Living the van life experience alone is one of the most empowering and fulfilling endeavors a woman could ever accomplish. It gives you the thrill, excitement, and opportunity to live and travel to some of the best destinations out there. However, the concerns for your safety and security could not be more pressing when traveling alone. The society and culture we have right now tend to ostracize and ridicule empowered women who try to live freely. As we break through these norms, it would be responsible for you to have in mind important things that would make the journey worthwhile and safe.
1. A Solo Female Traveler: Always Prioritize Safety
In reality, a solo van lifer would always be a possible target for thieves and robbers. This is without regard to the solo van lifer’s gender. However, the possibility of being attacked while being alone in the van is magnified if the traveler is a woman because how society generalizes women as vulnerable and fragile.
That does not mean that being a female van lifer automatically means you cannot have fun, enjoy, make mistakes, and grow as a male van lifer would normally do. It is time we break the societal norms against women, but we should do it with caution. Part of what makes women survive longer than most men is how resilient, careful, and emotional women are. Let us not throw those out of the window just because female travelers want to live the van life recklessly.
Any solo traveler could have his/her safety in jeopardy. Help is not always available when living the van life alone. Because of such inherent disadvantages of traveling alone, women van lifers can actually be better suited to survive unscathed than men. Being safe does not necessarily mean that you are hiding within your comfort zone; you can still take calculated risks.
2. Inform Your Inner Circle That You Are Travelling Alone
You should always inform a few people within your inner circle that you are traveling alone. This may involve your parents, siblings, close relatives, and trusted friends. Doing so will allow them to look for you the moment they feel that you are in danger. It also does not harm you to have people that are constantly checking up on you.
However, this does not mean that you should advertise to people that you are traveling alone. Keep the information limited to people you can actually trust. If you happen to be in public places, do not make it obvious that you are traveling alone. Opportunists can easily pick up and trail solo van lifers, regardless of gender.
You can avoid attracting unwanted attention by going with the public, like shopping or doing groceries when more people are around. You can also just answer curious strangers by saying you have companions inside the van. Part of being safe and protected is minimizing the risks of getting into trouble.
3. Always Plan Your Travel Destinations Ahead Of Time
Normally, van lifers would advise beginners to skip the intricate planning stage and just travel wherever the winds blow. You cannot do this if you’re traveling alone because you are already at a disadvantage by being alone with no companion. Planning your travel destinations and routes ahead of time allows you to predict worst-case scenarios.
It would be very helpful to be informed that a route or destination could be in the path of a storm or perhaps a tornado. Planning your travel routes and destinations allows you to foresee scenarios like this because you would be compelled to look at a map, listen to the radio or tv, or on the internet. You would also be able to prepare all the necessary equipment or item should you decide to push through with a given travel destination or route.
Winter coats for winter weather are very important because if you go into hypothermia inside the van, the chances of someone rescuing you are slim. Avoid taking risky travels such as driving through snowy roads with no snow chains or winterized vans. Lastly, you can easily save up on your budget by being able to research ahead of time the cheapest campgrounds available for you.
4. Communication Devices Should Always Be Available
You should always have your communication devices online, such as cellphones, laptops, computers, etc. It would also be better to have a strong internet connection because it may come in handy in times of emergency. Since you are traveling alone, always remember to have your phones fully charged and operational because you cannot just ask random people to lend you their phones. In times of emergency, you would not want to have a phone that is low on battery!
Speaking of communication devices, avoid going to places where cell sites do not reach. If you are traveling with friends, then you could do this. But if you are alone, you should not travel to places where you cannot easily dial 911 or call a friend for help. Always check up on van life apps like Magic Sea Weed, Geocaching, and Park4night to learn which roads are explored and which are not.
Lastly, keep your battery storage at full capacity before traveling to new destinations. Always be wary of your battery’s current capacity because almost all of your electronic devices will be dependent on it. If you have money, always go for long-lasting lithium-ion batteries. They may be a bit pricey as a 12V Lithium-Ion Battery could range from $1,000 to $1,500
5. Know How To Defend And Protect Yourself
You should know how to defend and protect yourself in case of an emergency. This is not just limited to defending yourself from people who might take advantage of you, such as thieves and robbers. It also includes unfortunate events such as bear encounters, being trapped in a snowstorm, being lost, and many other precarious situations. The first step is to visualize situations like that and try to orient yourself on how you would react.
Always lock your doors when sleeping overnight, whether in a campground or in a boondocking spot. Have the presence of mind to always have important items near your bed, such as flashlights, cellphones, and whatever you think you can use as a projectile, like hairbrushes or slippers. Before going to new places, check up on the local news and see if they have high crime rates.
If possible, avoid staying in one campground for weeks. This is to avoid people from noticing that you actually live alone. You can mix things up by sleeping for a few days in campgrounds, boondock for another one to two days, and then move on to new places. Familiarity breeds complacency and confidence; when people get used to you living alone, they tend to be more confident and brash around you.
6. Enjoy The Journey And Break The Norms Against Women
Hey, we are well within the 21st Century, you should ignore societal norms that dictate women to just stay “safe” in our comfort zones. That is no longer the definition of being safe, that would be tantamount to being trapped or confined. This is most especially true if you are the type of woman to be adventurous, free-spirited, and bold. Just as long as you take calculated risks only, there is nothing wrong with a female solo van lifer.
Every human being deserves the opportunity to see the world through the lens of the van life experience, especially if they really want to. You get to live by your own set of rules and principles. Making mistakes is and will always be a part of any lifestyle, that includes the van life experience. It is an opportunity to see yourself grow into a better version of yourself in a way that is different from what most people.
However, it does not mean that you can now just go “YOLO” and take reckless journeys. Any van lifer would advise you to be as responsible as you can be. Keep yourself in check by knowing your limitations. Every once in a while, we break free from such limitations. But do so with extra caution given that you are traveling alone.
7. Pick The Best Van Floor Plan For Solo Females
To fully maximize the solo van life experience, pick the best van and van floor plan for you. You can tailor it to your preferences so that you can live as comfortably as one could ever be in a converted van. Customize to your needs and hobbies too. For instance, a biker enthusiast can easily fit a mountain bike inside the van.
For beds, the ideal bed for a solo traveler would be bunk beds and murphy beds. These types of beds are not easily visible from the outside, which can mask your solo van life status from strangers. You can opt for a comfortable platform bed if you have blinds, tinted windows, or curtains. It is a matter of preference, but most van lifers would say that a platform bed would be the most comfortable bed option.
Go for a van conversion floor plan where you can easily access the driver’s seat from the inside. This will be really useful when you really need to get the hell out of town, such as when a bear happens to be knocking on your door or when suspicious people are starting to check up on your van. It would be a hassle, time-consuming, and dangerous to step outside just to access the driver’s seat in these scenarios.
8. Make A Bucket List Of Your Travel Destinations
It may sound trivial and cheesy, but having a travel bucket list is perfect for solo van lifers. For starters, you do not have someone to remind you about your next destination, or the ideal sequence of your destinations. So unless your real intention is to wander around with no planning whatsoever, it would be best to have a travel bucket list. You can start with realistic destinations, given that you are traveling solo.
You can scour the internet or use van life apps to learn from other solo van lifers, especially the brave females. They can share vital information, such as places they visit and uncharted destinations that you could consider taking. Having a bucket list and communicating with other solo van lifers allows you to prepare your budget beforehand.
You could also arrange your travel destinations by geographical proximity. This is to save up on your fuel expenses. By doing this, you can also be more efficient in the places you travel and visit.
9. Do Not Expect Things To Be Glamorous And Neat
Living the solo van life experience can even be less glamorous than doing it with companions. You are bound to encounter hardships and challenges such as multitasking during the rain, snow, or perhaps struggling to find a place to park overnight. It is not just about the fancy Instagram photos and youtube vlogs that represent the van life experience; it encompasses the many nights where van lifers struggled to keep the fire and desire burning out.
Expect a lot of responsibilities and prioritization when doing the van life alone. Since you do not have a companion with you, that means everything must be done by yourself. You must manage things like laundry, food and groceries, refueling, travel planning, working (since you need financial sustenance), and a whole lot of responsibilities that could break your will if you are not prepared. Van lifers have always reminded newbies to expect days where you cannot shower, dump dirty water duties, and eat canned goods.
10. Check The Internet For Ideas And Assistance
Stop guessing things and regularly check up on the internet for ideas and help. Let’s say you are like most women around; you will definitely need help on how to replace a blown tire or perhaps identify problems with your vehicle. So unless you happen to know these things, you will need to have a bit of research escapade and find out how things can be done. Aside from internet articles and Youtube videos, you can also listen to veteran solo van lifers’ testimonials and blogs.
Other things that you should really learn include, installing vent fans, draining water tanks, resealing roofs, replacing batteries, etc. You can easily learn these by being proactive and researching them on the internet before dealing with them. Do not make a habit out of asking for help from random strangers as they can easily take advantage of you if you are alone.
11. Take Advantage Of Friends And Relatives In Every Locality
If you have friends or relatives in a given locality, you can ask for their permission to park in their driveway. This will save you a few extra bucks. However, do not abuse their hospitality because they may never extend help or assistance in the future. For instance, if they allow you to stay for an unspecified number of days, have the decency and humility to only stay for two or three days.
Sometimes, you will need to enjoy a warm shower inside a house, stretch those legs on a relaxing couch, and stay in a fixed structure that does not move. You can also take advantage of friends around the area by inviting them to accompany you on some of your travels. This way you can bond with your friends and relatives in every state or town you visit.
To summarize things up, do not be afraid to live the van life experience alone. Neither should you be discouraged because of what society tells you. A female solo van lifer takes the same risks and benefits that a male solo van lifer takes. Although it may not be a gender issue, you have to be careful in living the solo van life experience as a female. People are admittedly inclined to be more confident and brash when targeting the female demographic. But that does not mean you have to cower in fear. Remember to always keep your safety and security the utmost priority, while still acknowledging the need to enjoy, take calculated risks, and step out of your comfort zone.