The tension behind what defines a Roadsteader is something that we have frequently come up against. At its simplest definition, a Roadsteader is someone who lives the mobile lifestyle. That means they spend a significant amount of time on the road. This might look like a retired couple who has lived on the road for years, or a musician who tours for a couple months at a time all over the country to return home after the tour concludes.
Ben, Shestin, and their 8 month old son Grayson Swartley do not live on the road full time — nevertheless, the spirit of the road weaves throughout their lives. Parked in front of the house they’re renting from Ben’s parents sits the Swartley’s adventure vehicle, Dusty — a Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia camper. According to Ben, the name was birthed out of the sentiment that, “Every good trip we have, the van comes back really dusty or muddy.”
We met the Swartley’s on our way to Big Sur, CA. After connecting on Instagram, they invited us to park our trailer for the night next to Dusty in their driveway. We enjoyed drinks together as Ben and Shestin shared stories of how they met, their time staying in an off-the-grid eco palapa in Baja California, and the excitement of raising their son Grayson to love road travel. Grayson slept quietly.
In addition to owning their Westy, the Swartley’s are in the process of having a 390 square foot tiny house built that they will eventually move into following its completion. “We decided to purchase a tiny house because we felt like it would help enable the lifestyle we want to live,” shared Ben. Ben works as an analyst for Apple while Shestin is an independent consultant for a number of tech companies, allowing her to work remotely much of the time. As a young family based in the Bay Area, the cost of living is incredibly high. Living in their tiny house will allow them to save money and own a home while having the flexibility to move it anywhere.
Much of the Swartley’s decisions to move towards a simpler lifestyle is rooted in Ben and Shestin’s different upbringings. Ben described to us in a follow-up email that, “Growing up we weren't allow to play video games or watch TV. While we hated this growing up as our friends were playing nintendo and watching all the cool new TV shows, looking back on this I wouldn't have changed a thing.” Shestin’s parents married young, and thus she was raised camping on the weekends and enjoyed backyard parties where her dad's rock band performed. Ben and Shestin plan on raising their son Grayson in a similar fashion.
Listen to the full audio interview below.