I want to respond to the woman heading on a road trip. I am a single woman who has traveled and slept in my car a lot! I bought a used 2003 Subaru Outback for $10,000 7 years ago. It had 46,000 miles on it. Now, mine has 260,000 miles on it. Other than replacing the timing belt at 180,000, replacing the brakes one time, and a few oil changes, I have had no repairs. I sleep in the front seat all the time. The seat folds back completely! I sleep in the driver’s seat. I have made the trip libby is talking about three times. I have also taken the northern route. Buy a Subaru and have fun! (also the back has a cover so you can keep your stuff out of sight. Have fun!!!
I’ve done both, pickup with camper road trips and station wagon road trips. The duration is the question. If it is for a week or less, choose the station wagon as it is more convenient. If it is longer, choose the pickup with the cap so that you can separate driving from living. Before traveling, read “Charley and Me” by John Steinbeck about his road trip with his dog. He articulates the benefits of a pickup much better than I could.
I’m a 50ish single mom w/daughter off to college. I have similar plans to “run away” and can relate. Have some radical plans of my own to simplify and travel. Live in the east coast. Contact me securely through my website, if you wish. www.beyondcomfort.com
I also have friends with Van/RV’s that live on the road.
Don’t know WHY you didn’t suggest a hearse. Plenty of room for sleeping and don’t think anybody is going to break in. LOL
I would recommend a used Toyota Prius. My husband and I spent two months driving around the entire country and slept in the back of the car about half the time (rather than having to pack up a wet tent). We would put all of our camping gear in the front seats and put the front seats all the way forward so we had plenty of leg room. We are both 5ft 9in. There is also a convenient storage area in the back. The hatchback serves as a wonderful sky light for star gazing. The back seats fold down flat and fit a thin thermarest air mattress perfectly. We were very comfortable - and there were two of us! The high gas prices were completely negated by the great gas mileage. We put screening in the back windows for fresh air.
We carried a pop-up tent: http://www.amazon.com/Rightline-Gear-110990-CampRight-Tent/dp/B0032DLJYI
The tent made it REALLY easy to set up camp when we got to campgrounds. We also carried two back packs, a porta-potty, two sleeping bags, two pillows, two therma-rest sleeping pads, a bag of electronics (including an inverter to charge camera batteries), two duffle bags of clothes, a campstove, a softpack cooler that also served as our camp “kitchen,” etc. Even with everything we needed for two months we could still easily see out the back window.
Our other car is a 2005 Honda CRV and we left that in the garage at home. The tumble-forward seats made it impossible to sleep in the back.
Contact RVing Women. We are all women who RV (travel without a man!) Local group in Seattle is Cascadia. Absolutely no reason you cannot travel alone! I am 71 yrs old, travel in a 32’ Bounder with 2 cats, towing a van. Oh, I posted under runaway car. Look at it. Do come out and have fun with us.
Having done a lot of cross country driving in my car and sleeping in it a lot in my younger days my opinion is as follows. If security is an issue, go with an SUV or station wagon. If someone is breaking in with the intent to harm you your best defense is to try and jump into the driver seat and drive off before they can enter the car. In a pick-up, in the back, under the cap you are basically trapped inside. Even if you had a vent window to climb through it will be much more difficult to get to the drivers seat unless you are extremely small and agile.
Libby, I’m a 5’2", 125 lbs 59-year-old gal who regularly ‘car camps’. Years ago, I had a Ford Taurus station wagon which fit the bill very nicely except that it was, indeed, a car, and I tore out 3 exhaust systems on forest logging roads. Lesson learned. I was excited about my Subaru Forester until I discovered that my self-inflating sleeping mat did not fit in the back (with the front seat down to accomodate it). Interior space disappointment. The gal who recommended sleeping in the reclined front seat of a Subaru Outback must be a young gal with a good back. I’ve had a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor since 2005, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s perfect. You can get an older model for the amount of money you have to spend, altho they’re hard to find because nobody gets rid of them because they are wonderful and run forever. You had stated that you didn’t want to use an SUV, but, after you lay down in several vehicles while imagining suitcases & coolers, go lay down in an Endeavor. Have a Wonderful Time on your trip!
Solo gal road trip – GO FOR IT!!! You can do it – don’t let anyone tell you different! I did it at 40, and I’m past 50 now and plenty ready to do it again. I left rainy Oregon in October for 10 weeks solo in the Southwest. I made friends that I am still in touch with – yes we met in scenic campgrounds. Farthest point east was Big Bend Natl Park – do not miss, as you head to the Third Coast. I did mine in my epic 1987 Toyota Tercel hatchback, which was such a champion, but I only slept in it a couple nights when storms weathered me out of my tent. However, your ambitions reminded me a of a friend I met in Chaco – another solo girl traveller – and she had it down with an old Subaru wagon. She had taken out the front passenger seat, and filled that area with a couple of large plastic storage bins – great for storing camp kitchen – and they were the right height or somehow fit with everything down in back so that she could sleep the length of the car interior on the passenger side. I dissagree with the CarTalk guys telling you to go for a pickup – it’s great having a lot interior space that you can easily reach while driving. A pickup would be worse gas mileage anyway. Whether Subaru or the Ford wagon they mentioned, stick with the wagon idea. HAVE A GREAT TIME! And keep some blog, diary, sketch journal, whatever…you will be glad for it later. Safety? I felt safest in the wilderness and park campgrounds – no one expects women to be alone there, so it’s not exactly a trolling destination, you know? Guys I met in such places were usually delighted and made for great hiking escorts, several mentioning that ‘gee, I wish my girlfriend liked doing this outdoor stuff, like you do.’ Always – trust your instincts!
I almost forgot to mention: whatever kind of vehicle you use, install those rain deflector things over the windows so you can lock yourself into the car, but have the windows open an inch or so for ventilation.
Libby- Although you said you did not want an SUV, I would heartily recommend a Chevy HHR. I have a 2010 model, with standard transmission, and it gets 30mpg and better. The passenger seat in the front folds down, so there is plenty of length for sleeping (I can carry an 8’ piece of lumber with the tailgate closed). There’s plenty of room for misc. gear, and it rides well. Check it out.
BTW, a buddy and I did a cross country trip in the 70s in a '63 Ford Falcon wagon. It was primitive to say the least. Have fun!
Toyota Prius, as suggested by Road Trip Lisa, works perfectly. We have just finished travelling almost exactly as she describes. From October 2011 to Feb 2012 we slept in the Prius 72 nights. The other nights were camping or with friends. We are 5’6" and 5’10". We had 2 coolers, one behind each of the front seats, which extends the surface area of the folded-down back seat platform. We had a bicycle rack on the hatchback which provides a bit of a barrier to anyone who might peer in through the hatch. (Bikes make it fun to get around too, when not driving). We would place one sun shade – the silver collasible windshield sunshades that have a flexible metal rim, if you know what those look like – against each of the two rear passenger windows when sleeping at night.
Like Trucker J, my safety theory was based on hopping into the driver seat and driving away so I removed the driver seat head rest at night so I could get into the driver seat quickly, and had the keys in the same spot every night. Usually parked where we couldn’t get blocked in. Our bed was made of thermarest and bedding; left it set up but not obvious (because other stuff covered it during the day). Had a camp stove and tent and a bunch of other stuff too. If I went without another person, I would want a dog with me for company.
Also consider the Honda Fit, check out the various seat and cargo configurations and at the upper 30’s mpg it is also economical. I hope many road trips back and forth across America are in my future. Enjoy and best wishes! HFO.
The perfect car is a Subaru, either the Forester or Outback would work. I am 5’2 and have slept comfortably many times in my 1998 Forester. My boyfriend (5’9) has an Outback and both of us along with our Lab/Great Dane slept comfortably in the back of his car. I do recommend an “egg crate” or other type of pad.
Another note, a Thule rack will help with storage room.
I strongly disagree with your advice that a woman traveling and camping alone should get a small pickup truck. If she wakes up in the middle of the night in a situation that causes concern, she should be able to leave quickly and easily. With a station wagon or minivan, she can simply slide into the driver’s seat (which she always keeps clear of equipment), turn the key, and drive away. With a pickup truck, she must awkwardly exit the vehicle from a prone position, walk around the outside where she can be spotted as a small woman alone, and then open and close the driver’s door before she can start the car. She also should always park heading out, so no backing up is required. Think safety first, and have a wonderful time!!
Hi Libby, I side with CarCamper regarding safety and would suggest what I drive, a Mazda5, instead. This mini minivan is the perfect size for you and provides a roomy sleeping area with the back seat down. I’m 5’11" and fit just fine. Gas milage is decent and provides good security. I’m sure you can buy a nice one within your budget. You sound great and I admire your adventurous spirit. Have a wonderful trip. I hope our wandering paths cross someday.
Seattle Runaway: Gypsies Unite!!! I did my “runaway” in 2005. Sold the house and kept what I could fit into my 2005 Ford Ranger XLT 2WD with an added bed cap. It was just me (I am a woman) and my dog. We traveled from Georgia to California and tent camped along the way. I am now living in Oregon. I still have my Ford Ranger, although the dog recently has passed I still find good excuses to keep moving and my truck is great for this.
Best addvice for any woman doing anything solo like this is buy a hand gun and drive what you like that works for you, trucks get lousy gas milage and have more road noise, useally they are colder due to less carpet padding and less sound deadening material, tires cost more then a normal passenger radials, truck are also broke in to more then cars because trucks have tools and or equipment in them alot so thieves like to hit the easy targets ie trucks
I have found a compact car with a bucket driver’s seat that can lay down almost flat works very well. I have camped many times in a Dodge Colt. Layout a sleeping bag in the seat and stuff some cloths in the low spot between the seat bottom and back to level things out.