Tow It Alone – Part 1

Single women are among one of the fastest growing groups of RV buyers, and more women than ever are taking the wheel of their tow vehicles and Airstreaming on their own.

If you’re interested in greater Airstream independence there’s no better time to join the ever-increasing number of women on the road. It’s fun—and empowering—to explore and camp solo. Take it from these RVing women, who offer words of advice, encouragement, and trepidation.

Overcoming obstacles

Ask most women ‘what’s your main fear?’ about Airstreaming alone, and the common answer isn’t “being eaten by bears” or getting into a freeway accident.

“My biggest fear?” said Mary, who solo tows a 1961 Bambi. “Backing up into a spot!” She learned by practicing alone on her acreage, using printed instructions. “Online they have a thing that tells you how to back and park,” she said. “I had it in my hand and looked at it while I backed up, to teach myself.”

Janet, a professional travel writer, echoes the same concern after ten years spent on the road..

“Backing up is my main fear,” she admitted. “I still fear getting into situations that I can’t get out of. Fortunately many campgrounds have pull-through sites.” Janet fulltimed in an RV with her husband, and when his health began keeping him at home, she traveled alone and learned how to take care of herself on the road and behind the wheel.

“I quit before I get in over my head,” she said, “and I’m not afraid to ask for assistance.”

Solo ‘Streamer LilNomad has similar concerns that she overcomes through experience—and knowing that mishaps on the road are inevitable.

“My biggest fear is probably the same as everyone else; pulling in somewhere and not being able to pull out,” she said. “I’m always looking ahead for an exit strategy, especially in gas stations. So far, I’ve been successful.”

“Once, after a very long eight-hour tow I pulled into a very tight campground and attempted to make a u-turn,” she recalled. “Well, a misplaced boulder jumped out and grabbed my bumper! My friends laughed because it took me years to finally hit something. It seems most people get in an accident leaving the dealership.” That night she simply ziptied her bumper back into place and continued on with her trip. “That’s what insurance is for!” she said.

Lessons learned? “Stop before you’re exhausted,” she said. “And watch out for boulders!”

LilNomad also got stuck in the sand at Salton Sea. “It was a long night spent holding on to the side of the bed to keep from rolling out, and cooking was a comedy routine similar to the scene in The Long Long Trailer,” she recalled. “Finally the ranger came by, saw the situation, and called for a tow truck with a winch. He said it was a common occurrence. While waiting for the tow truck I was offered a job! It was one of my best trips and my best parking job ever,” she laughed.

Stuck at Salton Sea
Stuck at Salton Sea

Get the skills

LilNomad paid for formal towing and hitching instruction when she purchased her first trailer. “I think all women should have professional lessons—from anyone other than a spouse!” she said. “I am so grateful for all the things my teacher taught me, and the sense of freedom I feel when hitching up and heading out on the road.”

“I was told women are better at towing because we are more cautious, and we don’t have ego issues,” she said. “We will get out and look, and ask for directions or assistance when needed. We also tend to drive a bit slower.”

Learn towing skills, boost your confidence, and improve your safety by attending the “Performance Towing Experience”, the new (and only) on-track educational towing event in North America. At PTX Ontario—held on Lake Huron in July 2015 in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada—“you’ll have the opportunity to practice maneuvers you hope you’ll never experience on the road,” said organizer Rich Luhr.

Why bother?

Why tackle difficult new skills if you have a mate to take the wheel? What’s the advantage of Airstreaming alone?

“You do what you want!” cried Mary. “Park where you want! Go in where you want, stop where you want. There’s no compromise. With my ex-husband it was ‘get there quick, get home quick’. I’m sorry, but we’re here to enjoy ourselves and relax,” she said. “I wouldn’t be camping and rallying and having this fun if I was still married. I got the better end of the deal!”

“The biggest advantage is having your own schedule—your own foot on the brake when you see a yard sale or want to pull over to take a picture,” said Janet. “At the same time, a solo traveler can have friends any time by pulling into a campground and participating in activities and potlucks.”

LilNomad—a self described Morning Person—agrees. “For me, traveling alone is having the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Not many want to get up and hit the road at 4am!” she said. “I love towing and having that quiet time to just be in my own head. It’s funny, because although I travel alone it seems I’m NEVER alone. An Airstream attracts a lot of attention. I’ve met so many nice people at campgrounds and on the road that just want to have a peek inside. I feel proud to own a Airstream.”

“Go for it!” says Mary. “Set aside your fears, go, and be adventurous. Life is too short to sit around. And don’t sit in your trailer, either—get out and meet people.”

To be continued…

Watch for more tow alone tips for women in the next issue of Outside Interests, coming to your inbox on December 2, 2014. (Have a friend who would benefit from learning more? Share the Outside Interests subscription link: