RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 860

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Issue 860 • March 6, 2018
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RVing Tip of the Day

Navigating parking lots with a big RV 
 
By Jim Twamley 
Maybe you’ve had experiences like mine: My very first time out with our new 5th wheel we decided to stop at a Subway sandwich shop. Believing the parking lot was accessible behind the store I pulled in. It turned out to be a boxed in parking arrangement and I was stuck. Mrs. Professor had to get out and guide me as I painfully and slowly backed out of the lot. I had to retrace my route backing onto a busy road in order to extract myself. We went down the road and found another sandwich shop with more suitable parking.
 
Another time we pulled the 5th wheel up to an overpass on our way to an RV park and discovered we were too tall to pull through without removing the air conditioner. It was a two-lane road with a ditch on either side of the road. I had to back the rig into a 45-degree angle, disconnect the truck, drive around so the truck was pointing in the opposite direction away from the overpass, reconnect and pull away. While I was doing this I managed to back up traffic in both directions, but the other drivers were gracious and simply waited while I entertained them.
 
Even experienced RVers can sometimes find themselves in this kind of predicament. The best thing you can do is remain calm, take your time and extract your rig safely. Ask for help if necessary, and always keep safety in mind. If you’re driving a motorhome with a toad you may need to unhook. Be careful and don’t allow anxious drivers to prod you into doing something unsafe.
 
THE BEST STRATEGY is avoiding the sticky situation before you get into it. Slow down and look before you pull into a parking lot. The first thing I look for is entryway road clearance. If there are gouges in the crown of the road and a low drainage combined with a steep driveway, I pass it by. The next thing I look for is if there is plenty of space to allow my rig safe passage.
 
For example, here’s a Burger King parking lot that passes with flying colors because not only is there ample space, there are other RVs present telling me it’s RV friendly. If you see commercial trucks at the establishment or other RVs, it’s a safe bet you can find a place to park and safely exit. Some new Walmarts have engineered the parking spaces so it’s difficult to maneuver a big rig between the planters, light poles and raised dividers. A quick scan of the parking lot for other large vehicles is your confirmation whether you can safely navigate this type of parking maze. Sometimes I’ve parked on the street in order to visit a store, provided there was enough space on the shoulder to safely do so.
 
Parking in a Walmart, I usually try to stay as far away from the main building as possible. I also find a nearby shopping cart and place it directly in front of my motorhome so someone won’t park their Mini Cooper there.

Read yesterday’s tip: Volunteer: Have fun, do good, save on camping fees.

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Reduce back and leg strain with a Tailgate Ladder
The Traxion Tailgate Ladder is easy to install on pretty much any truck. It provides a nearly universal fit, deploys in a couple of seconds and greatly reduces the strain of getting into the back of a truck. When not in use the tailgate ladder folds and secures neatly against the tailgate, out of the way of valuable cargo space. Heavy-duty construction ensures durability. Learn more or order.


QUICK TIPS

Watch your step (literally) at night
For just a few bucks at your local Walmart you can by a “spotlight” style solar-charged patio light. Pound a short length of rebar into the ground near your RV and slap the spotlight over the rebar stake and you have a no-batteries night light to guide your feet. Also, staked solar spotlights as well as staked solar walkway lights (cute and practical!) are available at Amazon.

Test connector to make sure trailer lights and signals are working!
With electricity expert, Mike Sokol
Are your trailer’s running lights not running? Are your turn signals not turning you on? The first step to troubleshooting the problem is to test the 7-way connector on your tow vehicle for proper voltages. While you CAN use a meter to probe the connections, it’s much easier to use a dedicated tester with LED lights like this one from Curt Manufacturing. Just plug it in, have your significant other work the brakes, lights and turn signals, and watch the LEDs to make sure you’re sending the proper signals to your trailer.

How to use a basement storage door as a table
You can use a basement storage door as a table, provided you can open it to “level” and then support it. Hit the thrift shops and buy a used photo tripod – the three legs make it sturdy and you can set and lock it at nearly any desired height.

HOT TOPIC AT RV TRAVEL.COM
Couple having trouble downsizing to RV full time.


‘Earthquake Putty’ keeps stuff in place
Do you have items in your RV you like to keep in place — on a table, bedstand or counter? You need this. Quakehold Museum Putty is designed to keep items secure in earthquakes! Hey, a moving RV is a constant earthquake! To use this, pull off what you need, roll until soft, apply to the base of the object then lightly press it to the surface. Later, it comes off clean. RVers love it! Cheap, too! Learn more or or at Amazon.com.


WEBSITES OF THE DAY 

DoItYourselfRV.com
A superb website about do-it-yourself projects for RVers. Learn everything from mods to road trips, to great must-have gear. 

Senior Citizen Discounts.
The largest directory of discounts for people 50+. More than 250,000 local listings.

TireWise.
Learn how taking care of your tires can help you save money, reduce fuel consumption and protect yourself and your family on the road. 

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


Best-selling vent cover!
Keep rain out and fresh air inside your RV
Few add-ons are more enthusiastically endorsed by RVers as MaxxAir vents. This is the original and best-selling model. Install this over your RV vents, then keep them open in any weather. On rainy days, air from inside your RV can exit without a single drop of rain coming inside. Keep your vents open during storage and while driving. Learn more or order.


VIDEO OF THE DAY 

A review of the Comfort Step for your RV
Here from the RVProject YouTube Channel is a review of the RV Comfort Step, which turns a three-step entrance to an RV into four. The reviewer provides mixed reviews. If you are thinking about ordering this $300 accessory, this review will help you make a decision.

CLICK THE VIDEO TO SEE THE TIP.
See all of our videos on our YouTube Channel.

Solar Suitcase can keep you powered up
Looking for the perfect off-grid product? Renogy’s 100W Solar Suitcase is a whole system in one! It comes equipped with two 50W monocrystalline panels, a 15-inch set of wires with MC4 connectors, and a protective casing for safe portability. Its folded size is 19.9 x 27.2 x 2.8 inches. Ideal output: 500 watt hours per day (depends on sunlight availability). Learn more or order.


MORE QUICK TIPS

Quick way to sanitize the public water hose connection
Worried about what the last guy may have done to the water hose connection at your site or at the filling area? Get yourself a bottle of “spray Clorox” and spritz the water tap threads before hooking on your own hose.

Watch your rear!
“Here is a tip I use while driving down the highway. I installed a Fresnel lens on the rear window of my 31-foot Class C motorhome to enable me to see close to the rear of the rig. Doing this gives me the added advantage of being able to know when I’ve passed another vehicle and it’s far enough behind to allow me to change lanes. When I can see the headlights of the overtaken vehicle in the Fresnel lens, it’s safe to go. The normal rearview or side-view mirrors do not give a good estimate of how far ahead of the overtaken vehicle you are.” Thanks to Fred C.!
Do you have a tip? Send it to diane (at) rvtravel.com .

Batteries last a long time!
Motion detection nightlights can last a year on a set of batteries
When you need a nightlight when without hookups, these are great: they light only when they sense motion, shutting off after 30 seconds of no movement. They use no wires & install in less than 5 minutes. Use outdoors, too. Lights come in a 3-pack. Can last up to a year! Watch the short video for a demonstration or learn more (or order at a great price) at Amazon.com.


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Answer: Tear gas.

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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, Deanna Tolliver, Mike Sokol, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.

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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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John Ware
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John Ware

As I travel with my 5th wheel, I use my iPhone App Trucker Path. It shows me where I am along the highways, and also shows fueling stations (Pilot, Love, TA, Flying J, etc.) as well as rest areas. It helps me plan ahead for fueling and biologic breaks, especially when the driver hears “I need to go…!”.

Jillie
Guest
Jillie

We have taken quite a bit of trips into Canada. The first was to Hamilton outside of Toronto. That was 18 years ago. Then to Quebec and our favorite Tobermory. Then one short trip to Windsor. So all in all yes, we did do a trip thru Canada and loved it. My next stop is Nova Scotia and Alaska. But that is during retirement. 5 years to go.

Fred Gordon
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Fred Gordon

We lived and worked in Germany for many years and used a small 20′ trailer. Great camping locations and a wonderful way to see Europe

Snayte
Guest
Snayte

I will never forget the time that we made an overnight stop at Kickapoo State Rec area in IL. We were leaving and the GPS sent me to what appeared to be an alternate entrance/exit to the park to the east. The road kept getting narrower and more overgrown the further we went. Eventually we made it to the road closed signs where a bridge was no longer in service. I had to back the trailer about a half a mile down this twisting road to find a place to turn the rig around. Fortunately since the road was closed… Read more »

Bruce McDonald
Guest
Bruce McDonald

Great article on parking lots and other tight spaces. We have been pretty lucky (also use Google satellite view). More than once though, I have had to back up our fifth wheel to get out of filling stations etc. I can’t say enough about the value of a rear view camera (part of Garmin RV GPS) and ultrasonic backup sensors. Oh, and I added backup lights to the trailer. My evaluation of the suitability of parking lots and filling stations has changed to include: “If needed, can I back out?”

Rosie Sinclair
Guest
Rosie Sinclair

We are avid British rvers. Have travelled all over Europe, Australia and New Zealand in motorhomes, even shipped our UK rv to the USA for a year and so loved your country that we bought a PleasureWay nine years ago. It is safely stored in a cave in MS, ready for us to use on a regular basis. Right now, we are in lovely Portugal, heading for Croatia soon.

Ron n Nancy
Guest
Ron n Nancy

We have been pretty lucky, I guess. But we do try to follow the tips in the article as well as checking Google satellite view like every one else has mentioned above.
As far as traveling outside of the country, we took our granddaughter to Niagara Falls, Ontario for a week. Great campground and had a great time. We were a little worried about the scrutiny of crossing the border with a 5th wheel and a young child but followed directions and had no problems.

Carla Coleman
Guest
Carla Coleman

When I was a teenager, my family camped through Europe, England, east to west across the U.S. to Washington State then down the west coast to San Diego. In a Volkswagen bus with a Sears “pop-up” tent, five kids and two slightly crazy parents!

Howard Schiller
Guest
Howard Schiller

You also need to keep an eye out for height limiting structures. I found that some of the Walmart’s and other lots had a large steel structure across the entry drive that limited the height of vehicles entering the lot. They had signs that said “no vehicles over 12 feet, use last entry”, or something like that.

Richard
Guest
Richard

Have you ever taken an RV trip outside the USA…………………..Yes, the first time we visited Australia we rented a “camper vans” for most of the 5 months we were there. It sounded like a great idea and the ideal way to see that amazing country. The second time we went there we did it the right way, rented a car and stayed in motels. Cost half the price and you don’t end up in a campground 5 miles out of town with no transport.

Joe Goldstein
Guest
Joe Goldstein

One of the things we do to try to avoid dead ends and other issues with parking lots, fuel stations, etc., is use Google Maps, either on her iMac or phone. She opens the intended stop in “satellite” mode and checks things out She can usually figure out which entry looks best in order to get positioned well for the fuel pumps. Obviously, this works best if you have time; not so great if you’re making a spontaneous stop. This has helped immensely, especially when we had our Class A and we’re a bit over 60′ long!

Gary Glenn
Guest
Gary Glenn

Great article about parking lots. Here’s a hint I always get Deb to look at google maps ahead of time then we know what to expect and where to try and park

Mark Nawman
Guest
Mark Nawman

Jim great article! I ve found myself in a few tight situations as well. I ve gotten pretty good at quickly disconnecting my toad, extracting the motor home, then reconnecting. Another tip, when I plan my trip, I view it on google maps and view the satellite picture to find gas stations with big rig access. I always fill up before I m down to a half tank. Like wise, we ll seek out restaurants by the size of the parking lot.