Making Your RV Your Own



Make It Your Own: Personalizing Wheels

Many RV Owners Are Starting To Personalize Their RV Space, Claiming Their Identity On The Road And Among Other RVers

Personalized Beach Van

Herbie the Love Bug, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and even the Bat-mobile conjure up iconic images of highly personalized wheels. Even if every rig isn’t as famous, it can roll down the road in style with a little effort at personalization. 

“Why bother?” one might ask. It’s easy to feel lost in this big world, especially in a transient group of strangers appearing to aimlessly wander with impersonalized random social interaction. Personalizing one’s space can combat the negative psychological results stemming from the anonymity of travel.

According to psychology experts, personalization increases a feeling of control and power over one’s environment, contributing “to individuals’ positive cognitive and affective states, resulting in enhanced mental resources, enabling better coping.” Research was specifically aimed at studying open office vs. private office workplaces.  The impressive finding was that not only privacy improved employee emotional status “but the data revealed that it was specifically the employees working in spaces that were generic and undecorated who reported the highest levels of emotional exhaustion.”  Apparently, personalization brings peace of mind.

Knowing the psychology behind graffiti and the common tendency for teenagers to plaster their walls with posters may be motivation to embrace and channel those human needs.  This can be both fun and therapeutic. 

VANITY PLATES are a frequent means of self-expression on the road.  In fact, it’s often a family road-game to figure out what the letters and numbers on a license plate are meant to convey. 

Lynn Bradford Camper
RV Toad Plate [Photo Credit: Cylent]

Brett Pelham, at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA., says that “Displaying signs and symbols of who they are helps people predict and control what's happening in their lives” and is a way to communicate to others who they are and how they expect to be treated. 

Caroline Adams Miller, a life-coach in Washington, encourages clients to get vanity plates as a way to boost their self esteem.  She says the plates are like mission statements, boldly announcing "who I am and what I want people to know about me.” Miller’s own vanity plate reads: "WEHVFUN.”

On the flip side, however, vanity plates are associated with increased road rage.  In a 2008 paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers reported that drivers with identifying markers, including vanity plates and bumper stickers, had an increased propensity for using their car to vent anger.

A bicycle shop owner in Henderson, Nev., was asked why he didn’t use his vehicle to advertise his company, an obvious marketing tool and tax write-off.  His response was revelatory, “I’d loose customers if I did that.  I’m too much of a bad driver.  It would be counter productive.”

It is true that once identified, there’s no turning back.  The cost of anonymity and its accompanying unaccountability may foster unfriendly and selfish societal behavior. Society would be very different if people weren’t anonymous but rather, intimately known and easily held accountable.  Identification creates connection which breeds conviviality.  This is why personalization is a bold step toward harmony and a feeling of community, even for those on the move.

Winona Johnson Headtube Bike Badge Skull
Dragon RV [Photo Credit: Duncan Rawinson]

Some low-cost ways to personalize one’s wheels include vinyl clings, bumper stickers and traditional paint.  Lynn Bradford of Iredell, Texas, was commissioned to paint the outside of a vintage trailer camper to match the Victorian interior theme which she also painted.  She relates that people tell her that their day is brightened just by seeing her artwork roll down the road.

There is no rig too small to personalize.  Head tube badge artist, Winona Johnson [] in Portland, Ore., handcrafts metal badges for cyclists to mount on their front forks, all for the intent of personalizing their bikes.  She says, “When I was growing up my most memorable moments were spent with my grandparents at their cabin in Fish Lake, Washington. Nature has indeed inspired me in many ways inside and out and I hope my art can inspire others.”

Enlisting kids to write inspirational, humorous and uplifting signs to put up hourly or daily in vehicle windows for other travelers to read, can be a fun way to temporarily and inexpensively personalize a vehicle while also creating a feeling of connectivity while also keeping younger travelers busy. The power of positive messages benefits both the sender and the receiver, as taught by educational authors Randy Sprik, Mickey Garrison and Lisa Howard in their SNIP Training Toolkit.  They remind people when communicating to “keep the ABS’ of behavior management in mind:  Always Build Character.”   Keeping that positive intention and outlook can be a personal and family rule of the road which will translate into a happier world in which to roam.

Nanette Hilton

Nanette Hilton is an avid cyclist and nature-lover with artwork and writing published worldwide.  She holds a degree in Writing from Brigham Young University and currently lives in the splendorous Mojave Desert.

Art By Winona

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Art by Winona, who hopes to bring inspiration and joy to others through her wearable art that is inspired by the beauty that nature holds.

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