Whether you spend life on the road for pleasure or work, it’s nice to have the comforts of home as you travel the highways and byways. TRAILBLAZER checks in with folks who spend a fair amount of time on the road to see just what makes their home away from home.
This month, we chatted with Australia’s “Swept Away by Wanderlust” travel journal creators, Axel & Ash.
Axel & Ash (www.axelandash.com) is a design duo from Bondi Beach, Australia, who create funky, stylish products full of inspiration for travelers. The venture started in 2012 when the two (Hanna Axelsson Sahlen and Ashleigh Powell) wanderlusting souls shared their bucket lists and realized they both had a dream to start a creative business. Sharing a common passion for the art of journaling, they decided to start designing chic, inspiring journals filled with quirky writing prompts for everyone who wanted to capture their days, thoughts, and memories in style.
Their first travel journal was “Swept Away by Wanderlust” and it’s filled with quirky questions, writing and wandering prompts, “To Do” lists, and more. There’s also “My Bucketlist,” which is also packed with travel tips and motivation, as well as “Let’s See It All,” a large interactive map that’s meant to be hung.
We caught up with Axel & Ash by email to talk to them about their unique road trip across the United States.
Tell us about your bucket list trip in the United States.
Just as we both had “Start a Business” on our bucket lists (first thing we ticked off together and how our business started) we also had shared “Road trip across the United States” on our bucket list—so we always dreamed about doing it together!
After getting lots of interest from our followers and some of our favorite stores in the U.S requesting to stock our journals, it sparked the thought in us to go. We thought to ourselves, we don’t have anything holding us back, we can work anywhere in the world, so let’s find a way and do it! At that same moment we thought what better way to do it than to go on a big adventure and tick off our bucket list item of road tripping across the U.S whilst launching our books in the U.S at the same time!
Whilst most businesses would go to the traditional avenues of finding a salesperson, setting up meetings etc., we always believed in just hitting the ground running and doing things the way they were done back in the day—meet people face to face. We love the personal interaction and actually getting to know all our clients and their stories—and we are all about living life to the fullest and making sure you love your job, because then you never have to work a day in your life! And what better job than travelling the road with one of your best friends to visit & find all the coolest stores around the U.S.
Thinking about it we have to pinch ourselves. It’s been such an awesome journey. Since we self-published, we had to learn all the ropes about the book world and know we are stocked in countries and reaching people which we only dreamed!
You rented an RV for part of it, right? Tell us about the RV.
Yeah, we did…and it was so much fun. We named her Tasty! We both absolutely love road trips and we always wanted to rent a van or RV where we could sleep and have the opportunity to be really nimble. We wanted the freedom to be able to go from place to place at our own leisure, stop when we want, drive when we want, and go any direction we desired. We chose an RV as it’s like being a turtle with your home on your back! And what a home it was—it really had everything we ever needed. When we looked up Imoova (a relocating site for RVs) and found one that was going in our direction, it couldn’t have worked out any more perfect for us. We loved being able to cook, shower, sleep, all whilst driving! In an instant, the stress of finding hotels and checking in an out was gone…only the open road ahead. We got so smitten that we even considered getting rid of our places in Sydney and just go live in an RV for a year.
What was your favorite thing about travelling in your RV versus staying in a hotel?
The beautiful feeling of being free as bird. You’re able to drive wherever you desire, whenever you want, and for however long you like. Being able to watch a sunset, stop in a natural spring, film and take pictures of the incredible scenery and just sit on the roof and watch the stars was incredible. It’s just such an extraordinary way to see any country, you discover places and things you never would if you hadn’t driven. When you’re going from hotel to hotel, you really miss those off beaten tracks. The places where locals tell you to visit and the beautiful landscape. Also, you gain so much more time when you’re not always checking in and out.
What were a few favorite things onboard?
That we had a shower, toilet, fridge, and stove & oven… and of course the two double beds! Then there was the button that extended the RV out and made our living room bigger! That was our best party trick! And we absolutely love how it runs under “limousine rules,” meaning you are allowed to be anywhere in the RV whilst driving. Being able to cook, go to the fridge for a snack whilst your driving was awesome and not need to stop for toilet breaks (nor showers) saved us so much time! And another favorite—our rooftop patio! We loved having a ladder to the roof where we could just take a break, sit and play the guitar, dance silly in the countryside and lay and watch the stars at night.
What were a few favorite destinations and why?
We absolutely loved California, so much that we overstayed every place we visited. From San Fran all the way to San Diego. The best places and spots we explored were:
*Napa Valley—Must do. Even if you aren’t a winey, all the towns are so cute and to explore all the vineyards is really beautiful.
*San Francisco—Head up to Twin Peaks, which is close by, and you will see the most breathtaking view up high of San Francisco, the best time is sunset.
*Big Sur (Highway 1)—Driving down to LA from San Francisco, Highway 1 is the must-do way. One of the most amazing drives in the world, it runs along the Pacific coastline. The views are panoramic and mesmerizing. We pulled over about 100 times just to capture all the views and have time to take it in. On the way you have to stop and dine and watch the sunset at [Big Sur’s] Nepenthe Restaurant—one of the most beautiful restaurant views in the world!
*Roller blading down the boardwalk of Venice Beach—Feeling free as a bird in our summer gear, it was so much fun to roller blade down the beautiful long board walks of Venice beach. We were even lucky to see Arnold Schwarzenegger biking.
*Las Vegas—There is no place in the world like Vegas! Truly such a different city, an adults playground. The best day was our last day in Vegas. We decided to hire a convertible Mustang and drive to the Grand Canyon in style! Wind blowing in our hair, music up loud—we truly felt like we were free as a bird on a break from Tasty!
*The Rocky Mountains were really spectacular to drive through. From Vegas through Utah to Denver had the most beautiful landscapes. *New Orleans—Dancing in a jazz bar and eating Creole. New Orleans is like another country
*New York City—When we reached our destination for the road trip, the sudden realization that we drove from San Francisco to NYC hit.
What are some favorite meals onboard (or restaurants) on the road?
For Ash, brekky [Australian for breakfast] was definitely a favorite—oats, fruit, and almond milk. For dinner, our favorite meal was salmon and a big kale and avocado salad. But we learnt quick not to cook our salmon on the stove—our RV quickly smelled like fish!
Driving through the country, there was a lot of stopping on roadside food chains. We like to eat healthy and were a bit scared we wouldn’t find many options on the road, but to our surprise it was pretty easy to keep healthy on the road in the U.S. Our favorite food chains were Chipotle, Whole Foods, and In-N-Out Burger.
Do you have any funny stories from the road you can share?
We have so many. One recurring highlight that we always laughed about was that every time we had to reverse (just the littlest bit) we were so worried that a little kid or dog would be behind, as there was no way to see what is actually behind. Therefore, every time one of us always had to run back to the back and lay on top of the bed and instruct the driver. There were many laughs and funny moments with people laughing at us from outside!
Whatever direction you head when you drive can never be wrong! You will have the best adventures even if you think you went the wrong way. There is always a journey around the corner.
To plan that journey just around the corner, visit our website, thousandtrails.com.