Ian asked me as a new Wayfarer owner, to share my story and possibly inspire others with my adventures and travels. My name is Beth and I live in The Grand Canyon State of Arizona. I bought a Walter van in February 2019.
Growing up in Ohio, I could only dream of travel and adventure. My family lived in middle class suburbia and I looked to PBS programs and National Geographic magazine as a portal to an outside world. I was fascinated by how big the world was and by all the exotic people, places and animals. I knew I had to someday experience these things myself. I couldn’t wait to leave behind the Midwest and start seeing other parts of the world.
I got my first opportunity to follow this dream, when at the age of 19, I took a summer job at a guest ranch in Wyoming. The first time I saw snow-capped mountains, I knew the West was where I was meant to be.
After graduating college and gaining some work experience, I did leave Ohio and moved west. I became a travel nurse in Seattle and around the state of Arizona. The job allowed me the flexibility to travel not only for work in the US, but allowed time off between the 13-week assignments where I could travel abroad. I took extended trips, usually for 4-6 weeks at a time traveling throughout Kenya, and multiple trips to Europe. While traveling in Spain, I worked on my other dream, of becoming fluent in Spanish. I studied at a language academy in Spain when I was 26, and continue to study and keep up on the language. Most recently I hired a Spanish tutor in Peru while on a 3 month solo trip to South America.
In total I have traveled to 15 countries and nearly every state in the US. In Peru I hiked over a 14,000 foot mountain pass, as well as the deepest canyon in the world. I’ve gone birding in the Costa Rican cloud forest and seen all the animals of “The Big 5” on Kenyan safaris. My favorite place in the world still remains, the Grand Canyon. I have hiked rim to rim in one day, and have rafted the entire length of it. Sleeping under the stars, on the banks of the Colorado River inside that magical canyon is where I feel most at peace.
My Walter van now allows me to explore and hike more easily. Before, I would get a cheap hotel near the state or national park where I wanted to hike. I would only need the hotel for a few hours, as I like to be on trail at sunrise. This often meant checking out at 4 or 5 am. I also built a sleeping platform in my Honda CRV and tried sleeping in this near the trail head. Although convenient, it was cramped and not comfortable.
I had always wanted a camper van but thought it was too expensive. Many, like the Sprinter are overkill, and are like apartments on wheels. I wanted to camp out of my van, not live out of it. I thought maybe I would get one eventually when I was 50. Having just turned 40, I started thinking why not now? After searching the internet for a better option I found Wayfarer vans. This was the perfect fit for me. It was a great way to get the basics of a camper van, and I could later add or modify things as needed. After using the van for a few months now, I realize that I really do not need to add much. The basics are already there and I don’t need more in order to have a dry, safe, comfortable place to enjoy the outdoors at an affordable price.
For women specifically, we are often waiting to take that trip until we have a boyfriend to go with us, until we can get our friends together for a girls trip, or for when we turn 50. None of these are guarantees.
As a nurse of nearly 20 years, I’ve seen both birth and death. I’ve seen horrific traumas and cancers. You only get one life, and you never know how, or when it will end. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
You can take that trip now, and you can go solo! Solo travel is the most rewarding way to travel. You will be more likely to immerse yourself in the local culture, rather than only spending time with your travel partner. As a solo female traveler you need to be more prepared and more alert than anyone else. However, the rewards are well worth the effort. Check out my tips for traveling and hiking as a solo female, and get out and explore!
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Beths Tips for International Solo Female Travel
Traveling solo as a female is unusual in many cultures, and will thus bring attention to yourself. In order to prevent extra unwanted attention, keep these tips in mind.
- Take a self-defense class before you travel.
- No tight/revealing clothes and cover shoulders/legs.
- Wear little makeup.
- Travel with 1 bag to lessen chances of being robbed.
- Clothes should be neutral and take only two outfits.
- No jewelry to reduce the risk of calling attention.
- Simple no-name travel bags.
- Wear your day pack/purse in front in crowded areas.
- Tell someone your location and plans periodically.
- Have accommodations planned ahead of time.
- Walk with confidence and purpose.
- Carry a plastic door stop to place on inside of door.
- Plan as much as possible ahead of time.
- Don’t get drunk and don’t stay out late.
- Listen to your gut. Always!
Tips for Solo Female Hiking
As a solo female hiker it is important to always be prepared for weather, and potential wildlife and human threats. Here’s some tips to keep you safe.
- Always travel with the 10 basic essentials.
- Use an app like Alltrails to know where you are.
- Share your plans/route with someone.
- Carry a personal location beacon if cell service is spotty.
- Make periodic noise (clap, whistle) on remote trails to minimize animal attacks.
- Carry bear spray for human and animal self-defense.
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Look behind you ever so often.