Story 36 | Cultural Anthropologist

Michael Fuehrer (@navigationnowhere)


"Anthropology is the science which tells us that people are the same the whole world over -- except when they are different." - Nancy Banks Smith


Michael Fuehrer was in his final year as a graduate student studying Cultural Anthropology when he first realized that less is more.  He wrote his thesis on homeless communities in Philadelphia.  The time he spent researching among the homeless really forced him to reevaluate his life; to reform his identity.  He began contemplating minimalism and simple living styles.


He first looked at cargo containers, tiny homes, vans, and buses.  Ultimately a bus conversion suited him best because of its size and mobility.  Michael wanted the freedom to travel but also needed ample space to host friends and family.  "Community is really important to me," He says.  "I love having the ability to still have people over to my house, even if my house is a bus."

bus family.jpg

Michael and his friends designed and built the bus in his hometown, Northern New Jersey, exhibiting a unique talent for designing small spaces.  The project took nine months and cost $35,000 to complete.  "It brings me a sense of joy to have every square inch of space serve a functional purpose." 

bus remodel.jpg

The first bus excursion was to Alaska, its goal was to thank the people whose hands put in work. During the trip, all of the friends who had helped him build his dream, flew in and out of preset airports to join him along the journey.  To Michael, the road is about people and community.  As he puts it, "Living on the road isn't about the number of miles you drive, it's about the people you meet every mile along the way."


Driving back from Alaska, the turbo on his engine blew and Michael found himself stranded in Canada, Yukon Territory.  While waiting for the new engine part, Michael and his friend were taken in and shown much hospitality by a small community of First Nation People.  


Including the Alaska trip, Michael has visited 32 states and traveled over 18,000 miles.  Although life on the road isn't always easy, Michael makes it work.  He earns his living doing manual labor jobs and teaching online as he seeks a higher and more dignified role in society.

To learn more about how Michael Fuehrer reformed his life follow him at: (@navigationnowhere)

David Walden