Hannah Lee Duggan’s journey from coast to coast

Hannah Lee Duggan, a former University student and free-spirited risk taker, brings her followers along for the ride.

Courtesy of Hannah Lee Duggan.

Courtesy of Hannah Lee Duggan.

C.J. Larson

From the back of her 2001 Ford Econoline, Hannah Lee Duggan is exploring the country from one state to the next.

The 25-year-old content creator’s journey began in East St. Paul, where she grew up.

“My mom always used to tell me stories about all of her travels when she was younger,” Duggan said. 

Never one to follow norms, Duggan has created her own path. 

“[My parents] always pushed me to do new things. My mom had me sign up in nearly every sport and every school program,” she said. 

In true Hannah fashion, after high school, she took a position aboard a cruise ship, working grueling 95 hour work weeks while traveling on the open sea. 

“It was a small ship so you’re in very close quarters with your coworkers,” said Duggan. “I’ve never been more exhausted.”

Back on land, Duggan started on her biggest project to date: renovating a Ford Econoline van. In summer of 2018, she picked it up in Litchfield, Minnesota. Working in her father’s garage, Duggan gutted the van and incorporated some of her favorite design elements, like natural lighting and flora. She then set off on two separate trips: traveling to the East and West Coasts. All the while, she detailed her adventures on Instagram and YouTube.

“I used to go on road trips and it would drive me nuts that I was passing all of these places that I couldn’t stop at because I had a destination,” said Duggan. “In the van, you don’t have a destination. You’re just living.”

While traveling, Duggan has, understandably, received a lot of questions from her online fanbase. Her YouTube channel has now amassed over 70,000 subscribers and her Instagram has more than 40,000 followers. Her community is quick to offer suggestions of where to go next.

“It’s transformed into a really kickass group of girls,” said Duggan. 

Sam Dahn, a friend of Duggan’s, recently appeared in a video detailing their morning routine in the van. 

“People talk about how no one is ever authentically themselves on social media, but I would say Hannah is an exception to that,” said Dahn. “Who you see in her YouTube videos is completely how she is in real life.”

In addition to making videos about traveling and her van, Duggan creates handmade furniture, clothing and decor. “I didn’t want to become niche,” said Duggan. “I try to show my hobbies because it’s like, ‘look, I’m doing it and you can do it too.’”

One of her followers, Mavrik Joos, has become a close friend. Joos, a fellow YouTuber, has seen her DIY skills first-hand. “She can make anything out of nothing,” he said. 

Duggan hopes her content inspires her viewers to be bold, creative and to do whatever makes them happy. 

“You just have to make the decision, make the first move,” said Duggan. “When I bought the van, it scared the shit out of me. Just making the initial jump into something is the hardest part, but once you do it, you’re just along for the ride after that.”