even more rv stuff 5/21/19 – gtg

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A trip to Yellowstone National Park is practically a right of passage for any RV owner. If you have an RV in the United States and you haven’t yet traveled to the original National Park, you might not know what you are missing. Yellowstone is simply spectacular, with stunning scenery around nearly every corner. While getting to Wyoming is not exactly convenient for most people, the trip will be worth the effort when you see what Yellowstone has in store.

Of course, real life has a way of interfering with dream vacations. While you might like to park your RV for a week or two around Yellowstone so you can see everything there is to see, an itinerary that leaves that kind of time just might not be in the cards. So, should you skip Yellowstone altogether? Absolutely not. Even if you only have a day or two, you can still get a good look at what makes this part of the country so special.

Below are three of the must-see spots within Yellowstone National Park that you should make an effort to visit while you are in the area.

#1 – Old Faithful

This is probably the most famous feature in the park, and you certainly don’t want to miss it. Old Faithful is a geyser which, as its name would indicate, erupts on a predictable schedule. The geyser itself it quite impressive, as is the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin. Watching geysers do their thing in person is a rare opportunity, and something that is a big part of what makes Yellowstone the attraction that it is.

#2 – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

For perhaps the most spectacular sight in the entire park, you will want to head to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This canyon is highlighted by Yellowstone Falls, which includes Upper Yellowstone Falls and Lower Yellowstone Falls. The canyon is up to 1,000 feet deep in some places, and the views that can be enjoyed from around the rim are nothing short of breathtaking. If you aren’t satisfied with simply looking into the canyon from the rim, you can get a better view by taking Uncle Tom’s Trail down a series of stairs that leads into the canyon itself. Pictures taken from around the Yellowstone Falls area will likely be some of the best pictures you take on your entire trip.

#3 – Mammoth Hot Springs

You aren’t going to see the dramatic eruptions at Mammoth Hot Springs that you will see in the Upper Geyser Basin, but you will see an incredible set of hot springs that dates back thousands of years. The water that fills Mammoth Hot Springs comes to the surface at around 170* F, and a variety of algae living in the water has led many different colors being represented throughout the springs. Just as is the case with so many spots in Yellowstone, you will want to have your camera ready when you arrive that this popular destination.

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Is a tent trailer really an RV? It depends on your personal definition of the term ‘recreational vehicle’. In the end, though, it really doesn’t matter. Whether you think of a tent trailer as an RV or you would rather lump it in some other category, they are a viable option for countless people who wish to explore the outdoors. Smaller and less expensive than Motorhomes or full-size camping trailers, tent trailers represent a great choice for a very specific segment of the market.

If you are thinking of getting into RV ownership for the first time, but you aren’t sure that you are ready to make the leap, take a look at the tent trailer options on the market today. Following is a short list of reasons why a tent trailer could make for a great first step toward eventually owning a full-size RV.

Affordable

The number one reason to consider buying a tent trailer is the cost savings over a traditional RV. If you are willing to buy a slightly used tent trailer, you could easily own one for less than $10,000 – which is far less than you are going to have to invest to own a quality Motorhome, for example. By lowering the initial investment that is required, you will give yourself the opportunity to experience RV-style travel without taking on a huge loan. Of course, should you decide that you enjoy RV travel and you feel like you need something bigger, you could always sell the tent trailer in order to upsize.

Easy to Pull

Most tent trailers are light, meaning you won’t necessarily need a huge vehicle in order to pull your tent trailer from spot to spot. In fact, there is a good chance that you already own a vehicle with the capability to pull an average-sized tent trailer. This is another point that will reduce the upfront investment required to get into the RV lifestyle. By not having to buy a full-size truck to go along with your trailer, you can save yourself money while still enjoying many great camping experiences.

Simple to Use

It can be intimidating to purchase a large motorhome as your first entry into the RV world considering just how complicated those large vehicles can be. There are a number of different systems on those large RV that you will need to learn how to operate. While they provide great comfort for your trips, there is something of a learning curve to deal with. On the other hand, most tent trailers are simple and easy to use. By the end of the first day on your first trip, you will likely have a great understanding of how your new toy works, and you will be able to then just relax and enjoy your vacation.

Tent trailers have some limitations, as they don’t offer all of the bells and whistles that come with full-size RV’s. However, when budget is a concern, a tent trailer is a great way to get started. There are plenty of quality models on the market, so you should be able to find something that suits your needs nicely.

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It’s hard to imagine a nicer place in the world than San Diego, California. The weather is nearly perfect, the scenery is incredible, and there is plenty to do and see all around the city and surrounding areas. Most people, after visiting San Diego for a few days, have just one reaction – why don’t I live here?

Many places advertise great weather, but San Diego is one that truly delivers. The average high temperature in July is 74.6*. The average high temperature in December? 65.1*. There isn’t much difference between summer and winter, other than shorter days and cooler nights. In all, San Diego receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year on average, and barely over 10’’ of rain. Whether coming for a week or a lifetime, you are likely to experience plenty of beautiful weather.

Nearly Endless Activities

If you are coming in to San Diego in your RV for a vacation, you just might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of things there are available to do and see. There is a great military history in the city, and the USS Midway Museum is a popular attraction. Balboa Park is a must-see for visitors, and the San Diego Zoo is a world-renown destination. Like to play golf? Torrey Pines is among the top public golf facilities in the entire country. Want to take in a baseball game? The San Diego Padres play at Petco Park, considered one of the prettiest ballparks in the league. Safe to say, there is no reason for you to ever be bored when spending time in San Diego.

Plenty of RV Parks

Another nice feature of San Diego is the many RV parks that you will have to choose from when you visit. It can be hard to find good options for parking your RV in and around big cities, but you shouldn’t have much trouble in this area. In fact, there are even a couple of waterfront RV parks that will place you just steps from the amazing San Diego beaches. Naturally, you aren’t the only person thinking of traveling to San Diego, so be sure to book your reservations well in advance.

Don’t Forget to Eat!

San Diego is also well-known for its impressive cuisine. While many RV owners like to cook inside the RV in order to save money, you will want to eat out around town at least a couple times during your stay. Specifically, if you love Mexican food, San Diego is the place to be.

Should you be interested by any of the attractions north in the Los Angeles area, you can easily make a day trip up to see things like Disneyland, Hollywood, and more. Staying in or near San Diego will provide you with a slightly more laid back setting than the L.A. area, but you can still take a side trip up the coast to see a specific destination. After one trip to San Diego, there is a good chance that you will be booking a return vacation just as soon as you have the chance.

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Washington State is one of the prettiest states in the country, with plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities for RV travelers. What you might not know, is that the state doesn’t all look like you probably are picturing your head. When you think of Washington state, do you picture lush green terrain with countless evergreen trees? That is accurate – in the western half of the state. However, if you head east of the Cascade Mountains, you get an entirely different scene. For the most part, the trees are gone and you will encounter a landscape that looks more like a desert than anything else.

It doesn’t rain nearly as much in Eastern Washington as it does on the western side of the state, but water still plays a prominent role in what you will find when you come to visit. Specifically, the Columbia River is one of the great rivers in the country, and recreational opportunities exists up and down the river – all the way out to the coast where it meets the Pacific Ocean. The river enters the United States in the northeastern corner of Washington, and it winds its way throughout Eastern Washington before forming the border with Oregon and heading out to the coast.

Memorable Fishing

If you like to use your RV to head to beautiful places for fishing trips, the Columbia River offers plenty of those opportunities. The river is far too big and complex to list all of the fishing opportunities here, so you will need to do a little research in order to locate the perfect spot for the kind of fishing that you like to do. Of course, before you head out on a trip, be sure to acquire all of the necessary licenses that you will need to fish legally in the state of Washington.

Plenty of RV Options

RV travel is popular in the Pacific Northwest, meaning you will find many great RV parks – both public and private – that you can consider for your stay. In some places these RV parks will be right along the banks of the river, so you can enjoy great views from right outside your RV window. Since there are numerous dams along the length of the Columbia – many of which provide power to the residents of the state – the river more closely resembles a series of lakes or reservoirs than it does an actual, free-flowing river.

Cold Winters

Don’t be fooled by the desert-like appearance of the Eastern Washington landscape – this area is still very cold in the winter months. For the most part, you will want to plan any trip to see the Columbia River for the spring, summer, or early fall. From November through to February you will find that most of Eastern Washington is extremely cold and often covered in snow.

The Columbia River is one of those destinations that you certainly aren’t going to see all at once. However, once you take that initial trip to stay along the shores of the river and perhaps do a little fishing or boating, you just might find yourself wanting to come back again and again.

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When you think about traveling to California, what do you picture? For most people, there is a specific list of locations that first spring to mind when California vacations are discussed. Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, San Diego, Napa Valley, Yosemite, Death Valley, Monterey, Big Sur, and the Redwoods are just some of the popular attractions located across this large state. While each of those is a worthy destination in its own right, there is another area that deserves consideration – the Shasta region in northern California.

Both Mount Shasta and Shasta Lake offer stunning scenery just a short drive north from Redding. There are a variety of recreational activities available in the Shasta region, from hiking and climbing to fishing, boating, and more. Those who love the outdoors come from all around California and beyond to enjoy everything that the region has to offer.

Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake is actually a reservoir formed behind the Shasta Dam. The dam is the ninth tallest in the United States, and it provides both electricity and irrigation water for the Central Valley. It is actually the water of the Sacramento River that creates the lake, which is the third largest body of water in California when it is at full capacity. It is common to see house boats on the lake, along with boaters enjoying water skiing, fishing, and more.

Mount Shasta

Even if you have traveled extensively around the western half of the United States, Mount Shasta is still likely to be one of the most impressive sights you have seen in person. It is the second-tallest peak in the Cascade Mountains (behind Mount Rainier in Washington), as it stands more than 14,000 feet tall. However, unlike many other tall peaks, there is very little around Shasta in the way of other peaks, making it look even taller as it stands guard over the surrounding lowlands. Whether you are driving along I-5 from the north or south, you will be struck with an incredible view of Shasta on a sunny day – which there are plenty of in this part of California.

A Rural Experience

While you can expect stunning scenery at just about every turn when you visit the Shasta region, don’t expect to find a plethora of amenities or urban surroundings. This part of California is decidedly rural in nature. Once you get past Redding if you are coming from the south, or Yreka if you are coming from the north, you will get to experience a truly natural vacation. The town of Weed sits near the foot of Mount Shasta, but it has a population of under 3,000 people. Despite the rural setting, however, there are plenty of RV parks and campgrounds throughout this region. With a little bit of planning prior to your departure, you should be able to have a great time traveling in your RV exploring Shasta Lake, Mount Shasta, and beyond.

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If you are shopping for a new RV, you are surely already seen that most models that include slide out sections. These slide outs are meant to add space to the interior of the RV while you are parked and camped, but still allow the rig to be small enough to get around on the freeways. Depending on the size of your family, a slide out or two can make all the difference between an RV that is too cramped and one that is just right. While most new RV’s today are manufactured with slide outs, you still may find some older models that don’t have them.

In order to help you decide if you need to have slide outs on your list of features for your next RV, consider the following info about slide outs and what they mean to the use of an RV.

Additional Space

Obviously, the big advantage of having one or more slide outs on your RV is simply the amount of interior space they can add. Once you have been inside of an RV with the slides pushed out, you just might wonder how you ever stayed in one without them. There are limitations to how spacious an RV can be when it doesn’t feature slide outs, so your living and bedroom areas are likely to be far more enjoyable when they are present. For those traveling with a least a few people, the added space that slide outs present will be greatly appreciated.

Extra Work

When you arrive at the campsite for your stay, there are already plenty of chores to take care of, including leveling the RV, getting everything hooked up, and much more. If you have slide outs, you can add them to the list of things that need to be taken care of before your home is ready for the week. Many never models open and close by push button, but you will still need to account for them while leveling and get things organized inside once they are pushed out. While you will probably get pretty efficient and setting everything up and putting it all back away, it is another step that must be taken care of.

Great for Long Periods of Time

If you are going to be staying in your RV for an extended period of time, having a slide out or two is an easy decision because you will appreciate the extra room that you have available. Once you get the RV set up, you won’t have to worry moving around so you can just relax and appreciate the square footage that has been added to the rig.

Potential for Problems

Anytime you add moving parts to an RV (or anything else), there is the potential for trouble that will require repair. Most notably, RV slide outs are known for having water leak problems, which is the last thing that you want to deal with when you are supposed to be having a fun vacation. Make sure, if you are looking at a used RV, that the seals and other parts associated with the slide outs are in good working condition.

Gas Mileage May Suffer

Slide outs add weight to an RV, meaning that you might not get as good of gas mileage as you could without them. Given the cost of gas, and the already low gas mileage that you will be getting in an RV, this could be an expensive problem. Again, it comes down to how much you are going to be driving the RV, compared to how long you intend to stay and camp. If you stay for long periods of time at your destinations, then the cost of fuel might not be such a big deal.

When shopping for a new RV, you might not have much of a choice in the matter – almost all of them include at least one slide out. All in all, they are a great addition that makes your RV feel a little bit more like a home and gives you room to relax and enjoy your trip. However, there can be a couple downsides to the presence of a slide out, so make sure you understand those going in. Hopefully, your slide outs will be trouble-free and you can simply appreciate the added room they make for you and your family.

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When most people pack up the RV to head to Wyoming, they have one destination in mind – Yellowstone National Park. There is good reason for that, of course. Yellowstone is the original National Park, and it is truly an incredible place. Anyone who loves the outdoors and the natural world should strive to make at least one trip to unforgettable Yellowstone.

With that said, there is another destination within Wyoming that is very much deserving of your attention. Grand Teton National Park is just south of Yellowstone, and it contains many stunning sights of its own. A different landscape than Yellowstone, Grand Teton presents beautiful peaks, abundant wildlife, rivers and lakes, and much more. While it will never be as famous as its neighbor to the north, there is plenty to love about Grand Teton.

Plenty of Bears

One of the first things to know about Grand Teton National Park is that there is an active bear population which must be respected. There are black and grizzly bears within the boundaries of the park, and you should understand proper bear safety before heading out for any hikes or other activities. Of course, it can be a great thrill to see a bear in person, but only from a safe distance. In addition to bears, some of the other wildlife that inhabits the park includes moose, elk, bald eagles, gray wolves, coyotes, and more.

Ample Activities

Grand Teton National Park is a wonderland of outdoor activity and adventure. Among the many opportunities that you could find inside the park including fishing, biking, hiking, bird watching, climbing, horseback riding, and more. Some of these activities may be seasonal, so check with the park before planning your trip. Although the park is open year-round, many of the roads within the park will be closed during the winter months.

Pair with a Trip to Yellowstone

As long as you are making the drive in your RV to Wyoming, you might as well see both of these great National Parks in one visit. Plan your stay to include time for exploring both Yellowstone and Grand Teton. While it is unlikely that you will be able to see all of the parks in just one trip, you can at least hit the highlights and hopefully come back another time to see even more.

It might seem like a long trek to take your rig out to Wyoming, but the drive might not be as bad as you think – especially in the summer months when traveling tends to be easier. For instance, the drive is under 15 hours from Los Angeles, under 13 hours from Seattle, and just under 20 hours from Dallas. With good planning, you should be able to incorporate a few other stops along the way depending on where you live, making this a road trip that you will remember for many years to come.

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new rv content 5/21/19 – gtg

Just as your regular car won’t do you much good without a healthy battery, neither will your RV. If you are going to get a long and healthy useful life from your RV purchase, you need to complete regular battery maintenance. Fortunately, battery maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult or even time consuming once you understand the basics of what needs to be done, and when to do it.

When talking about maintenance of any kind on your RV, prevention is the first step to success. Rather than trying to fix a problem after it gets to the point of no return, try to stay on top of your RV maintenance to save both time and money over the long run. By spending just a little bit of time working on your RV before and after each trip, you can keep it in good condition and will be able to catch any issues before they become major problems.

Battery Terminal Corrosion

This is a problem that can be found in many cars, and it has the same potentially destructive power in RV’s. Over time, your battery terminals may start to corrode, damaging the quality of the electrical connection. If the corrosion becomes bad enough, you might not even be able to start the engine. Minor corrosion doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with the battery – it can be simply a natural byproduct of using the battery time and again.

To prevent the corrosion from becoming a major issue, stay ahead of it and brush the terminals regularly. If you check the battery before each trip you take, simply brush away any corrosion that has started to show. Use a wire brush or a specialty battery brush that you can find at an auto parts store for the job. If you have enough corrosion to need more than just a brush, try using baking soda to eat away at the corrosion before brushing it off.

Once cleaned, you can use a variety of anti-corrosion sprays that are available on the market to find against this from becoming an ongoing problem. If you have taken apart the cables from the terminals to do the cleaning, make sure everything is reattached tightly and correctly before firing up the engine and heading off for your next trip.

Refilling the Water Levels

If your RV uses flooded cell batteries, you will need to check the water level within the batteries and refill as necessary. The water is going to evaporate over time, so it is to be expected that you will have to refill the batteries periodically. Check them before and after each trip, and add distilled water to the battery so that the water level is slightly higher than the plates found inside. After you have owned your RV for a while you should have a good idea of how much water is going to evaporate over a given period of time, so you can consistently replenish the water on a regular schedule.

Some RV’s run on maintenance free batteries, meaning they are sealed and don’t need to be replenished with water. Obviously, you can cross off refilling your batteries if your RV uses this type. However, maintenance free batteries still can develop corrosion over time, so it is a smart idea to keep an eye on the battery terminals when conducting basic maintenance.

A Tip for Seasonal Users

Many RV owners only use their rigs in the warm summer months, and simply park them in the garage or on the side of the house during the winter. If this sounds like you, you will want to make sure your battery is prepared to live through the winter and is ready to get back to work for you when spring and summer roll around. First, make sure you give your battery a full charge before you park the RV for the winter. Also, disconnect the electrical connections while it sits and waits out the cold months. When the time comes, you can reconnect everything as it was, and give the battery a full charge before starting up the RV for the first time in the new season.

Overall, battery maintenance isn’t a major time-drain for an RV owner. It is, however, very important and something that you need to be sure and keep up with if you are going to get the best possible life and performance from your battery. Make sure to follow the directions that come with your RV and the battery itself, and don’t get lazy on your maintenance schedule. With regular attention, you can keep the battery healthy and keep your RV where it belongs – out on the road.

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Taking your RV for a long drive to a great destination is something that most RV owners dream of all year long. The open road can be a great place to unwind, soak in some scenery, and catch up with your traveling companions. Where some people count the miles until they will be done with their trip, RV owners tend to savor the miles instead, enjoying each one as it passes.

Of course, that doesn’t mean its always smooth sailing out there on the road. Things can happen when you take off on a long drive, especially in a large RV. Being prepared for a variety of circumstances is the smart and responsible thing to do. While that is true for any trip you take, it is especially important when you are going to be taking the ‘road less traveled’.

Wandering the Back Roads

There are more than 300 million people living in the United States. With that kind of population base, you might think that there would be nowhere to go in this country where you could get some peace and quiet. Oh but you would be wrong. There are many many miles of lonely roads all over this country – especially in the west. As you gain experience traveling around the country in your RV, you will find that there is still plenty of desolate land to explore, even in a country with so many millions of residents.

If you are going to be traveling some of these ‘lonely’ roads on your next RV trip, be sure to prepare yourself for as many circumstances as possible. Some of these roads see very few travelers, and you will likely be well out of cell phone range when you get deep into the country. Anytime you head out into such remote territory in your RV, you should always be prepared to spend the night if absolutely necessary. Take food and plenty of water and comfortable clothing so you can get through a night safely if there is a problem with the RV along the way. Hopefully this situation will never come to pass, but you will enjoy your trip more thoroughly if you are prepared just in case.

Where are These Roads?

Still not convinced that there are desolate highways crisscrossing the country? You don’t have to look at a map for very long to find plenty of them. The state of Nevada alone is home to plenty of lonely stretches of highway, such as US-93 which runs north and south in the eastern half of the state. Leaving from the metropolis of Las Vegas on I-15 east, it doesn’t take long to find US-93N, which will quickly take you away from the bright lights of the strip out into the desert. While you will run into a few small towns along the way, there is very little along this highway of note – and you shouldn’t plan on seeing too many other cars on the road with you. Of course, this is just one example of the remote highways that can be explored throughout the western half of the country. These roads can lead to great vacations, but be sure you are prepared before setting off.

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The average person is only used to driving ‘average’ sized vehicles – meaning coupes, sedans, pickup trucks, SUV’s, and the like. Most people, unless they are professional truck drivers or work in another transportation-related field, never pilot anything with more than four wheels. If you buy an RV, however, you will quickly need to learn how to safely and efficiently operate an RV which is likely the biggest thing you have ever put in motion.

One of the considerations that you have to make when driving your RV is the other cars around you on the road. Not only do you want to help everyone stay safe, but you also want to make sure you are being courteous to others. You are taking up a large portion of the road in your RV, so it is only right that you should be aware of your positioning and do what you can to keep traffic moving freely. Following are a few points of etiquette to think about while driving your RV to and from your next vacation.

Get out of the Way!

The main rule of thumb regarding RV etiquette on the road is simply to get out of the way of faster, small vehicles. That means using the right lane whenever possible, and maybe even using a pullout along the side of the road to allow cars to pass on a one-lane highway (when safe). If you are traveling significantly lower than the speed limit – which is likely going to be the case when going up a long mountain pass, for example – you are responsible for allowing everyone else to maintain their speed successfully. Pay attention to cars coming up behind you and share the road in a friendly manner.

Don’t Follow Too Close

Nothing will make a driver nervous faster than a large vehicle coming up quickly from behind. If you are piloting an RV, make sure to maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you. Even if the car is going slower than they should be going on a given road, you still don’t need to move up within a few feet of their bumper. You don’t have the flexibility in an RV to stop as quickly as you could in a small car, so stay back to provide yourself with more time to react should they stop suddenly for some reason.

Park Well Away from the Entrance

When you stop to park your rig at a store or restaurant, make sure to use parking spaces that are well away from the entrance to the business. You shouldn’t be blocking several spaces right up front with your large vehicle, as you will be getting in the way of several other customers. It is proper etiquette to park out away from the store, even if that means a longer walk to get inside. Your big RV will make it hard to people to get around the parking lot, and the visual obstruction that it provides could even cause an accident. Do the right thing, and park near the back of the lot for the benefit of those around you.

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In recent years, there have been more and more businesses popping up which allow customers to rent RV’s for vacations. Rather than having to commit to purchasing an RV and all that entails, you can simply rent one for however long you need it and then return it after the trip. On the surface, there is a lot to like about this plan. But, does it really work as good as it sounds? In order to decide if renting an RV is a good idea for you and your family, you will need to consider a few different elements. As with any consumer decision, there are both pros and cons to be found with renting and RV. In the end, you will have to decide which side wins out and if renting an RV is something you could benefit from.

Renting Can Be a Good Intro to the RV Lifestyle

If you are someone who has never traveled in an RV, or haven’t since you were a child, renting an RV can be a good option to get a little experience and find out how much you like it. It would be pretty risky to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new RV without even knowing how much you will enjoy using it, so renting could be a good way to start. You will be able to enjoy a short trip for limited financial investment, and find out what you and your family think of this mode of vacationing. If you find that you enjoy it, you can start to consider the possibility of purchasing your own RV down the road. If not, you will have only spend a relatively small amount of money, and you can move on to other kinds of travel.

It Gets Expensive Quickly

For those who already know they enjoy RV traveling, renting a rig can get expensive in a hurry. While you might think that you would be better off just renting an RV for the one or two trips a year that you want to take, the math will quickly show you otherwise. When you start to add up not only the rental fee for the RV, but also all the other related expenses, you will see that it is no bargain if you are going to do it on a regular basis. When you purchase an RV, you have the possibility of recouping some of that purchase price when you decide to sell it later on. That is not the case with a rental – once you pay for the rental RV trip, that money is spent and it’s not coming back.

No Sense of Ownership

Part of the allure of traveling in an RV is that you can feel like part of home is coming along with you for the trip. You can appoint your own RV with a variety of decorations and touches that remind you of home, and you will get more and more comfortable with your RV as you take more and more trips. That won’t be the case in a rental. Basically, you will be traveling in a hotel room on wheels, and the space will feel generic and unfamiliar. That isn’t to say that you can’t have fun on a trip in a rental RV, because you can – but it will never be the same as traveling in your own rig.

Consider it for Unique Opportunities

There are certain places – such as National Parks for example – that often don’t have hotel rooms available for you to stay in. If you want to visit these places and see everything that they have to offer, you might need to camp in either an RV or a tent. To avoid having to tent camp, renting an RV may be a perfect solution. If you don’t think you will want to RV travel on a regular basis but would love to see one or two specific destinations, opting for the rental option might be the right call.

For most people, renting an RV is a good option only on a limited basis, and for special occasions. If you are going to RV on even a semi-regular basis, it will likely be to your benefit to purchase an RV rather than paying rental fees for each trip. Unless you are just getting started in RV’ing and wish to experience what it is all about without committing to a purchase, renting an RV is just too expensive to make sense in the long run.

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There are no two ways about it – buying an RV is a significant investment, and should be a family decision. If you are going to spend the money to add an RV to your personal property, you want to make sure that it is something you will use and enjoy for many years to come. While many people consider their RV vacations the highlight of the year, traveling in this way is not for everyone. Think carefully about the kinds of things you and your family enjoy doing on vacation, and the kinds of places you like to visit, and then decide if an RV is the best way to make those things happen.

As you work through the process of deciding whether or not to purchase an RV, ask yourself the three questions below.

Where would we go on vacation?

Before you even set foot on an RV dealership lot, take some time to browse the web and look for potential destinations for your RV vacations. You might already know of a place or two you would like to visit, but take some time to do research and see if there are any other options within your general area that would be interesting to you and your family. You want to make sure there are plenty of spots for you to take trips if you are going to spend the money on an RV purchase.

As part of this exercise, think about how far you would be willing to drive for most trips and use that number to focus your search. If you and your family really don’t want to be in the RV traveling for more than five hours, for example, make sure to search within a five hour drive radius from your house. Some people are more willing to drive long distances than others, so this will have to be a personal choice based on your own preferences.

What would we do on vacation?

What sounds like a great vacation to one family might sound terrible to another. Love to play nice golf courses and enjoy high-end resort amenities? There is nothing wrong with that – but an RV might not be the best use of your recreation money. Enjoy fishing, hiking, boating, and other outdoors activities? RV ownership could be right up your alley. Think about not only where you could go on vacations, but what you could do when you get there. If you would enjoy fishing, then you will need to find an RV that allows you to take along a boat as well. Think ahead in terms of activities so you can decide not only if an RV is right for you, but also what kind of RV would serve you best.

What does the future look like for our family?

Buying an RV is not a short-term proposition. In order for the purchase to make financial sense, you will want to be enjoying your RV for many years to come. With that in mind, what does the future look like for your family in the next few years? Are the kids going off to college, or maybe getting married? While a large RV might be perfect for your family today, it may be way too big for you and your spouse in just a couple short years. Conversely, maybe you are planning to add to your family in the near future and might need a larger RV in the years to come. This possibility might lead you to buy a bigger rig than you need now, with the idea that your family will grow into it over time.

RV traveling is great fun, and offers the opportunity to make some wonderful memories. It is not, however, for everyone. Considering how much money you will have to spend to purchase an RV of your own, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Think about the three questions above, and talk them over with your family. After spending some time thinking and reviewing all of the RV vacation options in your local area, you should soon have a clear decision as to whether or not buying an RV will be the best way to go.

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In many ways, buying an RV feels like you will be traveling in a hotel. After all, your bed is waiting for you in the RV, you have a bathroom, a kitchen, and plenty of room to put your stuff. In a nice RV, you might even have a full-size couch and a TV. Even with all of those amenities, it is important that you don’t forget about the basic camping gear that applies to any kind of trip into nature.

It’s All About Being Outside

There is something of a paradox when it comes to RV ownership. You spend tens of thousands of dollars on a
beautiful new RV, only to take it to places where you want to spend more of your time outside. The beautiful destinations that are available to RV travelers include lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, and more. These are not places that you want to visit only to sit inside and look out the window. The whole point is to get out and enjoy these settings, so you need to be prepared for a traditional camping trip even though you will be sleeping within the walls of your trailer or Motorhome.

The Basics

If you were a tent camper at one point, you probably already own most of what you will need to set up camp outside of your RV. Among the basic items to include when packing are as follows –

Tarps
Outdoor table cloth
Camping chairs
Cooler
Flashlights or a lantern
Fire building materials

With the items on the list above, you should be able to put together a comfortable outdoor area to spend time with your family and friends. You can think of this area as an extension of your RV – you want to make it comfortable and relaxing in order to spend as much time outside during the trip as possible. However, unlike a tent camper, you can always retreat to the controlled environment of your RV if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Don’t Bring Too Much

It is a fine line between not bringing enough traditional camping gear on your RV trips, and wasting space by bringing too much. Carefully think about how many people are coming on the trip and what you will want to be able to do while you are outside. You don’t want to waste valuable space in the RV as you are packing, so it may take a little practice to strike the perfect balance on this point.

One final piece to this puzzle is the specific destination that you have in mind. For example, some locations allow campfires while others don’t – are you going to be able to burn where you are staying? If not, there is no point in taking your campfire equipment. Pack smart by tailoring your items to the destination you will be visiting and you can save space while still being able to enjoy everything about your trip.

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Getting started in the world of RV travel can be a bit overwhelming. RVs are large vehicles, they are expensive, and they often need to be parked in tight spaces. There is a lot to love about owning and using an RV, but there is a learning curve to be sure. Of course, the only way to get over that learning curve is to get started. In this article, we will provide you some basic tips which can help you transition into becoming a veteran RV user in no time at all.

The biggest thing for a new RV owner to learn is how to maneuver the vehicle safely. No matter what kind of RV you have purchased – a motorhome, a trailer, fifth-wheel, etc. – you are going to need to get comfortable driving this big rig out on the road. Most likely, this will be the largest vehicle you have ever been in charge of operating. To learn how to handle the size and weight of the vehicle, head to a large, empty parking lot to practice. With open space and nothing to hit, you can work on things like backing up, parking in a tight spot (that you can mark out with some cones), and braking in a controlled manner. RV travel will only be fun if you are comfortable driving the rig that you have purchased.

The Trip Will Take Longer Than You Expect

When planning your upcoming vacation, you might just plug your start and end points into Google Maps to determine how long the journey will be. While this is usually a great way to plan a road trip, it isn’t likely to be as effective in this case. The problem comes down to the time you will make in your RV. You aren’t going to travel nearly as quickly as you would in a passenger vehicle, so plan on significantly more time on the road than what your GPS system is suggesting. Rather than trying to ‘make good time’, just enjoy the journey and get there safely.

The Owner’s Manual is Your Friend

Many people toss out the owner’s manual immediately when they purchase a new product. That might be okay if you buy a toaster, but you certainly don’t want to do such a thing if you buy an RV. In fact, you should see the owner’s manual as a great assistant when taking your first trips. Keep it close at hand and consult it whenever you are unsure of how to use your rig. In time, you will need to use it less and less, but it should always be on board just in case.

Bring Relevant Tools

You probably already thought of the fact that you should have a tool kit with you in case repairs need to be made. However, you might be tempted just to toss your tool box from home into the RV – despite the fact that those tools may not be relevant on the trip. Take a look around your RV and make sure you are bringing tools that will actually work when you have a problem to fix.

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RV buyers tend to fit into two general categories – those who are about to retire and want to travel the country, and those who are just getting started with a family of their own. Kids tend to love RV travel, as it feels like an adventure that they get to take to a number of new and interesting places. If you have kids and would like them to develop an appreciation for the outdoors, becoming an RV owner is a great idea.

Of course, as is always the case, there are rewards and there are challenges when dealing with kids. You have to be well-prepared in order to make the most of an RV vacation with your children, and you have to think about their needs when purchasing the rig to begin with. The tips that follow should help you make many great memories along the way in your family RV.

They Need Their Space

It should go without saying that your kids are going to need a space of their own where they can sleep in the RV. However, in addition to having sleeping quarters, it is helpful if they have a space they can call their own during the trip – even if they have to share it with their siblings. Most kids enjoy having a room of their own at home, and this is the same concept. They can keep their toys in this area, and they can head there while you are doing some of the adult tasks that come along with running an RV. As you pick out your RV, think about this requirement and make sure the kids will have somewhere to go.

Break the Drive into Short Stretches

You already know that kids don’t necessarily do well when riding in a vehicle for hours on end. So does that mean you have to limit your vacations to only destinations within a short drive of your home? No – you just have to be smart about how you plan your time on the road. If you can extend your vacation, consider adding a couple of nights on the road so the kids are able to have fun each day rather than just riding along. Alternatively, you could break up a long day of driving with a fun stop to enjoy an outdoor activity for an hour. The key here is planning – know when and where you will be able to break up the drive, and tell your kids so they have something to look forward to while on the road.

Give Them Tasks

Believe it or not, most kids actually take quite well to being given jobs while on a trip. As you are completing all of the necessary tasks to get your RV set up, find ways for your kids to help you. Of course, these should be safe things for them to do, and you should always be supervising. When they feel some sense of pride and ownership in the process, they will become that much more invested in your vacations.

Some of the best times you are going to have as a family will be enjoyed in your RV. As long as you plan ahead, think about the kids when buying an RV, and involve them in the process, you will find that children and RV travel are a natural fit.

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Golf is one of the most popular games in the world, and many RV owners are also golf enthusiasts. If that sounds like you, taking your RV on a golf vacation may just be one of the best experiences you have in your life. There are beautiful golf courses all over the United States, and what better way to visit them than in an RV? With RV travel, there will be plenty of room for your clubs to come along on the trip, and you won’t have to rack up expensive hotel bills all along the way. Also, if you are traveling with your favorite foursome, there should be space for everyone to stay right there with you in the RV.

Look to the West

While there are great golf courses all across the country, the western half of the United States has an incredible collection of scenic courses that every golfer should try to visit at least once. Where many of the iconic courses on the east coast are private country clubs, most of the great courses out west are open to the public (although they certainly can be expensive). Consider adding some of the following beautiful courses to your itinerary – Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Bandon Dunes, PGA West, TPC Scottsdale, and Shadow Creek (in Las Vegas). While there are hundreds of other courses throughout the west that deserve your attention, the names on this list are some of the highlights. If you get a chance to play any of these courses, it will likely be an experience that you talk about for years to come.

Consider Shoulder Season Travel

In the golf world (and in other tourism industries), the early spring and late fall is often considered the ‘shoulder’ season. If you are willing to travel during these times of year, you will enjoy reduced rates at many of the courses you visit. Obviously, you may encounter less-desirable weather during these periods, but the trade may be worth it if you can bring the overall price of your vacation down to a more reasonable level. Check the average weather conditions for the specific times of year you are considering so you will know what you are getting into prior to making any tee times.

See Other Sights

In addition to visiting some of the best golf courses in the country, you can also use this kind of trip to visit other destinations. For example, if you went to play Pebble Beach, you could also spend time visiting nearby Monterey and seeing the various tourist attractions that the area has to offer. Many of the best golf courses are located in areas with plenty of other things to do, so your trip doesn’t have to be only about golf.

To make your golf vacation as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, scout out RV parks near the golf courses as far in advance as possible. Make sure you have both a tee time in hand and an RV spot reserved so your trip can be all about having fun with your traveling companions while enjoying some world-class golf experiences.

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The term ‘snowbirds’ often refers to retired people who split their time in two locations – they live farther north in the warm summer months, and head south for a warmer climate during the winter. This is a popular plan for countless people later in life, as they aren’t tied to a specific geographic location by work or kids. Many people own a home in both locations so they can move easily back and forth from one to the other each year. Owning two homes is a great way to go, but there is another option that might be even more effective for some people.

Instead of having a house in the north and a house in the south, snowbirds can consider owning one house and an RV, with the RV serving as their winter ‘home’. With the high quality of many RV models on the market today, they are more than capable of serving as home for a few months and provide a number of advantages over owning a second house.

Far More Affordable

A challenge that stops many people from living the snowbird lifestyle is simply not being able to afford to own two houses. Owning two homes is a costly proposition, especially when you consider that people of this age are typically on a fixed income. This is where an RV starts to make so much sense. The cost of an RV pales in comparison to buying a whole extra house, even when you factor in paying for the fees to stay at a campground. During the summer at home somewhere in the north, the RV can simply be parked and stored until the winter when it is put back in use. Maintenance costs will generally be less on an RV than a house as well.

Flexible Location

Imagine that you are planning to live the snowbird lifestyle, so you purchase a second home in Palm Springs, California – a popular winter destination for snowbirds thanks to warm weather, golf courses, shopping, and more. There is nothing wrong with this plan, however, you will be headed to Palm Springs each winter because that is where the house is located. You are locked in to that one specific location even if you decide that you would like to mix it up.

With an RV, that is not a problem at all. If you decide that Palm Springs sounds good one year, you can easily head in that direction. Maybe the next year, you choose Arizona – or even Florida. With an RV as your second home, you can pick the destination that you want to visit each year without feeling committed to any one place. Also, you could break up the winter in a variety of places to see different things and meet new people. The choice is yours.

Making Friends

One of the challenges when living part time in two different locations is making friends in both places. While you probably already have a network of friends in the place where you spent most of your adult life, you might not know very many people (or anyone) at your second home in the south. This is another advantage to choosing the RV plan. Campgrounds and RV parks tend to be social places where people with a similar lifestyle are happy to meet each other, share stories, and make new friends. Spending just one winter at an RV facility in a warm location will likely leave you with more than enough friends to stay busy all throughout your winter stay. In fact, you might be surprised to find how many people you meet actually are doing the same thing as you – and might live pretty close to you back at your house in the north, as well.

Working your whole adult life toward retirement means that you should be able to enjoy yourself and live the lifestyle that you have been dreaming about for years. Taking the snowbird approach and living in two locations is a great option, and doing so with an RV provides you with even more flexibility and options. All you need to do is find an RV that you will be comfortable living in for months at a time, and pick out a destination for your first winter. With those preparations made, look forward to a new experience and the opportunity to meet new people living the same lifestyle as you.

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Having a tire blowout from under your RV while on the road is one of the worst things that can happen while traveling to or from your destination. Obviously, losing a tire while moving at freeway speed can lead to very serious consequences, so the best thing that you can do when it comes to this issue is to avoid it in the first place. By caring for your tires properly, you can steer clear of a blowout and keep your traveling party safe in the process.

The first thing you can do to lessen the likelihood of a tire blowout is to keep all of your tires in relatively good condition – which means replacing them as they get old. When the tread starts to wear thin on an old set of tires, consider replacing the entire set before your next trip. Even if you haven’t put all that many miles on the tires to this point, you still may want to replace them if they have been on the RV for several years. The condition of the rubber is going to degrade over time, especially if you live in a harsh climate, so it would be a mistake to push it too far.

Air Pressure Issues

The next thing you need to watch for before heading out on a trip is the inflation level of your tires. When your RV tires are under inflated before you hit the road, they will run the risk of getting too hot as you travel along, especially if you are driving on the freeway – and it is hot tires that are susceptible to blowouts. Before any long road trip, take a moment to check on the air pressure in your tires and adjust them as necessary. The appropriate level of pressure will vary on a number of factors including the tires themselves and the specific RV that you own, so educate yourself on the needs of your situation and respond accordingly.

Watch Your Weight

When packing up your RV to hit the open road, do your best to evenly distribute the weight inside the RV around the cabin. You should be focused on this for a number of reasons, including the fact that it can help you avoid a blowout (and it can help you recover more easily should a blowout occur). If you were to load up one side of the RV significantly heavier than the other side, you would be placing extra load on the tires on that side of the vehicle. Pay attention to heavy items as you pack and do your best to even things out nicely.

A Simple Walk-Around

Sometimes, it is the simple steps you take toward travel safety that are the most important. That is true in this case, as a simple walk-around your RV before you hit the road can give you a chance to inspect each tire for damage before you set off. After camping in the woods for a week, for instance, you might not have noticed that one of your tires suffered some form of damage that will compromise it while out on the road. Take a few moments to have a close look at each tire before heading out and your odds of a blowout will be dramatically reduced.

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One of the best things to do with an RV is simply to take it to beautiful places. RV’s allow to stay closer to nature than you would be able to do otherwise, while still providing many of the comforts of home. Fortunately, the United States offers countless beautiful locations in which to enjoy an RV vacation. In fact, even going beyond the U.S., there are many great RV’ing destinations in Canada as well.

When it comes to beautiful Canadian destinations, it is hard to imagine doing better than Whistler, British Columbia. A short drive north from Vancouver, Whistler has long been an international skiing destination. With an incredible number of ski runs available on both Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, the appeal of this area is obvious from the moment you arrive. However, even if you aren’t a skier, there is still plenty to love about the greater Whistler area.

Summer is Stunning

Make no mistake, the mountains in this region are incredible when they are covered in show. If you are able to make it up to Whistler in the winter, you will be in for a real treat. With that said, summer should not be overlooked. As an RV traveler, summer provides the advantage of better road conditions, and the Whistler crowds are usually smaller during the warm season. Worried that there won’t be enough to do in Whistler without snow on the slopes? Don’t be. Between the hiking, fishing, biking, shopping, dining, and golfing, you will have more than enough to keep your busy throughout your stay.

Olympic Experience

If you are a sports fan, you probably have a special place in your heart for the Olympics. Playing for country instead of a paycheck brings a different dynamic to each Olympic sport, so many fans wait anxiously for the Summer and Winter Olympics to make their four-year rotations. To experience a little bit of Olympic history, visit Whistler and see some of the locations where the 2010 Winter Olympics were contested. While Vancouver was the official host city for the games, many of the skiing events took place in and around Whistler, in addition to the luge and bobsled races. Even though the games have come and gone, there are still plenty of signs recalling Olympic memories all around the village.

The Sea to Sky is Unforgettable

It isn’t often that you come home from a trip talking as much about the drive as you do about the eventual destination – but that just might be the case when you get back from Whistler. Part of the road from Vancouver up to Whistler is known as the Sea to Sky Highway, and it is truly amazing. The road winds along the water’s edge before rising up into the mountains that wrap around the entire region. Be sure to drive safe and keep your eyes on the road, as it is easy to get distracted by the scenery. Fortunately, there are plenty of places along the way where you can pull of the road and take in the beautiful Canadian landscape.

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Have you recently purchased your first RV? Congratulations! RV ownership can be a ton of fun, especially once you learn how to use your rig properly. In order to help you get off to the best possible start with your RVing experience, we have listed ten helpful ‘newbie’ tips below. Keep these tips in mind as you plan and embark on your inaugural trip in the new RV.

#1 – RVs Take a Long Time to Stop

Forgive us if this should go in the ‘obvious’ category, but it is a point which needs to be made anyway. Most people are used to driving around town in cars or pickup trucks, but piloting an RV is a different kind of experience altogether. Make sure you give yourself as much room to stop as possible, since the weight of these vehicles means they need far more runway than the average sedan.

#2 – You Don’t Need to Pack Your Entire House

It is tempting to pack a ton of gear for an RV camping trip, as you will have quite a bit of space available in the rig. Don’t fall victim to that temptation. Only bring what you need, just as you would when camping in a tent. It is no fun to have to squeeze yourself into tight corners of your RV because you have packed a whole bunch of gear which will never be used.

#3 – Pack from Bottom to Top

Speaking of packing, make it a habit to keep heavier items down low while moving the lighter stuff into higher spaces. Remember, you are going to be driving your RV on the open road, so you want to be logical about weight distribution. Moving heavy stuff up high is going to make the rig less stable overall.

#4 – Buy Food Close to Camp

When possible, plan a stop at a grocery store close to your destination in order to pick up most of your items. You don’t need to haul all of your food the whole way if there is a store near the campground, and it will be easier to keep your food fresh this way.

#5 – Happiness is Being Level

You are only going to be able to enjoy your RV to the fullest if you are able to get it level once in your campsite. Bring along the right equipment for leveling, such as jacks and leveling blocks, and take time to get this task right.

#6 – Master the Sewer

One of the best things about owning an RV is the fact that you have a bathroom on board. One of the worst things about owning an RV is the fact that you are responsible for emptying the tanks associated with that bathroom. Learn how to handle this chore like a pro so you don’t have any smelly problems later on.

#7 – Not Every Road is an RV Road

Just because a road shows up on your GPS as a viable option for your trip does not mean it’s a good choice for your RV. Be smart, avoid narrow, windy roads, and always do your research before setting out.

#8 – Your Checklist is Crucial

Every RV owner should have a checklist of things to pack and review before hitting the road. This list should be a constant companion at the start and end of every trip. There is a lot to remember when traveling by RV, and a good checklist can take the stress out of the process.

#9 – Other RV Owners Are Usually Friendly – But Give Them Space

You should expect to make plenty of friends along the way when traveling by RV. You should also expect to meet some people who would rather be left alone. Be sure to give others the space they request, and enjoy chatting with those who want to make new friends.

#10 – Patience Goes a Long Way

Don’t rush when you are traveling by RV. You shouldn’t be trying to make record time getting to your destination, and you shouldn’t be in a hurry when packing either. This is supposed to be your recreational time, so enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity.

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If you already own a truck, you are halfway to having a great RV setup for travel with family and friends. Instead of having to buy both a truck and trailer, or a Motorhome, you can simply pick out a trailer to pull behind your existing truck. Of course, when taking that course of action, you will need to be sure to pick a trailer that falls within the towing capabilities of your truck – otherwise, you will be stuck in the driveway just trying to make it down the street. This plan is only going to work when you get the right trailer weight for the truck, so use the advice in this article to make the right pick.

What is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating?

This is a number that you need to understand before you go shopping for a truck. The GVWR of your truck is a number that tells you exactly how much weight you can have on your tires when everything is all added up. This number includes the weight of the truck itself, the weight of your passengers and gear, and the weight that the trailer presses down on the tongue. When you go out to shop for a trailer, you will find that they have various ‘tongue weights’ that need to be considered. So, do some basic math to add up all of the relevant weights to decide if a specific trailer is going to be suitable for your truck.

Other Important Numbers

Of course, GVWR is just one place to start. You will need to know more than just this single number if you are going to pick out the right trailer, so your homework must continue on to a few more points. Specifically, look into information on the points highlighted below –

Gross Combination Weight Rating. As you might guess, this is the rating for everything when it is all added up – including both truck and trailer. Exceeding this rating is a bad idea both for the performance of your vehicle and for your safety out on the road.
Maximum tow rating. This is the number that tells you how much weight you are supposed to be able to tow safely with your truck. Naturally, you will want to be sure that you are selecting a trailer that falls well below your maximum rating, as you need to be able to put things inside the RV for your trips which will add to the weight of the whole rig.

Beware of Marketing Hype

You need to be careful to do some math on your own in order to figure out if you can pull a specific trailer – because the marketing department behind some trucks tends to get a little carried away. You don’t want to rely on a single number that you saw in a commercial which said you could tow a certain amount of weight. Do your own research, and your own math, and come to a conclusion that you are comfortable with. Remember, erring on the side of caution is always best, as there is no need to stress your truck harshly while trying to pull an RV for a fun family vacation. Keep everything well within the weight limit and look forward to many great trips to come.

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Caring for RV Toilets When Parked

One of the biggest advantages to owning and traveling in an RV is having access to a toilet at all hours of the day and night. While the tent campers are scrambling in the dark to find shoes and a flashlight in order to walk up to the camp restroom, you can simply take a few steps into your RV bathroom and be back in bed within seconds. Certainly, more than a few campers have been sold on owning an RV simply for the presence of a toilet alone.

Of course, if you are going to enjoy the luxury of having a toilet nearby, you need to give it proper care while you are parked and enjoying a camping trip. RV toilets don’t require a lot of care to keep in good working order, but there are a few important steps that need to be taken to ensure the short and long-term health of your toilet and tanks.

Using RV-Safe Products

The toilet in your RV is not the same as the toilet in your house, and it should not be treated the same. You need to use products that are specifically designed for use in RV’s to make sure that your toilet and tanks keep working properly. Specifically, using toilet paper that is designed for use in an RV is important. This type of toilet paper breaks down easier than ‘normal’ toilet paper, making it easier to flush from the tanks and helping to prevent clogs.

Don’t Flush Anything Else

Nothing other than the ‘essentials’ (waste and toilet paper) should go down the toilet in your RV. If you get in a habit of flushing other items, you are only inviting trouble and asking for problems when the time comes to drain the black tank. Resist the temptation and dispose of all other items in the trash so that you don’t cause issues within your tank that become bigger problems later on.

Keep the Black Tank Closed

If you are going to be parked at the campsite for a considerable time, you might leave the grey water tank slightly open so that it can drain as it is used. While this can be an acceptable practice is some situations, you should not do this with your black tank. The weight of the accumulated waste helps to force everything out of the tank when it comes time to drain, so you want to keep the black tank closed while the RV is in use – until you are ready to dump it.

Dump When Tanks Are Mostly Full

Allow the black tank to fill most of the way before going ahead with dumping. Trying to dump a partially full tank can become problematic, especially if there is more solid waste than liquid. When this happens, the solid waste will tend to accumulate in the bottom of the tank and is less likely to be flushed out successfully on the first try. You will then have to do further flushing procedures to get the tank properly emptied – probably not how you want to spend your vacation.

Use Tank Cleaning Products

There are plenty of chemicals on the market to assist in controlling the odors within your black tank and you should use these on a regular basis. Not only can they help to manage smells, but also to maintain the working order of all the parts within your tank. However, some of these products can be harmful to the environment, and even the sewer that your tank is flushed into, so make sure to purchase chemicals that are environmentally safe. Each of these products will have slightly different methods for their usage, so be sure to always follow all directions provided.

One of the best things about the toilet inside your RV is that it can be mostly maintenance free for the majority of the time that you are parked and enjoying a relaxing camping trip. As long as you follow some of the basic rules of using an RV toilet, and empty your tank when it is mostly full, you should be able to avoid major problems trip after trip. As you gain more and more experience using your RV, the process of caring for your toilet and tank will become easier and easier, and you will be able to complete all of the necessary steps in a short amount of time. With the maintenance complete, you can get back to relaxing in your RV, and remembering how nice it is never to have to walk to the restroom!

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Buying an RV is a large purchase – there is no doubt about that. Since deciding to buy an RV is one of the biggest expenses you will incur in your life, it is only natural to hesitate before actually signing on the dotted line. How do you know when the time is right? It’s one thing to wander the RV dealer lot and look at all the great new models that you can pick from, but it is a whole other thing to actually spend the money and take one home.

Numbers Don’t Lie

The first thing you should do when trying to decide when the time is right to buy an RV is sit down and go over your budget carefully. With an estimate of how much the monthly payment would be on an RV in hand, take a look at your current budget and decide if there is room to add an RV payment while still living comfortably. If the new payment on an RV purchase is going to put you too close to the ‘edge’ financially, you may want to wait a bit longer.

Watch for an Opportunity

Some payments that take up a chunk of your budget, such as your mortgage, likely aren’t going away anytime soon. However, there are other payments that may be due to come off the books, opening up room in your budget for an RV purchase. For example, if you own a car that you are close to having paid off, you may want to think about buying your RV shortly after the car loan has been fulfilled. If the monthly cost of your new RV is going to be similar to the car payment you just finished, there really won’t be any change to your monthly budget outlook. As long as you have the cash available for a down payment, buying an RV when another big payment goes away is a reasonable option.

Look for Sales

Just like any other purchase you make, it is smart to be patient while looking for an RV until you find a great deal that is just too good to pass up. Often, RV dealers will put the previous model year inventory on sale when the new models are set to arrive, so keep your eye out for any upcoming sale events. Also, the end of the summer season is usually a common time to see sale prices, and dealers may be more-willing to negotiate in the fall as they are heading into the quiet winter months. Since finding a sale on your RV purchase could potentially save you thousands of dollars, it is certainly worth the effort to locate a great price before making the purchase.

You don’t want to rush the purchase of an RV. While you are probably excited to get started with your first trip, buying an RV is a major financial decision that needs to be carefully considered before you jump in. Once you have done your homework and found the room in your budget for the RV purchase, you can sign on the dotted line with confidence.

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If you are going to use an RV to do much of your traveling, you will probably want to have another vehicle that works well with your RV to get you where you need to go. Obviously, if you are going to pull a trailer or a fifth-wheel, you will need a truck that is capable of handling the job of towing your RV to the campground. Even if you are going to purchase a Motorhome, however, you will likely want to look into getting a small vehicle that you can tow behind the RV so you can get around with ease while you are camped. Trying to move the Motorhome each time you need to go somewhere gets old quickly, and just isn’t that practical.

As you are shopping for an RV and thinking about which option will be best for you and your family, it makes sense to consider the passenger vehicle you are going to use as well. While you might be able to afford the cost of the RV on its own, the cost of the truck or other vehicle that you will need could put it out of your price range. Only when you think about the big picture of the two together can you really understand how much it will cost you.

Below we will look at the process of picking the right vehicle for the job, either for towing your RV or for being pulled behind your Motorhome.

Finding a Truck to Pull Your RV

In most cases, you will actually end up spending more money on your truck than you will on the RV you are going to pull with it. Unless you already own a truck capable of the job, you need to think about the shopping process in two steps – the truck and the trailer/fifth wheel. It makes the most sense to shopping somewhat simultaneously so you can see what kind of models are available on both sides and then start to narrow down your choices. However, to get started, make a trip to the RV dealer first and pick out a couple trailers that you might be interested in. You don’t have to get too serious at this point – just get a general idea of the size and weight of the trailers you will be considering. From there, you can head to the truck dealer and find some models that are capable of handling the job. Once you get an idea of what you are looking at with both the truck and trailer, you can then get more specific about your search.

Of course, if you already own a vehicle that you plan to use to haul your RV, the process is much simpler. First, figure out how much your vehicle is capable of pulling comfortably, then start your RV search using that as a limit. As long as you don’t purchase an RV that is too large for your vehicle to pull, you should be in good shape.

Finding a Vehicle to Pull Behind Your Motorhome

For those who are going to purchase a Motorhome, it might be a little easier in that many people already own a passenger vehicle that can serve the purpose of the tow-behind. Generally, this just needs to be a small car or 4×4 that can seat enough people for your needs and get you around the areas where you will be traveling. If you like to go exploring into the mountains or off-road on your trips, make sure the vehicle that you designate as your tow-behind is up to the job. While you can pull a newer car along for this purpose, many people choose to use an older car that they no longer use on a daily basis as their go-to option. The choice is yours.

While owning an RV is a great opportunity to take some exciting vacations and see many new places, it is often necessary to pair one with another vehicle to maximize your experience. Depending on the type of RV you choose, you may need to buy a big truck to haul it – or a small car to pull behind it. Remember to consider this additional vehicle as part of your RV purchase and make sure that your budget works when you start to add in all of the expenses of both the passenger car and the RV itself. Once all those details are worked out, you can get down to the business of enjoying your RV vacations!

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Far too many RV owners put away their vehicles for the winter season and simply forget about them until spring and summer roll around – and that is a shame. While the weather might not be quite as lovely during the winter months, there is still plenty of fun to be had if you know where to look. You probably won’t take a big, week-long vacation like you might in the summer time while the kids are out of school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a long weekend to somewhere new and take advantage of being a proud RV owner.

It is impossible for us to pick out specific places you should visit during the winter months, because that will depend greatly on where you live and what you have access to within a comfortable drive of home. However, we can provide some great tips for how to find the right places to enjoy an off-season getaway in your RV. One of the common complaints that RV owners have is that they don’t use their vehicles enough – so think outside the box, and use the tips below to help you locate some great spots to enjoy your RV all year round.

Find the Path of Least Resistance

One of the major hurdles in the way of enjoying a great RV trip during the winter months is the conditions of the roads. Where you might not worry about heading over a mountain pass in the summer, it could be a completely different proposition if the snow has started to fall at higher elevations. As you are thinking about options for a winter RV trip, take a look at the map around the area where you live and find the roads that are likely to be in good condition all year round. Most likely, those will be roads that are through higher population areas, and don’t venture up to altitudes that are too lofty. After you have charted one or two courses from your home that you would be comfortable traveling in your RV even in the winter, you can start to look along those roads for camping opportunities.

Think Moderate

You might not be able to find a *warm* destination for your winter RV trip, but you can look for spots that will at least be more comfortable than others. Often, if you head toward the coast you can find more moderate temperatures during the colder months of the year. Camping near the coast – if that is possible based on where you live – can also be fun for those who enjoy a good storm while they are out with nature. Areas inland, and at higher elevations, are likely to be colder during the winter months, so they should probably be avoided for most people (unless snow is what you are looking for!).

Stick Closer to Home

When you plan a big summer vacation in your RV, you probably look for places that will allow you to put some miles on the RV and get a good distance away from home. That could mean you are overlooking fun places to camp that are within just an hour or two drive from home. Winter just might be the perfect time to try out these campsites that you would otherwise drive right past. Shorter drives are great for a quick weekend trip so you don’t have to spend too much of your time on the road. Also, staying close to home provides you with a better opportunity to bail out of your trip and head back home if the weather doesn’t cooperate and you end up stuck inside the RV.

Most likely, you will always use your RV more in the spring and summer than you will in the fall or winter. However, don’t rule out taking an off-season trip just because the temperatures have dropped a bit and the clouds have come back. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your RV outside of the summer, starting with the quick tips above. To find your own perfect winter camping spot, do some homework and pinpoint a few options within a short drive of your home. If you get a chance to visit them all over a period of time, you will hopefully uncover one or two hidden gems that you will choose to return to year after year.

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There are a lot of features that you need to research before buying an RV if you want to make a good decision that will work out in the long run for you and your family. The length and type of RV, the number of people that it can accommodate, the kitchen and bathroom facilities, and more all have to be taken into consideration. Another element that sometimes is overlooked – but is very important – is the gas mileage that you will get from your new RV. Gas mileage is an important element in the overall cost of ownership of the RV, beyond just the purchase price and any insurance costs.

It Matters for All Kinds of RV’s

It is pretty easy to evaluate the gas mileage that a Motorhome will get, as that information should be provided for you by the manufacturer or the dealership – much like when you purchase a car. However, it can get a little bit trickier if you are buying a trailer or fifth wheel to pull behind your existing truck. You might know what kind of gas mileage your truck gets currently, when not pulling anything, but what kind of mileage will it get with the trailer hooked up? That is an important question that you need to find an answer to.

Even though the dealership selling the RV doesn’t necessarily know the specifics of your vehicle and its performance, they are still a good place to start for this information. People who work at an RV dealership will be knowledgeable in a lot of areas related to RV’s, and will have had to answer this question many times before. If you can provide information about the current gas mileage of your truck, the salesperson at the RV dealer can likely give you a good estimate of what to expect when pulling a given RV.

Add Up All Costs

The reason it is important to consider gas mileage is that you need to understand and be prepared for all costs of RV ownership, not just the purchase price. Beyond the cost of buying the RV, things like insurance, maintenance, storage, and gas mileage all should be taken into consideration. Once you have the full picture in your mind of what it will cost you to own and operate the RV, you can better decide if it is something that you can afford of if you should consider a smaller and less expensive model. This ‘number crunching’ might take a little effort upfront, but it will be well worth your time before you commit to a purchase.

Think About Where You Drive As Well

Gas mileage depends mostly on your vehicle and the RV, but it can also be influenced by where you drive most of the time. If your trips consist mostly of freeway driving on open roads, you should be able to get the possible gas mileage from your vehicle. However, if you are frequently driving up into the mountains on steep, winding roads, expect to fall well short of your mileage expectations. This isn’t necessarily a reason to completely change your RV purchase plans, but it is just another minor factor to add in to the overall equation.

Use the Internet to Your Advantage

When trying to get the information you need regarding gas mileage, the internet can be a great resource. Search for the exact vehicle/RV combination you are thinking of using and you can probably find estimates on gas mileage from people who already are using that same setup. Their real world experience can be very useful to you in finding out if the numbers you have come up with will actually be realized when you start out onto the road for your first trip.

Gas mileage might not seem like a huge factor in the grand scheme of buying an RV, but it can play a big role in how much the rig costs to operate on an ongoing basis. Those who like to take long trips across several states should be particularly concerned about gas mileage as the price of filling up the tank time after time can really add up. Try to find the best combination of reasonable fuel economy along with the model of RV that you are looking for to end up with an RV that you love.

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When you finally complete the long drive to your campsite and have the RV backed into the space, all you want to do is relax, get some food cooking, and start enjoying your vacation right away. There will be plenty of time for those activities for the rest of your trip, but for now, you need to make sure to get the RV leveled so it can serve as a good home-base for the rest of the vacation. Leveling your RV is something that you will probably get better at with experience, but there are a few tips that can help you get on the right track quickly.

Once you have taken the time to get the RV leveled, you should be able to enjoy your time sleeping and relaxing inside the rig without feeling like you are living on a slant!

Have the Right Gear

I think every RV traveler, at one point or another, has used the pop-can-on-the-floor trick to figure out if the coach is sitting level or not. While this might be a handy little trick, nothing works quite as well – or as accurately – as an actual level. Make sure to have at least one level with you for the trip, and two would be even better. As soon as you back into your spot, you can set up the levels and get a good idea of just how far off you might be. From there, the adjusting can begin.

Leveling blocks are the next piece of the puzzle that you should have along for the trip. Once the levels have done their job of telling you which direction the RV needs to be tilted in order to find a level position, you can use the leveling blocks to actually make it happen. There are many different brands of leveling blocks available on the market today, and you can find them in RV stores or, of course, on the internet. Also, something called a wheel chock is another good piece of gear to have along. This is a block that gets placed behind or in front of a wheel to make sure it doesn’t roll off the leveling blocks. Place the chock on the opposite site from the leveling block so you can secure the wheel and keep it from rolling when it’s not supposed to.

A Little Trial and Error

No matter how much you practice the art of leveling your RV, there is always going to be a little trial and error involved. No two campsites are identically alike, so you will need to keep checking the level and making adjustments until you are satisfied with the position of the rig. It helps to have a good set of leveling blocks that give you some flexibility so you can make small tweaks as the process moves along. It might be frustrating to spend some of your time on vacation worrying about getting the RV level, but it will be worth it once the job is done.

Lower the Jacks

Your RV should have stabilizing jacks installed that can be lowered to give the RV a solid footing for the duration of your stay – if it doesn’t, consider having them installed. There are both electronic jacks, as well as hand-crank models available. You shouldn’t be using these jacks to level the RV as much as just to stabilize it so there isn’t much movement while you walk around inside. For this reason, try to get the leveling done right first, then put the stabilizing jacks down and settle in.

It isn’t much fun to try and sleep in an RV that isn’t level, so take the time to get the job done right before you start enjoying your trip. Just like anything else when you travel, preparation is the key. If you have the right equipment, and understand the process of leveling the RV before you ever arrive at the campground, you will be ahead of the game. If you wish, you could do a dry run at home practicing getting the RV level using your blocks and wheel chock. Even after just doing this a couple of times, you will probably find that the job is pretty simple and you should be able to get it done in a matter of minutes when you reach your vacation destination.

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The newspaper for those who can read.