Sunday, September 19, 2010

Women Full-Time RV'ers

This is a sort of generic appellation since I'll be talking mostly about my experiences traveling solo. But I have met quite a number of other women who have opted for a life as a full time RV'er and we have exchanged many "tricks" of the road. All in all, I was on the road for a little over 6 years.

First and foremost, make sure all that's mechanical, tires, oil, etc. (I won't go through the list, it should be evident...) is checked out BEFORE you leave. This does not guarantee an accident free trip but certainly increases the chances of making it to the destination without INCIDENTS. Besides who wants the stress of wondering whether you may be stuck where you don't want to be and faced with a substantial repair bill?

Secure all that's in cupboards or tied to the rig. I recall once that, after a visit and a barbecue with my daughter and her partner, she offered to dry the dishes. I forgot, however, to warn her about placing the anti-skid squares between the plates and bowls. Your guess is right on. Everything slid off the shelves at the first sharp turn of the road. Even though it was Corelle, everything DID break. A real mess.

Make sure that your TV antenna is down or else everyone and his cousin on the road will honk at you (a tad nerve wracking, that) and point to the antenna. When I started out, I'd made a list of everything to check out before leaving. It helped as all that I had to remember was a bit overwhelming and I was afraid of forgetting something.

Tell family or close ones the date when you're leaving and where you're heading or how long you intend to keep on the road. Otherwise, they will worry about you unnecessarily and will contact you on your cell, which you DO NOT want to answer while driving. Once at my destination, I usually got in touch with a son, daughter, or sibling to let them know I was ok.

Safety must always be first. While traveling, I have made sure to stop for an overnight before darkness. There are a number of outlets that will let you stay overnight, have a security guard, and stay well lit for the night. For me, it's almost always been Walmart. I bought their atlas that lists all the W-M stores and specifically the Supercenters-a one stop shop. Also, preparation is the key to travel that will be as uneventful as possible, except for vistas and places to visit on the way.

I once witnessed a drug exchange at a rest area surrounded by tall trees and not visible from the road. (Yeah... I was a newbie). Five tough-looking guys kept looking toward my VW van when at first, there had been only two ordinary looking guys. Luckily I had made sure all the doors were locked before lying down for a rest. I was concerned with showing by my leaving that I was a woman alone so felt that I had to make myself "undetectable". My dog had already had her pit stop so I just stayed put quietly, without even moving, until they all went their merry way. A very disquieting experience. Since then, I've used rest areas ONLY during the day.

I always made sure my holding tanks were empty except for the fresh water one, which had enough water to sustain me through the travel only. Also, I stopped as often as necessary to keep the gas tank at mid-level. This alleviates the load and saves on gas, too. (Except perhaps for Nevada... and others with 80 miles or more between service station.)

I have listened to plenty of full timers and have always taken their advice to heart. Also, I bought plenty of books relevant to my journey and read them before leaving. That way, I felt prepared. I did not have a GPS. Without a co-pilot, I wanted to have an easily read itinerary for the next day. I made sure it was written large and dark enough so I could check it without getting my reading glasses on. I even marked the rest areas on it.

There are so many reference books, articles, websites, blogs, etc. that offer advice on traveling as a solo woman. I bought and downloaded as many as I could and read them all before leaving. The advice was at times a little too technical for my thorough comprehension, but I kept it anyway. 

Oh... yes, an afterthought. You will encounter PLENTY of people who will warn you of all sorts of potential calamities. Yet the doomsayers have not really gone through the experience themselves. Trust those who have. Even though people may talk out of concern for you, rarely is it from a place of knowledge based on personal experience. Each trip is just as individual as you are.

Using your head is the most important. Preparation is the key. Better to act than to react. As to keeping a blog, I never published my next destination. Although I always kept a journal, my report was written AFTER the fact. I never traveled with a firearm. I heard it said that it's not the finger that controls the gun, it's the head (I wasn't sure that I could trust my cool factor in a panic situation). Also, I'd once met a retired policeman (from San Francisco, if you must know) who warned me that unless I had considerable experience in the use of a gun, I'd probably end up with the gun being used AGAINST me. I took his advice to heart. He knew.

Oh, one more thing. I never opened the door--always kept locked--to a knock unless I could see if it was someone that I knew. And whom did I know on the road? Not a soul. If talk was necessary (and it did happen once that a kind mechanic warned me about a tire almost ready to burst--I had checked the tread but not the walls...); it took place through the window opened to a slit. I took care of it right then.

Finally, just remember that the world is NOT filled with axe murderers.

And DO enjoy both the preparing for the road and hitting it finally!


Barb said...

Thanks for a great post! As a woman planning to RV fulltime solo, I read everything I can get pertaining to the subject, especially the safety information. I wish there were more solo RVing women with blogs, and I enjoy reading your blog! :)

Stargazer said...

Actually I was thinking about you when I decided to write the post. Other women have expressed interest in RVing solo and I thought that my experiences could provide relevant information to them as well. Of note is that I was plied with dire warnings before leaving to full time RV and particularly going to Mexico. None of the warnings have ever materialized. Oh, well... at least I was warned!

Anonymous said...

I too have decided to retire full time on the road. In one of my many jobs I was a long haul truck driver and always wanted to go back to a huge list of places. Now I have that chance.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you sister rv'r, and I wish you many more years of fun boondocking:)!! Thanks for sharing!

volpes said...

Am cleaning and painting my home, ruthlessly getting rid of things, studying class B RV's and looking forward to selling the house, buying a little rig and hitting the road. Thank you for this blog. The dream keeps me grinning. I want to drink coffee in as many 12 step meetings as I can find and practice yoga at every rest stop.

Anonymous said...

I'm another wannabe and enjoyed your post tremendously....lot of good information. Helen

Neka Rae said...

We are a family of 7 one of the kids being an 8 month old Italian mastiff. We full time live in our '82 motorhome ans are hitting the roads in a week! How did your English Mastiff do traveling?

Unknown said...

Thank you for these wonderful tips. It made me see RV camping in a new light. I always thought that it's a hobby for the men. Now I'm convinced to give RVing a try. Anyway, do you know a good supply store where I can buy Rv Vent covers?

Anonymous said...

I too will be following your blog for guidance and that feeling of not being "really alone"..I too am traveling with only my Min Pin for the first time and have found a few volunteer jobs for free camping in the coming year. My dream has been to walk on the white sand beaches when I wake up with my cup of coffee and "getting away" from the constant stress (family $$ neediness) & loneliness of my daily life here. However, I am so afraid of encountering alligators, venomous snakes and huge spiders!! Friends that camp reassure me that I will RARELY ever see anything. My first "post" is in very rural Alabama, and thank God it is an Army Corp of Engineers tiny campground..The Ranger seems understanding of my insecurities. My main worries are a) my father's dementia will end up pulling me 900 miles back and forth to my hometown, and B) that I may not have enough money to "stock up" on necessities before I am stuck at a campground and not able to just leave when I want to buy more...but I will keep on working on that, planning and preparing 'till it's time to go, just as you did. I am printing out pages (first aid needs, departure checklists, etc)and keeping them in a customized notebook for myself. I have dreamed of this for 20 years and darn it, I am going to do it even if it's for a year! Bad part is that I have to sell my home to afford this lifestyle in a market where I'll be having to accept much less than it's worth which means NO MONEY to take with me in exchange for it. THANK YOU so much for being a kind and helpful part of my new "straight lady campers with a dog" club. (PLEASE, no offense intended to those who aren't) XOXO Hope to meet you on the road sometime but I am staying east of the Mississippi River for the most part...Take care! Feel free to contact me if you are similar to me and let's become friends! (ttownrobin)

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