Welcome to Part VI, and the final installment of of series covering life in Alaska with ColIin & Kendall Strachan. In Part I, we met Collin & Kendall. In Part II learned what it takes to move into a 33 foot Airstream, and start traveling with no specific destination in mind. In Part III, we experienced a world like no other and in Part IV, we discover what lead to the investment in "Streamy" in the first place. In PART V, we discovered the gear required to stay alive and make the most of your time in the remote alaskan wilderness and now, finally, in PART VI it's the end of our journey with Collin & Kendall. What lessons have we learned along the way and what's in-store for them next.
After years of full-time travel across the U.S. and into Alaska, we’ve learned a few core lessons that have helped to shape how we live life. The first is an old adage that a family friend used to always say - “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
One of the biggest character traits required for an off-grid lifestyle anywhere, especially Alaska, is flexibility. Regardless of the season, weather patterns, living systems, our business schedule, and so many other factors are subject to never-ending change. It almost feels as though that when we carefully plan out our day or our week, Alaska is listening and ready throw us an unexpected curveball. We’ve learned a huge amount about how to be prepared while still retaining our flexibility. More than ever before in our lives, we carefully consider the tasks we need to accomplish, what could get in our way, and a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C for our week. We've found that our preparation and planning, rather counterintuitively, gives us WAY more flexibility than just going with the flow and taking whatever comes at us. We can expect the unexpected and choose how we’d respond to it. It means that if we wake up to unpredicted dumping rain and we need to shoot, we know where to drive to accomplish the shoot, or if Airstream systems fail, we have a buffer day built into our week for maintenance/repairs.
This has played into our lives in countless ways, and honestly is a valuable lesson for anyone living in today’s world. While you may not be subject to the natural elements that we are, NO ONE is isolated from the unexpected after 2020. We've learned to try making 2-3 different plans for the day based on things that could pop up unexpectedly. If circumstances change, and we have to go to plan B or C, we're okay, we're still feel really on top of things because we know where we’re headed. And, let's be honest, when doesn’t plan A fall apart these days?!
The second major lesson we’ve learned from Alaska is the value of budgeting. Hopefully you’re comfortable with a financial budget, but have you ever considered budgeting other things, like time?
For us, our biggest business success and learning came from making a “time budget,” which is something that Alaska categorically forced us to do. For several years, our business (we’re photographers) more or less matched the full-time income of the jobs we quit to pursue it. Then in 2022, it suddenly tripled, which sent us reeling both in good ways and bad. We got sucked in, took every contract that came in and for the first 9 months of the year, we just about worked ourselves into the ground. When we were finally able to take a week off in the fall and we sat down to figure out how the heck to manage our time more effectively. What we came up with was a time budget, and it changed everything. First, it introduced the flexibility element that we’d learned earlier. Rather than saying that we'd do photoshoots on Tuesday and chores on Wednesday, we now make a list of each of the things we need to get done and the conditions necessary to do so. So on an afternoon with perfect light, we shoot! On an afternoon with crap light, we get water and firewood. And if it’s pouring rain or dumping snow, we stay inside and edit.
We also took a look at the types of contracts that our business was the best fit for and brought a couple of our ongoing relationships to an end. As John Maxwell says, “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the great.”
What's Next for Us?
It's wild to think that we’ve been "nomads" for 4 years now, calling our Airstream home & using every spare moment we have to chase new experiences, learn skills in the outdoors & push our bodies to the limit on some epic adventures. We’ve always known that someday we wanted a family, but at the same time, I loved everything about our life the way it was. There wasn’t a point where I felt that adding a small human into the mix was right yet.
I’m not sure what exactly catalyzed a change for us, but as we envisioned our life over the next few years, we began feeling as though it lacked a greater purpose. While hiking taller mountains & climbing on remote glaciers will always be something we are very passionate about, those activities aren’t deeply fulfilling - at least over the long term. We hope we never stop doing those things, but being a mom & a dad, raising children to see + appreciate the world around them & traveling as a family is what I know we know we were created to do. Adventuring will for sure look different with a baby (maybe instead of a 4am wake up & sunrise paddle, we’ll enjoy a short afternoon walk) but sharing our love for the outdoors and giving our son experiences that we never had growing up is what really excites us.
We know there are differing opinions in the outdoor travel space, especially with our generation, about having kids (and how to "have" them) But, for what it’s worth, we think raising children is one of the greatest privileges in the world. Our life is far from normal, and we are confident that adding this baby into the mix will only make it more joyful and fulfilling.
In a final sign off, one of our favorite movies of all time is “The Greatest Showman.” Without quite knowing how much foreshadowing was really happening, we actually danced to “Tightrope” at our wedding. Life, when lived to it's fullest, is certainly a tightrope. As entrepreneurs, adventurers, and off-grid livers, its a guarantee... now as future parents, it's safe to say the rope will be even narrower, at least for a little bit. But if anything in our lives were to change, to not find ourselves looking up at the norther lights with Streamy to call home and our future children around the fire, we know that the lessons the Alaskan wilderness has taught us will see us through, we'll always find our way and it's our job to stay focused on the moment, be present and enjoy every little bit of it.
Follow @kendal.strachan on Instagram to keep up with their journey as the take on the true wilderness of North America.
READ PART 1: Airstreaming Across Alaska | Meet Collin & Kendal Strachan
READ PART 2: Airstreaming Across Alaska | Off-Grid Alaska
READ PART 3: Airstreaming Across Alaska | Other Wordly Beauty
READ PART 4: Airstreaming Across Alaska | “I am not living in a trailer.”
READ PART 5: "There Is No Bad Weather, Just Bad Gear."