Cultivating open, honest, and loving community among today’s modern nomads and caravan builders.
The Modern Caravan was started by Kate Oliver and Ellen Prasse in 2017, though the two women began renovating a first Airstream in 2014. After spending six months on the road full time; some tough family circumstances had led them back to life in a city, thus leading Kate and Ellen to build out the second Airstream and launch their business. Read more about Kate & Ellen’s story and history here.
Initially, the couple wanted to create a community website with interviews from travelers and caravan renovators like themselves, along with offering focused, one client-at-a-time renovation services. Once the client renovations began, however, the pair were working 80+ hour weeks (each!) to keep up with the demand, along with homeschooling their daughter, traveling to and living on site with their renovations, and generally trying to make ends meet and have some semblance of life outside of work, which became rarer and rarer as time went on. The goals for the community website were dashed, though there was hope to bring it back one day.
Kate and Ellen worked to create a new business plan, often staying up late after a long day of work, talking quietly at the table in their Airstream home while their daughter slept nearby. They wanted to get back to the original vision of their work: creating homes for people who were as passionate as they were about tiny living and travel. They wanted to infuse love and goodness into every space they entered and worked, and provide education and services to a broad spectrum of people at multiple price points. Most importantly, they wanted to create a space where people could come and enter as they are, imperfections and all, and find common ground and comfort among one another.
After wrapping their final client renovation in January 2019, they began working on a tiny Airstream Caravel with the help of their very first investors. Four individuals invested, and Kate and Ellen set out to design and build the project, which they dubbed ‘Hope’. They saw the renovation as a way to turn things around: to create a sustainable and profitable business, and most importantly, a safe working environment.
In 2018, Kate had begun writing a book proposal. She longed to create a book about the very community she loved so dearly, highlighting others’ stories of creating traveling homes with their own hands, the ‘something-from-nothing’, as she always says of this work. Kate knows deeply the craft, the learning curve, and the dedication and passion it takes to renovate a vintage caravan. Fifteen months later, she began writing and photographing the stories of other human determination, grit, and longing, and her book will be published in 2021.
After the book was solidified, something just kept coming back to lay on the couple’s hearts: they again wanted to give a space for more stories to be told, to provide a place where people could come and learn from one another. They wanted to use the platform their own community had built up around them and give back the knowledge they’d gained over years of renovation and full-time travel, along with all the love and kindness they’d been shown.
As The Modern Caravan moves into a new season, Kate and Ellen have one goal: to create a beautiful, supportive, kind, and loving space where people who travel, want to travel, have built, want to build, or simply dream of building their own caravan…can come and gather, tell their stories, read the stories of others, learn, connect, and grow in an open, honest, and non-judgmental space. They aim to share the depth of life on the road, from the beautiful, expansive moments to the tough, the terrifying, the heartbreaking moments, and everything in-between, the daily minutiae that come together to create the life-changing, ever-wonderful days of the modern nomad.
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Founder & Editor, Kate Oliver
Kate founded The Modern Caravan and filled many roles over the years, from designer to builder, social media manager to bookkeeper. At home, she cooks, cleans, and homeschools…and generally keeps the ship running by handling travel planning, campsite booking, and managing social engagements. She has been published in a handful of online magazines and is writing her first book.
She loves hard, cries rarely, and feels deeply about all things in life. She enjoys making things beautiful, doing yoga, and running. Kate could quote every line from The Office, Parks and Rec, and Gilmore Girls and still dreams about what she’s gonna be when she grows up. She’s decided she’s going to be a great many things…nothing and no one can hold her back.
Find Kate here.
Contributing Editor, Ellen Prasse
Ellen is a former art teacher with a decade of experience teaching in public schools. She left teaching in 2017, six months into the start of TMC, and is hoping to finally submit her thesis and receive her master’s degree in 2019.
She has been the master builder on all of TMC’s projects. She’s always fixing something broken, building something Kate drew up, or, on the rare occasion, doing a little bit of small scale woodworking. In daily travel life, you can find her hauling the family home and tucking into campsites with impossible dimensions like no one else can.
Ellen loves to be on the lake at her family’s cottage in Ontario more than anywhere else in the world, tucked under the birches and pines. Of a morning, you’ll likely find her with a cup of coffee while she reads the news, and she’s forever losing her keys and wallet. She may not say much, but she’s always thinking and feeling more than meets the eye.
Find Ellen here.