Staying Connected and Finding Community on the Road

Greg Graham's Airstream parked by mountains at sunset.

When I first decided to travel in my Airstream indefinitely, I didn’t think much about meeting friends or building a community—I just wanted to experience all of the spectacular places I had seen on Instagram. I’ll admit, the last thing on my mind was interacting with other people. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that life on the road can get pretty lonely without other people around. 

We, as humans, have a need to connect. We need interaction, conversation and stimulation in order to thrive. So, with some serious intentional effort, I made a point to find and establish that connection. And I can safely say that the RV community I found—and continue to find—is one of the greatest I’ve ever known.

Acting With Intention

My first piece of advice for finding friends and community on the road is to be as open as possible. Embrace talking to new people and whole-heartedly welcome any interaction you have with a fellow RVer. Afterall, you already have one huge thing in common, which is a great starting point for developing a friendship.

During my travels, I am often reminded of what my elementary school teachers used to tell me: In order to have friends, you must be one. Making friends on the road doesn’t just happen, you have to be intentional. Be the first one to reach out or offer help. RVers are known for supporting each other, sharing knowledge and offering assistance. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your neighbor and share the location of an incredible campsite or a quick towing tip. This also means you should be willing to accept aid from someone else. Don’t shut someone out if they offer to give you advice or ask you a question. Helping one another strengthens relationships.

Finding People on the Road

Being open, friendly and helpful can help build relationships, but you might be wondering where to even find these people in the first place. A great place to start is an RV club. There are so many different RV clubs—they can range from being brand and model-specific (like Airstream Flying Cloud owners) to more general and hobby-based (RVers who like to fish). And what’s so great about these clubs is that most of them offer in-person meetups and rallies

For me, joining an RV club and attending the events were key for meeting new people and making friends. I found so many RVers who are my age and passionate about the same things that I am. I eventually started traveling with some of my fellow club members. If I didn’t have a specific destination in-mind or an exact trip planned, it was nice to join them on their trip and vice versa. Meeting people at rallies and traveling with them also helped expand my friend group. As I met more RVers and became friends with them, they would introduce me to their friends and so on. Remember that all friends were strangers at one point.

Keeping In Touch

One of the best ways to keep in touch with fellow RVers is through social media. I like to use some of the more common social platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, to connect with and follow the people that I meet on the road. This is a fun way to keep up with new friends, see where their travels are taking them and get ideas for your own trips. Facebook Groups, in particular, are great for finding fellow RVers with similar interests and for sharing very valuable, specific information.

I also like to use Google Maps to stay in touch. While this isn’t typically used as a social app, the ‘Location Sharing’ feature allows me to see where some of my friends are and then coordinate campground meetups. Just make sure that you’re only sharing your location with a select group of trusted people.

If you do connect with someone in an online group or through social media, and you both decide to meet in person, it’s always good to practice caution. Try to meet somewhere public with other people around and set a time limit for your meeting upfront. This way, if you feel uncomfortable or aren’t feeling a connection, you can gracefully exit. However, if you do feel comfortable, then you can always ask to extend the visit or agree to meet again.

Being A Respectful Guest

I really enjoy sharing the RV lifestyle with others. I’ve found that when you’re parked next to someone for extended periods of time, you become familiar with each other pretty quickly. After a few nights of being neighbors, it’s not uncommon to start sharing campfires, drinks and games. Information spreads quickly among RVers, as do laughs and stories. And then, at the end of the night, you can each go back to your respective homes. This is one of the most unique and amazing things about the RV community—your scenery can change but your home never does. You still have a sense of familiarity and comfort, despite the constant flux of new places and faces.

This is one of the reasons why I believe moochdocking helps maintain strong relationships. Moochdocking is when you park your RV on someone else’s property for free. I actually prefer this when I visit friends and family across the country. Having a house guest can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming for a host—you have to figure out where the guest will sleep, provide them with sheets and towels, and sometimes even cook and clean for them. However, when I park in my host’s driveway, I still get to spend quality time with them, without feeling like a burden. Afterall, my Airstream has everything I need, including my own bed, bathroom and kitchen. Moochdocking is also great if you meet fellow RVers on the road but they're only around for a short stay. This way, if you’ve established a friendship, you can visit them at their sticks and bricks and still maintain some sense of independence and autonomy.

The truth is, we all need connection, even those of us spending extensive amounts of time on the road. This goes for RVers and non-RVers alike—remember to stay open, friendly and helpful. You might end up finding more friends and building an even larger community than you thought possible.

Greg Graham travels in an Airstream Flying Cloud.

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