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Adventures in RV Shopping: Hello Gender Stereotypes and Sexism

February 7, 2015

RV Shopping for our upcoming Wanderschool adventure has been interesting to say the least.  For weeks, if not months, now, all I’ve wanted to do is plunk down cash on the right RV for our homeschool travel adventure.  Finding the right RV–one with the right specs, right condition, right miles, right price, right possibilities–has presented a bit of a challenge, but researching and checking out rigs is tons of fun, and it seems like only a matter of time before I’m sitting behind the wheel of the ideal rig.

I’m sitting behind the wheel.  That’s the part that seems to make shopping for the right RV tough.  Now that I’ve been to several dealerships and talked on the phone or in person with dozens of salespeople, it’s abundantly clear that gender stereotypes and sexism are alive in the RV sales industry.

Not All Women Care Most About the RV Color Scheme

Routinely, salespeople (except for one woman, I have dealt exclusively with men at this point, though three men have had female assistants), push RV cosmetics and flaunt cupboard space, storage, color schemes, and cook space.  Yes, even the woman, who acted surprised that I wasn’t out of bed and cooking breakfast for my family when she called at 7:30 a.m. one morning, reassured me that I would love a particular layout and big bright windows.  But what about the condition of the engine, signs of water damage, generator hours, rusty screws under the molding, and underbody condition?  My family’s safety and health is on the line here.  I want to know that when I drive off the lot, my rig is safe and functions properly.  I want to know that the dealership isn’t hiding any knowledge of mold or rot.  I want to know that all the systems have been tested or will be tested.  I want to know that there aren’t any leaks or broken connections or parts that could cause me problems sooner than later.

Not All Women Need Their Husband’s Approval to Make the Right Selection  buying an RV roadschooling

Choosing the right RV for my family is primarily, if not exclusively, my decision.  My husband wants my choice to be safe and reliable, and he wants me to be happy with the rig, but he’s hands off on the RV nitty gritty buying details.  I’ve had two salespeople insist on my husband’s involvement. One salesperson demanded that I give him my husband’s contact information ‘just in case’ he needs to talk to him or my husband answers the telephone should the salesperson call us.  When I told him I wasn’t providing that information, he got a little huffy.  Another salesperson at a different dealership suggested in post-visit correspondence that I should talk over a particular RV with my husband, even though I indicated that I was not interested in the model.

Not All Women Will Sit in the Passenger Seat

Surprise, surprise, a woman who drives?!  Without fail, salespeople seem surprised when I tell them my plan, which involves me as the primary driver.  I am most definitely not the first woman to drive an RV.  I am definitely not the first woman to buy an RV.  I would like to test drive the RV, too!  Only one salesperson has beat me to the punch and asked me if I would like to test drive a rig.  I can only guess that if my husband was standing next to me, he would be routinely asked if he wanted to ‘give ‘er a spin.’

Knowledge is Power

In my experience, though gender stereotypes and sexism seem to permeate my RV shopping experiences, knowledge is power.  The more I research RVs, specs and systems, the more I understand how motor homes and engines work, the more YouTube videos I watch on how to spot lemons or score deals, the more prepared I am to cut through salespeople’s biases and preconceptions.  The more prepared I am to ask tough questions that show salespeople–especially men with deeply ingrained gender stereotypes–that I may have long hair and carry a sweet purse over my shoulder, but I know what I’m looking for, what questions I need answered, and when I’m going to be ready to buy.

I’m certain that it was because I had done so much homework and had good questions about spotting water damage, that one salesperson/owner (who didn’t seem to cast judgment that I wasn’t a guy shopping for an RV) took the time to take me up on a ladder to check out roof rot on the biggest 5th wheel I’ve ever seen.

I think I’m closing in on the right rig.  Off to research a bit more, so I’m ready for any stereotyping or sexism an RV dealership throws my way….

Have you encountered gender stereotyping or sexism at the RV dealership?




Blog Financing Travel RV'ing 50 States USA

How Do You Afford Roadschool Travel Adventures?

February 5, 2015
Many homeschooling families are already stretching the limits of their family budgets just for ordinary living expenses.  Forget budgeting for family travel–that often seems impossible, especially when one parent decides to stay home or opt outs of full-time employment to homeschool.

afford roadschooling

A couple of years ago, on another blog, I wrote that statement in a post about how to finance roadschool adventures.

Since then, I’ve spent even more time planning roadschooling, worldschooling, and wanderschooling (or whatever word you prefer for mobile/travel focused schooling) homeschool adventures, and obsessing about finances.  In two short years, I’ve also discovered that LOTS, and I mean LOTS of families (many more than I originally realized) have found or are finding clever ways to finance flexible, homeschool travel adventures.  These families include those listed on Families on the Road (FOTR) and full-time, on-the-go RV families such as those who are members of Fulltime Families.

The simple truth that many of these families have realized is that you don’t have to have a trust fund, be independently wealthy, win the lottery, or stumble upon a jackpot of luck to finance a flexible, homeschool/travel adventure or lifestyle.  Certainly, it helps to have a sweet travel nest egg and a portable lifestyle already in place, such as a spouse who is self-employed, teleworks, or who can commute home for the weekends to join you and the family in cool locations on the road, but that’s a dreamy situation for many families who hope to one day get on the road.  Some families have actually discovered that roadschooling, whether via fulltime RVing or renting apartments in various states or countries is significantly cheaper than living an ordinary lifestyle in a sticks and bricks house.

How to Afford the Roadschool Homeschool ‘Dream’

The stories of those who have made traveling the country, continent, or world while homeschooling their children possible share at least one thing in common:  they didn’t wait to make what they wanted most happen!  Whether married, single moms, single dads, or married ‘single’ solo parents who travel sans spouse, those who wanted the roadschool adventure/lifestyle stopped waiting around, figured out what they wanted most, started planning, and made their roadschooling travel lifestyle a reality.

Here’s How…

1.  Figure Out What YOU Want.  What is your dream for your family?  How do you envision your children’s education?  What do you want them to remember most about their childhood?  What kind of lifestyle do you want?  Are you looking to escape your life, make it over, or do you simply long to follow that inner seed of wanderlust?  Does your spouse or partner share your vision?

2.   Define Your Dream.  Ask yourself the hard (or perhaps they aren’t so difficult) questions.  Where do you want to go with your family?  Do you want to take your family on a six month long RV trip across Canada or the United States–or perhaps a full-time, open-ended RV adventure?  Do you want to hike the Colorado Trail?  Do you want to spend time in every European country?  Do you want to walk or ride a bike across the United States? Do you want to visit all the continents?  You have to define and map out your dream.  A clear idea of what you want and where you’re headed will help you prioritize your finances and ultimately get you to where you want to go.

3. Redefine Lucky:  Roadschooling Is A Decision, Not A Stroke Of Luck.  Just as you made a decision to homeschool your child or children (or made any other important decision for your child or family if you are not already homeschooling), view your dream for a roadschooling adventure as a decision.  Though many will suggest or make comments, if and when you share your travel dreams or plans, that you are lucky to be able to roadschool or travel or to even entertain the possibility, keep in mind that it’s not the “lucky ducks” who get to take their families on roadschool or flexible travel adventures.  Smart, savvy families who make thoughtful choices and decisions about their family’s educational and lifestyle objectives can roadschool their kids and travel.

So, stop hoping that you can travel someday, or wishing on the first star you see each night…decide today to make your roadschooling/travel dream happen!Travel

4.  Map It Out.  Research, research, research!  If you already have Internet access, you don’t have to spend a dime to research how to implement your dream.  Write down your plan.   Figure out how much money you need.  Figure out what you will need to do to get there.  If you have to sell the house in order to buy an RV that will allow you to travel for the next two years around the country, sell the house! Map out everything you can.  Estimate how much everything will cost–whether it’s airline tickets, Thousand Trail campground membership, rent for a villa in Spain, fuel costs for the boat trip.  Keep a notebook, journal or file on your computer to store your research and notes, and/or to track your financial strategy.  Arm yourself with knowledge so you can make well reasoned, smart decisions about your travel dreams and finances that will get you out the door.

If a flexible job will make your dream happen faster, approach your employer about flexible work options or start applying for new jobs that will allow you to adopt a portable lifestyle.  Flexjobs offers listings of telework possibilites that might allow you to work on the go.  If you’re thinking about RV living, look into workamping, or campground work opportunities that allow you to work for money or in exchange for free rent or propane.

Bonus:  the more planning you do, the more committed you may become to your dream…and the more committed you find yourself, means the more likely your dream will happen!

5.  Establish A Roadschool-Homeschool Travel Savings Account.  This is your travel lifestyle account.  It’s off limits for anything else.  It’s untouchable until it’s time to book flights, make reservations, buy the travel trailer, book the campground or hotel, rent the apartment in Italy, etc.  You’ll put in every penny you find and every extra cent you can manage into this account until you reach your travel financial goal.  Tip:  for those who find themselves consistently coming up short on change, come up with a clever way to build the fund.  Keep reading for ideas.

6. Cut Expenses.  Ditch Non-Necessities.  G-G-G-Gone!   This is the part people freak out about.  But, but, but…I can’t live without Starbucks!   Wait! I need cable TV and that cell phone family plan with all the bells and whistles!

Snip, snip time, dreamers!  It’s time to set you apart as a doer–no longer a dreamer.  Cut out whatever you can from your budget, big or small.  Do you really need that package for unlimited text messaging?  Can you downgrade your phone plan?  Can you wait an hour before checking out from the online store or go for a walk around the block before making that brick-and-mortar store purchase…just to clear your head and think briefly about whether you really need what you’re about to buy?  Can you commit to buying NOTHING (besides food) for a week?  What about two weeks?  A month?  Can you hold off on buying a new vehicle for a bit longer?  Can you sell your second car?  Do you even need a car?  Can you skip that weekend away from home and save the cash toward your grand travel plan, and instead enjoy a staycation at home?

7.  Coupon ‘Till You Can Clip No More.  Couponing is chic.  It’s practically a sport these days.  You can save tons of money by couponing and filling your pantry with deals (on stuff you’ll use…no unnecessary hoarding!) AHEAD of time, before you run out of or need to buy a particular item.  An hour or two of couponing a week, using online coupon and deal sites, can easily slash 30-60% off your weekly grocery bill.  That’s a lot of savings!  Oh, in case you’re thinking that coupons are only good for use on junk food, think again.  You can get your hands on healthy, green coupons, too.

8.  Reject Consumerism.  Strive for Simplicity.  If you really think about it, what’s the point of keeping up with the Jones’?  Overspending = unnecessary stuff = debt = stress = delayed dreams = lack of true meaning = unhappiness.  Doesn’t sound all that cool, don’t you think. Do you really need another pair of shoes?  The next time you’re in the mall, think about this…most of the products displayed for sale will end up in a landfill in a matter of years, if not sooner.  Your travel memories and moments with your family will last forever.

9.  Adopt That Heathier Lifestyle.  While you’re on the pursuing your travel dreams kick, you may as well toss in a healthier lifestyle in the mix.  After all, you want to be healthy and alive and kicking when it’s time to embark on your carefully crafted travel plan.  A healthier lifestyle can also save you money.  You don’t need fancy health club memberships to get healthy.  Quite simply, a pair of running shoes or sturdy walking shoes alone can lead you toward losing weight, eating better (and eating less), preparing better meals from less processed ingredients (e.g., fresh vegetables that you could grow from a garden), and right into potential money savings.  Of course, adopting a healthier lifestyle may also mean ditching expensive habits that can free up more cash for your travel/lifestyle budget.  Bonus:  You’ll also look smokin’ hot in your fit body when you travel around the globe!

10.  Find Creative Ways To Make More Money.  There are many ways to make extra cash from home and on a limited schedule.  Do you have piles of outgrown children’s clothes?  Send clothes to ThredUP (you get a bag with a return paid mailer and you fill the bag with clothes and send it back to the company) or drop clothes off at a used clothing store like Once Upon a Child and get same-day cash for your clothes.  Send women’s clothes to Twice.  Sell your goods on eBay.  Sell your crafts on Etsy.  Sell your services on Fiverr.  Have a yard sale.  Start a part-time business.  Start a blog.  Help a neighbor run errands or with yard work.  Collect bottles and return them for cash. Maybe that means taking a walk before dinner every night with the kids (good for everyone’s health and wellness) and collecting every bottle you see on the road and putting the change from bottle redemption into savings.  The possibilities are endless.

11.  Stay Focused.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Stay focused on your dream.  Don’t give up.  Plaster reminders around your house.  Tape a photo of a dream travel destination to your car visor, so it helps you resist the urge to overspend when you’re out and about.  Believe that you can reach your roadschool travel adventure.  You’ll get there!

Are you a roadschooling, worldschooling, wanderschooling family?  How did you make your travel/lifestyle/educational dream happen?