family Travel + Music!


Music & Travel!

How about this? A family traveling for years, playing music as a band, and enjoying and savoring every experience that crosses their path? Sounds epic? The Hollands manage their life and business on the road and share their experiences with us!

From Homeschooling, building a bus, to their creative look on finances, these folks are the real deal, and have fun following their dream and passions!

Show Notes:

http://tillersandtravelers.org -Personal Blog with Family updates.

thehollands.org -Music Site. Listen to Music. Find out where they’re at, if at all possible, you need to see them LIVE!

Twitter is used for health, food science, homeschool and social justice issues.

Facebook is used for music updates!

Like Family Adventure?  Help with a Rating & Review!

Your help gets the show in front of a larger audience, which helps tremendously to produce more shows! Click on one of those babies floating on the side of this page or the bottom and share with other adventurous families!

Also please leave a rating or review on iTunes! It just takes a second and you can help the show increase its rankings on iTunes just by this simple and quick gesture. If you do, click here to let Erik know so he can personally thank you!

Thank you so much for the love!

NYC on a Shoe String

IMG_0772For Graciana’s 18th birthday we wanted to do something really special. Graciana had been talking about New York City for the past two years and we were ready to make her dream come true. We saved a few dollars to buy two airplane tickets and with our sky miles, we booked a four star hotel on Manhattan Island in New York City.

On Thursday, Nov 13 we celebrated her birthday with a few friends in Austin, where we surprised her with a card that read, “Pack your bags, you’re leaving for NYC at 8am tomorrow morning.” She was over the moon!

Day 1: We arrived the next afternoon into La Guardia, bought a $30 unlimited train pass and hoped on the Q70, transferred to the blue line and got off on 51st st and Lexington. We walk a few blocks south to The Lexington Hotel where my mother (Graciana’s nana) surprised us in our room.

Our first night in NYC was like a sugar high. Talk about sensory overload, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We met an old friend, John Silvis, in SOHO. John is an artist, investor, art curator and gallery owner. He’s lived in Brooklyn for about 20 years. He met us at the subway and took us on a little walking tour around SOHO.

IMG_0769We made our way to an art opening that showcased a new, hot, South African artist named, Serge Alain Nitegeka. It was a small room and as soon as we walked in all eyes turned our way. John introduced us to those standing close to the door and began to make his way deeper into the room. I turned to the right where there was a man leaning against the wall and I began a conversation with him that lasted throughout our time there. His name was Steve and most of my questions about his life were deflected with funny anecdotes and one liners. He asked me questions in kind and I shared freely about who I was and why I was there. At one point in our conversation, a Brooklyn based artist, named Sol Sax, joined our conversation and while I was asking him about his art form, a short, bi-racial man with an afro and 70’s style ski jacket came over and sort of mumbled something to me, when I looked over he mumbled again and then abruptly walked away. My attention turned back to our group as Steve was telling Sol about how our family travels and plays music. With delight, he called us the modern-day Van Traps. That was all the prompt my mother needed and she enthusiastically suggested we share one of our songs right then and there. Steve and Sol concurred and so, we sang an acapella piece just under the noise of the room as to not over power. Our listeners were touched and later John mentioned that he heard the music from across the room but totally though it was a CD playing in the background.

We left the first gallery and walked deeper into the heart of SOHO, eventually finding our way to a second gallery where John was excited to introduce us to one of his artists, Robin Kang. The room was wall to wall with people and my mom and Graciana were very hungry, so we told John that we could only stay a minute. I went into the gallery to meet Robin and enjoyed her amazing tapestry work. While we were squeezing through the sea of people I bumped into that same man who sort of mumbled to me at the first gallery, the man with the 70’s ski jacket. I almost knocked him over actually, and startled him in my attempt to catch his fall. I realized who he was and tried to make note of seeing him earlier but he was skittish and moved deeper into the crowd. It was a strange but notable interaction only because we were in New York City with millions of other people. I mean what are the odds of us bumping into another human being twice.

We finished the evening at a lovely Italian restaurant called Galli. It was pricey but it was late and we were famished after a day of travel. Between the three of us we shared an entrée, main dish and salad, plus two glasses of wine for a total of $75. We finished around midnight and rode the subway back to the hotel. Our heads hit the pillow, belly’s full, feet throbbing from a long day of walking, and our minds whirling with excitement for the day to come.

IMG_0794Day 2: The next morning started with a stop at Angela’s grocery, across the street from our hotel for a $7 green smoothy. Then we walked to Grand Central Station and enjoyed the beautiful architecture, eventually making our way down towards Wall street to a discount fashion store called  Century 21 (C21). Graciana found a few treasures and then we grabbed a light lunch  at a little deli called Pret. We all shared a sandwich, three cups of soup, chips and three drinks for $26. The coolest thing about the restaurant was that a portion of the proceeds go to feeding the homeless.

After lunch, we made our way down to see the 9/11 memorial and New World Trade Center. On our way the mood was light and expectant, but as soon as we came up out of the station at the Trade Center there was a cloud of grey that swept over us. It was sobering walking around the area, slowly making our way around the large city block, stopping at the monuments and seeing all the new things that are being built.  Graciana was five years old when the twin towers were struck and my mom shared with Graciana the story and impact that the event had on her.

While we were walking back to the train, we stopped by to see a group of street performers. There were about 6 young men, dancing and putting on a great show.  During the performance, a finely dressed man from India was called out of the audience to participate. It was a comical skit and he was a good sport. We threw $5 into their kitty and kept on our way.

IMG_0816We went back up to SOHO for dinner at an Americana restaurant called Freemans, which Graciana had heard about through her fashion blogging friends and was keen to try. It was a sweet little hole in the wall and beckoned us with twinkle lights. We arrived about 5:15pm for an early dinner and happened to walk through the doors to get our name in before the rush. We waited about an hour at the bar and met a cool group of folks who were there for the weekend to shoot a commercial. Our conversation flowed smoothly, as if we were old friends. We found commonality in growing up in Michigan and found that our current stop of Austin was home to one of our new friends. We were sat in a cozy corner and ordered the Cod special, the Fillet Minion and the Mac-n-Cheese. Our dinner was delicious. All up our bill was $120.

After dinner we walked down Broadway so Graciana could shop at all of her favorite stores, getting ideas for her blog, DutchyGazelle. While she was shopping, my mom and I took a seat at The Crosby Street Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel just off of the main drag. We ordered hot ginger tea for $7 each, relaxing and talking about how much we had already seen and experienced in our first twenty-four hours. We made note of all of the unexpectedly friendly conversations we had on the subway, in the little shops and at restaurants.

At about 11pm, we rode the train to Times Square. When we came up out of the subway station we were blown away by the absolute ridiculousness of all of the big screen TV’s, lights and larger than life advertisements. A few steps into Times Square and we met a man named David, who was trying to sell us tickets to a comedy show. We stopped to chat with him and found out that he used to work on the SS Badger (the car ferry that crosses from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI) with my brother and sister-in-law!! Really people it’s such a small world. Anyway, we didn’t make it to the comedy show but rather made our way back to our hotel. While we were walking on 49th and Lexington, I spotted the Indian man from earlier in the day walking towards us. I was so surprised that I stopped him with delight claiming (probably in a high voice) that I had seen him earlier that day and how fantastic the odds were that one could see someone twice in one day, especially in two different parts of this great big city. He smiled, concurred, wished me well and carried on.

IMG_0789Day 3: We arose later than expected, my mom and I feeling a bit weary from all of the walking, and decided to enjoy a more leisurely day. We started at Angela’s  with our $7 smoothy and rode the train to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked around for a bit, taking in all of the old world architecture of the city municipal buildings and then began to walk our way across the bridge. It was a cold, blustery day but worth ever minute. The bridge itself was breathtaking and the views of all the different sides of the city were fantastic. We walked to Walters, a quaint little restaurant that our friend, Matt Nakoa had suggested. We met Matt in Austin at a Folk Alliance event and found out he lived in Brooklyn. unfortunately, he was in Upstate New York but we met his friend, Michelle, enjoyed a lovely meal and when we finished found that Matt had already taken care of our tab. Gotta love a free meal in NYC, specially from a friend.

After our long, enjoyable lunch we began to make our way back across the bridge to Battery Park and to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. The sun was going down and the chill was a bit much so snapped a few photos and we rode the train a few stops north to Little Italy. We stopped for a coffee and pastry at the infamous, Ferrara Bakery and Pastry Shoppe. It was delicious and worth the $8 each for the taster plate that included three amazing pastries. We strolled around Little Italy for a bit and then made our way back across the Brooklyn Bridge for one final meal with our friend John. He took us to Sea Thai. The restaurant had a cool laid back vibe with a DJ in the booth spinning, techno and low lighting. We ordered family style, getting a sushi roll, a curry dish and noodle dish to share. All up it was about $80 for four people, our cheapest dinner thus far. After dinner we rode with John in his car to his work studio and learned more about his art and gallery world. He dropped us back at the subway and we went straight home to the hotel, exhausted from a wonderful day of walking.

IMG_0872Day 4: On our last morning in NYC it was raining like cats and dogs. It was cold and windy but we found $5 umbrella’s available to us right outside the hotel doors. We packed our bags, checked out of our hotel, grabbed our traditional $7 smoothy and made our way to the upper east side of Manhattan Island.  We took a quick stroll from the subway through Park Ave to Central park and then to the Metropolitan Art Museum. The MET asks for a suggested donation of $25 per person, but we were down to our last dollars so we donated $30 total for our two-hour visit. It was a bit overwhelming but our favorite exhibit was the instrument exhibit, showcasing primitive to modern instruments from all over the world, including a number of original Martin guitars. Graciana spent most of her time at a fashion exhibit called Death Becomes Her; Century of Mourning Attire; curated by Anna Wintour.

IMG_0878By the time, we finished there and grabbed a quick bite to eat at a little cafe, it was time to catch our plane. The trip back was relatively uneventful except for the fact that we got delayed in Houston and had to stay an extra night there. Needless to say, we all were a bit underwhelmed by the flat, desolate landscape that surrounded the Houston airport and longed to be back in the rhythm of that beautiful Big Apple. We spent $250 per plane ticket, the hotel cost us 8 years of saving, 110,000 miles for the four nights at the Lexington, and we spent $175 each for food/drinks, $30 each for our unlimited train pass, $30 for our pass to the MET and Graciana spent about $100 on little treasures she found along her way. All up, our budget for the long weekend was approx $1060 or $530 a person. Truly a once in a life time for us nomadic travelers.

Our songbird fell in love with NYC and when the time is right, I don’t doubt she’ll be back!

Dutchy Gazelle

Bus Conversion; Sneak Peak

The Hollands! BusToday marks our Three Year Anniversary!

In August 2011, we gave away all of our possession and bought a 1984 MCI-9 Motorcoach (bus). Over the course of two months we would begin the conversion process with the help of many friends, neighbors and family. We departed Green Bay, WI in our bus on Oct 13, 2011, with the exterior walls, couch, dinette and master bed in tact. The rest of the bus was a container. We set off for our first stop in Sister, OR where another handful of friends and family helped us build out the kitchen cabinets, framing bedrooms and installing the electrical system. We left Oregon and as we traveled we built out what we could, when we had the resources and time. Over the course of the next three years we installed the plumbing system and finished off the bathroom complete with a shower and hot water. We have traveled over 60,000 miles, through 36 states. We are peace pilgrims, folk revivalists, and merrymakers. And, this is our home today.

PS. Video was filmed on an I-Phone 4 and we realize the quality isn’t ideal but hopefully you get a good glimpse for now. Also, here is the first design floor plan drawn by our friend, Marc Brummel. We adapted it as we built, moving the shower, sink and toilet but the basic design is the same.

Bus Conversion Floor Plan