The first big solo trip I ever took was with a hippie outfit based out of San Francisco called The Green Tortoise. The idea of that tour was simple: 40 or so itinerant travelers piled into a giant bus, zigzagging across the country, stopping at National Parks, hot springs, and dive bars, driving only at night, while the passengers slept. On my tour, way back in ’99, I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time, hooked up with a Swedish au pair, and made a handful of friendships that have endured the decades.
It was a true adventure and, more than anything, my first real chance to connect with like-minded travelers. It was, to wax poetic, the precise moment when I fell in love with the road.
Clearly, I’ve never forgotten the experience. So I was thrilled when I heard about a new company launching — a distant relative of the Green Tortoise — called Roadies. It’s a similar model, all grown up. It features smaller groups, nicer digs, and a more bespoke experience. Where the Green Tortoise endures as a great way for budget backpackers to see the country, Roadies feels more adult. Meals are prepared for you. Beds are private. Showers… exist. Still, the Roadies crew knows how to have fun and while their coaches are sleek and spacious, the energy and party vibes are very much in evidence.
As Roadies gets rolling across the west coast and American southwest, I raced to get in touch with company’s founders, Lee Roth and Mark Wills. The day they launched, the two entrepreneurs hopped on the phone to talk about the power of road tripping, the joy of finding a truly unique experience, and their desire to create memorable microadventures with a pinch of luxury.
Will you both say your name and your role in the company?
Lee Roth: I’m Lee Roth and I’m a co-founder and Chief Explorer.
Mark Wills: I’m Mark Wills and I am co-founder and Chief Adventurer.
Lee Roth: We have fun with titles right?
It’s perfect. If you look on my Twitter bio, I’m the Uproxx “Vagabond-at-Large.”