Home THE JOURNEY Road Trip RV Life: 71 YO Single Woman Driving 43-foot Motorhome

RV Life: 71 YO Single Woman Driving 43-foot Motorhome

At age 71 and a petite 5’, Wendy Gaynor has been on the road solo handling her 43-foot American Eagle® motorhome from American Coach for more than a decade.

American Coach is an ultra-luxury brand of recreational vehicles, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Its motorhomes are known for their exquisite design, lavish touches, and innovative engineering that make a road trip a relaxing and indulgent experience. American Coach is part of the REV Recreation Group (RRG), a subsidiary of REV Group®.

Gaynor has been enjoying RV life since 1989 when she and her late husband purchased their first RV. The couple decided to buy one after spending a cold and rainy night sleeping under the wing of an airplane during the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual fly in. Gaynor and her husband were both private pilots, so the EAA was an important annual event in their calendar.

The couple had traveled internationally for years and wanted to explore the United States more fully. They had just purchased their third American Eagle when her husband passed away.

“For a moment, I didn’t know what I was going to do and then I knew. It was a brand-new RV, and I was going to keep it,” says Gaynor. “Honestly, driving the American Eagle is really easy. It’s the packing and unpacking that’s the hardest part of any trip.”

Seven-Month Travel Itinerary

Gaynor, along with her cats, now travels the United States typically from December through June, attending a variety of American Coach owner rallies held by the national American Coach Association (ACA) and its regional chapters.

“I’ve made a lot of close friends through the owners’ rallies. We check in on each other on the road and are excited to catch up when we’re back together,” says Gaynor.

Gaynor’s travel season begins with the Southeast Annual Christmas Party, a five-day event that brings together American Coach owners at a campground or resort in Florida. In January, she attends the Florida RV SuperShow, a mecca for RVers and travel lovers that typically attracts 70,000 attendees to Tampa each year.

The show is packed with everything an RVer could ever want or dream of, including: the newest RV models available for purchase; parts, accessories, and innovative products to make RV life more comfortable, convenient, or safer; educational seminars; campground, resort, and tourist information; daily entertainment; and member gatherings. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with friends and attend the three-day pre-show rally hosted by the Southeast chapter of the ACA in advance of the SuperShow.

February is typically a Disney rally. March is a pre-show rally and attendance at the FMCA’s International Convention & RV Expo in Perry, Georgia. The convention is similar to the Florida SuperShow.

Each April, Gaynor combines RVing and experimental airplanes. She drives her American Eagle to the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida. For the past 32 years, she has volunteered her time to chair a large airplane parts fundraiser that supports student outreach programs.

Beginning this May, she will be on the road for approximately two months. She will rendezvous in North Carolina with a few American Coach friends for an extended road trip out West that includes stops in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Moab, Utah; and St. Vrain State Park, Firestone, Colorado.

The ultimate destination is the national ACA rally June 18-22 in Granby, Colorado, that is expected to draw a couple hundred attendees. After that, Gaynor is heading to REV RV Service & Repair in Decatur, Indiana, to get maintenance work done on her 2008 American Eagle.

“I go back there for service and it’s such a friendly group. Spending time in Decatur is close to my heart. I have pictures of everyone who built my American Eagle. So many of them are still there so we reconnect when I bring my RV back each year. Plus, I have a church in the area that I go to and a group of friends I meet up with,” says Gaynor.

When Gaynor returns to Massachusetts (previously her home state before moving to Florida a few years ago), she is not one to sit still. She is vice president of the Northeast ACA chapter and is busy working with other officers to plan the national ACA rally in 2022, which her chapter is hosting. In prior years, she served as a rally coordinator, helping to organize several chapter rallies.

Maintenance Tips

Gaynor is fastidious about her RV maintenance.

“Before I head out, I always do a ‘pre-flight check’ – tire pressure, fluids, oil, electrical, lights, brakes, etc. Some people just hop in and drive but that’s not what I do,” says Gaynor. “Plus, at least twice a year, I get up on the roof to make sure all the seals around the fans and vents are OK.”

And, when she is together with fellow RVers, maintenance is usually a topic of conversation.

“At the Christmas rally, we were talking about hose clamps and how important it is to make sure they are all tight. Once I heard that, I checked mine right away.”

Gaynor’s other advice is don’t skip the heavy maintenance.

Each year, she incorporates a scheduled visit to the REV RV Service & Repair center in Indiana. The center handles any RV make or model and does everything from chassis maintenance to alignment to tech upgrades and replacement of flooring, appliances, seats, and more. The recently remodeled center provides complementary camping with electric hookups, a variety of free amenities (including laundry), a lounge area, and an outdoor patio with a fire pit to unwind and relax.

Travel Tips

Based on her years of RV travel, Gaynor has some practical advice to share:

  • Advance planning and reservations are important since RV campgrounds and resorts are often booked months in advance.
  • When it comes to packing, less is more. “I just cleaned out 32 pairs of shoes from my motorhome. That’s ridiculous. You really only need four pairs – sneakers, flats, boots, and waterproof shoes. Whatever you think you need, take half that amount.”
  • Cats are her favorite travel companions. “The minute my cats hear the diesel engine ping and I say ‘crate up,’ they know what to do.”


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