Mallory Paige Aka “Operation Motodog”
With #Baylorthedog as her sidekick, Mallory has traveled the country in ’73 VW van named Goliath, lived in a tiny home on wheels, and dirt-bagged across the Western United States. Her current adventure is a motorcycle sidecar journey to Alaska and beyond – she hopes to cover every state and province in North America with her dog Baylor. A writer by trade, Mallory is always on the search for inspiration in her solo travels. Learn more – interview below.
Photos above and below (C) 2015 Mallory Paige
Meet Daring Mallory
When did you start traveling with your dog, Baylor?
The 2013 van trip was our fist big adventure. Since then we’ve gone on various cross country camping and road trips. And right now we’re covering all of North America – every state, province and Mexico – on a motorcycle-sidecar named Rufio. Now known as Operation Moto Dog, it is turning out to be truly life changing.
You’ve lived in a ’73 VW van and a “tiny home on wheels.” Which do you prefer? What are the benefits to each?
They’re each totally rad, it just depends on your end goal. The van is perfect for traveling across the country with your home and sneakily sleeping in cities along the way. The tiny home is great if you have a chunk of land to park it on and are excited about the prospect of standing up inside and comfortably having friends over for dinner. The main considerations are the same for both – parking, decluttering and becoming an organizational ninja to maximize the small space.
Do you have any safety tips for solo travel?
Don’t be afraid, people are good. There’s a fear that solo female travelers will be taken advantage of, but throughout my travels I’ve found the opposite to be true. People go out of their way to help, share meals, offer a place to stay and just generally show the kindness and generosity that exists in the world.
What have you learned about yourself through your adventures?
Trusting myself has been the biggest lesson. During the van trip it started with small things, where I should sleep or what to do for dinner. Previously I would’ve deferred to someone else, but solo it was up to me. That same lesson has grown even larger with the motorcycle-sidecar. If some piece of the sidecar attachment falls apart, I’m the one who has to fix it, the one who needs to sit on the side of the road with a pile of tools problem-solving. I have to make a decision and then trust that it will work. It’s completely overwhelming at times, but incredibly empowering overall.
What compels you to write?
Two things: refining thought and learning. Writing is my preferred method for breaking down thoughts and organizing them into something useful. Learning is my main motivation in life and collecting stories is the best way I’ve found to connect with people that will help me continually learn and grow.
Have you met other women traveling by themselves on the road?
Surprisingly, I’ve never crossed paths with another solo woman traveler. I’m sure they’re out there, we just haven’t met yet.
[Editor’s note – if you’re a female traveler, reach out to Mallory on Instagram!]
Take a photo of your five must-have items for road travel.
1. Baylor – Co-pilot and adventure sidekick extraordinaire.
2. Slackline – Great for stretching, making friends, and meditating on the line.
3. iPhone – High quality pics, in a small, easily shareable package.
4. Yellowood Hatchet – My one of a kind go-to tool for chopping wood and wrenching on the sidecar.
5. Owl – My sister made this when I first started adventuring and I take it on all the journeys as a reminder of my family’s support.
What’s your preferred camping location? (National forest, state campground, BLM, friend’s driveway, etc)
National forests are the best! Free dispersed camping let’s you save money and get away from the crowds. Foregoing amenities is worth having stellar morning views all to yourself.
Do you have any advice for other women looking to hit the road?
You don’t have to be fearless and you don’t need to have all the answers. Just take a breath, leap into the current of adventure, and figure it out along the way.
Where will your travels take you next?
Right now [August 5, 2015] we’re traveling around Alaska on the motorcycle-sidecar. As the weather turns cooler we’ll head east and then south for the winter. The timeline and exact route will stay flexible so that I can take advantage of spur of the moment adventures.