Oct 16, 2020

Top Destinations for Fall Foliage

Fall is a favorite time of year for many because of the brisk air, seasonal fun, and the endless amounts of fall foliage to view. Bright reds, yellows, and oranges fill the trees just as the leaves begin to fall. There are so many wonderful destinations to view fall foliage, but it can be hard to know exactly where to go. Luckily, we are breaking a few of our favorites down for you. So grab your pumpkin spice latte, and get ready to hit the road in your RV this autumn.

Image: Romantic Asheville

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia & North Carolina - The Blue Ridge Parkway is an increasingly popular place to take in views of the stunning fall colors autumn brings. The colors peak during late October, so there’s still time to plan your trip! The parkway is long, running from Virginia to North Carolina, so you’re sure to find the perfect viewing locations along your route. October is one of the busiest months to visit, and with extra cars on the road, it’s important to drive slowly and keep your eyes on the road (until you’re ready to pull over to take in the breathtaking sights). 

Must-do: We highly recommend taking a pit stop at Cascade Falls at Milepost 271.9. This waterfall is truly stunning and is located in E. B. Jeffress Park. To get to the falls you’ll need to take a short hike (just over a mile) and there you will find beautiful views and scenic overlooks along the way.

Image: Backroad Ramblers

Route 100, Vermont - Route 100 can be found in the center of Vermont and runs over 200 miles from north to south along the Green Mountains (although they are yellow, red, and orange in the fall). This route goes by many nicknames, one of which is “The Skier’s Highway” because it connects to a variety of popular skiing destinations. Many also say it’s one of the most scenic drives in New England and the views are top-notch in the fall. There are plenty of interesting places and fun towns to stop and stretch your legs when you’re taking your fall foliage tour.

Must-do: Don’t miss Moss Glen Falls in Granville along this route. The 30-ft. waterfall is truly stunning and you can even see it from your RV if you don’t want to step outside (although we encourage you to!) If you have a craving for sweets along your route, you are in luck! One of the most popular destinations along Route 100 is the Ben and Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury. Be sure to check it out if you pass by and let us know your favorite flavor.

Image: Popsugar

Acadia National Park, Maine - Acadia National Park is located in Maine and is referred to as the crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast. This park encompasses more than 40,000 acres of land and is the oldest park east of the Mississippi River. Acadia National Park is quintessential Maine and it’s even more striking in the fall months. The park is lined by miles of jagged coastline, lighthouses, and stunning trees. There are ocean views for as far as the eye can see and the weather in Maine during fall is perfect for hiking and other activities.

Must-do: Thunder Hole is one of the parks most popular attractions that we recommend checking out. When the tides are just right, the surf rushes into a narrow cavern and forces out air from beneath the cliffs, creating a thunderous sound.

Image: USDA Forest Service

Aspen, Colorado - Aspen is one of the top destinations in Colorado to take in views of the fall colors. The golden yellow Aspen Trees are stunning and there are a variety of places to take in the scenic views. But we suggest checking out the Maroon Bells Scenic Area. This open area of land boasts many hiking trails and is one of the most photographed places in Aspen. There are incredible views of Crater Lake and Maroon Lake where the colorful trees mirror off of the clear water.

Must-do: While you’re in the area, we recommend visiting Ashcroft. Ashcroft is a scenic, abandoned mining town just South of Aspen. It may seem spooky to some, but the views are stunning - don’t forget your camera!

Image: Fun Lake

The Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri - The Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri rounds out our list of top destinations for fall foliage. The leaves truly show off their vibrance in mid-to-late October and they are not to be missed. The weather starts to get chilly this time of year but is nothing like Missouri’s colder winter months. There are plenty of places to take a boat out to see the beautiful fall colors on the water as opposed to land.

Must-do: Once you’ve seen your fill of fall foliage, check out some of the most popular caves at the Lake. We recommend taking a trip to Bridal Cave where you’ll see epic rock formations and another underground lake!

Are you ready to hit the road and take in all of the fall colors this season? We hope these destinations have inspired you to take a trip of your own this autumn. Have you been to any of these destinations? Which was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Tech Tip: RV Waste Management 101

It’s the topic that no RVer enjoys. However, waste containment and odor control are necessary aspects of RVing. FMCA and the “RV Doctor” Gary Bunzer present RV Waste Management 101.

The Basics
Your RV’s waste plumbing is made of two components: the gray system (liquid waste) and the black system (solid waste). Gray tanks can be outfitted with a drain opening as small as 1-1/2-inch. Black tanks are required to have a 3-inch outlet. As many RVers know, any accumulation of waste within these drain openings or the holding tank system can lead to odors.

Nothing can ruin an RV trip faster than having holding tank odors permeate the RV’s interior, so let’s examine the common causes of RV odors…

The first line of defense against invading fumes is the water lock, which is established by P-traps located below the sinks and tub/shower drains.

Long a staple in the plumbing industry, the common P-trap works well in residential homes. However, because of the seasonal nature of RVing, P-traps in RVs typically are used less frequently, which can result in the P-trap’s water seal becoming diminished. The jostling that occurs while traveling; improper siphoning action during highway turns and tank evacuations; or simply drying out from non-use can render the water seal ineffective at blocking odors. 


In addition, the P-trap requires diligent maintenance, including frequent cleanings and freeze protection. If neglected, waste residue inside the trap can foster bacteria growth and subsequent odors.

However, there is an alternative to the common P-trap: the HepvO waterless sanitary valve. Available in the aftermarket and now found on many RVs right from the factory, the HepvO waterless valve replaces the P-trap, creating an effective seal against odors. This sanitary valve is constructed with a self-sealing, flexible, silicone membrane that allows water to flow through it but completely closes off when water flow stops. Therefore, holding tank odors are prevented from migrating up and through the sinks, tub, or shower. 


The Toilet
As for the toilet, keep water in the bowl at all times, though that may be challenging when the RV is stored. Still, with water in the bowl, you are guaranteed that no holding tank odors can escape into the RV’s living area.

If your RV’s toilet will not hold water, chances are it is time to replace the internal seals and gaskets. You’d be surprised to see just how many seals are used in an RV toilet! Dry toilet seals are the main sources of black tank odors. Most toilet manufacturers offer gasket repair kits. Most likely, this type of maintenance will be necessary at some point during your RVing career.

Waste System Venting
Venting is required for both the black and the gray systems. How do RV manufacturers accomplish this? The common method is to run a length of thermoplastic ABS pipe from the holding tank up and through the roof of the RV.

The importance of proper venting cannot be overstated, especially as it relates to odor control. Without correct venting, sinks will not drain properly; bacteria can propagate; and holding tanks will not drain as quickly or completely.

Keep in mind, as a holding tank empties or a sink drains, fresh air must enter the drainage system. Since holding tanks rely solely on gravity for emptying, having air enter the system as sinks and tanks are drained results in a faster and more thorough process. To accomplish proper air flow, there are two types of vents used in RV waste systems: direct exterior vents and anti-siphon trap vent devices. 

Waste system venting

Vent Type #1 - Direct Exterior Vents & Maintenance
Direct exterior vents connect the waste system to the atmosphere outside. As mentioned earlier, most RV manufacturers install a vertical piece of ABS piping up and through the roof for both the black and gray systems. (If you own a small RV, it is possible your RV has a different type of direct vent: a side-mounted vent. Side venting is only permissible in the liquid waste system and only found on compact RVs.)

Sometimes RV manufacturers cut a large hole in the ceiling and roof during installation of the vertical vent pipe. Oftentimes, this opening is not sealed properly around the outside perimeter of the pipe. In other instances, the vent pipe itself may not extend far enough above the roofline; the industry rule is that the vent pipe must extend at least 2 inches above the roof. If the vent pipe is not sealed properly, tank odors can pass up the direct exterior vent; collide with the underside of the sewer vent cap; be forced back down the sides of the vent pipe; travel into the ceiling area; and then migrate to the living area.

To ensure this doesn’t happen in your rig, remove the sewer vent(s) on the roof and ensure the space around the vent pipe is sealed tightly. Also, make sure that the pipe itself stands at least two inches above the roof. If necessary, extend the vent by using a common ABS coupling and a short piece of pipe.

In addition, depending on how the vent is attached to the top of the holding tank, vent pipes have been known to fall down inside the tank below the surface of the waste, nullifying any venting action and allowing odors to exit the tank. By inspecting the vent termination on the roof regularly, this can be avoided.

Vent Type #2 - Anti-Siphon Trap Vent Devices (ASTVD) & Maintenance
The second type of vent is the anti-siphon trap vent device (ASTVD), nicknamed “check vents.” These are used as secondary vents to aid in draining sink fixtures. They allow air into the drainage system but prohibit air from passing out of the system. ASTVDs are installed in the liquid drain piping system at or near a P-trap inside a cabinet. Look under your RV’s kitchen and bathroom sink areas to find them. They are mounted at least 6 inches above the P-trap’s horizontal arm. ASTVDs do not allow odors to escape into the living portion of the RV, thanks to a pressure-controlled, rubberized, one-way valve. In other words: air in but not out.

The rubber membrane employed in ASTVDs can sometimes dry out and become stuck in the open position. If holding tank odors are prominent under a galley or bathroom cabinet near the P-trap, chances are it is time to lubricate the rubber seal inside the ASTVD. Use lubricant to moisten the rubber diaphragm. Since it is located above the actual flow of waste water, the ASTVD is simply threaded into a fitting above the trap arm and can be easily removed for periodic maintenance.

Tank Additives
Enzyme-based, bacteria-infused blends have proven to be the most effective type of tank additive. These blends actually digest the odor-causing molecules at the source inside the waste tanks, thereby eliminating odors rather than masking them.

Some holding tank treatments may consist of harmful chemicals such as formaldehydes. Try to avoid these if possible. The issue of chemical products has prompted many state parks, campgrounds, dump stations, and local municipalities to ban the evacuation of RV holding tanks if such chemicals are used.

Remember that, to a certain extent, RV holding tanks are living, thriving environments. Anti-bacterial soaps, detergents, or DIY treatments can destroy the “good bugs” that are beneficial in helping the elimination of odors.

Tank Monitoring and Blockage
Most RVs today feature some visual method to help owners determine the fluid levels in the holding tanks. This is normally accomplished with “through the wall” monitoring sensors attached to the tanks. Others use externally applied, electronic sensors. It’s those “through the wall” sensors that can be aggravating for RVers. False or inaccurate monitor panel indications caused by tank sludge and debris stuck on the sensor probes are far too common. 

The easiest way to avoid black tank blockages is to use copious amounts of fresh water during each flushing of solid waste. Always be sure to cover the very bottom of each holding tank with fresh water after each evacuation. Do not store the RV for lengthy periods with contents still in the tank.

A Happy Holding Tank… 
Being proactive when it comes to your RV’s waste system will reap its rewards for you and also protect the environment. If anything, it will ease offensive smells! A happy holding tank is a healthy holding tank.

And, remember, when working on your RV’s waste plumbing system, even when simply “dumping” the holding tanks, take safety precautions. Wear disposable gloves when handling sewer hoses and connections. And when using hand tools while working on these systems, be sure to clean and disinfect them after each use. 

FMCA RV Club brings you this monthly tech tip to Enhance Your RV Lifestyle. FMCA delivers RV know-how to its members. Learn more at FMCA.com.

This information is for educational purposes. FMCA shall not be responsible nor retain liability for RVer’s use of the provided information. Prior to making any RV service decision, you are advised to consult with an RV professional.

Sep 18, 2020

Sep 16, 2020

5 Things to Do Before Becoming a Full-Time RVer

There’s nothing like hitting the road full time - it brings unparalleled freedom. But there are a few things that you need to do before you become a full-time RVer. Check out our tips and tricks for living life on the road.

Pick the Right RV - Buying an RV is a huge commitment. That’s why picking the right one the first time is so important. You’ll want to consider these quick tips when buying an RV:
  • Determine Your Budget - How much can you afford? Keep in mind that the cost is not only the initial RV purchase but also insurance, maintenance, operating costs to travel, etc.
  • Determine Your Family Needs - How many people will be traveling with you? Will you be bringing pets or specialized equipment on your adventures? A place to sleep may not be the only requirement your travelers hope to check off the list.
  • Decide on the Type of RV - Next consider the type of RV you'd like to have. RV categories include Type A, Type C, or Type B motorhomes, Fifth Wheels, and Travel Trailers. If you are bringing some equipment like ATVs or golf carts along, the Toy Hauler family is another available option. A good place to start researching the types of RVs is on RV Trader.
Looking for more detailed guidance? Check out our RV Buyer’s Guide for more detailed information on selecting your perfect RV.

Minimize Your “Things” - Living life on the road means taking only what you need with you. Space is typically limited in most RVs so you’ll want to consolidate your items to only the essentials. Getting rid of items is always a bit hard, especially if they have sentimental value, but it’s important to maintain a more minimalist lifestyle in an RV. Try creating a checklist of essential items you’ll need during your travels and be sure to stick to it! If you have seasonal items that you need to store, look into storage facilities that can house these items for you until you need them.

Be Ready For Anything… Including Maintenance - It’s important to have a “go with the flow” mentality on the road but it’s equally important to be as prepared as possible. We encourage you to pack a basic safety and tool kit should any problems arise. We also recommend having a budget set aside for any RV maintenance that might be needed as you’re traveling. Maintenance can be costly at times, and you don’t want to deplete your savings at a moment’s notice.

Find Reliable Campsites or Explore Boondocking - After long days of travel, you need to find reliable places to park your RV for the night. Luckily, there are thousands of RV Parks and Campgrounds across the country, but they aren’t always the easiest to find along your route. We highly recommend planning your campsites ahead of time or try downloading apps like Park Advisor, Reserve America, or Allstays to find the nearest sites in an instant. If you are looking to save a bit of money on the road, boondocking or “dry camping” is also a great option to consider.

Prepare to Work on the Road - To most people, the terms “working” and “traveling” don’t always go together but when you are a full-time RVer, they can go hand in hand. When you’re working from the road, you’ll need to make sure you have a reliable source of WiFi. We recommend looking into buying your own mobile hotspot device so you can have Internet access wherever you find yourself. It’s also a great idea to create a dedicated workspace in your RV to increase focus on the road.

If you’ve been curious about becoming a full-time RVer, our friends at Live, Camp, Work are hosting their free Make Money & RV Virtual Summit on October 1-5. Their panel of engaging speakers will cover everything you need to know about living life on wheels including remote work, workamping, small business ideas, and so much more. They will also be sharing stories from the road, practical advice, top tips, and insider info all RVers should know. You won’t want to miss this - trust us.

Interested in this exciting, insightful, and high-value event? Register for the free Make Money & RV Virtual Summit at the link below and get ready to hit the road!

Top RV Mistakes to Avoid for New RVers

The RV lifestyle is filled with fun and adventure, and those who are willing to take the plunge rarely look back. That being said, if you go into RVing without knowing what you’re doing, you may make some mistakes that you will wish you hadn’t. Fortunately, our friends at FMCA have been RV experts for nearly 60 years, and they are here to help you start your journey on a positive note. Get off to a good start by avoiding their top RV mistakes!

Traveling too far in one day
This is a mistake most RVers recognize. To discover your personal daily driving limit, you may need to have a few rough days where you overdo it and learn the hard way. A good rule of thumb is the "3 or 3 rule" —arrive at your destination by 3 pm, or drive 300 miles in one day, whichever happens first. 

Buying the first RV you look at
This might seem obvious for some, but many people don’t know how customizable some RVs actually are and how many different RV floor plans exist. If you “sort of” like the model but you wish there were more kitchen space, or would prefer a larger bathroom, then speak up! If you’re willing to wait a little longer or travel outside your immediate shopping area, you can likely find the PERFECT model for how you plan to use your RV. If you still feel overwhelmed, check out a few RV Buying Tips.

Check out the latest models on RV Trader.

Packing too much
Part of being an RVer is learning how to be resourceful. Packing too much is an easy mistake to make until you learn how to minimize your tools, equipment, and creature comforts. Efficient RVers become resourceful in how they cook, clean, and pack their clothing. For example, if you will never be cooking for more than two or four people, there is no need to bring along every pot, pan, and dish from your kitchen.

The same goes for your clothes (depending on your laundry machine situation, this may be easier for you) and other camping equipment. Traveling with less is better on your fuel economy, easier to pack and unpack things, and the mental clarity of having less clutter will be very beneficial.

Winging it without a checklist
A well-crafted checklist can make your campsite setup or tear-down process run smoothly and consistently each time. This is handy for those of you who are moving around between campgrounds a lot or who camp infrequently and may forget steps in the process without a reminder. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, FMCA has an app that is available for iPhone and Android where you can download premade checklists or create your own customized checklists.

Not seeking proper RV training
Owning an RV is a learning process, but you don’t want to jump into it without any knowledge at all. You’ll want to start reading up on RVing ahead of making your purchase and hitting the road. There are hundreds of online forums and Facebook groups that you can join to discuss various important topics with other RVers. If you’re serious about improving your RV knowledge, check out the quizzes, lessons, and educational articles at FMCA University.

Not planning an RV-friendly route
If you’re new to RVing, you might not realize that there are certain routes that you simply cannot take due to size and height restrictions. There may be narrow roads, small tunnels, or low bridges along your route. If you aren’t expecting these limitations, you may end up spending multiple hours being rerouted to a safer alternative. There are special GPS devices and trip planning tools that allow you to program in your RV’s size and height so you can ensure that your route will be safe for you to navigate!

Neglecting RV maintenance
You should expect to have regular upkeep and maintenance expenses that come along with RV ownership. If you remember simple maintenance tasks such as checking tire pressure before driving, you can prevent larger, more costly issues from occurring and leaving your RV out of commission for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

Forgetting to secure your belongings when driving down the road
You will eventually develop a routine for this reality, but it is worth mentioning. Make sure that you place all loose items into drawers, bags, closets, or other secure locations since things tend to shift and move around during travel. This includes all of your toiletries and refrigerated items as well.

Start RVing without an FMCA membership
This is the biggest mistake any RVer can make: hitting the road without an FMCA membership! A membership to FMCA can save you hundreds of dollars on RV necessities like batteries, tires, and windshield replacement while connecting you to a plethora of educational resources to ensure your RV experience is easy and smooth. Click here