Authors: Faren Rajkumar @faren_wanderer ;
Dreaming about one day having a homestead where they can live off solar, rainwater, what we grow, and whatever they can fish and forage for, Taku & Jocelyn, are an adeventurous couple who live part-time in a van. They make YouTube videos as our full-time job, love food, traveling, and spending time in the outdoors.
Taku was born in Japan and came to the US when he was 9. Jocelyn is mixed (Mexican & Nicaraguan) latina born and raised in the US.
1. Tell us about your vanlife journey- as individuals and a couple!
We both always loved travel and dreamed of having a van but we were both working low paying jobs in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Whenever we could, we’d go on 2 day camping trips.
Taku was a chef that would watch fishing youtube channels and felt like the YouTubers weren’t doing the fish they caught justice when they cooked it up. He started his own channel with me (Jocelyn) as his camerawoman. After 2 years of both of us working long hours at work and spending our 2 days off filming and editing for the channel, we were able to quit our jobs and create content full time.
We saved up, bought our van, and did the build ourselves. We wanted something that would feel like home and also meet all our work needs so we put a lot of time into the build. We’re super happy with it and having been loving our van life journey.
2. How important is diverse representation in road travel/vanlife & the outdoors to you, and why?
Growing up, everything was incredibly white. It was rare that we got to see any representation for really anything and I think it’s important for kids to see the diversity in the outdoor community. We’re big on fishing and that’s still a pretty white and male dominated industry. I (Jocelyn) get plenty of sexist comments but it always makes me happy when a parent leaves a comment saying their daughter really enjoys seeing me catch a fish.
As for the vanlife community, after seeing only white vanlifers being represented for years, it’s been so refreshing seeing people like us. Especially when it comes to cooking in a van/camping! Quinoa salads are great, but there’s nothing like seeing someone cooking some tacos over a fire or having spam musubi on a hike.
There’s also those moments where BIPOC you follow are sharing an experience/story on the road and you find yourself nodding along like “yes, someone that gets it!!” It’s great knowing there’s others with similar experiences on the road.
3. Have you ever felt unsafe while living in a van or exploring the outdoors? mean to you?
We are very fortunate to not have had an unsafe experience yet but we also don’t hang out in towns/cities much except to pickup groceries or supplies. We’ve experienced being stared at heavily in middle of nowhere towns but no one has ever said or done anything. We have had threatening, racist, and/or sexist comments online though.
4. How do you commit to minimizing your negative impact on the Earth as a “traveler”, land steward, or adventurer, and if applicable, through your business?
We try to shop locally and what’s in season by going to farmer’s markets. We also harvest some of our own foods by foraging or fishing. When harvesting, we only take what we need and don’t overharvest. Whenever we can, we opt for products that are less damaging to the environment, less plastic, and reusing whatever we can.
5. Please share 1-2 of your top road travel tips/advice for BIPOC hoping to break into vanlife
There’s no one way or a wrong way to do vanlife. Honestly, you don’t even really need a van to hit the road. Just get out there and start enjoying nature! We started with tent camping long before we ever got a van.
6. Any thoughts you’d like to express to BIPOC allies?
Just be supportive and understanding. Speak up offline and online. If you see someone being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc online, say something. So many of us spend so much time online, it’s nice seeing people tell others certain behavior isn’t okay in a comment. Not because it’ll change them but because it feels like we’re being supported.
8. Anything else you want to share with the community?
Food is super important to both our cultures and I think that’s been one of the most annoying things to deal with on the road. We both grew up in diverse areas and moved to a city where we can easily grocery shop for whatever we want.
Being in the middle of nowhere means there’s no asian or latino markets to go to. Whenever we’re in a major city, we need to stock up on anything we might want to eat which stocking up when you’re limited on space can be challenging. It’s not uncommon to have a bag of ingredients in the middle of the van with nowhere to put it because we won’t be near a market for a few months.
Check out @taklyntheworld @outdoorcheflife for more on Taku and Jocelyn’s life.