Reasons to Do Solo Female Travel in a Camper Van

REASONS TO DO SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL IN A CAMPER VAN

Hello, world! My absence on Instagram, and here on my blog, doesn’t mean I have stopped thinking about traveling. Though life is crazy at the moment, to say the least, I have another project in my mind that revolves around travel.

Besides lots of research, I haven’t actually started, but my project will be quite big and I can’t wait to actually start physically working on it.

Wondering what it will be? Let me tell you: I will be converting a van! Well, most likely.

No, it wasn’t the #VanLife that is floating around Instagram that got me here. There are many reasons why I want to travel with a van.

I love cliches, that is why I plan to do it. Another solo female traveler who is about to travel the world (or let’s say Europe to start) in a van. With a little dog in tow.

No, seriously, there are many solo female travelers out there who inspired and eventually motivated me to also walk this path. 

BUT,  of course, I am a bit careful after all, so I have done my research and I tried out traveling in a van, too. And I loved discovering Iceland in a van on my own. I visited Iceland twice and in the summer months, I rented a small camper van (without a toilet, shower or anything luxurious) and spent 10 days in Iceland – and in the van. And I loved it.

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BUT,  of course, I am a bit careful after all, so I have done my research and I tried out traveling in a van, too. And I loved discovering Iceland in a van on my own. I visited Iceland twice and in the summer months, I rented a small camper van (without a toilet, shower or anything luxurious) and spent 10 days in Iceland – and in the van. And I loved it.

And while I will not be living full-time in my van, I still have big plans for it.

After years of traveling in a car (with some sleepovers when I did not book a hotel on time and had to sleep in the driver‘s seat of my car, which was too uncomfortable to plan on doing it again), I finally will take the plunge and just get a van.

If you have ever wondered why people, including solo female travelers, travel in vans – or you still need an argument to convince you, here is why I think van traveling is an amazing way to explore the world.

Before I share my personal reasons, I will also share a bit of my background.

As some of you might know, I work full-time as a teacher here in Germany. This means… a lot of vacations for me. This allowed me to do many road trips in Europe, whether I road tripped Switzerland (many, many times), Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany or many other countries. So, I am okay with driving long-distances and with so many weeks off, I can continue doing it.

In total, I have more than 12 weeks off (2 weeks around Easter, 6 weeks for the summer holidays, 2 weeks in fall, and 2 weeks for the Christmas holidays, plus a few long weekends here and there).

Best places to visit in the Dolomites
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So, besides my Christmas holidays, I plan to travel with a van throughout Europe. However, I do not plan to live full-time in my van.

It will be a van for my travel only. This is probably one main difference that will make a huge difference.

Why do I want to so solo female travel in a van?

Why I want to travel in a camper van
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Spontaneity and Freedom

If you have ever followed one of my trips, you probably know how spontaneous (some might call it unorganised) I am and how much I love to decide spur-of-the-moment where I want to stay.

If I like place and enjoy the weather, I want to stay longer – whether it is just a few hours, a few days, or even longer. 

I know many people love to plan weeks or months in advance. 

I am definitely not such a person and you might be able to relate if you like to go with the flow.

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If I visit a place, especially an expensive country like Switzerland, I do not want to be stuck in a city with bad weather. If the weather is better further south or up in the north, I want to be flexible. 

With hotels, this can be tricky.

Of course, if you travel during the high season and want to stay at campsites only, planning might be necessary, too. But if you want to camp in the wild, then you have a lot of freedom – a freedom I am looking for and which is my main reason to travel in a van.

I will try to stick to local rules and not break them – and whenever I can (and feel safe), I will camp wild. Because not planning much ahead means freedom to me.

Costs

A van is – or can be – quite expensive. The initial costs are quite high. Of course, you can also find very low-budget vans, but most often, they are more expensive than “regular“ cars. 

But not only is the purchase price high, insurance is higher than for regular cars, and they have higher fuel consumption. 

However, once the van is bought, it gets much cheaper to travel.

Especially if you visit expensive countries like Switzerland, Austria, Southern Germany, or other places in Central or North Europe, where you will pay a fortune on accommodations. Even if you stay in budget hotels, it can take a big chunk of your budget.

So, in those countries, it can actually save you tons of money traveling in a van. But before you just go out and randomly buy a van, calculate the costs for yourself.

Since I haven’t bought my van yet, I cannot say how much I will save in the end.

However, if I travel in Europe for 12 week a year (which is realistic with my job), I would have to pay accommodations for more than 90 nights.

In Switzerland, I sometimes paid more than 100€ for a quite basic room (that allowed dogs and was centrally located) during the high season. I am talking about 2 or 3-star hotels that were very simple.

Of course, there were times I paid less. Especially in Southern or Eastern Europe, hotel rooms are cheaper and I paid around 20-40€ for a basic room.

So, it is hard to really come up with a figure, but accommodations could cost me up to 5000€ annually. 

I hope that van life, even with higher petrol costs and insurance, etc., will help me save money!

Dog

I often travel with my now 7-year-old dog, Puppygak. Luckily, he loves staying in a car and traveling is very easy with him…

But staying with dogs in hotels or Airbnbs can be… difficult.

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Even dog-friendly countries often do not have many dog-friendly accommodations. In countries like Germany – according to my research – only about 50% of the hotels allow pets.

In countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina, the number of hotels that allow dogs were less than 30%.

In the high season, it can be tricky to find a good hotel that is not too expensive. 

Plus, many hotels charge extra for having a dog, and unfortunately, the extra fees for dogs are not always very transparent.

As much as I love traveling with my dog, I hate booking accommodations, so I am looking forward to easier traveling once I travel in a van.

Cooking

I am a picky eater, yet I love the food I prepare myself. No, I am not cooking fancy stuff – actually basic and simple food, and yet, I enjoy preparing my own food when I travel for more than a week.

Cooking in a camper van
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This is for several reasons: First, I am trying to eat vegan as much as possible. While I still eat milk chocolate and eggs here and there, I try to reduce that consumption, and in countries like Switzerland, southern Germany, and many other parts of Europe, finding plant-based food is not very easy.

I love food, but I do not want to spend a lot of time researching restaurants that have plant-based dishes. 

However, I do always think about food and delicious food to eat. 

And though I do book Airbnbs with kitchen access once in a while, it isn’t always possible. And if you move every other day, it is difficult to travel with groceries. In my van, I will have a fridge, my spices, and my staples (spelt pasta, oats, legumes, etc.) – and of course, my vegetables and fruits.

While many of you guys probably enjoy eating out, I am looking forward to dining out only occasionally while cooking my own food most of the time…

And while I might never cook as good as my mom, I still often think to myself, “very well done…“ 🙂

Views

Okay, I said that I am not about Instagram trends. BUT great views are not about Instagram, great views are what I live for.

Whether I do this terrible thing called hiking or pay a bit extra for a hotel room with a good view – a great view is what can make my trip! 

And having the chance to wake up many mornings with great views… it is so worth it! 

I even enjoyed waking up after my daily naps in Iceland and seeing the views…

Piva Lake in Montenegro is the answer to the question where to go
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So, there are some more reasons why I want to travel in a van as a solo female traveler (or despite being one?), but the above-mentioned arguments for buying a camper van are my main personal reasons for getting one.

What camper van will I get? I am not sure yet. I have been looking online for used Sprinters, Transits, Ducatos, and other models, but in the end, I will decide based on the price and offer. I most likely will not get a VW Bullie because they are a bit too small but right now, I am just like, let’s see what I will choose.

I plan to convert a van on my own (with 100% help for my electrics and minor help with other jobs), but if I find a great van that is already converted, then I will buy that one.

My decisions on the length and height also aren’t set in stone yet – I would love a high roof, but not a very long van.

I do have some things that I definitely want in my van – like a toilet and a “real“ kitchen – but other than that, I am flexible. I will be spontaneous.

So, if you are also toying with getting a van – or if you would love to find out how my van story will continue – stay tuned and find out about it here on my blog.

I am looking forward to sharing the progress – which van model will I end up with, posts on how I convert the van (probably including the many fails), and of course, where I travel with my van.

It might take several months until the van is bought and converted, but I hope to take you with me on my journey to become a part-time van dweller. 

So, hope to see you soon! Stay safe.

Reasons to travel in a camper van - solo female travel, Arzo Travels
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Pic: @unsplash

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