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September 5, 2020

A Travel & “Van Life” Guide for the Women Flying Solo.

As a woman, living on the road can sound a little challenging—dangerous even. 

Society says that we need a man to do anything; the adventure of a lifetime would require nothing less. But I’m here to tell you that you can do it, whether it’s solo or with friends. You can do it however you want. It doesn’t take much. 

Seeing people doing the “van life” with decked out, full tiny-homes with beautiful backgrounds on Instagram can be a little disconcerting, but you honestly don’t need much to get out there and do it. When you think about necessity, life on the road is minimum.

I have my Coleman 2-burner stove, a few pots and pans to cook with, a tea kettle to make coffee, and some propane. I should invest in a cooler, but as of right now, I’m without. So that takes care of my food.

You need shelter, so I would suggest a car that allows for comfortable sleeping. I have a Toyota Sequoia ’03. A friend of mine built a platform for my trunk with some wood, and I folded the back seats to allow for more space. This gives me an almost queen-sized bed in the trunk. An old roommate gave me a foam top from his bed. (I have this on top of the wooden platform, and it works great!)

I do have a tent, but it’s easier for me to just pull up to a place and not have to worry about pulling out the tent, setting it up, and breaking it down. I also feel more protected in my car with locked doors.

You can usually sleep at Walmart and find places around other people, but I like to use dispersed camping in national forests. I usually stop at the USFS ranger stations and grab a motorized vehicle map. They are free and quite informative about where you can go. 

For water, I bought two 2-gallon spigot water containers. I like them because I can easily fill my water bottles or put some into a pot for food. I also really like them because I can use them to wash my hands easily.

Showering? I have a solar shower. It’s literally just a 5-gallon black bag that I can add water to, leave in the sun to heat up, and set it on top of my vehicle to shower. It was cheap and effective. I can’t take 20-minute showers, but it does the job, and that’s all I need.

My closet consists of a clear, zipped rectangle bag that my old bedsheets came in. It fits well under my bed, and I can easily find what I want to wear. I am traveling in the summer, so it may be harder in cooler climates where thicker clothing is necessary. When you’re living on the road, showering, at least for me, is more of a weekly thing and not a daily activity. So, besides changing my underwear, my clothes last me at least 2-3 days.

I have a collapsible hand shovel for my bathroom, which I can put into my door pocket along with toilet paper and wet wipes. I also have a clear case that I keep most toiletries in, but without showering much, all I really need is soap to wash my hands, and my toothbrush and toothpaste. I should probably wear deodorant but…

I have my ukulele, my crash pad and other climbing gear, books, and my sketchbook and microns for entertainment.

For protection, I have a massive (but friendly) dog. I feel comfortable knowing that if something were to go wrong, he is there to alert me. I have bear spray because I am in the Rocky Mountains a lot, where grizzly bears are prevalent. I have a small knife and I am aware of its whereabouts at all times. I lock my doors at night and put the alarm on if I am in an area where I feel it is necessary. People have recommended that I invest in a gun, but I haven’t.

Life on the road isn’t difficult. If you want it enough, you can make it happen. 

I’ve never had much money, but I saved up what I could, and make do with what I have. A remote job would be ideal for making money; I haven’t been able to find one, but with COVID-19, it’s probably going to become easier.

On the note of COVID-19, to stay sanitary, I always use my mask when I’m in public. Different states have different rules, and I’ve gone to places where no one is wearing a mask, but I always wear mine. I’m traveling and don’t want to spread anything to anyone, even if they don’t care. I keep a little squirt bottle in my front door pocket that has diluted rubbing alcohol for my hands. I use it when I get out of my car, as well as when I get in.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions about life on the road, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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