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December 3, 2022
Small space living: Challenges aplenty
By Gary Jefferson
once bought a vehicle in a dealership before it was off the truck. While looking at a car in the showroom, I saw the car hauler pull up with something I’d never seen before. It was a Ford “Thunderbird Super Coupe.” That was back in 1989. Fortunately, I loved the car and kept it for a year before moving on to something else. I don’t recommend buying a car that way, AND I don’t recommend moving into an RV without giving it much thought and “test driving” the lifestyle before you own it.
I meet people (and hear of people) who move into a trailer, motorhome, or van, and within a year or two, they are looking for a home without wheels. The “idea” of driving carefree around the country is often better than the real thing. And, if you start in the spring and you make it through the summer, by the time the icicles are hanging from your rig, you may have had enough of all that cramped space.
My wife and I made our first “adjustment” about thirty years ago when we moved into a trailer. We were both still working in those days. We had a three-bedroom full-time home and a “cabin” in the mountains nearby. We also had an Airstream travel trailer. So, we moved into the silver tube. In about a year, my wife told me that thirty-two feet weren’t enough. So, we upgraded to a forty-foot fifth-wheel. It was cavernous by comparison. We liked it enough to sell our houses. Fifteen years ago, we upgraded again. Still a forty-footer, but more space and more like a home inside. Recently, we added a Sprinter van. It’s small but has everything we need for a couple of months. We’ve slowly acclimated to living in an even smaller space.
My wife and I hardly ever argue. However, I’ve noticed that the three “disagreements” we’ve had in the last two years were when we were in the van. I don’t think we get as mad at each other as we get tired of rubbing elbows 24/7 for two months. Our elbows get touchy! One person in a van is close. Two people in a van are packed. Nothing primes the pump of displeasure as much as being in jail – or something a little smaller than that.
So, here are my final thoughts on moving into a van or RV. Try it before you buy it. Don’t sell your home until you are as sure as possible that you are doing something you are comfortable with. Have a plan to return to Earth if you get tired of the journey. Could you live in your largest bathroom (probably more floor space than most vans) for a week? With dreams of waking up by a lake and waterfall and stepping outside with a cup of coffee, I realize that it will sometimes be freezing or roasting, and rain may be forecast for a week or two. Be ready for that.
From Gary’s book “The Story of RVing,” a delightful collection of essays about his experiences as an RVer in both large RVs and later downsized to a camper van.
Hey, you! Yes, you! Check out our new feature! At the bottom of this newsletter and every article on our website you’ll see a box with some stars that says, “Did you enjoy this article?” If you loved the article or newsletter, give it five stars! If you thought it was just okay, give it three. If you thought it was terrible, give it one (though we hope not!). Thanks! Don’t forget to scroll down and look for those stars.
Here is today’s edition of our photo contest. Please vote for your favorite. Once you’ve voted, please submit your own photo for consideration. Winners receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Good luck!
Please note: We’ve changed the rules around a little bit. Please read the updated rules here. And don’t forget to submit a photo!
Psssst: Remember, you can vote through next Friday! If your photo is selected, share it with your friends and family. Everyone can vote once per day.
We want to know
RV stocking stuffers: What are your favorite gizmos, gadgets, and accessories?
Last week we asked you what big picture/big tickets items you would want RV Santa to bring if money were no object. This week we want to know about little things. What small and/or low-cost RV gadgets, gizmos or accessories do you want in your holiday stocking or would you add to a fellow RVer’s stocking?
Today’s RV review…
Tony writes, “There are a bunch of independent RV companies making fiberglass travel trailers, many of which are priced under $30,000. Seriously! There are also models that are rather premium in their approach to things that have loftier MSRPs.
“One of the advantages of this kind of trailer is that they are built of large fiberglass sections and then fused together. There are no rubber roofs or other things that increase the amount of attention you have to pay to the structure. Yes, as with all RVs, you do have to keep an eye on the seals. But there is a lower likelihood of water intrusion just based on the way they’re built.”
Service Centers and Repairs Report: RVs… not meant for the great outdoors!
In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs. This week we hear from a reader who has been on a waiting list at the dealer since March to get their awning fixed, and another reader who could write a book about all of their RV and service problems in the past two years—to the point where he’s “done!” But there are also some tips from readers to help avoid service problems, including storing your RV out of the weather. Read all that and more here.
Great expectations: Revisiting places that aren’t as you remember them
By Rod Andrew
My wife and I were fortunate to have two friends guide us on our first RV trip from British Columbia to Southern California. … We wandered through the Western states, as our friends introduced us to their favorite parks. Of all the places we visited, Joshua Tree National Park had the greatest impact. We’ve been back, of course, but remember, vividly, one part of our first visit, when we decided to hike from Cottonwood Campground to an oasis called Lost Palms. Continue reading this amusing tale.
Beware the damaging dips: Our motorhome got stuck. Really stuck
By Nanci Dixon
Ouch! Our motorhome got stuck. Really stuck. It has taken me a while to recover enough to even write this sad story. And to all those who would never ever find themselves in this predicament… never say never! 30 years of RVing and not one mishap until now. Read more and hopefully avoid the same fate.
RVtravel.com readers speak out: The 11 most wanted RV gifts of 2022
By Cheri Sicard
In last week’s question, we asked what you would want your RV Santa to magically bring you. In other words, what RV gadgets, accessories, or services would you want if money was no object? … Some of you got quite creative in your letters to Santa. My favorite of all came from Charlotte D., who phrased her request to the tune of “White Christmas.” Read that and much more here.
Gifts NO RVer wants this Christmas
By Gail Marsh
This is the absolute reverse of a Christmas wish list. It’s a list featuring “please don’t buy me this” items. You have a couple of weeks to circulate this list before Christmas. So, without further delay, here are the gifts no RVer wants this Christmas. 😆
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Dave Solberg and Dustin Simpson return Wednesday at 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. in the East), for their weekly, live one-hour video program “Talkin’ RV Tech”. Stop by and ask these RV experts a question or just soak up all the great information about RV repair and maintenance. The program appears on several YouTube Channels and Facebook groups including the RV Travel YouTube channel.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletters
- Using magnets, and the best magnetized gadgets, in your RV
- The best fan to help with RV refrigerator air circulation
- Heading to the desert? Read these tips
- See new sights and save with Groupon while RVing
- Avoiding “mysterious” RV battery deaths
RV boo-boos – propane goes boom!
A little propane leak is nothing to “sniff at.” If you smell propane in your rig, GET OUT, shut off the tank or cylinder valves, and air it out. We don’t know the outcome for the folks with this rig—we hope nobody was home at the time. Check this out. (Note: You do not need an Instagram account to view the pictures.)
Around the Campfire: Surprising campground rules you must follow
By Gail Marsh
Do you always read the campground paperwork? That was the question posed during a recent night around the campfire. What followed was a conversation about surprising campground rules that folks around the campfire had experienced. Read them here, then add in the comments any that were missed.
I’m writing this from the doctor’s office. Snowbirds, beware of skin cancer
By Nanci Dixon
I am (literally) writing this from the doctor’s office, where I am waiting to have a procedure done that will cut out the skin cancer I recently discovered on my body. Being a native northern Minnesotan that has not experienced the sun’s rays like the Southwesterners do, I was diligent about UV exposure but, evidently, not diligent enough. While this is the “best” kind of skin cancer to get, it is definitely better to not get it at all! Continue reading Nanci’s very personal and extremely important message.
How would you feel about being in the campsite next to a lit-up RV?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
POPULAR POLL FROM THIS PAST WEEK
We asked: Does your cell phone come with you wherever you go? How many voters out of nearly 2,000 answered, “I don’t have a cell phone”? Guess: (A) 0; (B) 9; (C) 57. See if you’re right.
Want to winter closer to home? Try these mini “banana belts” across the U.S.
By Randall Brink
Sometimes, a 1,200- to 1,500-mile winter journey to a warmer place is more than you want to do. People in the country’s Northern tier have a long way to go to get to Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or California. But there are alternatives for placid climes nearer your Northern home. Learn about them here.
Remembering the magic of childhood Christmases
By Gail Marsh
Ah, Christmas. Today’s holiday season pales in comparison. It’s probably because back then I was just a child. I had no additional Christmas responsibilities. Without money of my own, I gave very little serious thought to purchasing gifts for others. Presents for my parents were usually handmade at school. My mom and dad dutifully ooh-ed and ahh-ed over my small gifts for them regardless of how each looked. Continue reading Gail’s touching story.
Death Valley isn’t dead: The magic of the life inside our great national park
By Chris Epting
I think that it’s time to rename Death Valley. Yes, I know the moniker has all that great foreboding mystique. Yes, the name itself is probably what draws many of the visitors in the first place. After all, when you tell people you’re going to “Death Valley” it’s a statement – a marker that says you’re interested in exploring the edge. … Death Valley teems with life of all sorts. Much of it is stealthy and subtle, but it is there, impressive and often surreal and unforgettable. Read more.
Is this your RV?
Win a $25 Amazon gift certificate if today’s RV photo shows your rig
Every day we post a photo of an RV either submitted by its owner or by our editors and writers as they move about the country.
How would you like to win a Vintage Camper 2023 Calendar?
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (December 3, 2022) by 7 p.m. Pacific time. Remember, you can only enter once and after we notify you by email via RVcontests@gmail.com that you won, you have 24 hours to respond or we’ll give the prize to someone else.
NEW! In the RV Shop With Dustin
In this new column, head into the RV shop with Dustin Simpson and his wife, Ashley, of California RV Specialists. Each Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Dustin and Ashley will walk you through what’s going on in and around their shop. They’ll share their favorite tools, gadgets, DIY maintenance projects, RV tech talks, what they receive in their inbox, and much, much more.
Cool Tools: The AWBLIN Automotive Test Light
By Dustin Simpson
Every Wednesday Dave Solberg and I meet for a livestream called “Talkin’ RV Tech.” We not only answer technical questions, but we also share what we like to call “cool tools.” These are tools and gadgets that we actually use! We also believe they will be helpful to you. This clip captures one of our latest shares, the AWBLIN Automotive Test Light.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook”.
This past week’s questions that Dave answered:
- Why does RV’s slide ‘pop’ and the cable keep breaking?
- Why can’t anyone fill my RV’s LP tank?!
- Why doesn’t the tow vehicle charge RV’s batteries?
- Why is my truck’s combined GAWR higher than the GVWR?
- How do I keep my RV’s black and gray tanks clean?
Have a question for Dave? Click on any Ask Dave article and scroll down to fill out the form. He’ll get back to you!
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
New RV entry handle works out the “bugs” of older-styled ones
RV entry handles. They’re not glamorous, but trying to get in and out of the old rig without them puts one at risk of a nasty fall. And the higher the floor is from the ground, the more urgent the need for a good entry handle. Manufacturers have come forward with various approaches to help scale the side of your own rolling Mount Everest—each with its own good and bad points. A few weeks ago, a new product hit the RV market. The GripSafe Handrail Assist, by RV Designer, has worked out several of the bugs that have troubled other RV entry handle products. RV Designer sent us a GripSafe, and installed it on our RV and have our own observations.
DC to DC charger. Does your RV need one?
What is a DC to DC charger and should your RV be equipped with one? Before that question can be answered, you will need to understand what a DC to DC charger is and what functions it performs.
with Mike Sokol
Can you get a shock from an unplugged RV?
Here’s an article I wrote in 2017 about getting shocked from an RV that’s parked under high-voltage power lines. Yes, you can get shocked even when it’s in storage and not plugged in to shore power. Read on…
Video of the day
How to reseal an RV window
By Cheri Sicard
When it comes to RV repair and maintenance videos, it’s hard to beat the outstanding job done by Martin from RVstreet. This video on how to reseal an RV window is no exception.
Martin’s mantra is maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! Likewise, when our host noticed the seals on his motorhome’s windows starting to peel and crack, he knew it was time to get busy. Hmmm, I’ve been noticing the same state on my travel trailer’s windows too…
RV Tire Safety
Tires – Dull or dynamic? Part one
By Roger Marble
Following is an article I was asked to write for a tire industry trade publication in the U.K., “Tyres International.” I thought you might find it a bit interesting.
To the untrained eye it might seem like the tire industry has not done much to improve John Dunlop’s original. But looks can be deceiving.
Many people think the tires on their car are just a necessary evil. Most seldom, if ever, check their inflation while alignment is something few ever consider. Then after 40,000 miles, they complain about the fact they have to buy new tires. Even within the automotive industry, there are those who don’t appreciate the dynamic nature of tire design, and the significant improvements and changes made since John Dunlop invented the forerunner of today’s modem tire.
Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his RV Tires Forum.
Recipe of the Day
by ‘Ria Murphy from Bean Station, TN
One sip of this drink and you’ll immediately feel like the holidays are here. Filled with cinnamon and orange flavor, this will be popular at any holiday party. It warms you up as you slowly sip, and it makes your kitchen smell amazing while simmering.
Readers’ Pet of the Day
“Finn, our Samoyed, is enjoying his kayaking time on the water. And he certainly is wearing his life vest; no go without it!” —Jan Fields
What is unusual about the following words: revive, banana, grammar, voodoo, assess, potato, dresser, uneven?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
The average person walks the equivalent of three times around the entire world in his or her lifetime. Wow!
Laugh of the Week
“RVs: Who Makes What” – This is a new free directory from RVtravel.com which lists every U.S. RV manufacturer and their makes and models. Learn more and/or download a free PDF copy.
RV Show Directory: See if a show is coming soon to your area.
Stolen RVs — Help us recover these stolen RVs. The more eyes we have searching for them, the better chance of getting them back to their rightful owners, and maybe putting the crooks who stole them in the slammer! See the stolen RVs.
Great websites. Check out our favorite websites of the day! We compiled a list of (almost) all the websites we’ve ever posted, and we update it weekly.
Where to complain about bad RVs, dealers, service, RV parks. This is an ever-expanding list of resources where you can report, share or discuss your problems with RV manufacturers or dealers.
Best Club for RVers: Escapees. Click here to learn more or join. Endorsed by RVtravel.com.
Directory of RV parks with storm shelters
In case you’re on the road with your RV and the weather report is showing a tornado headed your way, have this list handy.
What does financing an RV for 20 years REALLY mean?
In case you missed this article the first time around, here it is again. Important! Click here.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
The Best RV Trip Planner Apps and Tools. Everything you need to help plan your trip is here.
Dustin Simpson RV Repair and Maintenance Articles: Incredibly helpful!
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
We have paid (and volunteer) freelance and staff positions available for writers and editors. Must have experience, be creative, ethical, highly motivated, know RVs and the lifestyle inside out, and be eager to make a positive impact in the lives of RVers (we have an immediate need for someone to write a daily RV review). Journalism education and daily newspaper experience a plus. Interested? Contact publisher Chuck Woodbury at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him about yourself. If you are not especially talented at any of these skills, please do not apply.
RVtravel.com All Star Team
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Gail Marsh, Dave Solberg. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Helgeson, Julianne Crane, Machelle James, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Karel Carnohan DVM, Cheri Sicard, Dustin and Ashley Simpson, Dale Wade, Paul Lacitinola, Jeff Clemishaw and Johnny Robot. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen. Mascots: Archie and Astor (the Disaster)
Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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