How I became a Solo Female RVer: A conversation with Jayma Valentine

It was only a matter of time before Jayma Valentine began traveling across the country in an RV. Although she did not own an RV, Jayma had an affinity for them and frequently “lurked” in vintage trailer online groups.

“I was about 4 years from retirement, and thought RVing was really something I could do on my own and be fun,” she explained. After some research, she decided that a truck and travel trailer would be the least expensive option for her, especially since if she was traveling in a motorhome, she would need to tow a vehicle behind it.

Jayma explains further, “You should visit a lot of places and do your homework, ask a lot of questions.”

And when she was ready to “get serious” about getting an RV for herself? “I had looked at a lot of places, and one weekend I had gone down to a lot near Stockton to look at an RV I thought I might like. I took my friend with me and we drove all the way down there, and when we got there, it wasn’t there! So on our way home, my friend suggested we stop at Folsom Lake RV, since we were already out.”

“I walked up to the RV that was right up front,” she remembers, “I walked right in and it had everything I was looking for,” adding, “And a really great price!”

 

Jayma’s first RV (from Folsom Lake RV!) Photo courtesy of Jayma Valentine.
Jayma’s first RV (from Folsom Lake RV!) Photo courtesy of Jayma Valentine.

In fact, Jayma finds that RVing is a natural fit,

“I like to have all my stuff around me. I want my bed, my bathroom,” she laughs, “I’m a homebody really.  I just want to go everywhere, too, so I bring it with me.  The first thing I pack is my sewing machine. Never leave home without your sewing machine!”

I ask her how she felt traveling solo as a woman with her RV, and her response is solidly practical.

“If I waited for someone to go with me, I’d never go,” I could hear the smile in her voice, “My advice to anyone, really, is just get on with it. Just go!”

Jayma spent her first long distance trip driving across the country to her high school reunion in South Carolina.  She spent solo nights at campgrounds, and met up with friends along the way.

“I have friends all over the country, so I always had a destination where someone was waiting for me,”  she explains.  Adding, “It was nice to take my time driving and visiting friends and sightseeing along the way.”

But one of her favorite perks of RVing is being able to pull over and use her own bathroom.

“The first time I drove through Needles, CA and didn’t have to use a bathroom there was just so nice!  If you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about,” she laughs.

Camping on a grassy knoll in Hamilton, MO. Photo courtesy of Jayma Valentine.
Camping on a grassy knoll in Hamilton, MO. Photo courtesy of Jayma Valentine.

After her big cross country trip and back, and a trip up to Anacortes, WA, Jayma decided that she would like a slightly larger RV, one with a slideout to really add usable space.

“I wanted just a little more room so my friends and I can all hang out together and not be tripping over each other,” she explains.  “So I stopped by Folsom Lake RV, and the same damn thing happened again!  I walked into the first RV up front and it was just what I was looking for!”

Luckily, she had a truck that was capable of towing an increase in length and weight, “Be sure to buy, if you’re thinking about buying a truck, be sure you buy more truck than you think you need,” she advises.

Also, bring your own WiFi.  Some places don’t have internet available for their campers. Jayma will plan just about a day in advance, so she will wake up and look up on her iPad where she thinks she is going to end up by the end of her drive, and then make her reservations online accordingly.  Sometimes she doesn’t make reservations,

“But if you are on the East Coast, you should, because it’s more crowded, especially if it’s sunny, or coming up on a weekend.”  Oh, and she doesn’t have a cell phone, just a pay-as-you-go phone for emergencies,

“I use my iPad for everything, maps, making reservations, listening to audio books, email.”

Jayma has felt safe at every campground she has stayed at,

“People are always really friendly and willing to help a fellow RVer.  I’ve never had a problem, except with WiFi.”  Jayma says she picks campgrounds a couple of ways. If she is headed to visit a friend’s town and has a stopover on the way, she likes to stay at a campground close to the freeway, so it’s easier to get back on the road in the morning.  Jayma says she avoids rest stops and parking lots,

“I just stay at campgrounds.” In fact, Jayma says her Christmas card list has grown substantially from all the people she has met while on the road.

But after she picks up friends, they will go to specific destinations.  One of the highlights was spending “two nights on a grassy knoll” with her friend from high school in Hamilton, MO and visiting the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Originally a JC Penney, the Missouri Star Quilt Co has become one whole block of stores,

“Each store has its own type of fabric!” she exclaims.

Some other travel advice she has:

Be aware of any games or races that are going to cause traffic in the area you are headed.

Don’t try to leave the Seattle area anytime on a Friday if you want to avoid gridlock.

Favorite pit stop: Cracker Barrel

When giving directions for backing up the trailer use driver side and passenger side, not right or left.

And her biggest piece of advice,

“You really do want a surge protector, some of the boxes I was plugging into were pretty gnarly,” she reports.  Adding, “Actually, all the basics you (Folsom Lake RV) told me to buy were necessary.”

jv red desert rose wyoming sunset
Campground just off the freeway in Wyoming at sunset. Photo Courtesy of Jayma Valentine.

Currently, Jayma is preparing to go RVing for months on end, something she’s been wanting to do for a long time, “With RVing, there is no timetable, it’s not like a timeshare, and really, the only major expense for this is gas.”  Which is true, an RV provides everything, or as Jayma puts it,

“My bed, my food, my toilet.”

***

Special thanks to Jayma for agreeing to this interview and for sharing her experiences RVing and her wonderful pictures, and for being our first customer bio on our blog!  Any questions or story ideas can be directed to Rachel Olson at Folsom Lake RV, 916-635-4545 or rachel@folsomlakerv.com.

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