Have you ever thought about leaving the rat race, packing it all in and going on the road with your two best buds? Well, this dog travels the world, so why shouldn’t you?
After a successful joint enterprise in Berlin left Selima Taibi and Felix Starck feeling unfulfilled, the free spirits packed up their home and business, as well as their Bernese mountain dog, Rudi, bought themselves an old school bus and headed West.
They would call the journey their Expedition Happiness:
They travelled from glaciers in Alaska, to vast desert plains via Mexican mountains and down great ocean roads, documenting it all for the film Expedition Happiness, living their best hashtag Van Life.
Selima, who fell in love with seasoned traveller, Felix, in Cambodia, spoke to UNILAD to tell us how on Earth the couple and their Very Good Boy managed the trip.
Finding the city attractions ‘too loud and crowded’, they began questioning why they were tied down to one place at all and conceived the idea of converting an old school bus and heading into the wilderness.
Recalling their charmed life in Berlin, musician Selima said:
We were living together in a beautiful loft in Berlin and had just gotten a Bernese mountain dog puppy.
Our last movie Pedal The World had been a huge success and my music career was going well, so we had basically everything you could wish for: money, love, a beautiful home, even a puppy!
But we weren’t happy.
Our days consisted mostly of working on our laptops and that was just not something we wanted to settle for.
We could’ve built a house or put [our money] into savings.
Instead we sold everything, gave notice and put all of our money into crazy travel.
They bought an old school bus in Colorado online the very next day and within three weeks, were on a plane to America, Rudi in tow.
Selima and Felix managed to convert the bus just by watching YouTube tutorials and through trial and error, making it road worthy just two days before their American visas expired.
The creatives admitted it was hard labour they weren’t used to, but ‘got it done’, hot-footed it up to Canada from North Carolina and ‘from there the real trip started’.
Selima, who soundtracked the film, recounted their spontaneous travel outlook:
We never planned anything, just decided every morning where we want to go. We ended up traveling to Alaska and then down the west coast until LA where we went inland to go to Death Valley and Grand Canyon.
From there it was always south, all the way through Mexico, until we stopped in Tulum.
We really enjoyed Mexico. It’s just such an amazing place with the kindest people I’ve met in a long time. But we were also blown away by Alaska, Banff National Park and the desert in the US.
Rudi loved it too, Selima said:
He was a really happy pup that loved exploring a different part of the world everyday and then come back into his little cave with the people he loves the most.
I think he loved it that the bus was so small ’cause we were always together.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
The vlog footage filmed by Felix and soundtracked by Selima – who goes by the stage name Mogli – is, at times, sad to watch.
From their unpleasant encounters at the US border with an embassy agent who initially denied their visas, to an arthritic Rudi struggling in pain, it’s clear life and its pitfalls can’t be avoided on the road.
Selima described how she and Felix immediately knew Rudi needed help:
In Canada we noticed that Rudi, our dog, started to limp. We got him checked at a specialist clinic and learned he had to undergo surgery. It was really hard for us to see him in pain.
The thing with traveling is, you will have bad days but something always happens on the next day which makes it all worth it.
The biggest pitfall was when Rudi got ill in Mexico with a disease from a tick bite and gastritis from the medication.
The couple ‘just knew that it was time to go home then’.
Selima and Felix now live in a house in the country side with plenty of space for Rudi and his new friend, the second Bernese Mountain Dog they brought along for this crazy ride they call life.
…Because the more dogs the merrier:
They play in the big garden all day, Selima said, adding:
We came back home with an empty bank account but epic memories.
We don’t feel wanderlust again yet but we both know that we want to show our kids the beautiful world we live in.
We named it Expedition Happiness because we weren’t happy and wanted to be.
‘After looking for it all over the world,’ Selima admitted: ‘ironically, we found happiness back home’.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.