Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Beginner’s Guide to RVing Issue 4


February 15, 2019

Welcome new RVers and thanks for joining us for another great issue of our Beginner’s Guide to RVing newsletter. We’re happy to have you along for the ride!

Did you miss the last issue of this newsletter? Read it here.

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By Greg Illes
One of the most-asked questions from my non-RV friends is, “Isn’t it awful lonely traveling around in a motorhome?” It’s a somewhat ingenuous query that always makes me smile, but I try to answer seriously, in a way that the novice can understand as a takeaway from our conversation.

Greg Illes

The fact is, my wife and I meet more people, and we meet more interesting people, and we have more time to spend with them, than when we are at home. I guess I should preface this by saying we spend only a small part of our time in striped-pavement RV parks; we don’t journey from parking space to parking space. Most of the time we are out in USFS or BLM camps, state or federal parks, or just out-and-out boondocking.

The photo shows a chance conversation between my wife and a Santa-looking fellow doing road-repair work one morning near our camp in a state park.

We had a choice to hunker down and wait for the noise to stop, or go out and chat up the man who was “disturbing the peace.” He was a great guy, been working the county roads for a dozen years, and had plenty of things to say about the region, his job and life, and the state of the U.S. in general — just like most folks.

Whether it’s a local working man/woman, a fellow traveler, a camp host, a park ranger, or any of hundreds of other types of people encountered on the road, it seems there’s always an opportunity to share joys, experiences and even heartaches as well.

There was the camp host at a Nevada site who was recovering from a triple whammy of Lyme disease, awful divorce, and financial near-ruin. All he had was his trailer and his regained health. He was one of the most cheerful, engaging people I’ve ever met. There was the Swiss couple touring the Grand Canyon who wandered into our camp late one evening. There was the water/power worker in Lone Pine, loving his job working in the outdoors and checking stream flows. There was a couple from Australia, traveling around the world in their expedition vehicle.

SOME OF THESE FOLKS were brief encounters and some remain our friends years later. All of them bring something unique to our lives (and hopefully we do also to theirs) — a glimpse into other worlds, places and attitudes — an expansion of mind and spirit that is so indispensable to us gregarious humans.

After pondering the “why” of this for a while, I realized there are some subtle factors involved, both human and geographical, that make traveling so much more engagingly social than home life. Firstly, there’s time. Time to pause, time to relax, time to stroll the camp, as we do almost every morning and evening. Time to simply stop and chat. It’s amazing how little time there seems to be at home, with projects and schedules and appointments.

Secondly, there is a commonality. At home, we seem to meet with people who are also absorbed and busy — but on the road, the people we meet are of a similar bent. They have time, too. And then there’s diversity. Road folks are from all over the place. We meet people from all walks of life, from countries around the world, and with jobs or careers we didn’t even know existed.

Yes, every once in a long while we run across a dud, but it’s so rare I can’t even remember the last time it happened. Basically, everyone ends up enriching our own lives in some overall fashion. Everyone we meet is interesting in one way or another. Everyone we meet teaches us something about the world, the region or life, from another perspective.

So for us, being on the road is the antithesis of loneliness — it’s a grand gathering of fellows, each with something to share, and it is invariably a rich, rewarding experience for us every time we go “out there.”

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at

A Beginners Guide to Living in an RV
When the author and her husband started RVing they knew nothing about the lifestyle. Now, after 3 years of full-timing, they know a lot. In this best-selling guide, Alyssa Padgett answers all of the most common questions the couple receives about RV living, from how to choose the right RV to how to get mail on the road, to how to find free camping. Learn more or order.

RV seller’s nightmare

Don’t do what this woman did when you buy an RV!

Background: Six years ago a woman bought an RV for $90,000. She put zero down and financed the RV for 20 years. Then, after six years she needed to sell the RV. She took it to consignment dealer PPL Motorhomes in Texas. Here, according to owner Diana LeBlanc Link as interviewed on The RV Show USA, is what happened (the horror story) — how the woman would need to write a check for $40,000 after selling the RV just to get out of the loan! Lesson: Never buy an RV with zero down and never finance for 20 years!

Questions for the editor

Dear editor,
My wife and I are seriously considering purchasing an RV to hit the road, at least part-time. I was wondering if you could offer some insight or sources of information on ways to earn money while we travel. I am retired but my wife is still working and I am trying to come up with ways of earning extra money. —William Caldwell

Dear William,
The best source of information about working while RVing is Workamper News. You will find a wealth of information there to help you. Also, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter where Sam Suva writes a column in each Saturday edition about work camping. Read his columns and other articles on the topic here.

Dear editor,
We bought our first RV last summer. I won’t name the brand, but it was an inexpensive model – good enough, we figured, for our summer camping trips. Three weeks ago, when my husband was returning to the trailer after photographing some wildlife, he accidentally banged his tripod against a wall, and to his shock, it poked right through, leaving a hole! I bet that wood was no more than a quarter-inch thick. Is it legal for an RV company to build an RV this flimsy? —Barbara Randall

Dear Barbara,
Sorry to say, yes. You bought a bargain-priced RV, and in many cases, these RVs are built as cheaply as possible with thin walls, cheap and uncomfortable beds and construction shortcuts throughout. Some entry-level models are far better than others, but thin walls are par for the course. When you buy again, press the palm of your hand against all the interior walls. If the wall gives easily, consider moving on to another model.

Want RVing quick tips? Be sure to sign up for our RV Daily Tips newsletter, which you’ll get in your inbox every Monday–Thursday. Tons of great tips and information you won’t want to miss! Sign up here.

Recent RV travel articles worth reading

Join our Facebook group, RV Advice, where prospective RV buyers can ask veteran RVers what they think of an RV they’re considering buying. Click here.


    • Social Media Pages: FacebookTwitterYouTube
    • Overnight RV Parking: A website and app that lists more than 13,400 free and inexpensive places to stay with an RV in the USA. A membership is required but there’s a free demo.
    • RV Dump Stations: You’ll need to reference this site often. It lists every dump station in every state.
    • Campground ReviewsHere’s a comprehensive review and camping information site specifically for those who love to camp. So far almost 350,000 reviews have been submitted, both positive and negative.
    • RV Horror Stories: This Facebook group is a gathering place for RVers who bought seriously defective RVs but get the runaround from manufacturers or dealers getting them in working order.
    • Go RVing: Here, from the RV Industry Association, is information about getting started RVing. The website is designed to get you excited enough about RVing to get you to buy one. Still, there is some good basic information.
    • Pissed Consumer. Be sure to check out this website to determine if a dealer you’re considering buying from has a good or bad reputation.

Check out the long list of great RVing-related websites from

Basic RV Tech Tips

Should you be afraid of LP gas?

What is LP gas? Should we be afraid of it, or just continue to take it for granted? Liquid propane, more commonly known as LP gas, gets its name because it is stored in a liquid state. When LP gas is manufactured it is compressed and stored under pressure, which causes it to liquefy. When the pressure is released the liquid turns back into a vapor. LP gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. To assist you in detecting a leak an odorant is added to it when it is manufactured. If you are not familiar with the odor of LP gas, the next time you go to a qualified fill station ask the attendant to let you smell it. Most people describe the smell as being similar to rotten eggs, or as having a garlic odor. —Mark Polk (Learn about Mark Polk at his website, RVeducation101)

Video of the month

Couple confesses their RV buying mistakes

The buyers of a fifth wheel trailer were so eager to buy an RV that they made all the classic buying mistakes — ones that will ultimately cost them a lot of money and stress. They explain the “sneaky tricks” the dealer used to charge them an extra $10,000 they later regretted spending. The sad thing is the mistakes they made are repeated across the country every hour of every day. Don’t you make them!

Want to stay on a farm or at a winery in your RV for free?
Now you can! As a Harvest Hosts member you can stay at more than 600 farms, wineries, breweries, etc., across the country for free! recently stayed in a blueberry orchard and loved it. Click here for more info.

Funny business slogan

“First we shoot you, then we blow you up.” —Sign in photography studio

Upcoming RV shows

motorhomesIt’s always wise to attend a few RV shows before you buy — a chance to compare many RVs in one place, talk to salespeople and even factory representatives, and maybe even pick up a bargain (but not always, which is another story…). Here’s a comprehensive list of upcoming shows.

IF YOU APPRECIATE THIS NEWSLETTER and others from, will you please consider pledging your support? Even $5, $10 or $20 is appreciated. Many readers set up an ongoing contribution, typically $5 to $10 a month. Your contributions make it possible for us to produce 250 highly informative newsletters every year. Learn more or contribute.

Beginner’s Guide to RVing Staff

Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Contributing writers: Russ De Maris, Bob Difley, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.

ADVERTISE on and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at) .

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 or this newsletter.

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3 years ago

I am no longer a “beginner” RVer, but enjoy this new addition to the R.V. library very much. I learn something or am reminded of something important every week. Well done! Diane

Sue Hoffman Losinger
3 years ago

We had friends in 1981 with 5 couple and their families, in Ludington, Michigan t the State Park and we still are friends with them and even spend New Years eve with 4 of them. Camping can cause many great friendships