When most people think of traveling companions, they usually imagine other people. But for this Tasmanian native, there’s no one he’d rather share the road with than his beloved cat, Willow.
A man with a plan and a van
In 2015, Rich East knew that his life had to change. He’d spent 10 years living the corporate lifestyle, and it really wasn’t working for him. So Rich decided to do what many people dream of, but few actually achieve. He bought a camper van and started reshaping the interior into a tiny home. It had a bed, a kitchen, and small shelves all over.
Rich sold his possessions. He sold his house. And he handed in his resignation to the corporate job that couldn’t give him fulfillment. Finally, he was free.
Couldn’t leave his best friend behind
There was only one thing tying Rich down to a sedentary lifestyle: his little black cat named Willow. He couldn’t bear to leave her. But could a cat become a traveler?
Rich started by taking his cat out for a few days at a time. Eventually, days turned into weeks. He thought that Willow might get upset if she couldn’t explore her old haunts. Stressed cats are not happy cats, and he was worried about her health.
But Willow didn’t start wilting; she started thriving instead. Rich found himself waking up to a purring, happy feline who excitedly waited for the next destination. With his worries assuaged, Rich set out on his big adventure.
Willow’s pet tracker
Rich doesn’t want Willow to get lost in a strange location, so she wears a pet tracker around her neck. This GPS device lets Rich know where Willow is at all times. With that said, Willow never goes very far. She’ll explore the area outside the van, but she always stays within sight. When it’s time to go to bed, Willow is right there, waiting.
The van is full of excellent places for a cat to hide and sleep. Willow can stretch out on the bed, rustle around in the cupboards, or tuck herself into the storage space above the driver’s seat.
But Willow’s absolute favorite place to sit is on the dashboard. She enjoys the beautiful view while Rich drives the van to exciting new locations.
Across all of Australia
Since 2015, Rich and Willow have driven across the entire Australian continent. In 2018, they even made it back home to their hometown in Tasmania.
Rich spends his time volunteering, working odd jobs, and hanging out with other campers. Willow spends her time napping, exploring, and watching the world pass by.
The traveling duo loves to camp out in the desert. They’ve seen deep canyons, beautiful sunsets, and abandoned locations with mysterious histories.
Where are they today?
At the end of 2019, Rich bought a new van and sold the old one. He’s remaking his brand-new camper to be able to fit an extra person. The reason? Rich’s girlfriend, Steph, has joined the crew.
Rich and Willow have no plans to leave their adventurous lifestyle behind. With a whole world in front of them, there’s no telling where this unique pair of travelers will go next.