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When we heard about Diane’s story of her solo female road trip up the California coast, we couldn’t help but share! Read her inspirational interview below.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip

Tell us about yourself.

S.T.U.C.K. That word alone perfectly described where I was this time last year.

I was S.T.U.C.K doing a job that was beneath me and that literally s-u-c-k-e-d the living soul right out of me, just so that I could “fit in” with societies definition of “success.”

I was S.T.U.C.K with having to choose between dating again—after 4 glorious years of being alone— to please my parents or remain single.

I was S.T.U.C.K with having to put my happiness aside so that I could focus on “adulting.”

But, in May 2017, something out-of-the-ordinary happened to me. After I graduated with my Master’s degree, I booked a one-way ticket to Europe and aimlessly wandered around various countries… solo. I marveled in awe at the beauty of Iceland. I devoured authentic fish & chips amongst strangers in Ireland. I ate lush gelato in Italy. I saw the breathtaking views of Greece and fulfilled my dreams of horseback riding on an Arabic horse and sailing the Aegean Sea on a sunset cruise. I booked a ticket to the Middle East and found myself laughing and crying tears of joy while indulging in Turkish delights and sharing stories amongst the Islamic community.

My solo-trip last year led to a transformative experience. I began that journey in search of self-discovery and I found that and so much more. I saw the true beauty of this world, not only in nature but in strangers too. I forged relationships and built bridges of peace and hope. After that adventure, traveling quickly became a way of life for me. It became a priority, which led to my second solo adventure of spending an entire month backpacking down the West Coast from Washington, to Oregon, to California.

So, that is my backstory, just an average girl hungry to see the world.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip campervan

What led you to book a trip with Escape Camper Vans?

After my wild adventure in May, I. wanted. M-O-R-E. I wanted to see more nature. I wanted to travel more. I wanted to meet more people. I just wanted to do M-O-R-E.

But there was one problem. I was broker than broke.

So, I excitingly looked for ways to make extra money (photography ? ) to save for my next BIG adventure. Upon doing that, I stumbled upon Escape Camper Vans.

I marveled at the advertisement and eagerly swiped through all of the glorious images which depicted colorful vans in the coolest locations. For months, I literally dreamed of booking the campervan; I did all I could to save up enough coins to make my dream a reality. I even listed my photography services 50% off so that I could collect enough change to give myself the experience of a lifetime.

Finally, as my 26th birthday was approaching, I decided to give myself the best birthday gift E-V-E-R.

On January of 2017, I eagerly purchased my 1-week campervan rental from Escape Camper Vans.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip bridge

How did you like traveling by campervan vs other forms of travel?

When the time came, I picked up my rental in San Francisco and the process was extremely easy. The campervan was the B.E.S.T form of transportation that I have ever used. It was easy to maneuver and it came with all the amenities that I needed: A GPS, phone charger, loads of maps, a bed, sheets, blankets, and cooking supplies etc. The campervan gave me the freedom to go anywhere as I pleased, I had no time constraints, no set agenda, just me, my music blasting, hair swaying, and the open road.

It was a whimsical dream come true.

Redwoods California road trip solo female

Tell us about your trip! How did you plan your route? What worked, and what would you have done differently?

Saying that my trip was amazing would be an understatement. I visited so many local and state parks and traveled to over 15 different Californian cities. I can honestly say I’ve seen ALL of Northern California.

I didn’t plan my route. I kind of went with the flow and relied on the advice from locals in the area on places that I should see. I didn’t want to stress myself out by having a set agenda, but every day I woke up extremely early and explored at least 3 new locations a day.

Everything worked out well for me, on a majority of my hikes, I was always with my friend(s).

If there was one thing I would have done differently, it would have been booking with Hipcamp. I never knew about it before my travels and the tough part was trying to find a place to park my campervan. So, I usually just camped in Walmart parking lots or in nice residential areas. But, now that I know about Hipcamp, I will be using them for my next trip to Phoenix, AZ.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip

What were some of your highlights from the trip?

Some of my favorite locations included:

Highway 1/ Big Sur Area: Julia Pfeiffer Burns SPPfeiffer Big Sur SPAndrew Molera SP, Calaveras Big Tree State Park, and Coyote Hills Regional Park (San Lorenzo). The BIGGEST Highlight for me was having the freedom to visit my best friend who I hadn’t seen in over 10+ years. Escape Camper Vans made this possible for me and it was such an emotional and happy moment in my life.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip campervan friends

Any tips for future renters?

  • Don’t stress out over having a set agenda, jot down a few places you really want to see and just go with the flow. I would suggest that you get the option of having a GPS because there is NO cell-phone service in the Big-Sur area and that GPS saved me SO many times.
  • Check out Hipcamp for cool places to park your Campervan, I didn’t know about them at the time of traveling and I wish that I had.
  • For food, I lived off of beans, franks, and soup ?
  • If you’re heading to the Big Sur area be very cautious when driving on the super narrow roads! Take your time while driving.
  • Skip out on paying the parking fee to the parks by parking on the side of the road, that will save you loads of $$$.
  • Also, if you have time, head to Sausalito, California it is a TRUE hidden gem. You will thank me later ?
  • Lastly, enjoy. the. ride. And if you get lost… take a deep breath… because it is all part of the adventure.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip

Would you do a campervan trip again?

I would do a campervan trip again in a heartbeat. I’m really trying to plan my next trip to explore and photograph the parks in Phoenix, AZ, but I have to wait to save enough money again.

As a millennial and avid solo traveler, I’ll leave you with this: Don’t wait until it’s too late to do everything you’ve ever dreamed of doing. Don’t let life slip from your grasp and slide off your fingertips. Don’t wait for the routine of your existence to get in the way. Do it now. Do it Right Now. Life is just a fleeting moment; It has its twist and turns and ups and downs, I only hope that you will make it your own. You are more than capable.

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip Sunset

Thanks, Diane! You can read the full blog post and see photos from Diane’s trip on her website and Instagram. And if you want to go on a similar Northern California trip, book your campervan from our San Francisco depot. 

Big Sur California Coast Road Trip Green Hills

7 thoughts on “Renter Interview: Solo Female Road Trip up the California Coast”

  1. This is wonderful information especially for me. I’ll be picking up my campervan in Salt Lake City in August. Traveling to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. I am widowed and my travel companion in my 25 yo daughter who is developmentally delayed, so all the driving and decisions are all on me. I agree with this traveler. Go while you can, we never know what life has in store for us.

  2. I am 65 female who happens to be a widow. Tired of seeing all my friends with their partners off doing adventures so I am looking into van traveling feeling like this I could do on my own. I do need to bring my very well behaved
    non-shedding dog as my co-pilot so hoping rental will work with me. I am encouraged to see other women travelers. I can do this. Love to see your posts.

    1. You can definitely do it! We allow pets September 1 – May 31, so your co-pilot is welcome to come along on your adventure.

  3. I am so inspired! I am planning to do something similar in my westfalia. I am a 53 year old female , this will be a solo trip for me! I need it for my soul, on a search for hope, peace, beauty and adventure! Just me and my dog 🐕, can’t wait. Thank you so much for sharing your information!

  4. Dear Diane, I really enjoyed reading about your travels. I use to take off on my own to just see our great country. I camped all over and wanted to get all the 50 states. I’ve been to about 40, when I wound up working for a drug store chain. My wings were clipped with that job, I could only get 5-7 days at most which I needed more time. After saving up money and more vacation time I got hurt on the job and let go. I had a lot of physical and medical problems that side lined me. You’re right get out and do, live your life “NO REGRETS” I’m planning on a caravan trip. I seen their ads and I was deciding when to go, then the covid virus hit. It’s just a bump in the road, I can wait ✋ until it’s safe. Thanks for the heads up on hipcamp, I’d never heard of it. Again, thank you for your time and story.

  5. I just finished a 3 week solo trip in Colorado. Picked up my van in Denver and headed out to see some National and state parks. I utilized mostly park campgrounds with a couple hotel nights.

    It was my first time camping and I found I liked it it a lot. I really enjoyed having my home with me all the time. It was manageable to drive and had plenty of space

    The Dollar Tree and Target provided me with all I needed to eat well and be organized.

    I visited Maroon Bells, Colorado National monument and Grand Junction, Moab for Arches and Canyonlands, Edge of the Cedars museum, Hovenweep, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon, Durango, Silverto, Ouray, Salida, Great Sand Dunes, Trinidad, Pike Peak area, Cripple Creek. Three weeks was not enough and I need to go back but there are other states that I must visit. Planning for the Pacific Northwest next year and Arizona in March.

    I was never fearful, found good camping spots( a number of them well in advance) and enjoyed being on my own time. I will definitely do it again.

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