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July 16, 2022
Non-Members (advertising-supported) edition
How RVers are gaming the system to get campsites
By Chuck Woodbury
For months now, our most popular articles have been about campground crowding. Our readers, and our own staff members, have increasingly needed to reserve a campsite many months in advance, far earlier than in years past.
A few weeks ago, in a Reader Poll we asked “As of right now, how far in advance have you reserved a campsite?” More than 5,600 of you responded, with two-thirds saying they had reservations more than six months ahead.
And yet, some readers have written—actually, MANY readers have written—that they have noticed many vacant campsites where they stayed. “What crowds?” they’ve asked.
Well, we hit a hot button last Saturday when our Nanci Dixon wrote an article titled “Reserved but vacant campsites: The campground’s side of the story.” I urge you to read the article if you missed it.
Gaming the system
AND WHAT A HOT BUTTON IT WAS! Never before have we seen such a response to a single article—nearly 1.5 million views in the first five days, with more than 1,600 comments. A normal “blockbuster” draws 100,000 views with perhaps 100 comments.
The problem, it turns out, is campers gaming the system. Cheating. They reserve campsites in more than one park—often months in advance—and then at the last minute cancel all but the one they decide on, paying a modest cancellation fee. The space that others wanted to reserve months ago—that the cheater had reserved so they couldn’t—is suddenly now available, but only for those who learn about it at the last minute. By then, you have already made other plans, so you missed out— because of someone’s dishonesty!
Often, the cheater won’t even cancel all his reserved campsites, but pay for them, the cost of keeping his options open.
One reader told of a friend who would book three campsites—the one he wanted, and the adjoining sites on both sides. At the last minute, he’d cancel the two adjoining sites to have more privacy. Talk about playing dirty!
As more people take up the RV lifestyle, the more precious a campsite becomes, especially those in popular parks and tourist areas. And, sad to say, like everything else, cheaters will find a way to game the system. Those of us who play by the rules get screwed.
Nanci will stay on top of this story. Her first follow-up column is below, but you can click here to read it too. The campground industry must get its act together to stop the cheating. Read through the comments on the original post to see the ideas readers have suggested. Please feel free to add your own.
Chuck Woodbury’s Roadside Journal
My most useful RV accessory in four decades of RVing
I have owned one item that has been with me in every RV I have owned. You can buy an almost identical product today for less than $20. It requires no electricity. It’s so simple to operate that even a child can use it. What could it be? Find out here.
Here is today’s edition of our twice-a-week 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!
(And remember, this contest appears every Saturday and Wednesday, so don’t forget to check back for five more photos from our readers this coming Wednesday! Sign up for our RV Daily Tips newsletter if you’re not already getting it. If you’re not sure if you’re on the list, sign up again. You will still only get one issue, not two.)
1,600 comments and 1.5 million views. Article a hot topic among RVtravel.com readers
By Nanci Dixon
Last week I wrote an article titled “Reserved but empty campsites: The campground’s side of the story.” If you haven’t read it yet, click that link and read it before continuing here. My husband and I are camp hosts and we talked to our park supervisors about why campsites remain empty despite being booked. Well, apparently it’s a hot topic because that article has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times and has more than 1,600 comments. Hot topic, indeed!
Today’s RV review…
Tony writes, “Potentially one of the leading reasons to buy a floor plan like this is that it does the bunkhouse function so well. Not because there are bunks, per se, but because there’s a lower bunk that flips up and a cargo door in the back. You could legitimately put a couple of bicycles or, perhaps, a kayak in here for travel. And, having recently spent time with nieces and nephews, I have become keenly aware of just how much stuff they like to bring camping.”
Note from Chuck Woodbury
The article below is word for word from a press release from the New York Campground Owners Association. I just want to say how sad I am that a campground owner has to even think about an “active shooter” on his or her property, much less train employees what to do if such an event should occur.
Campground owners urged to provide employees “Active Shooter” training
The Towne Law Firm of Albany, N.Y., with offices throughout the Capital Region, Adirondacks, and Northeast recommends that park operators hold regular active shooter training sessions and develop policies and procedures to protect staff during active shooter events. Continue reading.
RV boo-boos: To trust or not to trust the GPS?
Ever been misled by your GPS? If the number of stories we get is any indicator, if it hasn’t happened to you, it will soon enough. For some, a GPS fiasco is simply an annoyance, but in other cases, it can be a lot more serious. For RVtravel.com reader Michael W., his was happily on the more laughable side. Read about it here.
Neat DIY ambulance RV conversion makes great use of space
It’s no DIY emergency for these campers! Ryan Brodowicz and Brittany Williams converted an ambulance into a great RV. They graciously gave Nanci Dixon a tour and went through the details of this exceptional conversion. Check this out!
Around the Campfire: RVers discuss the best RV tires
Newbies asked for advice from folks around the campfire. “Our camper isn’t even a year old,” the Newbies moaned, “so why did we have blowouts?” On their very first trip, the Minnesota Newbies lost not one, but two of their travel trailer’s tires! They were fortunate to keep their rig on the road and, thankfully, damage to their RV was remarkably minimal. However, the experience really frightened them. There were many differing opinions about which RV tires are best, but on one point nearly everyone agreed: The tires that many RV manufacturers routinely put on their newly built RVs are “junk.” Continue reading.
Highlights from this week’s RV Daily Tips Newsletters
- Guarantee a relaxing RV trip with these tips and tricks
- Get rid of all those bugs with this ingenious DIY bug catcher
- Video: How a typical RV suspension works, plus upgrades and benefits
- RV mods: Screen your engine for protection
- Clever ways to store pet food bowls in an RV
Take an RV trip to ancient ruins—right here in the U.S.!
Wait a minute! Ancient ruins? Here in the U.S.? Yep, you read that right. There are several ancient ruins you can visit! The wonderful thing about RVing to ancient ruins is that they are scattered all over the United States. Here are a few of Gail Marsh’s favorites.
Know Your RV: Sanitize your “new” used RV fresh water tank
In the market for a used RV? That’s how many get into the RV lifestyle. Careful shopping can yield a pre-owned RV for far less than the price of a new rig. In many cases, “new” rigs come with factory-equipped glitches that can take forever to get rid of. Buy used and, hopefully, those problems have been fixed. A thorough inspection is always in order before you buy, but even if you hire the inspection out to a pro, there’s likely one thing you’ll never see: the inside of the fresh water tank. We highly recommend you sanitize your new rig’s tank and fresh water lines! Find out why, and how, here.
Camp near fossil-finding locations and bring home a piece of history
By Gail Marsh
Do you know a budding paleontologist? We do! Our grandkids love digging, searching, and finding things in the earth. When they recently found “weird-looking marks on a rock” they showed it to me. It was a brachiopod. (We looked it up on the internet.) That’s when a light bulb flashed in my head: Let’s take the grandkids and go RVing for fossils! Learn all about it here.
Part 4: RV roof air conditioners: Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t
By Dave Solberg
We have had quite a number of questions come in concerning the efficiency and overall operation of RV roof air conditioners. Some don’t cool, and some just don’t work at all. Once again, it’s important to understand how the roof air conditioner works to help find the “gremlin.” Learn all about air conditioners and their gremlins here.
How far did you travel to buy your present RV?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment.
The long, long RV trip, Week 6: An explosive tire blowout and an emotional goodbye
By Cheri Sicard
This installment of the Long Long RV Trip took me a while to write. I kept procrastinating on it because it was a pretty emotional week and I just did not want to revisit it, even though everything did work out well in the end…. Read about Cheri’s harrowing blowout and her bittersweet farewell here. (Warning: You might need a tissue.)
RVers, these poisonous plants could be lurking nearby. Look out!
By Dale Wade
With all of nature’s beauty, it has a nasty side. Along with the myriad of beautiful plants come a few of which you should be aware of. On your treks through the woods pay attention to those that can poison you and your pet through touch, smell, and taste. Here are some commonly occurring poisonous plants that we, as RVers and outdoor enthusiasts, need to know about and avoid.
Ghost Town Trails – Coolidge, “Montana’s Mystery Camp”
By Dave Helgeson
Coolidge, Montana, is the featured ghost town in this month’s installment of Ghost Town Trails. Last month we visited Elkhorn, Montana, and the two buildings that graced the cover of a very popular 1970’s coffee table book. That book, “Ghost Towns of the West,” was the start of many ghost town adventures for me and my family. While Elkhorn was well publicized, the ghost town named Coolidge was not. Continue reading.
Psst: What state has the most lighthouses? A) Hawaii; B) Michigan; C) California; or D) Maine. Take a guess then scroll down to today’s trivia to find out.
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 as they move about the country.
How would you like to win a set of Walkie Talkies?
How to win
We’ll select a winner at random out of all entries we receive today (July 16, 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.
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 my RV’s wall have rust stain, but no apparent leak?
- Entry floor soft from leak. Who can fix it?
- Can I tow this with that?
- Should I buy a new or used RV?
- My RV’s black water flush valve doesn’t work! Why not?
Visit Dave’s forum on RVtravel.com. Ask him a question or help answer one from another reader. Click here.
NEW! Video of the day
In this new Monday-Saturday feature, Cheri Sicard shows you a video of the day. Sometimes the videos are educational, sometimes they’re funny, and sometimes they’ll just be downright OMG-inducing!
You won’t believe this outrageous custom Airstream motorhome!
What would happen if you married an Airstream trailer with an A-model Kenworth truck? You would get an Airstream Motorhome like no other! That’s just what Charlie Nichols did… and it truly is outrageous!
Yesterday’s video: What to look for when buying a used RV: 5 common flaws
RV Gadgets and Gizmos
Make your RV’s bed more comfortable without buying a new mattress
By Nanci Dixon
Finally! I had a good night’s sleep on an RV mattress! RV mattresses are notoriously bad. All you have to do is visit any RV-related Facebook group and read the comments to learn that! We started out with a “premium” factory-installed foam mattress. It was so soft we automatically curled into the fetal position when getting in for the night. It was so uncomfortable that we turned it over to the hard base side. … Read about Nanci’s long search and what she finally found for a good night’s sleep here.
Water flow meter: Know what you fill (and when to stop)
By Tony Barthel
I was reading a Facebook post recently by someone who had a water flow meter and measured how much water they were able to hold in their RV’s holding tanks. While the specifications by the RV company indicated one number, their flow meter showed another. Being the ever-curious geek that I am, I thought I’d get one too. …This might be one of the most first-world gadgets I’ve ever reviewed. Frankly, if you just fill the tank until it’s full, you’ll be just fine. But, being a total geek, I had to measure the volume. Read what else Tony plans on using this handy gadget for. (A Slip ‘N Slide, Tony? Really?!)
Battery safety, plus Mike’s new SoftStartUp video
with Mike Sokol
Here’s a quick note about safety around flooded cell batteries. I wasn’t aware that a modern solar panel charge controller can fail in direct short-circuit mode, but this one did. It wouldn’t shut off charging, so the battery acid was boiling when the cap was popped off to check the water level. Plus, I just published this video a couple of days ago, and it shows me trying out the new SoftStartUp plug-in controller in four different ways. Important stuff here.
Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.) Session: Answers to your questions on the new SoftStartUp controller.
RV Tire Safety
A tire failed. What should you do to prevent another one?
By Roger Marble
You just had a tire failure. Did you take appropriate action to prevent a reoccurrence? If someone has a problem with a tire it would help us all if some effort was made to learn the real root cause. If the root cause is a manufacturing problem, then it should be reported to NHTSA. If enough complaints are received there is the possibility of a recall.
Ask Roger anything about RV tires on his RV Tires Forum.
?????? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??????
Despite things like this sometimes being annoying at campgrounds… we can’t deny that we really, really want these and we think they’re really, really cute!
Operating an RV Park
4th of July recap, and we messed up!
By Machelle James
I feel bad for missing my deadline to write two weeks ago. Our lives were truly chaotic and I just could not find the time to be still and have intelligent words come out of my mouth. The 4th of July week was a mix of happy campers, Chamber of Commerce events, the town parade and fireworks, and a massive rainstorm to boot. … Read more about their crazy, fun-filled Fourth, and what Machelle feels the need to fess up about to the whole world, here.
Our non-human staff writer answers your questions. “Johnny’s not always right, but he works cheap!”
Today, Johnny tackles these questions:
• “My fifth wheel only has 4 wheels. Help!”
• “Why do I feel unloved?”
What does it cost to RV full-time?
Advice from a robot
Recipe of the Day
Wow, this is a flavorful summer salad. The blend of sweet watermelon, peppery arugula, and creamy Feta cheese are all brought together with a tangy balsamic glaze. Serve this alongside the grilled chicken for a fabulous summer side dish. We found balsamic glaze with vinegar at our store. But, if you can’t find it, it’s very easy to make at home.
Readers’ Pets of the Day
“Foxy, Lilly and Bear, all Pembroke Welsh Corgis, go with me everywhere and are seasoned travelers. I am glamming up my 2021 Forest River FSX Salem toy hauler primarily with their comfort in mind!” —Louise Mellon
NEW: Pet Owner Poll
Pet owners: Do you buy your pet food online or at a brick-and-mortar store?
A man was walking in the middle of nowhere and it started to rain. He had no umbrella and no hat, but not a single hair on his head got wet. How can this be?
(Answer in tomorrow’s Sunday news newsletter. And please don’t spoil it for other readers by posting the answer in the comments.)
Which state has the most lighthouses? If you guessed Michigan, you’re correct. Sure, Michigan doesn’t have any ocean coastline, but the state does have more than 3,000 miles of shoreline along the Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie. The state is home to more than 150 lighthouses!
Laugh of the Week
Current smoke and fire report for where you live or where you are traveling.
“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.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
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RVtravel.com All-Star Team
When you voluntarily subscribe to RVtravel.com you help support these people’s hard work!
Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Editor: Emily Woodbury. Associate editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editors: Russ and Tiña De Maris. Senior writers: Nanci Dixon, Tony Barthel, Mike Gast, Gail Marsh. Contributors: Mike Sokol, Roger Marble, Dave Solberg, Dave Helgeson, Julianne Crane, Machelle James, James Raia, J.R. Montigel, Randall Brink, Karel Carnohan DVM, Cheri Sicard, Dustin Simpson, Dale Wade, Paul Lacitinola and Johnny Robot. Special projects director: Jessica Sarvis. Moderators: Gary Gilmore, Mark Gorrie. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. Special Reports: Bradford Geer. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
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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