Alex RV Blog
There is a lot of variation in the types of camping you can experience. Whether you are boondocking in the wilderness or commercial camping at an RV Resort, here are some of the worst things you could while camping.
Forget to Bring Bug Spray:
A swarm of mosquitoes or gnats can ruin a good time in a hurry. In fact it can create pure misery.
Not Bring Enough TP:
RVs use a specific type of TP. Make sure you have more than you plan on using for your trip. If you plan on using the campground facilities bring your own just in case it’s a busy weekend and they run out.
Leave Food Sitting Outside:
Want to attract animals and bugs? Just leave out a meal for them and they’ll come out of the wilderness and into your camp.
Fail to Give Someone your Camping Itinerary:
Before you set out on your adventure, be sure to let someone know the particulars. What may seem like a silly precaution could actually save your life.
Assume There Will be Clean Drinking Water:
Always bring a supply of fresh water. Being hydrated is critical in maintaining a good mood and having fun.
Trusting your GPS:
Sometimes road construction causes your GPS to go haywire. Other times you may lose cell phone service, leaving you clueless as to where you’re going. We recommend a two GPS system. We use our phones primarily and have a Garmin GPS as a backup.
Start a Fire with Gas:
Fire starters are a great way to get a fire going. Gas is extremely dangerous. I’ve heard many stories of people throwing gas on a lit fire and burning themselves severely.
Set Up Camp in the Dark:
It bothers neighbors and isn’t as efficient as doing it in the day. We recommend doing the minimal you need to get through the night and setting up camp the next morning.
Don’t Notice Fire Bans:
Local authorities post the fire conditions. These are not to be taken lightly. If it’s dry and they have a fire ban, do not have a campfire. It’s not worth the risk. Many campgrounds will have a rule of “covered fires only” so it’s a good idea to check before heading to the campground.
Bring Your Own Firewood:
In many cases you can bring your own firewood. Some states have laws which do not allow you to bring your own firewood. For example in Minnesota you must purchase firewood within 50 miles from the campground with an approved firewood ticket to avoid spreading a tree virus.
Allow Your Fire to get Out of Control:
Don’t build a fire too big for your pit. It isn’t a contest of who can build the biggest fire. Keep it large enough to enjoy but small enough to be safe.
Feed the Local Wildlife:
Don’t give food to the wildlife. This seems fun until someone gets mauled by a bear. The animals get use to humans as a non-threat and has caused many negative interactions with humans and animals.
Blast Your Music:
Listen to the sound of the trees, the waves, the birds. Enjoy nature rather than the music that you listen to normally. If you are adamant on playing your jams bring headphones. Chances are that your neighbor doesn’t share your music passion.
Don’t Bring a First Aid Kit:
Let’s face it, unexpected events happen often while camping. We naturally take risks and are exposed to situations that are often out of our control. Make sure you are ready and prepared for an injury.
Be a Site Hog:
People don’t enjoy having someone infringe on their campsite. Make sure you know your “property line” and don’t cross it.
Get Cocky with your Outdoor Skills:
Nature is a powerful beast that we often underestimate. Just because you’ve watched more than 10 episodes of Bear Grylls doesn’t qualify you as an outdoors expert. Respect nature and plan accordingly.
Leave Things at the Campsite for the Next Visitors:
Campers and hikers have a code called “Leave No Trace”. It’s a great rule of thumb, in fact you may want to take it one step further and leave things better than when you got there.
Imagine for a second that you’re camping at a scenic spot. Maybe it’s a at a lake, in the woods, or somewhere else you enjoy. The dark storm clouds start to roll in and the lightning show begins. You are awe inspired at the beauty of the lightening as it lights up the sky. Then you begin to wonder, is my family safe in our RV?
Then you begin to wonder, is my family safe in our RV?
Would the lightning be attracted to an RV because of how its built? Would it travel through the RV and strike us? Are we safe because of the rubber tires?
Some Lightning Facts:
- Over 60% of lightning fatalities happen when people biking, boating, hiking, camping or fishing.
- Most lightning victims are close to safe shelter but don’t head towards it.
- Lightening kills more people each year than Tornadoes and Hurricanes combined.
Let’s start with a common question even non-RVers have, are you safe in a vehicle when hit by lightning? If you’re in a car with a metal roof, you’re safe.
It’s pretty interesting what makes you safe in a vehicle or RV from lightning. It’s something called the Faraday Cage Effect which was observed by Benjamin Franklin back in 1755 and in 1836 Michael Faraday built on this idea which ended up being named after him. In a vehicle (with the exception of a convertible) you are essentially in a big metal box and protected because of the Faraday Cage. This is where the electricity goes around the vehicle rather than inside.
What about an RV? Using this same theory it depends on what your RV is built out of. An RV, 5th Wheel, or Travel Trailer that’s built with a steel or aluminum frame would be just as safe as a vehicle in a lightning storm. Even if the RV is built out of fiberglass but the frame is aluminum you are safe. If you’re RV is made with a wood frame you need to head to a safe zone like a vehicle. Popups and tents are dangerous places and offer no security from a lightning strike. They are also subject to branches falling on the tent with no protection.
Generally it’s a good idea to unplug your power at a campground when a big storm is coming. If lightening hits the ground, even on the other side of the campground it can cause a surge of power through the line into your RV and cause things to burn out. You are safe to run your built in generator.
Remember, camping is all fun and games until someone gets struck by lightening. If you have a safe RV make sure at the first sound of thunder you head in to safety. If you can hear thunder you ARE in striking distance of lightning and it is unpredictable. Check the weather prior to heading away from safety into the outdoors. Stay safe and happy camping.
The question isn’t which type of RV is best but which is best for you? Some people make the common mistake of thinking that the different “Classes” of RVs mean that you have to have a specific type of drivers license. But the truth is you DO NOT need a special license to drive an RV. Below are the different types of RVs so you aren’t confused. One important thing to note, these are just RVs. There are other fantastic options in the form of Travel Trailers, 5th wheels and Toy Haulers that we will be highlighting in another blog post.
With any type of RV there are many variations in size, features and cost. These are generalizations of the different types.
The big, boxy RVs that look similar to a bus are Class A’s. Owning one of these is like owning a very nice home, except you can take it to scenic locations. These are the most common among Full Time RVers. Because of their size, once you get to camp you’re pretty much stuck. Most Class A RVers tow a car behind for access to local towns and adventures.
Some common traits of a Class A:
- 1-4 slideouts which can expand up to 14 feet wide.
- Large flat screens with bumping surround sound.
- Washer and Dryer
- Spacious and comfortable bedroom
- Lots of underneath storage space
- They can comfortably sleep the entire family
- Endless list of optional upgrades
These are the compact motorhomes that are vans. These have very specific benefits and are great for the solo or couple travelers that want to head into cities or places that a large RV can’t. These are fantastic for “Stealth” camping because you can’t tell if it’s just a van or if someone is camping. I was surprised to find out that per square foot these actually cost more than a Class C. The downside is it’s a tight living space and doesn’t offer the amenities of the other types of RVs.
A Class C has the truck front end with the living section in the back. Generally the size ranges from low 20 ft to around 35 ft. These are great for giving you a comfortable living space with some great amenities. You won’t have all the bells and whistles as the Class A such as washer/dryer, heated ceramic tile floors, etc but the cost will be lower. Storage space is plentiful but by no means excessive. These typically have slideouts and offer a fairly comfortable living space for being so mobile. Though these are smaller, they typically can still sleep up to 6 people and are fantastic for weekend warriors or for someone who is interested in getting into smaller, secluded and more enjoyable campgrounds with the ability to still fit the entire family.
If you’re looking for stealth camping, go with a Class B. If you need space and amenities the Class A is a good choice for you. If you want a mix between the two, go with a Class C. This is over simplified; however, the best way to make your decision is to test them out yourself.
Being a good Camping Neighbor is about respect. It just takes a little common sense and thinking from the other persons perspective. You have to be considerate for other campers, the campground, and nature. Make sure the kids know the rules as well.
- Read and respect the campground’s rules and policies. Just because you don’t understand why they do things a certain way, doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason.
- Do not walk through another camper’s site, walk around it. Even if you are going to the bathrooms. While someone is camping think of their site as their yard.
- Limit noise from 10 pm until 6 am. At night noise carries far so keep this in mind. Yes I’m sure you like loud music, but that is why they make headphones. You can enjoy it so your neighbor doesn’t have to. Keep in mind that RV walls are thin and sound carries through it.
- Leave no trace at the campsite before you leave. Do a final walk through even once it’s time to leave.
- Drive slowly through the campground. Follow any posted speed limits and watch for children.
- Don’t leave your engine running more than a minute and turn on your parking lights if it’s late at night so you don’t shine someone’s tent.
- Be sure to check out on time. If it’s a busy campground there may be people waiting.
- Stay on recommended trails when hiking. This keeps damage to vegetation and erosion in one place
- Do not feed the wildlife as this encourages them to interact with and become dependent on humans
Hygiene and Waste
- Dispose of your waste water into the nearest dump station or a drain.
- Use biodegradable soap
- Clean up all food and scraps from picnic tables you use. Nobody likes showing up to their campsite to find hordes of ants and other bugs
- Make sure when you leave your campsite it is cleaner than when you arrived.
- Always clean up after your pets to avoid unnecessary smells and from annoying other campers who may step in their poop
- Do not leave your pets unattended. They will likely bark at strangers, dig holes and annoy your fellow campers
- Always have them on a leash (6 feet or less in length)
- Check ahead of time to confirm the campground you plan to stay at allows pets. Some campgrounds have a no pet policy
- Many campgrounds will have it posted if you are not allowed to have a campfire. Some campgrounds have portable fire pits to burn in so as not to destroy the grass areas and leave burnt rings
- Check with campground management before collecting any wood. Many allow you to collect deadwood rather than cutting down live trees
- Only burn wood and paper in your campfire.
- Do not leave your campfire unattended. Always completely extinguish your campfire when sleeping or leaving your campsite
Follow these guidelines and everyone should have a good time.
The title of “Dummies Guide to RV Tanks” is very fitting because before you RV, you must educate yourself on the RV tank system. Otherwise, you could end up with a Black Tank DISASTER.
This one is simple, it’s where your fresh water is held. From your fresh water tank it goes where it needs to from your water pump. This is also called “Potable” water.
The gray tank is where your sink and shower water goes.
You know the children’s book “Everybody Poops”? Well in an RV, this goes into the Black Tank.
Here are a few tips about RV Tanks:
- Tank gauges inside the RV don’t always show an accurate reading. Residue can build up can cause the gauges to read full most of the time. You can tell for sure when the gray tank is full though because water will come up through the shower or another drain. When the black tank is full a bubble will show up when you flush the toilet.
- How can you tell which lever is for which tank? Use a clear piece on your hose to tell if it’s clear water or brown, then you can mark the lever for future reference. In some RV models you are able to see the pipes leading up to the levers, this helps too. But as long as you have them labeled you should be able to tell the difference.
- Always wear gloves when handling your hoses and tanks. You are dealing with waste, it’s not only gross to not wear gloves but it’s also unsanitary.
- Don’t leave the black tank open at a campground because the liquids will drain out and the solids will become a poop pyramid. Let your black tank fill up to 2/3 or so before dumping. You want the weight and gravity to flush everything out properly. You may leave the gray tank open at the campground but make sure you time it so that it’s full when you dump your black tank to flush out the hose.
- Make sure you use RV or Marine TP.
- Use a separate water hose for cleaning out your tanks. Fresh water hoses are white, use a different color to make sure you never use the wrong one.
- Pick up some tank chemicals which gets rid of odor and also breaks down the waste.
- After you dump your tanks, refill both tanks with just enough water to fill the bottom of the tanks.
RV living doesn’t have to be boring. Every individual have their own style and flare, as should an RV. Below is a checklist of essentials to help make your RV feel like home:
Pillows & Blankets
- Pillows and blankets are not only great for adding to the comfort of your RV but they also add a pop of color. Pick an accent color you would like to use throughout your RV and incorporate your pillows and blankets into your theme.
- Not only do candles add beautiful ambient lighting, they also make your RV smell amazing. If burning candles isn’t your thing, try using LED Candles to get the same lighting effect and add a burst of room spray to freshen the air.
- Nothing says “homey” like a good ‘ol family photo. Hang photos around your RV just like you would in your house. Personal effects are the easiest way to make your RV feel like home.
- You spend one third of your life asleep so you might as well make it a comfortable experience. Most RVs come with standard mattresses but that’s nothing a good mattress topper or memory foam pad can’t fix!
Setup Outdoor Space
- When you walk up to your RV you want the
feeling of coming home. Set up a table and chairs, BBQ or even a firepit. The more you build out your outdoor living area the more inclined you will be to use that space, and after all isn’t that what camping is all about!
Have any good tips of your own?
Do you have a Honeydo list that seems to keep growing? Although there might not be a quick fix to all upgrades, there are certainly some that you don’t need to make harder than they have to be. Below is a list of RV upgrades that don’t require you to bust out your toolbox.
Pantry Lighting doesn’t require an electrician. It’s as easy as ordering some stick-on push lights.
Increased Closet Space
You don’t need to demo your pantry to create more closet space. Rather, all you need is drop down hangers. They instantly create 6x more closet space.
No one looks forward to a flooring project. Unless of course updating your flooring was as easy as applying stickers to your existing flooring! With Peel-And-Stick Vinyl Plank Flooring it can be that easy.
Changing out your shower head is a lot easier than you may think! All you need to do is screw the old one off and the new one on. Ta-da, you’re done.
You don’t need a whole new mattress just because your old one isn’t comfortable. Instead, order a memory foam pad to go on top of your mattress and it will make all the world of difference.
Skip messing with a tile cutter and grout and get peel and stick wall tile. Saves money, mess and time!
When you live full-time in an RV, or even just enjoy the occasional getaway, you understand the importance of organization. When living in such a small space, organization is not only a desire it’s a must! Below is a list of how you can best organize your RV:
Bins, bins and more bins!
Big bins, small bins, tall bin, short bins, clear bin… you get the idea. Bins are a great way to create extra storage space while still maintaining a visually appealing space.
Rather than taking up valuable real estate (aka, COUNTER SPACE) with big, bulky appliance, opt for the small, more compact version of the same thing. For instance, instead of using a full-size coffee pot get a mini coffee pot instead.
This one seems like a no-brainer but it’s harder then you may think. You don’t need to have a 20 piece dishware set, at least most of us don’t. The more stuff you tote around, the more stuff you have to find a spot for. When it comes to RV living, less is more!
This one may be hard for most women. You cannot fit your walk-in closet wardrobe into your RV. Although space is limited, there is one way to expand your closet space… and no, it isn’t to take over your spouse’s side (as tempting as that may be). Rather, there are “drop-down hangers” that create 6x more close space!
Utilize all those Little Nooks and Crannies
Organization is not just applying your label maker masterpieces all over your RV but instead making the most out of the space you have. Find those unused spaces behind your captain’s chair or up in a loft area. If it is not an area that is being utilized for everyday use, use it for storage.
Making the Most of your Storage Compartments
This is where your label maker could come in handy. Keeping your storage compartments organized will not only save you space but it will also save your sanity. Keep similar things together so that they’re easier to find.
The Walls are your Friend
RV Living is a great excuse to utilize all of those neat little Pinterest hacks you’ve found. Such as the wall mount planter used as a fruit basket. You’d be amazed at how many neat organization solution you can find online. Don’t be shy, give them a try!
Collapsible is the Way to Go
Who needs full-sized when you can have collapsible? They’ve come up with everything from trash cans to colanders. Not only do collapsible items save space but let’s face it, they’re awesome!
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. What tips do you have for RV organization? Please share below!
Yamping (Yard Camping)
Have you heard the Kacey Musgraves song: “My House”? It’s about bringing “My house to you”. Nothing beats a little Yamping (Yard Camping) at a friends house, your own, or a business.
There are so many reasons to Yamp. You may not have much time off of work and can’t get away long enough to go on a “real vacation”. You may be testing out your new RV or doing some maintenance. Maybe you have friends or family in town and need a place for them to stay. Or, maybe you are visiting friends or family and are Yamping on their property. Whatever your reason to Yamp, Yamping is a great way to spend quality time with the people you care about.
Another great reason to Yamp is to make camping with your family a priority, even if it means you have to do it in the yard. Studies show that camping creates a bond within a family and there is truth behind the quote “a family that camps together, stays together.” If it’s at your home, you can get creative and truly make it a memorable experience.
You can even buy cheap property in scenic locations and Yamp with your RV over the weekend on their vacation property. Many times this is an inexpensive way to have a 2nd home, a lake cabin, or a hunting shack.
Light the campfire in the yard, pull out the smores and let the stories roll.
Camping is great, especially if Fido can come along! Easier said than done though, right? If you’re a pet lover a camping trip just wouldn’t be complete without man’s best friend. But before you pack up the dog bowls and hit the road make sure you consider the following…
Pet Friendly Destination
Make sure that the Campground or RV Resort you are going to is pet friendly. It’s best to make sure that not only they allow pets but that there are no additional fees or breed restrictions.
Flea and Tick Medication
Has your pet had their monthly flea and tick medication? For their sake, and your own, be sure your pets are up-to-date on their medication. Last thing you want to is bring home another pet… a flee.
Pack all their Supplies
Food, water bowls, leashes, poo-poo bags, toys, bed, collar, treats and fashionable attire (if that’s your kind of thing).
Pick Up after your Pets
There is no faster to upset your neighbors then to allow your pets to go number two and not pick it up.
Do your Research
Websites like www.BringFido.com provide you with a ton of pet friendly options for everything from dog parks to restaurants (in case you can’t get your fire lit).
Feel free to share your pet RV adventures below!