By Carolyn Owen
Feature Image by @roamsimply
Do you have some kind of lingering wanderlust that you just haven’t indulged since the world changed in 2020? Do you find yourself often scrolling through Facebook Marketplace looking at camper vans and travel trailers? If you answered yes, you’re in the right place.
Hi, I’m Carolyn, Solo Stove’s resident blogger and wannabe vanlifer. If you’re a girl like me who wants to hit the road solo, pun absolutely intended, but doesn’t know where to start, stick around. Keep reading to learn the top things to keep in mind before hitting the road as a Solo Female Traveler.
How are you traveling?
Sprinter Van? Subaru? Airstream? RV? Make sure whatever mode of transportation you take is in tip-top shape before you drive away from home. Learn to change your tires, oil, battery, and lights. Be on top of your insurance policy and make sure you’ll have appropriate coverage the whole time you’re on the road. Don’t be stingy when filling up on gas, either! Use Google Maps’ “Offline Maps” feature to keep your trek on track if you lose service.
Where are you staying?
There are several places you can sleep safely on your road trip. Do research about BLM Lands. These are run by the “Bureau of Land Management”, and are public lands anyone in America is welcome to camp on. They are usually secluded areas where you’ll be surrounded by nature! Campsites that are not BLM lands are just as great of an option, but will most likely require reserving in advance. In a pinch, especially on long spans between cities, Walmart parking lots and truck stops are usually easy to find and consistently reliable spots. Use resources like freeroam, freecampsites.net, and iOverlander to get on top of your plans!
What’s your plan to stay safe?
Traveling alone as a woman can be a vulnerable experience. There are several things you can do to get ahead of the dangers that may present themselves away from home. When parking your vehicle, back into your space so the driver’s seat is facing out. This way, if you need to make a quick exit, it’s easy to do so. Keep your keys near you while you’re sleeping, and don’t be afraid to arm yourself with pepper spray, a baton, noise makers, and other self-defense items peppered around your space in case of an emergency. It’s not a bad idea to take your guard dog to raise attention to intruders, either. Keep your doors locked, get privacy curtains, and try to blend in as much as possible.
Be careful who you give information to, and if someone you don’t know starts asking for details of your trip, politely decline giving out any information. If you’re using your phone as a wifi router, change the name of the hotspot to something ambiguous so those outside your vehicle cannot discover that a single woman is inside. Share your location with a loved one back home by using Find My Friends if you’re an Apple user, or Life360, so your whereabouts can always be known. Make sure your phone is never dead or turned off! Constantly be aware of your surroundings, and always trust your gut. If a location feels unsafe, drive somewhere else. There will always be another place to park!
How should you pack?
Put down the slip’n’slide– you don’t need that. Bring only the essentials, and maybe a few fun things if you have any extra room. The clothes you bring should be comfortable, and probably not your favorite thing in your closet. While on the road there’s potential for damaging and losing items, so try not to pack the things you hold most near and dear. Bring copies of important documents, physical documentation of emergency contacts, and additional debit or credit cards. If you bring cash, store it in multiple locations throughout your vehicle and luggage so in case something happens, you’ve always got backup.
While you’re on this journey, you’ll find new ways to reconnect with yourself on the road. Our favorite? Fireside, of course! The Solo Stove Ranger, Bonfire, or Campfire could be just what you need to elevate some much needed you-time while traveling. Check out our guide to Vanlife & Nomad Essentials to find the best option for your solo travels, and other resources to add to your packing list!