At Barefoot Kings we obviously love travel and adventure, and love talking to people who share this passion. But one of our main goals (besides simply driving people insane with envy) is to show that travel and seeing these amazing places around the world is not exclusive to those of a certain economic status. 

In today's interview with James Barkman, we learn a bit about someone who's famous for how he travels, almost as much as the places he goes and the photos he takes. What do we mean by how? James' VW van of course! The Bark-van, if you will. Bark-mobile... Bark-wagon... Ok, we'll stop. 

So if you're the kind of person who finds taking a road trip more interesting (and feasible) than flying first-class from five-star hotel to hotel, take some pointers from our chat below with James. 


BFK: Where have been some of your favorite places to explore/what have been some of your best road trips and adventures? 

JamesOne of my favorite trips has been a cliff jumping expedition to Havasupai, AZ. Nothing like hiking 10 miles through the desert in 107 degree weather, and immediately flipping off a waterfall into a perfect water hole... Driving across the country with a couple bros and a dirt bike stuffed inside probably takes the cake for most memorable roadtrip. 

What kind of adventures inspire you the most?

I tend to be most inspired in spontaneous environments. I love road trips with a destination in mind, but even better are the ones with no destination or time frame... Just the open road and a full tank of gas. 

You said in an Instagram post "One of my favorite things about being on the road is the incredible people that you'll meet around every corner." Can you chat about some of the people you've met in your journeys? Are there any that stick out in your mind, if so why? 

Absolutely! I have been blown away by the amazing people I've met time and time again. It really is humbling and inspiring running into people who will give you their house to stay in, a car to drive, food to eat, or money to spend. Some of the most generous people I've ever met have been while traveling and living on the road. 

When traveling, do you go with a specific plan in mind or is there a level of spontaneity that adds to the adventure? 

I really love to keep things spontaneous and have a general destination or two, and let the journey and the road decide what happens along the way. One trip through the Northeast I only used a map, it really helped me to be more aware and engaged with the landscape and location that I was in or traveling through. 

Can you tell us about your awesome van/what's inside of it? How liberating is it to be able to travel and live on the road? 

My van is my pride and joy. :) A 1976 VW Westfalia, she has more bad days than good days but I love her just the same! It really is one of the most exhilarating/inspiring things to be able to live in a van, and wake up in incredible locations every day.

My van has a small kitchen inside, an icebox, a couch that folds into a bed, and then a "top bunk" that folds down when the top is popped. I also have a veggie garden in the place of my passenger seat right now, which I swap out for a woodstove in the winter. It has everything I need and stores everything I own. I can't complain! 

What are some of your go-to meals on the road and best local foods eaten in your travels?

Go-to food has got to be the egg and avocado burrito. Eaten more of those than days I've been alive! Best local food I've ever had was that bowl of New England clam chowder in New England. 

Do you have a dream location you haven't traveled to yet?

I really want to drive to Alaska or to South America. There's so many incredible places in the US that can take a lifetime to really experience them all. I'm really drawn to remote and dramatic environments and landscapes. 

What's next for you? Any upcoming trips? 

I just got back from a little mission to Joshua Tree, and as of now my plan is to head through the Pacific Northwest and possibly into Canada. 

Any advice or final words of encouragement you would give someone who is about to embark on a road trip?

Make sure you're familiar with your vehicle, because breakdowns are inevitable! I would suggest to enjoy the journey and whatever it swings your way. Sometimes the most miserable trips end up being the most memorable. Sucks to change a tire in short sleeves in 15 degree weather, but hey, that's a story for the grandkids.