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Back by popular demand in our latest issue, the reader mailbag!
I am hoping to do some solo nomadic travel this Fall, working and living on the road for about 8 weeks. I’ll be leaving from upstate New York and renting an RV from a friend, and my question is about planning my route … should it be totally planned in advance, or should I just plan the first week or so and let things sort of take me where they will after that?
I want to get the most from this trip in terms of self-discovery and challenging my comfort zone as feeling a bit stuck in my life, but also feeling massive anxiety about having no plan as a solo female.– Michelle H., New York
Wellness Travel Coach
It’s great to hear that you’re planning a solo nomadic travel adventure this Fall. Planning a route can be a tricky balance between having structure and leaving room for spontaneity.
It’s a good idea to plan the first week or so in advance, as this will give you some direction and help you feel more comfortable as you begin your journey. After that, you can let things take you where they will, while also remaining flexible enough to adjust your plans as needed.
It’s understandable to feel anxious about not having a set plan, especially as a solo female traveller. To help ease your anxiety, consider doing some research ahead of time on safe places to park and camp, as well as any potential hazards or risks along your route. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with loved ones and share your itinerary with them so they can check in on you along the way.
Remember, this is your adventure, and you get to make the rules. Take it one day at a time, stay safe, and have fun exploring and discovering new things about yourself along the way!
Kara Joia Houheneka Kizis
Excellence Coach & Luxury Travel Advisor
Open Horizons Coaching
Congratulations on your decision to challenge your comfort zone (many never commit to such a decision, and it’s a big step in a journey of transformation!)
Your question on how to plan your trip while also leaving flexibility for spontaneity and serendipity is common for travellers. As a coach, I would recommend starting your self-discovery journey before ever stepping foot in your RV. Specifically, spend time getting clear and articulate on your strengths, values, and personality.
(Hint: many people believe self-transformation is about overcoming weaknesses, and while that can be useful, you often can get greater results faster by doubling down on your strengths. Ideally, your travels will break you from routines and tired habits, propelling you to activate your strengths and values in new ways.)
Once you have greater clarity on who you are, I recommend you spend time coming up with 3 Big Dream Goals for your trip as a whole. Then once you’re on the road, at the start of every week, revisit those big goals and make any modifications as you see fit. Also, come up with 3-5 Weekly Goals that are smaller but advance the big goals. By having just a few goals, you can get the focus and sense of accomplishment from checking them off your to-do list while leaving plenty of time and freedom to see where the road takes you.
Lastly, I recommend keeping a journal. Personally, I love digital platforms that allow you to save words, images, and/or video, so you can process your experiences while creating a vibrant personalized keepsake for your memories.
Congrats on deciding to take an epic journey that will help you reclaim your confidence and sense of self. Travel can truly be a transformational experience that leads to the self-discovery you’re seeking. But let’s be honest, travel can also cause some anxiety. I can sense that you’re already feeling that with your concern for how to plan your trip. Make sure you honour that feeling and trust it while you’re travelling. As a world traveller that has been to 35 countries and more than 10 solos, trusting your intuition is key.
I would ask yourself some questions before going on your trip: What am I seeking by taking this time away from my routine and out of my comfort zone? What type of travel makes me the most comfortable? How can I challenge myself by changing the comfortable travel just slightly? What are the most important things for me to see and do during my trip?
Once you have these answers, itinerary planning becomes a bit easier. This will help you start planning an itinerary that truly works for you. If you’re someone whose goal is to consistently be out of your comfort zone and typically have everything planned to a T, it may be a good opportunity to have a few things not set in stone. But if you’re the opposite go-with-the-flow type of person, it may be a great learning experience to have things you have committed to.
When it comes to itinerary planning, I like to go with the “priority method.” Make a priority list of the things you want to do and see instead of an hour-by-hour day-by-day itinerary. Above all else, your safety is the most important. Do your research and trust your intuition.
Bucket List Travel Coaching
As a solo woman traveller and an avid road tripper myself, my advice to you is, why not both? You’re already stepping out of your comfort zone by heading out on the open road solo for 8 weeks. So give yourself a little grace and plan out a general route, especially so you know you have somewhere to safely park your RV for the nights you’ll be staying in a particular place. Have a plan for when you’ll need to be working, whether that’s a couple of hours each day or certain days of the week, so you know to be somewhere with internet access to help minimize the stress of meeting your commitments.
If there’s anywhere, in particular, you want to visit on this trip, build a tentative schedule around those, so you’ll have some focus points to keep you on track for those 8 weeks. Have a list of everything you need to pack well before you go and how long everything will last so you’ll have an idea of where and when you’ll need to stop to do laundry and stock up on supplies. All of these things will help keep your anxiety at bay. The rest of the time, go where the wind takes you.
Some of the best discoveries I’ve had on a road trip is when I’ve spotted a sign for somewhere I didn’t know existed and turned down that road. And because you’ve made a general plan before you set out, you’ll have the flexibility to stay somewhere a little longer if you fall in love with it, as it will be easier for you to replan and redirect. You’re about to learn so much about yourself just by taking on this challenge and I wish you the very best time!
Life and Travel Coach
What a wonderful time of year for this journey! Since you’re starting in upstate New York, you’ll likely need to make reservations in advance if you want to explore parts of upstate New York and New England. You’ll be in prime leaf-peeping season, so available campgrounds will fill quickly. The later into the fall you go, the fewer campgrounds will be open in this area, so spots will be even more difficult to come by. If you head south, you may have more flexibility. I’d still suggest you plan at least the first week so you have less to worry about as you get your feet under you with this style of living.
If you want to explore a little more off the beaten path, you might consider a Boondockers Welcome membership. This site and membership connect you with safe and legal places to stay on other members’ properties. Your hosts will also more than likely be folks who enjoy camping, so they are great resources for all kinds of information, including new places to explore. Staying in places like this may allow you more flexibility in your route but still plan to contact hosts at least a couple of days in advance.
There are also many options for staying overnight at truck stops and even outdoor sports supply stores like Cabela’s. You usually just need to check in with the manager. Be sure to use full window coverings at these types of stops, especially and if your intuition tells you that it’s not a good fit, trust yourself and move on.
I applaud your adventurous spirit and your desire to allow this trip to challenge and change you. You’ll get so much out of relying on yourself for these 8 weeks. Adventure awaits!
It’s important to plan and research your route ahead of time to become informed of any construction, local, safety and travel advisories. This will reduce anxiety and the fear of uncertainty.
Planning ahead will help you better manage your finances more effectively. Also, you might need to book popular attractions or campsites that require advance booking, especially during peak travel seasons.
By planning your route in advance, you can secure reservations and ensure you don’t miss out on must-see attractions. You’ll have a greater peace of mind knowing where you’re going, what to expect for the most part, and feel confident in your ability to navigate the road.
After you fully research then, be sure to add in free/leisure days for spontaneous opportunities.
Travel Coach & Relocation Specialist
First off, really excited for you, your trip sounds like quite the adventure! I would say you can’t go wrong either way because either direction you take will offer you an unforgettable experience.
When it comes to a scenario like this, you never really could take enough data into consideration, because the information for a decision in any given situation is infinite. All you will do is build up anxiety about making the “right choice.” Instead, I would ask you what is your MAIN goal with this road trip? If it’s simply just getting away for an exciting adventure or something new then you could take a hybrid approach incorporating a little planning while leaving some up to fate. But if challenging your comfort zone is your main focus, then I would advise you to operate within the context of the unknown.
Performing with incomplete information, you make the best bet you can and trust you will end up directionally correct. By running outside your comfort zone, you will truly realize how resilient you can become when you have no net and put yourself on the line, which will automatically create a feeling of “self-discovery.”
Anytime you can make an unpremeditated, spontaneous move outside your comfort zone, then self-discovery and self-confidence become an inevitable by-product. The way you just trust your lungs to breathe for you without thought, the way you trust your heart to pump the blood to all the right parts of your body, just trust in your journey and you will succeed.
Sonia Cruz Oro
Transformational Travel Coach
When it comes to travel planning, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but finding the right balance is key. Not planning at all can lead to wasting valuable time as you try to decide what to do and where to go, potentially hindering your ability to achieve your goals. On the other hand, planning too many things in too much detail can leave little room for the beauty of the unknown to unfold – those serendipitous moments, meaningful encounters, and unexpected answers that make travel so special.
My recommendation for your 8-week road trip would be to design a high-level roadmap. Set weekly intentions, such as the places you want to visit, experiences you want to have, and activities you want to engage in. Creating a high-level roadmap allows you to stay focused and on track, ensuring that you make the most of your trip and fulfil your travel goals.
You could even narrow it down to only one sub-intention per day. However, don’t feel bound to stick to it rigidly. While having a roadmap gives you a sense of direction, it is just a guide, not a set of strict rules. If you find yourself drawn to different opportunities or if unexpected adventures arise, feel free to adjust your plans and go with the flow. Embrace the freedom to make changes and allow yourself to be open to new experiences. Connect with fellow travellers, join organized activities to enhance your experience, foster companionship, trust your instincts, and always prioritize safety.
So, go ahead and plan your trip with your intentions in mind, but remain flexible and open to the possibilities that unfold along the way. Remember, the most transformative experiences often come from embracing the unexpected twists and turns of the road. Happy travels!
Veerle Beelen Da Costa David
Travel & Life Coach
While having a detailed plan for your entire 8-week journey might provide a sense of security, leaving some room for flexibility can enhance your experience. Instead of mapping out every single day, consider planning the first week or two in advance. This will give you a solid starting point and help alleviate initial anxiety. Research potential destinations and activities that interest you, and identify key points along your route.
Once you’re on the road, allow yourself the freedom to adapt your plans based on your preferences and serendipitous opportunities. Embrace the spontaneity of your journey and let the experiences shape your path. This flexibility will enable you to discover hidden gems and connect with fellow travellers, creating a richer and more authentic experience.
As a solo female traveller, it’s natural to have concerns about safety. Prioritize your well-being by taking necessary precautions. Research the safety of the areas you plan to visit and stay informed about local customs and regulations. Share your itinerary and contact information with a trusted friend or family member. Additionally, consider joining online communities for solo female travellers to seek advice, share experiences, and gain valuable insights.
While it’s important to challenge your comfort zone, listen to your intuition and prioritize your personal boundaries. Pushing yourself to try new things can be empowering, but remember that it’s okay to take breaks and prioritize self-care when needed.
Ultimately, the beauty of solo nomadic travel lies in the freedom to navigate your own journey. Find the right balance between planning and spontaneity, allowing yourself to explore and grow at your own pace. Trust yourself, stay open to new experiences, and embrace the unknown. Enjoy your exciting adventure!
Travel Education Specialist & Travel Coach
Congratulations on planning to set off on your solo travel adventure! It’s an exciting and adventurous decision, guaranteed to provide you with many opportunities for self-reflection and discovery.
As far as planning your route, that is really a matter of personal preference. If departing without a plan causes you distressing anxiety, remember, this is your trip, and you get to decide how you want to travel! Don’t feel pressured to go without an itinerary if that reduces your angst and makes you more excited about your trip.
Even with a planned schedule, you’ll still have many experiences that challenge you and push you outside of your comfort zone. Travel, by its very nature, is filled with unknowns and new experiences, so you will continually be growing in ways that will transform you. You will be meeting new people, solving unfamiliar challenges on your own, and learning to back up that giant RV– you’ll be seeing every day what a badass solo traveller you really are!
It’s fantastic you are travelling in the fall since you’ll have access to campsites that are fully booked in summer. But you will likely find that prime spots like those right next to rivers, beaches, and national parks need to be reserved, especially if your RV is large. If these top campsites are a high priority for you, I recommend booking in advance, even if you keep other parts of your itinerary loose.
If you set out with at least your first week planned and some of your top destinations already booked, you can change it up as you go – adding or letting go of reservations as your adventure unfolds. With your strong sense of self and your spirit of adventure, you are sure to have an unforgettable and life-changing trip!
Abundance-Informed Transformational Travel Coach
Travel Africa with Jabu
As you embark on this exciting new adventure, I understand the anxiety that comes with travelling alone as a woman. First and foremost, I want to congratulate you on taking this courageous step for yourself. It is an act of self-love that has the potential to truly change your life.
To help ease your worries, let’s break down the eight-week journey into manageable pieces and plan for each week. Take some time to decide on the route you’ll be taking, the parks or areas where you’ll park your RV for the night or day, and even plan out the activities you’ll enjoy each week. This kind of detailed planning will bring a sense of calm and reassurance. Knowing that you have a solid plan in place will alleviate some of the stress and give you peace of mind for the physical aspects of the trip.
It’s important to remember that plans can change along the way, and that’s okay. By planning ahead and addressing any concerns or anxieties, you are proving to yourself that you have the capability to overcome any challenges that may arise. This initial stage of planning and the belief in yourself will boost your confidence and propel you into the next phase of your journey.
I suggest carrying a notebook with you throughout your travels. Whenever you encounter a thought or situation that causes anxiety, write it down. Then, on the following page, counter each anxious thought with a positive affirmation. Reflect on similar situations in the past where you have triumphed over your fears. For example, if the fear of travelling alone as a woman arises, remind yourself that countless women have embarked on similar trips and succeeded. By acknowledging your fears and replacing them with positive thoughts, you will strengthen your inner resolve.
Undoubtedly, the most challenging moment will be when you leave the comfort of your home and set off on the open road. However, once you take that first step and start driving, you will realize that you have already conquered your fears. From that point forward, follow your plans, knowing that they may evolve as you gain confidence and become more comfortable. Embrace the opportunity to be spontaneous and go with the flow, trusting in yourself and the journey itself.
For now, try not to worry about self-discovery or feeling stuck in life. These questions will naturally unfold as you venture along the road. Remember that some things may not go as planned, and that’s perfectly alright. Trust that everything is always working out for your benefit. You’ll discover that strangers can be kinder and more helpful than you might initially think. Trust your intuition and allow it to guide you.
Lastly, be immensely proud of yourself and approach this journey with compassion. You are embarking on an incredible adventure, and you are doing exceptionally well.
Travel & Relocation Coach
What a wonderful adventure you have ahead! After living and travelling on the west coast of the USA, Australia, and New Zealand in my van, I can confirm that travelling with an RV is one of the best ways to explore a new place. It gives you a great sense of freedom and, at the same time, the security of having your home always with you.
From your question, I can see that the main reason for your travel is to reconnect with yourself, experience new things, and maybe find a new purpose in your current days. If sightseeing and “tourism” come second, I would allow yourself some space in planning and itinerary. It is definitely good to do a bit of research and highlight a few main points around the route where you want to stop and what you want to see. And maybe have a few first overnight stops planned, so you can relax and get used to this kind of travelling.
But often, a tight itinerary is rather stressful if you start to fall behind. Locals will recommend places for you to visit; you might meet new friends on a route and join them for a couple of days, or you will fall in love with some small town and decide to spend a few days there. In the first week, allow yourself to see what rhythm and pace suit you, and if you feel comfortable, everything else will fall into place. Eight weeks is a great time to experience a lot of adventures!
Don’t forget to download a useful app for freedom camping, like iOverlander or FreeRoam and download the GPS maps of your route ahead from Google Maps or HereWeGo. Have a safe trip, and enjoy your journey.
Long-Term Travel Coach
Fulfilled Passport Travel
This sounds like a wonderful journey of solo travel and reflection. As a long-term travel coach, I lean more towards planning out your first week, assessing what is going well and what can be adjusted, and continuing to plan out a few days to a week in advance at a time. By setting the intention of self-discovery, I imagine you will be checking in with yourself more often and finding out what you enjoy during this journey.
It may seem counterintuitive but when we travel solo, more people tend to be curious about who we are and what we are doing. You may find yourself with invitations to join other people for a meal or special experience. Having flexibility gives you the option to join in if you wish to.
There are also some logistical concerns to consider. If you plan to stay around the northeast in the peak fall foliage season, there could potentially be limited RV spaces in designated campgrounds. If fast wifi is necessary for your work, this also may require some more advanced planning to ensure you have the resources you need.
Some locations may also have a stronger pull for you than others. Sometimes you may feel complete after a shorter time than expected in one location, and another location begs for more time. By having flexibility, you can spend more time in the places that you really connect with. I wish you a fantastic journey!