A woman, a Sprinter and the vast highways of the USA.

A woman next to a black Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Katie Larsen loves van life as a woman travelling alone - and has numerous reasons why she would recommend it to any woman.

Not a generic lifestyle.

Katie Larsen grew up with the typical idea of life: School, full-time job, marriage and then a house with children. Very early on, however, the American realized that this way of life was not for her. “After graduating from University in Oregon, I worked in an office where I constantly worked overtime, was stuck in traffic jams for two to three hours a day, and only got five days off a year,” she remembers. Weekend camping trips were the only escape from the daily grind. Then the tide turned: “When I found myself in a situation where I was unhappy with my job, needed a new car and had to move, my partner at the time came up with a crazy idea.” She didn’t know what she was getting into at the time, but she relied on her intuition: Because they both decided to live in a van.

A woman in front of a Sprinter with the side door open

Katie decided to leave her everyday life behind.

A high roof to make you feel at home.

It took a good six months until her home on wheels was completely finished – longer than expected, but with full-time jobs and little experience, it wasn’t surprising. Katie’s tip: “Two pairs of eyes really help. Assistance from others not only saves you time, but also avoids potential mistakes. And nothing beats good Internet research. There is so much helpful information on the web.” The efforts and research have paid off. The 2016 Sprinter with high roof and short wheelbase is Katie’s pride and joy. And now she lives and travels solo throughout the world in her Sprinter.

A woman working on a wooden plank, in the background a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Converting the Sprinter by herself was an extremely important experience for Katie.

Katie and her Sprinter: A perfect team.

There were several reasons why the choice of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter turned out to be so ideal, especially since Katie was on her own. “The fact that we bought a newer model was good, because I am not so technically inclined and can always rely on the vehicle,” she says. She also benefited from being actively involved in the conversion, which gave her a feel for the materials and fundamental confidence in the vehicle’s drivability. “Choosing the right van is very personal and different for everyone,” says Katie. Comfort, for example, plays an essential role for her. The high roof of the van creates a spacious ambience. Just as she had imagined, like a real home.

A woman in a cap approaches a Sprinter with open rear doors

Comfort and the high roof make you feel at home – Katie’s top priority.

Travelling alone as a woman: “Isn’t that dangerous?”

Katie has been travelling in her van since June 2016. She doesn’t need a companion – quite the opposite. Since travelling alone, she has felt happier than ever before: “At last, I can focus all my attention on my well-being because I’ve eliminated many unnecessary things from my life,” says Katie. But what is it like to travel alone as a woman? Do you have to be more careful than men? She responds calmly to worries about her safety, especially on the part of her friends and family. “The same worries already existed in my life before the van. Unfortunately, we women grow up always having to be careful, not walking around at night, locking car doors as soon as we get in,” Katie regrets. Her personal recommendation: Trust your own instinct. “I always keep an eye on my surroundings and try not to act recklessly.”

A woman at a campfire at dusk with a Sprinter

A campfire outdoors: Katie on the road near Moab, Utah.

Overcoming the clichés.

In addition to the concerns of her relatives, Katie has also had to deal with the standard cliché questions. Don’t you ever get lonely? Don’t you want a strong partner by your side to protect you? Don’t you live in constant anxiety?  Katie’s answer is a clear statement: “I’m not here by chance or because circumstances have forced me into it. I have decided to travel alone as a woman. And if I get scared, then I look that fear in the eye and overcome it.” The American enjoys the time by herself and has never found anything as enriching as her solo trips in the van. Would she recommend her lifestyle to other women? Absolutely!

A view through the open rear doors: Katie on the loft bed, equipment underneath

The perfect van for a woman travelling alone.

In harmony with your own intuition.

Intuition is Katie’s closest partner. If something doesn’t feel right, she leaves. If one campsite seems unsafe to her, she looks for another. In addition to her intuition, she shares other tips for safe travel as a woman:

  1. Always park with the front of the vehicle facing out so that you can drive away quickly if necessary.
  2. After the sun has set, leave the doors locked.
  3. When you leave the van, always get out through the front door so that no one can see the inside of the van.
  4. Never open the rear doors in public unless you change location immediately afterwards.
  5. Do not go to rest areas at night.

A woman sitting in a Sprinter, with a lighthouse as a backdrop

Just follow your gut: Katie always trusts her intuition on her travels.

Alone on the road, but never lonely.

Not only has Katie amassed a few miles on her solo trips, but also some lessons in life. At the beginning she found it difficult to deal with the silence and the many times she was forced to deal with herself. “I didn’t even know whether I would like traveling alone. I was anything but independent, which was a rather sobering thought. But I stayed with it and faced my fears, admitted my weaknesses and learned more and more every day.” One of the most important aspects is the community that has formed around Katie. She can network with other travellers, learn and grow with them. Today she cannot imagine another life. “Travelling in my van has transformed my life. I’m no longer looking for someone to show me adventure – I’m looking for it myself.”

A woman relaxing in her Sprinter enjoying the view outside

"If I get scared, I look that fear in the eye and overcome it."

A woman looking out of the back of her Sprinter

For Katie, travelling alone is an experience she doesn't want to do without.

A woman sitting cross-legged with a laptop

Katie enjoys the time she can spend alone on the road.

The shown conversions were carried out by independent third parties. The suppliers and conversions were not checked by Mercedes-Benz. In this respect, these illustrations do not represent an assessment of the supplier and/or conversions by Mercedes-Benz.

Photos: Katie Larsen

More Links to explore: soweboughtavan.com, @Instagram, @Facebook

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Regardless of what job you have to tackle – the Sprinter will make your day-to-day tasks easier. And even if those tasks are weighty ones, together, you’ll move mountains. Thanks to a host of different variants and over 600 optional features, the Sprinter can meet a wide variety of requirements.

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