Chatting with Wander Free & Queer
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
I am very excited to debut En Route –with- Love’s first official interview! In an effort to connect with queer travelers around the globe, I’ve been reaching out to folks from the LGBTQA+ community to hear more about their personal travel experiences. My hope is that sharing these stories will not only provide readers with the opportunity to learn, but that it will also open doors to places they may not have previously been aware of where the queer community is welcome.
I had the opportunity to connect with Allie and Danella from Wander Free & Queer. Newly engaged and RV-ing full time around the United States, this couple talks about their experience planning for a nomadic life, downsizing their home, working remotely, and more. You can read everything in the interview below, and you can follow these two (and their pups) on Instagram and Facebook @wander.free.and.queer!
What was your inspiration to travel full time? When did it switch from a dream to a reality?
In 2016 we went on a cross-country road trip in our Jeep Cherokee. While we were hiking on the Olympic Peninsula we met a young couple living and traveling full-time in their RV! This was an entirely new concept for us, but we immediately began researching how to make it happen for ourselves!
What sort of planning went into this lifestyle change of being on the road 24/7?
We took a full year to plan and and prep for full-time RV life. We did hundreds of hours of research about which RV to choose, we sold most of our earthly belongings, and we began to explore what remote employment might look like for us. It was a big transition and we recommend taking lots of time to prepare.
Prior to your departure 1.5 years ago, did you plan set route you wanted to take?
We knew we wanted plenty of time to adjust to living in an RV full-time, so we decided to explore our home state of Maine before we ventured any farther away from familiar places. Many RVers make no travel plans at all, but we like to know where are headed, state to state.
How did you get involved in teaching ESL remotely? Was it a career switch for you both, or something you were already doing? How has this helped you in your dream of traveling?
Allie has her Masters Degree in Elementary Education and a history of working with young children, so this was a natural fit for her. Danella has a BA in a English, and while small kids aren’t a passion for her, having this job does enable us to keep traveling! She would love to teach at the college level some day.
How did minimalism play a role in downsizing your home? Is there advice you can give to others who are looking to travel full time?
It was very challenging to downsize from a 2 bedroom home to an RV. We had to really decide which of our possessions were of the most importance and value to us. It was especially difficult to get rid of so many books! We find that we don’t miss many things, though, because the experience of travel has been so much more fulfilling than a home full of things!
What are the most difficult aspects of living in an RV?
There are so many challenging aspects of full-time RV life! Having reliable internet is probably at the top of the list, as is finding campgrounds that can accommodate our extra large rig! Physically navigating a smaller space with your partner and two dogs can also have its moments!
What has been your experience traveling with pets?
We can’t imagine traveling without our two pups, Teton and Sierra. We love exploring new trails with them and they are always excited for campground walks in the morning! Finding reliable and affordable dog care can be super hard, though. We have relied on the kindness of new Instagram friends many times!
Safety on the road can be a big thing to think about. What measures do you take to keep yourselves, your pets, and your home safe?
We are happy to report we haven’t had any safety issues in 1.5 years on the road! The RV locks up tight and we have temperature sensors that link to our phones when we leave the pups behind in the rig.
As a queer couple have you had any experiences in certain areas, negative or positive, that you feel are important to inform other queer travelers about?
We have had mostly positive experiences as a queer couple on the road. We have been able to attend wonderful pride festivals all over the country, as well as explore towns we had no idea would be so LGBTQ-friendly! Gulfport, FL especially stands out in our memories, as a sort of queer mecca!
What has been your top destination so far? Did this surprise you?
It’s so hard to pick a top destination as we’ve visited so many wonderful places! The National Parks are always our favorite, with Rocky Mountain National Park and Glacier National Park being two of our favorites!
What is a destination that you would advise people to pass over?
If we could to back and “skip” one area, we would bypass Miami! We did not find it to be particularly queer-friendly, and the crowds and traffic was overwhelming!
What LGBTQA friendly areas would you recommend to other queer travelers?
Northampton, MA, Gulfport, FL, and Colorado have been our favorite areas to meet other queer locals and travelers!
Do you see yourselves returning to a set home? Would it be somewhere new, or would you return to the place you started it all?
We have really fallen in love with Colorado! We have a few states left to explore (Arizona, California, and Utah) but we have talked about returning to Colorado in a few years to purchase some land and build a home!
Tell us about your Etsy shop! Was this something that started once you were on the road or prior to your departure?
We sold our crochet products at the farmers market when we were still living in Portland, Maine. We opened our Etsy shop just as we were preparing to embark on RV travel. This lifestyle has afforded us the time to work on these kind of goals and our small business has grown 300% since we left Maine! We sell at markets all over the country and we have many more products available on our Etsy shop now.
What is one word (for each of you!) that you would use to describe these last 1.5 years on the road?
Allie’s one word would have to be UNKNOWN. It’s so hard to have expectations in this lifestyle, and there is always something happening that we didn’t plan on (for better or worse). Danella’s word is ADVENTURE. Since we began living in an RV we have explored national parks, hiked amazing trails, rafted on raging rivers, and sampled some amazing local foods!