A man working under his VW van in the snow

Around The Fire: Advanture's Alex Brown

"I wanted to produce something more like a journal which the reader becomes engrossed with. Epic stories that are relatable. Trips that you are already thinking about, but need to realise that you can go after it with a little inspiration or advice."

Alex, 35 from Hampshire, UK, has a wild backstory. An early career as a professional kite surfer saw him travelling across the USA shooting movies with his sponsors aboard a 40ft RV. At 19 he flew out to Hawaii to work as a stunt man for a Red Bull commercial, and at 20 he was riding the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean testing new kites. 

A man stands with his arms folded in the forest, looking at the camera

During this time Alex documented his journey through countless magazine articles in sports and outdoor publications. A few years later Alex and his now-fiancee Mascha, found their way from Asia to Australia, then New Zealand and deeper into the South Pacific, all while choosing to explore by any wheels possible.

A woman standing in front of an old VW van drinking a coffee

From car and tent camping, to DIY campervans, it has certainly been more about getting immersed in memorable experiences than owning many possessions. After all, when you have lived for more than half your life on the road, you can’t exactly carry that much stuff with you.

The couple self-publish Advanture Magazine, a 100-page print journal packed full of inspiring van life stories from those who call the road, home.  

Alex, what is ‘meaningful escapism’ to you?

I’ve always chased what I found interesting at any given point in time. From 14 it was snowboarding and kiteboarding. I started making videos around the age of 16, and towards the end of my teens I became fascinated with coral reefs… Enough to have my own salt-water aquarium which made my bedroom smell like the beach. 

When it came to travel, I didn’t really leave home to go travelling per se. I think it was more like a way to go and get the biggest experience I could have, surrounding whatever it was I was super interested in at the time.

A man and a woman cooking on an outdoor fire pit

" I started working with magazines in 2006, and after being focused on working digitally for over a decade, going back to my roots really feels good."

Now in my mid-30s, I’m finding escapism through my work with Advanture. I’m trying to build an experience for the reader based on principles from what feels like a bygone era.

Knowing that people are choosing to disconnect at camp with a copy of my magazine completes me right now.  

A woman holds a golden leaf

You’ve lived in the Pyrenees for a while now, what is it about this place and van life that you love?

I grew up on the south coast of England, kite surfed all over the world, lived on an island in the Indian Ocean for over a year, and lived by the beach in Australia, New Zealand and then Spain. Let me tell you, the last thing I thought I’d ever do is to move inland or into the mountains! 

A drone view of the Pyrenees

When Mascha and I moved from Auckland to Mallorca about 7 years ago, we flew to Barcelona for Christmas. We rented a car and drove out to the Pyrenees for the very first time. 

As soon as you leave Barcelona the land opens up. There are dense forests and hours of open road to enjoy. Every now and then you pass through little villages constructed of stone houses, see old people sitting in the streets enjoying life and fruit/veg stores bursting with colourful produce. 

It reminds you that you are in fact within proximity of the Mediterranean, and not in the middle of the USA for example. There is adventure to be had right here in Europe that is for sure.

A man and a woman look out at the view from the top of a fire tower

On that short Christmas trip, we realised how beautiful and exciting the Pyrenees were, and now the rest is history. We packed our bags once again and moved off Mallorca to Barcelona. 

We bought an old VW T4 from a retiring florist, built pallet wood furniture for it then became ski campers. For years we’d spend every weekend in the winter up in the mountains freezing our asses off, and every weekend in the summer on the Costa Brava sweating like crazy. 

A man and a woman make waffles on a griddle outside their campervan

Now it feels like fate, but it did take us six years of living in the city to realise that sort of life wasn’t for us. We wanted to live more meaningfully, especially since having our daughter in 2021. 

We were leaving the city in our campervan at every opportunity we could, so why not cut ties with it for good? 

A woman holding her daughter heads for a walk in the forest

Tell us more about your van life magazine 'Advanture'

Advanture was a hot idea sparked by Mascha and I, probably while chatting about nothings and pipe dreaming away on some long road trip. Of course, you have Instagram to flick through when you lust for some good vanlife pics, but what do you really get out of that fleeting moment of voyeurism?

I wanted to produce something more like a journal which the reader becomes engrossed with. Epic stories that are relatable. Trips that you are already thinking about, but need to realise that you can go after it with a little inspiration or advice.

Four copies of Advanture magazine stacked on top of each other

A vanlife magazine focused on the stories going untold didn’t exist. I was working in corporate digital video production at the time, and the idea of going back to my roots in magazine work felt both very exciting and extremely daunting.

I’ve always wanted to be the creator of my story and have the freedom to live the way I want to. When we decided to go ahead to produce Advanture I didn’t have a clue about actually making a magazine. It’s taken three years to get it to where it is now, and I am so happy to say it is now the product I always hoped it would be. 

A man holding a copy of Advanture magazine and his camera

Stories from all sorts of people fill the pages. I write the editorial, but around 75% of the magazine stories are from people who love to explore and have adventures using their campervan. 

In issue 09 I started to introduce car/truck campers and in 11 onwards I think I will also start to include motorbike camping. I don’t really care what vehicle anyone has or how expensive their wheels are. It’s all about the adventure for me. 

A man driving his old VW T4 van through the mountains

Is there a particular story from someone you’ve interviewed that stays with you?

Not an interview, but actually an email sent from a reader earlier this year. He said that the magazine was his missing piece of the puzzle. Late 20s with a great job, house, wife and health… He couldn’t complain about anything. Except that living within a consumerism-focused culture was leaving him feeling empty. The magazine was giving him the feeling and encouragement that he could choose a different life path which may well be more rewarding to him.

A woman sits outside her van while her child plays in the forest
 A man pours coffee while sitting on a rock

That really stuck with me. I know the magazine is full of incredible road trips and the imagery we print is of such a high standard. But to hear that it was touching someone on a far deeper level, for them to question the life that was impressed upon them, made me realise that the mission I am on may be far bigger than I could have imagined.

A man stoking an outdoor fire

I feel so lucky that myself and my family have the health and ability to follow our dreams, but I respect that isn’t the case for everyone. 

I curate every word in Advanture so carefully, because I think that an alternative/nomadic life can be achieved by anyone who becomes curious enough to break away from more traditional ways of life, but also respect that a traditional way of life is something that should be fully appreciated too. 

A man lifts his daughter up to see the leaves on a tree
A woman points up to the sky holding her daughter

Top 3 road trip albums?

I’m super loose when it comes to music. 

1. Love to listen to the radio to hear all the different languages when driving around Europe. I don’t understand any of it, but it reminds me to appreciate that I’m travelling each and every day.

2. Starting to enjoy some pretty mainstream bands from the 80s and 90s actually. Blur, Goldfrapp, Manic Street Preachers, Suede. Might be because I’m a Dad now and not cool. But feels right when driving around in the old T3!

3. It’s also really nice to turn off the phones and music, to listen to the weather. That's so relaxing when at camp and is the reason I’m out there after all.

A man smiles driving his VW T3 van

Ultimate campfire cookout?

Great question. Since moving to the Pyrenees I've loved cooking on open fires. We’ve got delicious cuts of meat available here. My favourite is a rack of marinated pork ribs, slow-cooked for 2-3 hours in the fire. That’s so tasty.

I’m a new fly fisherman - most of the fish I catch would be classed as fish fingers! Catching a (bigger) trout on the fly, and then preparing and cooking it back at camp… That is something I am really looking forward to experiencing when the time comes. 

A woman makes traditional bread sticks

Where does your next journey take you?

You know everyone has that one car that they want when they retire or whatever? Yeah mine isn’t a Ferrari or an Aston Martin, it’s a Volkswagen T3.

Back in the summer, we bought an old Volkswagen. Snickers is a two-tone brown, 1990 Caravelle. It’s in totally original condition and I can not believe it is ours. Borderline barn find. 

The chassis, body and interior are in fantastic condition. The motor and all running gear are original, and in fair condition but the bus really needed some urgent TLC to keep it on the road and problem-free.

VW T3 1990 Caravelle

I don’t know how many hours I've spent under the bus already. It’s true that an old Volkswagen needs your attention. More attention and time than I have available, but somehow between curating the mag and being a stay-at-home Dad for half the week, I’ve been able to do the first few levels of restoration.

Once we passed the vehicle inspection test in autumn, we all jumped in and took off to the mountains. Reaching nearly 2000m in altitude, Snickers broke down in the snow, leaving us with no gears. This is the adventure we’ve been looking for, and is a story for another day…

Itching to get your hands on a physical copy of Advanture and flick through the pages of van life and off grid stories previously untold? You can grab issue 11 below, which we're stoked to be a part of.

Autumn forest in the Pyrenees
Back to blog