Almost two years ago Brent Rose decided to change his life in a drastic way. He was moving on after a long-term relationship ended and didn’t really know where to go next. Rose rolled the dice, took out an auto loan, called in his favors, and chose the open road as his new home. Travel became the cornerstone of his life. He became one of “The Mad Ones.”
We sat down with Rose to talk about the realities and costs of starting life over on the road, living like a 21st century technocrat in a van, what he’s learned about America pre-Trump, and what he hopes to find in America post-Trump.
Oh, and there’s also a story about surviving a mountain lion! Enjoy!
Let’s start off with your story and how you ended up in the van life?
It was basically the result of a big breakup, essentially, which I imagine is probably not totally uncommon. I was in a relationship for six and a half years, and we lived together for five of those years, spanning both New York and LA, and then after kind of decided that we were going in separate ways, so we split. It was a pretty amicable as far as things go, but it was a big one.
I was driving up north in a U-Haul full of all of my stuff trying to figure out what I was going to do next with my life, and basically, I was thinking I don’t know that I want to be married to just LA or just to San Francisco or anywhere. I want to be able to travel. I want to be able to be spontaneous, and I was like, ‘oh, if only I could live out of a U-Haul. I don’t really want to live out of a U-Haul. How could I do this?’ I started thinking about the van thing.
You were already working full time as a writer at this point?
I was writing for Gizmodo, and so I pitched it to Gawker Media’s ad sales department, and they loved it. They pitched it to a major car company, and they loved it. They said, “We’re pretty sure we want it, but just give us a second and we’ll figure it out.” They kept us dangling for five months, and then bailed.
By that point, I had decided that I was going to do it no matter what. I basically sold a bunch of stuff. I took out a loan. I bought the van. I called in a bunch of favors and stuff like that and got it all kitted out with a lot of crazy technology. I finally hit the road.