100 countries, 7 continents, 1 million subscribers, a milestone birthday… and Covid-19. Sitting tight in Singapore, YouTubers Kara and Nate contemplate their travels and consider their next step.

By Tanya Ward Goodman
April 06, 2020
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Like many of us, Tennessee-based YouTubers Nate and Kara Buchanan underestimated the velocity of the COVID-19 virus spread. After four years of near constant travel, they’d achieved their goal of 100 countries and seven continents, and had begun to see the world as borderless. Just 36 hours after returning to the U.S. from Antarctica, the two bid farewell to stateside family and friends and headed for the Philippines.

Courtesy of Nate Buchanan

“We lived in ignorant bliss,” Nate said, describing their fortnight long exploration of the small islands of Samar, Leyte, and Coron. Two weeks later, with a lockdown imminent, they barely made it out of the country. Riding a swift wave of luck and timing, they managed to debark an off-grid houseboat and, with minutes to spare, boarded a flight for Singapore where they are currently holed up in an airport hotel.

“It was quickly becoming apparent that the only way to stop the spread of the virus was for the world stay put for awhile,” Nate said. “The problem was we haven't had a home.”

Taking their usual refuge in Kara’s parents’ guest room meant extra travel and the possibility of putting family members at risk. This, along with confidence in the Singapore healthcare system, solidified Nate and Kara’s decision to self-quarantine.

Courtesy of Nate Buchanan

“In a way,” Nate said, “we’ve been training for self-isolation for years.” Building a YouTube channel that boasts over one million followers takes rigorous planning and non-stop movement. What started as a six-month adventure filmed for the folks back home has grown into a full-time career. They’ve developed a schedule where up to two months spent shooting video in numerous locales is punctuated by a few weeks of “workation.”  Holed up in a hotel room, Kara edits and Nate tends to correspondence, marketing, and finance. During these times, much as in quarantine, they leave their room only for food and exercise.

“For the time being, this all feels relatively normal… until we start consuming news and social media,” Nate said.

Working hard to stay healthy, the couple has gotten into a routine of vitamins, extra veggies, and regular exercise. The intro to their latest vlog highlights yoga, pizza delivery, and DIY facials as a few other activities they’ve found to fill the hours.

A birthday breakfast in bed for Nate was a slightly more subdued celebration than the one for Kara, who greeted her third decade while sailing away from the White Continent. It’s easy to imagine that, when the candles were blown out, the couple might have shared a mutual wish to be back on the road before the expiration of their 90-day travel visa. No matter what, they plan to focus on the positive and, when it’s safe for everyone, carry on with their adventurous life.