Paul coined the word "freedom vessel" and started #freedomvessel on Instagram in 2014.  He has been restoring, traveling, and building camper vans, vintage trailers, and other lifestyle vehicles for most of his life.  He spent 10 years in the San Diego craft beer industry, and is a published writer, photographer, brand ambassador, and father of two boys.  He co-owns a vintage trailer photo booth company with his beautiful wife.


The Captain

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I have issues…..I always take the scenic route. I’ve been excited about camper van lifestyle for a long time.  I’ve traveled across the county 5 times.  I’ve changed engines in National Parks, slept in Phish show parking lots, been in car shows, been pulled over and searched by police, surfed empty lineups, talked story with people about their van memories, visited Wolfsburg Germany, collected miniature toy vans, pulled parts from junkyards I don’t need…  I even married a girl who’s first car was a VW bus! 

I am a surfer.  I have more issues…..  I’ve surfed around the map.  I travel in my van, I follow swells.  I enjoy the lifestyle of being a surfer.  I didn’t choose the lifestyle, I never knew anything different.  My parents raised me about a block from the ocean in a town called Belmar, NJ. Today surfing is “cool” and loads of people are doing it, selling it, and hyping it.  Kinda like Vanlife!  There was a time when people made fun of my Ugg boots, and only surfers wore board shorts and said “Dude.”  Today the surfing world is a global community, but I am amazed at how small that community still feels.  I am fortunate to have been part of this subculture for 25 years.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to find a career that positioned me in that subculture as “the beer guy.”

I guess my real issue is…… I prefer a simple life with “experiences”.  Not the type that you put on a resume (although my resume is rad), but the type that make you think differently.  I dream about Syncro Hightop VW Vans, not granite countertops or brand new Nikes.  I like watching pelicans more than football.  I’d rather camp than stay at a hotel any day.”  So, I’ve taken the “scenic route” in life so far and I hope I can stay on this path.  Every time there is a fork in the road, I go down the one that will present me with more “experience.”  I look at life and relate to Forrest Gump more than I relate to most people my age.  I’ve done a lot of cool shit, I have been fortunate, but this path isn’t easy, especially now that I am responsible for two little boys, a dog, and my relationship with my wife.  

My name is Paul Tralka “Primo Paul”   You can reach me at  I have this blog because I like to write, share my travels with family, and I hope you get inspired to take the “scenic route” (even if it is just for a week or on your way home from work).

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