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Renee Hanel on Living in a Van for Seven Months & Visiting Every National Park in the U.S.

Our Inspiration, Blogger + Photographer Renee Hahnel on Self-Care, Sacred Spaces + Travel Essentials


Photos: Renee + Matthew Hahnel


Q: What is something that has made a huge difference in your self-care routine?

A: I am currently living out of a van for a seven month road trip to every national park in the US, so finding time for self-care can be challenging! I try to set aside time each day to journal, read a book, do some yoga or go for a walk in nature. Getting outside and breathing fresh air is what makes me feel most alive.

Q: What is a truth that you know for sure?

A: This: “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” —Jack Kerouac

Q: What is something that you wish you would’ve known when you were 20?

A: The importance of allowing space in your life for amazing things to grow and happen. To not fill up every second of every day with things you think should be making you happy (but really aren’t!)

"Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain ." — Jack Kerouac

Q: How do you create a sacred space at home and work? What inspires you?

A: I have decorated the van to feel cozier and to inspire creativity. I used fairy lights, candles, incense, succulents, dream catchers, blankets, pillows and rugs. It’s important for me to have a neat and minimalist space to work and live in, otherwise I feel cluttered and stifled. Playing calming and ambient background music is also key for me to feel inspired and “in the zone.”

Q: What is essential to creating a personal sanctuary?

A: Everyone’s personal sanctuary will be different, depending on what makes them happy and feel safe. It’s okay to copy other people’s ideas, but make sure it’s something YOU actually enjoy doing or looking at each day!

Q: How do you stay centered in the middle of chaos?

A: I usually remove myself from chaos. In circumstances that cannot be helped, I will usually put on some noise-canceling headphones (e.g., when flying and try to listen to music or meditate.

Q: What are your travel essentials for self-care and grounding?

A: Some self-care items I usually travel with are my Kindle, noise canceling headphones, journal, music, an essential oil blend and some lip balm. In cold climates, I always carry an insulated drink bottle or tumbler so that I can have warm drinks/tea throughout the day.

Q: Your top three travel picks?

A: Iceland—There is just something so wild and beautiful about the entire country. I have traveled to Iceland twice now and know I will be back again. Canada—Words cannot describe the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Banff National Park will always be one of my favorite travel destinations. US National Parks—My favorites so far are Yosemite, Glacier, Redwoods, Grand Canyon and Grand Teton national parks. Getting out on the trails and experiencing the power and beauty of nature is a must!

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