Tuesday, September 26, 2023


RV Daily Tips Newsletter 1047

Issue 1047 • February 7, 2019

Welcome to another fabulous edition of RV Travel’s Daily Tips newsletter. Here, you’ll find helpful RV-related, and small-space living, tips from the pros, travel advice, a handy website of the day, our favorite RVing-related products and, of course, a good laugh. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate your readership.

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RV tips for upgrade and downgrade driving

R & T De Maris photo

• Be patient – Accept that you’re going to be driving slow and other drivers will be expecting you to be driving slow, so just be patient.
• Use hazard lights – Anytime you are driving say 20-30 mph below the posted speed limit, turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers you are going extra slow, as a good safety precaution.
• Downshift before ascending – Before you even start going up the hill, downshift to a lower gear so you have some extra power.
• Use Tow Haul Mode – Put your transmission in Tow Haul Mode, which uses different gear shifting to keep the engine in a more optimal range (we leave our RV in Tow Haul Mode almost all the time).
• Descend slowly – When preparing to go down the mountain pass, bring your speed way down (even as low as 30 mph, depending on the length and steepness of grade of the hill) before you even begin your descent and stay in Tow Haul Mode. This allows you to use more engine braking and gives you room to increase your speed safely. If you start driving down the hill at a high speed and try to come down to a lower speed, it’s going to be a lot harder on your brakes.
• Downshift before descending – If the RV doesn’t automatically downshift itself when going downhill, firmly press the brake to force the transmission to downshift. This will increase your engine speed (and rpm) so the engine will be doing some of the braking for you, minimizing the amount of time you need to use your brakes.
• Minimize braking – When braking, aim to press the pedal for only 15-20 seconds each time and allow time in between so you don’t cook your brakes. The last thing you want is hot, mushy brakes when you need them!
• Don’t overwork it – There’s no sense in working your RV too hard with a screaming engine or overheating brakes. Take it nice and slow and you’ll get better longevity on your vehicle.
• Enjoy the drive – There’s nothing better than the expansive views from the top of a tall hill or mountain, so take your time, relax, enjoy the drive and take in the beautiful scenery! From rvlove.com.

Use essential oils to repel RV pests

Get any essential oil that repulses insects such as peppermint or citronella oil. They are usually sweet smelling so you don’t have to worry about getting a bad smell in your RV. For even more effective results you can use an essential oil diffuser for essential oils and place them in strategic areas of your RV. If you don’t have an essential oil diffuser, you can use a small spray bottle and use 10 to 20 drops of peppermint or citronella oil mixed with distilled water, vodka or witch hazel. Shake the mixture. Spraying this in places pests like to hide can help you repel them. From everything-about-rving.com


How far above Earth’s sea level is officially known as outer space?
Answer below. No Googling (or peeking) allowed!

Speaking of the planet, save it!
Use these mesh produce bags and these reusable storage bags! In the long run, you’ll save tons of money by not buying Ziploc (or similar) plastic bags, and you’ll help reduce plastic waste.


Save insurance money when your rig’s off the road

If your motorhome, tow vehicle or truck camper is stored on private property for long periods of time, you may be able to save money by canceling the liability, collision, medical and uninsured portions of the policy until you head back on the road (provided your insurance carrier allows this practice). But keep the comprehensive coverage active. If you allow this coverage to lapse and your rig is financed, your lending institution will likely send you a nasty note and then tack on its own expensive coverage to your monthly payment. Before making any changes to your policy, check with your insurance company.

Newbie corner: RV refrigerators – they’re different!

RV refrigerators are much different than the one in your house. They don’t have compressors and they work off the principle of absorption. You should turn the RV refrigerator on several hours before putting food in it. It is best to leave it on overnight and put your food in it just prior to leaving. Always keep a small thermometer in your RV refrigerator so you can monitor the temperature. Food can begin to go bad at about 40 degrees. Tip from Mark Polk, RV Education 101.

Do you have a tip? Send it to Russ (at) rvtravel.com


@nationalparkpaws, Instagram

National Park Paws

Here’s a website for the dog owners out there. National Park Paws tells you pet policies for every National Park and other nationally protected public lands in the U.S. Know where Fido can, and can’t, go!

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

The Kármán line, or Karman line, is the line that defines the boundary between Earth and space. The World Air Sports Federation, an international standard-setting and record-keeping body, says this line occurs 62 miles, 330,000 feet, above Earth’s sea level; however, NASA and the U.S. Air Force define the line at 50 miles above Earth’s sea level.
How close was your guess?

This isn’t corny – it’ll really hide your valuables! 
Odds are, if a burglar breaks into your RV, they’re going to look in the obvious places for valuables: a safe, dresser drawers, the glove compartment, but a can of corn? Nope. This “can” is actually a hidden security container made to hold valuables such as jewelry, keys, and even up to 10k cash! Screw off the bottom (the top just looks like a regular ol’ can) and hide away! Fool those burglars and hide your valuables in plain sight. Learn more or order.


In retrospect, I’m embarrassed that I had a prosthetic leg made for my three-legged dog.
Faux paw.

Today’s Daily Deals at Amazon.com
Best-selling RV products and Accessories at Amazon.com

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RV Daily Tips Staff

Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. 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.

Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way, #265, Edmonds, WA 98020.

This newsletter is copyright 2019 by RVtravel.com


  1. Even though I use tow mode, I manually downshift before a grade down a mountain. 3 for an interstate or 2 otherwise. Tow mode downshifts, but it does it at too high RPM which forces me to brake. I like to plan braking to lower RPM or before each curve. Going up a grade I leave it in drive. Tow mode will find the best gear. Again, I try to keep at a reasonable RPM without pushing it. I use pullouts as necessary to let others pass.

  2. For your RV refrigerator get a battery operated fan. They make them for RV frigs. This will help circulate the air and keep your stuff from freezing as the air does not circulate well. You do not need this for residential refrigerators.

    Also, we do not travel with pets. We love dogs but choose to travel without them for now while we are young and agile. Maybe when we slow down we will get another pet. However, we leave sometime early in the morning and don’t get home until late in the evening. We prefer to park in the pet section though so we can get our dog fix. I know, I know, we should not take up space in the pet section.

  3. Reading the downgrades and up hills we encountered in Montana makes me shudder. Although the one we did do I won’t do with an RV is the one in Wyoming going around the mountain. Oye vey I remember us having to stop numerous times to give the engine and brakes a chance to cool down. Did not get into the campsite until after dark. Next trip to Montana I am going thru North Dakota. Now to dread Colorado. Wish us luck.

  4. We travel with six dogs all small, a cat and a fish. We are also full timers. They all know when we are getting ready to travel, the dogs get into their travel beds and the cat goes behind the couch. The fish is pretty chill and just stays in his bowl.

    • Roy – HOW do you travel with a fish?? Doesn’t all the water splash out? I ask, bcuz we r considering going full-time in ~2 yrs. I currently have a 100 gal tank, but of course, would go w-a-y-y-y down in size; it would b great 2 keep a few fish!

    • We are the MINORITY but we are past small kids and pets. Some times we feel like odd balls because we have NO pets and don’t want any. We don’t hate pets it is just that an RV is SMALL enough with out 1 or a dozen pets.

  5. I voted One because you didn’t have a zero to vote on. We had to put our Baxter down July 2018. He was with us for 14 years and is sorely missed. We can’t get another one for quite a while, so traveling with none since then.

    • So very SORRY to hear about Baxter; hoping u will get another pet, soon?! It really helps with the grief. We have 3 min schnauzers; Ricky & Lucy are 3. Ziggy is almost 15, so I know it won’t b long… sob, sob! Still though, he continues to surprise us, when he gets down on the floor & plays with the youngins!

  6. When we first bought our Synergy we traveled with our five Yorkies, unfortunately one has passed on and now we go with the four (for now :). It really isn’t a problem as they are an integral part of our live in our brick & mortar home as well as our wheeled home.

    • You’re the first RVer , that I know, who travels with birds. Hubby and I are planning to go full time sometime this year. We have a Greyhound and an African grey..Congo. Where do you keep the cage for the birds? I can find no information on traveling with birds. Do you feel comfortable leaving them alone while you’re gone on a junket? how do they travel on long trips to campgrounds? Advice please. Thanks much.

  7. Regarding first tip today — What is “tow haul mode” on an RV ? Never heard this term. Also why not engage engine break going down steep grades ?

    • I know that Fords have the tow haul mode. It prevents the transmission from shifting into overdrive. If you have a diesel, the engine brake should be used going down hills.

      • Ford, Chevy/GM, and RAM at the least. Only some lock out overdrive gears, but the main purpose is to change the shift points of all of your gears lower down.

  8. The question about traveling with pets was obviously intended to be answered by those that travel with pets, that’s why there wasn’t a “zero” answer choice. Otherwise the question would have been “Do you travel with pets? With Answer choices yes/no.” (Which is probably a good survey question to ask). Some people just have to look for the negative in everything which is so sad.

    • Exactly! This is SUCH a wonderful publication! – (I bet the “whiners” are ones who don’t contribute any $$ to help keep the publication going, either)… In a previous issue, a lady was fiercely bit**ing about dogs – I replied with, “Do you ever take your grand kids, cuz we have had a LOT of issues with kids riding bikes too fast thru campgrounds, making too much noise, etc!!” My dogs get ONE warning (if they bark at folks, while in their pen, that’s “attached” to our motor home); then they go inside.

  9. Regarding downgrade driving “don’t overwork it,” your advice goes off a cliff in some locales. I have been in several hilly situations where no matter how slow you start, the grade is too long and too steep. The transmission won’t let you drag in a low enough gear long enough. Sometimes there are pull outs, where you should literally STOP to cool your brakes, but where there aren’t pullouts or alternate routes, drivers have little choice but to carefully overwork.

    20 seconds continuous braking??? I’m reasonably confident most mechanics would say more frequent/shorter brake cycles are better for your brakes, as well as “squeeze” being better than “pulse”… brake experts want to chime in?

    • Big trucks on mountain grades stop at the top where pullouts are provided for an all-around brake check; then proceed down the grade at a slow speed in the appropriate gear. I encountered several ‘eastern’ drivers out here in the West at truck stops who were quite nervous about their anticipated first-time descent down some of our more notorious grades, such as the “Cabbage Patch” section coming down out of the Blue Mountains east of Pendleton, OR on I-84. In some cases their company truck was not equipped with engine exhaust compression brakes (typical of cost-cutting eastern trucking companies.) My advice was always the same: go down at least one gear lower than it would take to climb the grade. Some grades are posted at the top with suggested speeds and gear selection. Read and obey.

      As far as braking, wise truck drivers use a method called “snubbing” which means a firm application of the brakes to reduce speed by 5 m.p.h., then release, then snub again when speed increases 5 m.p.h., then release again. It never took me more than 4 or 5 seconds to firmly drop my speed by 5 m.p.h, even under max 80,000 lb. GVW. This series of short braking intervals allows time between “snubs” for brake cooling. If the speed increases too rapidly between brake applications, you’re in too high a gear. Brake harder to get the speed down, and drop into a lower gear while you still can.

      Don’t be like the big rig whose smoke I saw spiraling into the sky from three miles away as I drove the east-bound lanes on I-70 approaching the ascending grades to climb the divide: it was sitting with all the tires on both tractor and trailer axles flaming, the fires just beginning to ignite the cab and trailer. He’d ridden his brakes to a catastrophic end.

      Or like the U-Haul rental truck blasting down the Wyoming I-80 grade west-bound from the Abe Lincoln memorial down into Laramie… leaving a trail of dense blue brake smoke behind like a destroyer escort laying a smoke screen for the fleet. I was climbing in the east-bound lanes, and always wondered if the hapless driver survived to make it to the bottom before losing control.

      Or the day on the California I-5 “grapevine” when the “Jake brakes” on my new company-owned Freightliner tractor began cutting out, thanks to a bad wiring harness. That’s when the advice to firmly stand on the brakes, and downshift into a lower, safer gear saved the day.

      As for climbing, if your engine begins to overheat, downshift and climb more slowly. Give the engine fan and coolant a chance to work. Keep downshifting and going slower, until the engine is no longer laboring. The engine should respond like it’s “floating”… that is, you can gently accelerate in that low gear, but instead just maintain a steady “crawl” while eye-balling the temp gauge. It should begin to cool down as you climb. Slow down and save your engine!

      As for hazard lights to warn following drivers, notice that virtually all big-rig drivers turn ’em on while going slow either up or down the grade. It’s a safe and common sense practice. If an aggressive cop wants to write a ticket for using flashers, I’d ask which he’d prefer: a slow truck with flashing hazard lights, or one of his wrecked and injured citizens hung up under my trailer’s DOT bar.

      • Great information, Graybyrd. Thanks! That reminds me of one of my uncles (Uncle Swede), who drove truck for more than 2 1/4 million miles “with no chargeable accidents.” We loved to hear the stories he had to tell as we were growing up. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

      • Awesome info, Greybyrd. Usually love your posts.

        I was taught and now teach exactly as you said — a faster, just-maintain braking cycle to allow mini-cooling instead of BURN and too-late. I’ll adopt “snubbing” if that’s the right nomenclature.

        One caveat I found on my current RAM is what they call automatic engine braking, where the (electric automatic) transmission just won’t allow selecting “too low” of a gear. If you hold the downshift (per manual), it picks the lowest gear currently allowed for you. If you continue to accelerate anyway, it will upshift to keep RPMs still higher than normal but not redline (protecting the engine/tranny) – of course, doing so allows even more acceleration and it upshifts again, effectively losing engine braking when you *really* need it. Runaway “engine safety” isn’t passenger safe if you don’t know to brake harder now and cool/rest a bit. I am unwilling to experimentally test the limits of this system, but it does sound like a logical if unintended feature.

    • But on some hills it is the law. You Must use 4way flashers if going more than 15 below posted speed. and is either up or down.

      • I wonder if people are getting confused about “just driving around with your lights flashing” versus using them because there IS a road hazard — you. AFAIK, any time you’re dangerously slower than surrounding traffic, have an extended load, etc – you SHOULD use flashers because that’s what they are there for. If you have an orange bubble beacon and no reason to operate it, that is sometimes illegal and always dumb.

        I’ve had similar discussions about using your high beams being universally illegal… Obviously you’re not supposed to blind people intentionally, but they are installed on the car for a reason! LEO may ping you for conspicuous abuse, but not all use.

  10. People lighten up! Not every poll is going to be about you! I have a 5th-wheel and don’t get my knickers twisted up in a knot if a poll is about a Class A – it doesn’t apply to me so I don’t respond. We are barely part-timers so if the poll is about how full-timers handle situations – guess what? – I don’t respond!

  11. FYI re FIXD GADGET LINK – did live chat w co rep who said gadget won’t work on trucks weighing more than 14,500 pounds. Rules out my 18K # class A. Anyone have thoughts?

  12. You might first check with the Motor Vehicle Department where your RV is registered to make certain they will not cancel the tags if you suspend insurance while in storage.

  13. I found it odd that you did not include zero as an option on today’s poll. Is it an assumption that if you’re an Rv’r that you must own a pet? Not a hater, I love animals especially dogs. I just choose not to own one. Maybe someday but for now one does not fit in with my lifestyle.

  14. Regarding the ascent and descent of grades, I’ve read that long-haul truckers have this saying: “You can go up a mountain too fast as many times as you like. You can go down a mountain too fast only once.”

      • Yes, but there are times when Florida drivers do drive 20 or 30 MPH below the speed limit. This occurs frequently in very heavy rainstorms and the unknowing put on their flashers. This can be confusing and lead to crashes. In Florida flashers are only permitted to be used when your vehicle is stopped beside the road. In rainstorms when your wipers are on your lights should be on. That means turning them from automatic to on, if your vehicle is so equipped, as relying on your driving lights to meet the requirement does not turn on your tail lights. You don’t want someone running up your behind.

  15. Thanks for the newsletter! Thought I would just post a quick thank you to help counter all the negativity I see in the comments. People sure expect a lot for free anymore.

  16. The article on no insurance while your RV isn’t on the road doesn’t work in Arizona. If you cancel the insurance the state will deregister your vehicle.

  17. Thanks for showing us those mesh bags to replace those plastic ones. Even though I believe we may be past the time to reverse the trash destruction of our oceans at least we can try to do what we can. Been diving over 53 years and have watched the trash build up on some of the most previously pristine waters and beaches. It tears me up to see how sea creatures and birds have suffered. We protested in 1960’s thru early 1970’s about recycling but unfortunately due to greed no one listened.

    • Thanks for the suggestion; I’ll put it in my writing queue.

      The ” short” answer is that it changes the shiftpoints for your transmission to use lower gears more, which suppresses “gear hunting” and increases engine braking. Hunting is when the truck upshifts expecting its normal weight, but then can’t maintain that gear due to an extra heavy load — thus has to shift back down. This repeats, causing extra trannywear and less pleasant driving.

      The engine braking side just means it downshifts sooner, thus dragging the engine to assist slowing down.

      Using T/H when not needed can make your rig feel a little more peppy, but decreases your mileage. I’m not trying to make 9 tons sporty!

  18. I read RV Travel Tips everyday and trying not to be too critical, RV Travel needs to find some better JOKES! The last few issues have had some really lame ones!


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