Get and stay connected with your fellow travelers by attending events and using social media.
By Kerensa Durr, F437547
It was going to be Brandon and me about 99 percent of the time. This is the reality I thought I had to accept as a full-time RVer. We would visit our friends and family while on the road, but that would last only a few weeks throughout a year. Most of the time, it would be just the two of us traveling the United States. And while it is just the two of us the majority of the time, I had no idea just how social RVing could be. After getting on the road and learning the ins and outs of meeting people while traveling, we’re more social than ever before! We meet people all the time and then continue to see them again over the following months and years, whenever we’re nearby. And although some of these interactions start in person, a lot of our relationships have their beginnings on the internet.
The past few years have brought many new tools and social media apps to help us connect with others. They are a boon for RVers who, because they are always on the go, can find it difficult to connect with people. Your future best friends may be just down the road, but you may never meet them if you don’t know they’re close by. For that matter, walking up to someone unsolicited can be intimidating to a lot of us. Social media aims to solve these issues by allowing you to find other RVers around you and creating an instant connection. If you’ve already followed someone’s journey through photos or spoken with him or her online, it’s much easier to talk to them in person. You may feel like you already know them. And meeting people in a group setting can take the pressure off a one-to-one encounter.
These methods of meeting people on the road are used by us on a daily basis.
Facebook is the social media juggernaut. Since it has over 2 billion active users, you may be among them. Lots of us use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family, but you also can use it to find new friends and discuss common interests. Beyond watching your newsfeed and sharing status updates, you can join groups centered around almost any topic you like. Facebook groups focused on RVing can be a good place to start. Everyone already has a common interest in RVing, which gives you a connection point and a way to break the ice. Some general RV groups, like our own RV to Freedom, are focused on creating a welcoming place to ask questions, learn about living in an RV, and foster community. Others cater to specific subsets, such as diesel RVs; mobile internet; women on the road; or boondocking. And some groups are all about the social aspect of RVing. If you search “RV” on Facebook, you’re certain to find a group that fits you. Make sure to read the group’s description or pinned post to find the best match.
Once you’re in a group, participate by chatting with some of the members. And when there’s a roll call to see where people are, you may be surprised to find a fellow member near you.
For us, Facebook was our first connection point with other full-time RVers. We met some like-minded travelers in a group, and we all met up when we were in Austin, Texas. This happened during our first few months on the road. To be able to instantly become a part of a community like that was incredible. It immediately helped us feel that we had made the correct decision to go on the road full-time, and I knew we would be able to meet more friends along the way.
Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing app that is used primarily on your smartphone. You can use the web to look at photos others share, but to upload your own media, you must use the Instagram mobile app. This is one of our top RVing apps, as it’s how we meet the most people. It’s very popular among RVers, and we know more people by their Instagram names than their real ones.
Travel is a popular Instagram topic, so it’s no wonder RVers are drawn to this social media platform. We all like to show the cool places we’ve been, pictures of our RVs, and all the fun things we do on our trips. You can even think of it as a catalog of cool spots to visit in the future. But more than that, RVers connect through this mobile app. You’ll find individuals, couples, and families all sharing their travels under fun names that express their personality or journey. For example, Drive Dive Devour sums up what we like to do on the road, and what you’ll see in our feed: RVing, scuba diving, and food. Once you start following a few people, Instagram will suggest more in the same genre for you to follow, making it easy to find other RVers. And you can search hashtags like #RVlife, #FMCARV, #RVtoFreedom, and #RVliving to find more. Scroll through your feed and leave some thoughtful comments on photos you like. It’s this back-and-forth that starts to create connections.
When you post to Instagram, you can tag your location so that others know from where you are posting. This geo tag allows others to chime in with recommendations for places to eat or stay, or to say they are nearby. Or, you can flip it and search your location to see who is near you. It might seem odd at first to reach out to a stranger, but it’s fairly common etiquette for RVers on Instagram. We all want to meet others who enjoy the same things we do.
RVillage is a social platform made just for RVers. A lot of the features will feel familiar to Facebook users, as it has a newsfeed, groups based around interests or clubs (look for the FMCA groups!), and friends. Once you create a profile, using your name or maybe that fun moniker you already made up, you can check in to your location and see if anyone on RVillage is at your RV park or nearby. Or, just scope out your route or next destination for friends or prospective RV buddies without making your whereabouts known. You’re able to create events or send messages right in the web or mobile app and see if anyone wants to join you for a hike or campfire. We have attended get-togethers planned on RVillage and met neighbors we might have been too shy to say hello to otherwise. I also enjoy the map of my travels it creates.
If you prefer to meet people face-to-face, an RV rally may be right for you. Perhaps you want to meet with a few dozen other owners of your RV brand, or maybe you prefer a large club such as FMCA. Whatever it is, there is likely a club and a rally for it. You can start out small and go to a local rally and meet your neighbor — at an FMCA chapter rally, for example — or go big and attend an FMCA international convention and RV expo. This past summer in Indianapolis, Indiana, we attended our first FMCA convention, which was a lot of fun and quite the experience. We had never seen so many RVs in one spot before! In both cases, rallies small and large, we met people and formed an instant connection through RVing. And although these connections may actually start in person, you can move them online to any of the social platforms and stay in touch. Then you can meet again in the future.
Of course, you can always walk through a campground and just start talking to people, but having already “met” people online or at a rally gives you an easy icebreaker. This is especially good for introverts and shy people like me. I am thankful for all the tools at my disposal to meet people on the road.
As much as we love traveling to new places and exploring, having friends is a vital part of what keeps us on the road. It’s not always about the destination, but who will be there. I love RVers and I love meeting them in person; these outlets keep us connected until that can happen. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll meet you on the road!
Visit Kerensa Durr and Brandon Hatcher in their Facebook group RV To Freedom. You can learn more about full-time RVing at RVtoFreedom.com and read more of their personal adventures at DriveDiveDevour.com.