Since a lot of you seemed to appreciate them, here are ten more RV tips we picked up in our years as fulltimers that will hopefully make your RV travels a bit easier and less stressful.
Know your rig’s height. Not just what it says on the sales brochure or the data sheet, get up on the roof and actually measure from its highest point (usually an air conditioner cover) to the ground. Then write it down and post it somewhere easily seen from the dashboard. I can’t tell you the number of RVers I have met who did damage to their rigs because they tried to drive under a low bridge or underpass and didn’t have enough clearance.
To avoid banging your shins in the dark, add a length of glow-in-the-dark tape to the trailer hitch on the back of your tow vehicle, to the tongue of the camper trailer, and to the outside edges on each side of your steps.
Never trust an RV ladder. We have had several friends who were injured over the years crawling up and down the ladders on the back of their RVs. And it’s not just ladders on older RVs! One of our blog readers recently had a bad fall when the ladder on his year-old motorhome came loose on him. Buy a sturdy ladder that you can carry in one of your storage bays that is capable of holding your weight and stay off that flimsy thing on the back of the rig!
Look up! I’m a short man and more than once I have walked into the end of a slideout room or our RV’s outside mirrors when I had a baseball cap on that blocked my upward vision. Keep your eyes open and your head intact.
Speaking of slide rooms, buy Styrofoam swimming pool noodles and slit them a lengthwise to put on the edges and bottom of your slide rooms, in case you forget and walk around with that baseball cap on anyway. They work on awning struts, too!
I’ve written about this before, but here it is again – never, ever leave your patio awning out when you are away from your RV. It only takes seconds for a sudden windstorm or rain squall to come through and destroy it. And don’t believe the manufacturer who says your awning will automatically retract in a strong wind. It probably will if you’re sitting right there with it, but make a quick run to the swimming pool or out of the park to the grocery store and the darned thing will fail you.
Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted when you’re hooking or unhooking at the start or the end of a travel day. That’s when mishaps occur. A while back someone interrupted us as we were hooking our Ford Explorer to our Blue Ox tow bar, and the end result was that we forgot to put one of the locking pins in. We discovered our mistake when the tow bar ended up punching a hole in the fiberglass under the SUVs bumper the first time I stopped. Just hold up your hand and in a friendly manner say that you will be happy to chat as soon as the chores are done, but you don’t want to get off track and forget something.
An excellent free app for your smart phone is called iExit. I have it on my Motorola Z and it’s great. It can find my location on any interstate highway in the country and tell me what services are available at all upcoming exits, including fuel stops, restaurants, shopping, and services.
If you spend much time outside of your RV relaxing under the awning or eating at the picnic table, wiping everything with a rag damp with Pine-Sol will help keep the flies away.
On these hot summer days, keep a small water bottle with a spray top handy. Fill with water and add a couple of ice cubes. It’s amazing how refreshing a little spritz can be!
Thought For The Day – No one is useless in the world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens
Excellent points. If you do get interrupted the two of you need to get together and recap where you were. Stop and go over the steps verbalize what’s next. You think you remember where you were at and maybe you don’t. Twice we have dropped the fifth wheel on the truck because we were interrupted and didn’t put the front jacks down on the trailer. Very loud noise . Surprisingly little damage. Boy do you feel stupid. At least we had the chocks in both times. Rookie mistakes, years ago.
How about turning your water off, when you are away.
Excellent tips Nick. Years ago we had a near miss with an awning being out and we were at the swimming pool and could feel the wind increase. We could even see our coach and by the time we could get to it the awning was doing its best to become a sail before we got it in. Never again. We also turn our water off when we’re gone.
For the copilot who cannot use a cell phone the “Next Exit” book is a good resource and it works without cell service, no batteries required.
Great advice, I must admit I have violated a couple of those tips and paid for it!
When we traveled from the US into Canada I translated the height and width of our rig from feet-inches to meters-centimeters and wrote the numbers on a note I stuck to our dashboard. That way, across the border, I knew at a glance whether we were okay for narrow bridges or low overpasses. (I did this for mph and kph, too because I sometimes call out changed speed limits to the driver when he’s busy in traffic.)
Great suggestions! We always turn our water off 🙂
Great tip about height. Please don’t forget to write down your height in both inches/feet AND meters. You never know when you will encounter the metric system…