Tiny House, Tiny Footprint published my article: Lessons from Solo Female Traveling. Check out the post on the Tiny House, Tiny Footprint blog and at Vanlife Diaries. I was so excited to talk solo female van life! Here are some of the highlights.
Meet Lisa with Vacay Vans, the Solo Female Van Life Traveler
If you looked at my life last year compared to my life today, it’s almost unrecognizable. Last year, I had a growing interior design firm and had just purchased a starter home in Austin, Texas. My boyfriend and I were living in our house and planning a future together. From the outside, it looked like everything was going in the right direction. But I had a nagging feeling that something was off. I felt stuck and unfulfilled in my work and relationship, but I didn’t know why or what to do about it. I had no idea that the solution would be to donate most of my things and move into a camper van. Solo female van life was the farthest thing from my mind.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from being a solo female van life traveler.
1. FEAR IS A CHOICE
People always ask if being a solo female van life travller is scary and my answer is always the same. I choose to not be afraid! But if I said I’ve never been afraid in my van, I’d be lying.
My first night solo in my van, I was terrified. I didn’t have any road trip travel skills and I didn’t know about resources like freecampsites.net or iOverlander. While trying to find a place to park for the night in a small town near a Colorado highway, fear got the best of me. Everywhere I considered parking looked potentially dangerous. In the dark, cozy little spots suddenly turned into a creepy old house or an abandoned trailer. I was certain that I was going to be abducted and never heard from again. Eventually, I settled on a parking spot by a streetlight. Triple checking my door locks, I curled up in bed as a ball of worry.
In the daylight, however, my perceived surroundings and the reality could not have been more different. I woke up in a quaint, small town surrounded by friendly people, all of whom were smiling at me.
2. VANLIFE COMES WITH A SHARP LEARNING CURVE
Vanlife is different in day-to-day living. It can be overwhelming to start an adventure with so many foreign terms and concepts like gray water, propane, and boondocking. I’m learning so many things by simply doing them! Simple things like enhancing my power tool skills and troubleshooting electrical issues changed everything. I’ve become a pro at monitoring my water and propane consumption.
I’m still honing my skills for finding good places to stealth park. Admittedly, I often resort to Walmart! I do urban camping much more often than I’d like to admit. I’m taking baby steps. Today, for example, I’m nervous to spend too much time without cell service. That said, maybe in a few weeks, I’ll feel ready to go off-the-grid for a longer period of time. This lifestyle comes with a steep learning curve.
3. THIS LIFESTYLE IS A VEHICLE FOR CHANGE
Solo female vanlife is literally and figuratively a vehicle for change. The things you see and the people you meet are always changing and evolving. This results in internal growth and change. When you strip yourself of your familiar comforts– your home, things, friends, and city– you look at what’ s left behind with a much clearer lens. This has helped me assess so many things in a new light. I look at my beliefs, preconceived notions, and relationships.
I’m able to look at the things in my life and ask, “Is this (place, relationship, material thing) helping me live the life I want to live or is it weighing me down?”
In this way, the van is a vehicle for self-discovery.