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.
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.
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.
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.