Buying RV Camper Van Motorhome as a Solo Woman Traveler

Adventures in RV Shopping and Gender Discrimination

RV Shopping and Gender Discrimination on the RV Sales Lot

Women, read this blog post before you buy or shop for an RV. Seriously. It will help you be prepared for situations you might possibly encounter on the RV Sales Lot while RV shopping.

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My RV Shopping Adventure and Encounters with Gender Stereotyping and Sexism

RV Shopping for my 1 Mom + 4 Kids Wanderschool 50 States USA Tour Adventure was interesting to say the least.  

For weeks, if not months, all I wanted to do was plunk down cash on the right RV for our epic homeschool travel adventure.  

Finding the right RV wasn’t an easy task. I wanted to find a motorhome with the right specs, right condition, right miles, right price, and right possibilities. Shopping was a bit of a challenge, to say the least. However, researching and checking out rigs is tons of fun, especially with kids.

Throughout the shopping experience, I continually reminded myself that it was only a matter of time before I would find myself sitting behind the wheel of the ideal rig.


Behind the RV Wheel

I’m sitting behind the wheel. That was the part that seems to make shopping for the right RV tough.  

Once I had been to several dealerships and talked on the phone or in person with dozens of salespeople, it became abundantly clear that gender stereotypes and sexism are well alive in the RV sales industry.

Not All Women Care Most About the RV Color Scheme

Routinely, salespeople (except for one woman, I dealt exclusively with men at RV dealerships, though three men had female assistants) pushed RV cosmetics and flaunted cupboard space, storage, color schemes, and cook space.  

Yes, even the saleswoman, 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 because it’s “what female customers want.”  

Pop the Hood

But what about the condition of the engine? Or signs of water damage? What about the generator hours? And are there any rusty screws under the molding? What about the underbody condition? I want to know all about these things!

RV Salesmen (and saleswomen), don’t just show me the stuff you think “girls” want. Grrr… that’s what WOMEN want, by the way. I want to see what’s under the hood too.

RV Curtains are pretty, but my family’s safety, health, and well-being are 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.  

And I want to know that all the systems have been tested or will be tested.  

Of course, I want to know that there aren’t any leaks or broken connections or parts that could cause me problems sooner than later.

buying an RV roadschooling

Not All Women Need Their Husband’s Approval to Make the Right Selection  

Choosing the right RV for my family was primarily, if not exclusively, my decision.  

My husband wanted my choice to be safe and reliable. He didn’t want to worry about me and the kids out there in the great wide open. And he wanted me to be happy with the rig of my choice, but that’s where his input ended. He was hands off on the RV nitty gritty buying details.

However, two salespeople insisted on my husband’s involvement.

One salesperson demanded that I give him my husband’s contact information ‘just in case’ he needed to talk to him or “should my husband answer the telephone if he calls looking to discuss RVs.”  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 and that it was me, not my husband, driving and living in the rig.

Not All Women Will Sit in the Passenger Seat

Surprise, surprise, a woman who drives?!  

Without fail, salespeople seemed surprised when I told them my plan to tackle the 48 contiguous states by RV and then head to Alaska and Hawaii. The plan involved me as the primary, almost exclusive, driver.  

I was most definitely not the first woman to drive an RV.  I was definitely not the first woman to buy an RV.  For sure, I would like to test drive the RV, too!  

Only one salesperson 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 had shopped with me, he would have been routinely asked if he wanted to ‘give ‘er a spin.’ Or pop the hood.

TIP #1: Knowledge is Power – Teach Yourself Everything About RVs

In my experience, though gender stereotypes and sexism permeated my RV shopping experiences, knowledge is power.  

The more I researched RVs, specs and systems, the more I understand how motor homes and engines work. And the more YouTube videos I watched on how to spot lemons or score deals, the more prepared I was to cut through salespeople’s biases and preconceptions.

The more prepared I was to recognize when salespeople were talking smack.  

And definitely, the more prepared I was to ask tough questions, especially to those salesmen with obviously deeply ingrained gender stereotypes, the easier and more efficient my RV shopping became.

Sure, I may have had long hair and carry a sweet purse over my shoulder, but I knew exactly what I was looking for, what questions I need answered, and when I would be be ready to buy.

TIP #2: Do Your Homework, Research So You’re Ready for Any Stereotyping or Sexism an RV dealership throws Your Way…

I’m certain that it was because I had done so much homework that I was able to find the ideal rig that didn’t let me down with any surprises and held up through thick and thin.

At one dealership, I asked such critical and detailed 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.

And guess what? I ended up buying my rig from that salesperson! And I’ve gone on to recommend his dealership many times over.

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Have you encountered gender stereotyping, discrimination, or sexism at the RV dealership? Drop a comment below.

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