Tuesday, March 21, 2023


How to conquer the fear of breaking down in remote areas

Do you have a fear of breaking down in remote areas with your RV?

This question recently came up during a Zoom meeting among RVtravel.com writers and staff. Given the ongoing shortage of repair parts, trained technicians, lack of qualified service centers, supply chain issues, labor shortages and potential problems with obtaining emergency road service, it was deemed a legitimate concern.

RV in DesertSince remote areas (aka middle of nowhere ) are my favorite places to visit, I agreed to pose the question and share my thoughts.

As previously mentioned, my wife and I frequently RV to remote areas in search of ghost towns, unique geological formations, mining camps and other lesser-known, forgotten places. As such, we have become proficient in navigating to these places, become self-reliant taking care of our needs, and are prepared for emergency situations.

What is fear?

I hadn’t given this question a lot of thought until I sat down to write this article. I started out by performing a Google search for the word “fear”.

As you can see from the definitions posted above, it boils down to an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that something dangerous, painful, or threatening is likely to happen.

I then asked myself, why am I not anxious about the likelihood of something going wrong when we are traveling in or through remote areas?

Am I naïve? Or have I taken steps (intentionally or unintentionally) to minimize the chance of breakdowns and being prepared in the event they occur?

After going through the list of concerns stated at the beginning of this article, I came to the realization I have mostly negated them.

Let’s take a look:

Choice of vehicle type

Your choice of vehicle may have a bearing on your fear of traveling to remote areas. Parts and service centers for specialized chassis like Mercedes, Freightliner, Spartan, etc., aren’t typically found in remote settings. However, parts for a standard pickup truck can be found at almost any auto parts store and most any repair shop can service them.

My choice of RV at the moment is a conventional pickup truck pulling a travel trailer. Therefore, service centers and parts are more readily available in remote areas.


Many breakdowns can be attributed to deferred maintenance. I make sure my truck and trailer are serviced regularly, the bearings are packed, the brakes are good, and the tires are properly inflated with no signs of unusual wear.

Finding replacement parts

A little online research will reveal the parts most likely to fail on your rig. Rather than relying on finding those parts in remote areas, especially given potential supply chain issues, obtain those parts in advance and carry them with you. Having the parts with you will alleviate the anxiety of travel in and through remote areas fearing the “what if we break down” scenario. For me, that means carrying spare tires for the truck and trailer along with a plug kit and air compressor, a spare serpentine belt for the truck, bearing set and grease seals for the trailer, along with bearing grease, spare fuses for the truck and trailer, spare circuit board for the RV furnace and water heater, etc.


Given the shortage of qualified technicians these days, knowledge is key when your RV becomes disabled in remote areas. Learn the inner workings of your RV, obtain the tools to diagnose and repair common failures and have a backup plan if you don’t have what you need to make field repairs. Here is the backup plan for 12-volt failure in my travel trailer. If you still find yourself needing a technician, knowledge of your RV workings will keep you from being taken advantage of.

RV on mat
Field Repair – Adjusting the brakes in the middle of nowhere

Emergency Roadside Assistance

Knowing you can get towed to the proper facility when needed is key to putting your fears to rest when RVing in remote areas. Check your policy and know the following in advance:

  • Are there restrictions from where you can be towed? Will they retrieve your vehicle from only paved roads, gravel roads, or “any named road” in the boondocks?
  • Do they have contracts with providers that can safely tow your rig?
  • Will they only tow you to the nearest repair facility, or the nearest repair facility that is qualified to fix your rig?
  • Is there a limit as to how many miles they will tow you?

Learn more about what to look for in a roadside assistance policy here.

Remote Areas - Towing
Make sure your roadside assistance policy can handle your rig


Being without cell coverage is another legitimate concern when traveling in remote areas. If you find yourself broken down with no cell phone service, how will you summon help or let your family know you are okay? Consider investing in a 2-way satellite messenger such as a Spot X®, as I have.

With a 2-way satellite messenger, you can contact emergency road service, provide them with your exact location and receive a reply of their ETA at your location. You can also let family and friends know of your situation. An added benefit of a 2-way satellite messenger, I recently discovered, is that you can ask family or friends to research things for you on the internet like sourcing parts, service centers and “how-to” articles/videos on your particular needed repair. This type of 2-way communication, when you are without cell service in remote areas, is invaluable for getting back on the road as well as for peace of mind. Not to mention, you can summon 9-1-1 too! 

RV in Remote area
Not a bad place to hang out for a couple of days.

Food and shelter

If you find yourself breaking down while traveling through remote areas, you have nothing to fear as you are in a self-contained house on wheels. Be prepared to spend a day or two in remote areas by always carrying an extra day or two worth of potable water in your freshwater tank along with a few extra groceries. You just might find the unwelcomed stop a fortunate stroke of serendipity, as my wife and I once experienced when our tow vehicle had an intake manifold problem and we limped into a remote Utah town for repairs.

Those of you my age might remember the song “Enjoy It” from the Disney movie “In Search of the Castaways.” I will leave you with some lines from the song to ponder:

We are travelers on life’s highway, enjoy the trip.
Each lovely twist and byway, each bump and dip.
If there’s a complication, enjoy it!
You’re stranded in the jungle, enjoy the trees.

After all, RVing is all about the journey. So enjoy it wherever you find yourself – planned or unplanned. 

Now that I have shared why I am not anxious about RVing through remote areas, how about you? Do you have a fear of breaking down in remote areas with your RV? Please share your thoughts using the comment box below.

##RVT1025 ##RVDT2062


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1 month ago

I’d like to coin a word here. Afaraphobia – the fear of being stranded in a remote location. It has a nice ring to it.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

I typically lack fear of breaking down. We do or have done all routine maintenance on the RV and towed vehicle. We tend to not go far afield in the RV (too new, too expensive, and not my thing). If we go off-roading (e.g., visit Chicken, Alaska from a campground in Tok, Alaska), we will take the Jeep and not the RV. We live in nature in our sticks-and-bricks, so we lack the compulsion to be off-grid that so many seek.

Bill Fisher
1 month ago

I agree wholeheartedly with having a Spot X or other satellite communication device. Another benefit is that our grown kids can track us and know where we are and we do a “check in” with it every evening after we stop for the day

Scott R. Ellis
1 month ago

We spend as much time as possible with nobody else in view or within earshot, and ideally with no lights visible at night. And we do it without hesitation, mostly due to the measures listed here. I’d add a couple: some form of self-defense, and good mapping/navigation technology (ideally both electronic and paper). Nice article.

1 year ago

Great job, love all of your strategies and how you categorized them. One thing I do is once I get into what is becoming a secluded two track road area, I walk it out first. Once I was just going to drive down this 4wd high clearance rock road and something urged me to get out and walk it, it got worse and worse with high kerfs on the sides and boulders in the tire tracks and came to a dead end. I would have had to back out for almost a 1/4 of a mile with little to no clearance on the sides. I would have torn up a lot of things on my vehicle trying to back out. Dodged a bullet.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  david

I once had to back a semi over a mile at 2 AM due to incorrect directions, not fun.

Ray Cordero
1 year ago

Great article! Started full-time rving 2016 with no mechanical problems until Oct last year. Since then we have had two blown sparks plugs, an emergency brake that had to be rebuilt and now we’re trying to get a possible engine water pump/pulley/tensioner…fun, fun, fun.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray Cordero

Must have a 5.3L 3 valve ford!.

1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

Agreed! We spent a week in Quesnel, BC after losing a plug awaiting our turn for repair. The engine was running 90 minutes later. Got to know the folks there quite well and enjoyed the extended break in the travel.

1 year ago

Roadside service tends to be limited in low population areas–even along Interstates. I waited 4 hours in the cold along I-40 in Tennessee for gasoline from AAA. (The station had gone out of business at an exit where I expected gas.)

AAA didn’t have any partners in the area.

27 days ago
Reply to  Irv

Sometimes you’re just up the proverbial creek. We had a problem in a remote part of Nebraska. Sure we could be towed (eventually), but the nearest towns didn’t even have car mechanics. The 2 closest shops that worked on coaches were 60 and 110 miles away, respectively. One never returned our call. The other was booked out for 10 days. Luckily, an online search enabled us to fix the problem ourselves.

1 year ago

Its been my experience that the best roadside service is the one closest to you that can and will reach you in a timely manner. Roadside assistance programs like Good Sam’s have left me in a lurch in remote locations and in not-so-remote locations as well. I’ve had a mid-day promise to reach me that culminated in a late evening call back only to inform they can’t make it. And one on a busy Houston Freeway wherein they could not find an available tow service in program. Save your money for the best service,

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

I always had good service from Good Sam but I’ve heard other people say bad things about it. I do know they have a network of providers and don’t go outside of that network, I guess I’ve been lucky. I never had to wait more than 2 hours.

1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

They are all bad. AAA will simply fail to help, Coach-net will cram you into their idea of a ‘solution’, all feature automated machines, long waits, and and inane scripts to ‘handle your call’.

Joan Rainwater-Gish
17 days ago
Reply to  wanderer

We have AAA Premium but have not had to use it as yet. I was hoping AAA was better than most. Tell me about your experience with AAA and if you have since found a better emergency tow service program. thanks

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