Exploring Alternatives is a social media project dedicated to living large with less. The team, Matt & Danielle, a couple of minimalist nomads who are exploring long-term travel and road-tripping in their camper van, publish weeklyYouTube videos about alternative living, both their own stories as well as those of the people they meet along the road.
Words & Photography: Danielle Chabassol
What was the defining moment that made you decide to downsize from a 4 bedroom house to a small camper-van?
Our decision to downsize our lifestyle happened one night after I came home from work upset and overwhelmed by my job and the stress of all the responsibilities we had committed to (including a 35-year mortgage). Around that same time, we'd been talking about how we could probably afford to travel year-round on the same budget we were spending living in our house if we could find cheap accommodation and location independent work. So we decided to take a risk and see if we could make a digital nomad lifestyle work for us. If we failed, we figured we could always just come home, buy another house and go back to how we lived before.
It's been over four years since we sold our house and so far we don't regret anything. Quite the opposite actually. We're thrilled to have so much more time together, to have the opportunity to travel when we want, and to see our families more often than we used to. That said, this lifestyle is a lot of work because we're always having to find new places to stay, and having to pack up and move every month or so, which can be a little exhausting and stressful at times.
What would be the key tips you’d give to anyone wanting to take on a similar lifestyle?
Our best advice is to try a lifestyle first to see if you like it before diving in. Go on a trip before you become nomadic. Rent a camper van before you buy one. Downsize your stuff slowly and only get rid of things when you're sure that you're ready.
For a lifestyle change to have a positive impact on your life, it needs to be the right decision for you and you need to be honest with yourself about what your needs and goals are. Not everyone is cut out to live in a tiny van, or to travel all the time and that's ok.
If you could recommend three of the most quirky small builds you’ve documented on your blog, what would they be?
A floating tiny house built by the local pirate:
A school bus converted into an RV that runs on waste vegetable oil and has a crop circle wood floor:
An off-grid earthship built from recycled tires and bottles:
What does travel mean to you?
This is a great question. We don't necessarily think of ourselves as travellers because we don't do a lot of sightseeing. We try to stay in each place for weeks or months to get a feel for the place, and to live like locals by exploring local parks, grocery stores, and neighbourhoods. To make it affordable to travel long-term, we'll often house sit, or travel in our camper van so that our accommodation budget is much manageable.