Kathryn Martz is traveling solo in a 1969 camping trailer. She hit the road after a low point in life when anxiety and fear took over. The answer to how she felt then, was hitting the road and leaving her old life behind – a story and a sentiment we relate to.
When Kathryn contacted us she explained the process of deciding to go. She wrote, “My mom asked, “What is your biggest fear?” “That I’ll end up all alone.” Her response to me was very simple. “Well then, let’s play that scenario out.” I don’t think she intended for me to actually play that out in any sense other than abstractly, but I took those instructions to heart, spending the next few months crafting how I was going to play my fear out in a very real way. The overwhelming feeling I had to be alone, to strip away all that I knew to be true about myself and begin again, that could be summed up in two words: road trip.”
Learn more about Kathryn and her camping trailer “Little Wings”. Interview below!
How did your trip come to be?
I was at a really difficult point in my life and wasn’t feeling like myself. My anxiety was out of control and all of my usual fixes or escape places weren’t working, so I knew I had to try something different, and it had to be big.
My family took road trips out West when I was a kid, which is probably where the road trip idea is rooted from. It seemed like the perfect way to fulfill the overwhelming feeling that I had to be alone, to strip away all that I knew to be true to myself and begin again.
The longer I thought about it, the less crazy it seemed, so I began putting the pieces together one by one to make the trip happen. I knew nothing about camping trailers (except that they were cute!) and at that point in time, I didn’t even have a vehicle that could tow one. I kept myself focused on the next steps to make the trip come to life and here I am!
On preparing for the trip, you said, “This road trip is brought to you by the ladies in Kathryn Martz’s life.” Can you tell us a little about your people and the power of females?
It is fair to say that strong female energy runs through my blood, and this trip was generations of work in the making. I grew up under the influence of very courageous, tough, and independent women. My great grandma ran a bar during prohibition, my great aunt bought a piece of land in northern Michigan during the Depression with a vision to build a family cabin (which happened, and still stands today), my grandma lived by herself in her home until she passed away at the age of 101, and my mom worked in the automotive industry, breaking gender barriers for women in business her entire career. The idea that I couldn’t do something because I was female was never something I was taught. Though most of those women are now gone, their vision lives on in me and my sisters.
When I originally shared my idea with my best friends, sisters, and mom (dad t00), it never mattered that I knew absolutely nothing about camping trailers or that I was venturing to travel alone in to the wilderness, or even that I was a female trekking into what is viewed as male dominated territory in our society. They never doubted my abilities to accomplish what I set out to do, instead asking, “How can I help?” The power that lies within females encouraging other females is one of the most beautiful things I have experienced. This story of a female adventuring solo is anything but that. My people are with me every step of the way, and many of them are making an appearance on the road with me during my trip.
Tell us about your camping trailer, Little Wings.
Ahhh, Little Wings. The trailer is a 1969 Cardinal that I found online. I drove eight hours to Utah to check it out in person, and when I arrived at the woman’s house who owned it, she gave me a hug and I knew it was the one!
The structure, electric, and gas features of the trailer were all in good shape, but the inside needed some love. My mom spent ten days of her retired life helping me renovate it, bringing my vision to life.
The trailer name was inspired by a bracelet my friend gave me with the inscription, “Alis Volat Propriis” which is Latin for “She flies with her own wings.”
How do you plan your route?
The plan is there is no plan, which is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve mostly been going from one National Park to the next. I have different friends and family meeting me along the way, so there are certain places I know I have to be on certain days. In between those meetups, it is a free for all! I started in Colorado and have been heading west and north (Utah, Arizona, California, next on the list is Oregon, Washington, and Montana).
You call Colorado (and the Midwest) home. How do you stay connected while you’re away?
This has been a struggle but I have adapted. I’m used to talking to my mom almost every day, and my friends too. Most of the places I’m staying, I have very little service, but I make a point to spend one day a week in the closest town where I can call my friends and catch up. I also post a photo a day to Instagram (when I have service) so my family and friends can see what I’m up to.
You said before that “This journey started out as a way to prove to myself not only that I can be alone, but I prefer it; however, it has turned out to teach me quite the opposite.” How so? Has that changed since you set off?
The question I get the most is “Aren’t you lonely?” which was kind of the point when I set out on the trip. I wanted to press the reset button and I was trying to prove to myself that I could do it alone. While the trip may look easy, getting all the pieces together, and even being on the road, is a lot of work, and it has forced me to ask for a lot of help. (Ask for help?! That’s scary! I know. But what is scarier is not chasing after your dreams. Asking for help doesn’t make achieving them any less rewarding.)
I haven’t felt alone on my trip once. It is almost impossible to put into words the kindness and generosity that complete strangers have extended, mostly just the little things like bringing over a cup of coffee, have meant so much to me. Even when I have no cell service and there is no one around, I feel the love and support of friends and family from afar. It feels like they are on this trip with me. So while it is true that I enjoy my alone time, I’ve learned that I never really am alone, and that is an incredibly powerful and wonderful thing.
What’s your favorite place you’ve been so far?
Yosemite. It’s such a magical place and I was able to share the experience with my sister and friends, making it that much more special.
What’s surprised you the most about life on the road? Is it different than you imagined it would be?
I thought the hardest part would be adjusting to living out of the trailer, but there was little to no adjustment period for that. Living in Little Wings has been very natural for me. The difficult part has been making decisions on what to do with my time since I have no plan. Stay or go? Sleep in or wake up early? Go hiking or running? Practice yoga or meditate? Read or write? Talk to people or be alone? The list goes on forever. My sister’s advice: pick any of those things!
It is different than I imagined, mostly because I thought I’d have more free time, but moving around from place to place takes up a lot of time. I have started to stay in places longer though and am learning to slow down with days off from any activities.
Also showers. They only happen once a week.
Take a photo of your 5 must-have items for van life.
- Cell phone – I am a millennial after all. But it is how I get directions, listen to music/podcasts, and stay in touch with folks back home.
- Mallet – don’t ask me why but this thing comes in handy all the time!
- Tevas – the best sandals ever for hiking and lounging
- Ogden Made Backpack – perfect for keeping all my valuables in one place, and makes it easy to tot them around wherever I’m going
- Journal – to write down things and reflect on my time on the road
Where are you now and where will you be in one month?
I’m currently in Northern California. In one month I’ll be somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, probably Washington.
See more from Kathryn on Instagram.
Editor’s note: This interview contains Amazon affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the link, She Explores receives a small commission at no charge to you. We appreciate your support.
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