Fearless and Free: Seven Solo Female Van Life Travelers Tell All

I interviewed several fellow female nomads to learn what van life has been like from their perspective. Check out these amazing interviews!

happy solo female van lifer inside her white campervan

Forget waiting around for a partner to travel the world with. Put aside the doubts and “what ifs.” Right now, there’s a thriving community of badass women navigating life on their own terms, traveling how they want, when they want, and where they want. Meet the women of van life. 

I interviewed several fellow female nomads to learn what van life has been like from their perspective. We talked about travel style, previous outdoor experience, things we wish people knew, and shared advice for anyone looking to learn more about life on the road. We want you to know the good, the bad, and the ugly! 

While it’s not for everyone, living alone in a van is empowering and full of adventure. I loved hearing from other women about their experiences on the road and hope their words will inspire you and give you a glimpse into this lifestyle. 

Each woman shared a handful of words they felt described their solo travels. The words are arranged in a van shape with a road in the background.
*Each woman shared a handful of words they felt described their solo travels.*

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more info.

Table of Contents

The Choice to Live in a Van

It is important to note that each of the women interviewed and highlighted in this post have chosen to live in vehicles and acknowledge their privilege to be able to do so. We know that many folks are forced to live in cars, trucks, vans, buses, or RVs due to financial hardships, lack of affordable housing, and other circumstances, and our experiences vary greatly because of this.

Without further ado, let’s meet the women and their rigs!

Brenda, Full-time Solo Female Van Life – Ford E350 Campervan

woman smiling while on a hammock outside her campervan
Brenda, @theroadthroughmyeyes on Instagram.

Brenda, @theroadthroughmyeyes on Instagram, hit the road in 2020 in her self-built Ford E350 van she calls Copper. You’ll find her rolling along with her tiny sidekick, Ranger.

Where did you get the idea to live in a vehicle? 

I got the idea after living abroad and seeing all the cool surf vans in Byron Bay, Australia. 

How would you describe your travel style?

Dwelling in the boondocks; I tend to post up somewhere for weeks at a time. 

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

I grew up camping and hiking. 

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about vanlife?

Just try it! If you don’t like it, go back. Life is too fragile and short not to chase your dreams and take risks.

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

1. It’s not as scary as “they” say.

2. It’s not hard, but it is more effort than ‘normal’ life – getting water, doing laundry, dumping trash/recycling, finding a place to shower and sleep.

3. You’ll meet so many amazing people doing the same thing!

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

The best part is utter freedom! The only things that dictate where you live are your heart and the weather. 

The worst part is all the errands that take up free time and struggling to find good cell service for work (get Starlink!).

Describe how you feel about safety living alone in a van.

It’s best to always be aware and trust your intuition about a place, but don’t let yourself live in fear. Check if your gut is afraid, or your head is afraid. Because your head can come up with all sorts of crazy ideas and gimmicks that aren’t rational. Trust your gut!

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

Be bold. Be brave. Future you will be so glad you were!

Heather, Part-time Van Life – Chevy Express 3500 Camper Van

solo woman van lifer standing outside her campervan
Heather, @travelingwhilebutch on Instagram

Heather, @travelingwhilebutch, dwells part-time in Dorothy, (yes, like the Golden Girl!), her 2011 Chevy Express 3500 Van with a Fiberglass High Top. She started living in her vehicle in 2021.

Where did you get the idea to live in a van? 

I’ve always been obsessed with finding ways to extend my time outdoors. It started with a small pickup truck then a Honda Element with a rooftop tent and now my current vehicle.

How would you describe your travel style?

I do a little bit of everything. I spend three months in Italy every year. I like to do some winter travel in Baja. Otherwise, I stick to the West Coast and the Southwest mostly. I also try to do some international travel, not in a van.

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

I was an avid backpacker and hiker. I’ve done the Camino in Spain a couple of times. And other long trails in the U.S. and Canada. 

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about van life?

If you’re unsure, rent a van for a week on Outdoorsy and live out of it. Test it out. If you like it, then go for it. And if you don’t, at least you tried it out. 

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

Not all the people in the #vanlife community should be trusted. Use your best judgment when meeting new people just like you would normally. 

Listen to your gut. If you pull in somewhere and it doesn’t feel right, leave and go find somewhere else. 

Don’t let your fears dictate what you do. Push past those fears and try new things. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. That’s where the magic happens. 

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

It can be lonely. 

But also, it can give you the freedom to do things you might not do if you travel with others.

Describe how you feel about safety living alone in a van.

I make sure I listen to my gut, and I don’t drink alcohol at events. I do what I can to maintain safety. I’ve never felt unsafe. Situational awareness is key. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

Overall, I’ve been super lucky to make friends on the road. It helps to know I can meet up with people in the same area or plan to caravan together.  I wish it was easier for people to find community safely though. Sometimes I feel like it’s hit or miss. And building community can make or break someone’s experience.

Shannon, Full-time Solo Van Life in her Second Van Build – Mercedes Sprinter Campervan 

solo female van lifer inside her van with her dog
Shannon, @shaninavan on Instagram

Shannon, @shaninavan, is an interior designer living in a 2023 Mercedes Sprinter with a sleek and stylish Japanese modern aesthetic. Her pal Greycie the Weimarauner always rides shotgun. They joined vanlife in 2020.

Where did you get the idea to live in a van? 

Instagram, and then I went down the rabbit hole of YouTube!

How would you describe your travel style?

Although I want to travel slow, it ends up being fast because I’m excited to get to the next spot. I love exploring new National Parks and being out in nature versus cities… but I do like a cute little town with good restaurants/breweries to check out.

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

Not much camping, but I hiked and ran a lot and traveled internationally.

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about vanlife?

Take the risk because you will probably be surprised at how rewarding this life is and that you are strong enough to do it on your own.

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

1. That it is not as dangerous as people make it out to be.

2. That we don’t need a partner to protect us. We are very smart on our own and it only makes us stronger to handle things ourselves.

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

The best is having the van all to yourself! The worst is not having a copilot to navigate while driving.

Describe how you feel about safety living alone in a van.

For the most part I feel safe. I follow my gut and if I don’t feel safe somewhere I leave immediately.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

Just get out there! You won’t regret it! 

Melissa (Mel), Full-time Traveling Nurse Van Life – Mercedes Sprinter Van

black and white photo of a solo female van lifer inside her campervan
Melissa Hungerford, @melsvanlife on Instagram

The woman behind @melsvanlife, Melissa Hungerford, is a traveling nurse with a Mercedes Sprinter aptly titled MelVan (pronounced Melvin). She set out on the road in 2021. 

Where did you get the idea to live in a van? 

Social media

How would you describe your travel style?

I do a little bit of everything. Boondocking, at work, national parks, ski resorts. I love traveling around to new spots.

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

I did. I’ve always hiked, camped, skied, and been outdoors.

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about vanlife?

DO IT! Don’t let fear stop you.

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

We can do anything a man can do on the road. I’ve fixed plenty of things in the van without problem. We can travel solo. We really can do it all.

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

I love the freedom of being able to hop in the van and go and end up where I end up. Only negative is with it being such a small space, you will ultimately hit your head, hurt yourself, whatever it may be. But overall it is awesome!

Describe how you feel about safety living alone in a van.

I feel safe. I am aware of my surroundings and where I park but I don’t let fear take away from the freeing experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

I love being on the road and being a nomad. I have met some amazing people and will forever cherish the time I’m living in the van.

Stephanie, Full-time Solo Woman of the Road – Chevy Box Truck Conversion

solo woman van lifer inside her campervan
Stephanie, @thevanlifechronicles on Instagram

@thevanlifechronicles aka Stephanie is a seasoned van lifer. A full-timer for over five years in a couple different rigs, she has recently built out a new Chevy box truck named Peggy Sue, with a personality to match!

Where did you get the idea to live in a van? 

I’ve always wanted to live tiny and to travel.  Initially I had wanted to live in a tiny home, but then I saw a vanlifer on social media and I instantly knew that would be the answer to my dreams of a minimal lifestyle that would enable me the freedom to travel as well.

How would you describe your travel style?

Wherever the road takes me. I enjoy sightseeing, and also slow days relaxing on public lands; either by myself or with the amazing community I’ve found on the road.  I travel with the weather, but also rarely have more than a loose plan.  And even if I have a bit more than a loose plan, I’m fully prepared to throw that completely out of the window if something or somewhere else calls my name!

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

My family camped as a kid, and I have always enjoyed hiking.  But I wouldn’t have really considered myself a super “outdoorsy person”.  But since living in the van, I’ve definitely come to enjoy nature, and feel far more at home there than I do in a concrete jungle.

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about vanlife?

Just do it!  Ignore the “horror stories” or “cautionary tales”. There is no reason to be scared to travel as a woman.  In 5 years traveling full time, I’ve only had amazing experiences.  I feel safer traveling than I ever did living in a house. But of course,  as in all situations in life: Listen to your gut, be aware of your surroundings and always leave yourself an “out”.

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

We are strong, capable, and independent!

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

If I had to pick the worst part – I guess it would be that I have to do all the chores on my own.  And sometimes it would be nice to have a travel partner.

However, I get to live life on my own terms; going where I want, doing what I want, and doing it when I want to.  If I choose to be with people, I have an amazing community that I can reach out to and spend time with. If I want to be alone, I can be. I love the freedom that living alone provides me. 

Describe how you feel about safety living alone in a van.

As a woman in this world, unfortunately, we always have to be aware of our surroundings, the people around us, and the situations that we are in. But, that is true whether you live alone in a van, or whether you live alone in a house.  And for me, I have always felt safer in the van, as I know that nobody could break in without me knowing, and I can quickly drive away if need be.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

This crazy decision to live this way has brought me so many blessings in my life!   I have seen things I never would’ve seen, and so many of the people that I’ve met on the road that have become some of my dearest friends, I would never even have crossed paths with otherwise. 

Not to mention, for me, it gave me a financial freedom like I’d never had in my adult life – giving me the opportunity to save money, and be able to help out my son when needed.  I have no regrets, other than maybe not having done it sooner!

Olivia, Full-time Digital Nomad Van Life – Ford Transit Campervan

happy solo female van lifer inside her white campervan
Olivia, @transientperennial on Instagram

Olivia, @transientperennial, is one of the newer ladies of the van world. She resides in a medium roof Ford Transit, and I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia in the first few weeks of her transition to life on the road in the fall of 2023. 

Where did you get the idea to live in a van? 

This is actually the fifth vehicle I’ve lived out of, but never to this extent where it’s full-time, on-the-road, without a storage unit. 

I had declared at the end of Burning Man 2022 that I wanted to move into a van within a year and brought it into fruition and joined my first caravan exactly one year to the day later! It all came full circle. 

How would you describe your travel style?

I historically have moved every six months, so moving into the van is a way I can still have my home and continue to travel. I don’t know where I want to live next or settle down, so being in the van allows me to visit other people and other friends and see new places. 

I’ve urban stealth camped in big cities, gone to gatherings, and joined caravans with new friends.

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking in other countries and have lived out of a van at times in Australia, too. 

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about van life?

Learn how to say no when you want or need to because the van is your home and boundaries are important.

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

The van is the perfect way to build community and be out in nature. 

I am someone who likes to turn my phone off as much as possible. Caveman TV aka fires are my favorite way to pass the time. 

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

It is humbling to have to ask for help or to use a shower or a place to do laundry. 

You get to make your own decisions.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

When I turned 30, I thought, ‘this is the decade when I’m going to have a family and kids and find my partnership, and my life is going to look drastically different once that happens and I commit to that, and so I thought what do I want to do in this decade before that happens.’ For me, it’s representative of freedom and being able to explore all the places I want to go while still having my home with me. 

Brooke (me!), Full-time Solo Female Van Life – Dodge RAM Promaster Campervan

I’m Brooke, @pettyprinethepromaster to the Instagram world. I have been a full-time solo traveler, living in my 2018 Ram Promaster van since 2020, and it’s hard to imagine life back in my tiny New York City studio, where I lived prior to van life. 

Where did you get the idea to live in a van? 

I rented a small Ford Transit Connect campervan, which was basically just a bed, a folding table, and some cooking supplies, to drive the famous Ring Road of Iceland. After just a week, I knew I was meant to live this way. It took a couple years to save money and find the right rig, but van life was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! 

How would you describe your travel style?

All over the place. I usually prefer to travel alone and sporadically pepper in time with friends, both nomadic and stationary. I love seeing new places and sharing them with my dog, Totopo. Big cities energize me, and I love to work from coffee shops, but after living in my van on the streets of NYC for nine months (due to work), I prefer to have room to spread out!

Did you have much experience in the outdoors before moving into your rig?

I camped with my parents and grandparents mostly in RVs as I was growing up. During the pandemic, I started tent camping more to get out of my tiny apartment, into nature, and away from people. 

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about vanlife?

Reach out to others! I formed great connections with fellow solo female travelers on Instagram and asked questions, shared campsite recommendations, and built a community that way.

What are 2 or 3 things you wish people knew about life for women on the road?

1. We don’t need help in a hardware store unless we ask for it.

2. Most of us came to this lifestyle because we don’t fit a traditional mold, but that doesn’t mean we’re all alike. We are unique individuals that have simply all chosen to live in a vehicle. 

What are the best and worst parts of living in a vehicle by yourself?

Best – I never have to consider anyone else’s opinion on where to go, what to eat, or ask anyone to get out of the van so I can go to the bathroom!

Worst – No one is there to cook for you when you’re sick or help with difficult things like chores or getting rid of mice!

Describe how you feel about safety living alone in a van.

I’ve felt safer in my van than anywhere else I’ve lived. If I feel unsafe, I just drive my house away. I typically park in a way to know that I can move quickly if needed (ex. Backing in at a campsite, keeping the driver’s seat cleared and accessible).

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience as a solo woman on the road?

Worry less about the Instagram photos and more about your experience. It’s more important to live in the moment and care less about the view out the slider door. 

Additional Thoughts 

It’s impossible to capture the strength and tenacity of solo female travelers in a single article, but I hope I gave you a small peek at life on the road for the women of van life.

By and large, this alternative society of solitary women is about building each other up and looking out for one another. It’s rooting each other on, celebrating accomplishments, and helping each other through rough patches. It’s what you make it and it’s absolutely worth it.

Thanks to all the incredible gals who took time to share their thoughts and experiences about nomadic living and navigating solo life on the road. We’re strong, we’re capable, and we’re out here doing it. 

Have a question about solo female van life or van life in general? Drop a comment below! 

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14 Comments

  1. I am not surprised by the way women are treated when they make an alternative lifestyle choice. It is a major threat to the status quo. Of course bad things will happen because you aren’t staying between the lines. I have led an alternative life by design, tents, boats, vans ,trailers. Years ago, no women. Now, gutsy, independent, bold women are demanding that taste of freedom. Welcome, it’s about damn time!

    1. hahah love it!! You are so right.

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  4. Thank you so much for this article! After years of dreaming, planning and saving, I’m going to start truck dwelling full time in June–with the goal of visiting Alaska. My soul has been pulling me away from what I believe to be the inherently meaningless conventions of modern society for a long time now, but the fear, anxiety and doubt has started creeping up. The women featured in this article said a lot of things I really needed to hear. <3

    1. I am so happy this article inspired and spoke to you! I think its so cool seeing women doing adventurous stuff solo. Good luck on your journey! Do you have a website or Instagram where you’ll be writing about your journey? I’d love to follow along!

      1. Hey Kristin, thanks for your interest! I don’t have a dedicated blog or Instagram at this time. I’ve been seriously considering it though. If I do, I’ll come back and share the link! Thanks again for your awesome blog!

        1. Yes! Or email me kristin@thewaywardhome.com once you start traveling and if you’re up for it, we could tell your story on here! The more people who read about others doing this sort of thing, the more inspiring it is. Have fun!

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  7. Thanks for saying a little something about the solo female traveler. Nothing is gained when you let fear dominate your existence. Leeza D. Solo Female who converted a van to camper. I’m at Itsmyrvlife.com

  8. Chuck Luettgerodt says:

    I and my wife are up in age and we upgraded to a more convient unit. I placed our old VW van ot the end of our driveway with a for sale sign on it. I am amazed at how many young women are interested in it. They all say that it is just the right size for them.. Easy to drive and park, as well as easy to set up. Good to see that they are enjoying life. Chuck L.

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  15. I fell critically ill 20 years ago, and didn’t recover quickly enough for my landlord, so he evicted me when I started getting help from the government.
    So, I got a hatchback from a friend, a tent from a yard sale, and hit the road to find a safe place to accommodate my multiple chemical sensitivity. I was homeless for nearly a year.
    Ladies, it freed me. It was the first time in my life that I had no responsibilities except for my health and safety. It was, in effect, my first vacation in my life. I was 50.
    Recently, I’ve bought a tiny teardrop trailer to become a snowbird, leaving my tiny house on wheels behind for the rainy PNW winter. I had three bins, a cooler, and a picnic basket, along with a small daypack for my getting around clothers. Bin 1 was for cooking equipment, bin 2, bedding, and the third held everything else but the cold food and the snacks in the picnic basket.
    Now, I have a bunch of usb-rechargeable gadgets, including a shower, fairy lights, a fan, headlamps, a multi=band radio/mp3 player/recorder, fantastic bluetooth speakers, and of course, the requisite phone, tablet, etc. Homelessness is a lot comfier than it was 20 years ago, let me tell you!
    In the past, I’ve been mugged, raped, and assaulted, all in the city. No one has ever bothered me in the wild, though I have left a couple of places when sketchy drinkers showed up. I’m just not afraid any longer. God help the man who tries anything on me again. I move for the safety of all concerned. lol
    So, at nearly 70, I’m hitting the road again, with several more comforts than I had in the past,
    Happy trails to all of you!

    1. natalie gross says:

      You are an AMAZING soul my friend
      What a beautiful story of triumph even through trauma
      Bless your soul
      I am 37 in the midst of my heart pulling me to get on the road
      Currently a flight attendant and want this gypsy life more than anything

  16. Dee fiske says:

    oh u wabt to do this with my 2 large dogs ..adopted street dogs. now living in an adobe house in Mexico…from Wi. trying to figure out where and how to do it. now 80 and in excellent health.

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