Ever wonder what it’s like to be a travel writer with a book deal? A dream life for most of us. Andi Eaton, founder of the blog Oui We is now seasoned in the process of executing a book, and even more so in the art of The Wanderess — packing up her car, grabbing her camera, and getting on the road. With her second book Wanderful: The Modern Bohemian’s Guide to Traveling in Style (Amazon Prime people,hustle and it could still be the perfect Christmas gift) just out we thought it high time we dove behind the scenes of her 35mm, technicolored life.
From the spookiest of road trip stories, to how traveling America in such a dire time rejuvenated her, Andi embodies the nomadic lifestyle many crave, yet few are brave enough to follow.
Vérité Woman: You just published your second book, Wanderful, which is truly the coolest thing ever! What did the process of making this book look like?
Andi Eaton: Ahhh, yes — thank you girl! I’m sooo glad to see it out in the world finally — the process is so damn lengthy, about 2 years. So here was sort of how it all broke down, and this is once the whole concept was created and sold to a publisher (that was a whole process in itself): 3 months of outlining, organizing, researching and deciding which locations would be featured, 3 months of traveling to the destinations, shooting, meeting the girls that would be featured, taking notes on their stories and stalking the cool kids in each destination to get a sense of where locals truly hang… and then after that write, write, write.
I’m the type of writer that likes to lock myself away and get it all done. I would write a chapter in about 3 days, take a day to edit and then move to the next.
After all of that is complete, the book goes into the design stage and that’s another several month process. That’s truly the part I loved the best (besides traveling to all of the destinations of course). Seeing all of the photos laid out and creating a story told through visuals and words… I love that. From there, it’s off to sales/marketing/pr, etc… and voila! We have a book.
VW: What were your top three favorite places that made it into the book?
AE: Terlingua, Texas — it’s a total artistic utopia full of quirky drifters and was the last stop on a my first desert road trip.
Big Sur, CA — it’s magnitude is supernatural, I was immediately transported back to the 60s era bohemian artist’s off-the-grid Big Sur.
Flathead Lake, Montana — It’s the largest natural lake in the west. Once there, there’s so many choose your own adventure opportunities in those majestic mountain towns surrounding it.
VW: In a world of influencers whose content is very much based on themselves you bring a fresh take to blogging — uplifting others and sharing an outlook of freedom and free spirit. What about your journey made you want to focus on these subjects for Oui We Girl?
AE: I started this whole process at the time when fashion bloggers were starting to land front row seats at fashion week and instagram was starting to make stars out of the “the girl next door.” I launched my first blog with the intention to cover what was happening in my own community — specifically the fashion community in New Orleans. At the time I was running the fashion week program there and that’s all I wrote about.
Around then I was also finishing my first book “New Orleans Style” — I went to Spain for 4 months to get the writing completed (told ya I like to lock myself away to write) and it occurred to me that it was time to shift Oui We to reflect these new experiences. I love the mindset of artistic survival and for the first time I’d have to live that way — I’d left my corporate job and felt a kinship to people that live traveling gig to gig.
That summer, while taking writing breaks, I’d travel through Spain (on a serious budget, btw!) and the idea to relaunch my site as a home for bohemian travelers — with stories about the spirit that comes alive in oneself when traveling that way — happened there.
VW: Your Instagram is like peering down a Wes Anderson meets Twiggy rabbit hole. Where do you gain inspiration for your images from?
AE: Girlll, okay, yesss, omg thank you, that’s a serious compliment. I suppose I never felt quite right doing the standard #ootd posts… I’ve always loved editorial fashion — however I grew up going to flea markets with my mom, and always found a joy in collecting quirky things at estate sales and thrift shops. My aesthetic is a bit darker maybe — I love art, film, music and poetry that evokes ephemeral emotions that are kind of hard to identify. I’m inspired by visuals that have an air of heaviness, but still feel playfully potent. When I’m considering creating imagery for my own IG page I think about finding a way — through movement, or light perhaps — to have the viewer feel as if they were right there in the experience.
VW: What tips would you give to a girl with a small budget looking to take a life changing road trip?
AE: When I’m considering going somewhere life changing I think about going into nature first. I pack my car full of snacks, and sometimes even bring a cooler with fresh fruits, veggies and goodies to make little meals… you don’t have to eat out, or buy lots of things, or even pay for tourist sorts of things… just get out there with a map, a tank full of gas and a plan and it’s all possible.
Plus: I travel on a writer’s budget… so truly, while it can sometimes look glam, it really isn’t. In my book there’s lots of hostel priced hotels featured, I love glamping for budget traveling too… and even airbnb can be done on a budget.
VW: If you could give girls advice starting their own business, or dedicating life to their craft what would it be?
AE: Study your ass off, find brilliant mentors, don’t think you know everything about what you’re doing, ever — there’s always more to learn. Build a business plan, get comfortable losing more than you win at the beginning. Remind yourself that every morning is a leap of faith. Follow your intuition, don’t allow the self doubt to seep in, and save every penny you can to get your dream going.
VW: Wow, those are serious nuggets of gold that just moved me a little! What does a day in your life look like?
AE: It truly depends on where I am, often I’m out on the road, however on the days I am home it might look like this: Sleep until 8 or 8:30 (I’m a serious advocate for sleep), plus my bf plays in a rock band, so inevitably we’re out late a lot.
Morning beauty rituals: I do normal things like brushing my teeth, washing my face, take my vitamins and then I layer on holistic facial oils, but I do that stuff before I even step into the kitchen. Next it’s coffee, smoothies or an easy breakfast like turmeric oats maybe — I cook a ton — and then I’m at my desk by around 9:30. If I’m traveling, this is where the routine is totally different and I’m out exploring by 9 or so at the latest.
If I’ve got a writing assignment or a post going up on Oui We I’ll turn on some music, tune everything else out and get to work. I’ll spend the next several hours on that and on client projects (I offer creative consulting & direction for a handful of female-owned businesses). I often go to Bikram Yoga around lunch time and ideally the second half of the day is devoted to creative activities — whether that’s writing, mood boarding or taking photos out in nature (or in the city, depending on where I am!), I get a lot of energy from exploring.
In the evening it’s sage, essential oils and then I cook dinner with my bf, wine and a good 70s’ playlist. If Ben and I are on the road we’ll find a tucked away restaurant and maybe meet up with friends. My pace of life is much slower living in Nashville, by the way, than it was back home in New Orleans where there’s always a party.
VW: In such a time of strain within our own country your book, your blog, and your photos are like a beautiful ode to America. What discoveries have you made about the country and its people that stand out most to you?
AE: I started the research for “Wanderful” before I ever could have imagined what would happen in last year’s election… however, what I did know was that the natural resources and the beauty throughout America — like what we have in our National Park system — was something that I wanted an opportunity to talk more about. As I went out to experience much of America last year the relationships that I develop with people all over this country — people that are so deeply rooted in doing right for the environment, and for their own cultures and communities was an unbelievably awesome bonus.
In all of the places I went, and there were a lot — the book covers 9 road trips across the country — there were many moments of unexpected connection. As divided as this country is right now, and that strain that we’re all feeling — I find that when we ground into nature, music, good food and drink, the stars — all the good stuff. I find there’s always something there that can bring us together … so those are the thing I spend time on.
VW: I love a good scary story. Do you have any road trip horror stories for us?
AE: Haha, there were definitely some moments… but maybe this one was the best:
This occurred traveling through the Chihuahuan Desert, and I’ll preface with a note that there’s a deep magic in that sort of wildness, even when it is a bit scary.
We’d started out on a venture to a hot springs we’d heard about down on the border. The host of our campsite gave us directions, reminded us to drive slow — we’d be taking a seriously primitive road — and said in 6 miles we would cross into the backside of the national park where the hot springs would be. We packed water, PB&Js and took off. What none of accounted for was the heavy rains a few days before. The other question we’d failed to ask… ‘when we cross that 6 mile mark, how much further until we hit a paved road?’ The answer to that question would have been 18 miles. And 18 miles is major on a mud soaked primitive desert road.
About 3 hours in, we drove deep into a mud bog… no cell service and visions of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre were only half of the fears that were starting to bubble up. We thought surely someone would cross our path, but we’d seen no one yet that day. We climbed onto the roof… nothing as far as we could see, and then the coyotes started to howl. We thought we’d hike out, however a short distance from the car we were startled by the sound of rattles (omg, snakes?!) and were there scorpions scurrying behind the cactus trees? Back to the car we went.
Finally 2 hours later another human: a border patrol officer — however we weren’t of concern to him…he needed to attend to what was happening on his radio. I plead. He stopped: “How in the world did you guys get out here? it’s only going to get worse ahead, so put it in first gear and crank yourselves out of here.”
This is the first time my skill from being the only girl in a crew of off roaders when I was 16 has come in truly, very handy. We worked that car out of the mud, and a few hours later we were finally drinking beer in that hot springs saying to ourselves… “the stories we will tell.”
VW: I am so satisfied with that scar story, I got goosebumps. What’s your next dream destination?
AE: I’ve not been to Japan yet. It’s high on my list. Australia too.Definitely in 2018.
VW: Three books you can’t live without?
AE: I suppose these are the three I recommend the most:
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven PressfieldMany Lives, Many Masters by Brian WeissAnd lately there’s been a tie between Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and Material Girl, Mystical World: The Now Age Guide to a High-Vibe Life