Saturday, October 31, 2015

Our tips for successful RV travel

We’ve lived in our 28-foot travel trailer now for almost two years, traveling back and forth between Washington and Arizona. This wasn’t exactly what we planned to do when we sold our house in Washington and headed south in December 2013. We’re buying a house just outside of Tucson and in the future will limit our RVing to short trips. 

Along the way, we learned a lot about RVing and caring for out trailer:

1.    Pack light. We brought too much stuff. The more stuff you have in your trailer the harder it will be to pull, and the lower the gas mileage you’ll get on your tow vehicle.

2.    Pack small. You don’t need a full-size vacuum; a small one will do the job and take up less room. Pillsbury makes a line of plastic kitchen tools, such as a cutting board and collapsible colander, that fit nicely in a kitchen drawer. Get a Swiffer Sweeper or something similar. It comes apart for easy storage and does a pretty good job of keeping floors clean. The generic wet pads available under the Kroger label, work just as well as Swiffer pads and are cheaper.

3.    You’ll need two garden hoses. If you bought your RV from  a dealer, they probably gave you a white hose to connect to the freshwater tank. You’ll also need a hose to connect to the black water tank to flush it out after you’ve drained it; just make sure this hose is a different color. You can get a little device at a hardware store that allows you to connect both hoses to the RV park’s water line at the same time.

4.    Sewer hoses don’t seem to last very long. We’ve gone through about six in the time we’ve been on the road.  A device reminiscent of a Slinky toy is handy to have as it will facilitate draining the tanks if you put the hose on top of it.

5.    Don’t expect to drive long distances, especially if you’ve been parked in an RV park for a month or more. It takes time to readjust to pulling the trailer again. We try to limit the first day to about 200 miles – you could do more if you have two drivers – and about 300 to 350 miles the other days. Some days we’ve only gone a hundred miles. We’ve also found that after three to four days of consecutive driving, we need to stop and regroup for a few days.

6.    Be sure to leave plenty of room between you and vehicles in front. It takes longer to stop n RV than it does a passenger car.

7.    We have our refrigerator set to automatic, meaning it will switch back and forth between electricity and propane as needed so you don’t have to remember to do this. Check with the RV manufacturer to see if it’s okay to do this with the fridge in your rig. We haven’t had any problems while traveling, and it’s nice to have cold food when you stop for the night.  Most refrigerators will keep stuff cold without power or propane for a few hours, but it takes about a day to cool the refrigerator down again if you do this.  
8.    To internet or not to internet, that is the question. Most RV parks these days offer free wireless. It connectivity is really important to you and you don’t want to end up in  park that doesn’t have wireless,  portable hotspot may work for you. We got one shortly after we started out; it was handy to have, but expensive. We later cancelled the contract. If a park we’re staying in doesn’t offer wireless, we’ll head to the nearest public library. If you take your own laptop, you’re not bound by their usage limits of 30 ot 60 minutes.

The fine print: The FTC requires me to tell you if I received any compensation for products recommended here. I did not; it's all stuff I bought and used.