Many U.S. travelers dream of seeing all 50 states, but this middle Tennessee couple had bigger plans. Instead of 50 states, Kara and Nate Buchanan initially aimed to visit 100 countries. They began documenting their travels and have grown their YouTube channel since to more than two million subscribers. How did this couple go from traveling the world to traveling the U.S. in a Sprinter van? Let’s take a closer look!
The Backstory of Kara and Nate
Kara and Nate Buchanan took a trip to Belize for their honeymoon. Little did the couple know that this trip would change the trajectory of their lives. The couple fell in love with traveling and set out to see as much of the world as possible.
Nate discovered a YouTube video that documented the growing trend of “travel hacking.” He immersed himself in researching travel hacking, and the couple used a combination of these tips and their savings to fund their initial travels.
The couple would take long weekends and use every bit of vacation time to travel to exotic places. They started their YouTube channel on Dec. 8, 2015, a few weeks before launching into traveling the world full-time. Let’s take a look at why the couple went from trains, planes, and international travel to visiting America’s smallest town in a Sprinter van.
Why They RV
Like many travelers, 2020 greatly affected their travel plans. Shortly after visiting their 100th country, the couple found themselves battling travel restrictions amid a global pandemic. They returned home to Nashville, Tenn., to wait out the pandemic.
Like most of the world, the couple quickly realized the pandemic would drag on much longer than anticipated, and they needed to change their plans. With a fast-growing YouTube channel and a passion for traveling, the couple decided to buy a converted Sprinter van and explore the U.S.
Kara and Nate mention how they can’t wait to get back to airport lounges and international travel once things return to normal. They likely won’t travel indefinitely in their Sprinter van. However, the couple is taking advantage of the time by visiting all 50 states.
Kids, Family, Pets
Due to their full-time travel lifestyle, Kara and Nate don’t have pets or children. In multiple videos, Kara mentions how Nate is excellent with children, but for now, they’re enjoying life without kids.
Nashville serves as the couple’s home base, where a bulk of their family resides. The couple is heavily committed to maintaining their family relationships and often change travel plans to be present for important family events.
How Long Have They Been RVing
Despite traveling full-time since 2016, the couple is relatively new to RVing. They announced their van purchase in June 2020 and hit the road a month later. Kara and Nate spent a month making a few upgrades and modifications to their van.
What Type of RV Do Kara and Nate Travel With?
Transitioning from sleeping in airport lounges and traveling the world to traveling the U.S. in a Sprinter van required a big adjustment. Let’s look at their RV and a few modifications that allow the couple to live and work on the road.
About the RV
Kara and Nate’s RV is a fully converted 2014 Mercedes Sprinter van. Their model is the “high roof” model, which allows both of them to stand inside. The van has a 170-inch wheelbase, which is the longest Sprinter van model available.
Their van has everything the couple needs to live and work on the road. The van’s wet bath also functions as their closet and storage space. The dining table is not only for eating but also converts into a bed.
The van was initially a cargo van, and the previous owners did a major overhaul. They installed plumbing, electrical, and 90% of what the couple uses while on the road. Kara and Nate needed to make a few necessary modifications for comfort and optimization.
They installed a swivel under the passenger seat to provide additional seating space when parked. They knew efficiently using space would be necessary while living in their van, so the couple also installed an overhead storage shelf.
The van came with a large closet, but it didn’t use space efficiently. Nate converted the closet to hold a safe where the couple can securely store and charge their equipment.
Speaking of charging, the van’s three solar panels and 400Ah of batteries allow them to stay off-grid for a long time. While they need ideal sunlight for this, they can charge everything when plugged into shore power.
The Top 3 YouTube Videos from Kara and Nate
Their YouTube channel hit one million subscribers in the same week they visited their 100th country. Currently, they have just over two million subscribers, with no end in sight.
#1. We Slept on the Side of a Mountain (Peru Sky Lodge)
While traveling in Peru, Kara and Nate stay the night on the side of a mountain. The Peru Sky Lodge sits more than 1,300 feet above the ground. The only way to access Peru Sky Lodge is by climbing up the side of the mountain. This challenging climb and unique accommodation give them a fantastic view of the area during sunrise. What comes up always has to come down, but guests get to zipline their way down the mountain instead of climbing.
#2. Thailand Capsule Hotel
In this video, Kara and Nate document their adventures from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Even though their flight isn’t long, it does require an overnight layover in Bangkok. The couple often sleeps in airports, but in this video, they take advantage of the Capsule Hotel located in the basement of the Bangkok airport. They give viewers an inside look at their experience using these unique sleeping arrangements that only cost $56.
#3. Maldives Most Luxurious Resort
Kara and Nate book an incredibly luxurious overwater villa and receive VIP treatment during their stay. The bright blue ocean waters offer otherworldly beauty. The villa has several see-through floors, a private water slide, and a retractable roof.
Where Else Can You Follow Kara and Nate?
Kara and Nate’s YouTube channel is a great way to keep up with the couple’s adventures. They generally post a video each week, but sometimes there’s also bonus content. The couple has a Facebook page, but Instagram appears to be updated more frequently. Following their Instagram stories gives followers a look into the future content the couple will be releasing on YouTube.
If you enjoy traveling or seeing new and exciting places, you’ll likely find yourself binge-watching this channel. Kara and Nate do an incredible job documenting the cultures they experience and describing the foods they try. Their videos include high-quality footage and editing that give you a sense of being on the journey with them. If you could travel to any country, where would you go?