Conduct a Pre-Trip Safety Check

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness or inattention to detail: Leaving cabinet or cargo doors unlatched, TV antenna up, or steps extended.

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A pre-trip safety check and inspection is an essential step in preparing to exit your camping site. Unlike commercial drivers who can be fired for failure to perform a pre-trip safety check, many RV drivers fail to do so out of laziness.

That is the reason you may see RVers exit a campsite while still plugged into a power source or with their awnings fully extended.

Create a step-by-step pre-trip safety checklist, and like a pilot on a jet, conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away from your camping site.

If you fail to perform a pre-trip safety check, you will have a problem. If not today or tomorrow, at some time in the future.

NEVER assume that everything is OK: ALWAYS do your SAFETY CHECKS to make sure that everything REALLY is OK!

Pre-Drive Safety Checklist: Interior

Long Point County Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Long Point County Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Secure all loose items: Toaster/toaster oven/coffee maker/dishes

Ensure stove burners and oven are in off position

Lower roof vents

Securely latch cabinet and closet doors

Close roof vents and windows

Turn OFF air conditioner/heat pump/furnace

Turn OFF refrigerator and securely latch doors

Turn OFF water pump

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn OFF interior RV lights

Fully retract slides and secure

Fully retract TV antenna/roof-top satellite dish/exterior steps

Pre-Drive Safety Checklist: Exterior

Pack and secure all outside items: Mats/chairs/grills/bikes

Check oil/transmission/coolant levels and condition of belts/hoses

Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks

Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required; inspect tires for cracks/uneven tread wear

Check RV wheel lug nut torque

Retract and secure patio and window awnings

Check slide toppers for water and debris

Empty black/gray tanks and close valves

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Disconnect and store power cord/cable TV cord/Satellite TV cord/water hose/sewer hose

Turn OFF propane at tank

Retract/remove stabilizer jacks

Store leveling blocks/boards

Close/latch/lock all doors/exterior bins

Tow bar and safety cables in place

Check head lights/fog lights/signal lights/4-way hazard lights/clearance lights/brake lights

Check surroundings for hazards before departure: Low branches/ground obstacles

Check campsite to ensure it’s clean and no items are left behind

Final 360-degree RV walk-around

NEVER assume that everything is OK: ALWAYS do your SAFETY CHECKS to make sure that everything REALLY is OK!

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

Read More

5 Essential RV Checks

Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes.

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.

Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventative maintenance, proactive attentiveness, and not overlooking the obvious. The basics are essential, yet they are the checkpoints many RVers miss.

Whether you are a newcomer to the world of RVing or someone who has seen it all, there’s a lesson to be learned from the simple stuff.

1. Remember the Basics

RVing is so much more satisfying when you really get to know your rig. When you’re thoroughly familiar with your coach, it’s easier to notice when things aren’t quite right.

Your owner’s manual should be your starting point.

To ensure you’re covering the basics, include the following essential RV checks in your daily travel routine:

2. Know Your Height

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.

In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:

  • Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
  • Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height remembering to include the A/C

“We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk

3. Conduct a Pre-Drive Safety Check

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up or steps extended. Use a step-by-step checklist and conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away. A pre-departure checklist should include the following:

  • Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels
  • Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required
  • Power cord, water and sewer hoses disconnected and stowed securely
  • Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational
  • TV antenna, satellite dish, roof vents, jacks, steps, and awnings fully retracted
  • Turn propane off at the tank
  • Tow bar and safety cables in place
  • Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks
  • Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground
  • Final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving for your next destination

4. Connecting to City Water Hookups 

Be certain to ALWAYS use your water regulator when hooking up to city water. And make darn sure that the water regulator is on the end of the hose that hooks to city water. The regulator should be at the water-spigot end, not the RV end, between the city water faucet and your inlet connection.

Why? Pressure is regulated into your coach through the hose. An incorrect hookup won’t protect you from pressure spikes, especially when campground water pressure exceeds 100 psi. You do not want your water hose to burst.

If you’re staying at an RV park during extended periods of freezing temperatures, remember to wrap your water hose with insulation to protect against the elements.

Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Managing Waste Water Disposal 

Black tank management is part of the RV lifestyle. Some RVers think that by leaving the valves open, everything will run out and take care of itself. Not true! Liquid will run out of the black tank when you have the valves open, but solid waste often remains creating a most disagreeable situation. You need fluids to flush out the solids. It is important to keep the black tank valve closed until you are ready to dump. Dump the contents once the black tank is 3/4 full.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

Read More

Snowbird Tips

The end of fall signals the start of an annual migration of thousands of RVers to the Sunbelt.

Sunrise with mist rising at our campground near Unadilla, Georgia.
Sunrise with mist rising at our campground near Unadilla, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the snow flies, so do the snowbirds who flock to the southern climates for months at a time.

With the cooler weather the south has strong appeal. Snowbirds desire the best weather wherever they are.

When it’s snowing and blowing with freezing temperatures in Canada and the northern U.S. states, snowbirds want to be somewhere where it’s sunny and a pleasant 75 degrees. When Arizona hits 120 degrees in the summer or Florida’s low temperature for the day will be a muggy 95 they want to be in the north country where it’s a pleasant 75 degrees.

Like other snowbirds our goal is to avoid the winter slush and cold.

But to accomplish snowbird status you really need to do some serious planning.

If you want to be a snowbird there truly is more to it than just pointing the RV southward. It is hard to pack it up and leave for 6 months or more. Some travelers have trouble with a 2 week vacation.

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you only want to leave Minnesota during the worst of the winter? Maybe only January and February? Some snowbirds stick it out through the holidays and leave the first of the year to return in April.

Others, like us, head out as soon as the first frost hits the pumpkins in October coming back when the ground begins to thaw.

But first, there are so many decisions to make.

Secure Your Home Base

Leaving means more than packing and locking up your home. It takes planning to secure your home base and belongings and to make sure your abode is as welcoming upon your return as it was before you left.

Snowbirds should make copies of all documents in case of an emergency or if papers are lost or stolen. Leave a copy with a friend or relative at home and carry the other copy, stored separately from originals.

Also make copies of passport ID pages, planned itinerary, campground confirmations, driver’s license, insurance, and credit cards.

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check the expiry dates of all personal identification, travel documents, RV insurance, passports, and credit cards.

Before you leave, contact your home insurance provider to determine how your absence will affect coverage, and whether semi-regular check-ins are required. If you don’t meet the policy requirements, you may find difficulty obtaining compensation should something happen.

Inform neighbors of your trip, how long you’ll be away, where you’ll be traveling, and how to contact you in the event of an emergency.

Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor to regularly check the perimeter of your house, keep your sidewalks and driveway shoveled, and ensure that your doors and windows are securely fastened.

Disconnect all appliances and electrical devices, including microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee maker, televisions, entertainment centers, and lamps.

Make sure all smoke alarms are properly installed, in working order, and are equipped with fresh batteries.

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Place a temporary hold on your newspaper delivery, and arrange with your local postal office to have your mail forwarded to a reliable mail forwarding service.

Don’t leave a message on the answering machine that tells callers you’re out-of-town.  Instead, say you’re away from the phone and you’ll get back to them.

Unplug your automatic garage-door opener and install a lock on the garage door track, so thieves can’t use a crowbar to pry it open.

Turn down thermostats to 50 degrees. Low heat will prevent a freeze-up.

Now, pack up the rig and head south.

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day…

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

Read More

Snowbirds Prep For Annual Migration

Migrating birds don’t have much prep work before they fly southward for the winter.

Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel.
Pictured above Hacienda RV Resort in Las Cruces, New Mexico, after a day of safe travel across I-10 for a Sunbelt park in Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Snowbirds, on the other hand, must consider how to shut down their residences before taking flight to flee the coming winter’s snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold for southern Sunbelt sunny states.

As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster.

Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.

Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long.

Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.

But simple steps can eliminate the nightmare.

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Furnace Creek Ranch boasts the lowest-elevation golf course in the world
Furnace Creek Ranch boasts the lowest-elevation golf course in the world at 214 feet below sea level, tennis courts, spring-fed swimming pools, horseback riding, hiking trails, and carriage rides. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider the following eight tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:

Check expiry dates

Well in advance of your departure, check expiry dates for your passport and other travel documents, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, credit cards, and membership cards—and renew if necessary.

Home insurance

Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires regular walk-throughs during your absence and if so, how frequently.

Snow removal
You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

Contact person
Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Contact information
Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including cell phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

Superstition Mountain Museum
To further understand and appreciate the Superstition Mountains area, its legend, history, and intrigue tour the 12.5-acre Superstition Mountain Museum, near Apache Junction, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notify neighbors

Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away for a specified period of time. You’ll want them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Ensure they have a list of contact persons, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Water heater
Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

Upon returning home, relight the pilot if you turned it off, and gradually turn the thermostat to the appropriate setting. Don’t forget to turn the water back on before restarting the water heater.

Home security
Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly.

Lock windows and doors, and set the security alarm.

Worth Pondering…

Happy Snowbird Travels!

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day …

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

Read More

Snowbird Basics

Winter is a time for boots, snow shovels, and icy roads… unless you’re a snowbird who RVs to the Sun Belt.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Neil Young once sang, “the summer ends and the winter winds begin to holler all around the bend…”

The cooler temperatures have us thinking about the coming winter: snow, ice, and bone-chilling cold. You’re familiar with the drill: dig out the snow shovel, take the snow blower on a test run, and pull out the warm winter sweaters, parkas, mitts, and snow boots. Such are the joys of a northern winter!

The entire history of the human race is largely a search for comfort. Warm southern winters certainly rate high on my comfort scale.

How about snowbirding?

Snowbirds are typically retired seniors who have the desire and financial ability to be away from home for extended periods of time.

The snowbird lifestyle is to our liking since we can take our home with us when the cold weather arrives and snow begins to falls. For us the snowbird lifestyle is the best of both worlds.

Planning

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south, snowbirds need to take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Creating a customized checklists is one way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Consider the following tips as a starting point when creating your winter-ready checklist.

Check expiry dates for travel documents, insurance, and credit cards.

Check with your insurance to determine how extended absences may affect coverage.

You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep sidewalks clear and your home secure.

Ask a friend, trustworthy neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, and be available in emergency situations. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including smart phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats.
The long-legged, S-necked Great white egret feeds in wetlands, streams, ponds, and tidal flats. Photo above at Corkscrew Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Place a temporary hold on your newspaper delivery.

Receiving your mail in a timely manner can be a major concern for Snowbirds, full-timers, and other RVers who plan to be on the road for an extended period of time. Arrange with your local postal service to have your mail forwarded to a mail forwarding address. Trusted and reliable mail forwarding services include Good SamEscapees, and Dakota Post.

Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances—microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee pot, toaster oven, TVs, audio equipment, radios, and lamps.

Reduce costs and save energy consumption by turning the thermostat down to 45-50 degrees F (7-10 C).

Empty the refrigerator and turn it off. Unplug all electronics and electrical appliances.

Check to ensure that all smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries.

Adjust the water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve.

do your dream
Do Your Dream © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This list is a good place to start, but you may take additional steps to secure your home.

Be careful what you post on social media. Burglars have started crawling social media websites to find times when a house will be empty.

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

Read More

5 RV Tips & Tricks

You’re making plans to set off on a relaxing vacation or exciting adventure in your recreational vehicle but are you prepared for any misadventures or unforeseen difficulties you might encounter on the road?

Dante's View, a 5,450-foot overlook near the edge of the Black Mountains on the eastern border of Death Valley
Tips and tricks to arrive safely at your destination. Pictured above is Dante’s View, a 5,450-foot overlook near the edge of the Black Mountains on the eastern border of Death Valley, affords the best overall views of the southern half of the national park including Badwater. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Preventative measures and maintenance will reduce the risk of problems. Preparatory activities should occupy your to-do list prior to any RV trip. It’s important to make sure that all of “the little things” are in place and working properly. While it does take time, it’s far better to be prepared than face an unanticipated malfunction that sabotages your road trip.

Have a bag of tricks ready for those unexpected and unanticipated glitches that tend to occur at the most inconvenient time on your travels.

Following is a list to get you started thinking about handy items you wouldn’t dare travel without:

1. First Aid Kit & Manual

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RV adventure. A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first-aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, or assemble your own.

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RV adventure.
A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RV adventure.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

If you travel with pets, Pet First Aid manuals are even available.

2. Gorilla Tape

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. The tape is a reinforced form of duct tape and is marketed as being for the “toughest jobs on planet earth”, and was featured in Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New 2006″.

Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel. It’s better and stronger than packing tape. Everyone should have Gorilla Tape and Glue in their toolbox — you do have a toolbox in your RV, right?

3. Storage Bags

Zip lock storage bags work great for storing all kinds of food stuffs
Zip lock storage bags work great for storing all kinds of food stuffs

Zip lock storage bags work great for storing all kinds of food stuffs including noodles, macaroni, rice, and cereal, as it makes it bug proof, no added weight in RV, disposable, and easy to see how much is remaining.

You’ll need these when you least expect it—gallon sized zip bags are helpful to store snacks and other food, while snack bags help with little items you don’t want to lose or shift around during travel. Grocery bags are great to use as trash bags in your RV.

4. Space Savers

If there’s one thing most people want in their RV, it’s a little more elbow room here and there. Next time you’re browsing the aisles of your favorite variety store, check out the following space savers: over the door hook and hanger holder, over the door shoe organizers or bins to store footwear under the bed, shelf expander, and canned goods holder.

5. RV Travel Checklists

When possible, leave non-perishable items in your RV year round. Make a list of items you remove from your RV—that way when you get ready to venture out next time, packing will be a piece of cake.

Keep an evolving list in your RV—things to pack for each trip, things you don’t use anymore, things you wish you had, etc. These are the type of things you’ll think of while you’re on trips — just jot them down as they come to mind and you’ll have them for next time.

Worth Pondering…

Enjoy life NOW. It has an expiry date!

Read More

Planning Your RV Road Trip

Is a road trip on your agenda this summer?

A recently washed RV just begs for a thunderstorm storm to blow through. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A recently washed RV just begs for a thunderstorm storm to blow through. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prior to departure planning is required to ensure that your vacation vision becomes your rolling reality. By spending time planning in advance of your RV vacation you’ll get more out of your holiday as well as avoid some of the common pitfalls.

The following checklist will help ensure a smoother take-off and ride along the highways and byways of America.

Get Insured

A recreational vehicle is a huge investment—and it can be a risky one if not adequately protected. RV insurance combines aspects of home and auto insurance to provide unique coverage. It is important to remember is that “specialty” RV insurance offers you protection that is not available with a typical auto insurance policy. Consider using an agent who specializes in RV insurance.

Plan Ahead

Start planning your RV vacation well in advance of your anticipated departure. Pore over some maps, browse online, and dream out loud with your family about the places you’ve always wanted to visit. When you are limited by time and want to see the best of what an area has to offer it is advisable to plan a route before leaving home. Flexibility is a perk of RV travel, but a tentative itinerary will help ensure a pleasant and enjoyable RVing experience.

RV Parks and Campgrounds

The American RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, not only receives high Good Sam rating for its facilities but has something to offer every member of the family from its heated swimming pool for the kids, a spa for the adults, and a dog park for the family pet on board. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The American RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, not only receives high Good Sam rating for its facilities but has something to offer every member of the family from its heated swimming pool for the kids, a spa for the adults, and a dog park for the family pet on board. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From rustic to Wi-Fi enabled, camping options run the gamut. To avoid disappointment make campground reservations well in advance. Remember, this is peak travel season. If you travel with a pet always ask about their pet policy. Some parks have restrictions on the breed of dog they will allow. Always remember to pick up after your pet.

RV Preventive Maintenance

Although it may seem that nothing could go wrong when you’re all packed and eager to leave for your trip, forgetting to check on all the important areas of your RV will, sooner or later, come back to haunt you. Maintaining your RV is essential to ensure that you have a trouble-free trip.

Inspect all the belts and hoses for cracking. Check your headlights, turn signals, and tires. Take a look at all your hitch and towing equipment. Check fire extinguisherssmoke alarm, and carbon monoxide detector. Taking a few precautionary measure before you hit the road could help to avoid a mechanical breakdown.

Every time before you head off, make sure you check:

Pack RV Essentials

Keep your RV stocked with basic supplies, nonperishable food items, linens and clothes, and you’ll be ready to go anytime, anywhere. RVs give you the freedom to be spontaneous.

Is your RV ready to roll this summer? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Is your RV ready to roll this summer? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Maintaining an on-going RV checklist will help ensure you’ve packed all the essentials for your road trip. Include everything you will need for your trip including dishes and cooking utensils, pots and pans, cups and mugs. kitchen tools and supplies, bottle openers, coffee maker, paper products, dish and laundry soap, trash bags, healthy snacks, clothes, pillows and sheets, blankets, cleaning supplies, toiletries, picnic supplies, maps and GPS, first aid kit, tool box, adapters for 30- and 50-amp outlets, potable water hose and pressure regulator, flashlights, spare batteries, jackets and raincoat, outdoor activity gear, collapsible shovel, gloves, duct tape and WD-40, tire pressure gauge, leveling blocks, camping chairs, puzzles and games, , pens and paper, digital camera and memory cards, insect repellent and sunscreen, fishing gear or other recreational equipment, comfortable walking/hiking shore, food for your pet, propane, and plenty of water.

Remember, you don’t want to exceed the GVWR, GAWR, or GCWR but it is also important not to exceed the tire ratings. It is a good practice to weigh each axle end separately to determine if the tire ratings are exceeded, and check loaded weight distribution.

Always check the pressure and condition of your tires before taking your RV on the road.
Always check the pressure and condition of your tires before taking your RV on the road.

Too much weight on the tires is the second leading cause of tire failure. Overloading the tires can lead to excessive wear and reduced tire life due to structural damage—which can lead to sudden failures, like a blowout. And remember, the less weight you carry, the better your fuel mileage.

Time to Roll

Checklist completed? Then it’s time to take off on your RV road trip.

Enjoy! Have a blast! And don’t forget the hot dogs and marshmellows.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

RV Camping and Fishing

It is always fishing―and RV camping­―season somewhere in the U.S. and Canada.

Recreational or sport fishing has become a popular sport and outdoor recreation activity. Pictured above is Parker Lake in southern Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Recreational or sport fishing has become a popular sport and outdoor recreation activity. Pictured above is Parker Lake in southern Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and ocean waters are filled with fish just waiting to test your skills.

Recreational or sport fishing has become a popular sport and outdoor recreation activity. Estimates indicate more than 30 million anglers over the age of 16.

Start checking your supplies, packing your tackle box, and preparing the RV. There is no better time than now for an RV camping and fishing trip.

Preparation is the key to any successful RV camping and fishing trip. To avoid that, “Oh, no, I forgot…” scenario, get into the habit of making an RV checklist when you prepare for any RV camping trip.

Consider the following when you develop your RV camping and fishing list:

  • Are you fishing saltwater or freshwater?
  • What species are you fishing for?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • What season is it?
  • Are you fishing from a boat or the bank?
Fishing (and birding) is great along the Creole Nature Trail, a National Scenic Byway, in southwestern Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Fishing (and birding) is great along the Creole Nature Trail, a National Scenic Byway, in southwestern Louisiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your RV camping and fishing checklist may include fishing supplies and tackle box, fishing vest, fishing license, sun protection (wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bandana), coolers with ice, first aid kit, insect repellent, compass, portable GPS, small fixed blade knife, needle-nosed pliers, and a multi tool. And don’t forget your digital camera for a photo of that one that didn’t get away.

RVers can choose from a variety of fishing experiences when they plan their trips―fly fishing, fresh water fishing, salt water fishing, and the popular winter activity of ice fishing.

At its most basic level, fishing is simply the act of catching fish. The variety comes in how you chose to fish. The most basic way is with rod and reel. Then comes the choice of bait―natural bait (salmon eggs, cheese), live bait (worms, minnows), or artificial lures (spoons, sonar, glitter).

Then there is fly fishing which uses a different type of rod, reel, and fishing line as well as artificial machine or hand-tied flies. Beyond that you can get into more exotic forms of sport fishing such as bow fishing and spear fishing. And the popular cold-weather pastime ice fishing.

Freshwater fish can be caught throughout North America in creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Pretty much anywhere there is a substantial body of water can be home to game fish. Fish may be caught from the shore, by wading into the water, from a boat, or from a dock or pier. Anyplace with solid footing to be able to cast a line will work.

Whether you prefer to drop a line from a cane pole or tie flies in hopes of catching fish, there’s a fishing hole that’s perfect for your next RV camping trip. In fact, there are RV resorts especially designed with the avid fisherman in mind.

Locate an RV park or campground as close as possible to where you’re fishing if you want to get those early biters.

As it name indicates the fishing is great at Utah's Fish Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
As it name indicates the fishing is great at Utah’s Fish Lake. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RV campgrounds are located on lakes, rivers, or streams with game fish. It is not uncommon for an RV campground to have both a lake or pond as well as streams or creeks for fishing. Some RV parks offer fishing right on the property and even stock the lakes on their property with game fish.

Missouri’s Basswood Resort in Platte City, for one, has RV sites located just a few steps from stocked fishing lakes. Stocked with catfish, bass, crappie, bluegill, and carp, the four freshwater lakes at Basswood are fed by the ever-bubbling original Basswood spring.

Some RV parks including Live Oak Landing on the Florida panhandle (near Destin) partner with charter fishing services to help guests catch the big one. In Live Oak’s case, Wounded Warrior charters take guests out to the Choctawhatchee River and its tributaries.

Great fishing awaits you at Virginia’s Gwynn’s Island RV Resort on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

For additional RV camping/fishing locations, see Good Sam Top RV Parks for Fishing.

Worth Pondering…

There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.

―Paul O’Neil, 1965

Read More

Tips for RV Safety: How to Avoid Common Accidents

Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes.

Did you know the height of your RV? Pictured above one of several covered bridges on Ohio's Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Do you know the height of your RV? Pictured above one of several covered bridges on Ohio’s Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.

Before you hit the road, ensure your recreational vehicle is roadworthy, and that you’re prepared in case of emergency.

The proper maintenance of your recreational vehicle is a key to keeping you on the road to safety. An RV that’s mechanically sound will be less apt to break down.

Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventative maintenance and proactive attentiveness.

While the hazards are numerous, taking simple steps to avoid them is much easier than finding yourself facing the consequences of an RV accident or mishap.

Knowing the most common mistakes and having the knowledge to prevent them will keep RV drivers safe and their trip enjoyable.

Awnings are the number one repair for RV maintenance and repair companies. Drivers that forget to retract and lock their awning in the evenings, or sometimes before they start driving away, will quickly discover that awnings aren’t designed to withstand high winds.

When entering or departing a camping site check your surroundings for low branches, obstacles sticking out of the ground, and other hazards. Pictured above Sesquicentennial State Park, affectionately known to locals as "Sesqui", is a spacious, green getaway in the heart of the South Carolina Sandhills region near Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
When entering or departing a camping site check your surroundings for low branches, obstacles sticking out of the ground, and other hazards. Pictured above Sesquicentennial State Park, affectionately known to locals as “Sesqui”, is a spacious, green getaway in the heart of the South Carolina Sandhills region near Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Accidents such as fires or lack of clearance can cost more than just the expense of the RV repair—such disasters can harm the traveling family as well.

Know Your Height

Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people forget the extra height of an RV while driving.

Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.

In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:

  • Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
  • Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height (remember to include A/C)
  • “We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk

Also be aware that the typical width of an RV is 8.5 feet and the typical highway lane is 10 feet in width. This gives you about a foot-and-a-half to work with.

Tighten Up: Conduct a Pre-Drive Safety Check

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up or steps extended. Create a step-by-step checklist, and like a pilot on a jet, conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away.

A pre-departure checklist should include the following:

Pack and secure all outside items, e.g. store mats, chairs, grills, and bikes

Ensure bay doors are closed, latched, and locked

Slide out rooms fully retracted and secured

Secure all loose items, e.g. toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, dishes

Kitchen cabinet drawers, closet doors, and refrigerator closed and securely latched

Ensure stove, oven, heater burners, and refrigerator are in off position

Turn off water pump and water heater

Power cord, cable or satellite TV cable, water and sewer hoses disconnected and stowed securely

Lower roof vents

TV antenna, jacks, steps, and awnings fully retracted

Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels

Turn propane off at the tank

Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required; inspect tires checking for cracks and uneven tread wear

Some road are best explored in the toad after parking the RV. Pictured above Mokee Dugway (elevation 6,426 feet) looking south to the Valley of the Gods (Utah), an 1,100 feet drop in 3 miles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Some road are best explored in the toad after parking the RV. Pictured above Mokee Dugway (elevation 6,426 feet) looking south to the Valley of the Gods (Utah), an 1,100 feet drop in 3 miles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tow bar and safety cables in place

Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational

Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks

Checking your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground

Check campsite to ensure it’s clean and no items are left behind

Final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving for your next destination

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

Read More

Tips for Organizing Your RV

Ah, the open road. The only thing separating you and your adventure is getting everything in your recreational vehicle organized.

Tips for Organizing Your RV (Credit: rv-roadtrips.com)
Tips for Organizing Your RV (Credit: rv-roadtrips.com)

When venturing onto the open road, every inch of space is vital. Careful planning and creative thought will help to make your RV a comfortable home on wheels.

RV organization tips can save you time on your next road trip. Whether you’re heading to a national park or a camping trip to the lake, by organizing your RV you can save yourself the headache of scrambling to pick up last minute items at the local Walmart.

Organizing your RV can be fun and frustrating at the same time. There never seems to be enough space and you will most-likely re-organize your cabinets and storage areas numerous times before you’re satisfied.

Every square inch of storage space counts when you’re organizing your RV. Be creative when you put systems in place to utilize all interior and exterior storage space.

Anything you put in the RV adds weight. When packing your RV stay within the manufacturer’s recommended weight ratings and balance the weight from side to side and front to back. This is important for driving stability and safety. Weight management is critical to your safety!

Following are a few easy tips for organizing your RV that will simplify your life on the road and help you spend less time looking for things and more enjoying the wonderful adventure.

Tips for Organizing Your RV (Credit: lakeshore-rv.com)
Tips for Organizing Your RV (Credit: lakeshore-rv.com)

Storage containers are your friends. Use them to store odd shaped and sized items in similar places. This can save space in storage areas, cupboards, under furniture and the bed, and in the bathroom.

Before storing anything in the storage compartment in the RV basement, place them in storage containers or stacking bins to protect against dust and dirt.

Stackable shelving units come in various sizes and styles. Perfect for the RV kitchen cabinets that are typically very deep. Before you go shopping, measure each cabinet. To get every inch of space, you will need both the depth and width size of each cabinet you want to organize.

Storage is everywhere. That means the inside of your oven and microwave (don’t forget to empty it out before using!

Line drawers and shelves with nonslip liners to prevent items from sliding while you’re on the road.

Pre-plan what you’re bringing on your next road trip and think ahead to start the organization process of how to store what you need with you. Start with checklists; they are an RV must!

Check lists will help you organize everything from your kitchen to your camping gear to your weekly meal plans and groceries.

Leave as many items as possible in your RV between road trips. If you need to remove items and use them in your home, make a list of what you take out of your RV—that way when you get ready to venture out next time, packing will be a piece of cake.

Keep an evolving list in your RV: things to pack for each trip, things you don’t use anymore, things you wish you had, etc. These are the type of things you’ll think of while you’re on road trips — just jot them down as they come to mind and you’ll have them for next time.

Fruits and veggies will last longer in your fridge if you rinse and store in an air-tight bag with a folded paper towel. The paper towel will limit rotting.

Store grains and pasta in airtight containers or zip-lock bags to keep out unwanted critters.

Items used frequently should be stored near the front for easy access.

Recycle old Rx containers (remove the label) to hold an emergency stash of quarters for laundry.

Tips for Organizing Your RV (Credit: gr8lakescamper.blogspot.com)
Tips for Organizing Your RV (Credit: gr8lakescamper.blogspot.com)

Organize travel guides, campground directories, itineraries, and reservations in an easy-to-access location.

Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them.

Clutter tends to beget clutter, so don’t let the first stray object get things started. Clutter detracts significantly from the pleasure and convenience of using your RV.

A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING, AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

Worth Pondering…
Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

Read More