Top 10 travel tips for RVing alone
Safety and mechanical problems are the primary concerns of women traveling alone. This is especially true for women traveling alone in a Recreation Vehicle.
“There is a risk to everything,” said Jaimie Hall Bruzenak of RVLifestyleExperts.com, “but if you take precautions, go by your gut and use common sense, you can avoid most bad situations.”
Bruzenak co-authored with Alice Zyetz two books about women RVing: “The Woman’s Guide to Solo RVing” and “RV Traveling Tales: Women’s Journeys on the Open Road.”
In “RV Traveling Tales,” the authors incorporated advice from solo women RVers, including travel writer Joei Carlton Hossack (joeicarlton.com) of British Columbia.
Hossack lived full-time for nine years in a 10.5-foot Elkhorn truck camper by Fleetwood. “When I first became a full-timer,” said the author, “I pulled a 22.5-foot fifth-wheel trailer for one year and one week before I got hit on the highway. It totaled my trailer but my truck was okay. That’s when I switched to the truck camper. I wanted to be all one piece while on the road. It has been a great choice.”
According to RVing Women (rvingwomen.org) motor homes are the most common RV of choice for their 2,500 members; followed in order by vans, fifth wheels, travel trailers, tent trailers and truck campers.
“Safety is always a top concern for any solo, whether male or female,” said full-time RVer Nancy Bridges of Georgia.
Bridges, in her 60s, selected a 2006 40-foot Alfa See Ya Gold class A motor home because as a solo woman she wanted the security of not needing to go outside her vehicle in order to access her living area.
Retired from James Madison University in Virginia, Carole Paulett acquired her 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon about eight years ago as a result of an online auction to fund scholarships. “This was my independence to travel with my pound puppy, Missy, and to visit family and friends out of state,” she said. Each autumn Paulett volunteers as a campground host for the U.S. Forest Service in the Shenandoah Valley.
Linda Taub of Michigan bought a 2002 26-foot Born Free class C motor home after 41 years nursing because she wanted an active retirement.
“My parents did full-time RVing for 28 years and I saw the joy it brought them and knew I, too, would love that lifestyle.”
10 Solo Travel Tips
1. Trust your instincts. If an area looks or feels unsafe for any reason, then do not stop or park overnight. “As a woman traveling solo,” said Hossack, “I’m off the road by 3 p.m. I make sure I feel safe and comfortable even if I’m in a Walmart or casino parking lot. I never drive in the dark.”
2. Keep your fuel tank at least half full. “A roadside assistance service is smart to have so you can get help if you have a mechanical problem or a flat tire,” said Bruzenak.
3. Don’t advertise that you are a woman alone. Keep curtains drawn at night. Some women place a pair of well-used men’s boots outside the front door. Paulett has a “Beware of Dog” sign that “is a deterrent to strangers walking up to the van.”
4. Keep doors locked. “When you are ready to leave you can put ‘er in gear and drive away,” said full-time RVer Bridges. Retired nurse Taub always carries a key around her neck whenever she leaves her motor home, “even if just visiting with folks next door.”
5. Always have a fully charged cellphone handy. Park where you have cell service so that in an emergency you can call 911 or a friend.
6. Carry ID. When you leave your RV, make sure you have identification and a card with your rig’s location. Should you have an accident, the card could tell police where your RV is located.
7. Share travel plans with a relative or friend. Check in with them on an agreed-upon schedule.
8. Anticipate problems. Think about how you will get out of a location before you drive in. Think of how you could handle situations like someone following you or deliberately causing an accident, said Bruzenak.
9. Travel with others. When you are getting started, travel with a group (such as RVing Women) a few times to build confidence.
10. Get out there on your own. Said 70-something Paulett, “Don’t be afraid to hit the open road. Just use good common sense and safety precautions that you’d practice at home. A safe environment, doors locked, near facilities, and check in with the campground host. It’s a wonderful world out there, get on the road and enjoy.”
Author Bruzenak added: “Once you have some experience and can relax a little, you can have fun exploring new places, meeting new people and doing new things.” Bruzenak also recommends being active on an RV forum or two online.