By Scott Thompson

THIS INDEPENDENT woman ditched her boyfriend and defied warnings about her safety to travel solo in her self-converted van with only her beloved pet pooch for company.

Blogger, freelance web designer and virtual assistant, Sydney Ferbrache (24) from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA has been travelling her home country with her golden retriever, Ella (1) full time in her van.

Sydney had yearned to travel her whole life so she introduced her boyfriend at the time to van life and he was totally up for it.

So, they both moved onto a 2011 Mercedes Sprinter van in September 2017. However, the trip quickly forced the couple to grow as individuals and in April 2018, when at their family’s home, they decided to end their relationship. This left Sydney to explore and grow on her own.

As winter sets in Sydney is taking her van over into Mexico to stay warm. MDWfeatures / @divineontheroad

Since they both agreed for her ex to take the van, Sydney sold all she owned and worked three jobs stuffing envelopes, working as a nanny and designing websites freelance.

Sydney then purchased an empty 2017 Ford Transit High Roof 148’ Wheelbase van for $24,000 (£18,600) online in May 2018. Her first adventure was flying to Atlanta to pick it up and excitedly driving it back home to Indiana ready to kit it out into a beautiful home.

The empty van was completely renovated to her own style for $10,000 (£8,200) making it fully prepared for a solo adventure of a lifetime.

“I’m a 24-year-old solo female traveller who explores the United States with my beautiful golden retriever dog, Ella,” said Sydney.

“I was the driving force behind all of this. I’d wanted to travel my entire life but wasn’t in a place to do it financially.

“I introduced my boyfriend at the time to the idea of van life and he was totally up for it. We moved onboard in September 2017, but we weren’t meant to be and we separated in April 2019 when at my family’s home.

“There isn’t any crazy intense story here, we just realised that we were better off finding our own paths instead of sharing the same one.

Ella joined Sydney when she was just a puppy. MDWfeatures / @divineontheroad

“Like most breakups it wasn’t any fun at all, but after I felt free because I knew it was the right thing to do.

“We agreed that he would take the van. I’d paid half towards everything, but I just really wanted a clean slate and new chapter when we broke up. Also, I didn’t really want to talk to him again after we broke up.

“So, I sold everything I owned, did lots of little side gigs and three jobs. One was stuffing envelopes, another working as a nanny and also designing websites freelance. I worked so hard, but it was really worth it in the end.

“I found my new van online and paid a $6,000 (£4,900) deposit to get it on finance and roughly $10,000 ($8,200) for the materials to renovate it. The van has solar powered electricity, a kitchen, bedroom, office space and gives me everything I need to live an abundant life full of happiness and exploration.

“Ella joined me as a puppy, and we have been together for a year now. We just celebrated her first birthday. I’ve got to admit she’s a bit of a wild child. She just has so much energy and she can be a little bit crazy, but she is the most fun partner I could have ever asked for. She is truly the light of my life.”

Van life has taken Sydney all over the USA. MDWfeatures / @divineontheroad

Sydney has hopped all over the USA in her van convert having been to Yellowstone, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, San Diego, California, Oregon and even north across the border to Quebec in Canada.

Since she’s explored each corner of the USA she now plans on taking her mini home south and into Mexico.
Her biggest complication hasn’t been her safety as a solo female traveller, but that of other people always assuming that she should fear for her safety.

“I have already been to Yellowstone, then Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and San Diego. After staying in San Diego for a couple weeks, I drove all the way through California and into Oregon. From Oregon, I went all the way to Quebec, Canada,” Sydney said.

“I’m going to continue my journey around the USA for now, but when winter kicks in I’m going to follow the sun and head over into Mexico where it’s warmer.

“One of the things that gets to me is people always telling me I’m absolutely crazy for travelling on my own. People are always telling me they fear for my safety because of my gender. I may be a woman, but I also love to travel, and I am making that happen. I’m not weak, incapable or any different than any man who travels.

“I’ll be honest, there is no shower on this van, so I need to shower at local gyms, but there is a toilet and it’s really lovely having that. Besides that, my mail needs to go to my parents’ house, and I go pick it up a few times a month.”

All Sydney’s work is done remotely from her laptop. So long as she can get an internet signal, she can work anywhere. MDWfeatures / @divineontheroad

Sydney encourages other women to ignore the negative comments they might hear about travelling as a woman on their own.

“Never allow others to make you feel small, weak or anything but the strong individual that you really are,” she continued.

“I have never felt fearful for my life not even once while on the road. You can’t allow yourself to be emotionally paralysed your entire life because of some of the things you hear people say.

“You have to get out there and try it for yourself in order to really know what the world really has in store for you. Get to know yourself deeply, experience the world however you want to and don’t ever hold back. Basically, just go and do it!”

Here is a link to the contributors Instagram.