Saturday, July 20, 2024

Wilmington couple trades home for old SWAT bus for year of travel around U.S.

After selling their home earlier in the month, Wilmington photographers Adam and Destiny Clayton set out this week for a year of "doing laps around the United States", traveling from one wedding gig to the next.

WILMINGTON — The 1994 Chevy P30 bus now called Lagom — translated to “just the right amount” in Swedish — once belonged to a New Jersey SWAT team, according to its new owners Adam and Destiny Clayton.

“We pulled up the floors and found vintage bullets and stuff,” Destiny Clayton said.

Early Wednesday morning the young Wilmington couple set out with their five-month-old Australian Shepherd for a year “doing laps around the United States” to photograph and film weddings. Their first stop will be a tiny house festival in Georgia.

Related: Antiquing in the old pink church on Highway 17

The bus was in the shop Tuesday getting upgraded leaf springs, shocks, and a new set of tires to better handle its added weight. For 11 months they had spent $45,000 rigging the bus with its own fully-functional kitchen, bedroom, work study, staircase, 75-gallon fish tank, and an electrical system including four solar panels on the roof that cost more than the bus itself.

“We looked at it as our house — not a bad price for a house,” Adam Clayton said.

After discarding most of their possessions and selling their Wilmington home in mid-February, the newly married couple looks forward to a less-is-more lifestyle.

“Through our international travels, one constant thing we saw overseas is that people with not a ton of stuff are genuinely more happy,” Adam said. “One of the ideas behind the bus is: own less and see more. When we did our first throw-a-bunch-of-crap-away, when we got married, it felt good — like taking weight off our lives.”

Not to say it won’t be a challenge. Their entire bus could fit into their old walk-in closet, he said; now, they’ll have to manage with four-square feet of closet space.

“It’s difficult. You have to be practical and ask things like, ‘What scenarios would you wear this shirt?'” Adam said.

A key component to their new life on the road will be managing the use of solar energy to carefully budget each day’s necessary tasks, from cooking to running the refrigerator to how much time they devote to charging their laptops and camera gear.

Another important daily routine will be finding a place to sleep. As an off-grid unit, they can avoid costly campgrounds and use apps like Boondocking and iOverlander to find free overnight parking spots. And according to Clayton, most Walmart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot stores will put you up in their parking lots if you call ahead of time.

The Clayton's Australian Shepherd, Brew, eats from his custom made bowl inside the bus. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Adam and Destiny Clayton)
The Clayton’s Australian Shepherd, Brew, eats from his custom made bowl inside the bus. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Adam and Destiny Clayton)

“Cracker Barrel is also a big one the bus community is talking about now, which is a plus because you can wake up and eat breakfast there too,” Adam said.

In June they’ll shoot a wedding in Utah’s Arches National Park before returning to Wilmington for a few local jobs. Then it’s off to Iceland for a week-long vacation and Finland for another wedding before returning to the bus in the early fall to cruise around North Carolina.

“We’ll check out the mountains in the hot months,” Destiny said. “We have air conditioning and heat on the bus but it’s not as efficient as a house.”

Adam said their social media following — they go by the brand name Becoming Borderless — will be an important tool to keep people interested in their journey while building towards their long-term goals.

“Our biggest dream is to figure out a way to use this bus, social media, and our outdoor experiences to work with a company like National Geographic; shooting documentaries and wildlife photography, things like that,” Adam said.

He said his wife recently finished a Master of Science in Environmental Studies, and they want to use social media as a platform to push conservation and ocean management (her emphasis of study).

“There’s also the goal of reducing our footprint in general. That’s what’s cool about living on a bus,” Destiny said.

After a year in the bus, Adam said they’ll determine if more time on the road is in order or if it’s time to move somewhere overseas.

“This for us is an opportunity to see what’s in our own backyard before we head out,” Adam said.

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