Women in the Outdoor Series: Danae Brittan
Q: When did you start your van life journey?
A: I started my van life journey in July of 2019. I’m coming up on my two year anniversary!
Q: What was your biggest inspiration/motivation to live on the road?
A: I’ve always loved road trips. As soon as I got my license I was dragging my friends on trips from San Diego to San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Arizona. I almost never let my friends drive because I loved it so much. Freedom and adventure are both really important to me. I live to experience new places, cultures, and people. It just made sense that a life on the road would be perfect for me.
Q: Did you have any hesitations on traveling as a solo woman? How did you overcome them?
A: I actually didn’t have any concerns about traveling alone as a woman. My parents raised me to be cautious but not afraid. Honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind that I should be worried about that when I first started...but I’m definitely aware that solo female traveling comes with a lot of valid fears. I have ways of protecting myself and I take a lot of precautions, but living afraid or fearful is not for me.
Q: What has your voyage with Seth (your van) taught you?
A: I’ve learned so much about myself since I started van life, but one of the biggest things was realizing that I didn’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. When you live in a house you have a lot of room for all of your things. Van life forces you to be selective about what you keep around. All I have with me are my essentials including some clothes, my camera, my ukulele, a few books, and my skateboard. I’ve learned how to be happy with less.
Q: What's something you've done during this experience that you're proud of?
A: One time I brought my friend with me to this pretty sketchy, artsy, small desert town. There’s no buildings, just people who made homes out of broken-down cars, tents, or RV’s. I had heard that it was not necessarily the friendliest place, but we went for the adventure anyways. My van ended up breaking down in the middle of the town. We were stranded in this strange no-mans land as two young women. But we didn’t panic. We decided to go explore and do a photoshoot while waiting for the tow truck. We ended up meeting a lot of friendly locals and also got stalked by a man on drugs who was picking up rocks to throw at us. I’m proud that even in a place where it would be understandable to get stressed out and start panicking, we decided to stay calm and make the most out of our situation. It’s now one of my favorite adventures.
Q: What's the van life community like? Are you able to find support in the group of nomads?
A: The van life community is amazing! A couple months into living in my van people started reaching out to me on Instagram. It felt so nice to have people who understood the unglamorous parts of van life. It made me feel not so alone. There are different kinds of vans, different kinds of people, and different stories of how we all ended up in this lifestyle. It’s such a diverse, welcoming, and nonjudgmental community. I’m so lucky to be a part of it.
Q: What advice do you have for other solo female travelers?
A: To other solo female travelers, walk with confidence! Take precautions but don’t let anyone tell you that you should be afraid. You’re inspiring a generation of courageous and independent women!
Q: You love dancing in public, and we love that! Tell us more about that.
A: I started shuffling in the summer of 2020. It’s fun learning new skills when you can hide behind closed doors until you’ve got it figured out. But unfortunately there’s no room to dance around in my van, so I challenged myself to dance outdoors right from the beginning! No matter how awkward or cringy I was...I even posted videos of my progress. I’ve found so much happiness in being vulnerable around complete strangers. Almost every time I go out in public to dance, someone will come up to talk to me. Being vulnerable invites vulnerability. People are drawn to it!
Q: How has sharing your story on Instagram influenced your experience?
A: Instagram has created a platform where I get to share my unique lifestyle with people who don’t have the luxury of doing what I do. It’s incredible how people can experience the feeling of freedom and excitement for life through someone else. Even though I travel alone, it feels like I’m taking hundreds of people with me. It’s a weird concept to grasp...but I have a lot of support from people I’ve never met before and I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about human nature! We stick together even if we’re strangers.
Follow Danaes' adventures on Instagram here.
Q: You're upgrading from van life to truck life! What inspired you to learn to drive trucks?
A: I lost three of my jobs because of the coronavirus so I had a lot more time to travel, but money was running low. I’ve always looked for jobs that would pay me to travel and truck driving just made sense! I love driving, I love traveling, and I love breaking stereotypes. The average age of truckers is 50 years old and the industry is only 6% women. I’m determined to change that.
Q: What would you tell someone who wants to do van life, but doesn't know where to start?
A: Know yourself! There are a lot of people who see the glamour and the freedom of it but don’t realize that sometimes you have to pee in a bottle. If you’re good with change, if you like spontaneity, if you’re low maintenance, and if you enjoy camping, van life might be for you! Sometimes it’s a difficult lifestyle but it’s so worth it!
Q: Last question... what are you top 3 favorite places that you've been to so far?
A: Monument Valley in Utah is my all time favorite. I really love the desert and those giant sandstone buttes are breathtaking.
I also love Morro Bay, California. It’s a fishing town with this incredible volcanic rock just sitting on the edge of the water. The people there are so kind.
Seattle, Washington is another favorite. It’s a city that’s constantly changing and evolving with culture. Also the Puget Sound is stunning.
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