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tow it alone: airstream tips for women

Airstream towing, hitching and traveling for women at Alumafandango

 

According to the RV professionals present at an Oregon Unit Airstream rally, 300,000 accidents occur annually due to backing up. It was subtly implied that a woman was likely behind the wheel each time.

 

Simmer down, trailer chicks: stereotypes don’t grow in a vacuum, and that’s why a “Women’s Towing Clinic” is on the program again at Alumafandango, always patiently and artfully presented by Thom from George M. Sutton RV.

 

“What’s the difference between men’s towing and women’s towing?” teased a blogger friend of mine. The answer is, nothing. And everything.

 

I have the honor of presenting a session at Alumafandango 2014 as well. At “Tow It Alone”, we’ll share concerns, adventures, and tips for women who seek to set aside their fears and experience the multilayered thrill and benefits (adventure, control, solitude and safety) of learning to Airstream solo.

 

Afterwards, Thom from Sutton will help participants get comfortable with hitching, answer questions, and individually assist while they take turns backing and towing—skills that couldn’t be more important for a trailering woman to learn.

 

“You need to be able to know how to do this,” says Thom, and he’s absolutely right, for safety’s sake. I know it’s carefree and comfy in the passenger seat—I love it there too—and the hitch components are heavy and greasy. But what if your spouse is tired, or on cold medicine, or has had one too many microbrews? What if he takes a powder at the rest stop, or runs off with a waitress from the Cracker Barrel? What if he gets sick? (Ask Thom about this horror story of humiliation: a hapless California woman once called a male neighbor back home for help when her husband took ill and checked into the hospital during a camping trip. The man had to drive two hours both ways to rescue her.) 

 

What’s most striking about these “for women” towing sessions is how their men push to the front as the Airstream techs address the group of ladies, blocking their view and sucking up the airspace, leaving no room for the women to ask questions. I’ve been to three of these clinics and it’s the same every time: the clingy male mates hang around to watch and “help”, asking show-offy questions to prove how much they know about Airstreaming. Sir, leave your woman alone for two minutes. Are you afraid you’ll lose her to that alpha male from the dealership? Or that if she learns to tow she’ll become independent and pack up that trailer and leave your ass crying in the driveway someday? My money is on the latter.

 

I’ve also noticed that only a scant few females publicly admit they never get behind the wheel of their tow vehicle. I’ve talked to too many women who tell me they let their husbands do all the driving to know that the group is undersharing. The ladies are keen students and eager to participate once the first volunteer slides into the driver’s seat, though, and attentively watch as the each takes a turn. Empowered, they soon begin to fire trick questions about the finer points of hitching and overall maintenence at the instructors.

 

My favorite takeaways from past Sutton sessions are, one: twist the chains before crossing them; two, use a cotter pin or plastic quikclamp to raise the breakaway cable and “umbilical” cord up to the locking mechanism (to prevent dragging near the ground), and three, “always maintain your Airstream in excellent condition, so when you divorce over backing up, you’ll recoup top dollar.”

 

My tips for towing alone? Take this advice from someone who has wrecked her Airstream three times. (In my defense, the tire blowout and the errant rock that ravaged the underbody and banana wrap were not my fault. The $7500 damage incurred at the gas station in Ritzville, however, was.) 

 

Number one, go slow. Number two, go slower. 

 

Make the tailgating jayhonk with the gun rack in his Silverado go around you on the highway, and as he does, enjoy giving him the finger. Do not be intimidated into taking an off-ramp any faster than you’re comfortable. Crawl through service stations at a snail’s pace. If it seems safe, simply bring your rig to a stop and ponder your next move. Employ this Buddhist slogan: stay calm, assess the situation, and do the obvious. And tune out all backseat drivers. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Spouse.)

 

I’ll be sharing these tips and more at the Tow it Alone session at Alumafandango on Friday, September 5. Ladies, join us!

 

9 Responses to “tow it alone: airstream tips for women”

  • Liz Edmonds:

    This seminar was awesome! Empowering women of all ages. Thank you. It was great to move from the theory to see women get into a strange vehicle, hook up and go. Thank you Thom.

  • Rhonda:

    Liz, great to hear from you. Kind words, thanks! It was fantastic to meet all the wonderful women at Alumafandango. See you on the road!

  • Rhonda:

    Ginny, thanks for reaching out. I know what you mean about different approaches! The “Tow It Alone” seminar was just held at Alumafandango in southern Oregon earlier this month, and I don’t have another presentation on my schedule right now. You can connect with some great women in the Oregon Unit of the WBCCI, though. Here’s a link with their contact and Facebook info: http://wbcci.org/home/regions-and-units/245-region-10/605-oregon.

    The R&B “Alumaevents” offer many excellent educational seminars. Consider attending Alumafiesta 2015: http://alumafiesta.com

    Please tell me more about your Airstream, and where you plan to tow it! Rhonda

  • Kim:

    Funny with good advice.
    Recently a man asked if I need help with my hitch. I was talking and had it covered with a towel so not paying any attention to how it was lining up to the receiver on my SUV. He was cute and kind to ask, but when I said if I can’t even install the hitch I am really in trouble, he said OK and kinda rolled his eyes. Sometimes for sure I will accept help, but hey I can do it to or at least let me practice : )

  • Rhonda:

    Kim, hi, thanks for the comment! Nowadays I usually bat my lashes and say “yes please” to the men who want to Help Out The Little Lady. It’s what they do. Then I check their work when they’ve gone back to their campsite! I’ve had a guy who tried to back me up with the stabilizers down. Another who checked my level (“you’re good!”) who caused me to re-rig and re-position when I later discovered I was so tilted the propane couldn’t flow uphill. They don’t know any more than you do, if you’re a practiced trailer babe. But they DO carry heavy things—I like that. ; )

    Readers, are you following the sleek and inspiring “Two Girls and a Trailer” website? http://www.twogirlsandatrailer.com

  • rg coleman:

    Ginny, oh no! I just discovered that my Sept. 15 reply to you (see below) went to my OWN spam folder instead of posting to the comments. I don’t even know how that could happen. (My screen name isn’t “Techno Peasant” for no reason.) So sorry for the delay. -RC

    Ginny, thanks for reaching out. I know what you mean about different approaches! The “Tow It Alone” seminar was just held at Alumafandango in southern Oregon earlier this month, and I don’t have another presentation on my schedule right now. You can connect with some great women in the Oregon Unit of the WBCCI, though. Here’s a link with their contact and Facebook info: http://wbcci.org/home/regions-and-units/245-region-10/605-oregon.

    The R&B “Alumaevents” offer many excellent educational seminars. Consider attending Alumafiesta 2015: http://alumafiesta.com

    Please tell me more about your Airstream, and where you plan to tow it! Rhonda

  • Carolyn:

    When is the next class??

  • I think that it is interesting that 300,000 accidents occur every year for the same problem! I didn’t realize that there was a noticeable difference between a man’s towing and a woman’s towing. It definitely makes sense now that I think about it, I have a lot more trouble towing than my husband does. Thank you for such an informative article and for all of your useful advice for a woman towing!

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