Solo RV Travel | What Are My Biggest Challenges on the Road?

I travel solo with my cat. We explore the Desert Southwest in a Toyota FJ Cruiser and we sleep in the comfort of a Keystone Bullet Crossfire. Unlike almost everyone else I encounter on the road, the first RV I ever slept in is the one I bought. I trusted the process and trusted myself and drove my RV a whopping 600-plus miles away from Atlanta, before even spending a night under its roof.

Last night, it rained all night. The sound of the heavy pitter-patter on the skylights brought me back to my early years of living in a Jamaican mountain town. We had a zinc roof (tin roof, for North Americans) and I loved the sound of the rain on that roof. I now love the sound of the rain on the RV roof; I slept like a baby. This morning, I woke up to snow on the peaks of the mountains. I could see them from my bed, while Shadow purred next to me.

I would love to tell you that every day is like this, but I’m sure you already know that rain in the desert and snow in Southern California are rarities. I’d also love to tell you that everyone is friendly and all the connections I make are wholesome, but neither of those is true. So, here are the five biggest challenges I encounter as a Black woman traveling solo in rural America.

1. White Supremacy

I am a slow traveller. I like to bask in the natural glory of an area before moving on to new pastures. But, so far, I have had to leave two campgrounds because of White Supremacists. In Arizona, I butt heads with the Confederates. Then, I left Quechan lands, after running into one of the men who helped plan the failed coup at the Capitol.

Not only did this man casually use the N-word in my hearing, but he told me he had heard enough about Black struggles in his 54 years of living and, “F**k BLM and f**k ANTIFA” because he didn’t give a damn. As far as he was concerned, racism was hardly worth complaining about and America had bigger fish to fry. Funny enough, he insists he is not racist and says, “I have Black friends!” But, of course, most true racists do.

2. Internet Connectivity

If you have been following my blog for some time, you remember my sparse posting habits in October. During that time, I had very limited signal in the Nevada mountains and simply could not load the WordPress editor. To add to this, I need internet for work and to stay connected* with a mom whose only child is running loose in the desert with White supremacists, coyotes, and rattlesnakes.

In fact, I have two cell phones: one for business and one for personal use. Between the two of them, I have switched to six different carriers in the past four months, just trying to find a data plan that works for my needs. Aside from work and blogging, I have my vlog. Moving videos between servers takes a lot of bandwidth and data. Right now, I’m using three different phone companies so I know at least one of them has to work at a campground. Needless to say, internet connections create my second-highest bill.

3. Financial Recovery

When I first decided to buy an RV and park it in Vegas, I had no intentions of purchasing a truck until a year or two later. I wasn’t initially planning on moving from place to place until I felt safe enough manoeuvring 35 feet of trailer space. After the pandemic, I downsized my RV plans in favour of mobility. My RV is 21 and a half feet long outside, with 18 feet of interior length. Additionally, mobility meant buying a truck at the same time I bought the RV, so I bought my FJ Cruiser outright, in cash.

Moving to a new place is expensive, RV or not. My insurance is higher in Nevada than it was in Georgia. My registration fees were high and I had to repay excess Nevada taxes on my RV. These Nevada moving costs alone were almost $2,000. For fiscally responsible retirees, that’s probably nothing. I’m a millennial who has only earned a First World salary for four years, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel that pinch in the purse when I swiped my card three times at the DMV.

4. RV Repairs & Upgrades

I have full faith in Samson that he will last me another 100,000 miles at least. I have no such faith in my RV. Like all RVs, it breaks. That’s what RVs do. So far, I’ve had a leaking pipe. The strip around the door has started to come undone. One of my plumbing compartment covers came flying off one day. I also had to replace the cap for my sewer hose compartment and two valves. I have, however, had no serious repairs (knocks on wood!).

Upgrading the RV isn’t easy either. Everyone keeps asking me when you’ll get a tour and the reason I refuse to do one is the brown drives me absolutely crazy. It’s not an ugly brown, but it’s still brown. Why older Americans like this colour so much will never make sense to me. Who wants to be in a coffin, this early? I’m currently changing the colour of things to the neutral colours I am used to in Jamaica: white and grey.

But anyway, want to see me figure out how to install water filters? Check the Instagram video below. If it doesn’t play for you, use this link.

5. Pandemic Restrictions

I want to be clear that my issue is with the fact that we even have a pandemic โ€” not responsible measures to get rid of it. Whether a governor or mayor says I can eat inside a restaurant, drink at a bar, or attend a music festival, you won’t find me doing any of these things in a pandemic. Nevertheless, I miss being able to explore an area without restrictions. There are many national and state parks we can’t even camp in, right now: forcing RVers to pay for accommodations at pricey RV Parks.

It also means I can’t fly my mom out to experience my world through her own eyes. She had a four-day taste of it and was grateful for the experience. She tells me all the time that seeing me handle the RV for those four days is what gave her peace of mind when we parted ways. But, she didn’t really get the full experience of enjoying new places, especially the places I’ve come to love. I can’t wait for the pandemic to be over, controlled or treatable, so she can experience more of this with me.

When I first started RVing, I thought my biggest challenges would be my personal safety and backing up my RV. Neither of these things ended up being of any concern to me. I also thought people who RVed would be more friendly and open. They absolutely can be, but I’ve met far too many a**h***s on the road to believe the RV community is the safe haven I once thought it was. Either way, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else!

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33 thoughts on “Solo RV Travel | What Are My Biggest Challenges on the Road?

    1. He wasn’t physically there, but he had been bragging about helping to plan it. He was bragging around the 3rd and days later, there it was on the news. I’m glad I got away, too!

  1. Wow, traveling around in an RV sounds like a lot of fun! Although, coming in contact with the racists wouldnโ€™t be. Enjoy your life. Keep tracking. Love this!

    1. I haven’t come across any in my current location and I’ve been here for about a month. I decided to head back to an area I know well and where I can vouch for the people who live here. I couldn’t do another day among the crazies! ๐Ÿ˜… And thank you!

  2. I’ve never done RV travel, and I had no idea that there were financial struggles to be taken cared of with an RV; I had the impression that once you paid/rented it, you were good (albeit had to take care of gas/repairs should something happen on the road…). RV travel is definitely an acquired taste, as not all travelers can handle it (I don’t think I would be able to), but it looks like you enjoy it despite the challenges…and honestly, it’s the challenges that help us discover who we really are, our strengths and limitations. Happy RV-ing, and stay safe!

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I have a blast out here!

      To be clear, the finances aren’t because I’m RVing. RVing is a relatively inexpensive way to live. It’s because of how, why and how quickly I left Atlanta. I was debt free before that. I’m not debt free now.

      I cleared out my savings to buy my truck in cash. The RV was another 18k. Then there was the cost of items I needed for the RV, like sewer hoses, water hoses, jacks, etc. That was another $2,500 or so. Then, there was the high gas cost of towing an RV across the country with 3 people and a cat. I paid for that myself, as well as accomodations at RV Parks. Then, there was the $2,000 for switching over residency from GA to NV and re-registering my vehicle and RV. As a reminder, I’m not born or raised here. I’ve only been earning American pay since October 2016, so I don’t have the first world cushion someone else my age should.

      It was all worth it though and my debt is totally manageable. I just miss being debt free!

  3. Yes, the repairs never stop and it is irritating when small bits come apart or just break. One must always try and focus on the positive aspects. You are always going to find unfriendly, racist, xenophobic people wherever you go, but never let that stop you! It’s taken a pandemic to stop us from travelling and even so, we still managed 5 weeks in France in the summer and 1 in Devon in October before 2nd lockdown! Ro on vaccine!!!

    By the way, I think you’re doing brilliantly: I take my hat off to you. ๐Ÿ‘

    1. The repairs are insane. I’ve had to learn to fix little things here and there, because I don’t like the idea of people coming into my RV in the middle of a pandemic. No, thank you! It’s not worth it when I have a toolbox and Google.

      I’m sorry to hear you guys are still grounded. How do you think Brexit will affect RVing for you?

      1. Interesting question. I am Spanish, so no change for me, but my husband can’t stay longer than 4 months anywhere in the EU, although I don’t think we would now, anyway. The most worrying thing will be medical care, so we must make sure we have proper travel insurance. We are hoping to go back to see my in-laws in France in the summer if Covid allows!!!

      2. When you say 4 months, does that mean 4 months per country or 4 months in the EU overall? Goodness, why anyone would have signed up for that makes no sense to me. I’ve been thinking that I’d love to RV in Australia and Europe after the desert has lost its charm. But if Europe can’t get it together (specifically Britain), I may need to save the RVing for Aussie lands!

        I hope you guys are staying safe and healthy! I’m waiting until I get back to Nevada to make use of my health care, so we’re in a similar boat there. ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. 4 months in the EU. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! It makes no sense whatsoever! Huge HGV queues at ports to France (Dover-Calais) and bureaucracy for trade has gone crazy. Farmers, fishermen and all kinds of industries struggling to keep up and many fear bankruptcies. Total chaos.
        I can totally recommend Australia. We hired an RV there for 4 weeks back in the summer of 2003 and absolutely loved it. We picked it up in Cairns and took 4 weeks to drive down the east coast all the way to Sydney. We went trekking in the rainforest and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. We had our 10-year-old son with us and he still talks about it. Simply unforgettable. It is right up your ally. Don’t think about it twice. I look forward to reading all about it already! Go for it! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ‘โค

      4. Wow! That sounds amazing! Now you’ve really got me interested in the Aussie trip. I wonder how hard/easy it would be to take Shadow with me. I’ll have to look into that as well.

      5. I expect she’ll have to quarantine. I seem to remember Johnny Depp getting into trouble for sneaking in a pet of his, but he got caught. Might be better to leave her with a friend or your mum.

      6. Is quarantining independent of the pandemic for cats? He doesn’t do well with being separated from me for more than a few days, so if I was planning on heading to Australia for a few months, I’d likely have to bring him. He starts moping and faking injuries. Last time I took off for 2 weeks and left him with mom, he really had them worried. When I came back, he didn’t realize at first and I could hear him crying downstairs. He’s a melodramatic little thing! ๐Ÿ˜‚

      7. Oh dear! I don’t know what the quarantine rules for pets are in Australia. This has nothing to do with Covid, but standard procedure for pets coming from abroad even here if not part of the EU. You may want to check that. We have a pet passport for Beano for when we go abroad and he needs a rabies jab every 3 years and a certificate of good health from vet issued between 24 hours and 5 days before returning to UK.

      8. I think in America they’re supposed to get that rabies vaccine every year. I’ll definitely look into it. I would hate to leave him. Shadow has a certificate I keep in the car for state-to-state travel as proof that he’s current on vaccines and is healthy.

  4. I am sorry you had to run into a**ho***s like the one you unfortunately met. I firmly believe they are in a minority in this country but you are more likely to find them in the midwest and west. You are having an unbelievable journey, much like we did when we moved to CA from Ohio. We did it in a car with a two man tent, and spent some nights sleeping just off the road. It was quite the adventure and allowed us to see the beauty of this country. I hope your Mom can join you after she’s gotten the vaccine.

    1. I don’t think those people are as much a minority as we would all like to think. I’ve run into them everywhere I’ve gone. I believe I’m more likely to find them in the Midwest and Southeast, with Arizona being the big exception. I do prefer Western Americans. They’re more free-spirited out here and I feel welcome most places I go. I was in a Trump town with MAGA signs everywhere in Overton, NV and I was 100% welcome and didn’t see a single Confederate Flag. Can’t say the same for similar towns in Arizona or the Southeast, though I’m sure there are exceptions.

      Either way, the a**h***s are part of the journey and the experience! As long as they keep their distance and stay out of my way, I don’t mind them. Sadly, most of the ones I’ve met feel the need to let me know I’m unwelcome or that they dislike Black people.

      What was it like tent camping on the way down? I have still yet to camp in a tent! I’m jealous!

      1. Tenting was fine – we’d usually try to find a place with a river nearby if there wasn’t a national park or reserve. You didn’t have to worry about being robbed or attacked in the more isolated places in those days (we’re talking a lot of years ago). The fun part was waking up and finding icicles hanging from the roof of the tent (inside!)..

      2. Icicles!! Wow! That would have freaked me out a little. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Yeah, safety is definitely an issue these days, especially for women traveling solo.

  5. fyi…the SoCal mountains get snow every year. sometimes the snow is early (by thanksgiving) and sometimes much later (like now, late january). the weather reports say we are getting 2 years worth of rain in the past 2 weeks. RVs are much like homes….they are or can be “money pits.” lol

    i think Nevada does not have state taxes, so they make up the revenue in other ways. lol

    internet connection must be a hassle.

    1. I’ve been seeing the snow from the RV. I’ve also seen FJ Cruiser owners on IG going offroading in the snow in the San Bernardino mountains. I hear it’s all melted again now though.

      RVs are probably bigger money pits than houses because they aren’t built as well. But so much of the maintenance can be done yourself, so maybe it’s not as expensive in actual money as much as time. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      That’s exactly what the Nevada DMV told me. The lady said, “We don’t have income tax, so we have to get the money in other ways.” They can charge you thousands for just lapsing on insurance. In Georgia that’s about $25.

      Internet connection is the most common battle I fight. I think I’ve found a setup that works for me now, but it’s pricey. I spend about $220 on internet connection per month. That’s 2 phones and 2 hotspot decides from 3 different carriers. Almost half of that is ONE phone bill: Verizon. I really want to get rid of them, but I’m told they’re best for remote areas and I’m always in the countryside or on indian reservations.

      1. Verizon is expensive, and what I have, but they seem to have the best coverage overall. Even consumer reports lists them as overall the better of all. Yesterday I looked to the east and could see the San Jacinto mtns snow capped but the San Bernardino mtns I could not see because of clouds.

      2. Verizon makes my bank accounts weep. I’m paying $35 per month on Mint Mobile for unlimited data. Verizon is currently charging me $95 for the same. I have no idea why my bill went up and, apparently, neither do they. So far, my Mint phone has worked everywhere my Verizon has except for Lake Mead. ๐Ÿ˜…

        I think I saw snow on the San B mountains a few days ago, while I was out. It was super cloudy, but they had cleared just enough for me to see. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. You are handling your RV experience like a Pro. Glad you are safe regardless of a**h**** youโ€™ve come across. The mountain weather offers up many surprises. Be safe and enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thank you! I’m doing my best to stay warm and stay put as it’s very cold! Right now, I’m struggling with a condensation issue in the RV because it’s so much warmer inside than outside. I’ll probably do a post or a video once I have it figured out.

      Thanks again!

  7. Hi Alexis! Nice to see you back, in good shape, and – as most times – fantastic and positive mood. Thank you so much for this virtual journey around. I am so sorry for your experiences with these idiotic “white skinned”. But at least i think you had also great positive experiences. By the way: The naming for the RV sounds a little bit like from a martial art movie. Lol Be well and please stay save! Enjoy the weekend! Michael

    1. Haha, Jasmine is because of her colour. She has blue decals. For some reason, I remembered Jasmine from Aladdin! I named it on the spot. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      It sucks that I’ve encountered those people for sure! But I guess that’s part of the adventure. I just try to keep my distance and stay safe. Good people are out here too!

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