Learn about RV camping, RV travel, RV news and much more. This newsletter, now in its 18th year of continuous publication, is funded primarily through advertising and voluntary subscription contributions from our readers. Thank you!
If you are not already receiving an email reminder about each new issue of this newsletter, sign up here:
Week of July 27 – August 2, 2019
Full-time RVing: Fine print in your RV insurance policy could bite you!
With Chuck Woodbury
Areporter called me Thursday with some questions about living in an RV full-time. “How many people do it?” she asked, and I told her that an RV Industry Association (RVIA) spokesperson recently told the Washington Post that it’s about a million. I interpreted that to mean there are a million RVs out there with one, two or three people, maybe more, living in them year-round.
That said, I think arriving at a number like that is akin to estimating how many pieces of hay are in a haystack. One person’s guess is as good as another’s.
She asked me what advice I would offer someone who wanted to live in an RV full-time. I said that, number one, they must be sure they have the proper insurance. Many companies do not cover full-time RV living.
I don’t know why the RV Industry Association is even quoting a statistic about how many people live in RVs when it states on its website, RVIA.org, and elsewhere that RVs are for “temporary living.” They are essentially admitting they know that people are using their RVs in ways they’re not designed for.
Actually, the RVIA is being tricky. A few years ago, its website said that RVs were for “temporary living.” Now, they have changed the wording to “designed for temporary living.” There is a big difference in those two descriptions.
You see, an RV is not made to the same quality standards as a “mobile home,” or in more modern terms a “manufactured home,” which are, indeed, made for full-time living. A campground owner who fills his or her park with full-time RVers risks being legally defined as a trailer park or mobile home park, where both residents and the park owners have to play by different, stricter rules, and probably pay more taxes.
THE SUBJECT OF INSURANCE for full-timers came up recently on an online forum. Some members advised others to “not tell your insurance agent” that they planned to use their RV as their home. In my opinion, that’s terrible advice. The RVer may have no problem getting paid for a claim for a broken windshield, but what if the driver is distracted and hits a child, causing permanent injury? Do you think an insurance company will pay that claim if somewhere in the RVer’s contract there’s a sentence that says, “This policy does not cover full-time living.”
So go ahead and lie, or just “not tell” unless asked, but if you cause a serious accident be prepared to be sued for your life savings or whatever’s left after you pay your lawyers.
If you are a full-time RVer, I urge you to check your insurance policy right now and read the fine print. Are you really covered? If not, call your insurance agent and change your policy. And if you operate a business from your RV (even if it’s just earning part-time income from YouTube videos), be sure you are covered, too (you may need a more expensive business policy).
If you have a website, blog or newsletter, you have my permission to reprint this at no charge, as long as you credit the source as https://www.rvtravel.com.
JOIN US NEXT WEEKEND
FINAL REMINDER: Gail and I will be camping at Enumclaw, Washington (near Seattle and Mt. Rainier), during the upcoming Enumclaw RV Show on August 1-3. If you would like to camp with us, contact the show. Each site comes with show admission for two for each day. Ask to be located in the RVtravel.com area, which has 30-amp hookups (most others are 20 amp). Those sites may already be sold out, so act fast to grab what may be left. Mike Sokol will teach three classes on RV Electricity, one per day. See his topics and the schedule here. For locals, a day pass to the show includes admission to these seminars and others.
My Roadside Journal
(about whatever is on my mind, not necessarily RV-related)
- Where Harry Potter was born and the man with the 10-minute memory.
- A semi-off-color joke, but with a lot of truth in the punchline.
Dog campground fees
We travel extensively 7 to 8 months a year so visit many RV parks. This year, we’ve run into several that have charged us $1 to $3 per dog per night. I find it hard to understand this new charge. Interesting that so far none of these parks where we’ve stayed have even had an off-leash dog area. So why charge? —J. Dorn
Dear J. Dorn,
Many parks have charged extra for dogs for years. Some also limit the size or breed of dog, and others limit the number of dogs permitted. The parks likely figure that it costs them to do poop patrol — which, sadly, many owners won’t do. And the park employees’ time needs to be covered when, for example, they need to be dispatched to a campsite to tell a dog owner to please stop it from barking. And for those that do maintain a dedicated “pet area,” there’s that cost to cover.
How much to full-time RV
This was posted on our Facebook group, RV Advice
Has anyone done a budget living in an RV traveling for a year? Only thing I’ve seen so far is it depends on where you park. It could cost anywhere from $10,000–$15,000 a year, $18 to $40 per day. Depending if you can get a weekly or monthly cost can make it lower. Then there’s cost for gas, insurance, repairs. I was thinking of buying an RV class C motorhome and living in it full-time. —J. Hendrickson
Some people live in an RV on a modest Social Security income. There is no “certain” amount you need. Mostly it depends upon your needs. You can camp on the Bureau of Land Management’s desert lands of the Southwest for a dollar a day for up to 7 months and save up while there for other expenses — gas, repairs, etc. And when you do travel, Walmart will allow a free overnight stay in most of its stores’ parking lots. You will likely have a monthly payment on the RV, so that needs to be considered. But, in the end, if you have only $1,000 to $2,000 a month, you can participate in the lifestyle.
Did you miss last week’s RV Travel?
Become a member and receive an ad-free edition of this newsletter
Our journalism at RVtravel.com is powered increasingly by our members who know how important it is for RV enthusiasts to maintain a strong voice in the RV industry. At RVtravel.com we represent you, not members of the industry whose mission is to sell you their product with little regard to your needs afterwards. At RVtravel.com we care!
If you have not become a voluntary subscriber — a member — would you please consider doing so? If it’s been a year or two since you contributed, please consider doing so again. Contributing, especially on a monthly basis, means that we can count on your help as we plan our future activities on behalf of you and other RVers. If you read all our newsletters, an annual pledge of $12 equals about 5 cents per issue! When you become a member, we will send you our special ad-free member newsletter.
Will Australian court case inspire U.S. RV industry to go after critics?
When Australian Tracy Leigh started a Facebook group called Lemon Caravans & RVs, she never expected to wind up on the wrong end of a lawsuit. She started the site as a platform for RVers to vent and warn about poor quality RVs from the Land Down Under. The group got popular, with some 47,000 members. Lemon Caravans allowed its members to discuss problems they had with their RVs, and their misadventures with RV builders in trying to get the problems worked out. Read what is happening Down Under.
That was the RV week that was
• Boat being towed behind RV starts 42,000-acre fire in Washington state.
• 9-year-old girl at Yellowstone tossed by bison bull.
• BLM employees in Washington, D.C., being moved out West.
• Man receives two life sentences + 22 years for murder of two RV park managers.
• Chevy’s Silverado 1500 for 2020 gets 33 mpg, but what’s it missing?
and much more …
• Winnebago RV recall: Storage compartments may open unexpectedly.
Last week’s featured stories in RV Daily Tips
• Not all air conditioners are created equal.
• Don’t forget the fuses.
• Don’t rush to get going or this could happen.
• Fish coast to coast without a state fishing license.
• Thor to use Truma hot water system in Sequence motorhomes.
Developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA
Janet Groene reports each week on developments at RV parks and campgrounds across the USA and Canada. There’s a lot of good information here that you can use to plan your travels. Read the current installment of “Campground Chatter” here.
RV shipments continue to slide
RV shipments continued to slide in June as they have every month so far this year. The RV Industry Association’s June survey of manufacturers found that total RV shipments ended the month with 36,524 wholesale shipments, a decrease of 10.3% from the 40,738 units shipped last June. Learn more.
Nevada highway celebrates “space aliens” among us
Editor’s note: This article was written by the late Bob Carter. He and RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury were among members of a group of writers invited by the state of Nevada to drive its newly designated “Extraterrestrial Highway.” … Nothing has changed since Bob filed this original report. This remains a wonderful (and very lonely) road to travel with an RV with plenty of public lands for boondocking. Read the article.
Good solar design will meet most RVers’ needs
Solar power has been around for years, but during the past decade or so solar systems have become popular equipment for RVs of all sizes. Solar is not a magic word for free power. You need to first calculate your energy needs, then design a system that will meet those needs. Here’s useful information to get you started.
Do you really need a new refrigerator?
Scan a few RV discussion boards and you’ll surely find some who are fed up with their RV refrigerator. When the thing stops cooling, the typical RV service center approach is to tell you the fridge is dead, and offer to sell you a brand-new one. Looking at the price of a brand-new RV fridge is enough to make anyone take up drinking. … But do you really need a “new” refrigerator when yours stops working? Find out about an alternative here.
On what device are you reading this newsletter?
Please let us know. After you click your response, you’ll see how others have responded. Feel free to leave a comment. We’ll post the final results in next week’s newsletter. CLICK HERE.
What we learned about you last week
Are you more or less financially stable than you were five years ago? Does your RV have automatic levelers? Do you play golf? How often do you square dance? Are you afraid of spiders? All this and more, right here.
Funny oil change instructions for men versus for women
These are just too funny! The original author is unknown, but these have been on the Web since at least 2005. This list is tongue-in-cheek, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Read it here.
Thousand Trails: Thumbs up, thumbs down
It depends on your source, but according to two recent reports, Thousand Trails is a really great organization to belong to, or maybe not so great. Learn more.
Two inexpensive survival tools every RVer should have
Nobody who heads away from their campsite ever intends to get lost. But it happens and it can prove deadly. Here are two products that an RVer or other outdoor enthusiast should have along whenever away from a camp, whether in the wilderness or in a Forest Service Campground that may not seem to pose any threat of getting lost. Learn more.
My first time driving an RV, and how I nearly killed a cop
By Chuck Woodbury: I’ll never forget my first motorhome trip. Before I had logged two hours, I had nearly killed a Reno, Nev., motorcycle cop. “You changed lanes and nearly ran me off the road,” he said as he wrote my ticket. My problem, I later concluded, was that I did not properly adjust my rear view mirrors on my new rig. If I had, I would have seen the policeman and not changed lanes right on top of him. Read the rest of the story.
How to deal with bugs that go “splat” on your vehicle
Every spring and summer, bugs end their short lives by splatting against the front of our RVs or tow vehicles. Here are a few ways to ease the nasty chore of cleaning up afterwards.
The fast-fading Good Sam Club
Editor Chuck Woodbury was browsing through some really old issues of RVtravel.com and came across a news item from March 17, 2002, about the Good Sam Club, once America’s largest club for RVers. Chuck compares the Good Sam Club’s original mission to its current apparent mission. Learn more.
This best-selling directory is an RVer’s favorite. Updated just a few months ago, it lists every Walmart and Super Walmart in the USA with driving directions, and it even notes which ones do not allow overnight stays in RVs. Enter the contest.
Congratulations to last week’s winner, John Meyer of South Bend, Indiana, who won the book “RV Electrical Safety.”
Popular articles from last week’s issue
• RV Electrical Safety: Part 4 – Hot-Skin Voltage. (Mike’s most important article to date.)
• Quartzsite loses color with death of local celebrity.
• Getting your rig safely to the bottom of that long grade.
• What if RV makers made airplanes? Would you fly in one?
• RVer Safety: You might consider self-protection if wilderness camping.
• Are you a member of Thousand Trails? What do you think? (Poll with many comments.)
• RV Tire Safety: Lug nut torque – a critical safety item.
• Coleman lanterns inspired by founder’s poor eyesight.
• What we learned about you last week (July 13-19).
• Campground Chatter with Janet Groene, July 19, 2019.
Our Facebook and RVillage Groups: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping. And please join our group on RVillage (like Facebook except just for RVers).
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.
The RV Show USA
Listen each Wednesday evening on Facebook or YouTube for the live taping of America’s only syndicated radio program about RVing.
The RV Death Spiral
Read the eight-part series of editorials by Greg Gerber that the RV industry never wanted written. Download the PDF.
Motorhomes on Fire
This is not pretty – dozens of videos of RVs burning up. But the point is to help viewers understand that RVs burn fast, and they need to practice good fire-prevention habits and practice an escape plan … just in case.
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.
Save bandwidth while watching YouTube videos
How to watch YouTube videos using very little bandwidth.
Stuck with a lemon RV? Contact Ron Burdge, America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.
Latest fuel prices
Here are the latest U.S. average prices per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel as of July 22, 2019:
Regular unleaded gasoline: $2.75. [Calif.: $3.57]
Change from week before: Down 3 cents; Change from year before: Down 8 cents.
Diesel: $3.04. [Calif.: $3.94]
Change from week before: Down 1 cent; Change from year before: Down 18 cents.
Another camper goes missing
Last week we reported on a woman who got lost but was found … a wonderful ending, especially considering the area. The high deserts in California can be deadly, especially in the summer months when the temperatures easily exceed 100 degrees. However, in this new event involving a 69-year-old woman who vanished, she might not actually be lost. Read more.
Who wrote the most famous Route 66 song? A) Bobby Troup, B) Frank Sinatra, C) Burl Ives, D) Woody Guthrie. We told the correct answer to the readers of last Thursday’s RV Daily Tips Newsletter (so those readers have an advantage — Hint: sign up to get it!). The 37th person to answer correctly wins. Send to email@example.com . Your answer must be on the subject line. Entry deadline at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday). If no winner, we’ll save the prize for another time. Prize can only be shipped to U.S. Zip Codes or Canadian Postal Codes. The prize: A very cool pair of Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones.
Ask the RV Shrink
Wife uncomfortable in remote boondocking spots – What to do?
Dear RV Shrink:
I don’t mind boondocking. We spend several months a year on the road and camp a majority of the time without hookups. My ex-Marine husband will camp anywhere, but I do not care to camp in remote areas by ourselves. My husband says I am being silly. …
The Business of Work Camping
Technology – Part 2
Technology is an important part of the research and continuation of the journey to full-time RVing and work camping. Here are some more tips to help make your journey a little less bumpy.
Ask the RV Doctor
RVer needs help finding slideout’s manual override
We have a 27-foot Gulf Stream Streamlite trailer with a small slideout. The manual states that there is a manual override to retract the slideout in the event that the electric motor fails. We can’t locate the “emergency device” mentioned in the manual. We even had a technician look, with no luck. The motor is located in the middle of the sofa but there appears to be no access to it. Any thoughts? —John E.
What causes hot-skin voltage?
I read your article last week about RV hot-skin, and have to admit that I’ve felt a few shocks from my RV over the years. Can you explain where this comes from? Can’t the RV manufacturers do something to make our campers safer? —Pete (the Dragon)
This week’s J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session:
REMINDER: Mike will teach three classes on RV Electricity (one per day) at the Enumclaw RV Show August 1-3, near Seattle and Mt. Rainier. See his topics and the schedule here.
Sign up for Mike’s new RV Electricity group on Facebook.
RV Tire Safety
Max load, max inflation and cold inflation confusion continues
The information on the tire sidewall is a statement of the maximum load capacity and the cold inflation required to provide that load capacity. Different tires have the word “max” placed in different parts of the phrase, which leads to confusion. Roger Marble explains tire inflation information here.
Don’t take a break on your brakes!
Every RVer needs one of these!
Wonder what it would be like to have your brakes go out while you’re going down a long, steep grade? You might find out if you don’t stay on top of your brake fluid levels! Buy yourself a brake-fluid tester for less than $10 to check your levels. Simply dip the tester into your rig’s brake fluid, and you’ll be able to see where you stand. Learn more or order.
Building an RV Park
Monsoon season is here!
From Machelle James: Oh, joy! We had our first monsoon storm of the summer and it did not disappoint us! We are used to monsoon storms down in the valley of Arizona, but up here at 6600 feet? What a difference! The thunder is louder, the clouds are darker and the rustle of the wind-blown pine trees is quite a treat to your senses. Read more.
Celebrating the American cowboy
The last Saturday of July (July 27th, this year) is the National Day of the Cowboy. Read this account of how the American cowboy came into being, or let Len Wilcox read it to you. Remember Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger, and their Cowboy Code(s)? This is interesting! Learn more.
The RV Kitchen
Chocolate Almond Sauce
Homemade chocolate heaven. Spoon this heavenly chocolate goo over anything from fresh fruit to pound cake. Why make your own chocolate sauce? You control the ingredients… Invent desserts from here to Sunday. Use it as a dip for marshmallows or fresh strawberries or Brazil nuts. Drizzle it into ice cream pie and freeze. Add a tablespoon or two of liqueur. The sky’s the limit. Get the recipe.
• Protect your RV’s slideout with this rubber seal lubricant. Learn more or order.
• Attention Big Rig RV owners! This annual directory will keep you away from too-narrow roads and low bridges. Published June 17, 2019. Learn more or order.
• Camping at Corps of Engineers Campgrounds. Many RVers consider these the very best places to stay. Learn more or order.
The RoVing Naturalist
Snakes – What are they good for?
From Dennis Prichard: I hear this all the time: “What good are ____?” Snakes, in this example. My reply is that you are asking the wrong question. It is not the “good” that an animal possesses but the role it fills. “We” are the ones that give it worth, and in our own terms. Nature, on the other hand, doesn’t value things in terms of “good” or “bad.” It is what it is, and if that isn’t existential enough, just read along for a more cerebral explanation of snakes and their prey.
RV Short Stop
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, could take days to fully explore and enjoy. There are dozens of galleries and exhibits in its seven levels of building space. The mission is “to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll. We share stories of the people, events and songs that shape our world through exhibits, innovative programs and concerts.” RV parking is available April to January. Learn more.
Facebook Groups of Interest
• Campgrounds – Trailers and RVs
• 50 and Over RV’ers
• RV Exterior/interior Ideas
PLUS OUR OWN GROUPS: RV Horror Stories • RV Advice • RV Electricity • RV Parks with Storm Shelters • RV Buying Advice • Northwest RV Camping • Southwest RV Camping
Free and bargain camping
Walmart Supercenter # 2634, Gorham, NH
FREE! Overnight parking is allowed but permission from the store is required. The lot is level, well-lit and appears safe. Most reports say it’s quiet, but there may be loud train noise occasionally. Several restaurants nearby. Click here for more details.
24-hour Express (Mobil Station), Wasta, SD
ALMOST FREE! Overnight parking is allowed. Small RV park has eight 20/30/50A E only pull-thru RV sites on gravel. No W/S hookups. Dump station with potable water. Central water fill from mid-May until cold weather forces it to be turned off. No reservations. Self-register and self-pay. Rate: $10/night, cash only. Click here for more details.
Overnight RV Parking, with more than 14,000 locations listed, is the largest and best resource for locating free and inexpensive places to spend a night in an RV. For membership information and a demo of the site, click here. A modest membership fee required, but try the free demo. Watch a video about OvernightRVparking.com.
Upcoming RV Shows
When you cross the Yukon/Alaska border on the Alaska Hwy. you are 750 miles west of Los Angeles, CA. Thanks, George Bliss!
Silly Tourist Questions
From Theo Matthias
Heard at the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire’s White Mountains Presidential Range:
Tourist: Do you know where I need to go to see the faces of the Presidents?
Bystander: About 1,800 miles to the west.
Have you overheard a silly tourist question at a National Park or other well-known tourist location? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Bumper sticker of the week
I’ll see your tailgating and raise you a brake check.
Have you seen a funny bumper sticker? Send it to diane(at)RVtravel.com
Joke of the Week
I just Googled the phrase “missing medieval servant.”
It came back with “Page not found.”
If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering someone else’s dog around.
RV Travel staff
CONTACT US at editor@RVtravel.com
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Senior editor: Russ De Maris. Contributing writers: Mike Sokol, Richard Mallery, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Janet Groene, Julianne Crane, Chris Guld, Dave Helgeson, Dennis Prichard, Len Wilcox, Sam Suva, Mike Sherman, Machelle James, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising director: Emily Woodbury. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
REGIONAL AND LOCAL ADVERTISING: We can now run banners on RVtravel.com in your town or in a designated area near you, for example to readers within 100, 200, etc., miles of your business. Contact Emily Woodbury at advertising(at)RVtravel.com .
About the RVtravel.com editor Chuck Woodbury has explored America by RV for three decades. In the ’90s he published the quirky travel newspaper Out West, and was an “on the road” writer for the New York Times Syndicate. His book, “The Best from Out West” is available at Amazon.com. Woodbury’s RVing adventures have been profiled on ABC News, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and in People Magazine, USA Today and in hundreds of newspapers. He is the host of the Better Business Bureau DVD “Buying a Recreational Vehicle,” the definitive guide to purchasing an RV the right way.
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.
Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.
This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com