Monday, September 25, 2023


RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 878

Issue 878 • April 5, 2018
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RVing Tip of the Day

Camping versus RVing: What’s the difference?

by Chuck Woodbury

R&T De Maris

I think I am finally able to define the lifestyle called RVing, which some people criticize because it’s not really “camping.” What they don’t understand is that RVing and camping are not the same, although sometimes they overlap.

Only one segment of RVers are exclusively “campers” — those who “camp” for a week or two a year. These people generally camp in the summer, often on family vacations. They typically spend their days sightseeing or hiking and their evenings by the campfire. Their RVs, if they have one, are pretty basic and are often rented.

After Labor Day and before Memorial Day, the RVers you see on the road are more often “travelers” than “campers,” using their RVs for both transportation and lodging. Their rigs are larger and better equipped than the vacation campers — sort of “homes away from home.”

Sometimes, however, these well-equipped RVers end up in the same national park or national forest campgrounds as more traditional campers and this is where their lifestyles get misinterpreted.

These avid RVers, in their bigger rigs, are simply living in a portable way. They are essentially living in self-contained, mobile condos rather than in fixed-based houses.

Many of these RVers have simplified their lives. I’m especially referring to the hundreds of thousands of retirees who have sold their homes and moved into a trailer or motorhome. At some point, they had to get rid of a lifetime of possessions. They retained what they considered important —- fishing rods, a sewing machine, favorite books, a TV, pictures of the kids and grandkids, and nowadays, a computer.

These full-timers and serious part-timers would never be traveling America in the first place if RVs didn’t exist. They would not set off in their cars month after month, staying in a different Holiday Inn each night. To do so would be too much trouble and even exhausting. They might fly off to Europe on occasion, but by and large, they would spend their lives at home.

After climbing on Wyoming’s Independence Rock for more than an hour and doing battle with a blustery wind, it was a wonderful feeling to return to my comfy porta-house. When I closed the door behind me, I felt truly at home, even though my street address (at that time) was a thousand miles away.

I understand the concept of the portable house. It’s not the same as camping.

Read yesterday’s tip: What are these NEMA outlets you speak of?

Did you miss the latest RV Travel Newsletter? If so, read it here.

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Keep all your manuals handy
Files of appliance and other RV manuals driving you batty? An inexpensive plastic “magazine file” will keep all the booklets together. A couple of screws will hold it in place in a cabinet or closet.

Never use a concrete block instead of a jack stand!
With electricity expert, Mike Sokol
NEVER use a concrete block instead of a jack stand when working on your vehicle. Concrete blocks have a tendency to fail catastrophically without any notice, and you can be severely injured or even killed if your RV falls on you. So if you’ll be underneath something that weighs TONS, you’ll want the safety of a ratchet action jack stand. Yes, they require careful placement, and there’s extra storage space and weight involved, but never sacrifice safety for convenience. One thing you’ll want to do after placing the jack stand is to lower the hydraulic jack enough to put real weight on the stand to make sure it’s stable. Then bring the hydraulic jack up just enough that the stand is still sharing some of the load. That way the stand can’t be kicked out of alignment accidentally. I recommend this one

Sink cover in the way? Try this
Plastic RV sink covers are great for more working surface but lousy when you need to access the sink itself. Consider cutting one or both of the sink covers in half to allow you some more real estate, but with “waterfront” access!

How much is ‘too much’ to pay to dump your RV’s tanks?

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If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order


40 Podcasts to make you smarter
Even if you’re already a genius, give some of these a listen. Nothing like going down the road and stretching that brain a little bit! Learn something new every day.

The quickest way to travel back in time and learn something about the past! WhizzPast is a great website for interesting historical articles that won’t take you all day to read.

Outside Our Bubble
Lots of great RVing tips and tricks; honest location, restaurant and equipment reviews; tech tips from an expert; product recommendations (or not); and even a live webcam! Voted a Top 50 travel blog for RVers.

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

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Best ways to tow behind your motorhome
Walter Cannon of the Recreational Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF) explains the three most popular ways of towing behind a motorhome, citing each method’s advantages and disadvantages.

See all of our videos on our YouTube Channel.

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The RV Save-A-Step Brace is designed to be placed under RV entry steps for safety. It stabilizes the RV steps and helps keep the coach from rocking — preventing sag and wear. The brace is made of heavy-gauge steel with a 3/4″ solid metal screw thread, 1000-pound load rating and 7-5/8″ to 14″ adjustment range. Learn more or order at


Parallel parking your travel trailer
Having trouble backing your travel trailer up next to the concrete patio slab at the RV park? Looking out the curb side mirror is tough. Next time, stretch out a rope, parallel to the slab, about 10 feet out. Now you can use the street side mirror to line up with the rope. Works better!

Easily clean your fridge cooling unit coils
RV fridge not cooling? Could be your cooling unit coils need cleaning. You can use a mirror to peek up from the access door. If you see dust or other crud, temporarily remove the roof cap then use a leaf blower or a BIG shop vac set on “blow” to blast air UP the back.
Do you have a tip? Send it to diane (at) .

‘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

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Client: Well, give me the bad news first.
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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 or this newsletter.

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  1. In regards to the great article regarding the use of jack stands , might I add to please be sure that the stands themselves are on a suitable surface, NEVER on dirt. My best friend recently had two brothers killed when their jack stands shifted because they were on dirt. Very devastating.

    • Thank you for the very important reminder, K. We have written about that before and probably should have included that fact in this post, so we’re glad you brought it up. And we’re very sorry to hear about your friend’s brothers. Very sad. —Diane at

  2. It took the LONGEST time for me to apply the term “camping” to what we do. What we do is tow a travel trailer. In the ‘old days’ when our kids were still home we went “camping”, which meant we put up the tent. Cooked outside, did our business outside in a hole, hiked, played games, and sat around the fire with marshmallows on a stick. When the kids moved on, so did we. We bypassed the tent trailer because wifey discovered travel trailers. We had a 25 footer for 16 years. Just before we retired we got a 30 footer. Now we’re camping again. I caved and now go along with our friends who also say they’re “camping”. I secretly still think “camping” involves a tent, but don’t tell my wife or our friends . . .

  3. I swore I would never ever get an RV rig. But after a disastrous tent camping experience were I said I will never go tent camping again we ended up at an RV dealership looking at pop up campers. Those worked great for a while. Did a trip out to Montana in a pop up with a lot of problems and that was a three week trip. Then another one 2 years ago to Maine this summer with problems again with the new pop up. I ended up selling that one for the same price I bought it for. Then I bought a 20 x 8 trailer. Love it. Perfect for our needs. Still don’t get why people need those huge things when a less then 25 is suitable. Has all my needs and I plan to use to it to retire in and travel the US once I retire in 5 or 6 years.. Good luck with the big ones. But the size I have is good with me. Camping vs RV? Same thing. You are just retired and traveling to warmer climates.

  4. I will fess up. My wife likes to ‘ruff it smoothly.’ Our motorhome is a home we can move from place to place and take all the comforts of home with us. We do no camp. I did that as a Boy Scout and with my 3 boys while they were growing up. We want to see the USA and not just be in one location. We seldom stay in one place more than 2 or 3 days and then off to see more of our beautiful country. We cook half the time and eat out half the time. But we kept our house so we can return home. I think we keep the home because we were brought up in a home. Maybe it is like our security blanket. But I like to drive and see the landscape and then stop and see the beautiful national and state parks. We stay in national & state parks as much as we can and RV parks the rest of the time. But the sites in RV parks are mostly close spaces and cost a lot more than parks. We do not boondock because my wife likes to ‘ruff it smoothly.’ I used to say ‘every man to his own poison,’ but now I say ‘everyone to their own pleasure.’ RVing is fun.

  5. I like your definition of the two and agree with it for the most part. What I don’t like is when RV pull in and open their outside TV and entertaining center for the world to see and hear. Not sure if I would even call them RVs — just rude.

    • Thats as bad as posting crap on Facebook. In a sense leaving your world open for the world to see. They just havn’t learned to keep their private stuff private than broadcast it to the world. Wonder how long it will take to figure out that the world doesn’t care about their private stuff. Don’t air your dirty laundry.

      • Really? What that’s about is simply being ignorant about camp ground etiquette. A lot of newbie RVers haven’t camped in the past and they bring their neighborhood manners and their at-home-behaviors where ever they go. I’ve seen them litter wildly, let their kids run all over other camper’s spaces… the list goes on. Like many on this site have said, sometimes all it takes is a considerate and kind veteran RVer to give them a heads up. How else will they learn?

    • I agree 1000%, if I wanted to hear their idea of “good” music and Television, I would go over and ask if I could come in.

  6. My husband and I are campers, not “RVers.” We camp for two or three weeks a year, mostly in state parks, in our small travel trailer. We don’t bring a TV. We do most of our cooking outside using a Coleman stove , to avoid cooking smells inside. We sit around a campfire every night. Ten years ago, most of our camping neighbors did the same. Lately more and more RVers in huge rigs are seen. They stay inside their RVs most of the time when they are at the campground. They don’t have campfires, do much of their cooking inside, watch TV inside at night, and often have lots of lights around. I have to admit I feel resentful sometimes. I don’t care for this change.

    • Live your own life and enjoy what you have. Resentment degrades your own experience.

      . Many have retired, sold stationary houses, and LIVE in homes on wheels every day of the year.

      If you chose, someday you can do the same.

  7. Having a bigger rig is not a requirement to being an RV’er. There are many full timers in things as small as a teardrop camper. Other than that I like your definition.

  8. Minor point on Walter’s towing video…the tow dollies I’ve used don’t add any tongue weight and perform like flat towing.

    Now a question…I too, have always heard that you can’t back up while flat-towing or with a tow dolly. Why not? I’m just trying to get my head around the physics of this. I have only tried it for very short distances (<10' or so) and can't tell what would be the issues with doing it. Thank you!

    • Tom, to your point, if you have the skill to backup with a tow vehicle, you can do it, if you don’t have the skill you can’t do it. Backing up and manuvering a towed vehicle requires a skill set I don’t have. That is one reason I’m in a motorized RV. I tow four down and got into a tight spot once, I tried backing up with my toad attached because it was only 20′ or so. I managed to get it done to my surprise. It can be done if you have the skill or get lucky………

      • Thanks, Rory. I can see that it would be difficult in an RV. I just have a truck camper and flat-tow my old Willys from time to time. I have never understood why people say ‘DON’T DO IT’ as pertains to backing up. I never understood if that was just because it is difficult or if there could be some sort of damage done to the toad – like steering binding or some such other unspoken system. Now, what I glean from your comment…if you can do it, go for it. Do I have this right? Thanks a lot!

    • I previously towed my sports car behind a Class A motorhome on a dolly with the rear wheels on the ground. I practiced after I bought it, and was always able to back into a pull-through campsite with the vehicle attached. I also once got stuck in a narrow gas station lane when the vehicle in front of me was disabled. I backed out of the gas pump, made a tight turn behind me and went on my way.


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