Making Friends on the Road
When someone says "Mayberry" what comes to mind? Perfect place to live? Friendly street? Neighbors who could be counted on to keep an eye on your place? Maybe even have an extra key? For me, it's community. The kind of place where the dads drink a beer together on the sidewalk while the kids host a lemonade stand. Where Instagramming a margarita leads to a lawn party 15 minutes later. Where neighbors stop traffic for a chat rather than a quick wave. The block where our last home sat was like that. It's a pretty rare find in Los Angeles and I didn't realize how much I would miss it and our friends when we moved full time in our Winnebago.
We spent our first full-time summer in Oregon and kept busy hanging out with family and their friends. After we left in the fall, we quickly felt the absence of people in our life. We'd read about RVers meeting other RVers at campgrounds, but it wasn't happening for us. We didn't fit the typical RVer profile.
In the summer, we were an anomaly because we don't have kids. And then once the families went back to school, we weren't the traditional retired-age snow birds. It also didn't help that our dog isn't super friendly with other dogs and people, so even he wasn't a good resource for meeting people. We're also not the kind of people to crash a stranger's happy hour. After a few months of just the two of us, we were starting to feel our small space and the need for other conversations. I kept thinking about the community we'd left behind and wasn't sure how to replicate it with a constantly moving neighborhood.
It took some time (and some courage to break out of our comfort zones), but we did eventually meet people on the road, many of whom have become great friends that we meet up with to co-camp and also miss dearly when we've parted.
Celebrating New Years in the desert. Photo by Trinkles on Tour.
Here are some ways that we went about building our 'road community':
For us, joining the Xscapers group within Escapees RV Club was a game changer. Attending our first Annual Bash felt a lot like speed dating, where you'd have a brief conversation around the campfire or potluck and then likely not see that person again for the rest of the convergence. We did stay in touch with some of those speed dates and it turns out that mobility can work in your favor. Shortly after the convergence, we co-camped with a couple whom we've since spent a ton of time with. We heard from another couple that we literally spent 10 minutes with our first night and then ended up traveling to Baja with a few months later. Our neighborhood moves around, but so do we! You can also find other RVing groups and events, but this is one of our favorites.
When we get to a new area, we use Instagram to find places to stay and cool things to do in the area. It also lets us see who might be close by and we can reach out to see if that person wants to hang out. It felt a little weird at first to invite and be invited by virtual strangers, but meeting up for a drink or a hike doesn't have to be a major commitment and we've made real friends out of those first meet ups.
Winnebago Owner Forums, Annual Rally and Facebook Groups
An online search for Winnebago reveals all kinds of avenues for information and meeting people like forums, clubs and groups. I guess we shouldn't have been surprised to find that Journey owners reach out to each other, but it turns out that living in the same RV model can bring people together. While we haven't yet been to Winnebago's Grand National Rally, it seems to be another great place to meet like-minded travelers - and lots of members of the WIT Club. Bonus points: your new friends might have some great tips for upgrading and maintaining your Winnebago. Same goes for Facebook groups.
At the end of the day, meeting people, regardless of where and how you live really comes down to what you put into it. It may not be natural for you, but being friendly and outgoing can lead to lasting relationships and help life on the road not feel so isolated. We have found as full-time RVers that we have a lot in common with other RVers, including a love of the outdoors and travel. Plus, have you ever met an RVer who doesn't want to talk about amazing camping spots, solar wattage, and black tank management? Us either.
It took some time to find and build our community and now that we have, we miss them the same way we miss our non-RV friends. When we're apart, we follow our friend's travels via social media and keep in touch via text, video chats, Facebook Messenger and Facebook Groups interactions. Every once in a while, we'll even talk on the phone! It's not quite as satisfying as gathering around a campfire, but such is life as a nomad. And it's gets us through until we meet again!
How do you meet people on the road?