Have you dreamed about hitting the road full time but worry about missing that sense of community you’ve worked so hard to create in your life? You’re not alone.
Leaving friends and family behind to hit the road is a top concern of many who dream of becoming full-time RVers. People who have developed strong ties to a community they love may have a great fear of losing that aspect of their identity, and oftentimes it’s this worry that prevents them from living their RVing dream. This hesitation is so unfortunate because although detaching from your hometown can definitely shake you loose from your moorings, once full-time RVers hit the road, they always have plenty of opportunities to stay in touch with old friends and create a new sense of identity among other full-time travelers with common interests.
How We Found Our New Tribe
When Jim and I left our hometown of Eureka, California, in 2007, we were sad about saying goodbye to so many friends we had come to know through the years. As active business people in the community for about a decade, we had made many close, heartfelt connections in our little coastal town. Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, but we tried to lessen our sadness by bouncing around the idea that maybe someday we would return.
Although we had been warned that the only people we would meet on the road would be retired senior citizens we had nothing in common with, gradually we found that wasn’t true. After a few months on the road, we started to meet other travelers like ourselves—people whose sense of wanderlust was (at least for the time being) far greater than any desire to settle down. And thanks to a number of Internet-based communities for RVers, we started connecting both online and in person with many other non-traditional travelers like ourselves.
From California to Florida, we started to feel less alone and more like a part of a tribe. Parties transpired, informal rallies occurred and gradually we built lasting friendships with fun-loving people who share our appreciation for the open road. The more miles we covered, the more we yearned to keep moving forward instead of looking back on what we had in our old life. Our new identity is now paved into America’s two-lane highways and within the growing group of people who call the road home. Today we know we’ll never permanently live in our old hometown, we’re having too much fun to stop now!
How and Where to Connect with Full-time RVers
If you’re in the early stages of planning your full-time RVing adventure, one of the best ways to meet other like-minded travelers is to talk to others who share your interests. Internet groups make it easy to connect with aspiring full-time RVers and if you decide you have something in common with certain people, there are plenty of opportunities to meet up when your travel itineraries coincide with one another. The following groups are actively creating a sense of community both online and on the road:
Each time we connect with other Escapees members like ourselves, stay at an Escapees park, or attend a club rally, we feel like we’re part of a real community. Founded in the early 1970s by full-time RVers Joe and Kay Peterson, Escapees is the oldest and most far-reaching support network for RVers. The group’s largest demographic is the traditional full-timer: someone who is over 60, retired and living the dream to see America. What makes Escapees so invaluable for all full-timers is the supportive community that’s available anytime you need help. From free online discussion forums to nationwide RV rallies, to the club’s private parks throughout North America, you’ll never feel like you are alone if you’re an “SKP,” as we are called.
By paying your yearly dues, you can use Escapees to solve headaches associated with not having a physical residence, such as how to handle a jury duty summons or get your mail forwarded. In addition, Escapees is the only group advocating for full-timers affected by insurance issues, government issues like city bans on overnight parking, and more. Even if you’re not a stereotypical, retired full-timer, you owe yourself the favor of giving the group a try by participating in its online discussion forums (rvnetwork.com/). Ask as many questions as you like; SKPs are there to help.
NüRVers Facebook Group (facebook.com/groups/nurvers)
NüRVers is a growing group of non-traditional RVers who don’t want to wait for retirement to hit the road. This loosely knit association of like-minded, fun-loving, location-independent entrepreneurs and other full-time RVers and dreamers was founded in 2008 with the goal of building its own niche in the RVing community. NüRVers share a vast array of forward-thinking interests and ideas, love to discuss the benefits and hassles of working on the road, and to try to bring each others’ worlds a little closer by holding spontaneous gatherings on occasion. You don’t have to be a young full-time RVer to be Nü; you only have to “think Nü.”
Boondockers Welcome (boondockerswelcome.com)
A variety of special interest groups for RVers exist online, and one of the more unusual (and useful) ones is Boondockers Welcome, an Internet resource connecting RVers willing to host overnight guests on their property with RVers looking for a place to park overnight.
Founded in 2012, the Boondockers Welcome community operates like a vacation home swap between private parties: only these members won’t stay in your home, they’ll stay next to it. But don’t worry, you don’t have to allow just anyone on your property: specific identity information and location details are confidential until both parties have started talking to one another through the club’s private messaging system and agreed that they’re a match.
For less than the cost of one night in a RV park, your yearly dues with Boondockers Welcome can enable you to meet and stay with other frugal RVers throughout the U.S. and Canada and from Thailand to Europe and beyond.
To review the growing number of Boondockers Welcome accommodations, visit the database of free RV parking opportunities that range from urban driveways to farmland near prime tourist destinations. Upon joining you’ll have access to more details you’d want to know about hosts: from their age group to their RV size preferences and even if pets are allowed.
Find Your Sense of Place in RV Communities
These three groups barely scratch the surface of different ways you can connect with RVers who share your common interests and lifestyle philosophies. The virtual world has now converged with the “real” world and today there’s no excuse for not being able to create lasting, supportive friendships with people, no matter where or how you choose to live.
Rene Agredano is a full-time RVer who lives and works from wherever the road takes her. As a writer, jewelry designer and animal advocate, she travels in an Arctic Fox fifth wheel with her husband, Jim Nelson, and three-legged dog, Wyatt. They chronicle their nomadic lifestyle at LiveWorkDream.com.
Often called “The O.G. of full-time RVing,” Rene Agredano and her husband Jim Nelson hit the road in a fifth wheel trailer in 2007, after their dog Jerry lost a leg to terminal cancer. Sixteen years later they are still traveling and sharing their nomadic adventures at LiveWorkDream. As a self-employed wordsmith, Rene shares her expertise for many RV industry videos, publications such as the Escapees RV Club Magazine, and has authored numerous books, including the Essential RVing Guide to National Parks, and Income Anywhere, a guide to earning money on the road. She has been featured in global media outlets including the PBS documentary “NATURE: Why We Love Cats and Dogs,” The Guardian Sunday Edition, and the Dan Pink book Free Agent Nation.