Adventures of A+K: Traversing the Peaks and Valleys With Adam and Kathryn Frazer

UPDATED: June 30, 2024
PUBLISHED: July 3, 2024
Woman and man on beach

The Adventures of A+K: one minute they’re hiking the Bavarian Alps. The next, they’re hanging out with reindeer in Finland. They’ve also biked 500 miles across Iowa, kayaked in the Pine Barrens and slept under the Northern Lights in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

They don’t have a show on the Travel Channel, and they’re not related to Rick Steves—Adam and Kathryn Frazer are simply a married couple who, along with their pup Kona, spend their days traveling the world, sharing their journey on the Adventures of A+K website and YouTube channel.

It all started back in 2016, when Kathryn unexpectedly lost her job, kick-starting a move to Seattle the couple had been considering. “Before we lived in Seattle, we didn’t do much,” Kathryn says. “We didn’t hike, we didn’t travel, we didn’t really go anywhere.”

The beginnings of Adventures of A+K

Moving to the Pacific Northwest awakened a dormant love for the outdoors: hiking, camping, road tripping. By 2019, they’d decided to buy and build out a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van (enlisting Kathryn’s dad for assistance) so they could go wherever they wanted for as long as they wanted without having to return to their apartment. They’ve been on the road more or less ever since.

The life looks enviable, whether the trio are galavanting through Glacier National Park or hiking one of Alabama’s 4,200 caves, and in many ways it is. Their travels have taken them to 49 national parks and all 50 states, plus 12 countries. (The van, which they’ve lovingly named “Brisket,” stays stateside for those adventures, which have included a wintertime stay on a private island in Finland and a motorbike trip through Vietnam.

But it’s not always easy or perfect, and that’s something the couple are upfront about in sharing their life on the road. “One of the things I had to learn that was hard for me is just being adaptable,” Kathryn says. “This lifestyle is so unpredictable.”

Behind the scenes isn’t glamorous

There’s a lot of un-glamourous strategizing—not to mention hard work and long hours behind the wheel—that goes into leading a 24/7 van life: Where are we going to sleep tonight? Where are we getting our water? How are we doing laundry? These are just some of the questions Adam and Kathryn have to juggle on a day-to-day basis.

“I think people think we live a vacation life, and that’s like the furthest thing from the truth,” Kathryn chuckles. Even the money is unpredictable from month to month, and then there are times when their home on wheels needs repairs, something they’ve had to get handy at.

Adam and Kathryn say they’re lucky that their pre-van life careers applied to running Adventures of A+K. Before they started traveling full-time, Adam was a teacher, and Kathryn worked in event marketing. Today, he gets to educate viewers and readers all about making the most of their travels, while she can apply her photo and video editing prowess.

But there’s also been a tremendous learning curve on the business side of things, with everything from building the website to doing taxes. “With YouTube, we had to learn how to create better videos, how to edit them, what are the best practices,” Adam explains. And when it comes to the travel guides, “We didn’t know much about search engine optimization or how to write content in a way that would be best for what someone’s searching for.”

Adventures of A+K: a social media presence 

These days, more than 186,000 subscribers follow the Adventures of A+K on YouTube, where the videos have a fun and easygoing tone that’ll thrill fans of upbeat travel shows like Somebody Feed Phil or Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss (or yes, Rick Steves’ Europe). In other words, there’s no manufactured drama here—just a genuine enthusiasm for far-flung and unsung destinations—and there’s certainly no snobbery. They treat destinations like Oklahoma with the same excitement and respect they give places like Florence or Venice.

So what does work-life balance look like for a couple (and canine) whose life is their work and vice versa? Well… there’s really no such thing. “That’s our eternal battle,” Adam says, adding that they’d love to get to a place where they can take a day off each week—or even just one day a month.

Managing the website and YouTube has been the Frazers’ full-time gig for the last several years, and they’re adamant that this is a dream. But most nights they work until 7 or 8 p.m., then they get up and do it all over again the next day. Most weeks, they don’t take a day off to rest and relax and recuperate. There’s always miles to drive, video to film, content to write and edit, pesky reporters to email back and chat with.

“You have to prioritize [time off], and that’s something we haven’t prioritized, if we’re being honest,” Kathryn says. “When you’re self-employed, it’s hard to stop working because you know when you’re not working you’re not making money.” This year, they’ve talked about taking it easier on themselves by traveling slower, spending a few days in one place rather than rushing on to the next location.

Logistics of life on the road

Adam and Kathryn love the life they’ve made, but if you’re someone who needs to know what’s going on from day to day, the kind of person who lives and dies by their calendar, “Don’t do this,” Kathryn laughs. Even on the days when everything goes “right,” there are simply too many curveballs and variables to reckon with.

But if the van life does appeal to you, the duo agree that you should give it a try. Just maybe try renting one first and giving it a go for a few weeks or months.

The van has shown them that travel doesn’t have to be expensive or involved—some of the best times they’ve had are spent camping or checking out state parks and national forests or cool little towns that otherwise never would have been on their radar. They still think about the time more than two years ago when they drove up to Alaska and then continued on to the Arctic Ocean. It’s memories like that one that make all the unpredictability and chaos worth it.

“Even on the darkest of days, it’s like, I could be sitting at a desk in an office like I used to,” Kathryn adds. “Getting to experience so many different places, especially while we’re still young and able and we can still hike and our health is good—it’s just the best thing in the world.”

Photo credit: Adam and Kathryn Frazer

Cassel is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor, a co-owner of Racket MN, and a VHS collector.