Issue #103: A Complete Guide to (Solo) Car Camping
Gear, campgrounds, and tips!
Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!
📚 Mobility by Lydia Kiesling: Bunny Glenn lives in Baku, Azerbaijan during the summer of 1998, where her father, who is in the American Foreign Service, is stationed. She’ll return to her American boarding school eventually, but spends her days watching a soap opera dubbed in Russian, getting ready for a party in her asymmetrical BCBG dress, and reading magazines against a backdrop of oil tycoons and post Cold War politics. As the book progresses through Bunny’s young adulthood (with a final fast-forward to 2051), we see the ways in which Bunny’s class and context shape her personal life. This novel, which came out last week, transported me to a world I knew nothing about and would have thought I had little interest in.
🎥 ‘Shortcomings’ in Theaters: This sweet coming-of-age story centers on the friendship between Ben, a Japanese-American filmmaker based in Berkeley (he’s as self-absorbed and snobbish as you might expect) and Alice, who lives in New York and deals with Ben’s more frustrating characteristics. At times too sitcom-y for my taste, the movie is incredibly self-aware as it delves into meta conversations around race, art, and relationships.
🎧 Cover Up Podcast, The Pill Plot: In 1992, RU-486, known colloquially as “the abortion pill,” became available in Europe and Asia, but was banned in America. The second season of the podcast “Cover Up” delves into the ‘90s movement to traffic this medication to make it accessible to American women and provide them with body sovereignty. I’ve only listened to the first three episodes, but have already learned so much
A few months ago, emboldened by my newfound comfort with being alone and a desire for adventure, I became obsessed with the idea of buying and building out a van. To be fair, it isn’t an entirely new idea—I’ve had a savings goal labeled “Van” that I’ve consistently contributed small amounts to since 2015—but it’s the first time in my life it felt doable. Why not? There are options for internet now that would allow me to see clients over telehealth next year, and continue to write and publish. I could do a book tour by van! See the (contiguous) world! Travel to every National Park! There are many enviable examples on Instagram of people doing just that and making it work.
I even went so far as to deeply research vehicles and find a local builder I love until realizing: The cost of a van can easily run as high as a sizable down payment on a house. When it comes down to it, I’m really craving a nest right now. I’ve moved nearly every year since high school, and need a place to call “home.” As lost as I can get in the daydream of a van, I can also easily see myself regretting it. Ultimately, I decided to delay my van dreams a little longer and focus my financial efforts on buying a house. I’ll be sharing more on that soon—including my specific financials and strategy—but I can get pretty close to the freedom and adventure I crave using my existing car…
For the past few weeks, I’ve been venturing out in my Subaru which I spent months carefully converting into a vehicle that gets me pretty close to the benefits I’d find in van travel (without the headroom). In it, I’m able to:
Hit the road seamlessly. Half the hassle of camping is wrangling everything to be packed. I wanted to be able to have my camping gear ready, so I can load it and hit the road in a matter of minutes.
Cook and eat well.
Feel safe and secure while solo.
Be comfortable and enjoy camping!
I’m incredibly proud of the final result, and am all too happy to share my findings with you, which includes strategies I found from hours of scouring the internet, and plenty of trial and error. Whether you’re looking to up your car camping game or venture out solo, I’ve included my tips for finding a camping spot, enjoying yourself, and a comprehensive packing list and how-to guide:
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