Saturday, October 23, 2021


Fulltime RVing — Don’t you get lonely?

By Greg Illes
One of the most-asked questions from my non-RV friends is, “Isn’t it awful lonely traveling around in a motorhome?”

It’s a somewhat ingenuous query that always makes me smile, but I try to answer seriously, in a way that the novice can understand as a takeaway from our conversation. Fact is, my wife and I meet more people, and we meet more-interesting people, and we have more time to spend with them, than when we are at home. I guess I should preface this by saying we spend only a small part of our time in striped-pavement RV parks; we don’t journey from parking space to parking space. Most of the time we are out in USFS or BLM camps, state or federal parks, or just out-and-out boondocking.

The photo shows a chance conversation between my wife and a Santa-looking fellow doing road-repair work one morning near our camp in a state park. We had a choice to hunker down and wait for the noise to stop, or go out and chat up the man who was “disturbing the peace.” He was a great guy, been working the county roads for a dozen years, and had plenty of things to say about the region, his job and life, and the state of the U.S. in general — just like most folks.

Whether it’s a local working man/woman, a fellow traveler, a camp host, a park ranger, or any of hundreds of other types of people encountered on the road, it seems there’s always an opportunity to share joys, experiences and even heartaches as well.

There was the camp host at a Nevada site who was recovering from a triple whammy of Lyme disease, awful divorce and financial near-ruin. All he had was his trailer and his regained health. He was one of the most cheerful, engaging people I’ve ever met. There was the Swiss couple touring the Grand Canyon who wandered into our camp late one evening. There was the water/power worker in Lone Pine, loving his job working in the outdoors and checking stream flows. There was the couple from Australia, traveling around the world in their expedition vehicle.

SOME OF THESE FOLKS were brief encounters and some remain our friends years later. All of them bring something unique to our lives (and hopefully we do also to theirs) — a glimpse into other worlds, places and attitudes — an expansion of mind and spirit that is so indispensable to us gregarious humans.

After pondering the “why” of this for a while, I realized there are some subtle factors involved, both human and geographical, that make traveling so much more engagingly social than home life. Firstly, there’s time. Time to pause, time to relax, time to stroll the camp, as we do almost every morning and evening. Time to simply stop and chat. It’s amazing how little time there seems to be at home, with projects and schedules and appointments.

Secondly, there is commonality. At home, we seem to meet with people who are also absorbed and busy — but on the road, the people we meet are of a similar bent. They have time, too. And then there’s diversity. Road folks are from all over the place. We meet people from all walks of life, from countries around the world, and with jobs or careers we didn’t even know existed.

Yes, every once in a long while we run across a dud, but it’s so rare I can’t even remember the last time it happened. Basically, everyone ends up enriching our own lives in some overall fashion. Everyone we meet is interesting in one way or another. Every one we meet teaches us something about the world, the region or life, from another perspective.

So for us, being on the road is the antithesis of loneliness — it’s a grand gathering of fellows, each with something to share, and it is invariably a rich, rewarding experience for us every time we go “out there.”

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. 

##RVT835 ##RVDT1421



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David Binkley
1 year ago

There is a difference between being lonely and being alone that many people cannot seem to understand.

Joseph Weinstein
1 year ago

We retired a few years ago. One can be as lonely stationary as they can full time. It’s about choosing what you want. We try to be friendly when we are in camp. Some people want to engage, others don’t. Recently we met a couple with a young child. He was divorced, remarried and was ready to buy a Corvette. She had a big heart, strong convictions and determination. They were set to travel in a few years. A young girl got into trouble and the couple gave up one dream to raise a new child. They are great parents, their daughter is a wonderful young child. When you meet people such as these it’s hard to feel alone.

Abe Loughin
1 year ago

The wife and I are workcampers, I couldn’t agree more. I’m out and about in the campground as a maintenance worker and part of my job description is literally to take some time and engage with the guests. I get to have conversations that would never happen if I were living in a house.

1 year ago

I couldn’t have said it any better. Full time life on the road is enriching & full of surprises, 99% of which are very pleasant experiences. The 1% that are unpleasant are no different than the negative experiences you would encounter if you stayed home & never travelled. We can’t imagine any other life style than fulltiming now, after 10 years of the best time of our lives. We will continue doing this until age & declining health force us off the road. Then we will have our thousands of memories & many new friends to reminisce about for the remaining years of our lives. Our motto is ‘Chasin our dream fulltime’.

1 year ago

Very well said!

I have had a grand adventure on the road and meet so many different people. Sometimes I feel like asking stay-putters if they don’t get lonely in their suburban ‘pods’ where everyone stays in their own orbit. We called them pod-people even when we were them!

3 years ago

Traveling by yourself, you may meet as many or as few people as you choose. I have made friends with whom I E Mail every other week and see once or twice a year for a week or two. It would be very different if I were traveling with my young children but, at this point in my retired life, I am delighted to share a campfire and some chips and dip!

3 years ago

Recent research as shown that socializing and listening to music stimulate the same area of the brain. I listen to KUTX radio (the University of Texas music channel) online every day. It’s a great channel which plays lots of different kinds of music (not classical) with no commercials. Just download the app from the App Store.

Stuart Syme
3 years ago

I grew up in a military family and I did 22 years in the Canadian Army. I hear you, Troy.

The advantages: I can sleep anywhere at anytime; when I travel I immerse myself in the culture and food of where I am – I don’t bring my biases and cultural baggage with me; I talk to strangers; I have friends all over the world even though I seldom see them; moving and travel is an exercise in logic – not emotion – the joy is in what I see and hear all along the way; when I learn something about how people do things in one place I can take that knowledge and apply it somewhere where it has never been done. And one last thing: my startle threshold is high.

The disadvantages: no attachments – not to people (one exception), places, or things; lots of churn – starting over from scratch; sometimes I buy from the wrong store, hire the wrong tradesman, go to the wrong garage because they are all new to me – the locals all know better; sometimes gullible and naive I get taken in because I think everyone is good. But I can adapt and bad things/bad people don’t last long.

So, what is the bottom line? Life is an adventure and nothing gets old. Is it better to have had our life or to have stayed in one place? I don’t know for sure … but I’m not going to worry about it. I turned 70 last week and a couple of days ago we bought an old house in another town where we have never lived. I figure it will take me about 6 months of renovating before we can move in. No problem – we’ll just live in our trailer.

Enjoy the journey, Troy. It’s not about the destination. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never be lost.

3 years ago

Reading Troys comments gave me a moment to pause and reflect. The wife and I are both retired and love traveling and I always dreamed of full timing one day. Now that we are retired and I am comfortable at home I am hesitant about giving up my permanent residence for a permanent life on the road. Now I fantasize about an equal amount of time at home and on the road. Of course with that option I now worry about the house being vacant for periods of time! For me (us) it’s a tough decision. However we love the camping lifestyle and try to do as much as we can.

3 years ago

I agree and I never meet a stranger, but there are no deep meaningful relationships in this lifestyle. There are no best friends or people that will come to your aide in a time of need. Everyone is pretty much just acquaintances.
I grew up in the military and then joined and spent over 20 years in it myself, and I always envied people that lived in one place. They have friendships that last their whole life, and people they can always count on when they need them. I have no idea how to make a real friend, because I was always having to leave them after a few years so what’s the point… I’m great at meeting new people and telling them about me and learning about them, but after that I have no clue what to do.
Now I’m Fulltiming with my wife and three year old, and I’m afraid that my daughter may never have any real friends either. She will have some wonderful experiences and learn lots of great things, but at what cost? We started this journey to find a place to settle, but I just don’t know if I will ever be able to…

1 year ago
Reply to  Troy

Some of my closest friends are people I met in the military – depending on the branch and service you may often be stationed with the same people as at previous stations, and if not then staying in touch is just a matter of making enough effort to stay in touch. Other close friends were met while RVing, and still others were from school, church, work and family. The question for a close friendship is: will you be there when they need you?