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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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:
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.”
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.