Solo Travel, Boondocking & Car Camping

Thank you, Janine for this opportunity & also to thank Laurie, for doing a great job putting this all together 

I’m so excited to be here & to talk to you all, about my favorite subject... travel. 

I travel mainly in the western part of the US... it’s amazing & breathtaking!  My Camper... that’s what I call my 2001 Toyota 4Runner,  is my home when I’m road tripping. I started out tent camping for the first 8 years or so, but then switched to sleeping in my SUV.  Creating my space inside was easy….I piled up all the fluffy stuff I had at home into a comfy (sort of) twin sized bed; I carry a cooler; a couple of food boxes; my gear bag with clothes; a few tools & some camping & backpacking gear.  My two biggest challenges with car camping are: 1. keeping my devices charged & 2: my cooler.  I want magic ice that never melts!

My style of camping is boondocking... which is free camping on public lands such as Bureau of Land Management—BLM & in National Forests. Once in awhile I’ll end up in a random sucky parking lot or a paid State Park campground, but that’s very rare.

The west has a lot of public lands, so boondocking or another term is dispersed camping, is much easier there than in the east.  There are social media groups & apps that list camping spots as well as info from the Forest Service & BLM offices. There are rules with boondocking, but it’s pretty wonderful, spacious & free.  

Sometimes there will be campers in the same area, but there are times, you’ll be the only one in the forest. Once in awhile there may be a pit toilet somewhere around, but most of the time the only amenities are space, dark skies & peacefulness.  My two biggest challenges with boondocking are: 1.  sometimes you can’t find a place when you need it; & 2. sometimes you’ll arrive at the perfect spot to find it littered with trash from the campers before you.  This doesn’t happen very often, but a good way to deal with this is to always bring some trash bags, & while you’re stomping around cussing & fuming at the laziness of people who won’t pick up after themselves, you can be picking up all the trash & before you know it, you’re site is truly perfect & you’ve done a good thing for Mother Earth.

I’m a solo traveler most of the time & I love it.  A couple of times a year, I travel with my best friend from junior high —Jill, & for one week a year, my husband joins me for tons of adventurous hiking in Colorado.  

But, the rest of the time it’s just me.  

I discovered my passion for solo travel my very first trip, about 16 years ago, when I couldn’t find anyone else to go with me.  

I really hadn’t planned to travel this way for the rest of my life, but I quickly fell in love with the simplicity, ease & independence of traveling alone. 

Here are some secret benefits: I win every argument I have with myself. I’m the U-Turn Queen & no one cares... or even knows.  I change my mind about routes or trails or where or when I’m eating— all the time. The only person I need to keep happy is me & I’m good with that! 

My biggest challenge with going solo is driving gnarly backroads.  They can be scary if you’ve never been on them before…filled with big rocks, water crossings, mud, sand or very narrow with drop offs on both sides.  And even if you’ve driven on them before, these type of roads can change in a season of heavy snow or rain.  

There’s a reason why off-roaders always go in groups…someone is there to help you when you need to back up, or get stuck or get a flat.  A lot of time there’s no cell service in these areas & AAA won’t come there anyway.  I have learned more & more over the years & acquired more skills & knowledge, but, for me, it’s still a white-knuckle event.  Easy for some, but not for me.

My main goal with travel is to hike everyday, see beautiful places, take a whole lot of photos & have new experiences. And I also meet fantastic like minded travelers... that’s my perfect combination. 

I am not unique.  There are many women out there doing what I’m doing. They give me  great information & confidence. They will not be the people discouraging you to go, they will be your cheering squad. 

And I believe that’s one of the best characteristics of being a woman... we’re open to learning from each other, & rooting for each other’s successes. 

But if you want to solo, the best advice I can give you …is to go & create your own experiences…it’s the perfect way to figure it out.  It’s good to learn what you can to prepare, but then just go.  I’ve been doing this for a long time & every trip is different.  

Some of the things that used to really make me nervous don’t anymore, some still make me kind of nervous, but I’ve learned to do them anyway & I’ve learned to listen to me…somethings I might never do.  

For me, as a solo traveler, I can tell you there are moments when I feel strong & proud of myself for overcoming some obstacle or going beyond my fear to explore something new; but there are many more moments where I feel small in the great big beautiful world of nature.  Nature can be peaceful & calming & it can also be violent & threatening.  

But that feeling small is not a bad thing in my book…it keeps me respectful of of our planet & the wild animals that still roam free, it keeps me grateful for the time I get to spend discovering these fantastic places & for a body that is still healthy to hike & see.  

It also makes my everyday worries & concerns seem smaller & less significant…being on the trails, clears my mind & fills my heart. 

Solo travel forces you to listen more, because theres no one to talk to.  It forces you to pay closer attention, because there’s no one to follow on the trail.  It forces you to be decisive, because no one else is going to make a plan for you.  These all may seem scary at first, but the magnificent thing about all of this, is that you learn to rely on & trust yourself.  

This is the kind of empowerment I love…not power over someone else or something else, but a deep knowledge of who you are & what you can do & can BE. And that will change you for sure.  

I want to end my chat, with some of my best tips.  Most of these I figured out because I made some mistake or something happened & afterwards I said to myself, “ok how can I avoid this happening again?”  These are not failures, they are Life lessons you teach yourself!

Here’s my 10 Tips for solo travel, car camping & boondocking. (read the numbers)

1. Outside of your car, Hide a key, & on the inside Hide a credit card & some cash

2. Have a Copy of drivers license &/or passport in car…with these two tips, if you ever lose or leave your wallet or purse behind, you have ID, money & a car key.

3. Always close your bags, zip your zippers, snap those containers shut, so nothing falls out.

4. If I eat out or make a purchase, I make a habit of putting my credit card back in my wallet first before I sign anything—that way I don’t leave it behind.

5. Don’t let the “what-ifs’ stop you.  A great friend of mine gave me this advice.  She said when the fear is real…when you’re faced with a life or death situation or some critical moment, thats the time to be fearful.  But most of the fear we have is anticipatory fear…the what-if.  We go over & over it in our mind & allow it to stop us from doing some new & interesting.  Don’t let those thoughts stop you.

6. Everything has a place & I always try to put it back where it goes. I still manage misplace stuff sometimes, but I’m pretty disciplined about keeping my 4Runner organized.  This make traveling & living out of your vehicle way less stressful if you’re not always looking for something.

7. When the butterflies start a party in your stomach when trying something new, or the voices in your head are trying to darken your spirits, stop & look around. Listen to the sounds of nature. Look up at the sky.  As you hike or drive start telling yourself all the things your grateful for. If your going to talk to yourself, turn the conversation around... don’t let you be the one to turn your trip towards miserable. You must be your own cheerleader when your by yourself.

8. For the next tip, if the hair is standing up on the back of your neck, & alarms are ringing in your mind & every part of you is saying no... stop.  Make a new plan. Turn around. Change your mind. Do something different. Trust that awesome female intuition. You don’t have to have a “legitimate “ reason, you taking care of you is the right thing to do.

9. Have a backup interest for horrid weather days.  Some people like museums, some people like to shop, whatever works.  When I’m faced with a day or two or three that keep me off the trails, when the rain is more like a waterfall or the skies are booming & lighting up, I head to the local library. I’m in or near small towns more often than big cities, & most will have a library.  Some are works of art, but they are all usually, warm, quiet, welcoming, have wi-fi & filled with outlets…you & your devices can recharge.

10. Be open to wonder & surprise. Look for the little things, the big things & everything in between.  Things that make you smile; or are acts of kindness given to you by someone or what you do for someone else; look for Mother Natures brilliance in rainbows or cotton candy sunsets.  I call this trip magic & it happens every trip I take.  But it’s helpful to open your mind & heart & let the magic happen.    

I’d love to answer any questions you might have.  And if you think of something later, you can always contact me. I have a travel website, named tripscribbles, that’s just a diary of my travels since 2007 & my contact info is on there, as well as hundreds of photos of my trips. 

Thank you for listening today & enjoy the rest of this awesome event!

home   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13   Wweroiweuprou                                                                                                                                                 © Vicki Hill 2024