Women Only Being a nomad woman without a man to help

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Well-known member
Sep 15, 2016
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Far Northern California
This feels so hard to talk about but I keep hitting road-blocks, in my mind, because I am a woman alone.  I do fine living in an apartment where all the major maintenance is done by hired men.  I'm sure there are maintenance women out there as well.  I want the skills to build my own Camper, to maintain my vehicles engine, and all the other maintenance on a vehicle.  I feel helpless about becoming a Nomad, but I know you gals are out there doing it.  Maybe it's about over-coming fears, and maybe it's "I'm not cut out for this".  It's extra scary to think of "having" to live as a nomad.  I guess if I had to I could do it, but honestly, I don't even know if I could then.  Just be a bag-lady, and I'm not that far from it if I look around the world and see the changes taking place.

I know I need to talk to other women, but it's hard to make new friends.  All my close friends are far away in compatibility from me.  They have families, grand-kids, great-grand-kids, husbands, still employed, busy! I call them and keep in touch but we have nothing in common anymore. 

I don't know, I'm seeing what comes of someone that didn't take life serious enough.  All I ever wanted to do was find "Mr. Right" and all I did was look for perfection, the Fairy Tale, after the honeymoon it was like "hell with this" and move on.  I'm 68 now and being forced to slow down by age.  I think I'll somehow escape reality by living "out there" but I didn't work long and hard enough to have the income to have what I feel I need.

I just hate feeling like this is just the end of the road.  Living around, and becoming one of those that are sitting in front of a tv waiting to die.

I'm sorry to rant and barf out all my stuff here but I don't have another place I feel I can be honest.  I pray I don't bring anyone else down.  I'm crying now and sometimes I do feel better if I can let it all out honestly. Denise  PS I guess men can read this even though it's a womens "board" but I don't care. I just know men think/feel different than women (me anyway).
Some people are just prone to fearfulness more than others. Maybe that’s you. You mentioned hiring men to do things when living in an apartment. It’s the same on the road. Van breaks down? A mechanic can fix it.

I don’t know why you feel you need to build out your camper yourself. Check out some of Bob’s videos on no-build setups. You just need a bed and plastic totes or duffle bags or what have you. You don’t need a build out. Why don’t you just take some camping trips or a multi-day road trip somewhere and then go back home. See how it feels. It’s not all or nothing.

Go to YouTube and type in various things…vanlife over 60, solo woman van dweller, things like that. I like to watch Minivan Lee. She’s been on the road over 4 years and is over 60, maybe over 70, but I can’t remember. I just started following My Basic Journey on YouTube. Chantal is traveling alone with a dog, but she looks to be in her 20’s, 30’s at most. I think I would’ve been too chicken to do that at that age, but it’s inspirational to watch her.

And I also think that people (especially women) don’t realize what they can do if they had to. I’ve been in situations where I think afterwords, “Wow, I didn’t know I could do that!” You’re stronger than you think. You might just have a personality that likes to ruminate and think of the worst case scenario. If so, then do it. Think of the worst case scenario and figure out how you would handle it. That will help you to calm down.

Once you start, you’re going to want to make changes to your setup and you’ll realize all the things you need that you didn’t think of, and all the things you brought that you don’t need. So, why agonize over a build. Just do it as you need to.

Good luck.
Hi lab_nomad,

I have gone  tent-camping twice and my biggest issues were:

setting up (not being organized enough to start with. I was literally exhausted)
tearing down (easier getting home and everything has a place)

getting out of a tent (and I have 2 both the same issue) and into because the zipper kept sticking.  The last time the zipper literally stuck so I had to crawl out a hole not bigger than a toilet bowl.

I CAN do more than I think, that's for sure, because I'm still alive!! LOL!!  I just think I'm getting more like Monk (you ever see that show, he's an OCD detective).  I just need everything in it's place.  Funny because as a teenager I just threw crap around my room and liked it that way. 

I know other women are doing it, that's why I keep coming to this forum, I want to be like them.  I don't hire anyone to do work here, it's maintenance for the apartments.  I don't mind that because I'm paying cash for it. 

I want to do for others (pay it forward) but it's hard to start out letting others help me build something I can feel safer and comfy in.  I don't care how much I have to give away of my stuff that is nothing but "extra" like decor.  I know I can live without useless, extra, impractical, material crap.

I know my "needs" are more than my bank-account, and my "physical" limitation.  I don't think I need answers, or told what to do as much as I just need to know someone understands and has been where I am, or maybe knows exactly what I'm talking about.  I never felt so different, or less like I fit in than I do here.  But yet I feel that way where I live now, maybe I've always felt different, weird, like I keep looking out at the stars waiting for a space-ship to land, and all these weird little creatures that look just like me wave to me and say "com'on Denise, we've come to take you home" :s :blush:
You could come camp near me for a while. I will put you through DIY boot camp for solo traveling senior women. ;) I think I must have cut my first baby girl teeth on one of those hammer the pegs in the holes toddler workbenches. I even became a real life Rosie the riviter at age 28 as it was the best paying job I could find to support myself as a newly divorced mother of a young child.

You dont have to stay feeling helpless if you dont want to. Join a maker space or find a mentor.

You have been using tools all your life since you grabbed hold of a spoon and shoved food into your mouth. You conquered using a knife and fork at a young age. You can use pens and pencils. You use lots of power tools all the time in the kitchen.  You can drive a vehicle, you know how to measure stuff.

You have all the basics you need, you  are not inept. All you have to do is expand to using a few more tools. You have already mastered hand to eye coordination and depth perception and a sense of applying variations of pressure and listening to changes in sounds.
They make lubricant for zippers but Chapstick works as does some sticky bar soap. Basicall you just need to get some waxy stuff on the zipper teeth now and again for lubricating.
Hi Maki, I fixed the zipper because it was that "decorative" material flap over the zipper that kept getting caught so I took my scissors and shaved that sucker off!! Works fine now ;)

I would be happy to camp near you Maki, I know I need women mentors/teachers. This build below is what I want, do you still think I could do this one??

I don't know what that $800 would look like now, wood is higher I've heard, this would really be something I could be proud of doing, I feel I need to see I'm not just taking up space in this world:

Is a Maker-Space where they are banning together to help with builds? I think Doug would help me, and, I do expect to cut some corners because this guy does way more with his build, I don't think my brain could figure all his did. He starts adding on money too, way more than 800 dollars.
I don't see any when I check CL, or a site on my Facebook, that are for small trucks though, not so far. I'd get a ready-made before I'd build one. My truck is the same size as a Ford Ranger, only it's a Mazda B3000. Sort of like a "generic" to the Ranger when it comes to price. I will keep my eyes open though. I'd love to find one for 500!! And hopefully not too far away from me ;)
You can do something easier to build than his method. You need a flat le el space to eork on. You get marine plywood. Cut it to the shape of the sides then fasten the interior stick framing pieces to the plywood using construction adhesive and brads or big staples.  After the framing is in oplace you cut out the holes for the windows. When you have each of the sides done then you assemble them into the camper shell. You will have to make sure to build a lower rail edge in for firmly fastening the hell onto the rear of the truck. Once it is assembled then you seal up all the intersecting edges with overlaped trim. you will also want a roofing membrane applied up top. Lots of options as to how you can do that.

The time saving easy way is to build each side on the ground and then join them together. It is a lot easier on your body to prefab the sections as panels. the shape of the plywood panels make it easy to figure out the wood framing you attach to it.
Forget about all those small pieces of tongue and groove wood, too labor intensive and prone to splitting plus you will want to insulate the inside surface of the walls.

I have no idea what the cost would be, I am not keeping up on prices plus I would need to make measured drawings  based on a specific vehicle to get a materials list produced for, wood, fadteners, adhesives, windows, lights, wires, battery, solar panel, cabinet materials, insulation and of course purchasing tools I might already own or can borrow.
By the way, you can purchase plans for making plywood camper shells. Over the years lots of patterns with instructions for that type of structure have been published in various DIY handyman magazines. Now and a gain I come a cross them when resesrching projects in vintage magaxines. Google books site is a good place to look for the vintage magazine article images and indexes.
A maker space is a collective group of people who share the cost of tools and a space to use store them and use them. Most maker spaces hold begginer classes on using the the tools that are in the shop. I do know there is a maker space in Salt Lake city area where some people are hanging out to do their build projects. But I have never been to it and only know of it by heresay.
I noticed a couple for sale used in your area on CL, under $2500. Search under pickup camper. 

Or buy a minivan for $3000 and work with that.

Or get involved with foamie builds, but will be more than $800 when you are done as you also need the frame to build it on.

I built out my van for $750, but that cost did not include the price of the van. Many have built out vans for less, but again did not include the price of the vehicle.

I do not recomend a wood build: too heavy & expensive.
"that "decrative" material flap over the zipper"

That flap keeps the rain and water runoff from leaking into the tent!

It takes two hands to open most tent zippers (one to zip and one to clear the flap ahead of the zipper. Running a candle over the zipper teeth makes it zip more easily.
I knew I shouldn't have said decorative, I was still mad about it. I know it's to keep rain off the zipper but what's to worry about a cheap, plastic zipper. Anyway, I'm just cranky, a lot going on. I appreciate your response. The problem is solved now ;) Yes, I did use both hands but got so tired getting in and out, organizing I screwed up, or zipped up, LOL!! anyway, it amazed me what a small hole I could fit through so all was not lost.
maki2 said:
A maker space is a collective group of people who share the cost of tools and a space to use store them and use them. Most maker spaces hold begginer classes on using the the tools that are in the shop. I do know there is a maker space in Salt Lake city area where some people are hanging out to do their build projects. But I have never been to it and only know of it by heresay.
Ok Maki, that's a start ;)  Thanks much!!
maki2 said:
By the way, you can purchase plans for making plywood camper shells. Over the years lots of patterns with  instructions for  that type of structure have been published in various DIY handyman magazines. Now and a gain I come a cross them when resesrching projects in vintage magaxines. Google books site is a good place to look for the vintage magazine article images and indexes.
Ok, going to look through my book sources, including Google Books Maki, and look at some designs.  I'm sure I'll be able to find them, pretty good at researching, thanks again. Denise
I get the drift of your post.

just trying to find you in all this and how you want to move forward.....one would think it is 'very simple' but in truth sometimes it really is not :)

One thing you have to remember, you don't need perfection but I get that OCD type feeling cause I am kinda that type too :) but I also know it isn't just changing our surroundings, or lifestyle........play the mental mindset change also!

I am trying to live more 'let it go' and 'say screw it' and not worry about every little item on my checklist and I have to say over the years, the more I let ME off the hook on some of my personality traits and I said 'screw it, just do it' and don't fret over it....I have to say I am living easier kinda.

I always envied those who could 'go with the flow' and not stress over control or perfection type things in life that I can make them an issue.....I always wanted that more 'hippie carefree type' personality but I never got it HAHA but I also learned I can start to change me and live more free and dump some mental baggage on issues now the older I get.........let it go....go with the flow....say screw it and go out there and have fun and let the chips fall where they may :) sometimes that is the way to go, seems to be more like that for me now.

wishing you the best in finding your path...you will...
I don't mind hiring a man to help - but I don't think I'd want to live with one in a van unless it was a long-time marriage relationship and we were already very accustomed to each other. That's not happening for me... I'm on my own, and really don't mind being alone. In fact, I love being alone. I'm introverted to begin with, and have plenty of hobbies and interests to keep from being bored.

I wish I was more self-sufficient about doing the van build but I think I've proven to myself that I don't have the right skills or confidence to get the job done. If I'm ever going to get it done, it will be with the help of some skilled workmen. A man built my floor... (retired pastor/carpenter volunteered his help) and now I'm hiring an electrician and carpenter to do a basic build. It won't be fancy but it will be a start.

I've had the van 2 years already and had a no-build build and wasn't able to do the rest. I just can't figure it out unless someone shows me and then I could do it with help for a while... then I could do it on my own. But just to listen to instructions and then go do the work - well, I'm just as confused as ever... so I'm letting someone else do it.
It’s true that you don’t have to start with everything figured out, or none of us would ever go anywhere.

I hire out what I can’t do myself, and there’s no shame in that, nor in not wanting to learn to do everything.

A group build sounds like it would be perfect for you, Denise, and I hope you can find one that works for you.