While we believe a love for adventure can be both born and taught, but it can’t hurt to get them started early anyway. We caught up with two of our favorite moms — Giddi Carmichael and Carrie Willink — to talk about raising kids in two of our favorite places: on the road and in the Great Outdoors. (And really, we’ll take any excuse to gush over little feet in Teva sandals.)
Yoga Teacher, Jewelry Maker, Van Lifer
For Giddi, her husband Jace, and six-month-old Juniper, the daily routine starts like a lot of other families’: wake up, eat breakfast, let the dog up, tidy up the house. Only for this nomadic family, “home” is the back of their custom-built Sprinter van. “What happens for the rest of the day totally depends on where we are,” says Giddi. “Some days it’s hiking, swimming, paddling a river, or just more food and a few naps.”
On adjusting to the van life with a new addition:
We found out two weeks before moving into the van that we were pregnant. We were afraid Juniper would have a hard time adjusting but maybe me being pregnant on the road prepared her for her continued life there — she is so happy. It’s always so exciting to have our baby wake up in our van in a new place. Every day after we wake up, we take her outside to look at the trees and touch the grass. I like to think she’s more engaged and curious on the road.
On life lessons:
Jace and I feel there is a bigger purpose to living on the road. Allowing Juniper to see and be in lots of different places and interact with different people is really amazing. We want her to respect the differences in each culture and each person and appreciate and love them for what they are.
On post-baby style:
It’s much more simple. I wear a lot of nothing because we do a lot of water activities, ha! I once had an ex-boyfriend say my style was very much “comfort over looks.” But, to be honest, I don’t think I have ever had bad style, except when I was pregnant. I felt frumpy all the time. I made it a goal that even though we were living in a van I needed to make an effort to look presentable because it makes me feel good when I try to do something for myself. I am not going lie — I wear the same outfit for two or three days in a row sometimes. It’s so easy to do that when you just sleep in your underwear and the previous day’s clothes look fresh and are at a hands reach.
On her personal passions:
Eating and food are my number-one passions (just kidding) — I do come from a family of chefs, so food has been my life. I didn’t always enjoy cooking but it’s become something I obsess over; I love creating new dishes. Yoga is also a huge passion. I started practicing yoga when I was about 15 and was certified in 2010. It has been a big part of my life for a long time. I also love paddle boarding and, obviously. living in a van is a passion!
On the quality she wants to have as a mother:
Not to be fearful. My mom is a worrier and afraid of so much and, sadly, I have those attributes as well. I don’t know how to swim because I’m so afraid! But having Juniper has helped get me out of my comfort zone because I want her to be fearless and that will only happen if I lead by example. It is hard, but when I am able to move past some of my fears it is so liberating and even more exciting because I am able to share those moments with her.
On Teva Slides and clean floors:
We typically have a “no shoes in the van” rule because were constantly out in the snow, dirt, mud, and and that all tracks into such a small living space so easily. This is most usually forgotten because Teva slides are so comfortable! But when I do remember to take them off, it’s easy because I can step right in and out of them without having to untie, unclip, or unstrap anything. This is extremely helpful as we are in and out so many times each day. We go from hiking to exploring cities, to a wedding celebration, to dinner with friends to just chilling at a campsite and my Slides don’t ever have to come off my feet.
Photographer, Outdoor Lover
“The other night I was watching Remy rearranging her stuffed animals to be perfectly lit while using her toy camera to ‘click,’ and it hit me that this girl has changed our lives for the better,” says Carrie. When she’s not running a photography studio with her husband, Josh, Carrie makes the outdoors her priority, hiking, running and exploring with her two-year-old daughter (daughter number two is due in a few weeks!) in tow.
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On how her daughter has influenced her work:
My husband and I have always seen our photography as an art form and having a daughter has brought up emotions we couldn’t have dreamed of. Capturing those vibes through our work has only strengthened and enlightened us to so many more real life moments and emotion. I think this helps to set our pictures apart. There are times we need to find a sitter for Remy for different shoots but for almost all of our travel photos she tags along in a pack.
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On ditching the white picket fence:
In our first couple of years of marriage, we bought a home, a golden retriever, we even had a picket fence in our home for decor. Cliché, right? It was then we realized, while we were happy, we needed to do something different. We had the itch to travel. We decided it was time to make some drastic changes so we sold our home and everything in it, packed one bag each, and took to the trails and began exploring. This is when our wanderlust began. Our travel took us around Europe, living full-time out of an RV and a move out west where we were able to find some incredible mountains to hike.
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On her most treasured moment outdoors with Remy:
One of the most incredible moments was when we reached the first viewpoint of Yosemite’s Half Dome. As we walked up, there were many tourists at the top, but it was unnaturally quiet. When we reached the edge, Remy —at just a year and a half — let out a dramatic, toddler squeal: “Wow, Mama, Dada!” It made many chuckle around us but it also brought tears to my eyes. The things she gets to see from this young age will impact her for a lifetime.
On the challenges of travel with a toddler:
Sometimes our energy is drained after traveling. We have learned we need a few days to recoup as a family after our travel where we plan nothing and eat tacos (and then leftover tacos).
On learning her personal style:
Learning what my style is has taken years— it’s a work in progress. I tend to gravitate towards comfort, sporty, and cute, which is ambiguous term simply meaning it has to pass the “Care test.” If things don’t match, I feel on point. What others see as junk, I can often find as treasure. What you wear speaks to who you are as a person, so that means I must be pretty darn random!
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On the quality she wants to have as a mother:
I think knowing how to show love is the most important quality. It is something I have tattooed on my arm as a reminder. If I teach my daughters nothing else but how to love others, I’ve done my job.
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On living the Teva life:
I have been a fan for a while! My Teva sandals work in just about any situation. Walking out the door for a concert, I grab our Teva sandals. The next day packing for a hiking trip? I grab our Teva sandals. Ten-day camping trip? You better believe I have my Teva sandals. Just recently I was hiking in some lava caves with ice and slippery rocks. A passerby saw my sandals and said, “Looks like you’re wearing the wrong footwear.” I said: “Nope, chose these specifically for this.” And it’s true—the high-quality comfort and grip match any hiking shoe I own.