Women and Rigs: Towing and Driving RVs

29Jan
Women and Rigs: Towing and Driving RVs

But do you tow or drive the RV? 

As a woman who travels in an RV about 80 days out of the year, I’ve been asked a version of this question so many times. The answer? Yes…and no.

And, well…it’s complicated.

Because it is complicated.

I recently drove a Class C motorhome on actual roads for the very first time. A follow up conversation on social media made me realize that I had never really talked or written about my personal history with towing and driving RVs.

So I figured it might be time to do just that.

What’s so complicated about women and RVs?

It should be simple, right?

Question: Can women tow RVs?

Answer: Yes, of course.

Well, I want to share my own story because what seems like a simple question is actually more complicated. And many of the online discussions really aren’t that helpful or nuanced.

Oftentimes on social media, women who post about being anxious or nervous about towing or driving RVs will get two responses:

  1. I’m also scared, and don’t tow or drive our RV.
  2. Don’t be scared. You can do anything a man can do.

So while it’s true that theoretically any woman can tow or drive a rig just as well as a man, it’s also true that not everyone is comfortable doing the same things. And that’s okay. I’m terribly claustrophobic and my husband is pretty scared of heights. We could pressure one another to overcome these anxieties, but ultimately they don’t affect our everyday life and aren’t keeping us from having a good time.

So can all you ladies tow or drive the RV?

Yes. Absolutely. Of course.

Is it always necessary for women to be comfortable towing and driving RVs? Nope. Absolutely not.

Family RV #1: Our First Pop Up Camper

Jeremy and I started out on equal footing with our first pop up camper. Neither of us had ANY experience towing.

Zero. Zip.

But a few key moments changed that dynamic rather quickly and gave Jeremy more exposure to handling and towing the pop up camper.

We had twin 10-month old babies when we bought our first pop up camper. When the time came to pick it up from the dealership and get the walk through, one of us had to stay home with the babies and one of us had to go get the RV. This was a no-brainer decision for us based on the fact that I was solely responsible for feeding the boys at that point. Jeremy went to pick up the RV, and had that first nerve-wracking experience of driving it home. By the time he pulled into the driveway, he was an old hand at towing, and I was still a newbie.

But even though he got out of the gate ahead of me, I was still determined to be comfortable towing the pop up. I have always enjoyed driving, and couldn’t imagine not splitting the responsibilities on our longer trips.

So I did learn to tow.

But it didn’t work well for our family.

You see, while Jeremy and I always split up the driving pre-kids, the family dynamic had completely changed with the addition of a couple of babies. Many of you understand the juggle of handing out snacks, picking up dropped lovies, and soothing the wild beasts in the backseat. As far as I was concerned, Jeremy did not do a good job at fulfilling those passenger seat duties while I was driving. We would inevitably have a big fight that would lead to him driving and me taking care of the kids and navigating.

Guess what? That worked better for us for the next few years, and it would have been silly to keep sharing driving responsibilities even though a different division of labor clearly was best for our family.

Family RV #2: Our First Travel Trailer

By the time we upgraded to our first bunkhouse travel trailer, Jeremy had significantly more towing experience than I did. We also welcomed baby #3 who absolutely HATED car rides and had to be constantly soothed while we were traveling. This reinforced our division of labor as partners: Jeremy towed and I was the ringleader of the ridiculous backseat circus.

There were times that I towed the White Hawk, but to be honest, the same pattern would play out. The kids would be out of control, I would be frustrated with Jeremy’s passenger seat performance…cue completely unadorable marital spat.

Over the course of five years, we settled in to a very comfortable pattern of Jeremy towing while I navigated and managed entertainment, food, and beverage service.

Family RV #3: The HUGE Toy Hauler

Now, this is where the rubber meets the road in my personal story as a woman RVer.

  • I was comfortable towing the pop up camper.
  • I was capable of towing the travel trailer, but didn’t have enough experience to be totally comfortable with it.
  • Tow the toy hauler? Oh, hell no.

See, by the time we purchased the toy hauler, Jeremy had soooo much more towing experience than I did and it was still a big learning curve for him. I know that I could learn how to tow the toy hauler, but I just don’t want to. I’m not comfortable with the experience and quite frankly I don’t want to put the time and effort into getting comfortable with a 50+ foot towing set up.

The responsibility of learning to tow such a large RV which my three kids in the truck also completely flipped me out.

Am I completely at ease with the fact that we have a family RV that I don’t really want to tow? No. Do I feel bad about not wanting to tow it? Nope, not one bit.

Family RV #4: Penny the Pop Up Camper

This year we bought a used $1,000 pop up camper. You can read about the purchase or hear us talk about the whole story on our podcast, but suffice it to say I was thrilled to again be the owner of a trailer I was comfortable towing. I had a case of the jitters on my first trip since it had been so long since I had pulled a pop up camper. Before long, my confidence returned and I loved feeling that sense of ease again.

Our Rental RV: Driving a Class C Motorhome

When we rented a Class C motorhome a few weeks ago from Lazydays in Tampa, Florida, I knew that Jeremy and I were at the exact same place in terms of our Class C driving experience. Zilch. I also knew that Jeremy has serious interest in owning a motorhome in the future.

Our boys are older now and don’t require as much ‘handling’ during our long road trips.

Plus, I’ve learned a lot from the last eight years of our RV journey.

So there was absolutely no way I wasn’t getting behind that wheel and having the experience of driving the Class C motorhome. Yes, I was nervous. But I was also completely confident that I could do it.

And I did. Slow and steady, with Jeremy spotting me as I pulled out or backed in to campsites and parking lots. I did the same for him. We worked together as a team…no matter who was doing the actually driving.

Lessons from 8 Years of Towing (and Not Towing) RVs

So that’s my long, complicated history of towing (and not towing) the family RVs. I’ve learned a lot from the experience, and of course, hindsight is always 20/20.

And if I could wrap up all that wisdom earned from our personal family journey, I would tell you this:

It’s okay to not want to tow or drive a certain sized RV. And it’s okay for only one person to tow or drive the family RV.

BUT.

If you want to tow or drive the family RV, get one that you are comfortable with.

Even though you could learn how to drive a forty-foot Class A with a dingy, it’s okay if that’s not for you. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.

I could learn how to rewire my basement electricity, but I’ve decided to let someone else handle that for now.

Jeremy could learn how to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, but we’ll probably say no thank you to that experience.

I understand many people argue that this is a safety issue. If the driver becomes incapacitated for some reason, they say you should be able to drive or tow the RV home. This certainly makes things easier in the event  of an emergency. However, the reality is that there are services available to move an RV from one location to another.

It’s also a fact that plenty of folks tow or drive an RV solo, and you wouldn’t consider that unsafe. Having a back up driver is nice, but it’s not absolutely necessary for enjoying the RV lifestyle.

Bottom Line?

Decide whether or not you want to tow or drive the family RV.

If the answer is yes, and you haven’t purchased one yet, make sure of three things:
  1. You purchase an RV you are comfortable towing or driving.
  2. You get plenty of time behind the wheel building your RV driving comfort level.
  3.  Your partner supports and encourages you learning how to tow or drive the RV.
If the answer is yes, and you already own your RV, make sure of three things:
  1. Tell your partner you want to drive and ask for their support.
  2. Practice with NO KIDS in the truck or RV.
  3. Take advantage of easy driving conditions to practice like light traffic, straight highways, and no wind.

In the answer is no, sit back, put on some great tunes, and enjoy the ride.

Just make sure you manage that backseat circus while riding shotgun.

See you at the campground,

Stephanie

Woman Towing an RV

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