Inside This Traveler's Insane Argentina Trip

Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
We all have those moments of wanderlust — especially when summer comes around — but very few of us get to act on it. Just when we think a life on the road is a total pipe dream, though, we meet Emily Harteau.
The former Project Runway contestant has been traveling with her husband, Adam, and daughter, Colette, since October 2012. They had a one-year plan to drive from California to Tierra del Fuego in South America in their tricked-out Volkswagen Westfalia Camper, but five months in, decided to turn it into an extended journey.
Now, Harteau is giving us an exclusive look at the latest pics from her journey and the best travel tips she's learned on the road. From the Teva shoes she never leaves her van without to the essentials she stows away when backpacking, read on for an exclusive peek into this on-the-fringe life.
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
Were you always big on traveling?
"Growing up, my family would spend summers loaded up in our van camping and traveling to scenic locations mostly in the western U.S."

And, how did this trip to Argentina come about?
"Adam and I had discussed embarking on a grand voyage for years. It has always been about the journey, not the destination. Tierra del Fuego was just the farthest point we could drive, thus marking the place which we would start heading back."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
A journey indeed.
"Yeah, our mission has transformed from a one-year ‘trip’ to indefinitely enjoying the rewards of slow travel as a family on the open road. It felt like we were rushing by places we wished to see and explore more. Realizing we were on the journey of a lifetime, we chose to slow ourselves down."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
What were you doing before you decided to check out long-term?
"Predeparture, I worked at NewbarK on weekdays. And, on weekends, our lives looked like a miniversion of this one. We would pack up the van and take off for adventures in California and beyond."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
Speaking of escaping from the office, this picture screams "freedom" to us.
"Yes. A beach camp on the sand is the perfect inspiration for an impromptu dance party!"
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
We hear another baby is on the way — congrats! Has the pregnancy changed your itinerary at all?
"We just decided to wait to go into the vast wilds of Patagonia, southern Chile and Argentina, until after our new baby is born. We'll set up a base camp in Brazil for a few months. After a visit back stateside, where Adam will have an art show, we’ll return to Brazil in October. Our plan is to head south next spring and summer. Perhaps we will welcome the new year in Tierra del Fuego…"
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
We can't even imagine how cool seeing this in person must have been. What is it exactly?
"Gorgeous sculptures by artist Juan Diaz Fleming in the remote Atacama Desert of Chile — both ancient and futuristic at the same time."

Have you met anyone interesting in your travels?
"A Brazilian guy who traveled — by bicycle — from Brazil to Mexico to Tierra del Fuego in five years, a Peruvian man who made taxidermy from roadkill, and a Chilean surfer who made a shark suit to scare people out of the water when it got too packed. Just a few examples!"
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
How do you fit your family's entire life into the Westfalia?
"There are so many treasures we would love to have, but in a small space such as the van, we have to watch ourselves. 24 Hour Bazaar is our means of shopping vicariously through our clients’ purchases. It's where we host fair-trade flash sales featuring curated selections of artisan goods, such as rugs, blankets, ceramics, ponchos, toys, and other items made with love."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
What about cooking? Do you make your own food or eat locally?
"With three meals a day, we get plenty of opportunities to do both! I cook about 85% of our meals, and we enjoy the other 15% dining out. When cooking, I incorporate local flavors and ingredients I have on hand, plus a few specialty items that I hoard in my pantry, like sriracha, Bragg Liquid Aminos, and Alderwood smoked sea salt."

What do you like to cook?
"I grew up in a home where we love to cook, eat, and share meals together. As a longtime vegetarian, my meals and recipes are richly flavored with herbs and spices using fresh, local ingredients. My cooking mantra would be 'more ingredients means more flavor' — I am definitely not a minimalist in the kitchen!"
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
We hear you're working on a cookbook — how did that come along?
"I've been keeping a record of great combinations and recipes since 2004, so it has been a long time in the works. Great, local ingredients are the base and inspiration for all my meals."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
As amazing as this pic is, we have to ask: Do you ever get tired of living out of a van?
"In general, no — I am in love with this life we live on the road! As a fashion designer, living out of such a small closet is definitely a challenge. And, coupled with pregnancy, it is a real challenge. But, day-to-day is not spent so much inside the van as it is out in the world. Just look at these churning turquoise waters in Peru."

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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
Good point. What about your style? We can't imagine there to be real "closet space" in that van.
"Right now, my style is all about multifunctional items that can literally go from wilderness to city. I also love hats, black eyeliner, statement jewelry, patterns, textures, and comfortable clothes."

And, are you still designing?
"I have a sketchbook that holds many dream designs. Adam and I previously designed a laptop case that we worked with local artisans in Peru to create. We're excited to develop more custom items on the road."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
What's your favorite place in South America so far?
"There are places I prefer over others, but I find that, collectively, the whole of the experience is what makes this journey so powerful. There are moments of beauty to be discovered in the least expected places. I have found that trading in expectation for experience is a greatly rewarding change of mind."
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Photo: Via @ouropenroad.
What do your friends and family think of your journey?
"When we departed for a year on the road, they were all very supportive — coming together to help in every way. Now, that we're on the road indefinitely, there is a little sadness, but mostly an understanding of why we keep doing it: To see the wonders of the world."
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