Category Archives: Travel

One Small Postcard, One Giant Smile

BlogPostcard300x183 In a world where thumb muscles are huge because of texting and email is as accessible as the phone in your pocket, not many people take the time to write actual letters anymore. It’s rare to find a handwritten note among the bills and junk mail in your mailbox. But let’s face it, if you do receive something personal, doesn’t it just brighten your whole day? Give you a smile and maybe a spring in your step? Writing a note doesn’t have to take long and you’ll surely brighten someone else’s day. Traveling in your RV is a perfect time to pick up the lost art of letting writing.
Postcards are an ideal way to start writing. No need to find an envelope and paper, just write on one side and attach the stamp. And while you’re traveling, postcards are relatively easy to find. They are inexpensive and the postage is also less than what is required for a first class letter. Plus, there’s not much space to write. This is perfect, since you might already think you don’t have the time to write a long note; it honestly doesn’t take many sentences to let someone know you’re thinking about them.

What Should I Write?

You may remember being taught how to write an essay: An opening paragraph, three paragraphs with supporting details and then a clincher paragraph that summarizes your main points. A postcard is not the place for an essay, but follow this easy plan for writing your note: A sentence with a greeting or other sentiments of “thoughts of you.” A sentence or two about your current RV adventure and then a sentence or two (potentially questions) about the receiver’s life. Finish with another nice sentiment.
Here’s a sample:
Just dropping you a note to say you’re in my thoughts. We’ve been traveling for 1500 miles and have seen 7 states in 2 weeks. My favorite museum exhibit is shown on the front of this card. I saw pictures on Facebook of your son’s graduation. You must be so proud! Can’t wait to catch up when we get back.
Or another idea:
When I saw this mountain covered in snow, I thought of you. Do you remember sledding when our families went on vacation that one winter so long ago? We had so much fun! I’m sorry to hear of your father’s accident. When we get back, I’d like to come for a visit.
See? Not at all hard or long. There are not a ton of details, but it’s enough to let the addressee know that they were in your thoughts. Sign off using “Fondly” or “Your Friend” or even “Love.”

To Whom Should I Write?

Of course you can write to children, grandchildren, siblings or parents, but also think outside the box. Maybe it’s an elderly neighbor who was recently widowed or a single adult who is an only child and doesn’t have much family or a co-worker’s child that is struggling with illness. Sometimes those who aren’t family are the ones who appreciate the pick-me-up the most.

Making It Easy

When starting a new habit, you want to make it as easy as you can or it will be hard to keep up with it. The best way to do this is to gather the necessary supplies. Purchase postcard stamps before you travel and gather your address book, if you still use one. Put these things in a gallon-sized storage bag or small box or drawer to keep everything together in one place. If you don’t have an address book, search on a site like whitepages.com to find the addresses you’ll need. If you think you’ll write to a person again, save yourself the hassle of looking it back up and create your own address book. When I receive Christmas cards, I cut out the return address label and just tape it into a small notebook. Then I can access those addresses easily. You might want to purchase postcards ahead of time, but my bet is that you’ll want to get some along the way. Just add them to your stash for when you get a minute to write.

Follow Through!

Don’t forget the final step of actually mailing the postcard. I’m sure there are many letters that have gone unsent because a stamp or address has been missing (re-read the above paragraph for how to combat that problem), but there are probably others signed, sealed and yet undelivered. We all know those USPS blue mailboxes have been deemed relics like a telephone booth. If you don’t know where the nearest post office is located, most gift shops or campsite offices will mail your postcard for you.

One Final Note

A previous post on this blog talked about souvenirs and making your memories with a consistent collection of some sort. It’s almost a certainty that you can find someone to whom you can mail a letter, but if you can’t or if you’d prefer to preserve your own memories, mail yourself a postcard. Include something from each of the senses — remember them from Kindergarten? What did you see? Hear? Taste? Touch? Smell? A few sentences will help you relive your precious memories.

Go Ahead. Make Someone Smile. I Dare You.

Get organized with your supplies and compose a few sentences. Share the scenic sights you’re privileged to see and bring some cheer to a family member or friend. While you’re on the road (or at home for that matter), it doesn’t take long to send a note.

Copyright 2015, Kathy Sweger and TVforMyRV

Collectibles & Memorabilia: How to Make the Most of Your Gift Shop Stop for a Souvenir

GiftShopYou stopped once for fuel and now you’ve reached your first destination. Then you tour the birthplace. Or hike the preserve. Or explore the monument. You decide that it’s time to get back into your RV and keep rolling, but you stop one more place on your way out. The gift shop.
For some of you, this is the dreaded stop. You have to decide how you want to remember this particular place. Sure, you’ll have memories, but you think you should take something home with you. What keepsake will remind you of how you felt or what you saw during your visit? The decision is enough to start a small panic attack.
Others of you LOVE the gift shop; it might even have a higher place in your heart than the actual stop. You live to shop and after a tourist attraction, it seems justifiable to spend some money. You might have problems deciding which one thing to get, and then just decide to buy five items. Your wallet suffers after this stop.
The predicament is, especially when you’re traveling in your RV, you don’t really have room for big collectibles. And will you really wear four t-shirts from the same place? What happens when they shrink (or when you grow)? Do you have a place in your RV (or home) to display your treasures to share with friends and family?
Guaranteed you are making some of the most treasured times of your life while in your RV. So what can you do to recollect these cherished memories? The best way for you to do this is to find a consistent piece that reflects your personality and choose that item at each stop. Here are some practical suggestions for keeping the memories alive, without occupying precious space or spending a fortune.

Book Lovers, History Buffs and Amateur Photographers: Coffee Table Books

Buy what my dad used to call a “coffee table book.” Typically this is a book that has many beautiful pictures of the place of interest. You know, the kind of photos shot with expensive cameras at just the right angle and with the perfect lighting. Unless photography is your hobby, buying a book like this means you can enjoy the views in the moment, while having a keepsake of the best shots for later. These books normally have some kind of historical component as well. If you do take a selfie or two, print them out and stick them inside the front cover as proof of your visit.

Spoon, Bell & Shot Glass Souvenirs

Many souvenir shops have these items and not only do they take up very little space, they are often not too expensive. My personal collector’s items are spoons. I have them from all over the world and they are displayed in a beautifully handmade spoon rack. It’s so nice to walk into a shop, find the spoons and make my purchase. I love the display and the memories as I view them. My preference is the pewter spoons as they don’t tarnish, but sometimes stores don’t carry them. Consider these collectibles if you have a place at home for them, as they may not display or travel well in your RV.

Postcard Collections

Postcards are an easily accessible item that most gift shops carry and are probably the cheapest. They can easily be stored and displayed in a photo album that holds 4×6 pictures (though there are some oversized postcards). Most postcards display one or more beautiful photographs or an artist’s rendition of the site. To make this collection even more unique, pack postcard stamps ahead of time and mail the card from your destination to wherever you collect your mail. Now you have the postcard, a special postmark and maybe a sentence or two of a personal highlight. Stay tuned for a future post on the lost art of letter writing and how the postcards could be used and not just collected.

 T-shirt Keepsakes

Earlier I suggested that t-shirts aren’t a great takeaway idea because they can shrink or you can outgrow them. Plus, they take up more space than some of the previously mentioned items. However, there really are some neat t-shirts and they just may be your thing. If they are your preference, then make your purchase and wear them proudly. After you’ve amassed a stockpile, consider making a t-shirt quilt or having someone make it for you. A simple online search will provide tutorials or companies willing to tackle the project if sewing isn’t your thing. This is a way to preserve those shirts and the memories that go with them, but keep them from being stuffed in the back of a drawer.

Scrapbooks

Though you won’t make this purchase inside a gift shop, scrapbooks are another special keepsake. Digital scrapbooking through websites like Shutterfly or Snapfish (and plenty of others) help you to print a soft or hard cover book with your personal photos. With a laptop, you could easily make the book on the road, thus creating your own coffee table book, complete with personalized photos and memories. These can be very customized or you can simply import the photos and let the website put them directly in a book for you. If you’re on a budget, watch for sales and other discount codes. Traditional scrapbooking with paper and stickers is not a thing of the past either, though it might be a little harder while traveling. If you’d rather work with paper and scissors, consider kits that offer coordinating paper and embellishments or use premade books. You may find that a gift shop has the perfect touch for your album with a postcard picture or other unique piece for the site.
Of course there are other options for your souvenirs — pencils or jewelry or framed photos — the list goes on and on! But, the point is to find what you enjoy and will actually use or display to keep your memories alive. Boxing up the memorabilia or putting the collectibles into storage defeats the purpose. Choose your memento again and again and make that souvenir gift shop purchase an uncomplicated one that is both functional and affordable and preserves your memories.

Be sure to check out our other RV Living Accessories, to make your RV trips more fun.

Copyright 2015, Kathy Sweger and TVforMyRV

A Remix of RV Road Trip Games: Variations on Old Favorites

If one of the reasons you decided to RV was to see beautiful countryside, you probably have no problem looking out your window as mile after mile passes. However, if the view gets monotonous (or if you’re traveling with children), try one or more of these old favorite road trip games and their fun variations to keep you looking out the window.

Reading and ‘Rithmetic

Looking for the ABC’s is an age-old game, but you can put a twist on it with these variations.

  • The most basic way to play this game is for each person to find all 26 letters of the alphabet, on their own and in order.  In other words, you cannot find a “b” until you’ve found an “a”.  Letters must be found outside of the RV on things like billboards, stores or other vehicles.  The first one to get to the letter “z” is the winner.
  • For “group” play, find the alphabet together.  Whoever finds the letter that is next just calls it out.  Your car will sound like a preschool classroom – “A”, “B”, “C”.  If you’re a competitive group, time yourselves to see how fast you can find the whole alphabet. Then do it again (and again) to see if you can beat your collective time.*Hint: If younger children seem to get stumped on letters like Q, X & Z, point out places where they can often be found while on the road.  For example, tractor trailers often have “Air-ride equipped” written on the side for “Q.”  Finding an exit sign on the highway will give you an “x” and looking for a pizza shop finishes the last of the 26 letters!
  • Look for the letters in all capital or in all lowercase. This increases the difficulty. If you really want to get complicated, alternate between the two. For instance, “A”, “b”, “C”, “d”.
  • Make a stipulation that you can only find one letter on one sign.  This means only using the “L” instead of “L, M, N, O and P” on a sign with the word “MONOPOLY.”
  • For another degree of difficulty, decide that the letters must be found at the beginning of a word.  However, be willing to make an exception for harder letters like Q, X & Z, unless you’re driving by a quilt museum, xylophone factory or a zoo! You might ask children to write their words down on a clipboard as proof of their hunt.
  • For younger players who are just learning the ABC’s, give them a clipboard with the letters already printed on a piece of paper. As they find them, they can cross them off. To make it even easier, skip the requirement to find them in order and just celebrate when all 26 are found!
  • Mix it up!  If your RV is filled with various ages, or one person is always winning, give him/her one of the harder tasks listed while giving the other player(s) a simpler one.
  • Numbers might be feeling left out in this game, so why not look for them instead?  Decide ahead of time if you will allow the number “6″ to be found in a number like “19609″ or if it has to be simply 6, like Highway “6.”  Since technically this game could go on forever, choose a target number (might just be 10 if you’re looking for single digits) or decide to play for a set amount of time (who can get the highest in ten minutes of play).

Scavenger Hunts

Make a list of things to find while you’re on the road in your RV.  For younger players, you might make this list with pictures instead of words (or pictures and words). Invest in a clipboard or binder for each participant or you’ll have papers all over the RV!

Make a very generic list (sign, restaurant, animal, car, truck, etc) or a more specific list with some of the ideas below.

Another option is to add colors to your list (red car, blue truck, yellow sign).

For a third variation, make a topical list, particularly if a participant has a special interest. For the car lover, make your list with all makes of cars: Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota, BMW, Audi, Lexus, etc. For the animal lover, make a list of animals, both domestic and exotic — you never know what might be traveling on the road! Another list might include all 50 states’ license plates.

An additional alternative is to play “by the numbers.”  Choose one item from the list and set a time or number constraint.  For example: 1) time how long it takes to find 15 red cars, or 2) find out how many red cars you can see in 10 minutes,  or 3) compete for who can find 15 red cars first.

There are several different ways to keep track of what has been found.  Of course, the item could simply be crossed off, but you could also keep a tally mark for less common items (I wouldn’t recommend this for speed limit signs!).  Younger children might like covering the picture with a simple sticker.

Laminating the sheet or putting the sheet in a page protector and using a fine-tipped white board marker to cross off or tally means the sheets can be used again and again. You can easily store these in a Magazine Rack.

As an additional activity, you could start with a new sheet every day.  After a few days, you could compare the lists. This might be easier for younger children if they graphed the items.  Then ask questions like  “On what day did we find the most graveyards?”  or “Did we find more [insert company name] tractor trailers or more sheep?” or “Was there anything which had the same number of items counted?”

*Hint:  Keep in mind where you’re traveling when making the list.  For instance, you might not find a cow if you’re driving through New York City and a Lamborghini on a path through Yellowstone is unlikely.  Though adding something like this to your list could be a bonus!

Suggestions:

  • Sign for your destination
  • “An RV just like ours (or at least the same make!)”
  • Stores/restaurants (specific examples: Walmart, McDonald’s, etc)
  • Animals (specific examples: horses, cows, sheep, dogs in cars, alpacas, giraffes, etc)
  • Company vehicles (specific examples: UPS truck, Fed-Ex trailer, etc)
  • Airplanes, boats, school buses, helicopters, police cars
  • Construction cones, barrels or signs
  • Road Signs, especially less common ones (specific examples:  Yield, U-Turn, Deer Crossing, Dead End)
  • Graveyard
  • Barn/Silo
  • Museum
  • Plants (specific examples: Tree (even more specific: Weeping Willow, Oak, etc) or Flowers (Traveling through Texas in April?  Look for bluebonnets!)
  • Letters (“x”, “q”, “z”), letter combinations (“ph”, “st”, “bl”), numbers (“4″, “10″, “35″) or Words (“limit”, “exit”, “road”)

Bingo

Using any of the items from the scavenger hunt list, make BINGO cards and play BINGO.

Like the scavenger hunt, the cards could be made with words or pictures. The cards could have a mix of items or be topical and they could include color words to be more specific.

While these cards could be laminated or used in a page protector with a white board marker, they could also be placed on a small cookie sheet or pizza pan (find them at a dollar store or thrift shop to keep your cost low) and magnets could be used as markers.  This is another way to ensure the cards can be used again and again.

To get players more involved, give a list of possible items and have them create personalized cards.  This takes some of the prep work and gives it to the players.  If one player is consistently making an “easy” card, have players switch cards after the cards are made.

Make your RV Travel Time Fly By

Any of these games can be played as a group or individually.  They can be used to pass the time or as an incentive for a future goal (e.g. find everything on your scavenger list and it will be snack time or stretch time.).  They can be played in collaboration or competition (Just make sure every player agrees to the rules before you start) or simply just for fun.  You might not have a problem looking out the window; after all, you chose to RV.  But having options for moments of restlessness or boredom will keep the RV joyfully rolling along!

Be sure to check out our other RV Living Accessories, to make your RV trips more fun.

Copyright 2015, Kathy Sweger and TVforMyRV

RVing Fun For The Fall

fall leavesRVing is a favored pastime across North America, and while many adventure seekers choose the warm summer months to travel, Fall has quickly become one of the most popular seasons to head out on the road. Beautiful red and gold leaves, cool weather and spooky Halloween festivities draw in RVers from near and far to plot their course across the states. From September to late November, the Northeast, Southwest, and Mideast boast of the most colorful foliage, with many travelers choosing this time of the year to visit New England in particular.

Corn Mazes and Jack-o-Lanterns

The harvest season brings a variety of farm fresh ingredients to farmer’s markets, veggie stands, and pumpkin patches across the country, making it a fun time to take the whole family out in the RV. Fall festivals, u-pick pumpkin fields, and jack-o-lantern carving contests can be spotted in rural regions, with haunted corn mazes and traditional horse drawn hay rides to fill the days. As you drive along, keep your eyes open for produce stands and signs that announce upcoming attractions so that you don’t miss anything; if kids are on board you can make a game of looking for such notices.

Vibrant and Colorful Tours

Perhaps one of the most attractive sights at this time of year are the vibrant colors that seem to paint the trees as the season changes. Heavily wooded areas in states, like Minnesota and Colorado, produce some of the most intense yellows and burnt orange hues you could hope to find. You can use sites like the United States Forest Service’s Fall Color Guide to determine which areas nearest your route will give you the best view, and even help you find regions where Fall tours take place. For example, Lake Superior’s North Shore in Minnesota has a 3-day tour that offers some truly unique foliage and great views of the woods.

Haunted Halloween Fun With Your RV

Whether you have children or you just enjoy a good scare, RVing in the Fall grants you access to some fantastic guided ghost tours. You might be surprised to find how many communities across the map have their own local ghost stories and hauntings to share. Haunted houses can also be seen during dates close to the 31st of October, with parties and festivities for all ages; bobbing for apples, creepy campfire ghost stories, and setting up spooky jack-o-lanterns around the campsite can get your family in the mood for a great evening of ghoulish fun.

Finding Top RV Locations For Fall

There are plenty of guides and reviews of different driving routes and festivities to take part in online, and a quick search can give you various options close by or far off to discover. If California is your favorite destination then Feather River Scenic Byway provides 130 miles of scenic travel starting from Sacramento Valley, all the way to the Great Basin. If you’re further East, Litchfield, Connecticut provides panoramic views along the Appalachian Trail, with more than 51 miles of foliage, hiking, and Connecticut’s tallest peak, Bear Mountain. After Connecticut, Massachusetts offers a nearby scenic byway along Jacob’s Ladder, with 35 miles of long slow driving for the relaxed RVer. If you prefer to go south then New Mexico and South Dakota have some truly gorgeous destinations as well with the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway of New Mexico looping from Taos through Eagle Nest and Angel Fire for fall foliage and loads of child-friendly recreation.

Thanksgiving RV Feast

Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling out of state, there are plenty of fun things to do as the Fall season approaches and throughout the months that follow. As October eases into November, the Thanksgiving holiday can be enjoyed on the road by picking up all of the fixings for a stuffed feast of turkey and mash. Fresh ingredients from roadside produce stands combined with the fresh farm taste of grain-fed organic turkey make it easy to celebrate in style. If a turkey is too big to fit into your RV oven or you’re more of a backyard barbeque family while you’re on the road, a rotisserie chicken roasted over the grill or spit of a well stoked fire pit can give your Thanksgiving day feast a little rustic charm and inviting atmosphere. This part of the season is about being around the people that you care about, and being thankful for what you experience, and it’s hard not to find something to be thankful for during this beautiful time of the year.

 

 

Being Prepared For An RV Breakdown

Heading out on the open road with your RV can make for an exciting experience but you don’t want to get caught without the right tools and knowledge if a breakdown should occur. Most new vehicles will have little trouble getting you from point A to point B in one piece, but a long drive with an older model can lead to problems. Fortunately, there are a few steps that you can take as an RV owner to prepare yourself for just such a situation.

Have Your RV Checked Out

This might seem obvious but many people take for granted how poorly or how well their RV is running before they take off towards their destination. If the RV is new to you but used previously, most experts suggest that you take it out around your local community over a period of one to two months to get a real feel for how everything is working and make sure that no extra mechanical work is required. You should also take it in to a professional garage and have it looked over so that important features like brakes and steering are all working the way that they should be. If repairs are required, you should test the RV for at least another week following repairs before considering taking it across country or out of your community.

Don’t Skimp On Roadside Assistance

If you have a current roadside assistance plan then now is the time to dig out your information brochure or contract and take a good look at what’s included and what possible updates have been made to the services that you could benefit from. Be aware of features and costs so that if you do have to call you’re not in for any expensive or inconvenient surprises. You also want to make sure that your coverage will work out of town and out of state if it should come to that. If you don’t have any roadside assistance plan, this is the time to look into it, especially if you’re not driving a brand new model.

Invest In A Manual

Every vehicle has a user’s manual for the make and model of your RV, and most auto parts retailers sell them. Whether you wind up needing it or not, this can be an incredible investment if there’s no mechanic around and you need to diagnose a mechanical problem while on the road. It can help you become better acquainted with your vehicle and figure out which RV parts might need to be replaced and whether or not it’s safe to continue driving if there’s a problem while on the road.

Have Tools And An Internet Connection On Hand

Almost all mobile phones now have the ability to let you search the web, which means that when you’re stuck because of a certain problem and unsure of what to do you can check out expert opinions for your particular problem online. Many professionals frequent forums and message boards for RV mechanics and can answer questions, especially if you provide pictures via your phone. You should also have tools on hand in case somebody can walk you through the diagnosis or repair. This means having something other than the usual jack and jack stands with you, and if you’re unsure of what tools to buy, this is an excellent way to begin your adventure into online mechanical queries.

Easy Ways To Save Money RV Camping

Vacations are a wonderful time for a family to enjoy their free time together. But the cost of travel, hotels, and other expenses put such a venture well out of reach of many families. That’s why so many have decided to get back to the basics with an RV camping trip. Whether you choose to purchase your own RV or you just want to rent, you’ll still want to save money while having some wonderful experiences along the way. There are some great ways to get the most bang for your buck when you decide on taking the family on a RV camping trip.

Plan Ahead

While the idea of traveling the roads can be very inviting, driving an RV does require fuel, which can be very costly. In order to save on your next road trip, you’ll want to conserve as much fuel as you can. Map out your route before hand and choose the routes that will take you to your destination through the shortest routes possible. This way you can cut miles off your travel and choose more economical places to stay rather than stopping along the route without a specific plan.

Stay Longer

Most people choose to visit locations for the weekend but many parks where you can park your RV will offer discounts when you decide to stay longer. Most discounts offer special rates for those who choose to stay for a week or longer. If you’re planning an extended vacation this might be a great way to save some major dollars on your vacation plans.

Boondocking

If you have a fully contained RV, you might consider boondocking where you can park in a variety of locations that do not offer hookups. You can choose to park in a remote area where you can be away from all the crowds found in most of public camping grounds or you can choose to park in a shopping center or Wal-Mart parking lot for a nominal fee.

Look for Free Campsites

Some areas have public RV parks where you can get a night or two of free docking. These may require you to follow certain rules or guidelines set up by the site, so it would be advisable to find out what will be expected before you agree. However, it is a great way to reduce your expenses considerably so that you can make the most out of your vacation time. Still, these are great ways to take advantage of some great experiences without hurting your budget.

There are many reasons why you might seriously be considering an RV vacation. It is a well known fact that camping can be a great way to bond with your family and friends while at the same time save some money. However, it is always important that you plan your vacation well enough ahead of time so that you can get the most for the money you spend. There are more than enough ways to save money when you go RV camping, with just a little pre-thinking and planning you are sure to have a vacation that will provide you with memories to last a lifetime.

Things I’d Do Differently When Going To A Full-time RV Lifestyle

rv livingThere are few transitions in life that require as unique a style of preparation than that of moving to an RV full time. More often than not, however, there are some challenges that we all face that could lead to other difficulties. When speaking to others who have successfully made this transition, they often give some solid advice about things you should avoid for new comers. Here are a few pointers on things that previous owners would do differently if they had the chance.

More Research

You can never do enough research when it comes to the full-time RV lifestyle. Your transition is not going to be for a weekend getaway but you’re planning to uproot your entire life and compact it into this new style of living. Read as many books, watch as many films, and talk to as many experts on the topic as you can find. You might be amazed at the kind of information you can glean from RV rallies and similar events you can attend.

Learn to Downsize

It should be painfully obvious that your four bedroom two story home will not fit in the confines of your new RV, but many people are surprised just the same. You will have to be realistic and break your attachment to many of things you have come to know and love. You will find that the space that comes with even a small apartment will outstrip the space of your new home RV. Begin downsizing long before you’re ready to make the switch to full time living in an RV.

Wait to Buy a Campground Membership

It may seem logical to buy a campground membership but unless you plan on making frequent and regular trips to that location you’ll most likely find your money could be better spent elsewhere. Some RVers recommend that you wait at least a year before you decide on this type of investment to better understand your personal traveling style and where you can find a membership that you will actually be able to use.

Motor Homes Can be Moved

Your transition to full time life in an RV provides you with a portable lifestyle. Your address could change from week to week so try to shed the idea of permanency and gradually adjust to your new lifestyle. Switching from one location to another too frequently could cause a newcomer to be overwhelmed but not taking advantage of your new sense of freedom could also cause you to burn out. Embrace your mobility but increase at a slower pace and you’ll find your balance.

It’s true that full time RVing is an exciting lifestyle but it is not one that everyone can appreciate. The person that gets the most out of this new kind of life has to be adaptable and relaxed. You’ll find that you’re in places where the weather may not be favorable or that is not convenient for other types of travel. Learn to love the life that you’re surrounded in and make the most out of your space and you’ll find that full time RVing is a viable option that the right people can enjoy.

 

Tips for Planning Your California RV Trip

California RV TravelPeople living the RV lifestyle already know the joys of having an RV. Part of that joy is obviously traveling to different parts of the country and seeing it’s beauty first hand. For those new to RV travel, California is one of the most popular travel destinations and one which may become a reality if you know how to plan. Here is what you need to know when it comes to Planning Your California RV Trip.

Learning to Drive Your RV

Before you head out on your first trip, spend as much time as you need to learn your RV and practice your driving skills. Although you will likely get the hang of driving the over-sized vehicle quickly, you should try to do so in different weather conditions as you never know what you will encounter while on the road. Once you feel comfortable behind the wheel in places with little traffic, it’s time to head out on the open road and experience driving the rig in regular traffic. Don’t hesitate to use the power of the RV and be confident when behind the wheel. You can do this and you’ll find you become more comfortable as you do so.

Determine Where You Will Stay

Plan your trip and determine where you wish to stay. Some sites allow you to bring pets while others offer WiFi access. Knowing what amenities you want and need makes it much easier to plot a course and find the appropriate sites. Do you want a site that offers BBQ grills so you don’t have to bring yours along, or are you searching for a site with nude recreation? Although RV owners share many characteristics, they are still individuals and have their own needs. Make sure you take this into consideration when choosing the various sites on your trip, as this helps to ensure you aren’t disappointed when you arrive.

Understand the Various RV Parking Options

Campgrounds rarely offer limited hookups, if any, although most have a dump station. Find out if the campground has an RV length limit, as many do, although spaces are often adequate. Campgrounds offer reasonable prices, especially if one chooses a rural campground, while RV parks are prepared for vehicles of this type and offer a number of amenities, often including swimming pools, a small retail store, and laundromats. Spaces tend to be less private than those offer with campgrounds, however, which needs to be taken into consideration. KOA campgrounds tend to be a combination of a traditional or rural campground and an RV Park. In these campgrounds, you’ll often find full hookups and camp stores and they have camping cabins for those nights where they want a break from RV life, yet still want to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Reserve Your Site

California Camp grounds and RV camp sites tend to fill up quickly, thanks to the gorgeous weather to be found across the state. You need to reserve a site in advance so you know where to park your RV in California at each stop. Many sites offer RV park listings, and there is a site dedicated to RV sites located in state and national parks. If you find that something goes wrong with one of your reservations, head to the local Walmart. They do allow dry camping in their parking lots, but you won’t have access to water or power hookups, so this should be a last resort.

Arrive in a Timely Manner

You’ll want to ensure you arrive at your site a minimum of one hour before it gets dark. This ensures you won’t find yourself backing the RV into a dark spot or that you are emptying the sewage tank without adequate lighting. Experienced RV owners will tell you this is something to avoid at all costs.

Interaction is Critical

Be sure to spend time at the various sites with other RV owners. You’ll find you learn a great deal just by talking with others. In fact, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn just by sitting and visiting at the various sites. You may even make new friends, ones you’ll encounter on numerous occasions during your travels. You can’t be too friendly with others in the RV community. If you are there for them, they’ll be there for you.

Once you take your first trip, you will be hooked and you’ll be planning your next adventure in no time at all. Never stay in a hotel again. With an RV, you won’t have to, and you actually save on lodging and food costs when you go this route. There are numerous advantages associated with RV ownership. Be sure to explore them all so you get the most from these amazing vehicles.

RV Tips For The Pacific Northwest

Pacific NorthwestWhen traveling the roads in the great Pacific Northwest you will find that nearly every one of the resort parks you visit will have a section that has been exclusively reserved for the many RVs and campers that are crisscrossing our nation’s roads every day. No matter what point in the day or night you’re there, you’ll find that blend of outdoor and indoor lifestyle that recreational vehicles offer mesh well at one of these many campsites. It is the one place where you can welcome the morning sun or say good-bye to it in a unique fashion that is exclusive to only the camping scene. However, there are some things you should be aware of before you hit one of these popular destinations that will make staying at one of these sites even more desirable.

Rules and Policies and Your Money

Always set aside enough of a budget to cover the cost of road travel for your trip and allow for the payment of entrance fees to the many national parks you plan to visit. If you plan to travel to a specific destination on a regular basis you can opt to buy a season pass so that you can come and go as often as you’d like. It’s important, however, to understand that the season pass does not represent a guarantee of entrance into the park but only a reduction in fees. Most of these parks fill up on a first come/first serve basis so be prepared to be turned away during peak seasons of you’re not planning for an early arrival.

It is also possible that you may find a park that won’t have any hook-ups so be prepared and have alternative plans available. An alternate plan may be necessary; some may not even allow waste dumping so, it is very important that you call ahead to find out exactly what facilities may be available before you travel.

Traveling With Large Parties

If you’re planning on traveling in a large group or for an extended stay you need to consider bringing on a few extras to make the trip more comfortable. Most RVs do not have the capacity to sleep more than 10 people at one time (and even that may be stretching it) so if your group is larger than that you’ll need to improvise. Consider bringing along an extra tent for those who may prefer to sleep outside under the stars along with extra sleeping bags so that you’re not all crawling over each other throughout the trip. You also have to consider the safety of traveling the roads in such a large group. Legally, you should not have more people in a vehicle than there are seatbelts so you may have to bring along an extra car to accommodate the overflow.

Plan Your Trip

There is a lot to see when you’re traveling the roads of the Pacific Northwest so you need to have some clear direction before you set out. Your route should not only be well mapped out but you should know how long it should take between destinations, where you plan to refuel, how much you need to spend and the distance between each point of travel you’re going to. There is much to see and do, so make the hard decisions before you set out.

Make sure that your budget will be adequate for your journey. Factor in not just the cost of fuel but also additional expenses as well. As a matter of fact, it may be wise to pad the budget just a little bit so that you are well prepared for any possible setbacks you might experience. Your entire trip could be devastated if you didn’t have an emergency fund at your disposal to cover the cost of flat tires, tows, or other unexpected expenses that may be possible while traveling on the road.

There is much to see when you’re traveling the roads of the Pacific Northwest by RV. Whether you’re a mountain lover that enjoys the crisp clean air that hovers far above the congestion of the city, or the sea or the desert fascinates you, there is something you can find to suit your pleasure on the open road. The things that the Pacific Northwest offers road travelers that other regions can’t compare with are the wide open spaces and the vastness of the region. You can take it all in at your leisure when you’re enjoying the vast diversity that makes up the Pacific Northwest.

There’s An App For That – Top Ten RV Travel Apps

Best RV Travel AppsWith more people than ever utilizing their smart phones, you would be far-fetched to find someone that doesn’t know what an app is. Folks are always on the lookout for new and interesting apps, and this is especially true for those who enjoy RV travel. We have put together a list of the most useful and functional RV apps on the market that I’m sure you are going to love.

WeatherBug (Free)

Before you head out on the road, you will want to make sure that the weather will be perfect for your trip. With the free app from WeatherBug, you can check out up-to-date weather conditions, forecasts, weather alerts, radars, and much more. You will have access to a vast array of professional weather stations all over the country and even globe. WeatherBug is accurate, and sends quick and reliable weather info to your fingertips.

Gas Buddy (Free)

Another app that will help you get on your way is GasBuddy. With this app, you will be able to find the cheapest gas in your town and on the go, for free all over the US and Canada. You will be able to find gas stations in a hurry, and will never have to pay those higher gas prices. GasBuddy works like a community with people everywhere working together to report gas prices, so you will be sire to find the best deal around. They even give away a $250 gas card each week!

Passport America (Free)

Passport America is another great freebie that can help you save up to half off your nightly camping rate. It has over 1700 campgrounds, RV parks, Resorts, and so on that participate all throughout North America. Search options include campground locations, and details such as amenities, rates, and contact info. Everything you need in one location!

Google Navigation/Maps (Free)

Tired of folding that dang map? Once you download the latest version of Google Maps, you can get free voice-guided Navigation to help you find where you are, and where you want to go. The Places feature helps you find and get recommendations for places, and even see their rating. This means you will be able to find the closest campground, gas station, restaurant, or even Walmart! And with Latitude, you can see where your friends are, and check in wherever you go.

Walmart (Free)

Speaking of Walmart, there is a free app that helps you find the closest location to where you are, shop products available, and even place an order so that checkout is virtually painless. Now that’s something to get excited about.

TV Antenna Helper (Free)

This fantastic app assists you in locating free over-the-air TV and HDTV signals all over the country, and guess what? It’s at no cost to you. That’s right, another free app! All you have to do is run the app, and it will give you the location of all the TV towers in the area, so you know which direction to point your antenna.

Key Ring (Free)

If you’re like me, you are probably running out of room on your key ring for all those store loyalty cards. With the free Key Ring app, you can add all your favorite cards to one location, find coupons from top retailers, join new rewards programs, and much, much more!

Sanidumps RV Dump Station ($2.51)

One of the things that can be the biggest hassle while RVing is finding a dump station while on the road. For only $2.51, this app will give you turn-by-turn directions and GPS coordinates for all dump stations in the area. It allows for 20 favorites, and has the largest listing of RV dump stations anywhere on the internet. These perks are available on the full version. Sanidumps does offer a free app, but it is limited to some extent.

Camp and RV – Campgrounds Plus ($9.99)

For a one-time charge of under 10 bucks, you can try out the #1 camping app, completely risk free. This mega camping app has absolutely everything you need to know when out camping, and can help you find campgrounds, RV parks, and many other services, even when you don’t have access to the internet. How cool is that?

Satellite Finder ($5.99)

Satellite Finder is an app that for $5.99 will determine your local position using GPS/Skyhook, and will automatically assist you with the positioning of your satellite dish antenna. This is great for anyone out camping that still wants to catch the game or watch their favorite soap opera.

Recipes For Your Next RV Trip

RV Cooking

Traveling in an RV presents individuals with some unique challenges, as well as some exciting opportunities. Most ordinary RVs aren’t fitted with state-of-the-art kitchens, which means that most cooking will take place on a tabletop. Still, this also means that individuals will be given the chance to try out some exciting new recipes along the way.

Chicken With Tomato and Olives

This recipe is a healthy addition to your RV recipe cookbook and all it requires to begin are; chicken breasts, 1 cup of grape tomatoes, 20 olives, half cup feta cheese and 3 teaspoons of olive oil and vinegar dressing.

To start cooking, turn on the grill to medium heat. You will want to lightly season the chicken before placing it on the grill. Grill the chicken for about 6 minutes on both sides before combining the tomatoes and dressing and warming them on a skillet. You will then want to brush any dressing that remains on the chicken. Once it is ready, place the tomatoes and feta directly onto the chicken and serve.

Sunflower Seed and Cherry Kale Salad

To prepare this dish, you will need; a quarter cup red sliced onion, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, 5 ounces of baby kale, a quarter cup dried cherries, a quarter teaspoon of pepper and salt, a teaspoon of honey, Dijon mustard and olive oil, and 1 and a half tablespoons of cider vinegar.

To start off, make a dressing of vinegar, mustard, olive oil, pepper, salt and honey in a bowl. Then, according to the contributors of Beckleys RVs;

“Add the remaining ingredients (kale, dried cherries, onion and sunflower seeds) to the large salad bowl and toss all of the ingredients with the dressing.”

Once this is done, the salad is ready to be served.

Applesauce and Oat Muffins

This recipe calls for; a cup of rolled oats, half a cup of applesauce, half a cup of brown sugar, an egg, a cup of buttermilk, a cup of whole wheat flour, half a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of baking powder.

To begin, add the oats to a bowl before pouring in the buttermilk. You will want the mixture to remain for two hours so that it can get down to room temperature. Preheat your oven to about 375 degrees. Grease the muffin cups and mix in the whole wheat flour, baking powder, brown sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in your egg, oats, applesauce and buttermilk and mix well. You will then want to place your mixture into the muffin pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

Burritos

These burritos are perfect for breakfast and all they require are; ground sausage, a jar of salsa, 12 eggs, a quarter cup of chopped onion, a quarter cup of chopped bell pepper, a quarter cup of yellow pepper, 12 tortillas and a back of shredded jack cheese. Then, according to the contributors of Gorving.com;

“Cook sausage in a deep frying pan. Once the sausage is half cooked, put the onions and peppers in the pan. Whip eggs. Once the onions are transparent, put the eggs in and stir frequently. Once the eggs start to get stiff, add the salsa and cheese; stir in.”

You will then want to microwave the tortillas for about 3 minutes so that they roll up easily enough. The moment your filler is done cooking, you can put about a quarter of a cup of filling into each tortilla and roll up before eating.

Cooking in an RV can be a whole lot of fun as long as you have the recipes to give you that little bit of inspiration.

Winter RV Travel: Stay Cozy In Your RV Next Winter

Many of us are seeing the signs of Spring confirming that Winter is on it’s way out for the year. Did you put the RV away for the Winter or Hit the Roads to avoid the cold weather?

Here are some tips for next Winter if you want to keep warm while enjoying the snow.

Typically, the people who spend a lot of time in their RV go south for the winter, and during the summer months they head out to any and everywhere else where cooler temperatures beckon. This plan is the norm, and generally speaking, it requires travelers to be on their toes when getting campground reservations, since practically everyone else with an RV on the road is doing the same thing. However there are some intrepid souls who enjoy thinking outside of the box, and who might actually enjoy RV travel in the winter! If you have never had enough snow to suit you and would like to spend a winter where the snow drifts form, or if you simply enjoy the cold and love the look of a winter landscape, Winter RVing might be right up your alley! Below are a few important winter RV tips that will make all the difference between your experience being a cozy and enjoyable success or a dire disaster. Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared! This applies particularly to RV camping during the winter months. Below are the primary issues you should consider.

Warmth

If you’re not a snowbird, and this will be your first winter spent in the cold, remember one thing: unprepared people can actually freeze to death in the cold! So be equipped to deal with the cold. The most essential thing you’ll want to have is warm bedding. Investing in sleeping bags that are rated for sub zero temperatures is an excellent idea. Not only can they be unzipped and used on your bed as a blanket but in a “worst case scenario” they can keep you from freezing. If you’re staying in a campground (recommended, they’re never full during the winter months) you’ll save money by using their electricity and electric quartz or oil filled “radiators” for warmth. Save your propane furnace in case the power goes out. A heated mattress pad will go a long way towards keeping you cozy at night. When choosing places to park your RV take into consideration hedges that might provide a wind break, and position yourself so that you get direct sunlight every day.

RV Supplies

Ice storms and snow are common in many parts of the country during winter and people who live in such areas will all tell you to stock up on the things you need in case a storm blows in. Make a list of the things you absolutely, positively can’t do without: medicines, coffee, food, extra propane, candles, matches, etc.

Water

Water lines often freeze during the winter and if the well at the campground where you’re staying is powered by electricity, its pump could stop working during power outages. It’s always a good idea to have a few gallons of drinking water stashed away for “just in case.”

Insulation

Wrap all of your pipes with foam pipe insulation. Fill the empty space around your pipes with insulation. Wrap your water hose with foil, then electrical heat tape, and top that with foam insulation. Purchase a sewer hose rated for sub zero temperatures. Wrap this in heat tape and foam insulation as well. In extremely cold weather you might consider using insulated skirting to shield the underside of your RV from the cold and wind. A small dehumidifier will keep ice from forming on interior walls and condensation from forming beneath mattresses.

Safety

Don’t drive your RV on snowy or icy roads. Make sure that someone knows where you are at all times and arrange for a regular check in time each day so that they can sound the alarm should you not call in. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a message left on a machine will do.

Entertainment

You came to enjoy the snow, so enjoy the snow! Bring skis, snowshoes and something that can be used as a sled. For cozy winter nights inside, bring cards, games and movies for your RV TV. Don’t forget your camera or the hot chocolate!

Winter RVing can be magnificent. Many places you’ll have to yourself and nothing beats the coziness of being warm inside when it’s cold and snowy out. Take the recommended precautions and you can’t go wrong. Have fun!

RV’ing in Maine at Arndt’s Aroostook River Lodge & Campground

Hey everyone, I thought it would be different to share some experiences from a recent outing we did in our motorhome.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOver the years we’ve been in Maine a few times, but had never spent any significant vacation time there, so we decided to split our 10 days up and visit 3 different RV parks in North and East of Maine. We started our adventure at Arndt’s Aroostook River Lodge & Campground near Presque Isle, Maine. The town of Preque Isle is large enough to have a nice variety of restaurants and services and yet small enough to give that small town peace and quiet feeling. Arndt’s Aroostook River Lodge & Campground is a nice, clean, and well kept family campround and is well suited for families of all sizes and ages. Hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, fishing, hunting, wildlife wtching are just some of the many outdoor activities available in Northern Maine. This area of Maine is also quite popular for ATV riding in the summer, and for the cold weather fans, lots of snowmobiling in the winter too. To me, probably the most unexpected suprise, was the active beaver ponds and lodges right on the Campground property. On almost any evening, the quiet observer can watch the beavers work and play in their own natural environment. We were also lucky SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESto breifly spot a Black bear across the beaver pond one evening while we watched the beavers eat. These two beavers nibbled on some branches about twenty feet in front of us….  The ripples you see in the water around the beavers is from their chewing action on the branches. Pretty neat! There is one negative to the Maine woods near dark, the mosquitos are big and hungry, so be prepared.

As always, there is more to do and see than we have time and space to describe, so jump in your RV and go check out Northern Maine for yourself.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Maine vacation.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermont)

New England in the Fall

Well folks, September is officially a memory. Starbucks baristas are cranking out Pumpkin Spice lattes by the dozen, scarves and boots abound… it’s that time of year again. There’s no denying it, fall is in full-swing in the nation’s top leaf-peeping territories! So before you winterize your RV for the year, why not plan a trip to New England? Fall is a fantastic time to get out and see the country, but there’s really no better place to check out the changing foliage than the northeast. It’s impossible to go wrong when planning a “leafing” tour in this region of the country, but in case you need a starting point, Yankee Foliage (www.yankeefoliage.com) is a great resource that includes real-time fall foliage maps, recommended destinations, and scenic driving routes. They put together a list of 25 destinations that feature more than just colorful foliage, and we’ve created a map to highlight these places.

List of Destinations by State

Maine:

  • Blue Hill
  • Camden
  • Rangeley
  • Bethel

Massachusetts:

  • Williamstown
  • Shelburne Falls
  • Amherst

Connecticut:

  • Cornwall
  • Kent
  • Litchfield
  • East Haddam

New Hampshire:

  • Jackson
  • Conway
  • Waterville Valley
  • Sandwich
  • Hannover
  • Walpole

Vermont:

  • Montgomery
  • Jeffersonville
  • Stowe
  • Waitsfield
  • Middlebury
  • Woodstock
  • Grafton
  • Manchester

25 Fall New England Destinations

If you don’t have time to visit every one of the listed destinations, we recommend focusing on Vermont and New Hampshire. The following route would make a great weekend trip for RVers traveling through; or you could extend the trip and really take the opportunity to explore both the natural beauty and friendly towns along the way. Meandering up I-91 North along the state borders, you can easily visit Walpole, Grafton (VT-121 takes you along the Saxtons River), Woodstock (US-4), and Hanover. To make your way from Hanover to Sandwich, you will leave the main interstates and follow a beautiful scenic route. Taking VT-25A East from I-91 will bring you along the Baker River to I-93. From I-93 South, follow NH-175 South to Little Squam Lake. Turn left onto US-3 and follow the lakeshore to NH-113, which you can travel all the way to Sandwich. Follow NH-25 from Sandwich and then continue on NH-113 East.  Turning onto NH-16 North will take you along the border of the White Mountain National Forest, through Conway and all the way to Jackson.  For full traveling directions, visit this Google Maps Link: (http://goo.gl/maps/rzQNt).

Don’t wait to plan your trip – the leaves in many of these locations are already showing peak color and before long, the picturesque fall landscape will be gone!

Have you been to any of the places on this list? Are there destinations you think are deserving of a shout out that we didn’t mention? Email us your comments and destination recommendations and we just might include them in a future feature!

Top photo courtesy Wikipedia

Best RV Parks When Traveling the West Coast

Top West Coast RV Parks

From the rocky shores of Pacific Northwest to the white sands and surf of SoCal, the West Coast truly is the ultimate RV vacation. The views are amazing, the weather is whatever you want it to be and the possible destinations are seemingly endless. Here are five places to stop along the way that will take you all the way down the coast and land you some fun in the sun when the journey’s done.

Alderwood RV resortAlderwood RV Resort – Spokane, Washington

This is one of the most consistently high-rated RV resorts in Washington State. They are open year-round and even offer some very attractive seasonal rates should visitors wish to enjoy an extended stay in the Pacific Northwest. It features over 100 sites, many pull-through and spacious to accommodate big rigs (up to 70 feet) and pop-outs.

Every site offers a host of amenities including water, 20/30/50 hookups, blazing fast WiFi, cable television and trash removal, all at no extra charge. It is also the closest RV resort to all of the best outdoor activity Spokane has to offer. You are literally minutes from some incredible fishing, mountain climbing and hiking.

yakama nation rv parkYakama Nation RV Park – Toppenish, Washington

Toppenish boasts at least 290 days of sunshine every year, makes this the ideal spot for an incredible outdoor vacation and Yakama Nation RV Park is regarded by many as the ideal place to enjoy it. They offer 125 camp sites with full hookups and free WiFi. Only 30 sites have cable RV TV access, so be sure to specify it if it is a real concern. They also offer tent camping and even have 14 authentic teepees for rent.

There is an abundance of wide-open space and a host of amenities here. Among them are a gorgeous outdoor pool area, hot tub, two saunas, fitness center, hiking and walking trails, basketball court, onsite laundry, spotless bathing and restroom facilities, outdoor picnic pavilions and many other features to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Coupled with the Legends Casino and other local attractions, this is the perfect place to park for a week of both indoor and outdoor play (or more, of course!).

Portland Fairview RV ParkPortland Fairview RV Park – Fairview, Oregon

No trip through Oregon would be complete without at least a stop in Portland, and what would make it even better would be a STAY at a great RV park just outside town. Portland is one of America’s most eclectic and beautiful cities and it also rests in the middle of an incredible natural landscape making it easy to enjoy the call of nature one day and experience the energy of this amazing city the next. Just a warning about Portland, if you’re like me and happened to visit on one of their gorgeous summer days and you get an overwhelming urge to move there, make sure you come back and visit during the rainy season — which happens to be the other 10 months of the year.

Fairview has everything you would expect of an RV resort located so close to a major tourist hub. The grounds are well manicured and landscaped, the sites are comfortable and spacious and every imaginable amenity is available here including swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, and clubhouse and group event facilities. Even better, they have reduced rates in effect right now so now is the time to call and book a site here!

PomoCampground_002Pomo RV Park and Campground – Mendocino, CA

Set on a charming wooded landscape and regarded by many to be northern California’s nicest RV facility, Pomo RV Park is the perfect blend of comfort and simplicity. You won’t find activities directors organizing Bocce tournaments here but you will find good old-fashioned peace and quiet and a host of camping-related activities both onsite and off. The fishing in this area is so abundant they even provide an area for fish cleaning and preparation. Amenities are very rustic and include coin-operated showers and laundry, a sports field, horseshoe pits, and group meeting facilities. It’s the perfect place to stay for a fun and rugged outdoor vacation.

The Californian RV ResortThe Californian RV Resort – Acton, CA

Located just 30 minutes outside Los Angeles, the Californian is situated amidst a vibrant equestrian community. The amenities here are simple but the atmosphere is the polar opposite of the big city. Still, the property has a particular Southern California look and feel to it and it is the perfect spot to relax after a day of sightseeing or outdoor adventures. All sites have full hookups, wireless Internet and cable TV. There is an outdoor pool and spa as well as both indoor and outdoor cooking facilities. They offer daily, weekly and monthly rates and are conveniently located just off the freeway for easy access to the city.

Taking a tour of the West Coast by RV is nothing short of a great adventure and with places like these to stay along the way, it just gets better with every mile.

What You Should Know About RV “Boondocking”

The Ins and Outs of RV “Boondocking” – What You Need to Know About Rules & Etiquette

RV Boondocking Walmart

We’ve covered some of the best RV parks and destinations around the country in past blog posts, but we haven’t really talked about where RVers stay in between destinations. Some people call this dry camping, others call it overnight parking, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to refer to it as boondocking. Now I’m not talking about setting up camp for long periods of time, I’m talking about staying for a few hours to a couple of days in a relatively safe location with little accommodations. We have criss-crossed the country several times in our motorhome, often dragging a 25’ trailer along with us, going to and from various RV shows and Rallies. Most of the time we have a long way to go, and a short time to get there. We simply don’t have time and luxury to go into a campground and set up for the night, in order to get some much needed sleep. Boondocking becomes a much needed place to sleep and rest up for the next 750 mile day, and also re-stock the kitchen as needed.

Some RV travelers are looking to be more thrifty in their adventures while others may just need to briefly catch some shut-eye. While the reasons for boondocking vary, the logistics of it remain the same, and there are “rules” of boondocking, just as there are “rules” of the road. Here’s what you need to know about good places to stay and how to go about boondocking.

FIRST OF ALL, THERE ARE RULES

As with many things, I’ve found that being polite and courteous will go a long way. It is also good to note that many boondocking sites require a little discretion. Free overnight parking and dry camping is offered as a courtesy by some businesses, camp sites, and lodges. These venues certainly don’t have to offer free services. You should always ask the manager for permission before settling in for the night. Not only is this polite, but it also makes your intentions known so that the manager and staff are at ease with your presence.

While boondocking, you should consider yourself a guest, and be courteous to your host. Don’t cause a big, obnoxious scene by rolling out your awning, setting up your lawn chairs, and firing up the barbecue in their parking lot – it’s rude. Not only will it reflect poorly on you, it could very well ruin it for other RVers. Show appreciation to a business by offering patronage – if they have a gas station, fill your tank. If you are low on toiletries or groceries, restock in their store. Before heading on down the road to your next destination, be sure to leave your site free of garbage or debris, even cleaning up after other folks…..

NOW, WHERE CAN I STAY FOR FREE?

RETAIL PARKING LOTS

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club have a welcoming corporate policy toward RV travelers, and it seems many RVers have taken advantage of their hospitality. The most popular and well-known overnight parking is offered by Wal-Marts across the nation, but it is important to check with store managers as policy can change from state-to-state and store-to-store. Some locations even offer extra peace of mind with security guards who patrol the parking lot. Many Wal-Mart locations are open 24-hours and have ample parking, making the destination easy to navigate, convenient, and price-savvy.

Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, and Outdoor World have been known to allow overnight RV parking. Many Cabela’s locations have a dedicated RV area with dump stations and (occasionally) hookups, although more amenities are sometimes offered at a price. Some Cabelas also offer a place to unload, feed and water horses… ( I know, not that many RVers haul their horses along. Buy hey, it happens.)   Some RVers steer clear of these retailers simply because (like kids in a candy store) a free night’s stay ends up costing a lot more in merchandise!

Other Big Box Stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Kmart have accommodated overnight RV parking, but like all other retailers, it would be a good idea to check with store managers beforehand.

Since we traveled the same Interstate routes a lot, we even keep a log of every boondock stop, making notes about ease of access, noise, and other factors which help us find our favorite sleeping spots on future trips.

TRUCK STOPS AND REST STOPS

While not always ideal (and sometimes not even safe), there are many truck stops and rest areas that allow overnight parking. Some Pilot travel centers and all Flying J locations welcome RV travelers and offer RV dumps, bulk propane, dedicated RV fuel lanes and even free overnight parking. These locations are great stopping points on a long journey, if you can sleep through the bustling of trucks and other vehicles coming and going. If you plan on staying at another truck stop, be mindful of the truckers coming and going and be sure to ask permission from the business manager.  Remember, those trucks are there because it is their livelihood. Please give them the right of way, and try to stay out of their way.

As a rule, I recommend avoiding overnight stays in public rest stops. If you are unfamiliar with the area and there isn’t a lot of highway traffic, you can easily become a sitting target. Busy rest areas are sometimes okay, as they tend to be patrolled by police officers. Be mindful of the posted rules and regulations if you feel you must stay in a rest area.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Plenty of information about boondocking, dry camping and overnight parking is available online. RV forums are full of travel enthusiasts willing to share their experiences and advice on the subject, so don’t be afraid to ask around! Here are three great links to more information:

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/rv-boondocking.html

http://rvnow.rvtravel.com/search/label/Boondocking

http://freecampgrounds.com/othercamps.html

Remember to be courteous and always stay safe in your travels!

 

 

Top RV Parks in the Midwest

Part 3 in our RV Travel Destination Series: Top RV Parks in the Midwestern United States

The midwest offers a vast number of great destinations and some of the best camping anywhere. There are so many national treasures in this region, both man-made and natural, it can be a tough decision was to where to actually visit. Here are a few recommended places should you decide to take that kind of trip or even just find a quiet spot to park for a week of outdoor fun.

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