Many of the comments you made after the first blog entry relate to how to choose an RV, especially for women starting out. There is no simple answer. It depends on how often you plan to use your rig, where you want to park, how much experience you’ve had in the past, how much money you have to spend, and more.
Generally speaking, women traveling solo tend to buy motorhomes. They are easier to park, easier to hook and unhook the toad (if they even use one) rather than a tow truck, and easier to depart rapidly if a situation proves threatening. But even that is not a strict rule. Some women prefer driving a truck and hauling a fifth wheel or travel trailer. My guess is that they’ve had some prior experience. One of my favorite comments made by a solo woman (a trailer devotee) was, “I don’t worry about being in an unsafe situation and feel I have to hook up immediately. I don’t put myself into those environments.”Ask yourselves these questions first:
How many people will be traveling? Will you be taking along your grandkids? Is there enough room for them to sleep and stow their possessions?
Will I use hook-ups or dry camp? Dry camping (boondocking) will need solar panels and better batteries to provide the energy source. Cost is more initially, but camping costs are substantially reduced.
Do I already have a truck? How much load can the truck tow? If you have a truck and are comfortable driving it, then consider a trailer, which is less expensive than a similar size motorhome. The weight is critical. You must find out what the weight the truck can handle and then not exceed it in your trailer.
What can I afford? Particularly in today’s financial climate, be very clear about how much you are willing to pay. It’s not just the original cost, but loan payments, maintenance, insurance including towing, repair, new tires, air filters, fuel for traveling. On the one hand it’s good to own the rig outright, on the other hand the loan interest is usually deductible. Check with your lawyer on the tax issues.
How much storage do I need for clothing and stuff? Are you a clotheshorse or will a few pair of long and short pants, t-shirts, and one nice outfit for the occasional wedding or bar mitzvah do?
What kind of hobbies will I bring with me? How much room do I need for them? Do you make pottery or just small beaded earrings? Don’t laugh. I’ve met some potters who travel with small kilns.
Do I have any physical restrictions that need to be accommodated? Do you need wider access for a wheelchair?
Am I handy? You can learn to do some things and you will always find people to hire to make adjustments and repairs. Don’t forget to include that expense in your budget planning. If you are not handy, I suggest you buy a newer rig with fewer potential problems.
Do I like lots of windows or would they make me feel like I’m in a fishbowl? I live in a fishbowl with lots of windows and I love it, but it is hotter in the summer and cooler in the winter. Consider your comfort level.
Do I plan to spend a lot of time in cold climates? Some people prefer camping so they can ski. You’ll need better insulation.
Will I need to work on the road? Do I need space to carry a product with me? Some people work the fairs and trade shows and carry product and a display. I carry books and some exhibit items. If you work, do you need closet space for office clothing? If you like to work in luxury RV resorts, you will need a newer rig. They don’t want your rig to be more than 10 years old. Some resorts prefer only motorhomes for their workers as well as their guests.
If a trailer, do I prefer a rear living room or rear kitchen? Generally rear kitchens are larger. If you like to do more cooking, you may want that option. Others like to have an open view from their rear living room.
Will I have pets with me? Where will the cat box go? How big a dog do you have? In an earlier blog, I used a photo of a 40-foot motorhome driven by a solo female. When I asked her why she wanted that much space for herself, she said, “I had a 34-foot, but my dog is so big, he had no place to run around, particularly on rainy days so I bought the 40-foot.”
There is a lot more to say on the subject and I will continue this in future blogs. One of the questions arose about whether a Class B is a good choice for full-timing. A Class B is a van with all the main elements: stove, sink, microwave, bathroom, heater, air conditioner, etc. It tends to be more expensive, but it handles very easily and can fit anywhere. I’ve known people who have used it for extensive periods of time, but they tend to travel more frequently.
A good compromise is the Class A Trek (or similar model) with a bed that rises during the day giving you a full living room and at night providing you with a full bedroom in a 28-foot rig.
Another question that comes up frequently is whether women can handle all the systems. I will speak to the issue of systems, but in the mean time, remember that there are lots of training books and videos to teach you, neighbors to help, and tools that enable you to tighten and loosen the most difficult valves.
I look forward to your comments and questions on this topic. A few people expressed an interest in a woman’s forum. I’m thinking of starting a Yahoo group. How many of you would be interested in participating?
Deadline Approaching: SHARE YOUR STORIES IN OUR NEW BOOK
Choosing the RV Lifestyle: Real People, Real Choices by Alice Zyetz and Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
If you would like to submit an entry or two before October 31, please download the guidelines at http://www.rvlifestyleexperts.com/pdfs/CHOOSING%20THE%20RV%20LIFESTYLE%20guidelines.pdf
Enjoy your travels,
P.S. Always sit on the toilet before you buy. Is there room for your legs? Do you feel claustrophobic?