Today we’d like to introduce you to Emma Hoskins.
Hi Emma, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
In an odd way, Covid was a blessing for me. As a consultant, I was traveling to the client sites Monday through Thursday and worked from an office Friday. A huge chunk of my time was going to work and traveling to work and the grind was really beginning to wear on me.
In the summer of 2020, I saw a group of people I knew from college rent an Airbnb for a month to work remotely outside of Glacier National Park and I was so jealous. I kept trying to round up a group of people to do the same and no one seemed to want to pull the trigger. Flash forward to July 2020, I decided to not resign my lease and moved home for a bit to begin planning my own solo road trip.
I decided that I’d rent month-long Airbnbs to ensure I had a home base and a good place to work during the week and then I’d camp Friday through Sunday to explore new territory. My target is National Parks as I have a goal to see them all by the time I turn 30. After a long time of studying maps, I booked my first three home bases from May to July of 2021.
I’d start in Chicago and end up in Washington. From there I could decide to keep going or to come home. It was a risk I was willing and wanted to take and if I could still continue doing my job, why spend it in the same routine working from home day in and day out as opposed to seeing the world?
It’s been the best decision I ever made. Three months turned quickly into seven months on the road. I was able to call five places “home”, camped over 30 nights, visited 12 new National Parks, and spent time in 6 states and two provinces.
Today, I’m still on the road but a little more intense this time. Some weeks I live out of my tent in a front country campground and drive into town to work from a coffee shop. On other weeks I travel for work. And some I decide a bed and a good sleep is worth it and I’ll snag an Airbnb.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Back roading is never smooth, and so is life.
I’ve hit the underbelly of my car on rocks, had a rat move into my car, received two weeks’ notice that I have to fly somewhere and I’m hours from any major airport. Life on the road is beautiful, but I am also a planner. Sometimes you have to be ready to change plans, sleep in your car, or cancel your campsite.
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is being kind to myself and listening to my body. If I’m tired there is no need to push on and drive three more hours so I can be the first one to hit the trail that day. I do not need to hike 30 miles every weekend. Sometimes it’s okay to just stop and look out into the distance, drink a craft beer, and read a good book.
Being solo on the road in some ways is a curse and a blessing. You are calling all the shots and can do whatever you want when you want. On the flip side, you need to be your own voice of reason and speak up to yourself if something isn’t the smartest decision.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My lifestyle and my career don’t necessarily add up. However, my career allows me to live the lifestyle I want.
At Carnegie Mellon University, I studied Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy. I was also a college golfer that landed me a job in a golf course post-grad until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, which was not Civil Engineering.
I ended up meeting a ranger who worked there who said my major sounded like what his son did. Three and a half years later I now work as a consultant in energy and utilities and his son is my director. I specialize in project management and supporting the execution of large-scale transformational projects for utilities.
However, my side jobs are my passion. I’m a photographer and have been recently been featured in the My Parks Moment Photo Show in conjunction with the opening of the Presidio Tunnel Tops in San Francisco. I enjoy showcasing human interaction with nature and our National Parks.
Additionally, I help to coach women to solo travel and assist in National Park trip planning for all. I have an extensive wealth of knowledge of the US National Parks as well as the Banff and Jasper regions of Canada. I enjoy sharing my experience as a solo woman on the road to encourage more women to get out there through my website and social media.
When I first hit the road I had no one to ask questions, bounce ideas off of, or look to for guidance. I now work to be that for solo women and all people looking to hit the road.
What was your favorite childhood memory?
I grew up a daughter of a photographer and an arborist. I never fully realized how much that shaped me until these last few years on the road.
I fondly remember as a child building tree forts in my backyard with my dad and sitting in silence to watch and listen to the animals. He’d quiz me on the names of trees, plants, and animals and I still send him photos of unique things I find on the trail today.
Since I can remember I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn to take photos with my mom. She and I take road trips extremely seriously. Starting at a young age I was the navigator, always reading paper maps and figuring out where we were going next.
My friends still laugh at me for my love of a paper maps, but there’s something that they show you that the internet cannot. Stare at them long enough and you’ll find new trails, back entrances to parks, and more.