Meet Shoestring Triptographer & VanLife Storyteller Justin Fricke

Born and raised in Florida, Justin Fricke is a 27 year old guy who quit his bank job to pursue a freelance career in storytelling from the American road.

In 2013, his girlfriend at the time convinced him to go on a year-long road trip, so he started dreaming, saving and making plans. When the relationship ended a few months later, Justin’s brother stepped in and proposed doing the trip together. They called it The Bro’d Trip. Brothers + Road Trip = Bro’d Trip.

After the year was over, Justin moved into a smaller van on his own. Currently, he is traveling across the country, documenting and sharing his experiences daily on his vlog.

We are excited to welcome Justin to the Shoestring family as a Triptographer. Check out our interview below to learn more, including his advice for Shoestring Warriors considering a life on the road!

You really have to enjoy discomfort and realize that those discomforts are what makes the fun moments in life so much better.

Follow Justin’s journey on his website, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter!

Shoestring Warrior: Justin Fricke


New Smyrna Beach, FL

Current Location:

Moab, UT


Freelance Content Creator (Photo, Video, and Writing)

What are your passions outside of work?

I love hiking, climbing, mountain biking, running, surfing, taking photos, making movies, and telling stories. Oh wait. Those last three are technically “work.” 🙂

How would you describe your level of camping experience?

I’d say advanced. When people ask what VanLife is like, I usually tell them it’s a lot like a camping trip that never ends, so I think I’m also a full-time camper.

Shoestring Adventures Trip Completed:

Joshua Tree Camping Adventure

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a 27 year old guy with a college degree who quit his cushy full-time job at a bank to pursue a photo/video/writing freelance career which is anything but stable. I only listen to pop punk and hip hop and if you think you can be the one to introduce me to some new “good” music you’ll be sorely mistaken and find that’s impossible. My brother tried to introduce me to, and like, all sorts of music last year and successfully failed. I’ve also been known to hop on a dating app to try and find a climbing partner or someone to explore with. I’ll let you know when I find success with that.

Photo by Jose Romero

What inspired you to quit your 9-5 and launch The Bro’d Trip? How has life on the road changed after The Bro’d Trip, since you started travelling solo?

In October of 2013 I went on a climbing trip with my girlfriend. We met up with a friend of mine and her boyfriend who were almost done with their yearlong road trip. My girlfriend caught the wanderlust bug and quickly tried to convince me that it’d be a great idea for me to quit my job when she graduated in 2 years to go off on our own yearlong road trip. Eventually I gave in, we started saving, and a couple months later she dumped me. My brother, being the good brother he is, took me out for 2 for 1 drinks at the local Applebee’s. We started talking about it and before we knew it, we decided we’d do this yearlong trip together. We called it The Bro’d Trip. Brothers + Road Trip = Bro’d Trip

The biggest way that life has changed is that I get to call all the shots and I’m not on a schedule anymore. Last year I was working as a team with my brother, so every decision was a democracy. We definitely had our dynamic discussions about the best way to do things and in the end it all worked out. Now I call all the shots and do things exactly how I want. Sometimes it works and sometimes I wish I had another person to bounce ideas off and talk some things through. Not having this 50 state goal this year means I can slow down, set down roots in a place for a while, make friends, and even pick up some freelance work. So far I’m really loving it.

What motivated you to start documenting your travel experiences?

About 5 years ago I started my blog, The Weekend Warrior, because I heard that there’s this whole world of freelancers out there in the outdoor industry. No one’s going to hire a writer without a portfolio, so I started The Weekend Warrior to document my shenanigans outside the office and to build a portfolio. And my boss at the time told me I was a terrible writer and I should do something else, so I wanted to prove him wrong.

My vlog, I started that because Adam and I had a weekly vlog on The Bro’d Trip and loved filming our lives and making a video every week. I loved it so much that I decided to start a daily vlog and launched that in January. Originally I just wanted to document my travels, but it’s now taken on this “Sorry Mom!” approach.

The whole idea is to do something fun and challenging every day that might scare my mom.

Not to spite her, but her and my dad taught me to live the best life I can and to never let fear hold me back from living a full life, so this is kind of my way of doing just that.

Which storytellers inspire you the most?

As far as outdoor adventure storytellers go, I’d say Cedar Wright and Jimmy Chin. Those guys are nuts and find some way to film and tell a story in some of the most precarious places. When I think of what success looks like in photo and video, those two guys are usually who pop into my head. But my favorite is Casey Neistat. Chances are you’ve seen one of his YouTube videos and he’s constantly raising the bar for fellow creators.

What is your favorite destination you’ve traveled to since living on the road?

My favorite destination would have to be Moab, UT. This town pretty much caters to vanlifers and outdoor adventurers. The former uranium mining town is so rad and has tons of mountain biking trails, an entire lifetime worth of climbing routes, and thousands of miles of hiking trails, to name a few.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It all depends! My favorite days generally starts before the sun comes up to either climb or find a beautiful sunset location. Afterwards I’ll grab some breakfast or coffee if there’s time and head back out until it gets too hot. In the afternoon I’ll squeeze in some time to catch up on emails, upload the vlog, check my social media, and deliver any work ahead of my deadlines. In the evening, I’ll try to get some more time outside whether it be shooting a sunset, a trail run, go mountain biking, or maybe even some more climbing. When the sun sets I’ll start file dumping and cataloging all my photo and video files while I’m making dinner. After that’s all cleaned up I’ll edit my vlog that I shot that day before going to sleep.

Can you share any lessons you’ve learned on the road?

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that:

You can only compare yourself to yourself and no one else.

We meet so many different people that it’s often easy to start comparing what others have to what we don’t and I’ve found myself doing that a lot. And it’s important to remember that others have potentially been working their entire lives, putting in countless hours of unpaid work, to get to this moment in their life. Being jealous and comparing ourselves to others only discredits others work and makes it harder for us to achieve our goals.

What advice do you have for Shoestring Warriors looking to give up the daily grind for life on the road?

You really have to love and appreciate discomfort. When you hit the road full-time, everything becomes harder. I believe we take so much for granted, but you really don’t realize how easy things have become until you have to find an outlet in a public place to charge electronics, frantically drive around town at 6:00 am looking for a place that’s open so you can use the bathroom, having to find a spigot to fill up a 6 gallon tank of water, etc.

You really have to enjoy discomfort and realize that those discomforts are what makes the fun moments in life so much better.

Where to next?

At the end of the month my mom is joining me on the road for a week. I’ll pick her up in Salt Lake City and then we’re going to take a week to visit Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capital Reef National Parks. After that I’ll probably be somewhere between Salt Lake City and Denver before heading to Indiana at the end of June for a photo/video job.

The perfect s’more? (If you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)

I’m not a fan of s’mores (gasp!), but I love a good banana boat… I think that’s what it’s called.

Photos © 2017 Justin Fricke

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