The number of women RVers adventuring out alone or in pairs is rapidly growing. And this increase in the number of women RVers opens up both new opportunities and challenges across the RVing spectrum.
Opportunities exist for women to connect with one another through women’s RVing forums, to join women’s caravans, to become a unique and flexible workforce, and for the RVing industry to begin producing products that address women RVers’ specific needs.
Filling these needs is worth investigating for jobsearching RVers looking for jobs in fields that serve our mobile lifestyle or who might want to become an entrepreneur. Check out how Deanna Wohlgemuth went from admiring an Airstream to making money from the Tin Cantina.
Women RVers’ Challenges
The RVers checklist of tasks–normally done by males and females–must be done by one or two women. Because some of this work takes more physical strength than most women have we tend to come up with inventive ways to get those things done.
Some of the heavier work includes hitching trailers to tow vehicles, changing tires and making repairs or improvements to the RV itself.
Men, especially truckers, like to help people who are having problems on the road. But women need to be cautious because other challenges that women face are vulnerability and safety. Women traveling alone, or even with other women, are seen as more vulnerable by predators than either men or a woman with a man. And it’s not always possible to distinguish the good Samaritan from the predator.
Women RVers’ Creative Solutions
Donna “Froggi” McNicol, a former lone-woman RVer, advises women RVers to “Always allow more time to set up and tear down, remember ... you are doing the job of a couple. You have to do all the inside and outside chores by yourself! I always wondered why I was so tired on moving days ... LOL!”
To that I would add make sure you know how to do all of these tasks yourself, and have a plan in place in case you can’t do them. Practice doing every item on your checklist, including changing an RV tire before you set out on your first trip. Even something as small as a cut or sprained finger could prevent doing some tasks. Always know where to get help before you need help. If you have to change a tire on the road, stop at a service center soon afterward to make sure your lug nuts are tight enough and check your air pressure.
Jan and Julie, fulltimers, offer solutions for financing their life on the road. “We are work-campers. In winter we go south where we want to visit and get a job, and summers we work at Adventureland amusement park in Des Moines, Iowa where they have a work-camper program. There is a publication you can subscribe to, Workamper [News], that has job listings and/or you can post resumes. Some jobs are for pay and some are volunteer for RV site with hookups. The other way we find out about jobs is from other work-campers.”
Working at a theme park is another work camping option. Not all work camper jobs are in RV parks. Many are with the U.S. Forestry service, state park services, private corporations, summer camps and so many more places.
Women’s RV forums are a wonderful source of information and tips. Jan and Julie recommend them as valuable resources for women. “We are members of RVing Women full-timers group and have learned a lot about safety and maintenance by going to conventions and get-togethers. Before we started fulltiming we attended a three day workshop by Life On Wheels.”
While Life On Wheels no longer exists others have started to fill this void. The RV Safety & Education Foundation holds Lifestyle Education & Safety Conferences.
Staying in Touch
Women’s forums help women network, share ideas, and generally look out for one another. RV seminars often address women’s RVing issues giving women a chance to learn new solutions from other women. Here are a few more great resources:
RVing Safety Tips
Anyone who thinks women RVers are helpless or vulnerable is mistaken. Rather, they're the 21st century pioneers with a tough spirit and the wit to show it in unexpected ways. If we have to, we can make you say, “Ouch!" or "What was I thinking?”
Good defense tools are pepper spray, a cell phone, a video camera and mobile Internet access. If you break down call your towing service first to make sure help is on the way. Then call law enforcement and ask them to cruise your location until you're on your way.
If you must stop on the highway or any isolated place, take time to call or email family or friends stating where you are and what’s going on. Keep your pepper spray out and ready to use (know which way the wind is blowing so you don’t spray yourself. That’s counterproductive.)
Turn your video camera on if anyone approaches you. Capture their vehicle, license plate and personal image clearly and without them noticing if possible.
Donna tells how she recasts her image. “When I went on the road I kept an old pair of my late husband's boots outside the door. Others bought large dog bowls and left that and a leash outside. It's all about appearance. Someone comes up and makes you nervous tell them your husband will be back shortly. But a lot of it is common sense...not comfortable somewhere, move! Pay attention to those hairs on the back of your neck...don't park in dim, dark or deserted areas!”
If you are accepting help from a stranger don’t let yourself get trapped. If someone needs to come into your RV, use the same precautions you would when repairmen come into your stick home.
- Leave the door open
- Stay where you can get to the exit easily
- Stay alert
- Hold onto a large flashlight or other heavy object until the stranger leaves
- Keep your cell phone and pepper spray handy
- Call someone to say you’re having something fixed. Mention the name of the person helping you and tell them you’ll call them right back to let them know if you need anything else. This way, whoever is in your RV knows that someone else knows who he is and will be concerned if you don’t call back soon. This won’t matter to anyone with good intentions, but should discourage someone with bad ones.