Locked Out of Our RV! (And Loving It)

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August 26, 2008

Airstream RV Blog #79 – Locked Out … And Lovin’ It! from Sean Michael on Vimeo.

Okay, so it finally happened to us. We managed to lock ourselves out of our RV.

“How on earth did this happen,” you ask? (And yes, I can hear you snickering.)

It was easy! On an Airstream there are two door locks. One of these is a deadbolt-style lock. We use it on a daily basis.

The second “main door” lock is a sliding lock that allows you to EXIT the camper, but prevents you from getting back inside! It puts your Airstream door into hotel door mode, if you know what I mean. This lock we call “THE FORBIDDEN LOCK” because everyone is generally forbidden from using it. Quite frankly, I don’t think this lock serves much purpose, other than to lock unwitting campers out of their rig. I mean, you’ve already got the deadbolt for security purposes. The forbidden lock is just kind of cruel. It lies there, like a coiled snake, waiting to strike…

So we never (intentionally) use the forbidden lock. But somehow, the other day we must’ve accidentally bumped the sliding lever that engages the lock. Voila! Soon enough, we found ourselves locked outside our Airstream. It was 8 o’clock at night, the sun was setting, and I SWEAR we heard some wolves howling in the distance. And if you’re wondering why we didn’t capture this episode on film, it’s because EVERYTHING WE NEEDED WAS LOCKED INSIDE OUR RV. Our spare keys, our cameras, and our emergency phone numbers were all inside the rig. Using our cell phones, we called FIVE local locksmiths — but no one bothered to answer the phone. Yes, we were in a proverbial pickle.

Little did we realize that being LOCKED OUT OF OUR RV would blossom into a wonderful experience. After searching in vain for spare keys, we glumly trudged to the campground clubhouse, prepared to spend the night on a sofa. But lo and behold, the members of Albuquerque’s Siglo de Oro (”Golden Age”) RV Club were having a rally.

To make a long story short, once we announced our problem to the club, they quickly “rallied” to our aid. We made some new friends who quickly put us at ease. It seems that just about everyone gets locked out of their rig, sooner or later. “If you RV long enough,” one said, “EVERYTHING will eventually happen to you.” Phone calls were made. One person managed to secure the late night services of a locksmith! Soon, we were back inside our Airstream. I must say that the interior of a 25-foot travel trailer never felt so grand.

The next day, we visited with club members at their luncheon. We really had a FANTASTIC time meeting these folks. The RV lifestyle really attracts a down-to-earth crowd of “top quality people.” Frankly, I was inspired by this happy group. They get together simply because they enjoy getting together. Their meetings are filled with laughter, love, and fellowship.

After we left the rally, I turned to my wife. “You know,” I said, “If we hadn’t been locked out of our RV, we never would’ve met those great people.”

So here’s the strange thing about the whole experience. You might ask me, “Sean, suppose you could go back in time and CHOOSE whether or not to lock yourself out of your RV? What would you do?”

The answer is easy. I’d lock myself out all over again. Every time.

Leave a Reply


  1. A perfect example of making lemonade when life gives you lemons

  2. Angie

    Getting locked out of our rig is one of my biggest fears. Thanks for letting me know it’s not as bad as I think it is.

  3. Nick, there was some gnashing of teeth at first (as you might imagine) but once we met the folks at the rally everything turned for the better! We ended up sharing a lot of laughs over the situation, and making some new friends.

  4. Drew Mueller

    I forwarded this video to my sister and brother-in-law. They sometimes get really upset and anxious when things happen on the road. They really are fun to be with though, and we go rv’ing with them at least a couple times a year. Thanks for such a nice view of your experience on the road. Just f.y.i……a long time ago, my chiropractor advised me not to keep my wallet in my back pocket because it could cause spinal problems in the future. So, I began carrying a small sports bag that also has a place for keys, etc. I never go anywhere without it- it has my spares to every vehicle we have- including the boat. (I always have a primary set with me in my pocket). I’ve had this “bag” now for over 20 years and havn’t locked myself out- but I’ve helped my family members who have.

  5. Sherm

    The solution to being locked out is simple—put an extra key in your tow vehicle glove box or on your ignition key chain for your tow vehicle, which should be in your pocket or purse; or, hide one somewhere on the outside/underneath, etc., of that Airstream, if there is some place available (not really a safe thing to do, but it will work, either for you or some burglar!)

  6. Guys, our practice has been to keep a spare set of keys in our tow vehicle. However, on the morning of the fateful lockout, we took our truck to the dealership for service! So we had removed the spare keys from the truck and taken them back to the RV with us. Naturally, this was the time we chose to get locked out! Funny how life works that way… 😀

  7. Marie

    My husband and I campd for years and were never locked out of any of our modes of transportation. Now that I MH alone I managed to lock myself out! On checking the windows I found the passenger side inlocked and opened it from outside. Too high for me to jump up and get in I pondered how to get in the now open window. Luckily I had left the bin open that contained a milk crate to use to boost me up closer to the window. Standing on the crate I managed to jump up and land in my stomach and then wiggle myself inside to the seat. The next morning the black and blue bruises on my stomach reminded me to find a place to put an extra key! Whenever I have a misadventure with the MH I hear my dear, departed husband laugh because he always said he would never own a motorhome! Marie

  8. Marie, LOL – we do find ourselves in some funny situations sometimes when RVing.

    After we locked ourselves out of our travel trailer, we briefly considered wriggling back into the RV via the storage compartment that lies underneath our bed. There’s a small — and I mean SMALL– access door to this compartment located outside the rig. We managed to open the access door. However, we ultimately decided that this opening was too tight for us. I had visions of someone getting stuck in there and making a bad situation worse. But if we’d had a 10-year old boy handy, he would’ve been going inside!

    As Bill states in the video, maintaining your sense of humor is absolutely essential. 😀


    Great story about good people.

    Our only “locked out of our RV” experience was our first trip in our brand new Class A. We picked it up in Denver and headed direct to Nebraska to visit my dad. It was winter and very cold outside. After two days camping in the cold, we managed to flip that little lever the wrong way when we left the RV but we did have our keys, both me and my wife. No problem except the RV dealer gave us both keys that would not open the lock. The thought of a motel room instead of our wonderful new RV was not a pleasant thought.

    We did manage to roust a nice locksmith and get back in with $100 less in our pocket. The RV dealer fixed the lock problem on the way back through Denver and they finally made good on our $100 expense.

    Rving has a way of turning even bad experiences into fond memories. Strange how that works!

  10. It could have been a good bit worse. On two occasions, I encountered people who managed to lock themselves out of their vehicle… with the engine running 🙂

  11. Barry, yes the memories do grow fonder with the passage of time. Although I’m optimistic that this is one memory we won’t experience again, I suspect the next minor crisis is just around the corner. 🙂

    Jim, LOL – we haven’t managed to do that just yet, but it has happened to some friends. Our truck has a keypad outside the door… By entering the code, we can always open the door. So long as the keypad is working, we can’t get locked out! We really love this feature of our truck, and wish we could install it on our RV. There’s a business idea for someone…

  12. We bought our first Motorhome in 1965 – since then we always keep a spare set of keys in the outside referigerator space.

    If we know a pet, or someone is in distress, we know this is the first place to check for THE KEY.

    More tips are available on our website = rv101byfred.com.

    Happy Camping,

    Fred Brandeberry, Pesident

  13. Ray Thalman

    I also locked myself out of my fifth-wheel and after getting a locksmith to let me back in, I went out and bought a real estate lock, which allows you to put a key inside the lock and hang the lock on the folding door handle. The lock has a combination number access and requires no key. We’ll never be locked out again.

  14. Thanks Fred… and Ray, that’s a great idea about the real estate lock. I think we may have one of those lying around at our house. We’ll plan on doing something similar!

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