Ep 2: Sunny & Karin | @thevagabroads

Sunny Eaton and Karin Balsley are a mid-30's couple from Nashville, Tennessee who decided to sell everything they owned to travel the world in their 80 series Landcruiser and rooftop tent.  

Before hitting the road, Sunny was a rising criminal defense attorney and Karin was a successful network engineer. Then an unexpected health scare jolted life into perspective, forcing them to look at each other and re-evaluate their priorities. They asked themselves questions like: If we had six months to live, how would we want to spend that time? What would we regret not doing?  What were we doing on our happiest days? What would we be willing to give up to have more of those days?  As a couple and as individuals, what did they really WANT?

Once they figured out that freedom, travel, adventure, and spending time together was all they really wanted, the decision was easy. Sell everything (house included) to fund a two year overland trip down the PanAmerican Highway, re-branding themselves as " The Vagabroads."

Sunny & Karin's story was interesting to us because they represent a road truth, anyone can do it. They may have packed more lip gloss than motor oil, but they successfully navigated two years on the road and all of the problems that came with it. They are proof that there is no formula to successfully living life on the road.


Key Quotes & Shownotes:

“Honestly, we were talking about how to change our lives and then we started talking about this trip we had taken to Costa Rica and we kept thinking, God, we would really love to explore more and we would love to have a car to really explore it, but damn it…If it wasn't for Mexico, we could just drive down”

“We started having conversations about what our day to day life meant to us. And you know, I keep saying what the reality for us is when you look back at your life and every single day you can't distinguish one from the next. Well for us it was time to make a change. So that's what we did.”

“Before we met each other, we traveled a lot. But, but look, I had never camped before.”

“We knew that we wanted our lives to look totally different”

“When you're not doing much, that's exciting with your life..our life became about shopping and ordering in… We needed something extreme to break our habits”

“The most expensive t-shirt I ever bought before this trip was in Miami and it was a $150 t-shirt and I look back at that now and I can't believe I was ever that person ever. Yeah. It's mindblowing and that's probably one of the biggest gifts of this trip is that change in perspective.”

“I wish our society wasn't so consumed with US spending our money.”

“My current age self is mad at my 25 year old self for choosing law school and student loans. I wish that I had had the guts and the insight then to just go buy a $500 van and get on the road.”

“I didn't realize how burned out I was until I came back and I got back in the workforce and now I'm honestly, I'm a better employee, I care more and I'm way more focused and it's just a different perspective.”

“There were definitely a few hard times, but you know, just like anything else, you ease into it.”

“I got really good at was being who I am more than I ever have been in my life. I mean in my whole life I've always been worried about what other people thought or if I fit into a category or not wanting to portray a stereotype and something about this trip. I let go of all of that.”

This trip was the first time I didn't feel like my identity wasn't reliant upon what I did for a living for, for two years on the road. No one asked me what I did for a living and it blew my mind because I didn't realize how much of who I was and how much of who I projected was based on this arbitrary thing that it's just a job. It's just a job.”

“You know, it's funny..in the beginning for the first two or three months of the trip we were diligent about making sure every corner of the tent had some kind of <pepper> spray and that it was reachable in the car too. By the end of the trip. I couldn't tell you where any of that stuff was, it was buried in the back. We just weren't worried about it anymore.”

“Mexico is super duper gay friendly… We found our people in a way we just never expected.”

“I know this is counterintuitive. I think we were safer as to women than straight couples in a lot of situations. I think that the male presence can challenge some elements and for us people were really kind and chivalrous, especially in Mexico and even in El Salvador. People went out of their way more than we expected”

“People were really kind of blown away by the fact that two women were doing this and it really was easy.”

“That group <Women Overlanding the World> is one of the best things I've ever done..It's such a beautiful little spot on the Internet…I think it is a valid place for overlanding information…These women have endless experience and it's such a positive place and so supportive. I think we have real discussions and it never gets ugly and nobody's ever mansplaining anything to anybody else. I'm just so proud of that group.”