Here is a list of questions that we get all the time. Hopefully you find what you’re looking for! If not, shoot us an email!
Cees & Madison
How did you two find each other?
I lived in Ukraine and Russia for a few years working as an English teacher. When I came home a friend of mine told me about her “hot, gorgeous, babe-friend who speaks Russian”. Since Eastern Europe was all I could think about at the time, I kept telling her to set me up with my “Russian Bride”. My friend brought her over to a party and Madison and I hit it off. She had lived in Russia for a year and a half as well and spoke great Russian. I was hooked. I tell everyone that it was the Russian aspect that sold me so quickly, but really it was her stunning beauty and long hair that had me whipped from the get go. So, as soon as I could get a ring together, I dropped a knee at the edge of a cliff in Yosemite National Park and she agreed! The adventure hasn’t stopped since!
I had just gotten back from living in Russia for a year and a half when I headed back to college. For the first couple weeks of the semester I was dating around and having fun getting back to college life. I remember having dinner at my friend Sara’s house late one Sunday evening, when she asked me if I wanted to go to a dessert party at her friends’ house. I was like, “nah, I’m good, I don’t really feel like socializing with anyone besides my bed right now.” Then the cookie monster came out of me and I was like, “okay fine, we’ll go, eat the treats, get in, get out.” I had no idea who these friends were or why Sara reeeally wanted me to go to this party. All I knew was I was going to make a beeline to the dessert table and preoccupy myself until it was time to leave. When we got there I was immediately ambushed by someone I had already kinda known somehow. I had seen pictures of him when he was in Russia. He was kind of a legend and I’d heard tons of stories about him from both my Russian and American friends in Moscow. I knew his last name was Hofman, I couldn’t pronounce his first name, I knew he only ever, ever wore Chacos, I’d heard stories about how he lived in the forest and was pretty much a mountain man. I was both star struck and nervous to all of a sudden meet this legend with zero fair warning. We ended up talking in Russian for what felt like forever, telling stories and figuring out our mutual friends. Then, I realized that I had to run home and finish my Russian paper for class the next day, it was already 11pm. Cees was super willing to come help me write my paper, and now I see right through his sneakiness, but at the time I didn’t realize he just wanted to see where I lived. Haha creeper! Just kidding, it was really helpful. We finished my paper and that night I even taught him how to do a fish tail braid. He braided my hair like a pro and I was so impressed that I kept in it for two days. He also did another really sneaky thing. He asked to see my phone to look up Russian vocab, but instead he texted himself funny things from my phone. He left and as I was going to bed and texting my friend Sara I noticed I had sent a bunch of messages to this random 208 area code. I was SO confused, but then I realized it was CEES. Ugh. So sneaky, he got my number. Despite his persistent sneakiness I was pretty smitten. After that night, we hung out all day, every day until we got engaged in Yosemite at Vernal Falls. Now we are married and on a massive road trip spending literally 24/7 together, and I love it.
What made you decide to leave on such adventures?
We both love being outside and are stoked on adventure in all of its forms, so I think the trip was born from our passion and love for the earth. We also love to travel, so we thought that we should try to see as much of our own country as possible. We thought, “well maybe we could visit a bunch of the National Parks?” Then when we found out that we would graduate during the 100 year anniversary, we thought – why not try and get to ALL OF THEM?! So we went for it!
What do you hope to get out of the trip?
For ourselves, well, that question is easy – we just want to have fun! We love all activities outside and have an intense desire to travel. We wanted to create an opportunity to get out and discover the beautiful places of America. So a trip to all of the National Parks is a dream come true for us!
On a larger, and probably more important, scale – We want to inspire people, as corny as it sounds, to live their dreams! We couldn’t care less about convincing people that life on the road is the number one thing… we just wanted to show people that if you are serious about making something happen, YOU CAN. We had NO IDEA how we were going to make it all work… we just went for it. Since we were serious about making it happen, things fell into place and we learned a lot along the way. We want people to realize that no matter what you come up with – writing a book, going to med school, or living in an old RV with the love of your life – it IS possible. We want to push people to let go of excuses and get out and live your dreams! We want more people to have the “I can’t believe this is my life right now” moments!
Why did you choose an RV (as opposed to a van)?
About two years ago now, we saw a little Toyota motorhome driving down the road and we immediately started dreaming of taking a trip in a vehicle like that. Something about a little truck doing big things was appealing. We loved the symbolism.
On top of that, we think that RV’s are cool (but, we also think visors, jean shorts, and fanny packs are cool – so take that with a grain of salt!) There is a ton of room, they are set up to live in, and they are way cheaper than a mortgage!
We had a fun time turning our RV into a rolling home that we love. It is our little cabin on wheels! Check out the inside of the RV here.
I want to live on the road full time, what can I expect?
Life on the road is great! It has a lot of plusses for sure. That being said, there are a lot of adjustments to be made. Sometimes life on the road gets glamorized by social media. It is really fun, don’t get us wrong, but there ARE real challenges associated with the lifestyle. We needed to adjust to things such as using way less water, or being okay with sleeping in Wal-mart parking lots when we can’t find a better spot.
If you don’t believe that there can be troubles, check out our post The Personality of our Journey.
For me, it wasn’t a hard switch – I just had to pack my toothbrush and I was ready to go. Madison’s prep for the transition was a little different (to say the least). She is the ultimate go-with-the-flow girl and I love her for that, but there was a much bigger list of things that needed to be taken care of before we set off!
Luckily, Madison has compiled the things that have made it easier for her to live on the road. Download her free eBook: A Girl’s Guide to Life on the Road. (Coming soon)
How did you leash train Vladimir Kitten?
We had this little guy on a leash when he was a few weeks old. He was falling out of his harness he was so small! We would put the harness on him while he ate and he hardly even noticed. We let him walk around in the harness for a few short sessions over the course of a few days. That way he was able to get used to having it on him. Once he was used to it, we took him outside on his leash and explored the backyard. The next week we progressed to the park…etc. We took it slow and would pick him up when he got scared. We really tried to stick to his pace. He has connected that harness and leash means outside time and loves to harness up! He will actually wait by the door of the RV until his leash is clipped, and then he will run outside. Now he’ll hike along side with us and pretty much run right next to us on the trail. When he gets tired or too distracted to walk, we put him up on one of our backpacks to “ride it out.” He does great in nature, but he still gets pretty freaked out in the city, there are too many noises and cars. But, that’s fine with us because we aren’t really city people anyways!
How did you get Vladimir Kitten to be so adventurous?
Some souls are just more adventurous than others – humans and cats alike! But we believe that any cat can be a good adventure companion. Cats are naturally curious and want to explore. If you give them time to ease into adventuring, you may be surprised at what your cat can handle!
Download our guide to Taking Your Cats on Adventures here (Coming Soon)
How does Vladimir Kitten react to life on the road?
At first, he didn’t really know what to expect. The first few days he had a hard time walking when the RV was driving. He would just curl up in my lap as I drove. But after a few days, he got his “sea legs” and was able to move freely about the cabin! He runs and jumps and chases the wipers all along the road. He even has learned to use the kitty box at about 60 miles per hour!
How are you paying for all of this travel?
We bought the RV for ridiculously cheap, worked multiple jobs while going to school full-time, and we renovated the RV at night with our friends. We tried to do everything ourselves and as inexpensively as possible. A couple of months before we launched, we were fortunate enough to partner with a few companies for help with some trip costs and gear.
Landing sponsors changed the trip for us. Before we got the sponsors, we were planning to work remotely on the road and had jobs that would have allowed us to do so. (There are tons of jobs out there to work online!) It’s totally doable!
How did you get sponsors for your trip?
This is a great question – and a pretty intense one at that! There was a lot of planning, a lot of writing, and a lot of learning. If you want to get the whole scoop, I am currently putting together an online course of how we did it. We wish we would have had this information when we started – it would have saved a lot of time and effort to have it spelled out for us! Click here to sign up for the course!
How did you build up your social media so quickly?
Our cat. It is a well known fact that cats rule the underworld and own the internet. We use him for his beauty.
In reality, Madison works the Instagram game hard.
Her three tips:
- Content is king – crank out the awesome photos and the people will come.
- Be engaged with your followers – respond to every questions/comment.
- Use hashtags of ‘repost’ accounts related to you – getting reposted on accounts that have followers who are interested in your photos is the biggest help. That is how you will grow the fastest.
Social media is the name of the game these days. If you want to travel for work, this is your ticket.
Another way we have used to get the word out is through a new service called Stim Social – it helps spread the word by adding people that would be interested in your account. It sounds lame that we had help raising awareness – but really, it is the only way that we can spread the word! You can do it ‘old-school’ and add people manually. But aint nobody got time for that – I’d rather be out playing in the parks!
What camera do you use?
We use a few different cameras when we are out. Here’s the list!
Body – Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Point and shoot: Canon PowerShot G7 X
Phone: Apple iPhone 6s
How did you know where to start?
We didn’t. When we first set our minds to “making it happen” we had to force ourselves to take baby steps. This trip didn’t happen overnight. There were countless hours of planning, learning, and working. But, the important thing to note is that we had ZERO IDEA about RVs, building a website, or photography. We were attending formal classes at our university and learning about rocks and healthy living, and then studying hard at the University of YouTube about solar panels and photo editing software! You can do it – the resources are out there!
How did you build your website?
We knew that having a place to share our adventures was our first step. When we first began blogging, we had no idea what we were doing. We watched countless YouTube tutorials, read a million forums, and learned from friends and family with experience.
Recommendations we have for starting a blog:
The two biggest things that we needed to know when we first started was who should host our website and what platform should we use.
Hosting – Bluehost is by far the best way to go when it comes to hosting your website. We tried others and the customer service was terrible. Bluehost has done well with helping us problem solve and work out the web kinks (in the beginning, there will be a lot of issues! Don’t give up!)
Platform – Ultimately we ended up using WordPress as our site’s platform. However, we tried Weebly and really liked it! In fact, we have another website that still runs on Weebly! It really comes down to what you prefer and what you are comfortable with!
How did you make the interactive map?
The map is one of our favorite features of the blog. It is just so fun to show people where we are! We created it with an awesome WordPress plug in from Code Canyon called Interactive Wold Maps. The creator of the plug-in (Carlos) is super helpful when there are issues. He always responds quickly to questions that I have. It’s been the most pleasant plug in I have used by far.