When I first hit the road eight years ago, I admit I didn’t have a plan beyond the first six months. I was focused on one quest—redo a trip from 1965. Then I wanted to see family, and hit some national parks—but then what?
I found out that wandering alone is lonely. I saw all these happy couples chasing their dream and that made me feel even lonelier.
Then, I wasn’t even savvy enough to Google “Single RVers.” If I had, I would have been presented with a plethora of choices—RVing Women, Escapees Solos, Loners on Wheels (LOW), Sisters on the Fly—and Wandering Individuals Network.
A friend introduced me to this nice lady who camped with LOWs in mid-Florida, and I joined the Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin chapters. But they only went out once a month to a campground nearby. That wasn’t the adventure I was looking for.
Joining the Wandering Individuals Network
Then a LOW told me about Wandering Individuals Network. I joined, but I didn’t actually JOIN until six months later when I was in Washington trying to figure out how to travel down the Oregon Coast.
Then I remembered WIN. I checked online and they were only a few hours away. Their circuit included a trip down the Oregon Coast. Wow. I drove over with some trepidation. Who are these people? Would they welcome me? Were they … weird?
“I found my tribe”
My first night convinced me—I had found my tribe.
With WIN I have seen 40 states, gone places I would never have gone by myself, tried things I had never really succeeded at before (i.e., kayaking, biking and hiking) and formed good solid friendships.
Where does the Wandering Individuals Network camp? And for how much? How is it unique?
An average stop is a week and the average stay is somewhere cheap or free—because many members are full-time RVers who don’t want to pay $75 a night for the privilege of “camping.” Out West, that means BLM or national forest land, if available. In somewhere like Florida, it means a lot of Elks and Moose parking lots. (And these lodges are delighted to see us.) WINs like to say they are “chasing 70 degrees” while not paying more than $10 a night.
The circuits are what make WIN unique. Members pay $120 a year for entry to a website that explains how WIN works, gives access to past newsletters, offers membership information and upcoming “circuit” travel plans. Right now, there are seven upcoming circuits posted and two going on—one in Canada and one in Oregon.
How the WIN got started
I started editing the club newsletter six years ago and was fascinated to hear the WIN history. How do you start something like this?
It started 35 years ago when nine RVers gathered around a table at The Slabs near Niland, CA, to talk about starting an RV travel club for single adults.
Imagine March 25, 1988, when there were no cell phones, no internet, just some ladies who had a strong “drive” to start an on-road community. All by telephone and by mail!
In the ensuing years, the club has had thousands of members and four presidents/owners —with the fifth taking control on March 7, brimming with new ideas on how to grow the club in today’s fast-changing RV world.
Club membership was—unfortunately—on a downward trend and the new owner vowed to update our look and focus on marketing in places I had never thought of before— Instagram, podcasts, YouTube videos.
Our new owner, Jenell Jones, is a native of Fort Worth, TX, whose career was in county government in Florida. She joined WIN eight years ago but acknowledges she didn’t actually join a “circuit” until 2019. She went from a self-admitted “online stalker” to immediately leading circuits in Michigan and on the East Coast. And then, when she had a chance to buy WIN from former owner Maynard Magee, she leapt at it.
Now she’s focused on getting the message out—but the message remains the same: WIN aims to be the premier RV club for the solo traveler.
If you’re feeling lonely out there on the wide-open road, perhaps think about joining the Wandering Individuals Network. I’m sure glad I did.