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Life On The Road: Sydney Ferbrache


Sydney Ferbrache and her adventure pup, Ella, spend their days exploring some of the most beautiful lands across the U.S.—from the geysers of Yellowstone and the snow-capped Tetons to the vibrant red rim of the Grand Canyon and the giant sequoia groves of California.

We caught up with Sydney to hear about her travels, what it’s like raising a young puppy on the road, and how she handles being a solo female traveler. Follow along to see where her next adventure takes her at @divineontheroad.

Year, make, and model?

Sydney: “2017 Ford Transit with a 148-inch wheelbase and high roof”

What did you do to renovate your van?

S: “I bought it as just a cargo van, so it was basically just a big metal box. I added a full kitchen with a stove, sink, and fridge; full electrical with solar; and a king-size bed that turns into benches and table.”

 

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Do you have a home base?

S: “I would consider my home base Indianapolis. I go there for holidays, since that’s where my parents are. But I travel full-time.”

How long have you been on the road?

S: “I was on the road-full time with a partner for eight months [starting in October 2017], then took three months off in Indianapolis building my new van. I’ve now been on the road solo for a month.”

 

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Why did you start this journey?

S: “I was working with my partner at a restaurant. He was a chef, and I was the events manager. I was also a senior in college in Chicago. I was really unhappy and was looking for an answer or solution. I was working like 70 hours a week in addition to going to school. For being 23 years old, I felt this was not what I was supposed to be doing at this age.

Whenever I could, I would save up and take a week or two off to travel, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to do something a little more sustainable and long-term. I found vanlife on social media and fell into a rabbit hole. I immediately started wondering, How can I make this happen? I kept working as much as possible, sold everything in my apartment, and bought a van. I think for a lot of people, there’s something that pushes us—we need a major change. For me, the unhappiness in my day-to-day propelled me.”

 

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What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?

S: “I would say Yellowstone and Grand Teton—it was perfect fall timing, and the colors were amazing. I spent a week in that area and then drove to Salt Lake City. The drive through Wyoming was incredible. You don’t expect it, because no one ever raves about that area, and it was mind-blowing.”

How do you decide where you’re headed next?

S: “Some people have a schedule, depending on what they do for work. I work from wherever, so I wait for signs to point me in the right direction. I bounce around according to who I meet and what I need to do. I do think it’s so important, even though a little chaotic, to have somewhat of a routine. There’s always one day a week where I’m completely alone: I do laundry, bathe Ella, go to the gym to work out and shower, clean the van. That one day of decompressing and making sure I reset everything is so important. There are also different parts of each day that are the same no matter what for me.”

 

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What is the biggest misconception you had about living on the road?

S: “Honestly, this is kind of backwards, but I think I anticipated there to be more challenges than there really are. My personality fits so well with being on the road. I need constant stimulation and a change. It lessens my anxiety, instead of the stability that most people need.”

Do you find that you face any unique issues being a solo female traveler?

S: “I think my biggest challenge is when I open the sliding door—it draws attention. I try to be cautious of who I talk to and what I say. People really want to see it and ask questions. When there is a single man that I don’t know, there are often some strange questions: Can I come inside? How long are you planning to stay here?

I’m a bit more skeptical now, even though I know they mean no harm and are just curious. A lot of people actually assume that the biggest challenge is loneliness. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been on the road for a month or maybe it’s my personality, but I haven’t experienced a lot of that.”

 

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How do you afford to live on the road?

S: “I do advertising and affiliate marketing on my website. I’ve been really lucky between those two things to make enough money to keep traveling. If I ever want to make additional income, I help people make their own websites—I set up and design their blogs.”

What’s it like raising a puppy while traveling?

S: “Honestly, it’s great. It’s so much fun. She needs a long walk every morning, but then she’s a normal dog for the rest of the day. Her temperament is really good; she doesn’t really chew on anything in the van. If you’re lonely and like dogs, I highly recommend it. It was an amazing decision.”

 

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You mentioned you’ve used Outdoorsy before. What was your experience like?

S: “I rented out the van I had at the time. It was a really amazing way to make money while we were at home. My partner would need to visit his family in Chicago, so I would go home to Indianapolis, too. There are so many people who want to try out van life, and it was just sitting there.”

Do you have any advice for fellow solo female travelers looking to get started?

S: “My biggest advice is to not let worry or fear stand in the way of getting started. I get a lot of messages on Instagram from women who are worried they’ll get lonely or [will be concerned about their] safety. Those are valid concerns, but I don’t think you can let that stop you. If you want to travel and want to do this, I can tell you it’s an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world—and every solo woman I know says the same thing. Be prepared, and go after it.”

 

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Rapid fire Q&A

Favorite winter activity?
“Avoiding winter by going somewhere warm”

Pumpkin carving or Christmas tree decorating?
“Pumpkin carving”

Favorite meal to cook in the van?
“I don’t cook, so anything I say is going to be a lie. I’m a terrible vegan.”

Favorite bedtime ritual?
“Reading”

Best part of your van?
“My pocket door”

 

Editor’s note: Between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and the back of the van, Sydney has installed a door that slides and locks, for added security.

 

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