This year has been brimming with awareness of the social issues in our world. Most recently we’ve all been immersed in what it means to be a woman alone in the world, a woman who is doing everything she can to be safe. And it is…..HARD. It’s even harder when you have a wanderlust adventurous spirit that wants to explore.
In no way are the following snippets meant to justify the absolute unfairness of the risks involved in what it means to be a solo woman road tripper, or to bring fear. They are instead meant to take away some of the unknown. Each time we can supply our brains with a bit of information about what’s around the next bend, literal or not, we can find a sense of relief and confidence. Here’s to all these bits adding up to more and more bad ass babe bravery in the world.
HAVE A PLAN
We all know the best laid plans go by the wayside easily. But if you have a general idea of where you want to go, where you’ll break and where you want to stay you’ll have more time to invest energy in other places. Most importantly this allows loved ones to also be able to keep tabs on you. I LOVE my garmin in reach – it’s phenomenal for backcountry adventure and an awesome asset to road travel. My fiance was able to track where I was at on my journey whether I had cell service or not. Make sure you let someone know when you’re leaving and your anticipated route and arrival.
KNOW YOUR BASICS
Your confidence will soar if you know how to jumpstart a vehicle, check your fluids and change a tire. Here’s to hoping you’re all set to go before you take off and you don’t have to do any of these things while you’re out, but knowing that you’re capable will relieve a lot of stress. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to teach you if you don’t know. The empowerment is worth any insecurity you might feel asking for education. (I also highly recommend this – it can jump your car without the need of another vehicle as well as charge your phone, and is both flashlight and hazard lights)
PACK YOUR OWN FOOD
Restaurants will not always be open when or where you need them. Also minimizing the exposure of yourself to others who will decipher you’re traveling solo is best. Here’s my favorite eating on the road travel hacks:
- MY FAVORITE – bring a jetboil. This baby will boil water for you in 60 seconds and it can be used for making tea, coffee or water for dehydrated food.
Speaking of coffee….instant coffee no longer gets a bad rap. Two of my favorites are pour overs from BackPorch Coffee or Instant coffee bags from Fika in Lutsen MN. Don’t forget to pack your favorite reusable mug.
- Keep all your food in one area. It makes your stops so much quicker if you’re not constantly digging around. I really love this pack from REI. The cooler bottom has just enough space
- Food options : I am a huge fan of backpacker dehydrated meals. Other easy options are sandwiches in tortillas (no one needs squished bread), ramen with dehydrated veggies, couscous, pre cut cheese, veggies and crackers. I highly recommend a hot meal at least once a day to make you feel alive and full! (I also highly suggest packing a knife for when you do stop in a small town and happen upon an adorable bakery selling delicious baguettes. It happens more than you think. )
- Plan to stop at parks versus rest areas. Rest stops can be VERY hit or miss on how safe/clean they are. A solo lady eating lunch in a park doesn’t draw any attention – a solo lady eating at a rest stop often prompts people to stop and ask you if you’re alone. Generally people are truly just curious but it’s always helpful to have a “backup story” – don’t let people know you’re traveling alone. Tell them you’re meeting up with friends a few hours down the road, or you’re almost home etc.
SLEEPING SOUNDLY AND SAFELY
I typically tent camp when I travel by car, however some evenings are super chilly and I end up sleeping in my car.
First: always back your car into the space you’re staying. This will allow for you to leave quickly if needed. I also like to park with the back to the woods/wall and front out so I can see what’s happening if need be. The less people can see in, the more likely you’ll feel comfortable and safe. Bring a sun shade for the front of your windshield. I also have cut pieces of fleece with velcro that stick to the inside of my car to cover the side windows.
When in a tent, the same placement applies. I also like to place my head towards the back/forested/protected area so I wouldn’t be taken by surprise if someone approached the tent. I use carabiners to “lock” my tent as well. Clipping the zippers together wouldn’t provide any true safety but it does make me feel more secure.
For both car camping and tent camping I highly recommend getting everything set up as soon as possible and getting settled before night. The darker it gets the more we let our fears in. Being settled in and cozy with a book you can get lost in, will make the creepy crawlies start to feel like cozy comforts.
Feeling happy and safe? HOORAY! Get out and enjoy that night sky. There is something absolutely INCREDIBLE about being a part of the darkness in solitude.
NUMBER ONE TIP: TRUST YOUR GUT
If something is telling you someone/somewhere is off….TRUST IT. Find a new place to camp, call someone you know and let them know you’re okay but feeling uncomfortable. Keep moving until you feel safe. Don’t be afraid to change plans and check into a hotel instead of camping if it makes you feel better.
My first camping solo experience I was TERRIFIED the entire night. I slept with a knife under my pillow, my cell phone in hand, mace and a mini air horn right next to me. But when it was daylight broke I emerged from my tent SO DANG PROUD. Every time after that I became exceedingly confident in my abilities and with each skill learned, fears subsided. Now I regularly camp and backpack solo. I LOVE the quiet of the night, the ability to do anything and go anywhere on MY schedule.
Fears are here to guide us, to make sure we are prepared on the right path. Not to take away the good. Nothing written is meant to make you worry, but instead to give you information and knowledge to believe in and trust yourself more and more. Here’s to each of us moving into the next adventure with abundant confidence and bravery!
About the Author:
Raechel currently resides in Bend, Oregon. During 2020 she traveled solo by car three times back to her home in Minnesota. She has spent many evenings camping and backpacking solo (or with her favorite pup). And she spent a summer teaching girls how to find their inner brave while guiding trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. A strong believer that the wilderness and travel make you a better person and your heart happier.