Some people take up solo RV-ing to explore unique places and have new experiences. Others do it to challenge themselves. And still others do it to fulfill a dream or, as in the case of Joei Carlton Hossack, to keep a promise.
Starting in September 1989, Joei and her husband Paul spent more than two years traveling throughout Great Britain and most of Europe as well as across U.S. and Canada. “We were looking for a home and so camped in a wide range of places, returning from time to time to Canada for a few weeks to see family,” Joei recalled. “In 1992, we returned to purchase a condo in Florida. We lived in the condo for two days before returning to Europe.”
Then that June, Paul unexpectedly died of a heart attack while the couple were at a campground in Zeven, Germany. To keep herself busy and as a way to deal with her loss, Joei then embarked on a series of activities that took her from archaeological digs in England to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus before returning to the U.S. and ultimately embarking on the full-time solo RV lifestyle for ten years.
Now a recognized radio and television personality specializing in world travel, host of a popular blog and author of several books including Kiss This Florida, I’m Outta Here – Diary of a Solo, Full-Time RVer, Joei took time out of her schedule to share her story about dealing with a major life change through her experience living as a solo RV-er.
Q: After your husband’s death in 1992, you were a part-time solo RV-er before going full-time for almost 10 years. How did that come about?
I started full-time RV-ing with a three-quarter ton diesel truck and a 5th wheel trailer in February of 1997 after selling my condo in Florida. I thought I would be traveling for two or three or, at the most, six months while I was looking for a place to live. Six months turned into nine-and-a-half years because it was so easy living without a home anywhere.
I spent my summers in Eastern Canada and my winters in Georgia, New Mexico, Arizona, California or, my favorite place, Texas. I had made a promise to myself that I would complete all the trips that Paul and I planned on taking together. I kept that promise.
In April of 2006, I found a home in Surrey, British Columbia, close to my two nephews who live in Vancouver. I still drive the 3/4 ton diesel, but one year and one week pulling the fifth wheel I was hit on the highway south of Louisville, Kentucky. It totaled the trailer and hurt me pretty badly. I replaced the fifth wheel with my first truck camper (I’m now in my second truck camper).
Besides regaining a tremendous amount of my confidence, being a solo camper also led to some different opportunities for you. Can you share what they are?
I spent 10 years teaching at an RVing Weekend at RV Owners Lifestyle Conference in Kelowna, British Columbia, covering topics such as Solo RVing, Full-Time RVing, Travel Writing, Hobbies on the Road. On Saturday night, I was the entertainment lecturing on my travels.
You also started writing in 1994. Was your solo RV-ing in some way a catalyst for this?
I spent the first couple of years after Paul’s death with a mind in turmoil. A friend suggested I take a class in writing so I could organize my thoughts and perhaps heal a little at a time. I started writing my first book based on that last trip with Paul: Everyone’s Dream Everyone’s Nightmare. When I couldn’t write the ending, I put the book away and wrote a collection of short stories called Restless from the Start. Currently I have six regular books on my website and four books of my own line of books called Mini Reads as well as two mini-reads that I use for promotion and I donate the money to charity.
I also joined Toastmasters when I realized I would have to lecture to promote my books. Joining was the best thing I ever did for myself. It gave me confidence galore.
Although you have a home base in Surrey, you still RV solo. What do those on-your-own journeys give you?
I love talking to new people and going to new places. I go north in the summer, doing lectures and booksignings along the way. When I’m back in Surrey, I also design and make beaded jewelry that I sell at the local art center.
What advice do you have for those who are considering solo traveling?
If you are going to travel full time or for long periods of time my advice is to slow down. Don’t make it a race around America. Enjoy the sights and the food and meet the people. Enjoy every minute. One of the best aspects of being a solo traveler is that you get to tell your stories – not just listen to your traveling companions. And if anyone irritates you, you could be packed and moving the next morning!
What’s next on your “to do and to see” list?
I’m interested in going farther west—Thailand, Indonesia, south to Australia and New Zealand—going by cruise ship. My ultimate goal would be to spend four or five months on a cruise and the rest of the time in a motorhome traveling and promoting my books and perhaps writing more.
I am slowly getting ready for the next phase of my life. I was 45 when Paul and I left home, and then was widowed at 48. It’s been 27 years since his death, and even though I am 75 years old, I want to continue to make new memories.