Meet the Cosplay Family Traveling Across America in an RV
Road trips are fun. Cosplay? Also fun. But what do you get when you combine them? Meet the family that’s been on an epic road trip across the country and cosplaying along the way.
Though my friend has been on a road trip with their family for over a year at this point, it wasn’t until we were chatting about a hike they were going to take in their Game of Thrones cosplay that it clicked with me. How on earth did they fit all their cosplay in that tiny RV? A few moments later I had some shots of the family’s tiny cosplay closet and my curiosity was piqued. How on earth did they manage this? How many costumes did they have crammed in that tiny RV? Where have they cosplayed so far and what’s on their agenda?
My incredibly patient friend indulged my curiosity and took me through the process. I’m awed and incredibly entertained with how Jayme Casillas, their spouse, and two sons have integrated their geeky hobbies into the trip of a lifetime and how it’s possible to do their adventure as the owners of the Disney travel agency, Storybook World Travel.
What inspired you guys to travel around the country in an RV? How long have you been traveling?
Okay so don’t laugh too hard, but it’s the Gish Bus’s fault. It planted the seed of the idea when I visited and was speaking to Dustin Dorough. He mentioned that he’d been traveling for five years. This got me wondering if it was possible, and I started down the dangerous rabbit hole of on again off again research on the topic and found out there’s a whole community of people who are full-timing.
The stars aligned in that my business started doing better and we crunched numbers and realized if we cut a little bit here and there, we could have my spouse leave his full-time job and help with the business, clearing the way for us to not need a set location. The kids had already been homeschooled for years, so there wasn’t too much transition needed there. It felt like it fell in our lap. We’ve been living in our RV now for just over a year. It’s had its ups and downs and everything in between, but we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I should probably note, even before RVing we never really settled well. When we met my spouse was in the military which necessitated moving regularly, and we’d always request the cross country type moves. The most enjoyable though was the three years we lived in Japan.
After he got out of the military, we still moved with an odd regularity. This meant in a lot of ways we were natural minimalists and weren’t as tied down to being in one location, and I think it made the whole transition similar. And make no mistake, while it wasn’t as big a culture shock as going from Japan back to the US, it was a major culture shock.
What places have you cosplayed and why did you choose those locations?
I consistently have 12% of a plan. Which generally means I see a sparkly and say, “Let’s go do that!” and that applies to our cosplays as well. When I end up in a unique location I usually look at what we’ve got (mostly) prepared or what I can put together that would make for a fun shoot. So, we’ve done Yondu and Star Lord in Roswell, NM. While Coco isn’t set in New Orleans, we were there just before Halloween and New Orleans is a city where you can imagine the spirits walking among us rather easily.
Most recently in Kentucky of all places, this amazing artist crafted three giants in the woods. The giants will only last a few years before naturally biodegrading, but they just opened this past week. Going as Dany and Jon from Game of Thrones seemed a logical way to meet giants.
We’ll be spending a lot of time in major US East Coast cities this summer, and I anticipate getting significant use out of our Hamilton Musical cosplays.
You did SDCC from an RV, which is definitely a unique experience. Was this your first SDCC? If not, how did prepping for the con from an RV differ from the usual hotel experience?
It wasn’t our first SDCC, but our prior ones had been from San Diego. We’d been a bit spoiled and lived about 20 minutes from the convention center. In fact, our floor had become a campout spot for friends coming into town for SDCC so at the very least feeling a bit cramped wasn’t new. We, of course, didn’t need to worry about hotels, just an RV Park. Then, of course, we had to worry about parking, which is an every year event but we’ve had good luck with the ACE Parking lottery.
The biggest issue was having a plan for everyone getting prepped in the morning. We actually had a friend in for the weekend, so there were 5 of us in one relatively small RV putting on cosplays every morning. I had actually taken the time to carefully arrange our cosplays prior to the con in daily boxes so that we could take one box from the trunk each day to get dressed (one of my rare smart decisions). I made sure all the accessories for a given cosplay were also in the same box, so the only thing I needed to track down day to day was makeup. We did need to stop one day to grab my oldest some black lipstick that just could not be found, but overall this worked for the actual prep.
What I didn’t plan for was we’re apparently really, really lousy at putting things back IN the boxes. In my defense, some of that stuff really did need washed or at the very least aired out after the con (July and Hamilton cosplay? oh boy). But it took me the week before SDCC and Gish to dig out of the literal pile of clothes everywhere.
The other big change was simply what I could or could not buy. We do plan to rent a place again at some point in the not so distant future, and I keep a tube of geek art in a corner. So art? Welcome? Other geekery? Well, our RV is kind of small. And probably more importantly every time we move, everything has to be put away where it can’t fall off on the cat or one of the dogs. Literally not having a space is a great way to curb your spending habits at a con.
Any strange encounters on your cosplay adventures?
You know what the best time is in a cosplay? When you need to walk your dogs before leaving or right as you come home. People can somehow accept cosplays wherever, but the looks you get while walking a dog are priceless.
In all honesty, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. We visited a corny UFO photo shoot area in Roswell and they just asked if they could use some of our photos and gave us free admittance. On the way out there was a family with small children who recognized us and we asked if they’d like to take a photo with Yondu and the children were excited to do so while holding our stuffed Groot and Rocket.
In New Orleans, the kids were in their Coco outfits during the Halloween parade. We got all the normal New Orleans parade swag (so.many.beads.) but we also received one of the rare light up bead necklaces from one of the parade workers. She came over and specifically put it on one of my sons while giving him the largest smile.
At Disney World adults can’t wear costumes, but our kids could until the oldest hit 14 this past January. A week before his 14th birthday we were able to take him and his brother in Bert cosplays (one chimney sweep, one Jolly Holiday) to go see Mary Poppins at the park. Mary was of course gracious, but the number of people who paused and just smiled or told them they looked great was wonderful.
In Kentucky, we had quite a few young boys excited to see a “knight” with Jon Snow and one adorable little boy yell to his dad that “I found the king!” We also had a couple of glares and one young child look at us as serious as can be and tell us “but it’s not Halloween.”
One of the fun aspects is doing the builds and try ons at the RV parks. While I do any sewing inside, lots of the painting or other parts I try to do outside. If nothing else, there’s a lot more fresh air. RVers can be an outgoing bunch and I’ve had a few come over with smiles to ask what I’m working on and show a genuine interest when I explain it to them. Of course a few just look a bit confused and smile and walk away too.
And I know this trip isn’t JUST for cosplay. What else has been a highlight of the trip?
This is so hard to narrow down.
Zion National Park was one of our early visits to somewhere we’d never been before, and it was just breathtaking.
We were able to see a mama bear and her cub playing in Yellowstone.
My little space nerd child was able to spend the better part of 4 days exploring literally everything that Space Center Houston had to offer. Visiting the actual Mission Control? Check. Seeing a real Saturn V rocket? Check. Meeting a real astronaut? Check. Lots of other nerdy stuff I don’t understand, but he does? Check.
We spent a whole afternoon at the Very Large Array (yes that place from Contact) which I also know nothing about, but my nerdy spouse was super excited.
Did you know you can actually sled down the dunes at White Sands National Park? You can.
I’d never been to New Orleans, and honestly had we not had Disney World on the horizon I may not have left.
Thanks for leading me through your family’s awesome adventure, Jayme!
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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