Dispelling the Three Fears of Solo RVing

3 Fears of Solo RVing

Solo RVing comes with unique challenges that can keep singles, and those with a spouse who isn’t fond of traveling, from hitting the road. Over the years, I’ve talked to many would-be solo RVers and have identified three major points of resistance. One concern is how safe it is to travel alone. Another concern is being overwhelmed at the thought of having to handle all of the tasks of RVing without a partner to help. And the third concern is worrying that traveling solo will be a lonely experience.

Safety

In five years of full-time RVing alone, I’ve yet to be in a situation where my personal safety was at risk. In my experience, the worry is blown out of proportion compared to the reality. Break-ins, thefts and cases of violence get media coverage because they’re better for ratings, while one never hears about the thousands of people who are on the road every day without a problem. Realizing that these isolated incidents are not the norm can do a lot to alleviate the fear of solo RVing.
That being said, there is a slim but real chance of encountering a dangerous situation while traveling, and being alone can increase the risk. The best practice is to use common sense to avoid getting into such a situation in the first place.

Here are some easy tips for staying safe that require no special equipment or planning:

  • Lock your doors at night and stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Inform your RV park neighbors that you’re traveling alone so they’ll watch out for you.
  • Keep family and friends up-to-date on your travel route.
  • Be wary about staying places where you’re the only RV in the vicinity.
  • If you’re staying overnight in a parking lot, rest stop or truck stop, park under a light and within view of a security camera.
  • Camp in areas with a good phone signal, especially if you’re going to be somewhere without nearby help.
  • If something feels “off” when you arrive for the night, move on.
  • When you leave your RV and you’re not sure what the neighborhood is like, close the blinds and secure anything valuable left outside.

“There is a slim but real chance of encountering a dangerous situation while traveling, and being alone can increase the risk.”

Women who travel alone sometimes opt to use decoys as a way to deter would-be assailants. A simple one is putting out two chairs when stopped, and I’ve done this on occasion when boondocking in remote areas. But I’ve known women who go to more elaborate measures, such as putting hunting decals on a tow vehicle or leaving a pair of large size men’s boots outside the RV door at night. I have even heard of a lady who had an inflatable doll that sat in the passenger seat of her tow vehicle for nighttime driving.

I’ve never felt the need to use any of the more elaborate decoy schemes, but sometimes it’s not so much about how safe you are, but rather how safe you feel. If being extra cautious gives you the sense of security needed to go RVing alone, don’t let anyone tell you you’re being silly for doing so.

RVing Solo

Beyond avoidance, it’s worth giving some thought to what you would do in the off-chance you or your RV is targeted. The noise of a panic button, air horn, security alarm or barking dog can deter criminal activity and is a relatively easy method to employ. Having protective equipment like mace or a firearm is another option, but in either case you’ll want to make sure the item is stored somewhere safe, yet easily accessible. If you’re carrying a firearm, you’ll want to be completely comfortable with using it and make sure you have the right permits. It’s also important to keep track of the differing gun laws in the states you’re visiting.

Overwhelm

As a solo RVer, it can be overwhelming to be in charge of every aspect of travel, from maintenance, to meal planning, to trip routing. But there are ways to make solo RVing more manageable. And, doing it all by yourself will build confidence and self-esteem.

Don’t worry about trying to master it all before you start. Learn the basics about how your RV works so that you don’t feel completely lost on your first trip, but don’t try to learn it all. The Internet puts the intricacies and nuances of every aspect of RVing at your fingertips at any time, which means you don’t need to be a master from the start. Focus on the big things first, and the little things will fall into place along the way.

Becky Shade Solo RVer

Develop a support network. RVing can be complicated, but just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to face all the challenges without help. Make friends with more knowledgeable RVers (online or in person) and listen to their advice. Join a forum or group dedicated to your particular type of RV for help with the inevitable problems that will crop up, and check out the education section of the Escapees website as a way to learn more about lifestyle and connect with other RVers.

It’s okay to be scared. I haven’t spoken to a solo RVer yet who didn’t experience some degree of fear or misgivings about deciding to try RVing, particularly those that decide to go full-time. It’s a perfectly natural reaction to the upheaval that comes with a big purchase and going outside our comfort zone. 

Here are some ways to make the fear more manageable:

Break big tasks down into smaller ones.

If “learn how to drive the RV” is too hard to approach, break it down into “learn how to hitch up the RV,” “learn what the turn radius is like” and “learn how to back up the RV.” 

  • Practice the things that make you most nervous. If you worry about dumping the waste tanks, spend a day in an RV park going through the motions of dumping several times until it feels more comfortable. Fear is often a reaction to the unknown and, once you understand how your RV works, the fear lessens significantly.
  • Enjoy the process. Instead of dwelling on what needs to get done and what you don’t know, think of everything you’ve already accomplished. Celebrate the small victories.
  • The reality of RVing is knowing your plan will never be perfect and realizing that it doesn’t have to be.

Loneliness

While it may seem like being a solo RVer automatically equates to a lonely camping experience, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. RVing can be as social as you want it to be; it’s all a matter of how you approach it.

If it’s a sense of community you crave, you’re already off to a great start by being an Escapees/Xscapers member. Look for Xscapers Convergences happening near you, or join an Escapees Birds of a Feather (BoF) group that has the same interests you do. There’s even one specifically for solo RVers. You can also follow Escapees on social media or make your presence known on the discussion forums to keep friendships going between visits.

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If you RV seasonally or full-time, taking on a work-camping job or volunteer position is a great way to make friends and stay socially active while RVing. In work-camping, you’ll have other RVing coworkers to bond with, and, as a bonus, you could be earning money at the same time. In the case of volunteering, you’ll be helping a cause you believe in and giving back to the community.

Also, having a home on wheels means you’re free to travel and visit family and friends all over the country. There’s no rule stating that all of your trips need to be to places you’ve never seen before. Take time to strengthen ties with people you already know and love.

Maybe you like your privacy when you come home to the RV at night, but enjoy having company for exploration and fun during the day. Being an RVer doesn’t preclude you from joining clubs or activities that are geared towards day-trippers. When I’m camping near a town or city for a period of a few weeks or longer, I’ll find local groups that enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities so I don’t have to do them alone.

And, yes, for those who are curious, dating is possible on the road. I’ve met couples in my travels who started out as solo full-timers, and couples where one was a solo and the other was living stationary. Just be upfront about your situation and what your goals are for a relationship.

Solo RVing is not as challenging as it might first appear, and there are answers out there to the problems of safety, of being overwhelmed and of the loneliness that most people identify as the top reasons why they’re hesitant to hit the road alone. Solo RVing can be as rewarding as traveling with a partner, and it is a great way to gain confidence, make new friends and grow as a person. 

Becky Shade

Author

Becky Shade

Becky has been full-time RVing solo since September 2012 and has worked at three different national parks, earning the majority of her income work-camping. She has published a book on solo RVing for those who are pre-retirement and on a budget. You can find her online at her blog Interstellarorchard.com

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