Amanda Kohr | All Run Wild
Amanda Kohr is a writer and editor living on the road in a 2015 Nissan Rogue. As she travels the American West she works as an editor for Wanderlust and Yoganonymous – both roles which allow her to work remotely and pursue playwriting and creative nonfiction. Since hitting the road Amanda has launched her new blog, All Run Wild.
We talked to Amanda about how her life has changed since she left Los Angeles behind – how she nourishes her needs to create and connect on the road, and how she practices self care along the way. Interview below!
Why a 2015 Nissan Rogue as your vehicle of choice? What changes did you make to it for “Luna” to become home?
The Rogue came about when I was looking for a car that was functional for both daily use and a life on the road. I loved the idea of being able to literally build a home inside my car, and thought it might save me money when it came to finding places to stay at night. But I knew nothing about van or RV upkeep, and so as a first-timer to #vanlife, I decided to go with something I knew I could manage. The Rouge was great because it was big enough to sleep in while still working as something I could handle on my own. As a solo driver with minimal knowledge of cars, this was paramount.
I’m simultaneously a homebody and a vagabond, so it was important that the car reflect some cozy nuances. I started by folding the middle seats down and dividing the back in half. On one side, I had my bed, which I assembled by laying out an old gymnastics mat and covering it with a thick stack of blankets and a few fat pillows. I placed a three-tiered plastic container on the left side of the black seats, and this held my vitamins, toiletries, and jewelry. The pull-out drawers came in handy when I was camping; I could just hop in the lake for a morning bath, open the hatchback, and brush my teeth without having to rifle through bags. Behind that, I had a box with my favorite books, laptop, and art supplies.
To hold my dresses, towels, and clothes, I latched a cat clothing bar across the space where the row of middle seats would be. Part of the bar stretched above my sleeping place, so I hung a few dreamcatchers that I had collected over the years. I kept my camping supplies in two boxes and stacked them under the middle seats. Finally, I set a cooler in the passenger seat, and kept it full of carrots, apples, almonds, and wine. The hardest part was keeping this all organized, but doing so made me far less stressed.
Before you left, you wrote that you were “terrified” to leave Los Angeles. How did you feel on the day you drove away?
Terrified is definitely the right word. In my last few weeks in Los Angeles, I was the happiest I had ever been while living there. It was like those weeks were testing me; in those moments I knew I wasn’t leaving because I was unhappy, I was leaving because I was curious. I had wanted something more for two years, and that feeling wasn’t going away, so I knew I had to act on it.
Driving away didn’t give me a glamorous feeling of independence; I was scared and hesitant. I remember leaving the city and driving down the dusty/sorta boring highway to Phoenix, and feeling frightened and yet very, very alive. It wasn’t until two days later, when I was out in the desert on a photoshoot with my good friend, that I realized that my choice was exactly what I needed. The unknown was no longer a freaky black hole; it was a wide road full of possibility.
As a content editor, you’re able to work from anywhere. How do you balance “sky” and “screen”? Do you have any advice for other women who want to work on the road?
Oh man, the balance is one of the hardest parts of traveling. Managing my job was easy; I knew that my work as an editor enabled me to travel, and so I never felt like I was sacrificing adventure in order to take some time to plug in and work from a coffee shop. Without that job, I would have been unable to take the risk of leaving Los Angeles, and I am consistently grateful.
The harder thing was balancing my creative writing with the sky. At the end of the day, it was hard to decide whether I should unplug and gaze up at the stars, have a conversation with my neighboring campers, or buckle down and crank out some writing. But when it comes to that sort of thing, you can’t make a wrong decision. You’re already doing something so beautiful and adventurous, that you can trust the creativity and stories will eventually come.
For women who want to work on the road, I would say just because something has never been done before doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I think that because so many women are paving the way in their fields, it can be hard to justify taking a risk and diving into the unknown. There are far fewer publicized success stories for women than there are for men, which can make it hard to trust the unknown. But we are the success stories. We are the ones young girls will eventually look up to. The women on the website are some of the ones who encouraged me to take a risk, and our community is growing.
On a practical level, I got my jobs because I worked toward a lifestyle that allowed me to freelance. After graduating college, I moved to Los Angeles, where I nannied and wrote for any publication that would have me. (Sometimes for free). I eventually told my boss that I wanted more (paid!) opportunity, and since I had a portfolio, I was able to pick up a decent chunk of paid writing jobs. I always wanted to live on the road and just tried to figure out a way to make it happen. You can build the life you want. You might have to work a few odd jobs and ask favors, but you can do it. Email the people in charge and tell them what you like about their company, and how you could potentially help them. Figure out a way you can use your talents to help support yourself. It might be hard, but somewhere in the haystack of NOs, there is a golden needle of a YES.
You can build the life you want. You might have to work a few odd jobs and ask favors, but you can do it… Figure out a way you can use your talents to help support yourself. It might be hard, but somewhere in the haystack of NOs, there is a golden needle of a YES.
What has been your biggest surprise about being on the road thus far?
The people I’ve met. The United States is so, so diverse, and this never really sinks in unless you witness it firsthand. I love talking to strangers on campsites or in bars and cafes, and I do my fair share of couch surfing when I need to sleep in a house. It’s fascinating to hear their stories, their take on life, and what they know about the world.
You also wrote before you left that it’s time for yourself to be uncomfortable. Did you feel too comfortable in your stationary life? In what ways have you challenged yourself with a more mobile lifestyle?
I felt comfortable to the point of boredom. I had a routine that was very fun and convenient, but time was moving so quickly and there was still so much of the United States that I wanted to see.
A mobile lifestyle has been uncomfortable for many beautiful, terrifying, unexpected, and exhilarating reasons. The loneliness has been challenging on a mental level, but in return I’ve gained an independence that I hope will inspire other women to explore things in spite of fear. And then there are more practical challenges: staying organized in such a small space has forced me to be very respectful of the possessions I do bring along. (If you have to make a long solo trip, have a designated space for everything!) Physically, I’ve learned to grapple with a variety of different environments and climates, as will anyone who takes to a nomad’s life. One night you’re camping in a clearing under the mountains, and another you’re fighting 50mph winds just so your tent doesn’t blow away. In the end, that discomfort is what brings you growth.
What are your self care tips?
Find the time to do things that make you feel proud of yourself. Build a fire, write a poem, run an extra mile, etc. Women can be very hard on themselves, and I think it’s so nurturing to find the moments that light you up inside. We’re all badass females that kick ass and dive headfirst into the outdoors. We should celebrate that.
Take advantage of water. Swimming in a lake, taking hot showers, and walking alongside the ocean are all things that I have found to be super nourishing on long travels. Also, always be reading. It ignites your imagination and consistently gives you something to look forward to.
Tell us about one person that you’ve met so far who has impacted your life.
My friend Aminda Villa. She’s actually the photographer for some of these pictures!
I met Aminda right before traveling; it was a year ago when I was about to venture through the Midwest and she was subletting my apartment in Los Angeles. We instantly clicked, and though we never lived together, we stayed in touch. I visited her when going through Phoenix and am constantly inspired by her thirst for authentic adventure and love of the creative life. She helped me develop the idea for All Run Wild, my new website that will launch later this fall.
Take a photo of your five must-have items for travel in Luna.
- My big Mexican blanket (great for warmth, yoga, and picnics) 2. Mason jar (keeps me from buying plastic, and can be used for anything) 3. Rose water (so refreshing and perfect for when you’ve gone five days without showering) 4. Laptop (if I couldn’t write I’d explode. I switched from handwriting to typing because it allows me to keep better track of things) 5. A candle (makes everything cozier)
Where are you now and where is next?
I’m currently in Portland. It was supposed to be a temporary visit, but then I got a short-term production gig and an opportunity to participate in a creative writing program for three months, so here I am! Since I’m finishing up in early January, I’d like to go back to the Southwest and spend some of the winter there. Those orange mountains can’t be beat.
Editor’s note: This interview contains Amazon affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the link, She Explores receives a small commission at no charge to you. We appreciate your support.