Sydney Ferbrache had no idea that a picture on Instagram could change the path of her entire life. When she scrolled past a photo of a girl traveling around and living in her van, she knew she had to make this her reality.
Now, Sydney is traveling around the US with her dog Bella, while over 100,000 people follow her journey on Instagram. Though she is now a passionate advocate for solo travel, her journey didn’t start this way.
Sydney got her first taste of the travel lifestyle when she went to Europe with a college friend after her freshman year. After spending 3 weeks exploring Europe, she knew she was addicted to seeing more of the world. With the experience she gained on her last adventure, she booked her first solo trip to Africa.
Sydney spent 3 weeks back-packing alone around Cape Town and Johannesburg. Once she got home from her first solo trip abroad, she knew she was capable of anything. With this newfound confidence, she was ready to begin her life on the road. But first, she wanted to convince her then-boyfriend to tag along on this adventure with her.
The couple was currently working 70-80 hours a week in restaurants and felt crippled by the lives they were leading. It didn’t take much convincing before her boyfriend agreed to come along for the ride. But first, they had to purchase the van.
“I saw this picture and it took me down this black tunnel hole of van life. I was scrolling for hours a day on my laptop and in between homework and everything else, just looking at vans. We bought one, had it shipped to Indianapolis, and that was the start of how I discovered van life.”- Sydney
Sydney and her boyfriend purchased their first van and poured thousands of dollars into the renovations. After their first van project was complete, they set out for their life on the road in 2017.
Though Sydney had created the life she wanted with her boyfriend, it soon became clear that her boyfriend just wasn’t the one for her.
“I have always felt that I’m capable of going 100 mph and I was with someone only capable of going 50 mph. I felt I couldn’t be doing everything I wanted, or shooting for the stars the way I wanted, because he had very different dreams.” – Sydney
Sydney’s boyfriend viewed van life as a phase that Sydney just had to work through before she could officially settle down somewhere, get married, and have kids. When Sydney decided that she wanted to walk away from the relationship, she ended up giving the van to him. She knew that with the dedication that she had toward her goals, she could accomplish this again, but on her own this time.
After taking on several jobs, along with her side work online with freelance web design, she was soon able to purchase and renovate her own van. By September 2018, she was ready to hit the road again! A week before she took off, she made one last change – a puppy named Ella.
“I sat there the first day, just staring out the windows at the mountains. I spent two to three days there just in awe — I couldn’t believe my life.” – Sydney
Sydney has since been to over 20 states in her new van and has grown a large audience of viewers that are inspired by her journey. She even created her own website documenting her life, along with a successful podcast that discusses life in the van and other relatable life topics.
“I’ve never woken up once in the last year and not felt like this isn’t exactly what I should be doing. I don’t foresee anywhere in the near future where I want to stop, but I also don’t want to hold myself to this idea that I have to be on the road.” – Sydney
Sydney wants to inspire others to solo travel despite the fears and warnings that you generally hear regarding a female traveling on their own. All she needed was her pup and her determination to make her dreams come true, and it’s attainable for other dog loving, travel junkies as well!
If you’d like to keep up with Sydney and Ella’s adventures, you can follow along on Instagram here.