Johnny and Jess are seasoned travelers and sporadic van-lifers since 2011. Johnny plays in a few bands and Jess does contract work that leaves her the freedom to accompany him on tours. Recently, they started the Rainbow Network to document the stories of the interesting people they meet on the road. Since we’re delving pretty deep into this whole van life thing, we asked Johnny and Jess to share a bit about their background, the impetus for this particular project, and some thoughts about their plans for the future. Here are Johnny and Jess, rebels on a rainbow.
Where in the world are you now?
We are back home in Australia. We have just returned from a trip to Indonesia, where we were exploring the island of Lombok. Jonny is playing music with Nick Saxon & The Elusive Few on their Perth tour. So we are currently on a road trip from Sydney, New South Wales, to Perth, Western Australia. We decided to drive, which takes about 40 hours, instead of flying so we could make an adventure out of getting there. We plan to pass through places such as Melbourne and Adelaide. Right now we are having breakfast on the river, framping (free camping) in Braidwood, a small country town in NSW. Tomorrow we will be in Narooma, NSW and the next day… Well, we will see where the road leads us.
What is the make and model of your rig?
We have a 2005 Mercedes Vito and we absolutely love her. She is set up for life on the road. We fitted her out with a bed frame, clothes draws, shelves, pantry, shower, surfboard rack and as many colourful cushions & blankets as possible. She is our cosy rainbow home.
How long have you been on the road?
Since we met in 2000 we have been road tripping, exploring Australia and abroad. But since 2011 we have made van life more permanet. We made changes to our lives to simplify the way we live, such as stopped full time work. We are both casual teachers (substitutes), and we sold our two investment properties. We havent looked back, it was the best thing we ever did.
How long do you plan to travel for?
As long as our legs will carry us, whether it’s to camp at our local national park or hop on a plane overseas, we are always up for an adventure. After Perth we have a season pass for the snow at Perisher in the Australian Snowy Mountains. Then in October we are off for three months to America, first stop Hawaii then New York, California and Mexico.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about life on the road so far?
We were surprised by how addicted to van life we got and how rewarding a simple life can be. We bought the van to fit all our gear in, surfboards, snowboards, skateboards etc. But after our first trip away we were hooked, since then we have taken every opportunity to road trip in our van. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get from van life, it’s a sense of freedom. We love the variety and adventure of waking up on the beach or in a national park, we love meeting people and being exposed to new opportunities. It’s surprising how the simple things can bring so much joy.
What do you do for money?
We are both secondary teachers, which allows us lots of flexibility. We can casually teach for a few weeks then head off on an adventure. Jonny is also in two bands. (We plan lots of our road trips around band tours.) He plays saxophone for Nick Saxon & The Elusive Few and bass guitar for The Black Cats. Both bands have music on iTunes, check them out for some fresh sounds.
We also subcontract for a corporate health company called Pinnacle Team Events. We work as event managers where we run team building activities such as the amazing race and casino nights.
We love having a variety of work opportunities. It suits us to have jobs that are flexible, allowing us to travel and live the van life.
You are creating a “Rainbow Network” of people living passionately. What kind of person is that?
The passionate living network is about creating a community of like minded people who are actually listening to their hearts and minds and acting on their individual talents and dreams. This can be through music, surfing, art, creative business ideas (entrepreneurs) and any alternative lifestyle. They are someone who is truly living their dream, their passion. They are the type of person who is taking initiative and doing what they need to do for themselves, to be happy, to be excited about how they are living their lives.
Where do you find them?
A big part of what we do when travelling is chat with locals and other travellers. We are always keen to start up a conversation with someone new, you would be surprised how amazing some of the people are, sitting beside you. We are always meeting people who are on interesting journeys and it is so rewarding to share their stories on our website.
We also love reading blogs like Korduroy to find out about inspirational people from all around the world.
Do you have a retirement plan?
We have worked hard in the past to set up some investments that will hopefully help us in retirement. But we have changed our mindset to enjoying the now, we can’t wait till we’re 60. We want to keep our lives simple and stress free. We will always have our van and the beach, which is good enough for us.
We hope that Rebel on a Rainbow grows and continues to be a source of inspiration, a place where people can find motivation, through being inspired by other people’s stories, to follow their passions.
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