In 1995, Kathy and Peter Holcombe were a young couple with a dream to see the country. They achieved this goal by tent camping out of a Honda Civic. Today the duo, along with their 14-year-old daughter, are renowned professional adventure photographers who have traveled throughout North America shooting for brands like GoPro, Winnebago and Kokatat. Their story is unique, one that so many desire but few actually live out. We had the pleasure to chat with the full-time RVer’s and came away undeniably inspired by the work and lives of the Holcombe’s. For the last five years, the trio has paved the way for those who aim to experience life out of the box. Learn about the Class A, B and C this family has lived out of over the last few decades, how they transitioned from Suburban life to road life, what schooling on the road looks like for their daughter and their biggest adventure that is yet to come in the article below.
“Through this crazy, ever-changing nomadic lifestyle, we feel like we have discovered the secret of life and we can’t imagine spending our days any other way.” – Kathy Holcombe
All photography by Famagogo
La Mesa RV: Tell us about yourselves! What drew you to the RV lifestyle and how long have you been RVing?
Kathy Holcombe: More than 20 years ago Peter and I took our first road trip together, just two weeks after we met and were completely hooked. We have been exploring the world together ever since. We started out in 1995 by tent camping out of a Honda Civic, and quickly upgraded to a Tacoma with a homemade bed/drawer system built in the back. When Abby was born we upgraded to a Tundra which worked for us until 2014 when we got the crazy notion to sell our home and live on the road full-time.
Our original plan was to buy a Mercedes Sprinter van and build out an RV-like interior, but Peter’s dad begged us to, at the very least, humor him and go look at a few actual RVs. We stepped one foot into the Winnebago View and fell in love. It had everything that we wanted and we really loved the sleek European finish, but it was the slide-out that pushed us over the edge to purchase our first RV. We sold our home two weeks later and we have been living full-time on the road ever since.
For the past five years we have explored much of North America on a quest for adventure. From rock climbing and whitewater kayaking to canyoneering and backpacking, we have traveled over 200,000 miles to 49 states, six provinces, and have visited 47 National Parks. Through this crazy, ever-changing nomadic lifestyle, we feel like we have discovered the secret of life and we can’t imagine spending our days any other way.
LMRV: Tell us about your brilliant photography work. How has living in an RV created opportunity for your business?
KH: When we committed to pulling the plug on life in the suburbs and shifted into a life on the road, there were two facets of our lives that we honestly had absolutely no idea how they would play out. The first and most important question was in regards to Abby’s education. Peter and I believe that education is a founding principle of success and we were not willing to gamble with Abby’s future success. We found an accredited online program so that she could continue her education with a semi-traditional school environment remotely.
The second big concern revolved around our careers. We owned a very prestigious wedding and portrait photography business that specialized in creating incredible experiences in wild and beautiful places and culminated in custom decor for the home. We had poured our hearts into our business and weren’t certain we could maintain the same level of service that we had developed over the years. More importantly, we weren’t sure that our high-end clientele would consider booking our services if they found out that we were essentially homeless.
In the end, those two fears proved to be completely unfounded. Abby has thrived in both her traditional education as well as through the countless experiences she has had over the years that wouldn’t have been possible any other way. She has found gold on the American River in Coloma, CA where the gold rush began, and observed grizzly bears feasting on salmon out of her bedroom window. She has personally explored the remarkable geology of the Grand Canyon as she set the record as the youngest girl to have ever paddled the entire length of the notorious whitewater of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. She is a well rounded, inquisitive young lady who continues to amaze us.
As for our business, it has morphed in the most remarkable ways. The first two years on the road we maintained our wedding and portrait business. Much to our surprise, we found that our past clients embraced our new lifestyle and continued to book us for portrait sessions, and then we began to attract a new demographic of wedding clients that loved the fact that we were now photographing in dramatic locations across the continent. But the really interesting twist was in the fact that Peter finally had time to work on some personal projects that he had been ruminating on for years and we began sharing that work on our social media platform.
We began creating images and video from our experiences on the road and those images began resonating within the outdoor adventure community. Soon we had companies like Jackson Kayak, Kokatat, GoPro, Winnebago and countless others asking if they could share our story and our personal adventure images. Over time, our wedding and portrait business was almost completely replaced with commercial and editorial work in the outdoor adventure marketplace. We never in a million years dreamed that we would be paid to go on incredible adventures and photograph and write about our experiences. It truly is better than anything we could have imagined and keeps getting better every year.
LMRV: What made you decide on a Winnebago Revel?
KH: For the first five years of our adventure, we lived in a Winnebago View and pulled a 12’ cargo trailer full of toys. In the fall of 2017, we were asked to help with the product launch of a completely new genre of Winnebago, the 4×4 adventure van known as the Revel. Our mission was to take out the Revel for two weeks and photograph it in dramatic environments. Once we realized the capacity of the Revel to take us anywhere we wanted to go, a new idea began to emerge, a really, really BIG idea. We decided we wanted to take a Winnebago around the world. We are kicking off the Famagogo World Tour in June of 2019 in Europe and cannot wait to discover what is over the next big horizon.
LMRV: What is your favorite feature on the Revel?
KH: We absolutely LOVE how nimble the Revel is. It really feels like there is nothing holding us back. We are just as comfortable navigating the streets of San Francisco to the high mountain snow covered passes in Colorado as well as the rugged trails of Moab, UT. We love that there is finally an RV that is as adventure ready as we are.
LMRV: Any tips for making the most of your Class B with a family of 4 (including your pup)?
KH: Moving from a Class C home into a van has been a bit of a transition, but with a bit of creative problem solving, we have discovered the perfect solution. The only thing better than a one Winnebago family is a TWO Winnebago family! We have added a Micro Minnie 2100 BH caboose to our Revel and absolutely LOVE this combo. The Micro Minnie allows us to spread out and enjoy the comforts of a larger fridge, a three burner stove, oven and a full sized dinette. We think of it as our base camp. When adventure calls, all we have to do is drop the trailer and we are expedition ready. We will miss our basecamp on our around the world adventure, but the trade off is completely worth it.
LMRV: Have you made any upgrades to the Revel? If so, what are those additions?
KH: The Revel comes ready to rock with 200 watts of solar on the roof, two group 31 house batteries and a diesel furnace, but it really wasn’t designed to sleep three. We have redesigned the back seat to create a twin sized bed for our 14-year-old daughter and she loves the additional sleeping space. We have also engineered a work station in the passenger seat that allows Peter to set up a digital imaging desk in the front and Abby and I can still function in the back without disturbing him.
LMRV: Any advice for first-time RV owners?
KH: The best advice we have for first time RV owners is to really think about how you want to travel and what you want that experience to be. We have spent time in a Class A, C, and now a B as well as a towable and they each have their pros and cons. If you are planning on spending a majority of time in a campground, the additional space of a Class A or C is a great option. If you are like us and prefer wandering down dirt roads in the desert, you may want something a little smaller to get you to your desired destination. Either way, just get out there and go!
Keep a lookout for our second interview with the Holcombe family, which details the epic world tour they’re about to venture on next month! To stay up to date with this incredible family, follow their story on Instagram and their website. Looking for other inspiring road stories? Check out our recent post with the Wendland’s of RV lifestyle and leave us a comment in the section below with details of your most epic road story for a chance to be featured on our blog.