Issue 2 • December 21, 2018
Welcome to the second edition of the Beginner’s Guide to RVing newsletter. Here, you’ll find helpful RV-related, and small-space living, tips from the pros, RV-purchasing advice, road trip stops, some helpful articles, our favorite RVing-related products and much more. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate your readership.
This newsletter is brought to you monthly by RVtravel.com and is funded primarily through voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!
By Chuck Woodbury
Not all RVs are created equal. Remember the three little pigs and their houses of straw, wood and brick? It’s kind of like that with RVs – some are built a whole lot better than others. In general terms, you get what you pay for.
A coach’s frame may be wood, steel, aluminum or a combination of these. When looking for your RV, be aware of what’s beneath the surface. While the cheapest construction may be just fine for the weekend camper, sturdier construction would serve the avid or full-time RVer far better and for longer.
That said, here is something you should consider when buying an RV. How much do you plan to use it? A little? A lot? If you plan only occasional use, an inexpensive rig will likely be just fine despite its bare-bones construction. But for heavy use or full-timing, you should buy something better for both comfort and a long lifespan.
Consider the purchase of shoes: If you need a pair of dancing shoes for a once-in-a-lifetime event, you needn’t spend a fortune: buy a cheap pair that will last eight hours. But if you plan to dance every Saturday night for the rest of your life, pay more for a pair that will endure. And so it goes with RVs.
I have rented cheap RVs that were so bad it was laughable. Terrible beds, noisy heaters and water pumps, cabinets with sharp corners, drawers that refused to close, cockeyed cupboard spaces, TVs placed in oddball positions, and walls so thin you could punch a hole in them with a pencil (slight exaggeration). And yet, if I were only using such an RV for a couple of weeks each summer, something like this would be okay, considering its low price tag. But for long-term RVing: No way!
Be cautioned that a brand-new, inexpensive RV will have a much greater likelihood of problems right off the assembly line than one built with more care. So, be sure to examine an RV you might want to buy inside out, up and down, every which way. Check with present owners to learn of their experiences. A long list of owners clubs can be found here. And if you’re on a budget, consider buying an RV that’s two or three years old that has been well cared for. Chances are good that the owner has worked out all the initial bugs.
Just published: Excellent book for new RVers
RVers Marc and Julie Bennett have penned their first book, “Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road.” It’s a great primer for beginning or novice RVers. Read its review at RVtravel.com where it gets a “strong thumbs up.”
Take a factory tour before you buy the brand
The best way to “get to know” a brand-new RV is not by looking on a dealer’s sales lot but by watching it being built at its factory. At least 35 major RV makers, most in the Elkhart, Indiana, area (where 85 percent of all American RVs are made) offer factory tours, and the price is right: free. Some tours are only conducted once a day, and some are even less frequently. An appointment may be required.
In case of emergency…
Spend several hours in RV before buying
Whether you plan to spend $10,000, $50,000 or $550,000 for that first or fifth RV, you need to look at it “differently” before plopping down your cash.
• Spend some time alone with the rig – allow four to six hours or more. With the slides out, sit and talk. Every chair is comfortable for a few minutes, so relax for an hour or so, like you would if you were watching TV or visiting. Then trade seats with your spouse or with whoever is along with you. If the RV is a Class A, make sure the driver and passenger seats swivel.
• Lie down. If you are “elbows out” sleepers, then do this. Do you have room? Does an elbow hit the light switch?
• Slides in and out. Spend time sitting and moving around with each slide in each position. What is not accessible when a slide is in? Some RVs cannot be used with the slides in. Can you use the bed and bathroom? There are campsites where you cannot put out certain slides due to trees, boulders, etc. Can you watch TV, cook, and bathe with the slides in?
• Outside stuff. All compartments look big when empty. Stick your head in all of them – what’s hanging down from the roof of the storage compartments? Will your garage-full-of-tools fit? What about that new nine-burner grill? Will you have to move the tools to get to the grill?
• Utilities. Pull the electric cord all the way out, screw on the water hose, and attach the sewer hose – just as if you were hooking up. Is it easy, difficult, awkward? Did you have to get on your knees or stand on your head? Now put them away. How easy would it be in the dark, kneeling on gravel, and during a cold downpour?
• Leveling. Do it. Level it. Now move it and level it again.
Want more 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.
THINK ABOUT THIS
Picking a roadside assistance plan
Like any insurance plan, emergency road service is an investment that you hope you’ll never need. But if you spend much time on the road, sooner or later you’ll have a breakdown. Take the time to think about your needs and ensure that your emergency service plan will meet them. Here are a few questions to consider:
• Does your plan cover all vehicles that you normally travel with: motorhome, toad, trailer?
• Does it include a lodging allowance if you aren’t able to stay in your RV?
• Are you covered in Canada or Mexico? Or if you are from Canada, are you covered in the U.S.?
• Are you going to be on short trips near home or crossing the country?
• Does your plan have an upper limit? A deductible?
• What hoops do you have to jump through to get reimbursed if you have to pay cash for service?
Win a TAB teardrop trailer
To celebrate its 15th year of building teardrop campers, nuCamp RV is giving away one of its iconic teardrop campers, a 2019 TAB 320 S. The company will announce the winner live on its Facebook page on February 22, 2019. The compact RV features the traditional teardrop U-shaped floor plan with the addition of a complete wet bath. Learn more.
Have you joined our Facebook page RV Advice yet? Other RVers will give you advice on what, or what not, to buy!
- Allstays Camp & RV – The most popular camping app helps you find RV parks, campgrounds, parking lots, fuel stops, rest areas, tunnels, bridges, and more. Filter results to find just what you need.
- Coverage – Coverage shows you where your phone will, and won’t, work. See overlapping service maps for different providers and plan your route accordingly.
- Gas Buddy – The only app you’ll ever need for finding the nearest, and cheapest, gas.
- Google Photos – Use Google Photos with your Google account to store an unlimited number of photos on your phone, tablet or computer. Automatic back-ups ensure you’ll never lose your photos.
- Google Earth – See what the campground/campsite looks like before you get there. Useful for book campsites in the summer when you want the spot in the shade!
- MyRadar – A weather application that displays animated weather radar around your current location. See what’s headed your way!
- Roadtrippers Trip Planner – Plan trips through the map or website, follow along with someone else’s route, find local restaurants and attractions, and much more.
Popular “Guide to Free Campgrounds” directory updated after four years!
Any RVer that has been on the road for awhile likely has a dog-eared and ragged copy of Don Wright’s “Guide to Free Campgrounds.” It’s been four years since the latest edition, and much has changed and been added. Read more about it here, and maybe order a copy of the brand-new 832-page guide for yourself or for a gift for your RVing friends.
Dry erase will keep you safe
At a new campsite, place a small dry erase board on the back of a cabinet (or another easy-to-access space) and write the campground name, address, site number, and phone number. Having this here ensures you never forget where you are in case you need to call the paramedics or police.
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UPCOMING RV SHOWS
It’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.
ATTENTION LOCAL AND REGIONAL RV BUSINESSES:
We can now run very affordable localized banners on RVtravel.com in your town or in a designated area near you. For example, we can show them to readers within 100, 200, etc., miles of your business — but not elsewhere. So no wasted exposures. Advertise your RV show, repair shop or RV park. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com to learn more.
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.
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 RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com .
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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