Weekly Feature: Tanya of Little Miss Vanshine
After taking a couple of two-month-trips around Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia in an old jeep in the last four years, i am now travelling through South America with a little bit more time on my hands in a 1992 Volkswagen Vanagon named Schnitzel. I started out in Uruguay in March, am currently on the coast of Ecuador and will take the van up to Colombia until January. l’ll store it there, go back home to Berlin, work for a couple of months and then continue my travels up in Central America.
For me it’s the dream to be able to go back and forth between my life in the van and my life at home every couple of months, especially because that means i don’t have to go through a whole year or more without seeing my friends and family. As a freelance voice actress I’m blessed to be able to do some of my work remotely from my little recording studio on wheels and sometimes check into a studio in a bigger city along the way for a job while also going back to Berlin to do dubbing work of films and shows when there’s a new season about to come out.
While it would be impossible to name a favourite place or a favourite country, I can tell you about this very small, laid-back village on the coast of Ecuador with a grassy place to camp right next to the ocean, open air yoga classes, the best cinnamon buns of the southern hemisphere and beautiful surfing waves just on my doorstep and after so many months of moving around I’ve decided to stay here and call this my home for a good little while. So even though I can’t name a favourite place in general, let me call this town my favourite place for the moment.
Biggest challenge for women travelers?
I think the biggest challenge for women overlanders or women travelling solo in general is to set themselves free of the doubts, opinions and questions raised towards them by their surroundings: that a woman travelling this way - and by herself - cannot really and truly be in a happy place. That she surely must be missing something in her life, she must be feeling lonely, scared at times, unsettled or even bored (really?!) without anyone to accompany her, to help her. I don’t feel like solo travelling men are being scrutinized like this. People have trouble understanding the fact, that we are doing this by choice, not by circumstance and I just stopped explaining, as i got tired of convincing them. I’ve come to just let them think whatever they want. Once i liberated my mind, unbound myself from these stereotypes and not let other peoples’ perceptions and expectations get in my way, it set me free in a very empowering way and i realized I can do just about whatever i want - on the road, back home, in life.
What has travelling taught you?
Mastering the wildest situations on the road has taught me to trust myself and rely on my abilities. Also, I learned not to plan too far ahead and feeling at ease about it, allowing the journey to flow. While travelling in a van, almost every day you are met by unexpected events, new encounters, changes within yourself, unforeseen situations in and out of your control - and its sum forms and transforms the path you are on. So instead of sticking to plans I try to listen to myself every day anew and keep a positive and open perspective and my curiosity - everything else will follow.
Overlanding sucks sometimes because…
It’s hard to get things done while the life overland is happening. Seriously, people at home normally think that all i do is kick back and surf and chill and drive down scenic routes all day and while this is true when you decide to stay at a place for more than a week, the reality is that you need to set up and pack up your entire home every couple of days, find places to camp, keep your vehicle fit, prepare all your meals, renew your car insurance or spend hours and days to find a certain spare part in a crazy city like Lima or La Paz... also, in South America just about everything takes so much longer and living in small space like a van means there is always an item in the very back of the very last box so getting it out when you need it means taking your home apart again. All this takes time! And then, once you’ve wrapped up all those things that are just essential for your daily life on the road and you’re settling in for the night and you put a pot of soup on the stove and you finally want to write that postcard you’ve been carrying around with you for the last whoknowshowmanyhundred kilometers or practice some Spanish or ukulele or read a book or answer those questions @womenoverlandtheworld sent you weeks ago and you still haven’t gotten round to answer the question why overlanding sucks sometimes all of a sudden your stove is on fire because you overfilled the alcohol tank and another day has passed and you’re left with a new thing to fix and unwritten postcards. But still, i wouldn’t change it for the world right now, and this is the magic of this journey.