An idea that began as an almost outlandish concept, turned into an attainable dream for climber Kaya Lindsay. She decided to turn her path on its head and pursue a life that gave her the freedom to climb whenever and wherever she wanted – to take a break and live life untethered.
Inspired by a girl at her climbing gym, she began to entertain the idea of turning her car into her home. “It was one of those moments where I was blown away by that concept,” Lindsay tells ASN. “It seems silly now but it had never occurred to me that that was an option.”
The seed was planted, and the concept grew into an obtainable desire that she couldn’t shake. In her last year as an undergraduate at Goddard College in Vermont, Kaya was able to integrate the build-out of her van into her senior thesis project, studying nomadic people and the concept of home in the process. Unlike many other 23-year-olds wrapping up their degree, she graduated with a self-renovated 2006 Dodge Sprinter Van and an insatiable desire to spend time out in the world learning how to climb.
She left for her first trip in the van – affectionately named “Lyra” – to Indian Creek in the Utah desert shortly after finishing college. There she completed her first trad climb, met many new faces who were akin to her pursuit of the outdoors, and got a serious taste of what this new nomadic life could be like.
Upon entering Kaya’s van, visitors immediately glean some insight to her travels and where climbing has taken her from the mementos that adorn the inside walls – sketches of Indian Creek, postcards from national parks, and polaroids hang on the magnetic board above the seats and on the sides of her bed.
Her rig is equipped with all the essentials: a sink, pullout Coleman stove, fridge, storage underneath the bed, solar-powered batteries and a map hanging above the “kitchen” that’s full of recommendations of places to visit (marked by those she’s met on the road).
To Kaya, one of the biggest advantages of living fully on the road is having the freedom to travel whereever you want, when you want. However, it’s this freedom that can also make #vanlife incredibly challenging.
“The biggest pro is the freedom to do what you want to do, which sounds inherent and obvious,” she says. “But once you hit the road I think the reality of having unlimited freedom is really shocking.”
To her, traveling solo is an empowering pursuit – not just for women, but for anyone. She argues that the benefit of knowing how to travel (and how to do it on your own) is crucial for self-growth and embracing the feeling of having full control over your own life.
“Getting to make all of your own decisions is really empowering, and I think a lot of that can be lost in traveling with a partner, even a friend,” she explains. “I think that vanlife opens up a safer avenue for women to hit the road because you’re in a giant metal box … and you can just drive away. I hope that women can feel safer and more confident traveling alone in their vans.”
Stay tuned to ASN for more episodes of Van Tours.
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