INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW MUSE
Who are you and what is your backstory?
My name is Andrew Muse and I’m a professional multi-sport athlete and content creator for brands like Rossignol, GoPro, Travel Channel, Ford and more. I grew up in Massachusetts in a pretty rough situation as a kid where I really didn’t know any happy adults and knew I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted to live a life fueled by passion and not follow in the footsteps of my parents.
I moved out to Park City right after I graduated highschool to pursue a career as a heli-ski guide or professional snowboarder. After being fired at the start of my second season as a ski patroller for ducking a rope line I thought my dreams were shattered.
I started working restaurant jobs to make ends meet and be able to snowboard during the day. I got a GoPro and started filming basic edits of my friends and I on the mountain doing what we enjoy most.
Take us to the moment you decided to begin your Vanlife?
Living in a ski town we have two “shoulder seasons” (spring and fall) where there’s not a whole lot going on or much money to be made as a server. I would take off in my VW golf and spend 2 months climbing and then in my Astro van chasing adventures.
After awhile I realized I would love to make a career out of filming my adventures with my pup where I followed my passion for snowboarding, climbing, kiting, and more. It seemed like a way to pursue happiness and live my best life. I lived in people’s stairways and garages to save money on rent and worked 3 jobs to be able to afford my first truck camper, a 1976 Dynacruiser. It was scary spending all the money I had to buy and remodel a vehicle to live in full time and leave secure jobs for the unknown.
"Life is short. Might as well do what you love. Take the chance. Work hard and create positivity in other people’s lives along the way."
I finally decided I was going to quit my job and make the leap into traveling and living in my camper full time with my pup Booter. On my last night of work it was April Fool’s day and just so I couldn’t change my mind and go back to my restaurant job, I super-glued my work shoes to my manager’s office floor since he hated them so much. That was it, there’s no going back now. I knew working for myself and filming Season 1 of my series Tiny Home Adventure would make me feel more fulfilled and being able to spend all my time with Booter is the life I truly wanted for us.
Tell us about the advantages to the Van lifestyle?
There are so many advantages to living life on the road. For one, it’s freeing to have all your belongings be able to fit in your vehicle with you and go wherever you want that day. In Season 1, I was able to travel the west coast with Booter and take him on epic adventures through the desert, in the ocean, and more. In Season Two I was able to fulfill a dream of mine and live in Alaska in my 4x4 Ford E350 van with my new pup Kicker for 4 months.
I spent time on Denali riding big mountain lines, took Kicker paragliding, kayaked through glaciers, and more. Now we’re gearing up for the biggest season yet in the expedition vehicle we built from the ground up, the MUSEROAMER.
I learned a lot about myself along the way. I was not only able to learn how to renovate a truck camper and van but also what it takes to build an entire vehicle from scratch. I’ve been able to push myself to get better at the things I love like photography and videography, snowboarding, climbing, and speedflying.
Being able to spend every day with my pup and watch him grow into an adventure dog has been incredible. I knew from the beginning I didn’t want to have a dog unless I could give him the best life possible and for me that means sharing all my adventures with him.
Tell us about the biggest challenges and downsides to the Van lifestyle?
The lowest point of my life came through living life on the road and in turn I learned a lot of important lessons. At the end of Season 1, I wanted to get back to Park City to edit and release the last episode on a self-imposed deadline. I fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into a semi truck, losing not only my home and all my belongings but also my first pup Booter. My accident could have been avoided had I known my limits and just pulled over on the side of the road to sleep and I'll have to live with my choice for the rest of my life. Now I'm never in a rush, and never push it when driving. If I'm tired, I just pull over and sleep without a second thought.
Other challenges to van life are the small spaces, living in the van full time in Season 2 and not being able to stand up at all definitely took its toll. If you’re traveling with friends or a significant other you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves from being in such close proximity all the time.
"Season 2 really restored my faith in humanity with how willing people were to help when our sled trailer axle broke or when we needed a place to simply shower."
And for me, I have to plan around only going places that Kicker can join because leaving him behind isn’t an option. Most National Parks are out of the question for us since they aren’t super dog friendly. I always have to make sure to have fresh water for him, the ability to pick up his dog food, and plan stops where he won’t ever have to be left in a hot vehicle by himself.
How do you find a sense of community when you’re always moving? How do you maintain and build relationships on the road?
As you can see in Seasons 1 and 2 of Tiny Home Adventure, living on the road opens up the possibility of meeting some incredible people along the way. I always love meeting locals in the places I’m visiting and you’re almost always bound to cross paths with other vanlifers as well.
Season 2 really restored my faith in humanity with how willing people were to help when our sled trailer axle broke or when we needed a place to simply shower. I honestly think living on the road opens you up to some of the best friendships and experiences you could have.
Traveling in and out of service like I have in the past does make it hard to keep in touch with friends and family but with social media these days it’s easy to maintain contact and meet up with people along the way. I always love when friends or family can meet me on the road for an adventure.
This season of Tiny Home Adventure I’ll be traveling full time with my girlfriend Ashley and it’s going to be her first time living in a vehicle on the road so there will definitely be a learning curve for both of us.
How do you support yourself financially?
I do whatever it takes, some days I’m an athlete, some days I’m a photographer, some days I’m a videographer, and some days I teach snowboarding. I own a small production company, Andrew Muse Productions, so I’m able to work full-time from the road. My thought is that if you’re the hardest working person you know, then you’re bound to be successful.
I go more in depth about how I make a living on The Adventurepreneur Playbook podcast and other podcasts listed on my website HERE.
What is your one piece of advice for people who want to do what you do?
Life is short. Might as well do what you love. Take the chance. Work hard and create positivity in other people’s lives along the way.
What have been the most influential and helpful books, podcasts, blogs, websites or other resources?
I was really inspired by EarthRoamer. I think they took the RV to the highest possible level and based my build off of that with a slightly more utilitarian take on it. I’ve used websites like buslifeadvenutre.com, Expedition portal, and groups like #vanlife on facebook for information and inspiration.
What does the future look like?
I’m so excited to finally be back on the road full time after working on the MUSEROAMER build for the last year. The plan is to continue to progress, push myself out of my comfort zone and elevate what we are doing. We're pushing to get Season Three of Tiny Home Adventure picked up by a major network to take it to a new level.
We’ll be chasing storms out west this winter then heading to Alaska in the spring for a few months. From there the goal is to drive down through Mexico and Central America, eventually ending up at the southern point of South America.
Is there anything that you need that you can’t find or anything you are seeking help with?
The biggest thing we need right now is more people watching our content on YouTube and Instagram. We’re trying to have the MUSEROAMER project shared on as many media outlets as possible and to find a network to produce Season 3. If anyone has any connections in that space please let me know!
Rapid fire questions
What are the top 3 Van essentials that you couldn’t live without?
My dog, my camera, and some sort of GPS so I don’t get lost.
Top 3 favorite places you’ve visited?
Hood River, Alaska, and Havasupai Falls
Where are you now?
We’re in Utah for the holidays and will be heading to Colorado for projects most of January.
How long do you usually stay in one place?
When I’m on the road it typically depends on conditions for how long I stay in one place. I’ve stayed in Hood River, which is like my second home, for 3 months because the kiting conditions were prime.
When did you first start Vanlifing?
I moved into my first vehicle in the spring of 2009.
Are you full-time or part-time Vanlifing?
I’m back to full-time MUSEROAMER-ing now!
How many weeks have you spent in the Van in the last 12 months?
Since we just finished up the vehicle build we’ve lived on the road full-time for about a month now!
What kind of vehicle/rv/trailer/setup do you have?
We currently have a Ford F550 with a custom built shell on the back.
Where can we go to keep up with you and your adventures?
Instagram: @andrew__muse, @kickerdogmuse, @tinyhomeadventure, @theunexpectedadventuress
Facebook: Andrew Muse
YouTube: Andrew Muse
Website: Andrew Muse Productions
Blog: The Unexpected Adventuress