A Woman’s View — Introduction

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August 30, 2008

Alice Zyetz alias RV MamaWelcome to a new blog: RVing from a Woman’s Perspective. Many of the existing blog entries are designed for men and women, but over the years I’ve found that when women get together, there is a special language for communicating. This is no different within the RV lifestyle.

I envision this blog as a safe place to ask the “stupid” questions, talk about feelings about being on the road, and generally find a community of women for those days when you are traveling or parked by yourselves. This blog is designed for ALL women, whether traveling solo or with a partner or spouse.

I’m Alice Zyetz and I’ve been on the road for 15 years, traveling both with my husband and also by myself. With another RVer, I’ve written several books. Two of them are from the woman’s viewpoint: RV Traveling Tales: Women’s Journeys on the Open Road and The Woman’s Guide to Solo RVing. I’ve also presented a number of workshops at rallies. In February 2009, my writing partner, Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak, and I will offer “RVing from a Woman’s Some RV Traveling Tales AuthorsPerspective” in Gila Bend, Arizona.

Some of the topics I plan to blog about are below. I hope to hear from you regularly to find out what you want to talk about, where you want more information, or just to express your point of view.

  • WHAT DOES RV TRAVEL ENTAIL? Possibilities, No rules, Change
  • HOW DO YOU FIND MEANING/MEET NEEDS? Creativity, Giving back, Workamping, Friends and family
  • RELATIONSHIPS IN A CONFINED SPACE  What is the reality? What techniques help?
  • WHAT ARE SOME SAFETY AND HEALTH ISSUES TO CONSIDER? Common sense, ID, Boondocking, Money, Illness
  • HOW TO TRAVEL ON YOUR OWN? Knowledge, What to drive, Maintenance, Checklist
  • HOW HAS RVING CHANGED YOU?A birthday gathering.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Safe travels,

Alice Zyetz

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  3. kristi

    I’m enjoying this blog just for the women’s camaraderie ! This feels great ! We are here for each other. It’s a good feeling that we can fill in the gaps on this Adventure in Life. We’re not all the same, we don’t all have the “bells and whistles”, we’re not all perfect. I’m glad ! And I get scared too. My cooking in the new to us RV has me wondering if theres a way I can check for safety in my oven. It is impractacle the way I have to light it, with a match up, under , in back,down below…and how long will this take before 1 of two things happen.?….(you know the 2 things.) I’M NEW to the RV life and we’re on Full-Timing. I love that its so close to household living ! But with Hunny working, I need to do so much (learn it all). I’m not used to working with propane and I “think” I smell it all the time. I have a LP detector…but do i know if I’m using it right?? Thanks for any help girl ! Kristi

  4. Nancy Humes

    I am 52 and married and my husband is still working. I am looking into getting an RV and i am so confused. I would like to travel more, with my two golden retrievers. Many times i will be traveling alone, since my husband still works and he will be doing the army reserve in the medical field. I started looking at Class B’s, then the salesman steared us over to the fifth wheels. We are close to purchasing a 28ft fifth wheel, but i am really overwhelmed with the size, towing, fitting it on our property. Most of the responsiblity will be on my shoulders, which is Ok, since raising the family and taking care of the house as been my responsiblity, but for some reason i am losing confidence with a fifth wheel. So, then I think it is better to purchase a Class B. I really would love some advice. I know i am the one that has to make the decision, but need some guidance. thank you . Nancy Humes

  5. Rena Hite

    I am a 59 year old widow and two years ago I traveled with my 12 year old grandson down the ALCAN Hwy. (we live in Alaska) in my 24 ft. Class C Itasca Spirit coach. What a wonderful time we had. We traveled through Edmonton down through Montana, visited Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis, Deadwood, friends in northeastern SD, Nebraska, CO, Idaho, Seattle where I put him on an airplane after 6 weeks on the road and sent him home to his Dad. I then drove back up the highway with a friend and her adult son so they could experience the trip up the highway. Subsequently, they flew home after enjoying travelling around Alaska. I can’t tell you how wonderful the trip was. I never had any mechanical problems, everyone was wonderful at all stops along the way, we always felt safe and handling the hook-ups and onerous chores related to dumping were handled with no problems. At the end of the trip my grandson was an experienced RV’r and will forever remember his trip with his G-ma the summer of 2006.

  6. Judy

    I am 62 and started fulltiming in June of 2008. I have a 2005 36′ diesel pusher and tow a Honda CRV. Since June I have hit 23 states due to obligations; need to slow down and fish more. I am lookimg forward to reading this blog for tips on anything.

  7. I am looking into buying my first MH. Plan on getting a Class B, something big enough for me and my work. I would appreciate any suggestions. I know zip about this but am learning…Margret

  8. Georgina, congratulations on your efforts to go step-by-step slowly. Depending on how advanced your husband’s Alzheimer’s is, you may want to have someone else along with you so you can give your full attention when you’re driving. If you’re confident that it won’t be a problem, going for one night is a great idea to test it out. Keep it up.

    Martha, I wish you well also in taking this step. Don’t worry about your age. You’ll meet many others out there. As for all the details of handling the RV, there are many classes, dvds, books, checklists available. For starters, check out http://www.rvingwomen.org and Mark Polk’s technical materials at http://rveducation101.com/. Finally, just do what the men do: raise the hood, scratch your head, and you’ll be surrounded by people who want to help.

    Alice Zyetz

  9. My house is about to close and when I get the proceeds I want to buy a 5th wheel/tow vehicle. I am getting scared to death, as I will be 68 in November. How many years can I possibly manage this as a solo? Yes, I know it will depend on lots of things, particularly health. The thing that worries me the most is all the little maintenance jobs that the men seem to spend their time on, such as going through the RV before moving and tightening up screws & bolts, checking water heaters, seals on the roof, and so on. I won’t have time (or knowledge) to check all the little things that guys seem to love doing, and get ready to hitch, drive, etc.

    Some things such as tire pressure are critical. But is much of the other stuff just “make work” to have something to do and to stay out of their wives’ hair?


  10. Georgina

    Thank you for this site. I am renting a motorhome in October. Mainly I will bring it home and play with it and then we will camp out for one night at a CG. My husband has Alzheimers and I’m not sure if he can tolerate close quarters. I’ll let you know. I really want to rv eventually. Tour mostly. G.

  11. Alice Zyetz

    Jan, I wasn’t clear about where you were looking for a campsite. Consider boondocking at casinos. I stayed at Casino Arizona for free near Scottsdale. See http://www.casinoaz.com. I checked into Jane Kenny’s Casino Camping book. She mentions several casinos near Albuquerque. As long as you don’t have a gambling issue, casinos are great places to boondock.

    As for the choice between Good Sam and others, check the policies to see what they offer. I haven’t used Good Sam myself, but they are certainly reputable. Have any of our readers used them? I’ve used AAA towing service for years and they have been great. For a while, we were having problems with our fifth wheel and they were always there to help us out.

    Anne and Kay, I will check with my contact about what it takes to start a network.

  12. Kay

    Hi Anne and Alice! I agree. I think we do need to start a network. How does one go about doing that?


  13. jan mulinix

    I gosh I just thought of another question, Which association or club should I join for flats, rv trouble on the road, etc. Good Sams or is there something better out there. I need to join before I leave for my next long trip in October.


  14. jan mulinix

    I am going to Phoenix Arizona in October and needed to know of a campsite or safe boondocking area. Preferably Albuerquerque or something alittle west of there.


  15. Anne Crawshaw

    to Kay…..I have a 2003 Winnebago Minnie 324F. I don’t think they make that particular model any longer. It has a back corner kitchen with a small slideout that contains the couch and a closet. I like the extra 18″ that the slide gives me and I LOVE haveing the kitchen away from the dining and sitting area. My bike that I carry with me is a “Dual Purpose” Yamaha 225. I can go on or off-road (that’s my real passion) with it. It’s not the biggest or the fastest but It will get me there and it is easy to load onto the back of the motorhome. Jot me a line if I can answer any more questions.
    [email protected]

  16. Claude

    Hi all,<
    i’m a French Canadian( No i don’t bite
    I find this site very interesting.
    I am a fulltimer since june 2007, and traveling with my lovely girl friend all winter, either in Texas, or florida, or arizona, etc.
    ( we are respectively 63 and 50 years young.) LOL
    Rest of the time, i’m park at my home, In a small town, in tre province of Québer, in Canada, and we travel a little in Quebec,and Ontario.
    My girl friend can drive the motorhome( a 40 ft. Damon Escaper, diesel pusher, towing a Saturn, and she is very good at it.
    i showed her almost everything that has to be done to be responsible of the motorhome, if i ever get injured during an escapade.
    She is very good at it, and can do (almost) any chore around and in the motorhome.
    So, girls, i’m sure you all can do thje same.
    Just study the Machine, and practice.

    Everything should go great.

    I also take time to listen to you all, boys and girls, living in the states, and try to understand your way of living, which seems different than us Latin French Canadian.

    I find your way of living and your way of thinking most intresting,


    Claude The Frenchman.

  17. Kay

    Hi Anne!

    I, too, ride a motorcycle, but I just sold my Fatboy. After my SO’s death, I just wasn’t riding that much…. I hung onto the bike for two years (we rode matching Fatboys), but I’m not sure how I feel about that now…..

    I’m really leaning toward a 24′ Class C. What kind do you have? I was out site-seeing on the web and have made notations on the Itasca and the Winnebago Chalet….. Any info you can share?


  18. Anne Crawshaw

    I think we need to start a network. Hi Kay….I have a 24′ class C and the entire decision depends on exactly what do you want to do with your RV. With a travel trailer, you park it and you have your extra vehicle with you, but then sometimes you are not quite as maneuverable as with a small motorhome. I happen to be a motorcyclist also, so I carry a small bike on the back of my rig for my extra car and then I don’t need to tow. I love to get into small, out of the way places, and that set up is great for me, but there is no one outfit that is right or wrong. It just entirely depends on you. I studied everything available for almost a year after my husband passed away and have never been sorry. I live in California and have made 2 long trips back east and several around the western states. I am usually gone for at least 1 month and most likely 2-3 months, take my 2 medium sized dogs with me (I would never consider leaving home without them), and quite honestly, this last 5 years has been almost the best I have ever experienced. [email protected]

  19. I have been on the road alone for the last 5 years and while the majority of people out there are couples, there are lots of single women. There is a whole group of them that belong to Winnebago Itasca Travelers club and they get together at the Winnebago Rally besides staying in touch with each other throughout the year. I would just bet that Good Sam has a group also. To the ladies who are recently widowed……hang in there. RVing is a wonderful way to see this country, enjoy friends, meet new people in a comfortable and save environment, and as much of a cliche as it may sound……It does get better.

  20. Kay

    Hello Everyone!!! I am single and looking for my first RV. I was RV’ing on occasion with my significant other when he was diagnosed with cancer and died suddenly within 5 weeks from diagnosis. He had a 36′ rv that I would have been afraid to try to drive without CDL training. I have driven a van towing a 7X12 trailer, so I have experience with towing. But I have been trying to decide what I want/need….. I was thinking the Class C – 24′ would be perfect , but didn’t know if I wanted to spend that much money this early in the game. I’m still working and have a few years left (56 this year), so I was thinking of rv’ing weekends on the Kentucky River (as a second home). Would a travel trailer be better with the intention of selling for a Class C when I’m retiring or just go for the Class C now? Would the dealership show me how to hook up? I have friends who already rv, who might be able to “train” me….. I just don’t want to be a nuisance…. Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Alice for this blog!!! I feel as though it came along right when I needed it….


  21. Drew Mueller

    Alice, You may have already read “301 Ways to make RV Travel Safer, Easier, and More Fun” by Bernice Beard. If not, she has many good common sense ideas for all. I first read this years ago when we bought our first rv- a class C. As you also may know- she is a contributor on this blog as well.

    Best of luck, take your time and have fun.


  22. WStone

    Question, Know any sites to learn about single women rving on their own. My husband passed away 5 months ago and it was our dream to rv, 6 months on 6 months off. But now I have the prospect to do it alone, as it is still my dream. Are there alot of singles out there traveling? I always envisioned mostly couples. It is good to hear others are out there hitting the road alone and enjoying it.
    [email protected]

  23. barbara kruger

    Glad you will be doing this. I am a 65yo female traveling full time alone in a 30 ft class C. I have tv and internet satelites on top and tivo in my control center. All the comforts of home. When not visiting family and friends, I am just wandering. I drove 27,000 miles last year. I can take this unit anywhere but, when I want a car I rent one – no towing for me anymore. I have found many places where I can camp right at entertainments or places with shuttle service. Would like to hear more on this. Good luck. Barb

  24. Glenna

    Great to see your blog. My husband and I traveled in a Roadtrek Class B for 11 months our first trip out after retirement. It can be done. We learned we didn’t need a lot of items we had brought, so this trip we’re traveling a lot lighter.

    I’m under 5′ tall and can drive the Roadtrek with no trouble. My concern is lack of strength to pull black tank valves, tighten water hoses, etc. Any solutions?

  25. bonnie

    Hi again, Definately. If your selling your home to live in a rv you realy need to shop around and look at as many of them as possible. you also need to know what kind of horse power you’ll need depending on the size of the rv your purchasing. We own a 38.5′ grand junction (are third rv) and we pull ours with a Duramax Diesal V8, 2500 GMC, HD. You may not need this, like i said it depends on size and weight of the rv. Most larger rv are fully load but, not always with a generator. the larger the rv is the more room you’ll have and that’s something to consider if your living in it year round. anyways happy hunting.

  26. nushagak

    Hi Kathy, I am a former owner of a class B, and loved it! I could park anywhere, go anywhere (including drive throughs), and have it serviced at normal repair shops. Yes, at times it was tight – and four months at a time, was the longest I lived in it, but I really enjoyed the vehicle. It was fully equipped – kitchen, full bath, furnace, AC, generator, etc. When it came time to buy a new vehicle I was torn – I really didn’t want anything over 21ft., or 9’6″ tall. In the end the choice was between vehicles built on the Dodge/Mercedes Sprint chasis – I was going full time, so I wanted the diesel engine that would last me more years, and the better gas mileage was attractive, (besides being interested in bio-diesel). As time moves on more manufacturers are building on these platforms, with more floorplans, and more options. I ended up buying a class C 23’5″ long and 10’6″ tall – not meeting my size criteria. My class B looked like a van with a high roof – so I never had parking restrictions. The veicle I now have is obviously an RV, and with its’ size there are some things I can’t do (no more drive throughs), but it manuevers easily, and I can fit in most normal parking spaces. Being full time I am very glad to have the additional interior space. I feel like I’m living in a real home, not just getting by. There are some things I miss about not having a smaller vehicle, but not enough to go back. Spend some time at RV dealerships, just sitting in the RV’s or go to an RV show and do the same. Do some test drives, and then compare all the features thinking about what your priorities are and how you live. And shop around! I bought mine new for $20,000 less than most dealerships were asking

  27. linda cabler

    Think before selling your home and moving into a fifth wheel full time. Your grandson needs roots that a house can provide when an RV cannot. He will need a permanent home in lots of reasons concerning his schooling. I sold my permanent home and moved into a trailer. Big misstake. Although trailers are fun they leave a lot to be desired as far as establishing a home.
    [email protected]

  28. linda cabler

    Think before selling your home and moving into a fifth wheel full time. Your grandson needs roots that a house can provide when an RV cannot. He will need a permanent home in lots of reasons concerning his schooling. I sold my permanent home and moved into a trailer. Big misstake. Although trailers are fun they leave a lot to be desired as far as establishing a home.
    [email protected]

  29. Marie

    Hello again, What a great treat this site will be to all of us independent women rvers. My husband died and left me with a 6 mo old dulley and huge 5th wheel. I didn’t think I could drive the rig w/o knocking down every mailbox between here and there! I put the 5th wheel out on consignment and it sold in two weeks. Friends found my class A at Lazydays in Fl and after contacting them to bring the dulley to Tampa to trade in I realized I had never driven the dulley to get diesel fuel. As a young bride I was called “too independent” soon after I became “too dependent.” Now it was time to get back to independency driving an unfamiliar vehicle several thousand miles. Guess what! Not only did I make the trip but I have been camping with my husbands dog, Itty Bitty, for the last 3 years. Blue skies and green lights girls! Marie

  30. Julie Rea

    Alice – this site sounds fabulous. My husband was very insistent that I learn to drive, level, dump, etc. so that I could continue RVing should he not be around. We both loved RVing with our Westies and he did not want me to give that up. I often got comments about driving, or dumping, but I knew it was necessary to learn. Unfortunately he had a massive heart attack 3 weeks ago, and I am now on my own. I think I know how to do most of the things necessary, but a few things like generator maintenace and the hot water tank draining and battery checking I need to learn. And I am sure a few more things will come up that he always did, that will confound me. I look forward to reading your blogs and learning how to do more things on my own.

  31. Carol

    Alice, as youcan see from the responses, this site was really needed. When not working full-time and getting my 3 granddaughters (13, 10 & 8) off to school, I travel alone with my girls and our little Bichon, Charlie. We spent 2 weeks this summer in our 22 ft C and traveled 3600 miles through National Parks and Forests. Although we did stop at a KOA one night and got pizza delivery! I”ve been RVing for 35 years. Yet, there are so many things I’d like to share or ask a question about but didn’t want to feel like an air-head. We’re open to lots of different experiences and look forward to reading the different perspectives on RVing and learning a thing or two!

  32. Anne Crawshaw

    I am with Roxanne….I believe that a Class B would be too small for full timing. I have a 24′ class C with a small slide out and find it extremely comfortable. I do a lot of weekend trips but also do 2-3 months in a stretch and find this rig perfect. It has all the bell and whistles but it’s small size can get me anyplace. A lot of wonderful camping experiences are limited to anything over 27′, which is why I chose the small size and Class B’s seemed way over priced at the time

  33. bonnie

    Hi y’all. Hubby & I have been rving for four years. we sold our home and bought are first. This was something we wanted to do since our trucking days. traveling gets in your blood and you just got to move on. we are about a week away from leaving ND.,heading for AZ. I love the feeling of being free, meeting new people and just hanging out. I’ve cook in my rv as if I were in the home we sold. I entertain are friends, work on my crafts, just like living in a house, but smaller. I’m glad there is a blog for us to leave comments. Happy traveling everyone.

  34. Eileen

    Thank you for comments on women being as good at RVing as men. I was raised on the farm and can pull a rig as well as my spouse who was also a farm kid. We get a lot of strange looks when I am backing the truck up to hook up and then pull our trailer out of the park. I can also do the work needed for out side (hook/unhook, leveling and stabilizing,etc). I occasionally take our rig to a campground when my husband is not able to leave work to help. There are many ladies that we meet would never consider “driving” the rig and if something happened to their spouse, they would immediately sell and fly home. I am retired and waiting for my husband to be able to retire and we will then take to the road with him being comfortable in my abliity to travel alone if necessary.

  35. Roxanne

    Kathy, think a Class B would be too small for fulltime. However, I know a guy who Full Timed for 18 months in a VW camper till he ran out of maney. He loved it! Every time he brought in a new pair of socks, out went a pair. It can be done, but you might find a 22-24ft class C a bit better living. Same gas mileage as the B. Smaller does get you in may more interesting places. Buy used as everyone seems to trade after the first 2-3 years when you figure out what you really want. Don’t pay $80K for a B.

  36. Alice Zyetz

    I am delighted to see so much response and the blog entry has only been up for one day. Your suggestions and contributions are great. Keep them coming. I will definitely write about the importance of driving and hooking up in my next entry. Many women are reluctant to do the outside work. A number of husbands consider it their purview and discourage their wives from doing any of it.

    I’ve been on the road for many years and have seen too many emergencies when the wife needed to take over the driving. I was the same way. It’s only in the last few years that I have made the transition. Those of you who do drive can testify that it CAN be done (and SHOULD be done.)

    Safe travels,
    Alice Zyetz

  37. Linda

    Your blog subject sounds like a great idea. I drive a 29 ft. class C and tow a car. I think any woman can do that too it is just that some are so used to leaving everything of that type to their husband that they don’t even try. I am a widow traveling with a 95 yr old friend. She helps with some of the inside things she can do and I do the other. It works great for us.
    My suggestion to anyone driving an RV whether it is a man or a woman:
    Never start to leave a site without looking at your checklist that has everything on it from putting up your levelers to putting down the antenna on it. About the time you don’t do it there will be some thing that is very important that you have forgotten which in some cases can prove quite costly.

  38. Judy Johnson

    I want to sell my home next year and move into my fifth wheel, I guess that will make me a full timer. My travel companion in the summer is my grandson. We lost his mother, my daughter, almost 5 yrs ago and he has been my road mate every since. I am really new at this as I never owned an RV before this past year. I am still trying to back this monster up and don’t know if I will ever accomplish it. Any information, help, company or advise that is out there, I am willing to listen and learn. I am single and a senior. As my grandson likes to say “Blonde, senior & senile.” A lot of B.S.S.

  39. Sharon McNary

    Greetings – My husband and I have been fulltimers for over 3 years. I believe the most important thing anyone can and should know is how to drive the coach. You don’t have to do it all the time but it is important to be able to do it. The second thought I had when I saw this blog was how important it was for me to know how to hook and unhook all the utilities, hook and unhook the tow vehicle and be prepared to do so at any given time. I even wrote out instructions, just in case I might forget something. The third thing that I have found during our travels is how important all medical information is needed and it should be updated all the time. I have a notebook for each of us on our desk, noting that it is medical information. When we have had to seek medical assistance while on the road, the notebook goes with us and a written request for any tests results, medical treatment, etc. is asked for. Most medical facilities can put everything on a disc so you can keep it with you.

    I look forward to checking in every now and then to see what others have to say.

  40. Kathy

    Looking forward to hearing all that everyone has to say. I intend to be full time alone in 4 years and am getting ready to make the “what kind of rig decision.” Anybody gone totally minimal and sold their whole lives and gone to a “B?”

  41. Anne Crawshaw

    Alice….glad to see your Blog. I am a widowed single RV’r and am always looking for suggestions and even company to chat with when I am on the road. I have friends here at home who comment that it is soooooo amazing that I do what I do, but I try to explain that if you use your head with your rig and where you go, and what you do……there’s not really much difference between what the men can do and we can do. I also try and encourage every woman, no matter what her marital situation to learn to drive the rig that you share with a husband or significant other……that way you will never be trapped by not being familiar with your rig. It can be so easy for your partner to trip and fall and break a wrist (or 2) and who is left to drive home? (this actually happened to a friend). Anyway, enough of my chatter….I have added this line to my favorites and look forward to tuning in.

  42. GREAT !!!! Look forward to your future blogs.

  43. Alice

    Nice to meet another Alice – I was named after both of my grandmothers. How about you?

    My suggestions for a blog topic would be cooking in the RV. We live full-time in our Class A Motor home, mostly bouncing between NACO/TT and K&M (Beachwood) as we are both working in our local community. I find that in such a small space I tend to cook very simple (which I like) but am running out of ideas – would like to cook healthy meals that are not just spaghetti, brats and burgers. Anyway, just my thoughts.

    Looking forward to more reading and getting to know those on this blog.

    Blaine, WA

  44. Peggy

    Happy to see a woman speaking out about RVing. I am a widow who is about to get back into RVing, this time alone for the most part, and a little anxious until I get that first solo trip done — which hopefully will be in a couple of weeks. It’s the hooking and unhooking of the tow car that has me most concerned. I’m pretty sure I can do it, but being alone and having a professional commitment with a time obligation puts a bit of pressure on. I’ll look forward to all your hints.

  45. Jan Vail

    Most excellent idea. We are preparing to move our life into a 5ver and any lesson I can learn will be truly appreciated.

  46. Alice Zyetz

    Thanks for responding. Jim, I appreciate your desire to understand women better. Don’t worry about my keeping it simple. That’s the only way I write. I would love to hear your input on subjects I write about. It’s great to hear a man’s viewpoint as well.

    When our Escapees group, Boomers, started to have women’s circles at our gatherings, my husband tried to start a men’s circle. Unfortunately he couldn’t get them to go past black tanks and whether to boil the batteries!

    Mish, thank you so much for your suggestions. I will definitely include them in my future entries. I am planning on that thorny “let them drive” issue as my blog next week. It is too critical to ignore.

  47. Mish

    Fabulous! I look forward to reading your posts. Other topics I’d love to see include: how to divide up the RV duties with your DH, how to keep the kids happy on the road, how to convince the DH to LET you drive!! (LOL)

  48. Jim

    Good to see you here. The more information we men can get about you women creatures, the better understanding we will have. So try to keep it simple.