Man & His Rescue Cat Travel 31,000 Miles in Their Camper Van (Video)

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Man and cat sit atop a camper looking at a desert sunset

From entrepreneur couples, traveling creative professionals to outdoor enthusiasts looking for the next thrill, a growing number of people are choosing to live a little differently, converting vehicles like vans and buses into full-time homes on wheels. The reasons can be numerous: more financial freedom, as well the allure of traveling with your home as you see the wider world out there.

These are some of the same reasons why Australian Rich East embarked on a cross-country trip in his simple van conversion. But he's not alone: so far, he's traveled 50,000 kilometers (over 31,000 miles) with his rescue cat, Willow.

Rich and rescue cat, Willow, lay in camper.

Seen over at My Modern Met, this story of a man-and-his-cat is truly endearing, and as Rich explains on his blog Van Cat Meow, his entry into the van life was the most "well-prepared mid-life crisis in history":

In early 2014 I started making plans for a massive life change. Unhappy with my 10 years in the corporate world I started designing a new life for myself. I started designing a campervan that could provide me with shelter, a home, and comfort for this next stage of my life. Slowly I began to sell all my possessions such that what was left would fit in this van.
Sharing a morning cup of coffee

Willow had already entered into Rich's life well before the implementation of his plan. He wasn't sure how Willow would travel along. He had grown attached to his quiet companion and realized he couldn't just let her go. So he began 'training' her for travel and was pleasantly surprised:

I took Willow away for weekends, then whole weeks, and not only did she cope, she thrived. I soon realized that what I thought was a house cat was in fact a van cat, an adventure cat!
Willow stands behind camper van
Rescue cat, Willow, lays on top of map in the dash of van
Willow alsleep on bed

The pair set out from Hobart, Tasmania in May 2015, traveling very, very slowly over the next two years -- often no more than 60 kilometers per week. Along the way, the pair adapted extremely well to life in the van -- seeing new sights and spending plenty of time in nature. Willow wears a tracking collar, and roams around leash-free, though she rarely wanders more than 100 meters away from the van. Willow, like most cats, will spend hours napping under the van, under the van's solar panels or in her carrier.

willow in hammock

There are some distinct advantages to bringing a cat (instead of a dog) along on such a trip, says Rich:

I may be biased but I believe travelling with a cat is easier than travelling with dogs. Cats are very independent and don’t require a huge amount of attention. Willow is quite nocturnal, sleeping throughout the day if we are driving and coming out in the afternoon for some food and a cuddle. The only disadvantage to having a traveling cat is not being able to go into the occasional area where pets aren’t permitted. We avoid the National Parks to find our own hidden places that maybe we wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Rich in hammock with Willow sitting on a nearby stump

The pair wrapped up the bulk of their trip earlier this year, but continue to travel in the van. You can follow them on Instagram, on the Van Cat Meow blog, or hang up one of their adorable calendars.