I wrote a blog a few days ago titled RVing Friends Are The Best, in which I celebrated the many friendships we have developed in our years of fulltime RVing. I received this e-mail in response:
“Nick, We are planning to go full time in June and I am terrified. While my husband is gregarious and will strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere, I have always had a hard time making friends. I don’t think I’m shy, because I am outgoing with people I know and am comfortable with. However, I find it very hard to initiate a conversation with someone I don’t know. How does one make all of these friends you wrote about when they are only in a place for a week or two at a time?”
Most people would not believe it, but I am actually shy myself, especially in a group of strangers. But I have always found that the way to get past that discomfort is to open my mouth and say something to somebody next to me. Begin a conversation with one person in the RV lifestyle and it’s amazing how quickly others join in. And before you know it, you’re chatting away with a whole group of new friends. Here are a few tips that might help you to get that conversation started.
People love to talk about themselves. Compliment somebody on their RV, or comment on the map they display of the states they’ve visited, or mention that you saw their South Dakota license plate and ask them if they are real South Dakotans or imposters like yourself. If they say they are fulltimers (and if they have South Dakota plates, they probably are), ask them where home was before they hit the road.
If you go for a walk around the campground, make it a point to say hello to people you see and ask them how their day is going. You’ll be amazed at how often this will result in a conversation that makes you forget about your stroll. And if you see somebody carving, making jewelry, or some other craft under their awning, stop and ask them about it. You’ll probably make a new friend.
There is a certain etiquette about campground chairs. If you are sitting outside with your chair turned toward the road, it is an invitation to passersby to stop and chat. If you don’t want to be disturbed, turn your chair away from the road. And having a couple of extra chairs sitting out and handy makes it easy for somebody to stop for a visit.
I love dogs, and I never fail to stop and scratch a dogs ears. To many RVers, their pets are their kids and if you love their kids, they’ll love you in return. And that works both ways, if you have a well behaved dog (and it had better be in this lifestyle), taking it for a walk can often lead to a chance meeting with other RVers. I’ve heard it termed as “trolling the dog.”
Not everybody may be able to pull it off, but I’ve found that my sense of humor has led to many friendships. We were at the Escapees North Ranch co-op near Congress, Arizona years ago when I noticed a lady washing the windshield of her motorhome, which was parked across from us. I told her to stop that nonsense and make me cheesecake instead. We chuckled about it and than about an hour later she showed up at our door with cheesecake. So I not only made a friend, I got goodies out of it too! How cool is that?
Another time we were at a campground in Texas when a rig pulled in next to us late in the day and when the couple got out to start connecting their utilities, I demanded to know where the hell they had been, because we had waited for hours for them to arrive. They appreciated the welcome and we struck up a nice friendship over the next week. Of course, that tactic can backfire on you too. I did the same thing with a fellow at another campground and he said, “It’s none of your damn business where I’ve been” and went back inside and slammed the door. He was there several days and avoided me the whole time. Sometime you win, sometimes you lose.
Volunteering is another way to make friends. If you’re at an RV rally or a campground, volunteer to help with parking or some other chore and you’ll surely make friends with the folks you’re working with.
If all else fails, open the hood of your car or your RV. All RVers are friendly and naturally helpful, and you’ll have a platoon of guys showing up to offer advice.
That’s how my pal Greg White and I became such good friends. We had met Greg and Jan at Life on Wheels and they attended a couple of our Gypsy Journal rallies. We were parked at Elkhart Campground when our water heater died one cold, rainy morning and I remembered Greg saying he was handy with tools, so I decided that there was no reason for me to be out there in that nasty weather all by myself. I knocked on his door and asked Jan if he could come out and play. Before long I had a working water heater and a new best friend.
Thought For The Day – Women have to be in the mood. Men just have to be in the room.