3 Tips for a Successful Solo Adventure

After spending most of 2016 on a series of cross country road trips I knew it wouldn't take long before I hopped a plane, train or automobile to get back out there. I live for adventures that involve the great outdoors and while I truly wasn't intending to spend much of this summer traveling (I have a book release to prepare for! Ahhhh!) it was inevitable, I suppose, that the bug would bite at some point and I'd have to get out there.

Instagram Adventure in Topanga Canyon

One of the things that really occurred to me on last year's road trips was the meditative feelings that are often induced while solo traveling. I'm finding that more and more I'm making last minute plans to go out traveling alone. I'm not getting all Into The Wild on you guys, but honestly, it's a whole lot easier to plan when it's just you and the world. There's not too much coordination required and double honestly: I kind of like traveling alone even more so when I'm intending to document the experience ... the creativity arises differently when it's just me, the camera, and the sights and sounds of nature.

Desert Road Trip to Joshua Tree

A few weeks ago I decided to take one of these trips. I was already planning a visit to Los Angeles to see Ben play a few shows, and then in the meantime, a friend called and would be hosting a birthday party in Joshua Tree, so, well there in the middle of LA and Joshua Tree I'd have 3 days for solo trekking.

I rented a car, studied up on a route and with a plan of a day drive along the PCH followed by a day of canyon hiking and then a day of desert wandering I was ready to go. 

Vintage Desert Book

I've gotten pretty good at knowing what to pack and how to prepare (and I've shared a lot of that with you here), however, it's a bit different when going at it alone.

It's so incredibly important to take stock of your intended journey to best prepare and to create a plan in case of an emergency too. Here’s how to get started. 

1. Pack Maps & Guides, Charge Up and Inform Your Friends of Your Plans

It doesn't matter how experienced you are, out in the wild it's easy to get turned around. GPS and phone service is often non-existent so a paper map can be your best friend. Battery power can drain quickly (especially if you're using your phone GPS) so having a back up source is necessary too.

In regards to routes: there's all sorts of trail tracking websites that you can get recommendations from others that have gone before you. That's good to get some perspective on the landscapes (and the creatures) you'll be meeting along the way. Example: on this particular trip, while hiking Topanga Canyon I came face to face with a coyote for the first time... hi Wiley, don't take me out please. His presence was ominous however, I knew from what I'd read he likely wasn't very interested in me. And while you might be in the mood to go all Thoreau-rogue (and I highly recommend you do!) it's important that someone knows where to find you if you don't report in. A bee sting or a slip & fall might be nothing at home, but out in nature those things can make easy trekking difficult fast. 

Packing for a solo adventure

2. Protect Yourself, You Delicate Flower!

Conditions can change fast and you'll be glad you've got extra gear if the rain kicks up or the temperature drops at night. 

Here's a few things you should never travel without:

  • water, and lots of it (the recommendation is a gallon per day per person, however I always go with a bit more than that...) you never know when you'll need it to clean up with too, and if for some reason you stay out longer than planned extra water is the #1 necessity
  • extra cotton T-shirts and lots of layers (if you're hiking distances you'll sweat and you'll want cotton to wick away the moisture)
  • rain gear, and potentially mosquito repelling clothing or sprays (rain + heat is a mosquitos favorite condition!)
  • a sun hat, to keep yourself face protected, but also to keep critters from getting in your hair (yep, that's real) 
  • plenty of sunscreen, SPF-rated lip balm and sunglasses with UV protection
Before I took off on this particular trip I partnered up with Blue Lizard® Australian Sunscreen with the goal of sharing my tips to safely and successfully enjoy a solo adventure. Originally created in Australia, where sunscreen standards are the strictest in the world. Blue Lizard® is now made locally - right down the road in Johnson City, Tenn!
Topanga Canyon Instagram

3. Let the Creative Muse Flow

Okay, so now that we've talked about the practical things that will keep you healthy, and well alive...here's a few ways to invite in creativity while traveling alone. I (and so many others before me) find that time out in nature alone lends to brilliant creative moments. I always pack my cameras, extra polaroid film for quick moments, a journal and a favorite read. I'll bring some sort of mystical study materials, maybe a constellation map or the birth charts of my 3 closest friends... (when I get home I'll tell them all about the things I've learned about them!). 

And if I'm being super real... I pack a pretty vintage dress and take a few photos documenting me... in my element. Why not?! You'll always have the memories, of course, however, the photos make for lasting keepsakes too (and who doesn't want that instagram moment?). 


I'll be back again soon with more details on that solo journey. If you haven't yet been to Joshua Tree, it's my second trip this year and I'm kind of obsessed... Salvation Mountain and Santa Barbara were on this route too. More to come and thanks for following along my wanderful babes!

Wanderfully yours,

Andi

This feature has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlueLizardSummer #CollectiveBias

11 Comments

Andi Eaton

Andi Eaton is a creative director, author, entrepreneur, and cultural influencer in a variety of media. She produces Oui We (ouiwegirl.com) the modern bohemian's guide to everything from travel and style to beauty and holistic wellness. Andi and her projects have been featured on Domino, Glitter Guide, A Beautiful Mess, Southern Living, SELF, Hello Giggles, Refinery 29, WWD, Elle Canada and more; in 2017 she wrapped a year of road tripping throughout the U.S. photographing and documenting travel, style and culture stories available in her new book: "Wanderful: The Modern Bohemian's Guide to Traveling in Style".

National Park Weekend With Free People

What is life? The flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
— Blackfoot
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Over the last 12 months I've had the tremendous opportunity to travel to 8 National Parks, 5 National Forests and countless other local and state parks. Every time I take off for an off the beaten path outdoor adventure I think of winding dirt roads and buffalo roaming freely juxtaposed against beautiful girls with easels painting wildflowers and ravens circling overhead. 

Joshua Tree Cactus x Oui We
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The National Park experience can range from blistering heat in the summers to stark white cold in the winter, sprawling across ecosystems, from the dramatically high peaks, ancient desert badlands, old-growth lush rainforests and wildly rugged coasts. At each of the parks I’ve experienced (the full list is at the end of this post) the visitor centers always offers fantastic itineraries for day visit and overnight stays.

This weekend is weekend #2 of the National Park free weekend, so to celebrate I've got a quick run down of a few need to knows that will help you plan a dynamite experience in preparation for the great outdoors!

Before we get to that, however, a note about the park program, it's current funding situation and a way you can help!

Our National Parks are currently facing extreme budget cuts, there are 84 million acres of National Park land at stake. In honor of National Park Week (through April 24) Free People has created three vintage-inspired tees that represent three of the most traveled National Parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone and Joshua Tree. They're $68 and a portion of each sale will be donated to the National Parks Foundation. 

I've always been a fan of the brand and now I'm like 🏞  💕 🙋🏼  seriously high fiving them for taking on this initiative. Get your hands on one of the tees to donate to the Park Foundation (and to represent your park love all year round).

You can shop the tees directly here:

Each purchase of Free People's National Park tees will contribute to their donation of $50,000 to the National Parks Foundation. See the full lookbook to get totally outdoor inspired. 

So next up! Here's a few things to keep in consideration before you venture out this weekend:

Hours and Seasons:

The National Parks are open year-round, however, which parts of the parks you can access varies with the season. Depending on where you're traveling to and what the weather conditions have been - all roads aren't always open. Take a read back through my post on making out of the desert alive for a little reminder on how significantly a little bit of rain can impact a seemingly easy off road adventure.

Even if all the roads are opened, not all the trails will be open. When we visited Glacier National Park last May many trails were still snow covered, some were closed for grizzly sightings and others had avalanche conditions - including the Going to the Sun Road (one of the highlights of the park).   

Always call or stop into the visitors center to get current information about what's happening out on the park roads. You'll have a beautiful time no matter, but safety is always first!

Camping, Lodging, and Where to Stay: 

There's typically so many options for camping, or parking an RV, however, if you haven't planned in advance you'll need to get a game plan before making your way out, don't assume you can just pitch a tent and crash. Often camp sites are first come first serve, and I'll tell you, one late night as I Ben and I drove along the primitive roads of Big Bend we came across campsites wayyyyy out.

There's no way I would have wanted to stay where rattlesnakes and scorpions make their home and I don't watch movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre for a reason. We typically Airbnb or stay in roadside lodges in nearby towns, however even these can fill up quickly on weekends like this one. If you're braver than me check in early to get dibs on a campsite; and - if you'll be spending your day hiking make sure you remember how to get back to your tent, things can look very different after dark. 

What to Pack

I shared this list before in my Glamping Essentials post however, it's a good one I think so here it is again:

Tent, sleeping bag and pillows (or an air mattress and an SUV) - unless you're traveling in an RV, of course or staying in an Airbnb or lodge

Bug Spray, Bear Spray (yep, that's a real thing) and a Traveling First Aid Kit

Jugs of Water (lots of it)

Sunscreen (I can't stress it enough, you need it even when you're not swimming or in direct light!)

Bathing Suits (I like to pack a one piece and a two piece, the one piece can double as a top when worn under skirts or shorts)

Layers of Clothes (hot days transition to cold nights)

Baby or Makeup Wipes (there isn't always water for washing your face at night)

Your Favorite Read (I like to pick up used books on the road too)

A Journal and a Pen

Travel Beauty Products (just the basics!)

Snacks and Organic Canned Foods (things that wont spoil)

Solar Powered Chargers and a Portable Record Player (there's nothing better than old records under the stars!)


I'll close with a few of my favorite photos from our journey across the park system. Over the course of the year we visited Big Bend, White Sands, Zion, The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Joshua Tree. The National Forests we spent time in: Los Padres, Santa Fe, Gallatin, Shadow Mountain and Arapaho. Whew, I'm having such nostalgia just thinking about it! So much of these adventures are covered in my coming book! Be sure to pre-order you guys!

Grand Canyon at Sunset

Grand Canyon at Sunset

Yellowstone Geiser
Yellowstone afternoons

Yellowstone afternoons

Driving in to Big Bend

Driving in to Big Bend

White Sands

White Sands

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

I hope this list is useful and I'd love to see your National Park photos! Share with me where you'll be going in the comments and tag #OuiLoveParks to share your park photos!

Wanderfully yours,

Andi

All photos were shot by Ben (the landscape shots from the parks are all 35 mm). 

Wanderful: The Modern Bohemian's Guide To Traveling In Style | Cover!

Time. It's a surreal thing, tumbling by on occasion and slowing to a halt on others... As I prepared to share this post: the reveal of the cover of my new book - "Wanderful: The Modern Bohemians Guide To Traveling In Style" I ruminated back on the last several years. I reflected back to the summer of 2014, road tripping through a foreign country - eyes ablaze - taking in new places everyday. Then fast forwarded to the summer of 2015, back home in America contemplating what wonderment my home country might hold for me. 

I came across a post I wrote then, August '15 - here's a little note from that post:

A year after finishing my first book, I'm so excited (and a little nervous) to share that I'm underway with book number two (eeee!). With an open heart, I'm ready to tell you at least this much -- this little story will be a girl's guide to the best road trip of her life...

It'll include road trip necessities, routes for weekend travelers and those who are planning a bit more time on the road. There will be picnic baskets (the kind that'll chill champagne for late nights camp side), piles of woven blankets to keep cozy in the cool desert air, and Polaroid snapshots along the way. Of course, it'll have music selections for long winding nights behind the wheel and a library of road trip reads for the bibliophiles like me. 

And here, a year and a half later I'm having for real, a moment of straight up euphoria in sharing this with you. I truly feel that THAT is exactly what we've created with this book! 


I'm often asked, 'how does one decide to take on writing a book?' and, then 'what's the process like?' - especially when it's a book that covers 9 road trips across America. I felt prepared going into this, I mean, hey - I've written a book before, and understood the joy and pain (and trust me there's much of both) even though this concept and approach would be so seriously different. 

However what I couldn't have prepared for was the beautiful travelers I'd meet along the way, the friendships I'd develop and those that would deepen from doing this sort of traveling. I couldn't have prepared for the genuine thrill of exploring my own creativity in a new way while concepting this book... the delight in seeing ideas come to life through photographs, and my own romance with the world at large that would expand with each passing hour on the road.

So without dragging this on any longer, I'm happy to share a bit more about the book, this is an excerpt from my publisher's site: 

"A girl with a love for off-the-beaten-path destinations, Andi Eaton found herself putting aside the Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveler guides and, instead, looking to bohemians and artists for travel and style inspiration: What do the flower children wear on their excur­sions? Where are the creatives’ favorite vintage shops? And where do the musicians go late-night dancing after the last encore? The dreamer in her wanted more than what a standard travel guide could offer, so she decided to create her own.

Wanderful is a stylish lookbook and travelogue for the adven­turous and nomadic at heart. Follow in Andi’s footsteps as she travels the United States to discover some of its most effort­lessly chic destinations—and the fashionable free spirits and wanderers who live there. Nine intimate and exciting road trip routes explore cities, forests, and in between, and will make you feel like you’re traipsing the country with your best, and best-dressed, girlfriends by your side." 


The book comes out on September 12th, so we've got a little ways to go, however you can pre-order now, and I will truly love those of you who do forever! And! In the meantime, I'll be sharing little peeks and behind the scenes stories every month leading up to the release.

Here's a bit more about the cover!

The cover features Photographer & Musician Amanda Bjorn. Each chapter features locals and wanderlusting road trippers that I met along the way. When I took off for my own Big Sur road trip I thought about Amanda. She had traveled the PCH with her boyfriend (and creative partner) and an old school Super 8 camera creating film footage for their band's newly released EP "Young and Restless."

Amanda was my muse for this route. She is the ultimate wanderful girl. 

Outtakes from Amanda's journey up Highway 1

Outtakes from Amanda's journey up Highway 1

As Allister (who photographed much of the Pacific Coast Highway chapter) and I pulled into Big Sur, I envisioned Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Joan Didion perched high on the rugged cliff’s edge in their writer’s retreats. What it must have been like for them when they first laid eyes on this place. I wanted to emulate their stories, and Amanda clearly had done the same.

Btw, in Big Sur, people make plans a different way. It’s old school; the mystics and mountain men, healers and musicians flow along without any need or want for the outside world’s static. I fell in love instantly. Big Sur was a highlight of my first road trip and embodied an energy and a feeling that would stay with me for the remainder of these wanderful travels. 

Without giving anything away, I've shared a few behind the scenes images and outtakes below, these photos capture the spirit of this sort of travel (I think)! Enjoy!

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I can't wait to share more with you, and truly hope you all love it and are inspired to get out there in the world. 

Wanderfully yours,

Andi

outtake photo credits (from top, and l to r): Allister Ann 1, 3-5, 7, 8, 10 | Hunter Holder 2, 6 | Keiko Lynn 9

9 Comments

Andi Eaton

Andi Eaton is a creative director, author, entrepreneur, and cultural influencer in a variety of media. She produces Oui We (ouiwegirl.com) the modern bohemian's guide to everything from travel and style to beauty and holistic wellness. Andi and her projects have been featured on Domino, Glitter Guide, A Beautiful Mess, Southern Living, SELF, Hello Giggles, Refinery 29, WWD, Elle Canada and more; in 2017 she wrapped a year of road tripping throughout the U.S. photographing and documenting travel, style and culture stories available in her new book: "Wanderful: The Modern Bohemian's Guide to Traveling in Style".