One day, while scrolling on her Instagram, Sydney Ferbrache saw a beautiful photo of a girl in a van. Maybe it was the algorithm or maybe it was fate. Anyhow, it changed the 24-year-old girl’s life.
She’s now known as the girl in the van accompanied by her dog Ella and has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.
And, there’s no one else but her pet- after she broke up with her boyfriend, the young lady realized she wanted to prove that there’s nothing scary about being a solo woman on the road.
The Beginning of the Van Life
Native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Ferbrache had never left the country before she went on an adventure with a college friend. She claims that previously, she’s only seen the world on TV shows.
‘It was amazing’; she recalls and claims she was hooked right away.
18 months later, the girl booked a solo trip to South Africa. She said to herself ‘screw it; I’m doing it on my own’.
She did her research on women and safety in South Africa and backpacked through Johannesburg and Cape Town for 3.5 weeks.
She remembers how her parents were scared the entire time she was there and that everyone was quite apprehensive about her trip. However, she claims she knew that she would be alright.
When she returned home safe and sound, she thought that she’s able to do it all.
At First, Ferbrache Wasn’t Travelling Solo
The first experience that Ferbrache had in van travelling was with her boyfriend. When they were still together, she asked him to join her on her adventures.
He was a chef and she worked as events manager for a restaurant. They worked for 70 to 80 hours per week. She recalls they felt miserable.
The photo she saw made her scroll for days on her laptop looking at vans. Soon enough, the couple bought one and this is how she began exploring the van life.
They bought an $18,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and spent $10,000 to renovate it for their journey. They split the costs.
In 2017, September, they set off on the road together.
Ferbrache Realizes that He’s not the One
Despite the couple’s great van relationship, Ferbrache realized that he wasn’t the one for her. She always felt she can ‘go 100 mph and she was with someone who could do only 50 mph’.
Since he had very different dreams, she felt she didn’t do everything she wanted and the way she wanted. Even though he also loved the van life, he believed this was a temporary thing.
However, for Sydney, it wasn’t like this- for her, this isn’t a short-term thing.
In March 2018, they ended their relationship and the ex-boyfriend kept the van. She decided to give up the van in the spur of the moment during the breakup.
The boyfriend said he knew she wanted this and that she wanted to travel by herself. This is when she told him ‘no, no, you take the van, I’ll prove to you that I’ll do it again’.
She explains that she felt guilty as her boyfriend thought that this adventure will eventually cease and they were going to get married, have children, and a future together.
Therefore, she didn’t want to take away his dreams and the future he imagined. The boyfriend sold the van and never used it for travel again, claims Ferbrache.
A Huge Sense of Freedom
Since she no longer had a van to travel in, she worked three jobs and did a lot of side gigs for 2 months to save up money.
She also launched a website for her van life, freelanced as a web designer, and worked as a full-time nanny.
She bought a $24,000 Ford Transit van in May 2018 and renovated it the way she wanted.
In September, she was already prepared for the road.
But, before she left, she made another purchase- a golden retriever puppy she named Ella. The girl claims the first few days of travelling with her pet were the best ones in her life.
At first, she also cried, but she was happy she succeeded on her own. Every 4 to 6 months, the girl stops in her home to see her family.
She funds her travelling through affiliate marketing and advertising and working as a web designed. She also recently started a podcast.
Her next plan is to make it to Alaska by spring of 2020 and wants to visit Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia too.