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December 3, 2022
Non-Members (advertising-supported) edition
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.
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?
Help Santa out by telling us here
Today’s RV review…
Fab-o fiberglass: Some of my favorite fiberglass trailers
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.
Run your RV air conditioner when you never could before — now SAVE $100
When the temperature heats up and you’re boondocking with only a small portable generator or hooked up to only 20 or 30 amps, you’re out of luck running an air conditioner. That is, unless you have a state-of-the-art SoftStartRV. It’s affordable, simple to install, and makes running your A/C possible. And right now for the Holidays, the folks at Soft Start are offering RVtravel readers, for a limited time, a whopping $100 off a purchase. Learn more or order at a $100 discount per unit.
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.
?? MYSTERY PRODUCT OF THE DAY ??
This is absolutely, utterly RIDICULOUS! And by that we mean this is absolutely, utterly AMAZING! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…
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.
Click here to see if your RV made it into today’s issue.
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.
Click here to enter or see last week’s winner!
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.
Makes a great gift!
The most festive RVing shirt of all time!
This shirt has a Christmas tree made out of RVs – you’ll get so many compliments! Every RVer who celebrates Christmas needs this! It comes in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes in many different colors so you can get one for everyone in the family! The solid colors are 100% cotton so it’ll only get softer the more you wear it. It also comes as a long sleeve shirt and a sweatshirt. Order one (or more) before Christmas!
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!
Click here to see more questions for Dave.
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.
Read what Russ and Tiña De Maris think about the GripSafe
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.
Makes a great gift!
Never have cold hands again with these rechargeable hand warmers!
These highly rated hand warmers are rechargeable so you’ll never have cold hands again – you won’t even need gloves! It has a long-lasting battery with a USB charger. All you have to do is push a button for three heating levels and you’ll be warm in seconds! These make the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who is always cold! Learn more or order.
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…
Fire-resistant bag keeps valuables safe!
This silicone-coated fire-resistant bag will save your money, documents, jewelry, passport and other valuables from a fire. Its two layers of supreme fire retardant fiberglass material make it resist fire and heat up to 2000℉. It’s waterproof, too, so when the hoses arrive, your valuables won’t be harmed. Learn more or order.
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.
Check out our Directory of RV Clubs and Organizations.
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!
Tiny LED button lamp perfect for RV’s small, dark spaces
This 6-pack of tiny, battery-powered LED “Button Lamps” is just what you need for your RV’s closets and storage spaces. The tiny lamp is ultra-bright and has all the power of a normal-sized lamp. Backed with a strong adhesive, these little lamps will stick to any surface. They’re waterproof and good to have in case of an emergency. Read more here.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Meet Earl and Burl Squirrel, from the mind of RVtravel.com friend R.L. Crabb.
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 email@example.com 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)
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I agree you need to try RVing out before committing to a long term investment. And we have fewer disgreements when we are in our RV.
Personal space is necessary to healthy, happy living and lack of it is the reason for much of the angst and lack of civility in society. Many people fall for the allure of dreams in spite of reality telling them something else. Giving up one’s home is something most aren’t ready for as it often involves abandoning known comforts which you begin to appreciate when they are not there. Gary notes the cramped van life but what about those rainy days when you can’t get out of the van to explore that lake or river. Better like yourself first before sharing that with someone else.
I hope you guys don’t actually pay for that Roadskills cartoon because it just isn’t funny. Would be a waste of money.
I have to agree. Never struck my funny bone yet. Maybe put a rating star under that.
We have done a fair amount of “living small” and early on we discovered that allowing the other to “monopolize the core” goes a long way to comfortable living.
Re. The article of living in small places. Yes, experience is priority. After a 3 month trip in our 25ft TT, we realized how much wasted space our “planted” home had. We sold it and moved into a downsized duplex. It also has HOA lawn care so we can feel free to travel at will.
Good article. Before we bought our live-in full time 41ft 5th wheel, we rented several and lived in each for a week. It allowed us to find what we liked best about each and helped narrow down our search. We’d heard and knew folks who had purchased several rigs before finding the ONE they ultimately liked. We love ours and have never regretted our purchase.
We have an 11.5 foot slide in Lance camper that we travel with and camp in and pull a Jeep Wrangler for side trips.
2 people inside at a time is tight. We don’t have a rule and we never talked about it but generally unless we are eating or sleeping one of us is either outside or sitting at the table. That gives the other space to do whatever they need to do.
Ditto with our Lance truck camper. The slide-out is priceless. (we have an 80 lb dog as well)
No vote on this article?
We had been RVing weekends and vacations for 15 years before retiring. We always wanted to be fulltime but work didn’t allow it. Upon retiring, we went on the road for 6 months before cleaning out the house and selling it. That 6 month test was very helpful. We are still on the road ten years later.
Re: MPOTD (Mystery product of the day), you can find at $20 cheaper on eBay.
Our home is about 3,000sq ft, plus full attic and basement AND a 2-story former carriage house for storage. We winter in a 450sq ft TT with minimal storage – and like it. If we could put up a shed for the outdoor stuff rather than squeeze everything into the TT in the off-season, we’d be in heaven. Not quite ready to sell the house, but getting much closer.
We’ve been very involved with FMCA and attending National RV Rallies since 2014. We see lots of new Rigs on full display 2 to 3 times a year. This article is excellent and wise. We have had our 2011 Itasca 38 foot Motorhome for the last 7 years. Our excellent Mentors who coached us taught us to buy USED, look and drive at least 25 rigs before deciding, and buy your 3rd Rig FIRST. And we did. We are a rarity! People impulse buy RVs and trade or sell them – taking baths of financial LOSS because of not finding an excellent Mentor or 2 who would have prevented foolish decisions. My wife and I have loved being Mentors with New and “Wanna Be” RVers – NOT for $$$! We continue to save people hundreds of headaches and thousands of dollars which is a JOY to pay forward!!
Enjoyed this article very much. Been there did that, now have a 40 foot motorhome with 4 slides, lots of room. 😊😊
As a retired engineer, I understand and appreciate the idea of doing your research before committing to something. However, there is another approach, which is to ‘throw your hat over the fence’. The notion that necessary is the mother of invention – arguably not as certain as doing your research. However the success of a nomadic lifestyle depends on the reason in the first place. For us, it was to continue our love of traveling in our twilight years, while we still had the energy to do so. So we researched what rig would fit our needs the best and made the commitment – now we live on the road seeing the country.
The message is on target. Met several young families that sold everything & went full time without not only the limited space but also discounted the maintenance required for a home on wheels.