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As part of our developing Solo Female Traveler eBook, which will offer stories and advice from well-known Instagram female travelers, we are featuring an interview with Mindy of @shetravelswithdogs. She offers the ins and outs of traveling as a solo female traveler and shares some poignant advice to get you on your way!
It’s funny how I ended up on the road in a van.
I had bought the van to travel with inventory for my dog bed business. One of the first weekends out I had a hotel booked for a friend’s wedding and when I arrived they denied my stay because of my pit bull.
So it’s midnight and all I can think is, “there’s a Walmart down the street and I heard road travelers sometimes overnight there,” and I went in and asked. They were welcoming and gracious. I had dog bed inventory in the van that I used to make a makeshift bed and there I was…sleeping in a Walmart parking lot in a van. There was something oddly romantic about it.
As mentioned above, it was an accident. I had hotels and Airbnbs lined up to accommodate the business road trip I was planning but after that first Walmart overnight, a light clicked on and I realized it would be so much easier to go all in on van life.
Freedom and ease of traveling with my dogs. I love being able to drive out into the wild and not worry about the size of my vehicle. I love having everything I need with me and not having to pack to head out on an adventure. I love visiting friends all over the nation and not having to worry about sleeping accommodations.
Hmm… Keeping the van clean and smelling good is probably the biggest challenge. That might sound silly, but with two 60 lb dogs it’s a constant battle. And the constant fear mongering you have to put up with from people who’ve never done this type of travel. It’s never ending, and while it comes from a place of care it can be quite suffocating at times.
I think I’m fortunate I already had work I could keep doing from the road. When thinking through that, it was more of “why wouldn’t you do this?!?” As opposed to “how?”
The challenge to stay focused with work and not want to adventure all the time is real and constant. But at the same time, this lifestyle that makes you look right at yourself all the time, has brought a lot of clarity on how I want to spend the next 10 – 20 years and that will bring a lot of challenges. Predominantly great challenges but I’m sure they won’t always feel that way.
ABSOLUTELY. But a lot of it is based on perceptions and many of those perceptions come from others. It’s also VERY interesting to travel through different parts of the country and notice how the responses to what you’re doing vary.
I doubt men get the constant questions and suggestions regarding safety. And they don’t get egotistical responses to you choosing to do certain things on your own. I’ve gone way out of my comfort zone in so many ways and have experienced gender biased reactions I haven’t seen so much in life (and I work in insurance…a male dominated industry).
All those people whose response was, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” I honestly had no idea because while I’ve thought about driving cross country, I’d never thought about going so deep.
But honestly, I feel the most supported by the friends across the nation I’ve been able to visit. Who opened their homes (and laundry rooms!) with open arms and sat down and reconnected in way that would have never happened if I hadn’t taken my life to the road. Not only have I been able to see people I love that may have not crossed my path, but I’ve walked away feeling fully supported and so happy to have had those opportunities to see people in THEIR lives and feeling so connected.
Oh, you mean like year two? I said a year. I’m 10 months in and planning year 2.
And yes, I would do it again and I constantly shout it from the rooftops that everyone should try it. It’s truly the adventure of a lifetime.
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