The Good Stuff
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Below are many suggestions, tips, hints, ideas, and just things that RVers do to make their life easier, cleaner, less expensive, safer, and more efficient. You know those with the most experience know some “tricks,” i.e., how to do things that just make everything a bit better. That's what RV Tips is all about.
Most of the following Tips were taken from the book that Rob Lowe and I wrote, entitled,
In our book, nearly 400 Tips were categorized into chapters. Here, they are loosely organized into groups (driving, packing, etc.). The book has much more detail than the website. This is a small sampling of what is in the book. If you want all the Tips, just click here for our bookstore.
The Tips are as useful today as they have been for years to RVers with all sizes and types of RVs. The Good Sam Club posts a number of our Tips. RV Tips are so popular they have been used (mostly with our permission) on many websites. They are separate from Articles because Tips are short and to the point—not long or detailed enough to justify as an Article.
Note… Don’t start printing this page because the MSWord.doc used to organize this data was 35 pages long!
If you learn something here or find something you can use, let me know. You can always send me a quick e-mail at email@example.com
Use your web browser to search for a term (windshield, speed bump, boondock, etc.) or just scroll the list. There are four categories of Tips... Driving Related, Inside Stuff, Outside Stuff, and All the Other Stuff.
Use ‘Truck Entrance’ When Fueling at Truck Stop
When approaching a truck stop, look for the “Truck Entrance” sign. Don’t go in the “car” side if you want the truck pumps. You typically cannot drive from one side to the other without exiting the property.
You may find “RV Lanes” and these usually have both gas and diesel tanks. Larger rigs may have trouble in these RV Lanes.
Speed Bumps and Cabinet Doors
Cabinet doors may pop open when traveling and especially if you have to cross a speed bump. When your rear tires cross the speed bump at a slight angle (not at the same time), this will cause your coach to rock side-to-side—sometimes with enough action to toss dishes out of upper cabinets. Plus, you do not have to be going fast for this to happen.
Purchase the “childproof” latches for cabinets. Get the ones that reach across both cabinet handles where you have matching doors. Don’t get the ones that attach to the inside of the cabinet door. Latch those doors together when you drive and be sure to go over those speed bumps dead slow.
RV Co-Pilot Provides Second Set of Eyes
Having a co-pilot can be especially helpful when driving along narrow city streets. One important thing for your co-pilot to watch for are signs that “lean” into the right-hand traffic lane. Oversized temporary construction signs often stick out into the driving lane, too. These can damage a side mirror or scratch your RV.
Drive Over Speed Bumps Head On
Try to hit speed bumps straight on (both wheels over at the same time) and very slowly. If you drive over them at an angle (one wheel over slightly ahead of the other), your coach will rock back and forth, from side to side, especially in the back. Even going dead slow (creeping), driving over the speed bumps at an angle may cause the coach to rock enough to actually cause things to fly out of the upper cabinets! This is true with the small speed bumps, too.
This will also be the case if one side of your wheels hits a depression or pothole commonly found in some of the truck stop lots and campgrounds, the small bumps going up into driveways and parking lots, and the rain gutters built into the cross streets, especially in the South. Driving dead slow with frequent braking is the only answer
Try to Avoid Oversteering in Heavy Crosswinds
On RV road trips you will occasionally run into strong wind gusts or dust storms. When crosswinds hit a large, flat object (the big, flat side of your RV), they may cause your vehicle to swerve. Drivers will sometimes oversteer or overcompensate in these kinds of conditions, which can compound the swerving.
Truckers suggest using one hand on the steering wheel to steer the coach in extremely heavy crosswinds to prevent oversteering. Keep the other hand lightly touching the steering wheel in preparation for emergencies.
Consider Installing a Left-Foot Gas Pedal
If one of the drivers has difficulty reaching the accelerator pedal, look into having a left-foot pedal installed. These are available at stores specializing in adaptive equipment for the disabled. Many of these companies can also install it for you or direct you to centers that specialize in this type of equipment.
The left-foot accelerator pedal is closer to the driver’s seat and often ends up approximately the same relative distance from the seat as the brake pedal. Therefore, the left pedal is a bit more accessible to the driver with shorter legs.
Sure, it will take some effort to become comfortable but worth it in the long run for driving comfort and safety. Remember, before heading out on a road trip with the newly-installed left-pedal drive, practice using it in a large, empty parking lot or lonely, private road.
The left-foot accelerator pedal folds flat on the floor when the next driver takes over. It is used in the “up” position when it is simply “resting on” and not permanently fastened to the normal, right-foot accelerator pedal.
Tilt Electric Mirrors for Better Parking Visibility
When preparing to back up your RV, tilt the electric mirrors down to see the lower rear corner of your coach. To practice, use rubber cones in an empty parking lot. Try to align the rear of the rig with the cone, using only your mirrors.
When backing up, your concern is no longer with traffic approaching from the rear but with carefully guiding the rear of your coach into a site and avoiding any obstacles.
High Idle in a Diesel Rig
Diesel engines don’t warm up at “normal” idle speed—they must be run at a “fast idle” to generate heat. Check with your dealer or the manual for how to access your fast idle speed. Many coaches use the following technique: As soon as you start the cold engine, gently and slowly increase the engine speed by depressing the accelerator pedal until you have reached the fast idle rpm setting. Then engage your cruise control (press the button) and gently… slowly… let your foot off the pedal. Your engine should remain at the fast idle rpm. (Some rigs may have a dash switch marked “IDLE INC/DEC” to activate high idle.) This is an excellent time to bring in slides, put the jacks up, and finalize the last-minute details just before pulling out of the campsite.
Night Settings Reduce Glare After Dark
Many rear-view monitors found on motorhomes will adjust automatically, or they have settings (a switch) for day and night usage. Change your setting as needed. Using the night setting will greatly reduce glare and be easier on your eyes when driving at night or on heavily overcast days. This will be similar to decreasing the brightness of your dash lights.
Fully Inflate Tires
Make sure all your tires are fully inflated. Fill them using the proper air pressure as determined from weighing the RV and the tire manufacturer’s load charts. Doing this will help your mileage and make your tires last longer, too.
Adjust Convex Mirrors to Prevent Blind Spots
Before traveling in your RV, adjust both convex wing-mirrors to allow you and the co-pilot to see down both sides of your coach. Convex mirrors help increase your field of view to see objects and vehicles that might otherwise “hide” in a blind spot. Once set, the convex mirrors usually do not have to be re-adjusted regardless of the size of the driver. Remember, objects in the convex mirror are closer than you think. Do not use them to judge distance as they can distort distance perception! Always make sure to use your mirrors—even in the rain.
Use Caution Backing Into a Campsite
In the campground, when backing up, your concern is no longer with traffic approaching from the rear but with carefully guiding the rear of your coach into a site. Back up slowly. Tilt your mirrors down to see the lower rear corner of your coach. Use both mirrors, your rear camera monitor, and someone to guide you. Have the guide stand at the rear, driver’s side of your RV and be visible in the driver’s side mirror. Never have the guide stand behind the coach. If they cannot see your mirrors, you cannot see them. Make sure they look overhead for any tree limbs or obstacles that you cannot see in the mirrors. It is absolutely impossible to see everything around your RV when using only the mirrors and monitor.
Something for the Co-pilot
Just prior to pulling (or backing) in, the copilot should go outside and do a quick scan of the site. You do not want to run over or into anything that may have been left by the previous occupant. Check the location of the picnic table. Is it too close to where the RV needs to be?
You generally start the drive straight out of a site but nearly always have to turn to drive or back in. You could, for example, drive out of a site with the picnic table nearly touching the rear of the coach but likely cannot drive or backup into the same site without moving it.
Drive Smart in Gusty Wind Conditions
If a large tractor/trailer approaches and overtakes you while driving in some gusty wind conditions, try turning your wheel slightly toward the transport truck as they get even with you. This can help offset the effects of the wind force created by the truck, thus allowing you to maintain your straight-ahead driving position.
Parking in Busy, Crowded Parking Lots
When parking across several spaces, make certain your toad’s rear end is not sticking out in the traffic lane. Make sure it also sits inside the lines of the parking spaces. Judge from front and back to be sure.
Practice Backing Up and Park Like a Pro
For new RV owners, backing up a motorhome the first time can be intimidating. Before heading out on your first road trip, find a deserted parking lot to practice backing. Set up a rubber cone and try to align the rear of the rig with the cone, using only your mirrors.
Eliminate Windshield Reflections
If windshield or side window reflections are a problem—especially while driving at night—use a dark-colored, non-reflective cloth (like polar fleece) to cover your dash. This will prevent most of the reflections. The cloth needs to be washable. Get two pieces instead of one large one so it will be a bit more manageable.
Hook Up Your Tow Vehicle With Care
Establish a fixed routine such as the tow bar arms first, safety cables next, wiring, and breakaway cable last. When you finish hooking up everything, literally stand up and look—carefully look—at each connection just to ensure it is good and complete. This 15-second safety inspection could save your vehicle.
A common campground “courtesy rule” is not to talk with folks while they are hooking up towed vehicles. Some incomplete hookups are a result of you being interrupted by someone or something during the hookup procedure. For example, the person in the next campsite says “goodbye,” and you look up to acknowledge, and forget to attach something. It happens. The visual double-check helps prevent incomplete hookups.
If you get interrupted a second time, do it again. After all, it’s only your car! Ask you co-pilot to double-check the hookup. They may see something you overlooked.
Don’t Mess With Working Lights
Assume you have hooked up your tow car (trailer, dolly, whatever) and you get in your coach to check the lights. The co-pilot stands behind the car and waves to indicate each light is working (brake, tail, and turn signal lights). Fine. Then the co-pilot walks up to visually inspect the hookup (a good thing).
Although it is commonly done, the co-pilot should not reach down and “jiggle” the connection. The connection was good and you verified that when you checked the lights. If they jiggle it, something may become disconnected and you cannot determine this without checking it again.
Checking Your Transmission’s Fluid Level
When using the dipstick, check your transmission fluid level when it is warm. For Allison electronic transmissions, use the appropriate sequence of pressing console shift buttons and noting the results on the digital readout. Change the fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and top up with the approved fluid.
Store a Fire Extinguisher
Use a Velcro® fastener strap to hold a large-size fire extinguisher in the back corner (or corners) of your closet. The hanging clothes will also help keep it upright. This enables you to store the extinguisher completely out of the way but still easily accessible from the bedroom and bathroom areas.
Run the AC When Driving in Dusty Conditions
If you must drive in dusty conditions (gravel road, dust storm, etc.), fire up your generator and run ALL of your roof air conditioners while driving over any dusty roads. Doing this will help keep dust from creeping in through any tiny holes. Although rare, if you find yourself driving through smoky conditions as a result of, for example, wildfires, running your air conditioners will help reduce the smoke and odor inside the RV. Don’t forget to check the filters on the air conditioners.
Storage Racks and Bags
The vinyl-clad wire racks and bins are great for storing towels and sheets since they provide for good air circulation. Stacked racks can be held with plastic electrical ties.
For extra blankets, pillows, sweaters, or any bulky items, use the plastic storage “bags” that have the vacuum attachment in them. Put your items inside the bag, seal it, hook up your vacuum cleaner hose, and suck out the excess air. The bag and contents will seem to collapse to a fraction of the original size. They will expand just fine when you need them.
This Little Light of Mine
Reading lights are notoriously miserable in many RVs. Find one of those inexpensive, small, clip-on light fixtures that use a 60-watt (maximum) bulb. These work fine and can be moved as needed and your eyes will appreciate it.
Can You Reach Necessities When Slides Are In?
When the slides are in (drive ready), this is a good time to check to see if you can reach the necessities that may be obstructed when the slides are in. Can you get a jacket or umbrella out of the closet? Can you reach the pet food?
Plan where things are stored so you can adjust as needed before it becomes a problem—on that occasion when a slide will not operate or you are simply parked too close to an object and cannot put out the slide.
Make Use of Under-the-Bed Storage
In some coaches, there is storage under the bed. This is generally accessed by literally lifting the flat platform under the mattress—often from the foot of the bed. This is an excellent place to store extra shoes and items you don’t need to access on a frequent basis. You may need to use storage boxes.
Coach manufacturers are getting better at sealing these areas from outside dust and dirt. If you have a diesel pusher, be careful not to store anything that is sensitive to heat under the bed, since this area may get quite warm.
Items In Your Medicine Cabinet
Inside the medicine cabinet, store smaller items on the bottom, and the big stuff on the upper shelves to help prevent objects from tumbling out. An alternative is to use a spring-loaded curtain rod across the door opening. Also, use small, clear plastic containers inside the cabinet to hold things like toothpaste, tubes, or small, odd-shaped items.
Long Storage Space
Check for storage space behind the sofa. Sometimes a short, folding ladder can be stored there. This may also be a place for mops or brooms. It is a bit inconvenient but storing long items in an RV is often difficult to do since the tallest place is often the closet. Other items to store behind the couch are the screens from the front driver and passenger window and (if a front entry coach) the door screen, too. This will make driving through scenic country much more pleasant.
Get a Step Up With Carpet Samples
Use carpet samples (they have a finished edge on them) to put a temporary carpet on the inside steps of your RV. Cut the sample to step-size, and use two-sided carpet tape to hold it down. Put the finished edge out (it looks better). Toss when dirty.
Double Your Covers, Double Your Space
Sink covers are a classic “mixed blessing” in an RV because they are nearly useless while preparing food because they totally eliminate access to the sink but may, in fact, almost double your work space (kitchen counter). Cutting larger sink covers in half will allow the cook access to the sink without sacrificing all the surface area plus actually extend the countertop work area—a definite win-win!
Composite covers can be cut using nearly any saw with a carbide blade. I recommend a circular saw because it is easier to keep a straight cut. Use a file to round the sharp edges. After cutting, the two pieces will continue to totally cover the sink if needed, look exactly the same when traveling, and since each piece is smaller, they are easier to remove and handle.
Store Kitchen Items in Plastic or Vinyl-Wire Bins
A plastic basket is an excellent storage place for your pot and pan lids. This also allows better air circulation if lids are put away damp. You can also store flat cookware (cookie sheets, baking and pizza pans) in a wire basket. Be sure to protect any surface that is non-stick. Use the non-skid material. A non-stick cooking surface will rub off due to the vibration in an RV.
Store Dry Food Items in Plastic Basket
Plastic baskets are great for separating and storing dry foods in your RV cabinets. Use bins with holes in the sides to facilitate air circulation.
Electric Can Opener - Have a Manual Backup
Electric kitchen gadgets are convenient and easy to use. Lots of RVers use an electric can opener due to arthritic limitations. However, if you regularly use an electric can opener, be sure to store a manual one in your RV as a backup in case you find yourself without power.
Shelf Liner Controls Cookware
Line your cabinets and bottom of your drawers with non-adhesive, skid-resistant shelf liner. It will muffle noise while driving and keep things in place. It comes in both a thick and a thin version and each works well. Purchase the rolls and cut the specific sizes you need. The thin version will age and become stiff and smooth. Toss it and cut some new pieces. This material is great for wrapping glass bakeware, between pots and pans, and protecting nonstick baking sheets/pans. It will also help prevent cookware from sliding and reduce noise.
Storing Cooking Liquids
Just imagine having to clean up from a leaky container of syrup seeping into your cabinets. Since all RVs vibrate, especially when going down the highway, glass containers can break and plastic ones may, at some point, crack from ongoing vibrations. This is not a concern when living in a house or apartment.
Store bottles of cooking liquids (cooking oils, sauces, vinegar, syrup, etc.) all together in a solid, plastic container or tub. When driving, if one happens to break, the spill will be contained. You will have a small mess to clean but not a disaster. Use an old hand towel or (clean) socks to cushion the glass containers.
Give Big Pots a Shower
When you use a pot too large to easily wash in the RV galley sink—wash it in the shower. Wash water from the shower drains into the same (grey) tank as the water from the kitchen sink. Be careful to clean up any greasy residue left on the floor of the shower stall.
Keep It Clean! Vacuum Frequently When RVing
When traveling in an RV, plan on cleaning and vacuuming more often than you would living in a house. Your RV will simply get dirtier faster because the size of your RV forces you to live in a smaller space. Dirt will accumulate faster since the traffic pattern is limited.
Second, living in a house that may be surrounded by grass, trees and paved streets decreases the potential for blowing dust and dirt. Driving your RV will cause you to be in open spaces more often—such as fueling up or going through construction sites. The potential for blowing dust and dirt to enter your coach is increased with travel.
Small Ironing Board Can Handle Tight Spaces
Make smart use of limited space in your RV. Purchase a small tabletop ironing board with short folding legs. Some models are about 30 inches long. Store it by attaching it to the back wall of the closet (behind the clothing) with a hook and loop fastener.
Feeling a Bit Cranky
If you manually crank up your TV antenna or satellite dish, hang only your ignition key from the crank. That way, you can’t drive away without remembering to lower these items. The best way is to have the key in hand when you crank. TV antennas are one of the most common repair items in the RV world since they frequently are knocked off by tree limbs when leaving a campground.
Give Fine Glassware a Hug
Store good glassware and stemware (such as crystal wine glasses) in flexible foam drink “huggies” (also called “koozies).” Many companies give these away or you can find them really cheap at yard sales and trade shows. For taller glasses, use two huggies and put one over each end (top and bottom). Some huggies may not fit over larger glassware. If so, you can purchase a slip-on protective cover for glassware. Use whatever works best.
Keep Your Microwave Quiet
Lay a clean, folded bath towel on top of the turntable in your RV's microwave oven to prevent it from bouncing while driving. If you have removable metal cooking racks for your brand of microwave, store them, nested, upside down on a cabinet shelf. They can also be stored on the microwave turntable while driving. If so, use the same bath towel to cushion the cooking racks.
Egg Cartons Offer Protection, Stability
Place egg cartons on refrigerator shelves lengthwise, front to back and they will never fall out. Even if they vibrate toward the door, the door will stop them from tumbling out due to their length.
Usually, the carton lid will protect the eggs if anything falls in the fridge while driving. Use the eggs from the rear of the carton first. This will provide stability when you lift the egg carton. Use some empty egg cartons as separators in your fridge. They will buffer and protect items.
Let Us Spray
RVs in the low/medium-priced range may not have any type of flexible sprayer on the kitchen sink. Replacing the faucet with a unit that contains a sprayer built in to the faucet head is an excellent method for solving the sprayer issue. Purchase one at your local hardware. Since the fittings are standard (like a house) it’s an easy replacement.
If you occasionally need a large pot (such as a Dutch oven or stock pot), store it in one of the outside compartments, underneath. Typically, there isn’t room inside to conveniently store large pots but you do need one on occasion.
One More Sprayer
In many RVs, the kitchen faucet is easily enhanced by attaching a small, swivel sprayer. These are inexpensive, available everywhere, and will make your life easier. Simply remove the exiting aerator (if there is one) and screw on the swivel sprayer.
Tubs for Everything
Use a small storage tub tucked in the back of some cabinet somewhere to hold kitchen gadgets that are occasionally needed but rarely used. Consider this for the grater, knife sharpener, and meat cleaver to name a few.
Your Personal RV Wine Cellar
Protect your favorite bottles of wine by storing them in your underwear and sock drawers. Nestle each bottle in and around your underwear and socks so that it is protected by the soft clothing. If needed, use additional clothing items to provide protection around the bottles.
Vent Covers Keep Rain Out, Air In
Consider installing deflectors that are roof-mounted over the crank-up roof vents. The covers will allow you to leave the vent hood open when driving. No rain can come into the coach through the open vent hood since the cover protects it.
If you do not have a roof-mounted cover that fits over vent hoods, close ceiling vent hoods when driving.
Store the Awning in Windy Conditions
If the wind is gusting, don’t put out your awning. If it is already out and the wind picks up later, then store the awning. Some RVers use a tie-down kit to avoid damage to the awning if a wind suddenly comes up. These kits are effective in moderate winds but storing the awning is always best and safest practice when there are strong wind conditions.
Guidelines for Putting Your Slides In, Out
There is no one correct way to open or retract your slides in the RV, so follow your manufacturer’s recommendation. Some slides are designed to correctly go out and in after leveling. Some go out and in before leveling. Some slides won’t go out if the ignition key is in the “on” position but may come in. Some manufacturers may recommend that you start the engine to provide maximum power to the electric motors that operate the slides.
Keep Batwing Antenna Down in Gusty Conditions
If the wind is really gusting, don’t put up your TV antenna and satellite dish. They could become damaged or bend in the high winds. The “batwing” antenna is designed to lie on the roof of the RV, and not be affected by high winds when driving.
Travel With All RV Windows Closed on Road Trips
On road trips, make sure you travel with all RV windows closed. This will help keep fumes outside and prevent dust from entering the living area. In addition, any open rear windows may suck unwanted fumes and odors into the RV.
Warm Up Sunshades Before Installation
Lay sunshades (or sun screens) out in the sun for a few minutes, or bring them inside (in colder weather), before attempting to attach them to the coach. If you bring them inside, lay them on the dash in the sunshine to warm them up. Some types need to be stretched a bit to fasten and stretch easier when warmed up. Use a picnic table, or the hood or roof of the car to lay them out. If you need to stretch them a bit (to reach the fastener), you can pull on the material but not the edging.
Awning Helps Divert Rain Away
When putting up your awning, leave one end slightly lower than the other. This will allow water to run off and be directed away from the RV. Many RVers lower the awning toward the rear of the coach to direct water away from the coach door. No, seriously, all those crooked awnings were set like that on purpose!
Closing Slides in Winter Conditions
If you have slides, be careful when opening and closing them if camping or living in winter conditions. Overnight snow can collect on the slide-cover awning and must be removed before closing the slide. Snow removal can be quite difficult because the roof areas will also be snow-covered. If possible, use a separate ladder to gain access and make sure to have assistance nearby when using a ladder in winter.
You may also find that water pooled on a slide-cover awning may freeze overnight if the temperature drops. The resounding “crunch” noise when you start to put your slide in will not be a comforting sound. Again, the only solution is to carefully break up the ice and remove it.
Be Cool and Exercise (your Generator)
Try using your coach air conditioners when driving rather than your engine (dash) air or in a colder climate, run your heat pumps. While it is important to regularly use your engine air conditioner to keep the seals lubricated, using your coach air conditioners or heat pump will provide good climate control and it will force you to exercise the generator under load—easily accomplished when traveling. With the generator running, you will also be able to run the refrigerator on AC rather than LP. If you have a new RV, exercising (running under load) the generator is required to maintain the warranty.
How Not to Run Your Generator
Don't run your generator for brief periods of time. Suppose you are boondocking and want to heat up your coffee in the microwave. If you run the microwave on battery power, it will rapidly run down your batteries—not good. Some RVers fire up the generator for a few minutes to do tasks like this—run a hairdryer, coffee pot, electric heaters, etc. In a word—don't. Running the generator for those short bursts of time will definitely reduce its life.
Long-Handled Window Washers
Diesel islands where trucks can fuel up usually have long-handled squeegees, ideal for washing very tall windows. Wash your windows while fueling to prevent holding up the fueling line. Don’t forget to wash the driver and passenger windows, mirrors, and headlights.
Keep RV Finish Free of Bugs and Grime
Use a slightly moistened microfiber cloth to clean the bugs and road grime off the front of your RV as soon as possible after reaching your destination. Doing this simple step helps keep acids and bugs from “eating” into the paint finish. Your RV will look better—plus using a good quality wax and protectant will provide increased shine and reduced effort in removing future bugs and grime.
Clean Faucet Before Attaching Water Hose
Before attaching the white water hose, run the water through the campground faucet for a few seconds at high pressure just to wash off the faucet end and ensure no sediment, rust, or critters are up, inside the end of the faucet. Some RVers spray a disinfectant onto the end of the faucet and give it a few seconds to work on any residual bacteria. Rinse it off and you are ready to hook up.
Disinfect Water Hose While Traveling (Part I)
Disconnect your water hose, drain it, and connect the two ends of your water hose to each other to prevent anything from getting inside the hose while traveling. A couple of times a year, it is advisable to add two or three tablespoons of bleach to a partially full hose, almost fill it, and then connect the ends together. At the next stop, connect the hose and flush out the bleach solution and connect as usual.
Disinfect Water Hose While Traveling (Part II)
Use a quick disconnect and a two-way diverter valve to connect to the campground faucet. You will have water to the RV and the second valve will allow you to relieve the water pressure from the RV hose before disconnecting the line or just simply have access to water like a second hose hookup.
White Potable Water Hose
Until recently, the standard rule for water hose color is white for potable water and green (typical garden hose) for everything else. This is changing and some hoses are now available in “designer” colors.
It's a wise investment to purchase a new hose for potable water with any rig. That way you will know it is clean. We always get a white one. That way there’s never any mistake when hooking up.
Important, Easy, Electric Safety Tip
Switch off the circuit breaker at the shore power before plugging in! When leaving, switch the circuit breaker off before unplugging. Just for fun, note the times that you pull into a campsite and the breaker is still on. That tells you that the previous occupant really didn’t know what they were doing, was living dangerously, and had not read this tip!
Purchase a water-pressure regulator for your potable water hose to prevent excessively high pressure water from blowing some of your water connections. Some campgrounds have high water pressure. You may see signs at the campground office warning of this high pressure and, if so, take them seriously.
It is best to always use the regulator. Make it a (mostly) permanent attachment. Attach the water-pressure regulator to the end of your water hose that attaches to the campground faucet to prevent high water pressure from bursting your water hose. Newer RVs often have a water-pressure regulator built in. These are fine but will not protect the water hose. Having two regulators, one on each end of your water hose, is best.
Quick, Disconnect the Water
Remember to use a “quick disconnect” for your potable water hose connections at the coach to make this task easier to perform. It’s worth investing in a good quality brass fixture.
Dumping Tanks in Freezing Weather
Be careful when dumping holding tanks in freezing weather. Blade valves can freeze, and plastic fittings and handles may become brittle and break.
Glove Up for Hygiene
Keep a box of the disposable rubber gloves in the outside utility compartment. Use them if you get into raw sewage. They can be purchased at any pharmacy. Don’t save and reuse the gloves. Toss them when finished. Rings and other jewelry will puncture the gloves.
A Measure for Safety
You may need to take a quick measure before putting slides out. Look for any unmovable obstacles (shore power poles, picnic tables, boulders, etc.) the slide could hit. A handy “tool” with which to measure your slide clearance is your awning wand. Put tape or permanent mark on the metal rod to indicate minimum clearance for the slides.
Safety for New RVers
Before you hit the road for the first time, it is recommended that you purchase and understand how to use the following, (A) Any state- or provincial-mandated safety equipment that you must carry by law, (B) Two to four orange traffic cones—they are handy to have. Taller ones are easier to see. (C) Four emergency flares , and (D) A 6-volt flashlight or a rechargeable 12-volt portable lantern .
An LED flashlight is great but they do not “run down,” i.e., the light does not get weaker with use—at some point, it simply goes from full brightness to totally off, instantly. A 6-volt light is generally better for general maintenance as it will provide some warning that it is running out of power. The light will dim and you will know its battery needs replacing. Deefinitely keep a spare battery—remember, no warning!
There are many, many brands of flashlights available. For the best, try SureFire. This is the brand carried by many law-enforcement agencies and the military. There’s good news and bad news for RVers.
The good news… SureFire sells tactical-level lights and defines “tactical-level light” as enough to temporarily blind or disorient an opponent in low light situations—a light 50 lumens or greater for LEDs.
In an RV, the distance from the bed to the mid-entry or front-entry door is ideal for this type of “tactical-level light.” Granted, the flashlight is not an offensive weapon but has the potential to help in a break-in situation—not all intruders are armed. Also, since the flashlight is not a true weapon, you can cross borders with it.
The bad news… SureFire lights are not cheap. Don’t make the mistake of comparing price alone as the SureFire light will nearly always be more expensive. However, if possible, compare the two lights side-by-side in low light or dark conditions. You will be amazed at the difference in output. Oh, and don't shine it in your eyes.
Hiding Place to Store Spare Set of RV Keys
Before leaving on your next trip, have a full set of extra keys made including the RV ignition key, door key, compartment keys, and any other special keys. Test them and then store keys in a double, plastic, zipper-lock storage bag. Add a small squirt of lubricant like WD-40 to help prevent corrosion. Then insert this bag inside an empty plastic storage bag to provide extra protection. Roll the bagged keys into a tight roll and crawl under your RV to place the rolled-up bag on TOP of one of your frame rails. Using lots of black tape, wrap/seal/fasten this set of keys in place. There are two things to consider:
First, make sure you place the hidden keys on TOP of the frame so no one will accidentally see them—such as the person servicing your RV.
Second, make the bag hard to get to—in a location extreme enough that you would have to crawl around in the mud to reach it. After all, you are only going to use it in a real emergency.
Who You Gonna Call?
Make a list of phone numbers (family contacts, emergency services, coach and chassis manufacturer, dealer, insurance, etc.). Make copies so both the pilot and copilot can carry one, put one in the coach, and one in the tow vehicle. It is nearly impossible to get to some of this information, for example, when stored under the bed or in a cabinet obstructed by the slide—especially when slides cannot be opened for any reason!
Take a "Shakedown Cruise"
Do an RV “Shakedown Cruise" before a lengthy trip, after the RV has been stored, or with a new RV. Take a short trip and plan 2 to 3 nights—three is best. Try everything—all appliances, holding tanks, TV, satellite system, toilet, jacks, awning, sewer hose, microwave, radio, slides, etc. Test each item.
Move every day to another campground to practice hooking up and unhooking everything in a strange environment. This is exactly what you have to do on a trip somewhere.
Plan to drive 20–40 miles (30–60 km) minimum between overnight stops. This will give you plenty of time to jostle everything around that was incorrectly packed.
It is much better to find any problems now before you take a long trip. Problems can include equipment not functioning correctly, or you not knowing how to properly operate certain items in the RV.
Water Conservation for Boondocking
Use paper towels or used table napkins to wipe excess food from pots and pans prior to washing them. This will save a pre-rinse, and may also save running a second load of the dish water.
Water Conservation Tip When Boondocking
Use a pan to catch cool or room temperature water that flows while you are waiting for hot water to come through the faucet or showerhead. Later, you can heat up this extra water on the stove or in the microwave, and use it for washing the dishes. This water is perfectly clean and comes from the fresh water tank on board your RV.
Water-Saving Tips when Boondocking
When you wash dishes, use two containers (such as plastic tubs)—one for washing and one for the rinse water. When finished, don’t empty these down the sink drain into the gray water tank. Flush the dishwater down the toilet. Don’t forget to turn off your water pump while flushing so you don’t waste more water while you dump the dishwater. Dump the dishwater only. Save the rinse water and use it as the wash water the next time. After all, your rinse is now slightly soapy water from rinsing the dishes.
Boondock for Quickie Savings
Many RVers on the road (trying to drive a few days to get to a destination) will often use a campground for one night and boondock—park overnight without any utility hookups—for two nights. You can maintain this schedule with virtually no water conservation. This will, however, reduce your camping costs by approximately two-thirds, or 66%—a significant savings.
Hitch Receivers—Is Yours Safe?
A Safety Issue! Hitch receivers have capacity ratings determined by the RV maker and the chassis manufacturer. There should be a rating plate on the frame of the hitch receiver showing its rated capacity. If not, contact the RV manufacturer for confirmation of the towing capacity. You must adhere to the total capacity of the RV (GCWR). For example, you may find that a fully loaded RV can only safely tow about 2,600 pounds (1,179 kilograms) even though the hitch receiver is rated at 3,500 pounds (1,588 kilograms). Ensure that whatever you are towing is under the rated capacity of both the hitch receiver and the towing capacity of your coach. Be safe!
Extra Drawers for Your RV
Use lids from copy paper boxes to organize and store canned goods in cabinets. The lids are available at any print or copy shop and usually free. Slide the lids into a cabinet shelf. Put canned goods in the lids to buffer them as you are driving. Grasp the lid and pull it toward you like a drawer. This makes it easy to check your inventory. Use the lids to carry your canned goods when packing and unpacking. If you don’t like the looks of the box, put some decorative contact paper on it.
Keep Your Tools Handy
Buy an old pair of channel-lock pliers at a yard sale and keep them in the utility compartment. Then you won’t have to remember to take them with you every time if you need to tighten the hose or unscrew a stuck sewer cap. They will rust so an occasional drop of lubricant helps. Buy a cheap cell phone belt carrier, use a hook-and-loop (Velcro) fastener, and hang your pliers from the compartment wall.
There are at least 300+ additional tips in our book entitled, "All the Stuff You Need to Know About RVing." Just click.