Katie Carney grew up on Long Island, New York, she travels a ton (she’s currently living in Bozeman, Montana), and she’s gluten-free (she has a sensitivity to it). She also happens to be really good at sleeping in her car. (Yep, it’s a thing.) So good, in fact, that she started the YouTube channel Katie Was Here, all about how to live/sleep in your car (this is the video that got 50k plus views). Today, she’s living in an apartment, but she shares new videos every week on Tuesdays and Fridays, and most of them take place in her car. Her silly, self-deprecating humor and unique theme make her clips super fun to watch. Plus, Spider-Man and Roger are the coolest costars (you’ll just have to watch…). Below, all about Montana (cooler than you might think), why you should travel alone (according to Katie), and who she loves to watch on YouTube.
Katie’s lived in seven states in the past five years: New York, Connecticut, Tennessee, Oregon, California, Texas, and now Montana. “I love the idea of experiencing new places by living in them, not just visiting them for a long weekend on vacation. I started my YouTube channel in the spring of 2013 when I was living in Portland, Oregon, and my first video was how to open a bottle with a pocketknife.”
So the whole YouTube channel basically started on a whim, which is pretty awesome. After the pocketknife video, Katie realized how much she liked recording and editing videos, and she made a few more. Then, in Portland, her living situation didn’t work out and she wasn’t going to move back home to New York. Despite working two jobs at the time, Katie didn’t have enough money to get an apartment, so she ended up living in her car for 10 days, and made a video about it. After that, Katie became a bit disinterested and she forgot about her channel. “Then earlier this year, I learned that my video, “How I Sleep in My Car,” had many, many more views than the rest of my videos, and I realized it was actually a niche that some people were interested in learning about. When I moved from Austin, Texas, to Bozeman at the end of March, I decided I wanted to get back into making videos and focus on traveling and living/sleeping in your car. I have a blast doing the channel and I love reading people’s comments and engaging with my viewers… It has taught me that there are so many like-minded individuals who share some of my so-called ‘crazy’ thoughts about life!”
But isn’t sleeping in your car kinda unsafe? “I have never felt unsafe in my car. Some precautions I take: well, they’re not really precautions, but I almost always sleep in a parking lot of a business that’s open 24/7, like a truck stop or 24-hour grocery store. I also sleep near a light, because that makes me feel safer than being in pitch black. I obviously lock my doors, leave my keys in the ignition, and keep my phone very close to me. Simple, common-sense stuff. Many people have commented on my videos telling me I should tint my windows or get window covers, but after sleeping in my car well over 50 times in the past few years without a problem, I just haven’t found it to be necessary.”
Katie has a great video called “Advantages of Traveling Alone,” where she talks about learning to “hang out by yourself.” “To get the most out of life, you need to understand yourself. And if you’re always with the same people and always doing ‘normal’ things, I don’t think you’ll ever fully know what your opinions are, what you like and dislike, what you’re passionate about, etc. So traveling alone, man, it teaches you what you’re capable of and it also teaches you that you can do so much more than you thought you could. It forces you to know yourself better because you’re alone doing new and different things daily. So you need to trust yourself and, yeah, be comfortable with the person God made you. I think being comfortable with yourself equals higher self-esteem, higher self-worth, and it leads to a happier and more fulfilling life.”
Why a YouTube channel? “My only goal with Katie Was Here is to help people. Whether it’s helping viewers with tips about traveling or living/sleeping in their car, or it’s helping people realize that you don’t need a 9 to 5 job and a penthouse apartment to be happy and have a positive outlook on life. My goal at 24 years old was to travel and move to a new city every six months or so. And since then, while it hasn’t always been every six months, it’s been close! I want to show people that no matter how ridiculous or outlandish your goals might seem to other people, it’s possible if you have faith, and if you really focus and work towards that goal.”
Katie chooses jobs that work with her mobile lifestyle. “I have worked online for the past year as a transcriber, proofreader, and writer. I love working online because it gives me the freedom to travel and live wherever I want. But moving to a new state and getting a ‘real’ job there where you’re interacting with local people helps you learn more about the culture of that part of the country, and I think that’s awesome as well! Having a job that lets me travel while also helping people would be my dream job. But who knows, I might become a psychologist or a novelist or a beekeeper one day!”
Her favorite travel spots: Yellowstone National Park; Zion National Park; Portland, Oregon; and Venice, California. “Yellowstone and Zion are breathtakingly beautiful. I adore national parks and mountains and hiking and camping and nature in general. Portland and Venice are just straight-up fun cities. I lived in Portland for six months, there was just so much to do in that city: awesome restaurants, shops, and bridges. And it was really easy to eat there [with her gluten sensitivity]. Venice, I love the boardwalk: restaurants, little stores, street performers, tattoo shops. I have gotten a third of my tattoos on that boardwalk! I look for a positive and fun ‘vibe’ when I visit new places, and Portland and Venice definitely have that.”
And, er, what’s Montana like?! “Montana is an unbelievably gorgeous state. The people are friendly, there is zero traffic, like, really, no traffic whatsoever, and there is basically a 360-degree view of mountains. Oh, and there are cows, bison, and even camels—and probably bears if I look hard enough—all an hour drive from my house!”
View more of Katie’s videos and subscribe here. Thanks so much, Katie, for talking about your channel and your travels, you and your videos are the best!
Photographs provided by Katie Carney. (From top: In her car, at Yellowstone National Park, at Camel Discovery in Montana, and at Yellowstone.)