Expedition Happiness: to be happy or not to be happy

Posted by in Books & Films

Selima Taibi and Felix Starck, two german artists, decide to turn an American school bus into a home-on-wheels called Expedition Happiness and drive, east to west, across Canada and down to South America with their dog. Will they find happiness in this nomadic and adventurous life? That’s the question this documentary is trying to answer.

Nomadic life and “van life” have been indubitably romanticized over the past few years. The whole tiny houses, digital nomads and other minimalism movement has taken the front stage, and, I must confess, I’m one of their follower. No wonder when I saw Expedition Happiness pop on my Netflix home page, I couldn’t wait to press play.

Fill you life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.

What can you expect to find in Expedition Happiness?

Incredible landscapes. When Felix and Selima are driving across Canada, all the way to Alaska, the views are just to die for. That kind of green wilderness, lakes and trees, made me really happy. I was slightly less impressed with the desolation of the desert… but that’s just a question of taste.

An adorable Bernese mountain dog. Despite Felix and Selima both being very attractive twenty-something, Rudi the dog definitely steals the show.

A loft on wheels. The 1996 school bus receives a total makeover in the beginning of the documentary. In a very impression fashion, the couple does most of the conversion themselves… with a little help of a friend called “the internet”. So very 2018. Wood flooring, white walls, tiled shower… every piece of that bus looks like it’s been designed to go on Instagram.

Suspense. Will they get stuck at the American border in Alaska? Will they get stuck at the American border in Seattle? (sounds like a theme, doesn’t it…) Will Rudi the mountain dog survive the crossing of a desert? Will they get mugged by drug dealers in Mexico? Will they finally reach Argentina?

Vloging and drone images. It was probably my least favorite part of the documentary. Although, as much as it felt like yet-another-travel-vlog-type-YouTube-video in the beginning, the story is rich enough that I was able to watch the entire thing without yawning too much on “look how good we look on picture” scenes.

Did they find happiness in their expedition? You’ll have to watch the documentary to find out (no spoilers here). But what I can tell you is that untying their lives from day-to-day constraints is certainly a step in the right direction.