I have been working on this post since the end of July. It’s a topic I felt like I had to write about, yet it’s been very difficult to get down in words. It’s been quite a struggle and I think it’s a bit disjointed and awkward, but I hope you will be patient and can manage to get my meaning. So here goes:
I became both a full-time RVer and single all at once when my ex and I split up. While I had envisioned full-time RV living for a good while, I had always assumed it would be as a couple and I had always assumed we’d make an orderly transition to the lifestyle. Instead, for all intents and purposes I became both single and without a sticks and bricks abode quite suddenly in one phone call on a Friday evening.
I’ve read posts on RVing internet forums and on RVing Facebook groups from singles discussing how difficult it is to travel alone. Well, I love traveling alone! I’ve always loved traveling; moving from here to there and seeing new landscapes unfold before me. I’ve traveled on foot, by bicycle, in a car, by plane, and in the motorhome. I enjoy them all, and I’ve done them all both alone and with a partner.
Traveling alone is certainly different than traveling with someone else. Since this is primarily an RVing blog I’ll limit my comments to that realm, but in general they apply to whatever travel mode I’m in.
Moving down the road with the car behind the motorhome, I am about 55′ long, 12 1/2′ high, and 8 1/2′ wide. It’s rarely possible to just pull over to the curb and figure out where I’m supposed to be going, and I don’t have a co-pilot who can look things up and help me figure things out, so when I hit the road in the morning I try to make sure I know where I’m heading and how I’m going to get there. This includes where I am going to stop for gas or to fill up on fresh water or to dump the waste tanks if needed.
I usually travel with two GPS units; my RV-specific Garmin and Google Maps on my phone. Most of the time this is completely redundant and unnecessary, but I remember well the day I came over the pass from Boulder City into Henderson , NV heading through Las Vegas. The highway was being worked on and that work included a re-alignment of some on-ramps, and that threw off the Garmin and caused it to just quit navigating. Now one does *not* pilot this motorhome through heavy traffic and play with the GPS at the same time. Fortunately, Google maps was still working and that kept me on course through the city until I could finally stop somewhere — I don’t recall, but probably a highway rest area — and get the Garmin back on track.
Okay, I’ve wandered a bit off-topic here. Let me try to get back on track; social life for the introvert single RVer.
I enjoy traveling alone. I like that I can decide on a Saturday evening that I want to go to Oregon, and get up on Sunday morning and go. I like that I can decide whether I want to drive 100 miles today, or 500 miles. I like that if I just want to stay in and watch Netflix all day I can do that, or if I want to go out and hike 15 miles through desert heat, I can do that. Heck, I once made an all-day field trip to see a creosote bush!
One of the downsides is that I have gone literally weeks without interacting with another person other than transactional conversations like checking into a campground. As an introvert it is way too easy to slip into this pattern, and eventually it takes a toll even on me. I remember having this thought conversation with myself back at the end of last year, and one of the things I did to combat this was to sign up for the Xscapers Convergence in Quartzsite last January. There are lots of great people who belong to Xscapers, but that’s the problem for a single introvert; there are just too many people. I ended up actually hiding out in the RV a couple of days during the week-long Convergence, as it was simply overwhelming. And when I left there I parked out in the middle of nowhere in the Mojave National Preserve for 10 days by myself, just to recover.
That proved to be a sub-optimal idea, but I didn’t give up. Eventually I came across the Wandering Individuals Network (WIN). An awkward name, but an organization that proved to suit me well. For one thing, as the name implies, it is made up entirely of singles so I’m not stuck trying to fit in with large groups of couples. For another, while most members are retired they are very active, with lots of hiking and cycling and paddling. Just my type of folks. And the WINs run multiple “circuits” so they end up broken up into smaller groups that suit me better.
This summer I spent 4 months working as a campground host at a Forest Service campground in Colorado. To my surprise, I came to really enjoy chatting with the campers. I met lots of really nice people. It did get a bit overwhelming on the holiday weekends, especially at the end of the summer when I was taking care of 3 campgrounds and there were so many people that needed attention, but I managed it. It helps that I never had to deal with any real jerks.
And of course I am not totally alone in the world. I have a relationship with Aoife. It’s mostly a long distance relationship as she lives in the UK, but she’s spent a total of about 7 weeks with me in various locations so far this year, and we have a blast traveling and exploring together. She’ll be flying in again in a couple of weeks while I am in Connecticut.
So what does all this mean? Is there some kind of conclusion to be drawn? Umm, yeah, I think so. For me, I have to put in a bit of effort to put myself in situations where I interact with other people. I need that. But not too much. I need my alone time as well. And if you ever find yourself parked next to me somewhere, say hi to your shy introvert neighbor. I’ll appreciate it.