The number of single, senior women who have adopted the full-time RVing lifestyle appears to be growing, according to a feature story in USA Today.
Nicole de Lorimier sold her house in Santa Barbara, Calif., last year and went on the road full time in a 21-foot recreational vehicle and hasn’t looked back.
“There’s a kindred spirit when you meet,” de Lorimier, 67, says of her fellow travelers. “You’re connected by the road, but it’s something more than the road. It’s an essence that draws someone to this kind of life. I think there is kind of a common thread of those women who are adventuresome and will take a risk.”
“More women are adopting this lifestyle, and I don’t know exactly why,” says Susan Collins, 63, president of the singles chapter of the Family Motor Coach Association. The chapter has 528 members, she says, about equally divided between men and women.
“I think we’re retiring early. There are a lot of women who are divorced or have lost their spouses. Women are getting more energetic. They are no longer sitting back and saying, ‘Poor me.’ Also, it’s a fairly inexpensive lifestyle. It’s a lot less expensive to keep up a motorhome than a house.”
Many of the travelers linger during the winter months at RV parks in Florida, Arizona, California and Texas.
The appeal, many say, is that RVs offer an inexpensive and independent way to spend extended time with children, grandchildren and friends. And modern RVs are easier to drive and maintain than older models.
Kristy Kawabata points to the growing membership list of the Wandering Individuals Network, or WIN, one of the larger clubs for single RV enthusiasts, as proof of the lifestyle’s popularity with women.
About four years ago, she said, there were about 2,000 members. It’s grown to almost 3,000.
“It’s because women are becoming less afraid to try new things,” said Kawabata, who owns a home in Virginia but spends most of her time traveling in a 25-foot Winnebago.
She says many of the women in the club are widows who had traveled in RVs with their husbands and didn’t want to stop when their husbands died.
Darlene Gahring, 69, started driving on her own two years ago. Gahring and her husband had traveled the roads for years, but she was never at the wheel. She says that after he was killed in an accident that totaled both their motorhome and the car they were towing, she felt she had lost everything.
“I said to my son, ‘I’ve lost my husband, my home, my car. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ And he said, ‘Well, Mom, what about another motorhome?’
“And I said, ‘I’ve always been a can-do person. I know I could learn to drive one.’ ”
Her first trip was 1,400 miles from Kentucky to Arizona with “a lady driving in front and a lady driving behind.” They talked her through it on their CB radios.