Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Fulltime solo RVer Melissa Dafnis living her RV Dream, her way

Fulltime solo RVer Melissa Dafnis and her traveling rig.
For more than 15 years Melissa Dafnis of Maryland had dreamed of living and traveling in an RV.

"I wanted to live the lifestyle of freedom and adventure that full-time RVing involves," said the former professional jockey.  "I love to travel, I love a challenge, I love freedom.  And RVing is all of those things and more."

About five years ago, Melissa, 52, started researching rigs and going to RV shows to help her decide on the exact unit she wanted.  She decided on a toy hauler because taking her Honda 750 motorcycle along was her number one priority. "I also plan to spend at least five, maybe 10 years in this RV and I wanted to make sure I had the options to do that."

Melissa Dafnis on cross-country motorcycle adventure.
Three years ago, she bought "a brand-new, ordered from the factory (with every option I wanted) 2014  44-foot Heartland Cyclone toy hauler fifth-wheel trailer." She pulls it with a 2013 Ram 3500 Diesel Dually. "Because of all the research I did," she said, "I was able to save 30-percent off the purchase price." 

Melissa says she gets some strange looks when she pulls into a park and jumps out of the cab of her big pickup. "People see a 5-foot tall woman get out from behind the wheel of that truck towing a 44-foot fifth-wheel and they say, 'You drive that all by yourself?'"

Melissa in her pro-jockey days.
"I knew if I wanted to live my dream, I have to do what it takes," she said.  "Besides, it's not really that hard if you take your time, learn what you need to do, and practice in a safe environment.  It took me 45 minutes the first time I backed it into a driveway, but after a few more times I can do it pretty quickly now."

Life on the road with Tigger and Roo

Since 2014 Melissa has lived in her RV with her constant traveling companions: Chihuahuas Tigger (male, 10) and Roo (female, 9).

So far they have spent their winters in Florida and summers in Maryland "with full hook-ups in my Dad's yard because we're very close and we like to do a lot of motorcycling together.  He will be 80 years old this year and I don't want to miss a minute of time that I can spend with him."

Melissa with Tigger and Roo.
She 'snowbirds' in the Sunshine State for three months because it was part of her dream -- wintering in Florida. "I spend at least a month in each RV Park, sometimes more, because the monthly rate is less expensive than the weekly rate."

"My best experience to date was being able to walk my kayak to the canal, paddle to the manatees in Homasassa Springs, Florida, and rub a manatees belly as he rolled up right next to me on my kayak," she recalls. "He even held my hand with his flipper."

Then she added: "One of the happiest moments of my life was as I skipped along the beautiful white sand beach in Destin, Florida, with the realization that I had, indeed, made my dream come true. Everyone deserve to feel that."

To read more about how Melissa Dafnis runs her own business while on the road, click here for an RVWheelLife post on her podcast series: “Your RV Dream: Discover the Lifestyle, Make Money While You Travel, and Live a Life of Freedom and Adventure”.

--  Julianne G. Crane 

... For more on the RV lifestyle go to RVWheelLife.com

Photos: Courtesy of MelissaDafnis.com  (Click on images to enlarge.) 


  1. I am a solo full-timer, too, with my Winnie
    Drop 1710. Check out my blog: nanasgonewild.com
    we may cross paths looking for perfect weather!

  2. Here's a comment from Bill that was posted on the regular RV Travel Newsletter page, regarding this post:

    "I just read the article about Melissa Dafnis. Have I been misinformed? I was under the impression that many states limited Trailers (5th Wheels) to a maximum length of 40 ft. and an overall length of 65 ft. If this is the case her trailer is over-length and with a dodge dually the overall limit will be most likely exceeded. Please comment."

    --Diane at RVtravel.com

    1. Hi Bill: I will pass along your question to Melissa. Thanks for commenting.

    2. I have never heard of size limits before, but I see where they're mentioned on the Internet. I'll have to do some more research on that. I was able to register my 44' RV in Maryland with no problems even though it seems they have a limit. I think the RV industry has outgrown the limits but the laws haven't kept up to reflect the changes. It's going to be interesting finding out more - I'll keep you posted.

  3. Good for you. Time is our most important currency. You are using it wisely.