GO FOR IT!
Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’–Marie Curie
I have done tons of road trips all over the US, but never traveled in an RV. So, when I saw Mabel as I affectionately call my 2002 Roadtrek, I knew I was ready to take the trip of my dreams–travel throughout all points north of the 48 states! Mabel went from being a grandfather’s vehicle transporting kids on fishing trips–verified by a mere 46,000 miles on her after 14 years–to a long haul RV. Larger tires, elevated suspension, solar panels, sound system, navigation system and UBS ports and a custom-made futon which converted the back “lounge area” to a full time bed completed her modifications. We left New Mexico on May 15, 2017 and after six months, the odometer rolled over to 77,000 miles.
Common questions I have been asked: “Are you traveling by YOURSELF?” “Aren’t you afraid something’s going to go wrong?” “What happens if you have a flat tire?” “Do you feel safe?” “Don’t you want to share your experiences with another person?”
There are more solo women travelers on the road now: retired, divorced, widowed, young and old. I ask them if they hear these questions and the response is a resounding YES! Sure there are risks, sure there could be problems, but there are risks in everything we do. If the risk isn’t taken, a particular adventure, trail, road, person, story, vision, scene, flower etc. would never be experienced.
If I hadn’t ventured out when opportunities arose in my life, I would have missed so many things that brought a smile or a “wow” to my senses.
Something probably will happen, a flat tire, broken windshield, dead battery, but this is life. RV life brings its own challenges. Refrigerator freezes everything. Cupboard doors aren’t secure and everything comes rolling out. Holding tanks, grey, black and potable water-how does all this work!@#. Generator sputtering. Just so much to understand when traveling in a RV.
These last six (6) months have been a learning experience. It has been frustrating at times but I learn what works and continue to love the road! Sharing information and tips on RV life with other campers and campground hosts has helped me so much. My traveling motto has always been: TRAVEL SMART — if something doesn’t feel right, do not do it. The following are some tips, which have worked for me, to all you solo travelers out there.
• I always try too find a place to park by 5:00 or 6:00pm. I don’t want to be stuck on the road at night if something should happen, i.e.: flat tire. When I first started out, I wasn’t as conscious of this and drove until 10:00pm. I ended up parking in front of a small town police station because I was so tired and unsure where I would find a spot!
•Change the oil/oil filter and rotate the tires every 5,000 miles—maintenance is key. Belts, fluids and battery are checked at that time. A full-size spare tire is on board and I ask service people to hand tighten lugs when installing a tire. I bought a star wrench and a cordless battery-powered impact torque wrench to loosen lugs just in case.
•A portable battery charger is handy if the battery goes dead. This device is what AAA has with them when there is a service call. I also have charger cables in case someone else’s vehicle needs a charge.
A few safety tips:
•A friend gave me this trick. Fill a plastic squirt gun with ammonia and have it handy. This will deter anyone if sprayed in the face. Bear sprays works too! A whistle on the key chain will alert others. Lock the doors and double check before bedtime. I am sure there are other little tricks, but these are the ones I have.
•Place a pair of man’s used workbooks outside the door. Keep the porch light on.
•Know your neighbors – say “Hi” to whomever is next to you at a campground. Most people like to know who is next to them and breaks the ice if you do need some help. Check-in with the campground host.
•Location apps for smart phones. I use Life360 and check in with my son every day or so. It gives location, even in the far corners of Labrador and Northwest Territories! If he doesn’t hear from me within seven(7) days, he will call or begin to search. It makes me feel more secure also! Here is a link to an article on this app and others.
•ALLSTAYS is a great app for finding camping areas. Also, FreeCamping.com offers info on free sites with reviews. I have used them both with good success. Both have user comments and reviews on posted camping areas. There are several others out there.
• I read on one post: travel with a big dog. Well, I have Alice who is about as useless as a guard dog as a person can get. A 30 lb. Labradoodle who, if she could talk, would say to all “Come on in, have coffee…sure take whatever but first, do you have a treat?” I have met people who have German Shepherds etc. Dogs are great companions on the open road but they are limiting. As with all, one of traveling trade-offs!
•Keys are always in the same spot along with an extra pair of glasses in case something does happen. I back into spaces or face the exit so I can drive off with out any barriers.
•Leave wherever you are if you don’t feel safe. Trust your intuition. I have left places and had a better night’s sleep because of it!
•There are several groups to join and travel in tandem or meet up. There are hundreds of social networking sites or blogs that cater to RVers and even more specifically solo RVers. Do google searches for RV Blogs, RV Groups, RV membership, solo RVers, and everything else that may interest you. This may include cooking, recreation, photography, writing, rock climbing, star gazing, bird watching, living frugally, and anything else you may find interesting. Here are two out of a long list of them.
Any other suggestions or comments? Send a note..would be great to hear some other ideas.
Next post: Food. We need it, but how to keep it simple in a small space?
Take good care, Lisa & Alice