Renee Hahnel is an outdoor lifestyle and landscape photographer based in Seattle, Washington. She began sharing her love of travel and photography on Instagram in 2014. Since then, she has grown exponentially with over 250k+ followers and is now regarded as one of the largest outdoor adventure bloggers. Renee has a great appreciation for nature, especially mountain environments, and loves nothing more than being able to explore the wilderness with her husband.
Where were you originally from?
I was born in Melbourne, Australia, but I am now living in the United States in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).
Where are you currently located and why did you choose to move there?
I just recently moved to Seattle, Washington. After living in Colorado (and then being on the road for the last three years) my husband and I decided to have a change of scenery. We chose the PNW for the mountains, proximity to endless photogenic locations, and because we feel super creatively inspired here.
Favorite outdoor place to be and why?
Definitely the mountains! In terms of a specific location, I absolutely adore Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. The Tetons are so dramatic in person! There is an abundance of wildlife and you can access the park year round. Plus, I love how each season brings an entirely different atmosphere and beauty to the area.
How do you manage to make time for all traveling you do?
I barely manage! It is a constant juggle of work and travel. I honestly don't have much free time other than when I am out hiking or commuting to my next destination. Most of my travel is for work, but I try to make time for some personal trips as well.
Traveling so much while also working a conventional job can seem daunting to most people, how do you keep your trips so organized and well planned?
I have a physical planner, but also use the calendar on my phone and spreadsheets on my laptop. I try to plan a general trip itinerary in advance, but always leave ample space for changing things up due to weather etc.
What is your usual budget for shorter trips? for longer trips?
It varies trip to trip. For a weekend getaway in summer, my budget could be as low as $50 for a road trip and local camping adventure. My trips often cost more in winter if I'm staying in hotels due to the cold conditions, though I always keep costs as low as possible. More money saved = more trips!
What is your favorite day trip to go on in your city when you’re short on time?
I haven't had a chance to explore Seattle much yet (we just arrived!) Usually my favorite day trips are to the mountains. When I was living in Colorado my day trips would usually be to Rocky Mountain National Park. Now that I'm in Seattle I suspect my quick trips will again be into the mountains - just heading East this time instead of West!
How far in advance do you plan for longer trips?
Usually a couple months in advance if it's a longer trip. My husband and I started planning our 59 National Parks Trip about three months in advance, and were still planning as we went. I find that looking for flights, accommodation, and camping and hiking permits in popular destinations are best to be booked as soon as you know about a trip in order to save costs and secure a spot.
Who is your favorite travel companion and why?
Definitely my husband, Matthew. We have traveled all over the world together (including living in a tiny van for 7 months) and haven't managed to kill one another haha! In all seriousness though, he is a constant inspiration and comfort to me - and the perfect adventure buddy!
What’s the biggest necessity for you while traveling in winter months?
Warm everything haha! I get super cold, so I will always have plenty of layers on me - thermals, gloves, thick socks, beanies, a Buff or scarf, toe warmers, multiple jackets, and waterproof boots. My other necessity is definitely my camera.
What are 3 objects you would need to have with you on a blizzarded island and why?
I would likely take a water filter, a knife/multi-tool and a sleeping bag. For me this would (theoretically) mean drinking water, warmth, and the ability to forage and build things.
What is any advice you would give to someone else who is trying to incorporate more travel into their life?
I traveled the world during my time in university and when I was working 9-5 jobs. I made it possible by working hard, saving as much money as I could, and planning my vacation time/holidays around travel. I tried my best not to waste money on things I didn't need and put a huge priority on travel in my life. Plus, travel doesn't have to be a 2 month trip to Europe. It can be an overnight camping trip in your local national park, a long-weekend city getaway, or simply exploring some attractions in your local area.
Keep up with Renee Hahnel's adventures on her Instagram at @reneeroaming and on her blog at www.reneeroaming.com.