JOSH BIRO & JENNA ROSENE: THE NOMAD YOGA FAMILY
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 2/20/17
For the twentieth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are beyond pumped to speak with Josh Biro and Jenna Rosene. You might know them better as The Nomad Yoga Family.
I discovered their travels through Instagram and was immediately taken by the obvious; They are full time overland travelers and they happily do this with two kids.
In addition to all the “regular” trails of overlanding, Josh and Jenna spend their days entrenched in family life. Their children, Arjuna and Lux, take it all in stride and bring their own personal styles to the journey.
The Nomad Yoga Family are inspirational to say the least. They are a terrific reminder that love and rich experiences are the foundation of a great family life. Supporting that is the challenge but life as an overland traveler will not inhibit that in any way.
What do you consider to be your place (or former place) of work?
We built, owned and operated a yoga studio in Red Deer, AB Canada from 2010-2015. We made the decision that we wanted to travel full time with our kids and sold our business to two of our employees. When we were planning to travel and in the process of selling our business, home, and most of our possessions, we really didn’t know what we were going to do for work. When we were traveling in Canada and the US we taught at and provided business consulting for tons of yoga studios. The business coaching aspect of our yoga expertise has really taken off since we sold our studio and started traveling. First Josh was providing on the ground consulting and training at the studios we visited, then it turned into phone consultations with numerous studios, and now we’re nearly ready to launch the first ever online course for yoga business owners with Nomad Business Coaching.
Year, Make, Model of your vehicle?
2006 EarthRoamer XVLT
Did you name your vehicle? What do you call it?
We call the EarthRoamer, the EarthRoamer. But our license plate says ZAMA – the name of our second daughter who passed away when we were traveling in Ecuador in March 2015, and who the inspiration for our decision to travel full time is in part credited to. If you ask the truck, it probably thinks its name is Thank You, because we’re constantly saying “thank you for getting us up this hill/ over these rocks/ out of this sand/ etc.”
When and how did you get it?
We bought the EarthRoamer used in fall 2016 in Montana. We had been looking on Expedition Portal for overland vehicles for sale for months. When we first drove to Montana to look at the truck, we immediately knew it had everything on our wish list and we really hit it off with the previous owners. We hadn’t even sold our business yet and did not have the finances to make the purchase. But luckily John and Suzanne liked us, and allowed us to make a down payment and pay the rest in a few months. When the sale date of our business was suddenly pushed back, we had to borrow funds from Jenna’s parents to buy the EarthRoamer and then pay them back once the sale of our studio finally closed. Finally after making the down payment in August 2015, Josh drove the EarthRoamer back to Canada in November 2015, where we parked it in a storage warehouse and packed and repacked until we officially left in February 2016.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
We ran the full gamut. We started off looking at vans, mostly Syncros, and SportsMobiles. We knew we wanted something 4×4 that could go off-road since our tentative plan was to drive the Pan American highway (Canada to Argentina). Our criteria included: one permanently set up bed, a permanently set up bathroom, driving safety – the kids in a proper seat, strapped in, enough storage for uniquely sized items and full time living, 4×4, solar, single fuel source, and an off grid system. We soon realized that vans were pretty small for a family of four. We then looked at truck campers and even test drove a motorhome, which felt like it was made of cardboard. Standard RVs are simply not made with the expectation of full time living or full time driving, especially beyond RV parks and well-maintained super highways. We had been researching overland vehicles for quite some time, but knew that they were mostly well beyond our price range or required long lead times. So Josh thought he would just build us a custom overland vehicle on an awesome Fuso chassis he found. Luckily (for Jenna’s sanity) just as he was about to pull the trigger on the Fuso, we came across a 10 year old used EarthRoamer on Expedition Portal that had everything on our wish list (and more), and was only slightly over budget. We weighed our options and the EarthRoamer was our dream travel vehicle for this trip and definitely seemed to have the most bang for our buck, so we decided to make an offer and just make the finances work.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Earthroamer #28 has a very unique history. Technically, it is a salvage vehicle although it has never been in an accident. We got brand new tires, a new winch up front, new lights inside and outside (LEDs throughout), custom box on the back, custom bike rack on the back, 3 new solar panels, new solar controller, additional house battery (we have 3).
What is your favorite part about it living/working out of your vehicle?
The freedom of working from wherever you want to be. If something isn’t working for you where you are you can just pack up and go. Living this way also brings things back to basics. You’re much more aware of your consumption of everything: water, electricity, fuel, food. The smaller space also forces you to appreciate your surroundings more – you live outside a higher percentage of the time. It’s very nice to always have your home with you (home on wheels) – no matter where you are you can always get clean, change your clothes, make a real meal, have a nap, whatever.
What is your least favorite part about it?
The lack of personal space and time. We miss our support network at home via grandparents / family. And the stress of the unknown – it can wear on you not knowing exactly where you are parking / staying at night. The necessity to always clean up – you simply can’t leave your shit everywhere! And without the ability for everyone to retreat to separate corners, sometimes it feels like emotions and conflicts can quickly amplify in a small space!
How many miles have you put on your truck?
We’ve put about 20,000 miles on it so far.
What is the best place you have taken it?
Hard to say – Yellowstone is awesome for a family. We loved Death Valley. But the Sunshine Coast in BC was epic. Also the backroad to Whistler / Squamish via the Sloquet Hot Springs was super cool. Baja everywhere is incredible.
Is there just one?
Favorite road you driven?
Probably a back way into the Mission San Borja in Baja (between Bahia De Los Angeles and San Rosalia). Although not that technical – you pass through cactus forests that tower over the road, cross practically untouched arroyos, and weave between some cool rock mountains. Monument Valley in Utah/Arizona in the early morning was pretty epic too.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living out of a vehicle what would you tell them?
You’ll never feel prepared, so just do it or don’t.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
I think we’ve both always felt like that. The destination is too often anticlimactic. The best stories and memories are always about what happened on the way. Besides, where you are is not what matters; it’s the experiences and who you are that matter. We’ve traveled the world individually, and then together with our kids. The value of the journey over the destination is also a very yogic concept that we’ve come to appreciate both in our yoga practice and in our life as entrepreneurs and travelers.
You have found a strong place in the community of travel. What values do you think your home instilled in you, that you take on the road?
Have pride in your home. Stay on top of things. If shit gets run down, it’s way worse than just keeping it functioning properly.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourself as somebody who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
We see ourselves as people you create our own reality by deciding how we want to live and then working for it, instead of depending on faith or acting as if life is happening to us. But I guess if we have to choose we took a leap of faith. We have enough life experience to know that some of the most incredible things have happened when we just follow our dreams confidently and go against the grain without an exact plan. Opportunities present themselves in unexpected ways as long as we’re open to them!
Where do you want to go next? (Geographically and career wise)
We’re excited to explore more of the real Mexico like Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. We’re also super stoked that we’re currently launching the first ever online course for yoga and wellness businesses called The Foundation with our other business Nomad Business Coaching. This online course will allow us to work with yoga studios all over the world and share the industry best practices that we’ve learned on the ground from wherever we are.