Tyler and Todd Gibbon-Thorne had it all. The young married couple, who met and fell in love right before entering college, had great jobs and lived in a four-bedroom house in Alberta, Canada, where they were accepted and supported by their friends and family for who they are.
In 2019, they ditched it all to hit the road in a 1996 Recreational Vehicle that they purchased for $7,000.
“At first, everyone thought we had lost our minds,” Tyler recounts in an exclusive interview with GayCities. “Funnily enough, the more bucket list places we explored and the more memories we had the opportunity of making, simply because we were no longer tethered to all of the financial obligations of our old life, the more people got it. There’s that super cliché saying that ‘you only live once.’ Well, as it turns out it’s not just a cheesy quote or a line from a catchy song, it’s brutally true–you are going to die–so you may as well live while you still have time.”
And live they have, turning their RV adventures into a popular YouTube channel with 90,000 subscribers where their captivating videos narrate their journey with their two dogs, Charlie and Eddie, and their current project, building a home on ten acres in the Nova Scotia wilderness.
We caught up with the couple this summer to chat about life on the road, the benefits of RVing, and just being a generally adorable couple…
Tell us about how you guys met…
We met online in 2008 while we were still in grade twelve, finishing up high school and both got accepted to the same university for the following year. Part of this early acceptance was being randomly paired with someone else that was starting school the next year and sending a mixed CD of your favorite music to them. The idea was to create a “pen pal” so that you would know at least one person when you got to university. By the luck of the draw, we matched together and swapped CDs. From there, we developed a friendship and began talking via MSN Messenger (who remembers those days?). By the time we finally met in person eleven months later, we had already developed a strong bond and connection. As soon as we met in person, everything sort of fell into place. We dated for a few years, got married in 2014 and the rest is history–or so they say!
How did you get into RV travel?
We’ve always had a travel bug. Prior to leaving our full-time jobs, we would travel several times a year to a variety of places. However, we realized how expensive it is when you have to pay for hotels, restaurants, and car rentals at each place. That’s when we started looking at RVs as a way to continue to explore but eliminate the most expensive aspect of travel, accommodations. A very common comment that we get on our videos from the LGBTQ+ community is that RVing is very much part of the straight culture and that they would never want to travel that way. If you’re reading this and have ever felt that way, listen we totally get it. We’ve been to our fair share of campgrounds where it very much fits that stereotype. But on the flip side, there are so many amazing places you go that are the complete opposite of what you’d expect. We stayed for six weeks at an RV park in Palm Springs that had hot tubs, pools, a gym, tennis, and everything else you can imagine for $25 per night. We were able to experience everything Palm Springs had to offer, and you just can’t beat that.
Where have you guys traveled?
Pretty much everywhere in Canada and the USA. We took our time going down the Pacific Northwest and eventually into California. From there we drove across the USA stopping into some pretty amazing places along the way in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and made it to Florida before we had to come back to Canada due to Covid 19. We’re both Canadian so it goes without saying we’ve explored our own country coast to coast and last year settled on a 10-acre piece of land on the east coast in Nova Scotia.
What’s your dream trip?
Easy. Driving the entire perimeter of Iceland in a converted Sprinter van!
We love traveling in our RV as it allows us to bring comfort on the road with us, no matter where we go. Plus, we get to sleep in our own bed. Also, when you are staying in a different hotel every few nights you actually spend a lot of time packing and unpacking. We never have to do that. When we get to our location there’s no work, just adventuring.
Any pro tips to improve people’s experiences on the road and camping off-road?
If your RV has no personal touches, you’re not going to be happy. We spent a month creating an RV that is really beautiful and finishing it off with amenities that you’re used to like a high-quality residential mattress. There are also a lot of technology upgrades you should do that eliminates frustrations while traveling. If you’re like us, you’ll be working on the road, and staying connected is important (cell signal booster), get an extra cheap cell phone that you can use as a mobile hotspot (every place you visit you can buy the cheapest SIM card that gives you a data plan for that area). You will save SO much time and money from not having to go to coffee shops twice a day to use the internet.
How do you socialize when you travel? How do you find other queer people/couples to hang out with?
People in the RV community are extremely friendly. We often stay at a state or national park and almost every time you pass someone while talking is an opportunity to meet a new friend. While staying at campgrounds it’s even easier. You’ll meet people at the gym, the hot tubs, etc. Ultimately the amount of downtime you have to meet up with friends will depend on the pace you’re traveling. If the goal is to do an epic cross USA road trip in anything less than a year you’re going to be pretty busy figuring out where you’re staying that night, reading reviews for restaurants in whatever town you’re staying in, the list goes on and on.
It’s a very intimate way to travel/live. Are there strains in that?
Honestly, we love living in a smaller space and don’t find it stressful at all. It’s no different than being in a relationship if you are not traveling or living in a typical house. If you do not have good communication, there are going to be problems. Living this close to someone you have to be willing and comfortable to communicate.
What’s the most beautiful scenery you’ve experienced in your travels?
There have been so many so it’s difficult to pick just one but we did Van Life in Hawaii which was out of this world as well as St. George’s Island in Florida (def recommend you checking that place out in an RV).
How would you instruct a first-timer, traveling with a friend or family pets or by yourself, about the keys to a memorable trip?
Let go of the expectations you have and just enjoy the ride. We all have a fantasy of how it’s going to go built up in our heads. But from arriving late to a spot and missing the sunset hike due to traffic on your way, or it raining the entire time you’re at your destination, there are things we cannot control about travel. But there’s always an alternative, and oftentimes it turns out better than your original plan. Just remind yourself that you’re seeing the world in a way that 99 percent of people will never get to. You aren’t just traveling, you’re living in all these places you park your home each night.
What do your friends and family think of your decision to travel this way?
At first, I think they thought we had lost our minds. Funny enough, the more bucket-list places we explored and the more memories we had the opportunity of making, simply because we were no longer tethered to all of the financial obligations of our old life, the more people got it. There’s that super cliché saying that ‘you only live once.’ Well, as it turns out it’s not just a cheesy quote or a line from a catchy song, it’s brutally true–you are going to die–so you may as well live while you still have time.
How does your audience interact with you and support you?
People say this all the time but I’m truly convinced that we have the best audience on YouTube. As creators, it never becomes any less nerve-racking, pressing upload on your newest video, maybe even more so with the types of videos we create. We aren’t creating that trendy challenge or prank videos. These are deeply personal diary-style videos that bring you along for what happened in our week. It’s not just the highs, it’s all the messy bits in between and I think because we don’t just show one side of us, our audience understands us on just such a deep level. It’s been the most rewarding part of creating these videos every Sunday.
Anything made in the air fryer!
Related: Inspirational RV recipes
What’s the queerest thing you’ve encountered during your travels?
It wasn’t on the RV road trip but we flew to Amsterdam Pride and it was like nothing we’ve ever experienced before: Over 1 million in attendance. It was such an expression of pure love and acceptance on the grandest scale we could’ve ever imagine, the floats, the food, the dancing, everything, it was just out of this world. One of our greatest memories ever.
Your videos are very professional. How did you learn this skill?
From Tyler: Thank you. Just like anything in life, there isn’t one tip or “secret sauce” that makes you able to edit videos at this level. On average I spend 20 hours per week editing our Sunday videos. I’ve never taken any creative classes in school, but I’ve always had an itch for photography and videography. So one day, I bought a camera and just got started. I was awful at first but each day it got a little easier. I can promise you, if you spend 20 hours a week learning any skill, you’ll get pretty good at it too.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
If you got to the end of this article and you’re still convinced the RV thing isn’t for you, I encourage you to give just one of our videos a try.
At its core, our channel is just about two people living their truth in spite of the expectations society has on them…hope to see you on Sunday!