Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival.
As full-time RVers, we’re often asked, “What is the most difficult thing about full-time RVing?”
I could easily make a list of our standard answers. But one that we feel merits discussion, is building friendships when you live in an RV full time.
We start with the premise that friendship is usually predicated on the fact that you spend time in person with those whom you call friends.
Why Friendships Die
We all have left friends behind physically in some manner. Perhaps we’ve moved, switched jobs, got married, got divorced, changed lifestyle, switched priorities, simply drifted or whatever other host of reasons you can think of for having lost that time of regular face-to-face interaction.
One thing in common that I’ve seen in all friendships that have ended for me has been the death of communication.
In the world in which we live now, we have the ability to message each other electronically, ad infinitum. The advances in technology have served to not only extend the lifespan of friendships, but to reinvigorate dead friendships like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
As long as communication continues between friends, the friendship will typically live on. Personally, I’m thankful to live in this time of wide-spread communication. Like many others, I’ve been able to use the technology to reconnect with long-lost friends and I have a much fuller life for it.
So far we’ve discussed reconnecting with old friendships, not building new ones.
If building new friendships is predicated on spending sufficient time with someone that a friendship can form, how then are we supposed to build them when we’re constantly on the road?
Building New Relationships When You Live in an RV
Each person is unique. Some people are more extroverted and tend to make friends faster, while the introverts among us need more time to build a foundation of acquaintance that may someday, if the stars align, form into a friendship.
I’m definitely an extrovert, while Brittany is most assuredly an introvert. So regardless of which type of person you are, we hope that you’ll be able to relate to our thoughts.
Thoughts from an Extrovert’s Point of View (Eric):
I love meeting new people, going out, and being in a crowd fills me with energy. If you can relate to this, read on, otherwise you might want to skip to Brittany’s thoughts on the subject.
I actively seek out ways to get to know people who are also full-time RVers. I’ve joined Facebook groups, followed people on Twitter, followed bloggers who are writing about the RV lifestyle, been active on RVing subreddits, started an account on RVillage, used Skype to video chat with people, been involved in online discussion forums, and countless other methods to discover new people who interest me as potential friends.
When I reach out not everyone responds or is as active in reaching back to build new friendships, but sometimes there is a spark. When that happens, I’ll tend to communicate with those folks more. I like to get to know them online before I meet them in person. As we start to converse, our respective guards come down a little and we learn more about one another at this stage.
Eventually I’ll send a Facebook friend request or make a phone call. The friendship building really begins here for me as an extrovert. Those that I’ve become online friends with I’ll communicate with regularly and eventually when we’re in the same vicinity we’ll try and connect in person. By the time we get to meet one another, it almost seems as if we’ve known each other for a long time and conversation will flow naturally.
Sometimes however, in my extroverted exuberance I’ll meet someone I connected with online before we really know one another and then, that can be a bit awkward. Okay, a lot awkward. But hey, I’d rather dig through dirt to find gold than to never have found the gold because I was afraid to get dirty.
Some of the folks we’ve become friends with online feel closer than some friends that I’ve known for years. Some of these folks I’ve met, some I haven’t yet, but I hope to soon.
Friendships have to happen naturally, they should never be forced. But when they happen for an extrovert like me, as C.S. Lewis wrote, they give value to survival.
Thoughts from an Introvert’s Point of View (Brittany):
Few people would pin me as an introvert. Some people actually have the audacity to argue with me when I tell them I am. “You’re so friendly! You’re always smiling!” They don’t know how uncomfortable I am going into a room of people I don’t know, or how social events drain my energy.
I don’t make deep friends easily. Most of my best friends are people I met in childhood or during high school. When we talk or see each other, it’s like we never left one another’s sides. But in the interim, it can be hard to stay in touch. Everyone is consumed with the life right in front of them. And I’m not in front of them. I’m in the middle of the woods with one bar on my cell phone.
But just because I’m an introvert, and just because communication is challenging in this adult world where everyone is going a million miles a minute, doesn’t mean I don’t crave companionship like a normal human being. I’m abundantly blessed to spend every day with my best friend, and by some miracle I never get tired of being around him. But it’s good to branch out a bit sometimes, yes?
I’ve been surprised at the opportunities to “branch out” on our full-time RV journey. Our social life takes a couple of different forms:
- We have a chance to see old friends and family as we travel around. Since the end of February, we’ve been to a family wedding, a family graduation, my brother’s house in Virginia, and got to have dinner with my best friend from middle school who I haven’t seen for more than a decade. And there have been a lot of special embraces in between. Living a stick and brick life, we would never have had the opportunity to see so many loved ones, spread across such a great swath of geography, all in the space of six months.
- We get to meet other RVers! I’m astonished at how often our paths cross with other young (and young at heart) RVers who we’ve met online. We don’t know that many people, but as a function of us all moving around, our paths cross at an oddly frequent rate.
And it’s been fun. It’s challenging for me when Eric says, “XYZ RVer is in town. Let’s have dinner!” And I reply, “Who are they?” But despite so many meetings with strangers, we’ve had some special times and good conversations.
I think there’s a reason these meetings go so well. The RV lifestyle is special, and the motivations and characteristics that cause people to choose life on the road are often profound. The life we have in common with other RVer builds an automatic kinship. We get to skip past a lot of the relationship building, and jump into sharing stories and laughing at the mishaps that happen to us all.
Communication with Friends While RVing
Regardless of whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, if any friendship is going to last, then an effort at communication must continue.
We personally use private Facebook groups to stay in touch with our personal RV friends.
But the platform isn’t as important as the activity of communicating. Use whatever suits your lifestyle best maybe it’s email, texting or heck even snail mail, but do what you have to do to stay in touch.
When meeting someone for the first time we highly suggest doing so in a public place (for safety) but there are plenty of opportunities for this in the RV world; consider a rally, or a festival or even a caravan.
Make the effort and you’ll eventually be rewarded with the priceless gift of friendship.
Get to Know Us
If you are on any of these platforms, get to know us. Who knows, maybe we’ll become friends someday. And if we are already friends, we hope you continue to communicate with us and keep the fires of our friendship burning brightly.
Hope to see you on the road! ~ Eric and Brittany
I love being one of your RV friends!
Each of your descriptions from your vantage point struck home with me. I’m an introvert with an outgoing personality (less “shy” than Brittany, but I think we get one another) so this lifestyle truly suits my need to balance talking with people and recharging with solo time. As you know, I don’t tend to get too involved with the groups and social networks aimed toward gathering, but I’m happy to connect when I feel I have something to add.
The travel fulfills my need for change and the rolling home fulfills my need for solo time. Meeting fun peeps along the way is a bonus and makes it so I never feel lonely.
It’s so much fun to see how you two are embracing this wonderful, multi-faceted lifestyle we’ve chosen.
Watching our friendships back “home” change when we hit the road was one of the hardest aspects of the fulltime lifestyle (for us). While we believed that living in this day and age of communication at everyone’s fingertips, we left confident that we would always have someone to ‘talk’ (to other than each other). But, our experience has been more like what Brittany has described, people’s lives go on, they have families to care for and jobs and soccer games…and we are now kind of “out of sight, out of mind”. Two years on the road and I can count, on one hand, how many times friends (even those I felt were “best” friends) have called or messaged me. Sadly, I’ve even been cut out of a friend’s life, someone I’ve known for 30 years, because she doesn’t understand this lifestyle, which has led to many misunderstandings.
But this is not a pity comment…we have really started to embrace the idea of friendships kindled on the road. I really think there is something necessary in finding people who ‘get it’. As wonderful as this lifestyle is, there are definitely challenges that not a lot of people understand. It’s validating AND comforting to know that we aren’t alone…even if we physically are. I value some of my RV friends more than they realize. And, like Eric said I am closer to them in many aspects than I am to people we left behind.
Our first night of dry camping a few weeks into our trip, I opened the door to see Alyssa bringing an older couple into our RV to see the inside of Franklin (our RV). Some of the best relationships are the ones first established in the most random places. I think it’s because when you meet, you instantly have something in common (love of travel, RVing, etc.).
Thanks for the great information! My wife and I have just started as full timers on September 1st and have discussed how we may meet others on the road a lot. We are also a split pair, but opposite with me being more introverted. Enjoy following your blog and appreciate your openness about your adventure.
Thanks Kurt! Congrats on YOUR new adventure. If you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. We don’t know much, but we’re willing to share that which we have learned!
An Introvert’s Guide to Community
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