Dear RV Shrink:
I am a single women new to traveling in a small Class B motorhome. It is not as easy as I had envisioned after reading Trailer Life and Motorhome magazines for years. Two of my biggest problems are small mechanical malfunctions and social isolation. I’m not mechanical, so even precautionary maintenance is a challenge for me and becoming expensive. The other thing I have noticed is just how friendly everyone is in a campground setting. A same-state license plate can almost make you related. However, being single still seems to make me more of an outsider, just as it did before I started traveling. The majority of fellow campers I meet are couples and they seem to bond more easily. Any suggestions on how I can maintain my rig and my campground relationships would be greatly appreciated. —Lonely in Lauderdale
It’s the oldest relationship symptom in RV psychiatry. Professionally we call it the 5th Wheel Syndrome. You are subconsciously visualizing yourself as a fifth wheel in a historically couple-oriented society. Your new lifestyle is the perfect setting to practice the art of parking your 5th wheel disorder. You have to stop thinking of yourself as a 5th wheel and start thinking of yourself as a pop-up camper. You need to pop-up in the middle of friendly campground gatherings and introduce yourself confidently.
Don’t worry about making a fool of yourself. If you are not comfortable, you can move to another campground tomorrow and never see these bozos again if it doesn’t work out. The other advantage of campground relationships is variety. Relationship roulette is winning friends of like-minded thinking and interests — it’s a numbers game. It has less to do with couples versus singles and more to do with who you are and how you present yourself.
You will find people camped near you from all walks of life and social backgrounds. If your neighbor in the space left of you is antisocial, don’t worry, to the right of you will be an extrovert. You will run into people that see your license plate and strike up a conversation because they went through your state once. Even though it was on a train at night during a WWII troop movement, they find a connection. In 10 minutes you will know their whole life story and that they could die at any minute from one of several ongoing conditions they are being treated for.
As for your mechanical ineptitude, you must also be proactive in your RV education — or rich. Finding a competent RV mechanic while traveling is another form of roulette. In most cases, you pay $100 per hour (or more) and you have to leave your rig for a week to have your thermostat readjusted. You are sillier than a corn borer in a peach if you own an RV and do not take the time to learn the basics of the various systems. For under twenty bucks you can find a good RV manual that will walk you through most problems. If you can’t figure something out, you may want to combine your social and mechanical shortcomings and pop-up in some conversation and ask for mechanical help. Many a satisfying relationship has sprouted from a leaky sink. Happy Trails to you. —Keep Smilin’, RV Shrink
The RV Shrink is not really a psychologist (or professional RV technician). But he does knows a lot.