Fulltimer FAQs II

 Posted by at 2:58 am  Nick's Blog
Mar 262014

This is the second half of yesterday’s blog, covering some of the many questions we regularly get from new and wannabe fulltimers.

Which is better for fulltime use, a motorhome, travel trailer, or a 5th wheel trailer? No one style or model of RV will be right for everyone. Everybody’s needs, budget, and lifestyle are different. Many people feel that a motorhome is better if you move around a lot, while a fifth wheel offers more living space if you stay put for weeks or months at a time. Travel trailers are usually the least expensive to purchase and can often be towed with a smaller vehicle.

Is a gas or diesel motorhome best for fulltime use? The break-even figure I have heard from many RV mechanics and long time RVers has always been 10,000 miles a year. If you plan to drive more than that, a diesel rig is usually your better choice. A diesel motorhome usually offers more cargo carrying capacity and can usually pull a heavier dinghy. On the other hand, gas powered motorhomes cost less to purchase, and we know many, many fulltimers who live and travel in gas powered motorhomes.

Is it better to tow a dinghy on a dolly or four wheels down? I covered this in a recent blog titled Towing Options. Most fulltimers we know tow four wheels down to avoid the hassle of a dolly.

There seem to be dozens of holding tank chemicals on the market. Which is best? We’ve tried most of what is on the market, and we have found that a product we purchase at WalMart called Doctor Drain gives us the best value for the money.

Is the expensive RV toilet paper I see at RV stores really necessary? No, it is not. We use two-ply Scott from any grocery store and have never had a blockage or problem.

How do I prevent a blockage in my black water tank? The secret to a healthy holding tank is to use enough water to break up the solids and dissolve bathroom tissue. We never dump our black tank until we are at least ¾ full. Follow that rule and you should never have a problem.

Why don’t holding tank monitors seem to be very accurate? Gunk and toilet paper hang up on the sensors inside the tank and they stop working. We have never found an RV with accurate internal holding tank monitors, nor have we ever found a solution that really works, including the many commercial chemicals on the market. Some common treatments we have heard of include adding baking soda, Alka Seltzer, or ice cubes to a tank full of water and then driving around for a few miles. I’ve never known of one that works. Some RVers install aftermarket external tank monitors and I have heard favorable reports on some of them.

Are campground memberships a good investment for fulltimers? Yes and no. If you use it enough, a membership can be cost effective, but if you don’t it’s a waste of money. I always tell new fulltimers not to purchase an expensive campground membership until they have been on the road for at least one year and their travel style has evolved.

How do membership campgrounds work? First you must buy a membership in a “home park.” Then you can join affiliate programs such as Coast to Coast, AOR, and RPI that the home park is a member of. You can stay at RV parks that are part of the same system for reduced prices.

What about resale memberships? You can save a lot of money by purchasing a resale membership. But know what you are buying! Be aware of things like lifetime clauses, transfer fees, how many times the membership can be transferred, dues increases, and any changes from the original contract once it is transferred.

Are discount campground programs worth it? Again, they are if you use them. We have belonged to Passport America for 15 years and our membership has saved us a lot of money.

Is it dangerous dry camping at truck stops, WalMarts, rest areas, etc? Not if you use common sense. We have dry camped at all of the above many times and never had a problem. Just exercise good judgment, and if something doesn’t feel right, leave.

Should we carry a gun in our RV? ONLY if you are properly trained in gun safety, tactical firearms use, and have made the mental commitment to use deadly force, AND if you can live with the consequences! Your chances of being in a traffic accident, having a fire in your RV, or being hit by lightning greatly outnumber the chance of being a victim of a violent crime. That being said, we have insurance on our truck and motorhome, we carry a number of fire extinguishers, and we don’t play golf in thunderstorms. We also exercise our right to carry a firearm or two. But it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. All you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Big Lake Lyinching Audio cover

Thought For The Day – The best time to buy a toilet plunger is before you need it.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “Fulltimer FAQs II”

  1. regarding holding tank monitoring systems, my coach has an external sight tube that allows me to see the level in my tank by simply opening the bay door. since gravity does not break or fail, I always have an accurate reading. There is the same system on my fresh water tank. I also agree that with sensible cautions rest areas, truck stops, Wal-Mart and even Cracker Barrel are safe and convenient overnight stops we must remember that none of them are campgrounds and more that one night is overstaying our welcome — they are parking lots not camping lots.

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