Nathaniel Wise’s travel addiction started when he began backpacking North Cascades National Park in the Pacific Northwest. The experience proven to be eye-opening, showing him that he really needed very little in order to be happy, and that his life had become unnecessarily complicated.

Following that adventure, he become obsessed with the simplicity of mountain outings, so much so that he decided to pursue a career as an outdoor photographer and moved full-time into his SUV. Two years on, he is still living the same life.

“I chose this route over the typical vanlife because I enjoyed the challenge of a smaller space, and I appreciated the manoeuvrability of my 4x4. Everything I own is here with me, and that’s a really liberating feeling,” Nathaniel told Lonely Planet. According to Nathaniel, the key to his alternative lifestyle is organization. He has constructed a bed in the back that lifts up to store clothing and other essentials, and he has a small cooler for food.

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The lifestyle has allowed Nathaniel to capture amazing images from the road © Christian Schaffer

“For anybody interested in life on the road, my advice is simply to try it. Try it for a shorter period of time to see if it’s sustainable (it really isn’t for some people). A couple of weeks, a month, or even a weekend if that’s all you have to spare. Pack everything you’d need to live for the next year and see how it feels. Some people love it. And some people realize they miss the comforts of a traditional home. Also, the importance of finding remote work cannot be understated. Roadlife is cheap, but without an income it is finite. Luckily, there are more and more options to telework these days.”

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Nathaniel's sleeping setup with storage beneath the bed © Nathaniel Wise

While having the freedom to pack up at a moment’s notice and explore the great outdoors sounds hugely appealing (as does freedom from rent and mortgages) Nathaniel’s lifestyle is not without its challenges. “Maintaining a community is perhaps the hardest. Friendships benefit from a close proximity, and I am not often in the same place. It is akin to estrangement in a way, and I struggle with that. I’m always looking for a shower, or a place to sleep, or a place to fill water. Normally these logistical aspects are easy, but this year has been harder due to restrictions. This everyday research has been taking up much more bandwidth than usual.”

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Nathaniel on location taking a photograph © Christian Schaffer

Nathaniel also said that productivity does not come as easily to him on the road, with distractions being plentiful. To counteract this he tries to go to work in libraries or coffee shops, but again, the challenges of 2020 have interfered with this with more and more establishments closed for seating.

Despite this, Nathaniel has been enjoying his time on the road, and has managed to take stunning images of the great outdoors that he shares on Instagram. His photos have proven popular, as he has 165,000 followers.

More of Nathaniel’s adventures can be seen on his official website.

Read more:

How vanlifers and RVers are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic
This couple rescued their adorable dog while out chasing their vanlife dreams
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