Home, sweet car. | Part 1: Why I turned my SUV into a camper. by Shana Berenzweig

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, then you know I got back yesterday evening from a big ol’ roadtrip across the southwest and up the west coast with my dog, Frankie. Mostly a vacation, I did work a little while I was gone, and so while I’m doing laundry and downloading all my client sessions to my desktop computer, I decided to throw together some initial thoughts about the camping part of my trip.

First, let’s backtrack a moment.

I love tent camping, but it can also be a lot of work to set-up/break-down camp, particularly by yourself, and let’s face it, it’s not always that fun or comfy, especially when the weather turns. And tent camping by yourself can be scary and leave you feeling vulnerable. So like many people, I’ve long dreamed of having of having a home on wheels for roadtrips and camping.

The reality of my bank account, though, says that’s not happening any time soon without an unexpected financial windfall. This meant I had to get creative and so inspired by the ever-growing ranks of DIY car campers, I decided to build a sleeping platform in the back of my SUV.

I’m working on another post about the actual building of the sleeping platform and the nitty-gritty reality of it all, but until then, this one is more focused on the why I chose to do this and how I feel about it now that I’ve spent 5 nights camping in it.

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Like I said above, I really do love tent camping. But doing it alone for multiple nights far from home is another thing. And even though I have tent camped alone a few times, the circumstances were all very different and sleeping in my car felt like the absolute right way to go for me on this trip.

I hoped I would feel much safer as a women traveling and camping alone.

I hoped it would save me time since I wouldn’t have to set up and break down a tent, which would then allow me more time for exploring and relaxing at camp.

I hoped it would be much more comfortable and that I would sleep so much better, which is so important when you’re traveling alone and driving long distances.

I hoped the sacrifices I would make in turning my SUV into camper would be so worth it.

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

Santa Cruz Mountains, CA | August 2019

And I was right. All of the above (and more) was true.

I never ever for one moment felt unsafe in the car at night. Same for traveling the road in general. (Working on a blog post about safely traveling solo as a woman, so keep a look out for that.)

Right again about it being a big time saver. It took a day or two to work out what should go where and there was a little bit of a nighttime set-up for the car, but it was nothing compared to a tent and could easily be done in the dark with just a headlamp, which can’t always be said for a tent. This also meant I could get to camp a little later in the day than I normally would since I wouldn’t have to factor in the time and daylight needed for setting up camp, which in turn led to more exploration and relaxation time.

And right again about being super comfy and sleeping well. A couple adjustments after the first night and I was good to go.

There were some sacrifices I had to make, like bringing a smaller cooler since I didn’t have the same space available in the car like on my other long-distance road and camping trips, but they were definitely worth it to have the ability to sleep in the car.

There are some things I will do differently for the next trip. But the important thing is that there will definitely be another trip. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

And that’s the best thing about this little conversion. I already feel way more inspired to go away for a quick camping trip than I ever have before with solo tent camping.

It’s easier and I feel much safer. And those were the two biggest things stopping me before.

Now that I’ve got those problems solved, I can get to making some minor changes, as well as to start saving some money so I can upgrade a few other things, like getting a rooftop cargo carrier to free up room inside and reduce the amount of gear I have to move around.

I’m already planning my next adventure and can’t wait to hit the road again. Until then, stay tuned for more posts in this series about turning my car into a camper.

Hiding out by Shana Berenzweig

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

Brene Brown

Self-portrait with my girl | Austin, TX | Jan 2018

Self-portrait with my girl | Austin, TX | Jan 2018

Last April, I wrote about how I was gonna show up and be seen.

Inspired by the quote above, I promised myself I'd do better by setting some intentions for 2017. 

More blogging. 

More self-portraits. 

More vulnerability.

I thought about writing more blog posts and taking more self-portraits. 

I thought about showing up and being seen.

But instead.

I hid out.

Self-portrait in my new home | Austin, TX | Oct 2017

Self-portrait in my new home | Austin, TX | Oct 2017

Well, here we are.  Another new year.

Another attempt at intentions.

At doing better.

And more blogging and self-portraits and showing up and being seen.

So, here I am.  Again.

I can only go up from here.





P.S. At the time, I hated it, but this self-portrait has really grown on me.  I almost love it now.  Maybe in a year, I'll feel the same way about the one here.

P.P.S. Dear sweet and loyal clients.  I really am planning and hoping to find time to do more client blog posts.  Y'all are all so lovely and deserve a moment to shine.

Texas Stong by Shana Berenzweig


Y'all, my heart breaks for all of my fellow Texans who are suffering from Hurricane Harvey. If like me, y'all have been feeling helpless, check out some of the many ways we can get involved from afar.  While Houston has received much of the attention, there are other small towns along the coast, like Rockport and Port Aransas, that took a direct hit and are almost completely destroyed. So many Texans will need help in the months to come, please don't forgot about them after the media leaves.  If you can, please consider donating to one (or more!) of the many charities below doing good work.  Know of a worthy charity?  Please leave a link in the comments.

Greater Houston Community Foundation

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking those hoping to help Houston to give to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.


Austin Pets Alive is helping evacuate and house animals. They're looking for donations and foster volunteers, as are the SPCA of TexasHouston Humane Society, and the Animal Defense League of Texas.

Texas Diaper Bank

People in crisis are often in dire need of supplies for their kids. The Texas Diaper Bank provides diapers provides items to meet the basic needs of children and the elderly. Donate here.

Food Bank Donations

Specific Aid for Communities of Color in Houston

Colorlines has a wonderful list of Texas-based charities and organizations working to keep immigrant, Black, Latinx, and other populations safe after Hurricane Harvey. 

Austin Disaster Relief Network

The Austin Disaster Relief Network is collecting items for survivors at the Hope Family Thrift Store at 1122 E 51st St. The group is requesting the following items:

  • New undergarments (all sizes, children and adult)
  • New socks (all sizes, children and adult)
  • Toiletries (i.e.: shampoo, face wash, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • New bed pillows
  • New blankets
  • Cleanup supplies
  • Black trash bags
  • Mops and buckets
  • Utility knives
  • Leather work gloves
  • Inflatable mattresses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Box fans
  • Clothing is not needed; ADRN will distribute the abundance of previously donated clothing to survivors.

Families who need support from ADRN should call 512-806-0800. For info on donations or volunteering for ADRN, go here.

Monetary Donations

Several local and national organizations are collecting donations for general disaster relief efforts, including the United Way, Americares, Save the Children, Global Giving, Direct Relief, and Heart to Heart.

The Texas Tribune has a great list of resources for those in need and ways to help and give here

Here in Texas, and I imagine in city and states across the country, there are many local businesses are holding benefits and donation drives.  Too many to list here, but I linked to some aggregate city lists below, and social media and a little googling should lead you to many others.  Please feel free to list any benefits in the comments.


DFW area

San Antonio



Showing up by Shana Berenzweig




"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

Brene Brown

Self-portrait with my squad | Austin, TX | April 2017

Self-portrait with my squad | Austin, TX | April 2017

I wrote about this on Instagram yesterday, but since I'm trying this whole blogging thing now, figured I should share here, too.  Right?

So, I'm not really big on resolutions, but at the start of the year, I was inspired by the quote above to set some intentions for 2017.  Not really big on self-portraits either, but since growing as a photographer was also on the intentions wish list, here I am, showing up and letting myself be seen.

Confessions: I only took this photo because of a workshop I've been taking and should be posting it simply because I like it, not because of the teacher's positive feedback (and confidence it gave me). I also took an embarrassing amount of shots to get this halfway decent one that I only kinda sorta like. That nice gallery wall is the only wall decorated in that room.

While only a baby step, gonna keep trying this whole showing up and letting myself be seen in all its good, bad, and ugliness. 👊🏻



Promises I don't intend to keep by Shana Berenzweig

Blogging.  A journal.  Whatever y'all want to call it, I'm givin' it a-go. 


I tried once upon a time, but it quickly fizzled out. 

And that may happen again.


This time around, though, I'm only giving myself one rule.

And that'll be that there will be no rules. 

Daily or weekly posts?

No, thanks.

Gonna post when I feel like it.  No more, no less.

I might write some words along with posting pictures. 

Or I might not.

I'll definitely be sharing more of my client work.

And I'll definitely be sharing other things, too. 

But that's it. That's all I really know for sure.

'Cause simply said, not gonna make any promises that I don't intend to keep.

Other than being myself.

Oh, and sharing more photos of my dog than y'all probably care to see.

Sweet Frankie | Big Sur, CA | July 2016

If y'all are new to me and my work, learn a little more about me here.

I don't expect there to be lots of readers.  But to those who do follow along, thanks, I'm very grateful for y'alls support. 

Now go have a happy weekend, friends!  See y'all when I see y'all.