Getting on the road

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons (there are no cons, just stuff to do to go have fun!) picked an RV, and you’re ready to hit the road, right? Almost….

In between the getting of the RV and the hitting of the road, you need to gear up. Having the ‘right stuff’ will make your camping experience SO MUCH better, but let’s start with the basics. (A link about my gear here).

First, you need to get plugged in (see posts about AC versus DC and Shore Power vs Onboard Power (links coming soon!)).
For that, you may have a power cord that’s built in to your RV, or you may need to purchase one separately; check with the sales person, the owners manual, or send me the year/make/model of your camper to find out.
This connection allows you to bring Shore Power (AC) to your unit, and usually runs all your outlets, Air Conditioner, fridge/freezer, microwave, and other AC powered devices. (A little note about inverters goes here).
(A link for power supply protection here).

Second, you need a way to get water into your RV. When you connect to a water supply at a campsite (or anywhere else for that matter!) it’s generally called ‘city water’, or just ‘water’. This is used to differentiate between the water supply OUTSIDE your RV versus the water supply INSIDE your RV (The tank and pump (link coming soon!). Usually a quality garden hose that’s marked safe for potable water is fine. I recommend two hoses @ 25′ each so you have a spare, AND can reach faucets farther away.

Third, you need a way to get waste OUT of your RV, and that’s where a sewer hose comes in! A sewer hose kit (the hose and all the pieces) is a critical link between your RV and a dump station or site sewer connection, so this is one place you don’t want to skimp out!
I recommend two 10′ hose sections, a clear coupler,  a clear 90 degree elbow, and a clear 45 degree RV side connector with a hose clean out connection.
This kit is what I use: http://www.camco.net/superkit-20-rv-sewer-hose-kit-kit-39659
This is the 45 degree clean out piece I suggest: http://www.camco.net/rhino-blaster-bilingual-39080
I recommend clear so you can see what’s going on in there; it helps troubleshoot issues when they come up.

The rest of the stuff is optional, and we’ll talk more about gear in other posts, but those three things are what you HAVE TO HAVE to make an RV work. 🙂

To drive, or to tow….

There are many things we all agree on in the RV world; camping is fun, camping with friends is better, and it’s important that everyone cleans up their poop (pets and people!).

One of the questions i’ve seen a lot lately is, “Should I buy a motorhome, or a trailer?”
Now, before we get into this, let me clarify this point, we’re simply comparing RV’s that can be driven from one place to another, to RV’s that require a tow vehicle. Inside of those two things there are many more things to consider, but those will be covered in other posts.

A motorhome is an RV that has it’s own propulsion system, that is, its own engine, which means it can be driven from one place to another without another vehicle. These come in various sizes, shapes, layouts, and generally fall into one of three classes, which is covered in another post.

A trailer is an RV that is towed, which means it requires a tow vehicle to move it. The vehicle required is based on the RV you have or want, so be sure to learn all about Tow Capacities before you buy! These generally come in

Motorhomes are easy to get in and drive to where you want to go, so long as you fit where you want to be. The pro is that you don’t have to have a separate vehicle, but the con is that you’ll need to make arrangements for side trips, like groceries, site-seeing, and so on. You can get around that by towing a passenger vehicle, but you’ll lose some of your alreadt not so great gas mileage for that.

With a trailer, you can still go places and see things, but I find it nice to drop the trailer and be able to drive around to wherever I want to go from there. You’ll have to have a tow vehicle capable of handling your trailer, but you may already have one and just want to add a trailer that fits into the specs of your current vehicle.

Regardless of the mode you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy RV’ing all over the place, it’s just a matter of choosing which way you like better.

 

RTFM~!

So many questions, so many buttons, what do I do?!?

I know it’s generally ‘easier’ to drop a post on FaceBook and ask ‘how do I???’, but let’s take a few minutes to talk about the importance of paperwork, most notably, the manuals and guides that came with your RV.

There’s a lot of useful information in all those manuals, pamphlets, guides, books, and so on that came with your RV. If you didn’t get a big stack of stuff, reach out to the manufacturer and see if you can get copies of all that stuff.

In my TT, I have an accordion folder full of all the manuals, and all the paperwork for the stuff in the RV, so it’s all in one place. I’ve also got some digital stuff I keep, and the most important one is a note with the make, model, and serial number of all my big items so I can get to that info quickly. I recommend  having that info handy for:
The Fridge
The A/C
The Furnace
The Water Heater
The Coach or Trailer
any other major components that are separate from the body of the RV.

Having that ‘cheat sheet’ on hand makes it easy for you to get going on parts and repairs, but having all the manuals on board and organized will save you lots of time when you’re looking for answers.

Remember, with RV’s, it’s not IF something will break, it’s WHEN will something break! 🙂

Road Readiness

Hello readers!

So in this series we’re discussing all the things relating to ‘Getting Started’ in RVing, so in this entry, let’s talk about Road Readiness.

Road readiness is something you should check your rig for before every trip, and maintain a constant eye on while traveling.
Road readiness for you is just as important, but seems to be often overlooked.
In order for you to be ‘Road Ready’, you’ll want to make sure you have:

  • Insurance!
    • Whether you add on to your existing policy, or buy a new policy, make sure you have insurance that covers yours needs.
      Some key things to look for are coverage for damage you might do to other people’s stuff (like backing over something and knocking a pole over), and coverage that insures your rig gets fixed if someone or something damages it.
    • I also recommend coverage dealing with towing, accommodations, and other travel insurance to ensure your trip goes as smooth as it can.
      This type of insurance generally covers a reasonable cost for out of pocket expenses incurred because you can’t use your RV for a few days while it’s being repaired.
  • Licensing!
    • Each state may have it’s own licensing requirements based on the Gross Weight of the vehicle, and some have further restrictions based on number of vehicles being towed, types of vehicles, and/or length. Be sure to check with your states regulating office for the details.
      I also recommend www.dmv.org for lots of useful information for each state.
  • Roadside Assistance
    • Your insurance policy may include roadside assistance, but it’s prudent to make sure it covers your RV, too. If it does, great! If not, having roadside assistance is something you should definitely have before you call yourself ‘Road Ready’.

 

No matter what kind of rig you have, making sure all your paperwork is in order before you go will help you have a hassle-free trip!

Key differences

Hello again, faithful reader! So glad you’re back.

So let’s talk about some of the key differences between living in an RV and living in a house.

POWER

At home, the power is ‘always on’ (except when something knocks it out).
In an RV, power is supplied by ‘Shore Power’, which is plugging your RV into the power pedestal at the park, by a generator, by batteries with an inverter, or maybe even by solar power!
It’s also important to note that some things in the RV are DC powered, and some are AC powered.
I talk more about electrical systems in the category “Light it up”, but the key idea is that you’ll have to get power somewhere.

WATER

At home, your water is provided by the city, or via a well, and just like your power, it’s ‘just there’ (unless there’s a problem).
With an RV, you’ll generally have an on-board system which consists of your freshwater tank and a water pump, and then your waste tanks.
You also have the option to connect to ‘water supply’ at your campsite, but make sure to understand your system and your connections first! (That’s why you’re here reading my blog, isn’t it? :P)

WASTE

At home, your waste is handled by a city sewer connection or a septic tank, but either way I bet you don’t think about it much unless it’s not working.
In an RV, you have two types of waste water, Gray and Black.
Gray water is anything that goes down the drain of the sinks or the shower.
Black water is anything that went down the toilet.
It’s important to know the difference because there’s an order to dumping those tanks, AND, some places allow gray water drainage at site, while most do not.
Another important note is that your black tank acts as a septic tank, so you should NEVER leave it open when you’re connected to a sewer connection.
The gray tank, however, is fine to leave attached and open with a sewer connection.

Those are the main things to keep in mind when we’re talking about the difference between life at home, and life in an RV. Some of the ways those differences will matter to you are:

Shower time
Your water heater will only be 6 or 10 gallons (unless you have an on-demand water heater), so shower time will be shorter than at home. You’ll also want to leave a little time between running hot water for dishes, and taking a shower.

Power
Most homes come equipped with a 200 amp service panel, which means you can plug in all your stuff and have a party. In an RV, you’ll usually only have 50, 30, or even 20 amp service, so you’ll have to consider what’s plugged in, how many amps it takes (see the category “Light it up”), and what else is operating on your AC power.

Luckily, there are so many awesome things about RV life that these things are just notes to bear in mind, not even enough to qualify as a hassle! 🙂

So what is RVing?

Well faithful reader, i’m glad you asked!
RV stands for ‘Recreational Vehicle’, which simply means any vehicle built for the purpose of recreation. For the sake of this category, rest assured we’re talking about RV’s meant for use on land, like motorhomes, travel trailers, and the like. For a long list of terms, see this post.

The whole point of any RV is to get out and enjoy nature with the bonus of bring ‘house and home’ along with you. Whether you’re a weekend warrior exploring local spots, or a full-time on the road RVer seeing the whole country, recreating in the great outdoors with an RV is an awesome way to travel, explore, and enjoy vacation time.

There’s lots of useful posts in my blog, so do make use of the search box if you have questions. If you’re just getting started with RVing, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Before buying an RV, go to the largest RV dealer near you and look at all the different models, types, floor plans, and options. Do keep in mind you’re looking at new (or nearly new) models, and an older model may not have all those features, but this gives you a basis to start making some smart decisions.
  2. When you’re ready to camp, rent one first!
    If it all possible, rent an RV of some kind, whether it’s a motorhome you drive around, or a travel trailer already setup for you, just get out there and spend some time with one.
  3. When you decide you’re ready to buy, start small.
    I suggest you buy a gently used model, and invest the least amount of money possible into a quality RV to get you started.

I’ll talk about parts and pieces of the above points in later posts, but let’s close with this:
The more you know about RV’s, the better decision you can make. To get more information, you need to spend time in, around, and near RV’s!

Let’s get started!

So you’ve decided that you want to get started in RVing, and you’re looking for all the information you can get. You’re already off to a great start, because my blog is full of useful information for all walks of RVers, and i’m constantly adding more!

This category will target those who are completely new to RVing, so i’ll be keeping things as plain and simple as possible, while exposing you to the terms and ideas common in RV life.

So pack a lunch, buckle up, and let’s go have some adventure!