Stride Stories: The Wandering Chefs
Stride: You and your boyfriend run a food blog while living on the road in your Ford Focus hatchback. What was your transition from corporate life to the road?
Megan: We were both working demanding jobs that we enjoyed to some capacity, me at a non-profit and Michael at an outdoor apparel company. But when we got home at the end of the day, we couldn’t find the energy to pursue our creative passion projects. Michael’s dream was to write and mine to do photography. We realized those things would never happen unless we dedicated ourselves to them. So we left our jobs to give ourselves room – time and energy – to be doing the things we wanted to be doing.
Stride: But rather than quit your jobs and focus on your passions from home, you hit the road. Why?
Megan: When we met three years ago, our first conversation was about traveling in a slower and more intentional way – getting to experience people and places in a way that a two-week vacation could never allow us. We wanted to see the whole picture of the country we live in. We’re used to living in a big city (Los Angeles), but what does living on a cattle ranch in Wyoming look like? They’re both very American experiences, but so different.
Stride: How did you make the leap financially?
Megan: We’re adventurous, but we didn’t want to worry about making ends meet on this trip. So we spent a lot of time saving money and planning to make this dream happen. For us, we really cut back to build the nest egg – living in a small apartment, ditching cable TV, cooking at home, and not going out to bars often.
Stride: Have you put a constraint on the length of your road trip?
Megan: Our trip will last until the money runs out. We came up with a budget that should get us through a year, and we put that money in a separate bank account.
Stride: How did you guys decide on the traveling food blog as your road “project”?
Megan: Michael and I have both been very active in the outdoor community and had gone on a few smaller road trip adventures. We had a really hard time figuring out how to eat well while out adventuring, so we thought why don’t we create that resource for people?
Stride: Has the food direction of your blog & social media presence led to paid opportunities?
Megan: Yes, the outdoor food direction has resonated with a lot of people both in the outdoor and food industries. At first, we took on projects that didn’t pay but were great for relationship building. Now that work is turning into financial gain. We’re not replacing our old income, but we have a more simple lifestyle now, so we don’t need as much money. We’re searching to find a happy middle ground.
Stride: What’s the biggest surprise of being newly self-employed?
Megan: The biggest learning curve has been the hustle and self-promotion. I really don’t like talking about myself – I’ve always worked in the service industry helping other people, so it’s never been about me. But with self-employment if you’re not out there saying, “Here’s what I can do for you,” you’ll never get any work.
Stride: How’s it been buying your own healthcare?
Megan: We quit our jobs and signed up with Covered California. That experience was filled with problems, and we couldn’t get ahold of anyone when we hit our glitches. When we finally found Stride, the sign up process was intuitive and user friendly… and the BIG game changer was being able to communicate with a live, responsive person who answered all my questions.
Stride: What’s the biggest health problem in America?
Megan: Diet and activity. There’s definitely an American mentality that we have to do it all. Time is such a limited resource and the easiest things to put off are exercise and making good food – they’re the first things to go when the busy American lifestyle takes over.
Stride: What’s the biggest surprise of being on the road?
Megan: Unless you do this, it’s hard to fathom this isn’t a vacation. The way we’re traveling uses up so many decisions — where are we going today? Where will we sleep tonight? Where is the grocery store or gas station? Where do we get water? Trying to figure out these things everyday uses your mental capacity. Between all of that, new experiences, and meeting new people, we’ve been joking that we’ve lived more in the last four months than we did in the last four years. Back in LA everything blended together, whereas the last four months every day is so distinct. I think we forget how different and new every day can be.
Stride: How has living in a tiny vehicle changed your relationship with Michael?
Megan: It’s challenged us to talk about anything negative that’s going on. Also, we used to have only a few hours together every day. Now we have 24 hours together every day [laughs]. It’s been such a wonderful opportunity to get to see all of Michael. We always thought we were compatible and worked well as a team, but it’s been tested and proven over the last four months.
Stride: Favorite spot so far?
Megan: Our favorite camping spot was a campground called Dinner Rock on the Sunshine Coast in BC. It’s situated on this bluff that overlooks Desolation Sound, and you can see Vancouver Island in the distance. We had it all to ourselves. The most unexpected beauty we’ve found was in the Badlands of South Dakota.
Stride: Can you both sleep in the back without laying sideways?
Megan: Yes [laughs]. Michael is 6’5” and he fits in just perfectly.