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An IU Couple’s Ultimate Survival Guide for Life on the Road

Nick and Sarah Bowersox purchased their 1966 airstream in August 2017, spending roughly six months renovating it from the inside out. In June 2018, with Archie in tow, the two IU grads kicked off their cross-country jaunt with a visit to their alma mater. Photo courtesy of Nick Bowersox.

Whether you’re bunking up in an Airstream, an RV, or an old-school VW Bus, living on the road 24/7 is no easy feat.

Nick and Sarah’s full-time travel days came to a close when they learned they were pregnant with their first child. The couple decided to plant roots in Milwaukee and renovate a 110-year-old house—a task they were up to after restoring Archie. Photo courtesy of Nick Bowersox.

In June 2018, Nick Bowersox, BAJ’11, and Sarah (Ricker) Bowersox, BAJ’11, hit the road in their renovated, 1966 Airstream named “Archie”—paying homage to IU Bloomington’s former men’s basketball coach Archie Miller.

Over the course of six months, Nick and Sarah traveled across 21 states, making 65 stops in their 22-foot home that was hitched to their Ford F150.

But the couple, who have been married since 2016, quickly learned that full-time travel doesn’t always mean a full-time vacation.

“You have to be able to tell yourself that every day doesn’t have to be an adventure,” Nick says, with Sarah adding that social media makes life on the road look “easy and epic.”

“Sixty percent of your day is getting through the day—it’s survival,” Sarah says. “But it’s fulfilling because you have something to show for your efforts—the meal you had to go shop for or the water that you got from the water station.”

Between navigating the U.S. and setting up camp, Nick and Sarah learned a few pro tips along their 18,000-mile journey. These are their top seven must-have items for nomad life.

1. America the Beautiful Annual Pass

Cost: $80

Senior pass (62 and older): $20

“This pass gets you into any and all national parks. The pass pays for itself after visiting just two national parks—entry to a single park is roughly $30 per car.”


2. LTE hotspot

Cost: $100–200

“Your phone is a great hotspot, but it runs down your battery. With an LTE hotspot, you can connect all your devices and not worry about running out of juice.”


3. Campendium

Cost: Free

“Think of this as Yelp for campsites. Campendium lists amenities, cell service, and general ratings for each campground with the help of fellow campers.”


4. RV Trip Wizard

Cost: $59 per year

“This site allows you to create routes, estimate driving times, get campground recommendations, and even budget your entire trip. We used it almost every day.”


5. Moment Lenses

Cost: $100–120

“These lenses turn your phone into the perfect camera for travel. Get the wide 18 mm lens to capture more of your surroundings and the tele 58 mm lens to really zoom in on your subject.”


6. Portable power bank: Jackery Bolt

Cost: $20

Jackery Bolt is smaller than a bar of soap and can recharge your phone multiple times. This is super handy when an outlet is not available.”


7. Merino clothing

Cost: Varies

Merino is a great natural fabric. Don’t have access to laundry? No problem, you can wear it multiple days without it really starting to stink.”


All illustrations by Brittany Olson

Read more about Nick and Sarah’s adventures with Archie.

Written By

Samantha Stutsman

Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind., native and a senior content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.

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