Fall is a beautiful season to be camping in Maine. The air is clear and crisp and offers comfortable, daytime temperatures—perfect weather for hiking, relaxing by a river, lake, or ocean, or experiencing our woods in their spectacular colors. Evenings bring the opportunity to build that fabulous campfire, wrap up in a blanket with a favorite beverage, share stories, and maybe make the last s’mores of the season.
In recent years, more women’s outdoor groups have begun going camping and RV-ing, to take advantage of conditions like these. Recognizing this positive trend, Dan Craffey, owner of Lee Family Trailer Sales in Windham, Maine, decided to host “Girl Camper College,” an educational forum that was held recently.
Along with Lee’s Family Trailer Sales, the co-sponsor of this forum was Girlcamper.com, a website representing an organization with many chapters nationwide. Its founder, publisher, and podcast host is Janine Pettit. An avid camper herself, Janine uses her platform to encourage other “Girl Campers” to explore new places.
The site offers many resources for women RV enthusiasts, such as information from industry experts, stories, photos from the organization’s members, and shared ideas on where is good to stay and what is interesting to do. With chapters across the country that target specific regions, Girlcamper.com allows you to find a Girl Camper Guide who lives in an area you are going to. This guide can be a valuable and friendly help to you—someone who can recommend the best places to see and who can give inside information on activities and establishments unique to that area.
Speakers at the forum included Bob Zagami, Executive Director of the New England RV Dealers Association, speaking on the RV Lifestyle; Janine Pettit, founder of Girlcamper.com, speaking on “From Factory to Fabulous”; and Mike Perry, Dealer Resources Group, speaking on products that can help to enhance the RV experience.
The forum also discussed challenges that might arise as women take to the road. Theresa Nash, from Lee Family Trailer Sales, offered suggestions on preparations, protections, creative ideas, and hacks. Some of what she shared may sound like Camping 101, but these points can still be important to review.
- Know the height and width of your vehicle. Many back roads in Maine have low bridges and could pose a problem. Make sure to include any extended height like the vent covers and slide-out toppers, for example.
- Secure breakables. Use simple tricks for securing things, like sliding an old (or new) winter sock over glass bottles and installing a guard that can be adjusted in the fridge to keep gallons of milk and other items from sliding and spilling.
- Have some nail polish around in bright colors to help mark safety chains, so you can check in a flash.
- Do a run-through, checking tires and hoses. Lubricate to avoid the drying out and cracking that will cause all kinds of issues down the road.
- Check tire pressure often when traveling long distances.
- Plan ahead. Make sure you know where RV dealers are along your route, in the event you need parts or have an issue. They might be able to talk you through it.
- Have a tool kit. It sounds simple, but some tools could mean the difference between having a long delay vs. getting quickly back on the road, or perhaps getting to a dealer for a proper fix. This tool kit should include duct tape (the great fixer), extra fuses, a shovel, surge protectors, electrical adaptors (there are 30 and 50 amp versions), 30A and 50A extension cord, portable air compressor, and a lug wrench that fits. In the case of the wrench, check before leaving to make sure it fits your camper.
- Make a list of everything you’ll need. Make one for yourself and have your traveling buddy make one also. This way, each person can check the other’s list, to make sure all points have been remembered and addressed.
- Important: Let someone—or several friends or family members—know where you’re going, when you’re expected to return, what routes you’re planning, and if you make changes on the way, let them know. No need to alarm the authorities because someone doesn’t know where you are.
Many new items come out every year to help people with some of the more common challenges. These include a Trailer Aid, which assists in lifting your trailer for flat tires, and solar panels for when you’re off the grid, to save on battery life. Check your favorite local RV dealer for aids like these, which can make your travel and camping experiences more enjoyable.
When Jackie F. of Windham, one attendee to the forum, was asked why she loves to go camping, she said, “It’s calming. It allows us to enjoy nature, to take time to slow down and enjoy life, especially during these times.” A common truism points out that Life is a journey, not a destination. Perhaps those words are especially true on beautiful Fall days, whether your journey is on foot, hiking, or in a well-functioning RV on a well-planned trip.
For more information, please visit Girlcamper.com and Leesfamilytrailersales.com