Nov 13, 2020

FMCA Tech Tip: RV Storage - Some Do’s and Don’ts




As we move further into fall, memories of our summer RVing excursions may still linger in our minds. But with the coming chill, so too does the thought of putting our faithful RV into storage mode. Though a seemingly mundane task, there is a correct methodology for getting your coach ready for any period of non-use; especially if you are contemplating utilizing one of the available private or public storage facilities. Certain precautions, correctly applied, will guarantee your coach will stand a better chance of surviving its secluded hibernation.

The first necessary decision is whether to store your rig at home or off-site at a dedicated RV storage facility. If you have a relatively level space at your residence, there’s no need to spend the bucks at a facility unless security is an issue. But keep in mind, many municipalities are cracking down on stored RVs within residential areas, even those parked on the street. It is your responsibility to learn if your home base has any new RV restrictions. Also check your existing Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s), if applicable.

RV Storage Locations

Everything from a vacant dirt lot to an indoor five-star, temperature-controlled facility can be considered for parking your rig for any period of non-use. When deciding which level of sophistication (and subsequent degree of expense) to evaluate, the primary concern should always be the overall security and welfare of your RV. A nicely paved, inexpensive level lot behind a locked gate might sound appealing, but if its location is remote, it might not be a wise choice. An isolated location might be susceptible to vandals or break-ins. Do your homework when considering such a location.

Also, it’s best to avoid non-paved or non-concreted areas like a grassy or dirt field, even at home. Critters of all types can be invasive in and around an inactive RV. Additionally, dusty or dirty locations will equate to more preventive maintenance requirements at some point. Areas of high winds should also be avoided, especially if a total coach cover is employed. Flapping covers can damage the roofing material and the finish on the sidewalls if care is not taken.

A facility designed especially for RV and marine vehicles is preferred, especially if it comes with built-in security precautions. An on-site security guard is a big plus, but strategically mounted security cameras are also a good thing to look for in a suitable site. Well-designed facilities will also have plenty of room between coaches to access storage compartments, generator and appliance access doors, the roof ladder and the entry door.

Though more expensive, indoor facilities provide the best environment for your dormant RV. Out of the weather, out of the sun and away from ozone bombardment are advantages that will go a long way in preserving your coach.

All RV storage facilities will come with some type of a contract, so be sure to read every word as well as the “fine print” twice! Be sure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to! Ask every question before signing on the dotted line.

Call your insurance company and inquire if they have any restrictions, suggestions, or comments regarding the facility you are considering. See if you can suspend portions of your benefits during the period of non-use. Not having to pay for collision coverage, for example, will save a few dollars on your premium.

Once you’ve made an informed decision as to where your coach will be stored, next it’s time to prepare the coach for its induced hibernation. Be sure to remove all remnants of food from within the RV. As mentioned previously, you certainly don’t want it to appear inviting to the critters! All invasive animals and insects require three things in order to take up residence in your vacated vacation vehicle; food, water and entry. Eliminate any one and your RV is much better off.

Preparing the RV

Flush and drain every holding tank. The fresher the tanks, the better the chance of minimizing sewer odor build-up and blockages. Don’t forget to flush and rinse the sewer hose as well! If possible, lubricate the termination valves, but leave them in the closed position.

Some RVers remove every drop of water from the fresh water plumbing system, but if below freezing weather is anticipated, I recommend the wet method of winterizing, whereby RV anti-freeze is pumped throughout the fresh water piping system and poured into every P-trap. Enough anti-freeze should also be flushed down the toilet and sinks; just enough to cover the bottom of each holding tank.

Ensure the propane container is turned completely off and that all the appliances are off. Check the integrity of the cover over the propane regulator.

If outdoors, cut cardboard inserts to position inside the water heater and refrigerator exterior access panels to keep the dust and dirt accumulation to a minimum. Cover the furnace intake and exhaust assemblies with blue painter’s tape to keep insects from entering.

Place an opened box of baking soda or an appropriate desiccant/absorbent inside the refrigerator food compartments and prop open the refrigerator door(s).

If possible, remove the batteries when expecting sustained below freezing temperatures or if the coach will be in a remote, unsecured location. Always fully charge all batteries before storing the rig. Once fully charged, employ the battery disconnect device, if so equipped, or at the very least, remove the ground terminals from the batteries to disconnect them totally. Remove all dry cell batteries too!

Turn off all 120-volt (AC) circuit breakers and unplug any device that plugs into a receptacle, such as the refrigerator, microwave/convection oven, washer, dryer, entertainment centers, icemakers, televisions, etc. Rogue lightning strikes, even a couple hundred yards away, can cause problems. Expensive problems!

Thoroughly inspect the underneath portions of the RV. Look closely for any cracks or openings into the floor or interior of the coach. Seal around drain piping, propane tubing and electrical harnesses that extend through the floor into the living areas of the coach.

When parked on asphalt, use non-absorbing, synthetic blocks under the footprints of the tires. If stored outdoors, cover the tires to minimize UV and ozone contamination and obscure the windows to avoid sun damage and the fading of fabrics. In high moisture locales, place absorbent desiccant inside the two major living sections of the RV.

Consider using a total coach cover, but take precautions to keep the cover from rubbing on the roof or at the edges. This can be damaging to synthetic roofing materials such as EPDM rubber or TPO. At the very least, it’s a wise decision to install a rooftop air conditioner cover if a coach cover is not used.

If possible, leave a roof vent cracked open slightly at one end of the RV and a window cracked open at the opposite end. This will induce a bit of convection airflow inside the coach to minimize the progression of mold and mildew.

Check all window, roof vents and door seals and weather-stripping. As I often mention, moisture intrusion is the biggest cause of RV damage. Also, treat all exposed exterior surfaces with the appropriate protectant.

Periodic Visitation

When possible, visit your hibernating rolling home from time to time; especially if the period of non-use extends past just a few weeks. It’s a wise RVer who changes the position of the RV at least once a month, moving it forward or backwards slightly, to alter the footprint of the tires to prevent flat spots from developing. Just a foot or two is usually all that is required.

It is also recommended to periodically start a gasoline motorhome engine and to exercise a gasoline generator, when so equipped. Consult the owner’s manual for your make of chassis and generator for specific instructions, but the general consensus is to run the generator for a couple hours at half-load, at least once a month, in order to prohibit varnishing of the fuel. One single two-hour run at half-load is much better than a bunch of short runs. Diesel powered RVs and generators will likely require different procedures, so be sure to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer to avoid performance issues when it’s time to awaken your resting rig from its respite.

Once a month, carefully inspect the roof for entry points of water intrusion if a total coach cover is not employed. Always perform roof repairs as soon as leaks are discovered. Do not wait until you remove the coach from storage! Any damage will only get worse over time.

When it is time to remove your RV from storage, always consult with the facility manager to absolve any dispute or damage issue possibly incurred during the storage period before moving the RV. Be sure to re-activate your full insurance coverage!

By carefully determining and acknowledging your requirements ahead of time, and wisely choosing the best-suited storage location, your RV will safely endure its period of non-use and present itself ready for the next step, the spring shakedown! And remember, RVing is more than a hobby, it’s a lifestyle!

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Nov 3, 2020

How to Cook Thanksgiving Dinner on a Campfire



 

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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.
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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…

P-traps
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. 

P-trap

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. 

HepvO

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.
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Sep 18, 2020

Campfire Hacks



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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!





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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
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Sep 1, 2020

RV Buying Guide




If you are considering purchasing an RV, especially for the first time, it’s important that you research the RV buying process so you can make informed RV buying decisions. To help with this, RVTrader.com has put together some helpful buying resources.

RV Trader is a great RV buying resource. Whether you are buying or selling an RV, you will find RV tips, articles, and other useful resources. They also have a huge inventory of new and used RVs to choose from.

In addition to all of these resources, RV Trader offers a free RV Buyer’s Guide that is available to download on any device. In this guide you will learn all about the RV buying process and the steps you will need to take to buy your new RV. Taking some time to review this material will help immensely when it’s time to purchase your new RV.
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5 Tips for Roadschooling





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Aug 13, 2020

What to Know Before Selecting a Class C Motorhome



Traveling in an RV is an experience like no other. The ability to have your personal belongings and customizable personal space with you throughout your travels is very convenient and comfortable. It is also much more cost-effective than purchasing airfare and staying in hotels. But with all the different types of RVs, it can be difficult to choose the kind that’s best for you. After all, the individual needs of the traveler are one of the most important factors when selecting a class of RV.

If you are considering purchasing a new RV or switching to a different type, then you have come to the right place. We’ll be covering the features and pros and cons of Class C motorhomes. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about them before purchasing one of your own.


Photo credit: pinterest.com

What is a Class C motorhome?

A Class C motorhome is almost like a combination of a Class A and Class B, or rather a compromise between the two. Class Cs are built on a truck or van chassis that is built specifically for a motorhome. They are usually designed to have an overhang over the cab that is typically an extra bed or additional storage. This class of motorhome is revered for having the most sleeping space. Some of the newer, larger models can sleep up to 11 people.

These RVs usually run between twenty-one and thirty-five feet, making them a more compact solution than a Class A, but slightly bigger than a Class B. Due to their smaller size, they are fairly easy to navigate and park - some only take up a bit more than a parking space.

More recently, manufacturers have increased the size and capabilities of these RVs by designing the Super-C. This RV is built on a Ford F550 or Freightliner chassis. The front of Super-Cs sometimes look like a semi-truck and other types retain the overhang cab. Super-Cs are heavy duty and the largest of this class.


Photo credit: renegaderv.com

Features

Class C motorhomes retain great gas mileage, especially the diesel varieties. These motorhomes sometimes have the ability to tow around 5,000 pounds, depending on the model, and Super-Cs can tow up to 35,000 pounds.

Floor plans in these vary greatly, depending on the length and type of Class C. Generally, the newer models include up to four slide outs for additional space. Many Class Cs share similar features, such as a kitchen with a stove and cooktop, up to two bathrooms, and a dining area.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Class Cs is the lack of outdoor storage space. Class Cs are usually lacking in the number and size of outdoor storage bays, which makes packing large items such as chairs and coolers a challenge.


Traveling and set up

Driving a Class C is similar to driving a long van. They are not as high off the ground as Class As, which can ease the fears of some drivers. Class Cs are similar to Class As in their necessary campsite setup, although some Class Cs can back into parking spaces significantly easier than Class As can, due to their shorter length and height. Leveling a Class C is very important, but most do not come equipped with automatic leveling kits. The most efficient way to level these RVs is to use leveling blocks and a bubble leveler.


Photo credit: rvweb.net

Long term

A self-contained RV is both a pro and a con. The pro is that, while driving down the road, travelers have everything they need in the comfort of their own home on wheels. However, with motorhomes, you can expect much more maintenance. If you are towing another vehicle, you can then expect to maintain two engines. In addition, repairs to self-contained RVs are almost always significantly more expensive, and RV mechanics are less prevalent than regular garages.

Depending on the size of the Class C you choose, a towed vehicle may be helpful for navigating tighter roads when your RV is stationary. When deciding whether or not to tow, there are many factors to consider, and many of those can add to the upfront costs of purchasing an RV.
Other considerations

Storing a Class C during the off-season is more expensive than storing a regular vehicle. The height and length of the RV impacts where you will be able to store it, and a specialty RV storage facility is likely your best option.

Class C RVs have most of the features of their big sister, the Class A, and can rival them in size. As we mentioned previously, the biggest drawback to these is their lack of outdoor storage. Owning a Class C is not for everyone, but if a Class C is your dream RV and fits your traveling needs, take a look at the new and used Class C RVs for sale on RV Trader.


Photo credit: rvt.com

Do you own a Class C or would ever consider owning one? Is the C or Super C more appealing? Let us know in the comments below!
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FMCA Tech Tip: Overlooked Maintenance




Missed RV upkeep and repair items can become costly if you do not catch them in time. 

You have made a major investment in an RV. You take great pride in keeping it clean, waxed, and properly maintained. Have you completely read, understood, and followed the information and instructions in all of the manuals for your unit? Some coaches come with encyclopedia-size booklets, others with just a thin pamphlet. Either way, numerous items require regular attention, some of which you may never have heard of or thought about. I hope that this article will encourage you to look into them.

Some RVers cite cost as a reason they haven't precisely followed recommendations in the manuals. However, many businesses have found it is cheaper and safer to implement a planned preventive maintenance (PM) schedule for their equipment. Even if they trade or sell their equipment often, they know that an attached PM report increases the items' resale value.

Imagine you are out looking at two nearly identical RVs with the same mileage. One comes with documented PM records and costs more than the one without. Which one would you purchase? If you stop to think about it, the one without records may end up costing you more during its life. First, you have to spend money to bring it up to specs before any trips. Second, items that have not been maintained properly will wear out faster than normal, use more energy, and could be dangerous.

More often than not, overlooked maintenance items are the leading contributor to the need for emergency road repairs. You can save time, money, frustration, and maybe your marriage just by following your manuals' recommendations. Many RVs out there receive little or no care; is yours one of them? When they do break down, it may be just a tip of the iceberg of problems to come.

An old saying from the horse and buggy days applies to the RV lifestyle: "Rode hard and put away wet." This means subjecting something to extremely hard use and then doing nothing to care for it when finished. Our RVs can sit for several months unused, and then they are off to the races for a weekend getaway or a coast-to-coast run. After reaching the destination, we shut them down and ignore them until the next expedition. Because of a RV's weight and aerodynamics, the motor, transmission, cooling system, and brakes could be considered as operating in a severe-duty service whenever used. This makes preventive maintenance more important than ever, so follow the manuals' suggestions.

Below is a list of items that are easy to overlook. It is a little long; however, these items deserve attention before they require an expensive solution. Most manufacturers recommend them as yearly checks. Please reference your manuals, the company's website, or its service department for specific recommendations regarding your RV and its components and accessories.


Frame/Driveline

  • Batteries: Far and away, the most common battery repairs technicians make are to resolve loose connections, especially on the ground/negative side and wires. Check all terminals and frame grounds for corrosion and tightness. Wash down battery areas with a water-and-baking soda solution or an approved cleaner. Check electrolyte levels; fill with distilled water if needed, usually just enough to cover the plates.
  • Brakes’ hydraulic systems - Use test strips to check the fluid level and its moisture content. Periodic flushing is required to maintain your safety, approximately every three years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Fluid does break down and can attract moisture over time from the heat generated by braking. A noticeable change in efficiency and required pedal force will occur. More importantly, the calipers and the ABS systems' control module could be damaged, causing a very expensive repair.
  • Air systems: Drain ping/storage tanks completely every month to remove moisture. Some units have a replaceable desiccant filter that is easy to overlook but is extremely vital to brakes and suspension.
  • Pads, calipers, rotors, or drums: Check for usable life left, cracking, or glaze and make sure they all operate properly.
  • Brake lines: Check for severe rust on metal lines. Watch out for cracks or weeping on flexible lines.
  • Grease/Lubrication: Climb underneath your coach and count every zerk fitting you can find. Look at all suspension components; steering linkage, including the connection to the steering wheel; driveshaft; universal joints; transmission; clutch shafts; and tag axle. Keep this number (I have counted as many as 43) in your notes with the owners manuals. After a lube, oil, and filter service is performed, ask how many grease zerks they serviced. If it does not match your number, ask why. Then check one that is hard to find for proof of new grease! You would be amazed at how many dry ones I encounter. Some motors have grease zerks on the cooling fan assembly. Do not forget about sliders, rollers, or bearings on racks (generator, cargo, steps, propane tanks, batteries, etc.).
  • Hydraulic Slideouts And Leveling: Fill the oil level with the proper type oil and look for leaks.
  • Rear End/Differential: Refer to the coach's chassis maintenance schedule; however, if a schedule is not available, change the fluid every 100,000 miles. Check the vent tube for blockage. Check the universal joints when greasing and replace if any looseness is detected.
  • Steering: Check fluid; change when suggested (usually three to five years).
  • Suspension: Springs, control arms, and sway bars all have bushings that can wear out. Shocks that have oil stains on them or more than 50,000 miles need to be replaced.
  • Tag Axle: Check wheel bearings for adjustment and lubrication.
  • Tires: Look for dry rot, bulges, cracking, and correct pressure. Stay away from tire dressings that make them shiny, as they tend to have silicone or petroleum-based ingredients that can accelerate tire deterioration. It's probably best to simply wash the tires with soap and water, and rinse them thoroughly afterward.
  • Transmission: Check the fluid and filter; refer to the coach's chassis maintenance schedule. If a schedule is not available, change at 50,000 to 100,000 miles.
Electrical

  • Generator: Wash with a cleaner such as Mean Green and low-pressure water; air dry before using. Change air and fuel filters; some models have filters or screens on cooling air/compartment inlets. Gasoline types should be run once every five to six weeks under medium load, have their fuel system drained, or have Sta-Bil added to the fuel (make sure it's in the carburetor before shutting down the gen set). Run diesel generators at least every two to three months. Warm them up, operate under a load for 10 to 15 minutes, and cool down for another three to five minutes before shutting off. This keeps the fuel fresh, lubricates the parts, and keeps the generator ready for emergencies.
  • Lights: Check all interior and exterior lights on all vehicles (towable included).
  • Shore Power Cord: Clean and wipe down with silicone spray or a product such as 303 Aerospace Protectant (do not use anything slick on coaches equipped with a cord reel).
Engine And Compartment

  • Lube, Oil, And Filter: This should be a no-brainer, so remember the time intervals also; oil is your engine's lifeblood. Follow change intervals to a tee. Stay with quality name-brand oil and filters, especially on diesel engines when new. Many diesel motors require break-in valve and injector adjustments. According to Caterpillar, Cummins, and Detroit Diesel, this first adjustment is very critical.
  • Air Conditioner: Check pressure and operation of the dash air conditioner before the season.
  • Hoses: Look for rub marks, bulges, cracks, or weeping. Secure hose clamps.
  • Serpentine/Fan Belts: Check for cracking or frayed cords. They should be changed every five to eight years/50,000 to 125,000 miles.
  • Engine Cooling/Radiators - Antifreeze: Fill and have the pH level checked. Change every three to five years/65,000 to 100,000 miles. Use only the antifreeze approved for your engine; there are differences. Diesel owners: It is vital to check the pH level and appropriate buffers.
  • Fins/fan: Carefully check, clean, and straighten cooling fins. If the fan's blades are bent or damaged, replace the fan with a new one.
  • Filters: They are installed in places you never thought of: air, fuel, water separator, cabin, antifreeze, radiator pre-filters/screens, air compressor, crankcase.
Exterior

  • Air Conditioner: Remove the cover of the roof air conditioner; check for mud dauber nests; clean the fins and fans of leaves, sticks, moss, and nests. You will save energy and help the unit last longer.
  • Seams: Check all seams for faulty caulk, especially the roof around antenna mounts, skylights, ladder, and vents.
  • Furnace: Remove the cover and clean. Replace filters if applicable (e.g., Aqua-Hot). Look out for mice and their nests.
  • Horns: Do they work?
  • Refrigerator Covers: Remove the outer cover and vacuum clean. Check for spiders, as they love this area. Find the black drain tube, check for obstructions, and route to drain outside of the cover.
  • Roof Maintenance: Clean, look for, and repair defects. Apply proper protection.
  • Slideout Seals: Clean and lubricate every six to 12 months.
  • Storage And Entrance Doors: Clean and lubricate seals, lifting mechanism, latches, and hinges.
  • Water Heater: Remove the bottom plug and drain the heater. Replace the anode rod. Clean the propane-heating tube. Remove the plug-in 12-volt connector and reconnect (cleans contacts).
  • Windshield Wipers: Check and replace. Better to do this now before you're caught in a big rainstorm. Refill the washer fluid reservoir.

Interior

  • Air Conditioner: Clean or replace filters monthly. Carefully clean/vacuum cooling fins.
  • Detectors: Change batteries in smoke, carbon monoxide, and LP-gas detectors.
  • Furnace: Remove the covers and vacuum the area clean.
  • Water Systems: Check the under-counter and ice-maker filters and replace if necessary.
  • Windshield: Clean the inside as well as the outside. Remember how hard it was to see through when driving into the sun on your last trip?
Even though this list may appear overwhelming, the items are not all due at once. Mileage, hours, and/or age will dictate when attention is required throughout the year and life cycle of your RV.

Consult this checklist when searching for a used RV. Finding one with documented PM schedules included generally indicates the entire rig was properly maintained. If you purchase one with a questionable service record, either you'll become handy at repairs or spend a lot of money for someone who is.

If purchasing an older RV with low mileage, or if you let yours sit unused for extended periods, think about this: mechanical items are designed for use on a regular basis. Using them as they were intended to be used generally makes them last longer, with fewer problems, than those you don't use regularly.

Think about our own bodies. When we exercise regularly, we feel better, move around easier, are more alert, and are less prone to injuries and arthritis. Usually we spend less on health care as a result. If we stop exercising, we gain weight, slow down, and acquire more aches and pains; medical expenses and time spent at the doctor rises dramatically. The same thing happens with your RV. This can become a vicious cycle.

Stop exercising your RV and the seals in the motor, rear, and steering dry out and shrink because oil drains off them. Oil drains off motor parts, causing rust and stuck valves. Additives in the oil break down even with age, allowing suspended acids and damaging particles to settle on critical parts. Tires will dry rot and crack, because they depend upon movement to excrete protective agents to block this. Transmission internals can rust and clutch packs go dry. Brakes can rust or seize up, lock up a wheel, or generate enough heat from dragging to burn out a wheel bearing. Brake, fuel, and air lines can rust through from condensation in the storage area. Critters and insects love to make nests in stationary RVs.

You've probably heard some RVers say, "Hey, I start mine and let it idle once a month." Just starting the motor and letting it idle can do more damage than good, but that's for another time and article.



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Jul 16, 2020

How to Boondock: Part I



For many RVers, boondocking is an enjoyable way to camp. Boondocking refers to free camping without the use of hookups and can be done in a wide variety of places, including public lands, parking lots, membership club locations, casinos, rest stops, and more. This style of camping is often more scenic, more private, more affordable, and, for some, more fun.


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FMCA Tech Tip: RV Buying Tips



Buying an RV typically is not always a simple, stress-free experience. After all, it requires a substantial outlay of discretionary funds. During the buying process it’s not uncommon for prospective first-time buyers to seek advice from their family, friends, or even FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) members. More seasoned RV owners also may want information about how to make the process go more smoothly, and our friends at FMCA are here to help these buyers, too.

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Jul 15, 2020

Tips and Tricks for Traveling with Pets



It’s time to gear up for another adventure, and if you’re anything like us, you couldn’t bear the thought of traveling without your furry friends! Pets have the amazing ability to bring us the comfort of home on the road, but before you load up the whole gang (including Spike) - check out these tips for making your upcoming trip fun, stress-free, and most importantly, safe for your four-legged companions.


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Jun 19, 2020

Vintage Trailer & RV Restoration Hazards



Traveling in an RV or with a travel trailer can be a great experience. It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground and have a comfortable place to stay after hiking, getting out on the lake, or just enjoying the serenity of your campsite. 

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Jun 8, 2020

Tips For Renting an RV For the First Time



With states slowly opening and summer just around the corner, people across America are easing back into the world of travel. But the reality is, summer getaways might look a little different this year, and considering many people aren’t ready to fly to their next destination, road trips are making a huge comeback. RVs give you the option to truly have a home on wheels and are ideal for social distancing. Don’t have an RV, but still want to take a trip this summer? RV Trader Rentals could be the perfect option for you. Our rentals are professionally managed and owned so you can feel confident each step of the way. Before you select the RV rental for your next escape, check out some of our tips for renting an RV for the first time.
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Tips for Appreciating Nature Indoors


By: Cynthia Shackleton


There’s a second pandemic taking hold, especially among those who cherish wide-open spaces: cabin fever. 

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FMCA Tech Tip: RV Battery Types



Our friends at FMCA are breaking down the different types of batteries for an RV. Check them out below.
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May 28, 2020

Mistakes to Avoid When Financing An RV



So, you’re ready to take the plunge into RV life? We’re excited to welcome you to the club - but before you dive head-first into the world of RVing, you’ll need to make sure you’re actually financially ready to make the big purchase. We’ve compiled a quick list of mistakes you should avoid making to make sure you’re ready to finance an RV when the time comes. 

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May 26, 2020

Five Tips for RV Life



In today’s society, there’s a real urge among a lot of people to cut loose from the rat race and just live life out in the beauty of nature. RV or Van life gives you the freedom to go wherever you like and see the countryside in ways most people never get a chance to. I’ve spent a lot of time out on the open road and learned a thing or two in my time. Here are five things I think anyone considering life on the road should understand before taking the plunge.

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How To Customize Your RV To Be More Energy Efficient



RVs provide an excellent means of cost-effective travel. Whether you are living in your RV or taking your recreational vehicle out for an adventure, energy efficiency is a must.
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RV Staycations as a Cure for Coronavirus Blues



By: Megan Glenn

Stay-at-home orders, self-isolation, quarantine, are pretty much daily words on the news, and the practice of them has us all wanting to file emancipation orders from our families, ourselves... our furniture. So why not try something new?
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May 15, 2020

RV Renovations: Updating RV Light Fixtures



When renovating your RV interior, there are so many projects that you can tackle to update and revamp your space. And considering most of us have a bit of extra time on our hands, now is a great time to tackle any renovations or updates you’ve been wanting to make. Each of these projects ranges in difficulty, with some being fairly easy and others being trickier. As you begin to complete each task, your RV will start to look more and more modern over time. Previously, we have discussed painting your interior, installing new flooring, updating your dinette, and installing a backsplash. If you want your RV to look truly modern and like a traditional home, your next step will be to replace your current light fixtures with newer ones.
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Tips for Buying an RV Online



COVID-19 has the majority of the country staying at home. If you had been interested in buying an RV, the quarantine might have put a damper on your plans - but in today’s world, it really doesn’t have to. With all of the technology we have access to, buying an RV is still possible with minimal in-person contact. So, are you still looking to buy? Despite the stay at home orders - it’s still possible with these easy tips.

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FMCA TECH TIP: The Importance of Waste System Venting in RVs




By Gary Bunzer

Proper holding tank venting is required (mandated actually), for both the black and the gray waste systems found on recreation vehicles and the method chosen by most RV manufacturers is to run a length of ABS pipe from the holding tank, up and through the roof of the RV. The importance of proper venting, in both systems, cannot be overstated, especially as it relates to odor control. Additionally, without correct venting, sinks will not drain properly, bacteria can propagate and holding tanks will not drain as quickly or completely.

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Apr 24, 2020

How to Virtually Spring Break in a Pandemic



Ahh, Spring Break. A time for RV road trips across the country, lounging on the beaches, or taking time to travel abroad. A time for students to take a break from their studies, celebrate Spring finally being here and the school semester almost ending. However, with the current COVID-19 situation happening across the entire world, Spring Break will be a bit different this year.

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Apr 22, 2020

7 Important Things to Consider in Planning Your Next RV Trip



As soon as the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, you’re probably planning to jump in your RV and head off for new adventures in the Great Outdoors. Before you do, here are 7 important things to consider. 

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RVs 4 MDs Helps Front Line Healthcare Workers and First Responders During COVID-19



With all that’s going on in the world today, it can be hard to find the positive. But in the midst of these trying times, people all over the world are stepping up to show kindness to others in big ways.
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Apr 14, 2020

Buying a Used RV From Start to Finish



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Apr 9, 2020

RV Renovations: Renovating a Dinette



In an RV, a dinette is one of the most useful and functional spaces you will find. For many people, this centrally-located space can be used as a kitchen table, a desk or office space, a craft center, or even somewhere to hang out and watch movies and relax. Dinettes can come as a booth with two benches or as a table with four chairs and vary in size, shape, and color. However, in some older RVs, dinette areas tend to be a bit outdated. Often, they are covered in tacky fabrics, dark woods, and textured wallpapers, and, for some people, this can be a bit of a disappointment when they are considering a purchase. Yet, with some simple changes, you can easily transform your dinette space into an area that you will enjoy utilizing for years to come. Follow along to learn some simple tips for updating and modernizing your RV’s dinette cushions, updating your table, and decorating tips.

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Deep Cleaning Your RV, Inside & Out



By Ann Eichenmuller

Summer is just around the corner—and with it, some of the best camping of the year. While the coronavirus has put many vacation plans on hold, you’ll want to be ready to go when campgrounds reopen. With all this extra time on your hands, there’s truly no better time to deep clean your RV.

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How to Find Open Campgrounds During COVID-19



In these complicated times, it's difficult to find anyone who hasn't been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic. And with the closure of many state parks and RV campgrounds, RVers have been left to wonder where to go next. It's hard to "stay in place" when you don't have a place to stay.

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Mar 9, 2020

Boondocking Etiquette



Boondocking is a fun type of camping where RVers ditch the hookups in lieu of beautiful, free campsites that often offer a unique sense of peace and solitude. Now that you have learned the boondocking basics, it’s time to learn a few rules associated with boondocking. Some of these rules are clearly stated, while others remain unspoken, yet equally important. Since there is no one to directly enforce the rules and regulations of boondocking, it is up to individual campers to know and respect them. Follow along with these seven important considerations of boondocking etiquette so that you can be prepared before camping in the wild.

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