Tow It Alone – Part 2

In Outside Interests Issue 4 we met Mary and her 1961 Bambi, travel writer Janet, and blogger LilNomad. The common bond between these women — who’ve never met — is their love of travel and Airstreaming on their own.

In Part One, they shared how they’ve overcome obstacles and learned the skills they need to be safe (and have fun) traveling solo. Read on for more tips from the intrepid trio.

You Got This

Women who tow alone know that support and resources abound, and friendly folk are around every corner waiting to lend a hand.

“There’s somebody that will be helpful wherever you pull in,” said Mary. “This summer while I was traveling I was trying to get into a really bad, tight spot, and everything was kind of uphill. A couple watched me for awhile and eventually the man asked, ‘do you want me to help you do this?’ I said absolutely! Ten minutes ago I wanted you to!”

“I also listen to people, and look up answers online,” continued Mary. When she was a newbie, a fellow Airstreamer approached her with a sheet of paper. “‘Here’s your list, Mary,’ he said. ‘This is what you need to do to be safe on the road.’ That was real nice. And there are guys that come to look— everyone wants to see inside the short trailers—and I’ll ask them questions while they are there. That’s the best place to learn; other ‘streamers who have done it and know what they’re doing,” she said.

“Learning RVing is a lifelong adventure, and some things are learned the hard way,” offered fulltimer Janet. “The camping community is wonderfully nurturing, especially for a woman alone. I’m always able to ask an older couple for help in the campground. And camping clubs are great for social and educational outings.”

More Tow Alone Tips

Choose your rig wisely.

“Don’t get more RV than you can handle,” advises Janet. “But get one that has a toilet, sink or shower, and at least some cooking facilities so you can stay ‘home’ when you don’t want to venture out to restaurants or campground showers.”

Prepare for the unexpected.

“Keep at least one day’s food in reserve for emergencies,” said Janet. “Independence is the key word and that means having ample food, water, facilities and fuels. Keep the water tank fresh and full. Learn to monitor holding tanks. Manage batteries so you always have energy for the “house” plus enough juice to start the engine. Have a Plan B for almost any situation.”

Be safe.

“Join a roadside assistance group,” continued Janet, “and I also recommend having a personal electronic beacon, not just a phone.” A personal locator beacon—or PLB—is a pocket-sized portable transmitter, often used by mountaineers, that issues an emergency distress signal to nearby rescue services. “There is no monthly charge and, when triggered, it sends a signal farther and longer than a cell phone,” Janet explained. “There are virtually no blackout areas worldwide.”

Start small.

“The most overlooked destination in camping is one’s own ‘back yard’,” said Janet. “Within a hundred miles of home it’s possible to find dozens of campgrounds, parks, sightseeing attractions, scenic roads and hiking paths.” (Visit Janet Groene’s website for more tips and advice.)

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do,”…

…said Eleanor Roosevelt. Even if you’re comfortable in the passenger seat, all Airstreamers should learn to hitch, tow and back up, for safety’s sake. “My advice for all women would be to get educated,” said LilNomad. “You never know when something might happen to your spouse or significant other.”

Attend PTX Ontario.

Whatever your experience level, the Performance Towing Experience is the place to learn about towing, from the fundamentals to the finer points. Save the dates, July 14-19, 2015, for the event in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada—three days of educational seminars and practice on professional towing courses, fun off-site activities, and up to seven nights of camping by Lake Huron.

Just do it.

“First of all, you can’t be afraid, right?” said Mary, who had never towed a trailer before the day she took her vintage Bambi home four years ago. “Never!” she laughed. “I didn’t have a pickup, I didn’t have any backing experience, no towing experience, and there I went, down the road by myself, with no taillights, no nothin! Fortunately, the trip home wasn’t far, just a few miles.”

“You gotta go, and can’t be afraid to go by yourself,” Mary said. “If you’ve got someone to go with, great, but are you going to sit around and wait for somebody to travel with? That’s part of the reason I joined an Airstream club. You have a destination, and I’ve met a lot of really great people.”

“Don’t wait until ‘someday when’,” said LilNomad. “That day may never come. Get up and do it yourself! You have RV’ing sisters that will help and encourage you. Just reach out.”