Living in an RV can pose anxious moments in the event of inclement weather. Since we’ve been full-timing in 2014, we’ve had to evacuate Liberty numerous times. We credit our military backgrounds for being prepared and knowing what to do in states of emergencies. As former lifesavers, its been ingrained in our heads and we’ve preached ‘Always have a Float Plan’ to anyone headed out to sea. Likewise, when RVing or Camping, we strongly urge everyone to ‘ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION’.
- Evaluate your surroundings immediately. Do not wait to do this.
- Keep tuned into local weather forecast stations.
- Relocate if you’re near a river, ocean, washes or flash flood area. Seek higher ground.
- Pack your GO BAG (listed below)
- Have shoes and jackets readily available.
- Stow gear that’s outside (i.e. camp chairs, tables, grill, fire pit, etc.)
- Let your family know where you are or where you are headed.
- Charge up all electronics and battery banks.
- Refuel vehicles.
- Withdraw $$ from an ATM.
- Pack extra water in your GO VEHICLE.
- Pack a snacks or lunch to go.
- KEEP CALM
- Know where the closest storm shelter is located and prepare to go.
- Keep tuned into local weather forecast stations.
- All members of your party should put sturdy shoes on. Skip the flip flops; you may return to debris fields or sites.
- Jackets should be readily available.
- GO BAG should be packed and at the door ready to go or in your vehicle.
- Portable kennels should be in your vehicle and leashes should be ready for your pets.
- Each should make quick bathroom visits.
- If you have time, secure outdoor gear.
- Walk your dog out for a potty break.
|We witnessed this aftermath in Bandera, Texas
after a measurable storm and river flooded.
This was at an RV Park located less than 100 yards away from the river.
- Identification & Drivers License(s)
- Cash (Paper and Coins)
- Important Papers & Phone Numbers (lock box)
- Prescriptions & Eyeglasses
- Essential Oils
- 4 bottles of water (2 for each of us)
- 2 bottles of water (1 for each cat)
- A ziploc bag of dry cat food
- Cat feeding bowls
- Cat harnesses and leashes
- Cat Carriers (cats will be in them)
- Granola bars, dried fruit and snacks
- Weather Radio
- Electronic Battery Banks & Cords for Cellphones (fully charged)
- Flashlight(s) (fresh batteries)
- Insurance policy info
- Jackets and/or Rain Coats
- Emergency Blanket(s)
- First Aid Kit
Large, deep and wide, clean space, own palm tree, beautiful view,
quiet yet friendly. Oh, and low cost is a biggie too!
Before you go onto reading this blog piece, please know that this is ‘our’ opinion and based on our experiences. We know that every RVers’, whether full-time, part-time or weekenders, have different needs or expectations. We‘re not expecting the Taj Mahal of RV Parks or Resorts. We know each has their own ideas of what Shangri La is to them and each has their own offerings all their own. What would be incredibly nice though, is if RV park and resort owners read this and heeded our wishes. We have needs as full-time, big rig RVers and hope RV park or resort owners and managers take into consideration of what we, and others like us, look for when making our choice to stay. In our three years as full-time RVers, we’ve feel we’ve become seasoned enough to give our assessment of what attracts us to certain RV parks, resorts and campgrounds. Consider this article as a ‘Letter to RV Park and Resort Developers, Owners and Managers’.
First, the differences…
Campgrounds – National Park, State, Corps of Engineers, Municipal and Private – Usually, these are more primitive than parks and resorts. Campgrounds may have electric and water; sewer on occasion or in updated campgrounds. To us, Campgrounds are un-alterable meaning, campgrounds will be in more natural settings; you get what you get. Though we do enjoy an occasional ‘camping’ feel, our visits to campgrounds will be minimal because of their site size constraints of not interupting natural habitats. In this instance, “size does matter”. Campgrounds were designed multiple decades ago when campers and trailers were much smaller. They weren’t planned for huge motorhomes, 5th wheels or travel trailers; therefore, they have tighter turns, natural obstructions, low hanging trees, etc. Unless fire bans are in place, they allow campfires, are very family oriented with no or very few restrictions on age or type of RV/Camper/Tent. Campgrounds may be near lakes and other bodies of water that host outdoor activities like fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, etc. Typically, they are less expensive than RV parks and resorts because their limited ammenities.
|This is a ‘campground’ – wooded and natural setting|
RV Parks and Resorts – Privately owned and operated; there’s more of a choice of what the developers and builders can do to make it appealing for their guests. Seriously, we don’t want to stay in a ‘parking lot’ otherwise, we’d just boondock at a big box store or mall but there’s got to be some consolation in our wishe. Unfortunately though, it seems that RVers are not being heard. We’re not saying they’re ‘doing it wrong’, it’s just, they could be ‘doing it better’.
So, if an RV park or resort builder were to seriously ask us ‘what would make RVers come to stay?’, this is what we’d (meaning us…Liberty Crew) tell them:
1) ACCESSIBILITY – Somewhat close and easy to get to from major highways and thoroughfares. Parks and Resorts don’t have to be ‘right off the interstate’ but we do appreciate not having to go through 50 miles of over the river and through the woods to get there. Roads and entrances into your establishment should be wide with very little curbing. We don’t want to rub and bruise our tires. We prefer wider turn radius and no sharp corners to turn. Oh and please, no speed bumps! Please post on your website “RV friendly directions” to your park or resort noting any low clearances, narrow passages, potential low hanging tree branches or impeding obstructions. Update your website if there are any recent road construction issues or detours.
|Great main road leading to a campground in Pennsylvania|
2) BIG RIG FRIENDLY – Today, 36-38′ foot RVs aren’t really considered the big dogs of RVing anymore. Newer motorhomes, 5th wheels and travel trailers have lengthened to 45′ and tower upwards past 13 feet tall. As well, new(er) coaches have opposing deep slides (24″ deep and deeper) and some even have ‘slide in a slide’ making site widths even more of an issue and let’s not forget that some are now being designed with side decks and patios. Some may be towing a trailer with toys or mobile offices. We prefer 80′ or longer. Please don’t state that you’re ‘Big Rig Friendly’ when you only have 3 Big Rig sites out of 50 or you’ve fibbed a little on your site lengths. Be honest in your advertising, phone reception and website or when guests ask. Know each of your exact site lengths from roadway edge to end of the site without him-hawing just to make a buck from us. Likewise, save your ‘big rig’ sites for ‘only’ big rigs. Nothing raises the hair on the backs of our necks more than seeing a small camper in a big rig site while we try to cram ours into a site meant for them. Notably, we don’t want to be passing the Grey Poupon, hearing our neighbor’s commodes or listening to their deep dark secret conversations. We should be able to enjoy sitting out at the picnic table for meals or our chairs without having to trip over the neighbors sewer pipe or smelling it. Our awnings shouldn’t be able to touch the neighbor’s RV, period. I’m willing to bet that RVers would be willing to pay $1-2 more for their site knowing they aren’t going to have to turn their tv volumes up to drown out their neighbor’s.
|Perfectly long site near Scottsbluff, Nebraska
to fit our truck, 5th wheel
with still room to spare for maneuverability.
3) OBSTACLES & PRUNED TREES – You don’t know how many times we would approach our site only to be faced with a tree, permanent grill or picnic table, light post or sign post that we must swing around; at the same time, trying to not hit something on the other side. Please appreciate that RV’s today need wider spaces. If you want to number your sites, please paint the site numbers on the site pad or make the posts easy to remove/replace; having an in-ground sleeve that the post sets in. Again, no curbing (read above in ACCESSIBILITY). We’re not asking to park in a flat parking lot nor do we wish to be fighting our way by avoiding obstacles . We just ask that your developer or planner take great consideration of RV needs and specifications in the layout of the park or resort. If your park or resort does have these obstructions or impedements, minimize them, replace them or make them movable.
|Perfect! Nothing impeding our parking, awnnings, etc.
Nothing beats having your very own palm tree!
Notice the built in grill is set back away from where
the RV would be or is parked.
Again, typical newer RV’s are now towering over 13 and a half feet tall. No RVer wants tree branches or low hanging cables/wires scraping roofs, air vents, awnings or the sides of coaches. Likewise, consider when it gets windy and those will swing, sway and bounce which could potentially poke a hole in the rubber roof membrane, scrape the awnings or puncture a slide or topper. Also noting that trees invite critters and creepy crawlies. We don’t want bugs or birds taking refuge in/on or soiling our coaches. If and when your grounds-keeping employees prune, instruct them to cut all the way to the joint leaving no sharp ends sticking out. Please keep an eye on insect infestations.
|As you can see, this tree is impeding our wanting to use our awnings.
The branches were touching our slide. We prayed for no wind.
We were nervous for our full-body paint, slide and roof.
5) AMPLE PARKING – This goes for RV toad vehicles or trailers if we need to detach. Please don’t charge us extra for parking in a separate lot; especially if you don’t offer long sites to accomodate big rigs or towables.
6) LEVEL – Nothing is more frustrating than being told on the phone, on your website or resource that your sites are level only to pull in or back in and find our tow canted so much that it’s painful or even dangerous to disconnect or unhitch. We shouldn’t need to stock a lumber store full of leveling blocks.
7) FREE WIFI, AMPLE AMMENITIES & FREEBIES – First, WiFi is extremely important as is electricity and water. For some of us, it’s our life-blood for communicating with family and friends. Some full-timers work on the road and young families may be home schooling. Advertising ‘Free Wifi’ yet not having simple access to check our email will entice bad reviews which will impede profitable business for your establishment. Spend the money to get a viable system that accommodates and supports the entire park and users. Monitor streaming abusers by shutting them down for 24 hours (this also goes under ‘rule enforcement’).
Please provide pet-friendly doggie park(s) or exercise areas for Fido and Fifi to play and relieve themselves and we ask that it be routinely cleaned and disinfected. Reading various RV forums and social media outlets, dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs is one of the top complaints and abuses. Nothing is worse than going out in our own site to sit or enjoy an outdoor meal and stepping/seeing/smelling dog doodoo. Please invest in dog waste recepticles with bags so dog owners can’t use the excuse, ‘well, I forgot my bag’.
Having two washers and driers for a park size of 50 sites isn’t really accommodating;; please look into having more and perhaps in different buildings throughout your park. Provide a separate washer/dryer for pet bed use only. Being frank, it sucks having our clothes come out of the washer loaded with pet hair and smell. Bath houses should be clean and safe with lockable doors. Oh yes, please put benches and chairs in each shower area…a shelf and plenty of hooks too!
If your park or resort is in a heavy storm or tornado area, it is imperative that there be a safe evacuation building.
|130 sites at this resort with two laundry rooms identical to this.
Is it enough? Do the math.
Your park’s workout gym should be accessible for all hours of the day/night. We all have different schedules.
|We couldn’t use this gym between the hours of 5:00pm-9:00am.
Seriously, who does that?
…and FREEBIES! Always offer BOGO deals, honor rewards programs like Passport America, Escapees, etc., restaurant discount coupons, free Taco Tuesday or Ice Cream Sundays, a free round of golf, etc. Offering military, veterans and first responders discounts is nice too.
8) ADULT AREAS – Some may disagree but designate ADULTS ONLY areas please. We love kids but there’s also a time and place. A lot of us work, exercise, go on long hikes or just had a long stressful day. We really enjoy using the jacuzzi but seriously, not when there are children present. Its our ‘down time’ to de-stress, want a therapeutic soak or simple adult time to talk and enjoy the quiet. Speaking honestly, children aren’t the most cleanliest in such settings. In otherwords, save the jacuzzi’s for “adults only”. Please post the rules and remind parents of children of these off limits areas upon registration. Don’t just list it in your sheet of rules; tell them.
|This jacuzzi was an ‘adult only’ area at a resort in Texas.
It was nice and relaxing. The lighting at night was just right and safe.
|Unfortunately, this jacuzzi had no rules posted.
We couldn’t use it because even at 10:00 pm
as children were swarming it…with no adult supervision.
9) RULES & ENFORCEMENT – You can have rules but come on, please don’t be overzealous with them. Make the print easily readable that don’t require microscopes or magnifying glasses to ‘read the small print’. On the other hand, there’s nothing more frustrating than guests not reading the rules or totally ignoring them. Upon registration, go over the most important rules or ones that may apply to your guests (ie. if you they list a dog, tell them where the dog park is…if they have children, tell them when quiet times are and to stay out of the jacuzzi)…and then, seeing no rule enforcement.
Please post speed limits and expect guests (AND EMPLOYEES) to adhere to them. There are walkers, hearing and sight impaired guests, and children. We ask to not allow golf carts, RZR’s, scooters and 4 wheelers to race up and down the park roadways. Please don’t look away if there is rule infringement. If you’re going to have rules; enforce them…for ALL.
10) KNOWLEDGABLE STAFF & VOLUNTEERS – Did you know that the reputation of your establishment is set upon the first 20 seconds of staff-guest interaction? Your first impressions are always lasting; whether it’s on the phone, social media, website or in person. Please be approachable, available, accommodating and friendly to your guests. Your first reaction to a question, comment or frustration could make your or break your establishment. Realize that social media is a powerful tool amongst your patrons. We share our experiences globally; albiet social media, phone apps, blogs and websites like RV Parky and RV Park Reviews. If we are in front of you at the desk, please finish with us before reaching for the phone. Know and honor the hospitality code of ethics. Show that you appreciate that WE CHOSE YOUR PARK or RESORT…money walks and talks.
|Perfect site spacing and length for our former Cyclone
even with our truck parked.
Loved that the concrete pad extended to a nice size patio.
Totally level too! The picnic table was light enough for us to relocate.
BE TRUTHFUL on all venues (i.e. website, phone, etc.). It’s been said, “a picture says a thousand words”. That said, pictures could also be very deceptive. When posting photos on your website, please show what the sites look like with appropriate sized coaches actually in them with slides and awnings out. Show photos of your facilities and ammenities on a busy day or season. Show us the views we will see on the busiest days. Again, we do not want to stay in ‘parking lots’. We do enjoy nice landscaping, green grass, pretty gardens, clean sites and grounds, and something nice to look at instead of a bunch of parked vehicles.
So, do you still want to build or manage an RV park or resort? OF COURSE you do because it’s a lucrative business now. RVers are getting younger in age which means they will be patrons longer. As in the movie ‘Field of Dreams’, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) heard voices ‘build it and he will come’.
COMING SOON!! Our 10 Favorite RV Parks, Resorts and Campgrounds! Watch for it!
When we ordered/bought our Heartland Cyclone 4100 in early 2014, we’ve just wiped the sweat from our brow after signing over our lives away to the bank (well, not really but it sure felt like it with all the papers we signed!) we knew there was much more to it than buying our home on wheels. Like buying a S&B (sticks and bricks aka house), we needed to furnish it with necessities and niceties….
They say when you buy a boat that ‘its a hole in the water in which you pour money into’. The same is said for getting into the RVing lifestyle. Trust us, if it wasn’t for the tons of reading and advice from seasoned RVers, we’d have been up the creek without a paddle. By many who went into RVing of our current magnitude, we were advised to set aside approximately five to ten grand to outfit our 5th wheel. Its far more than buying coolers, cool outdoor carpets and new cookware for your RV; its buying things that you NEED to get your jacks up, hooking up and getting on down the road, so we’ve compiled a list of things ‘we’ were encouraged to purchase before throwing off our stern line (electrical cord – which incidentally should always be included in the purchase of your RV). This list isn’t by any mean in any order of importance or preference. As well, know that our list will differ slightly with those needing essentials for motorhomes, 5th wheels, travel trailers, truck campers, etc. Please keep in mind, our current Heartland Landmark is just shy of 42′ 5th wheel.
This just gives you an idea of things to look for or research to match to your own camper or RV. What we we do is research the item online and then shop where it was the least expensive, with warranty (if needed) and availability. Most times, we buy from Amazon since we have Amazon Prime with the free shipping and ease of returns if necessary.
We have two lists here; one of MUST HAVES and one of NICE TO HAVES. We’ve included approximate costs of each so you can get an idea of how much you need to get your own RV on the road.
- Small Generator – $500 on up – We purchased two Wen gas generators to supply electricity to our coach; enough to power lights, refrigerator and one of the three air conditioners in our current coach; our ’16 Heartland Landmark. Get what you need for the essentials in your coach if you plan to boondock.
- Fuel Can – $20 – to supply/store fuel for your generator
- Surge Protector $300-400 – We purchased the Progressive Industries based on our 5th wheel size and electrical requirements. This is one of those ‘you get what you pay for’. Spend a little and you will get ‘little coverage’. Spend a bit more like we did with our EMS surge protector and you get a lifetime warranty on not only the device itself but also the components in your rig that were damaged while the surge protector was plugged in.
- Electrical Adapters for 30/50amp – $30 – These are called ‘dog bones’ in the RV world. They are for hooking up your 30 amp to a 50 amp or vice versa.
- Ball X Chocks – $50 – You want two. These go between each of your two tires on each side of your coach. Not only do they chock your tires to eliminate rolling down the hill to the next county but also it helps eliminate ‘shake’ in your coach.
- Sewage Hose – $30 – Yeah, you want this…NO, you will NEED this. So when your shitter’s full, you can dump either at your site’s sewage hookup or at a designated dump station.
- Sewage Hose Bridge – $30 – This is what your sewage hose sits on instead of laying on the ground. It helps with elevate the hose to allow gravitational dumping. It also makes it that critters can’t get under your hose and surprise you when you pick it up and your RV park owners will appreciate it not laying on the grass leaving it’s signature when you leave.
- Clear Sewage Elbow – $15 – This is what you attach to your coach’s sewage output to the sewage hose. Its clear so you can monitor the clarity of your sewage; indicating when its clear, you’re finished pumping your tanks.
- Black Tank Treatment – $15 – Small Bottle
- Box of Disposable Sterile Gloves – $10 – you will need these every time you empty your sewer tanks, cleaning cat litter boxes, cleaning dog doody from your site, etc.
- Antibacterial Sanitary Wipes – $3 – Get a canister of the ones made by Clorox. For cleaning up after sewer duty or other bacterial laden chores, you’ll want to disinfect your hands. No, really! You need to do this!
- Small Spray Bottle of Bleach – $3 – You will need this EVERY TIME you hook up your water to outside water hookups. You do not want contamination of any kind in your water. You will spray the water connection at parks or campgrounds before connecting your water hose.
- Wood or Plastic Leveling Blocks – $50 – We have both. When newbies on our quest to look cool with a very full shopping cart at the RV Supply store, we bought the stacking grid-looking hard plastic ones. Then as time passed, we made our own more substantial blocks out of pressure treated wood to allow stabilization and leveling so our jacks aren’t fully extended.
- Adjustable H2O Pressure Regulator – $50 – Please do your interior water connections and hoses a huge favor and immediately install this before even connecting your water hose to the water spigot at your campsite. Every place you go, water pressure will differ. The last thing you want is to hook up to a site where the water pressure is so high that will burst your hoses and/or connectors inside your coach or camper. You can buy nonadjustable for about $10.
- Tire Covers – $50-$150 – depending on how many tires you have on your camper or coach. You can buy them to cover two or three tires together or singly. Direct sunlight are tires worst enemy as they speed up dry rot; especially if you’re coach or camper is sitting for extended times. We use ours when we are parked somewhere for more than 3 days. They come in black or white. We chose white as it deflects the sun a bit better than black.
- 8′ Ladder – $75 – Fiberglass or Aluminum – If you’re a full-timer, this is a must. You can tell ‘full-timers’ driving down the road as we’re the ones with the beautiful paint jobs and graphics on our rigs but bungied and secured to our coach ladders are our ugly portable ladders. Its nature of the beast. We need them for reaching exteriors of our coaches (ie. awnings, windows, etc.) for cleaning, maintenance, repairs and inspections. You can’t always rely on parks/resorts or your fellow neighbor RVers to lend you one.
- Drinking Water Hose – $25 – ALWAYS WHITE! Never use a ‘regular’ green, gray or other color for your drinking water hose. You need to make certain of distinction so you don’t hook up the hose you used to clean out your sewage hose, other yucky things, etc.
- Regular Water Hose – $25 – Any color other than white so you know this one is for reasons other than drinking water. You may need this to bucket wash your rig (when allowed), car/truck, fill dog bowls, clean cat litter boxes, wash hands, outdoor showers, etc. Always think ‘white water’.
- Hitch Lock – $30 – Get one applicable to whether you have a 5th wheel or travel trailer. The last thing you need is to go out for the day only to find your camper or coach has mysteriously disappeared from where you parked it. Campers are hot commodities to thieves. Protect your investment with a lock. Get in the habit of locking it every time you park; even if its in your own yard or driveway. You’d be surprised how many campers disappear from owners yards and driveways.
- Water Filter – $25 – These are those little blue cylinders you see attached between the white drinking water hose and your hose connection on your coach or camper. Water quality differs everywhere you go. Better be safe than sorry.
- Flashlights and Lanterns – $10 on up – You want one in your pulling vehicle, one inside your coach or camper, one in your storage compartment in the belly of your coach or camper, and one in your tow vehicle (applicable to motorhomes). Truly, you can never have too many flashlights. Always keep batteries fresh; test often.
- Weather Radio – $25 on up – Face it, it never fails that you will camp or park where you will experience the worst and the best of weather. Keep this where its easily accessible and batteries always fresh. We needed this when we were in the midwest states at the time of year of tornadoes.
- Orange Traffic Cones – $25 – for breakdowns on the road. Use them to alert motorists that you’re broke down. Two or three should be sufficient.
- Neon Reflective Vest – $10 – also for breakdowns on the road. WEAR IT so you’re visible to motorists when you are walking or tending outside of your RV on the road.
- Extra Rope and Bungy Cords – $10-20 – Never can have too many. When you need one or two, it seems you never have them. Better safe than sorry.
- Motorcarriers Atlas – $30-50 – it shows roads with vehicle height and weight restrictions…aka ‘trucker’s atlas’.
- Air Compressor – $200 – you will need this to monitor your tire air pressure because of temperature, altitude and weight changes.
- Basic Tool Kit – $75 – Screw Drivers, Mallet, Wrenches, Socket Set, etc.
- Outdoor Extension Cord – $25 – 50′ at least.
- EternaBond Tape – $50 – for roof and awning repairs. Never leave home without it.
NICE TO HAVES:
- Water Softener – $250 – We noticed a huge difference in our water quality coming into our coach. Limited calcification and minerals that corrode fixtures and water connections.
- Wheeled Sewage Tote – $100-200 – AKA ‘Honey Pot or Honey Wagon’. Not a requirement if you intend to camp or park at sites with sewer hookups or packing up to visit the dump stations. However, you may want to have one if you are at a ‘sewer-less’ site and plan to be parked for awhile. They come in different gallon sizes applicable to your needs. Just be advised, when full, they are heavy. Bigger is not always better.
- Exterior Outdoor Carpet – $50-100 – for those dirt based campgrounds so you don’t track into your coach or camper. Please note, not all parks will allow you to put these on grass as it kills the grass. We have a couple different ones; one of which is a ‘folding’ plastic type that is attractive. The other is made from pvc screenlike material (that is used in outdoor furniture) that acts like a sieve when it rains; washing the dirt through it. We use either for different circumstances and when permitted.
- Portable Grill – $50 on up – We bought a Weber Q which ran about $200. It runs on propane so we buy those small propane canisters that cost about $5 each.
- Fire Pit – $100-200 – We bought an Outland Propane Firepit because we are full-timers and go where most times, we’re not permitted wood fires. As well, firewood is expensive and may not even be available. Propane is cheaper and burns cleaner. Be aware, not every RV park may allow firepits period; regardless of if its propane or wood burning.
- Extra Propane Tank – $50 – for not only your grill but also your propane firepit.
- Camp Chairs – $25 on up – We have two camp directors chairs with extending tables, one lounger type chair for outdoor naps and two of those cheap collapsible chairs for when we go to the beach, visiting other campers or coaches, etc.
- Plastic Bucket – $10 – For bucket washing your vehicle, coach or camper, washing muddy everything, adding water to your toilets after pumping sewage, etc.
- Rain Coats or Jackets – $25 on up – Whether you’re weekend campers or full-time RV’ers, its no doubt you will hitch up or settle in the rain some time or another. Don’t get soaked if you don’t have to.
- Canopy Gazebo – $100-150 – There may be times where there’s not a tree to be seen for miles for shade. Its nice to put over the picnic table; especially if you get the screen attachments to make it an outdoor screen room. However, do know that some campgrounds or parks may not permit them. Always read the rules. As well, never leave them out in case of inclement weather. They fly better than the monkeys in the Wizard of Oz which could damage your neighbors or even your coach or rig. Be extremely mindful of the wind.
- Folding Portable Wagon – $60-100 – These are great if you need to walk your clothes to the laundry facilities as well as your chairs, cooler, children, dogs, etc. when visiting other RVers.
- Small Table – $25 on up – for portable grill if park or campground doesn’t provide picnic tables or location to set your grill.
- S’more Sticks and Camp Pie Maker – $10-20 – for your campfire snacks and meals
- Broom – $10 for inside and your outdoor mat
- Small Dehumidifier – $50-100 – for high humidity locations
- NuWave Induction Cooktop – $100 (will need induction safe cookware…click link FMI) (for cooking messy things outside). We bought two back when we had our Heartland Cyclone and carried them over to our Heartland Landmark.
- Good Mattress – Personal preference
- Bed Linens – RV mattresses are not the same size as regular residential mattresses.
- Bath, hand and face towels – for your bath needs
- Baskets appropriate to fit into cabinets
- Toilet Paper – we Scott 1000 sheet septic safe
- Space Bags
- Damp Rid
- Coffee Maker
- Crock Pot or Instant Pot
- NutriBullet or Smoothie Maker (small lightweight one)
- Pots & Pans
- Bakeware (muffin pan, 8×8 and 9×11 pans)
- Kitchen Prep Knives
- Dishes (microwaveable)
- Plastic Glasses
- Cooking Utensils
- Can/Bottle Opener
- Wine Corkscrew
- Spice Containers
- Coffee Mugs
- trash can & bags
- Measuring cups (collapsible)
- Measuring spoons
- kitchen towels, pot holders and trivet(s)
- Cutting Board (plastic sheet type are awesome for space and weight)
- Paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery
- Dish soap (biodegradable)
- Collapsible Kitchen Prep and Storage Containers
The most important thing to remember and keep in mind when buying anything for your RV or camper is WATCH YOUR WEIGHT! As well, think about your storage space. After we purchased our Heartland Cyclone and later, trading it in for our Heartland Landmark 365, we took dimensions of storage areas including cabinets and compartments; inside and out. We kept the measurements in our phones on a notepad app. That way, we always had them when we were out shopping or saw something that piqued our interest. “If it doesn’t fit, we don’t git!” Don’t buy it because you may ‘think’ it will work. We can’t tell you how many things we bought and then a month later, we chucked it out to the door to go to donation centers.
We hope this helps. Believe me when I say that, in the ‘nice to haves’, its not so important to get everything ‘now’. Keep your list in your phone and if you see it and measures for your space to be stored, then by all means, entertain the thought of buying it.
Almost every week it seems, on one or more of the RV related Facebook group pages we frequent, a topic we call ‘RV Wars’ happens and sometimes…no…EVERY time, it gets very heated. Comments end up getting deleted by the Admin of that group or the discussion is just plain shut down. They always end badly…ALWAYS!
Anyways, this morning, I rose with the sun, grabbed my big cup of hot joe and sat down to see what excitement I missed our favorite pages since during the eight hours I slept. All was going well until…yeah, until I start reading a new member post the forbidden, nails-on-the-chalkboard question that had me snort coffee out of my nose. There it was, staring right back at me on the computer screen…“Hi! We are newbies and were wondering what is the best RV type we should buy?” Now if that ain’t a loaded question, I don’t know what is. If only facebook groupies knew how to use the ‘search bar’ for said group’s page and typed that question instead of posting it, we wouldn’t have this come up almost every week…oh, and my laptop screen would be cleaner, but I digress. We wouldn’t have these perpetual ‘forgive me if this has been posted before but…”; its like watching the movie ‘Groundhog Day’.
Hold onto that thought…
Look, there is no right or wrong answer or best or worst RV out there. Its all a matter of perception and opinion. Everyone’s journey and dream is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Our perspective and experience will be different from others. We each find what fits our situation, family size, interests, toys, cost, floorplans, etc. So when someone posts that unnerving comment, “well, motorhomes are better easier…” or “5th wheels are so much better because…” or the bold faced question in the previous paragraph, you can begin to understand why it is such a controversial subject. So to help with that, we’ve compiled lists that may help answer those unnerving questions or comments.
- Easier to set up/take down (this is hugely debatable)
- Huge windshield for awesome viewing and photography
- Comfy passenger seat with platform area for laptop computer working in transit
- Passenger(s) can watch tv/movies while in transit
- Passenger(s) can make sammiches or go pee while in transit
- Generator enabled at the push of a button from inside
- Driver/Passenger(s) don’t have to leave the inside of the coach
- Large propane tank which results in less visits for refill
- More comfortable ride in transit
- Price tag; much more expensive unless you hit the lottery or heir to the queen
- Engine and Maintenance Costs are significantly higher
- Two vehicles to finance; Motorhome and Toad (transportation vehicle)
- Insurance Cost is higher; don’t forget to add in the Toad
- If your engine breaks down, could cost $$ for lodging while motorhome gets serviced
- Built in generator malfunction requires garage service
- Bigger Propane and Fuel tanks scream OUCH at the pump
- While in transit, driver and passenger(s) hears every shake, rattle and roll of everything inside
- must use high clearance/truck stop type fuel stations because of height
- Affordability (new and pre-owned)
- Maintenance is much simpler and less costly
- Space inside RV is not taken up by engine, transmission or cockpit
- Don’t lose RV home to a garage if mechanics needs to go for service
- More floor plan options and roomier
- More homey feel; residential recliners, fireplace, large entertainment centers
- Larger kitchen/galley with island
- Storage is inside the RV (cabinetry) and not underneath
- Extra storage space in truck bed away from hitch (if needed)
- Insurance is substantially less
- Easier to resell
- Can fuel truck at any fueling station without tow
- No making sammiches or potty breaks while in transit; need rest stops
- Setup/Take Down requires precise hitching/unhitching & leveling
- Smaller windshield and cockpit
- Must be proficient in large vehicle towing and backing up
- Most states disallow passengers to ride in the trailer in transit
- Lighter in weight means less stability during transit
- Riding all day in a pickup truck can be uncomfortable
Both still have to hook up or unhook utilities outside (ie. electric, water & sewage) taking the same amount of time. The only difference we’ve observed is that Class A owners can auto-level from ‘inside’ whereas 5th Wheel owners must level or auto-level from an ‘outside’ cargo compartment, however, that said, if both measured on a stop watch, the task length pretty much equals.
Class A owners claim that 5th Wheel Owners must take extra time to hitch and unhitch however, if Class A owners are towing a toad, they still have to take that same time to hitch or unhitch their toad, sometimes taking longer. As well, Class A owners claim in foul weather, they can pull into a campsite or park, lower their jacks and be done with it while its assumed that those towing a 5th wheel or travel trailer must get out to unhitch to do the same. Not true. If its nasty weather, as 5th wheel owners, we can stay hitched, level the front jacks quickly to take the weight off of the hitch and go inside to put the slides out. We can properly unhitch and fully level in the morning or when the weather breaks.
Just keep “living YOUR dream”!
You’re sitting in your living room and looking around at your life’s possessions aka “STUFF”. You start to wonder if its really all that worth it. Then, your mind wanders…you’re yearning to throw caution to the wind and travel. You’re thinking ‘time is too short to be sitting here’. Whether you’re a man or woman enjoying the single life, young newly married couple, with a family, just the two of you, or new/seasoned retirees, you think to yourself, ‘hey, let’s do what the Liberty Crew is doing’. And so, it begins…..
When contemplating this way of nomadic life in an RV, the biggest decision you’ll make is “buying your new house on wheels”. Careful considerations must be made when deciding what kind of RV you want to live in. This certainly is not an overnight decision to make. Like S&B’s (Sticks and Bricks aka ‘houses’), all RV’s are not created equal. You need to take time to find the one that’s just right for you.
Here are the most common types of RV’s and Campers:
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First, we highly recommend doing your research:
- Budget (how much are wanting to spend?)
- Are you looking for New or Pre-owned?
- Assess your/your family’s needs and wants (family size, pets, etc.)
- Will you want to RV weekends, part-time or full-time?
- Consider what parts of the country you may be traveling at what time of the year
- If you’re going to be at full or partial hookups or boondocking (self contained)
- How long you’re going to be traveling vs. living in or using/living in your RV
- Activities you are going to want to do (ie. sightseeing, hiking, motorcycling, etc.)
- Working on the road? (Will you need a work space/office?)
- How many meals will you be ‘eating in’ vs. ‘eating out’?
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about before taking the plunge and your head will hurt…A LOT…before actually getting on the road. Appreciate this journey though. Its what will build you and your family’s experience. We recommend sitting down yourself, as a couple or family to discuss some or all of these factors. What may be important to one family member, may not be to another. One thing to remember, because RVs are much smaller than the homes we’ve all been accustomed to living in, we must appreciate ‘we can’t have it all’ (ie. toys, crafts, tools, etc.). Space is premium. Enough said about that.
If you have never RV’d before, there are RV rental companies out there who offer the opportunity to ‘try it out’.
You might find out that your family of four just simply can’t get along in a 25′ camper on a rainy weekend or you might find out that a Pop Up camper just doesn’t suit you and your spouse’s taste or…you buy a big honkin’ 5th wheel and just can’t seem to get it right hitching or unhitching. If you have a friend or relative that trusts you with theirs, GO try it out! This is a great way to test the waters before making a costly investment. Once you decide you want to do this, then you’ll want to decide ‘new’ or ‘pre-owned’.
Think about that for a minute…
One thing one must accept is purchasing a brand new RV depreciates as soon as you drive or pull it off the lot; just like a car or truck. However, there’s sort of an inside RV-buying-secret that when you see an MSRP price on a brand new coach or trailer, you’re not going to pay that. No No No! Of course, the dealers would HOPE you would however, arm yourself with some RV buying tactics. RV dealers don’t want you to know is the significant discount off MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) ranges from about 25-35%. Again, this is for NEW RV’s and Campers.
For example, if you have your heart set on a ‘brand new’ fifth wheel with an MSRP of $100,000, keep in the back of your mind that your first price negotiation offer should be approximately $65,000. Always start off low; you can always work your way up. Immediately expect the dealer salesman to look at you like you have three heads, but it’s okay because they know this game. They just are praying you’re not as good at the game as they are. All of that said, before making your initial offer, there are things to keep in mind…like “options”.
We recommend that you ask for a ‘build sheet’ that lists exactly what is in the RV you’re wanting to negotiate on. Do extensive research before even putting in an offer. Naturally, if you get a ‘loaded’ RV, its going to cost you much more than the standard build. In many models today, you can get luxuries like dishwashers, king size beds, washer/dryer setups, residential refrigerators, nicer cabinetry, induction cooktops, convection microwaves, high powered generators, larger holding tanks, etc. which drive the price up, up, up. So, ‘know before you go’!
EXPECT TO WALK AWAY!! Before we purchased our current 5th Wheel, we sat THREE WEEKS in negotiation.
All brand new RV’s come with a stem-to-stern warranty; usually one year but some higher end offer two-year warranties. Then, after your RV warranty expires, some of your RV’s components (ie. furnace, AC, refrigerator, etc.) have individual warranties that may extend by the manufacturers of those components. Whether you purchase a new vs. preowned RV, there are ‘extended warranties’ out there. We can’t recommend either way if you will need one. Again, personal choice. We didn’t opt for one. Like all insurance or warranties, its a risk to weigh.
If you are wanting to buy ‘new’, you can shop for one on the lot that is already set up or if you know exactly what you want, you can ‘order’ however, you must go through the dealer to do so and typically may take up to a few months for it to be built. Be advised, RV manufacturers have their models; designing your own floor plan isn’t going to happen…well, unless you have unlimited room in your wallet filled with Benjamins.
In very rare cases can you order from the manufacturer themselves. Very very few manufacturers do this. Do know though, what one dealer may not have on their lot, another RV dealer may have. Not all dealers carry every manufacturer therefore, if you are ‘brand loyal’, you can find a dealer that showcases the particular manufacturer you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a Heartland product, you must find an RV dealer that sells Heartland products.
We highly recommend attending an RV Show or Camper Expo where they have hundreds of units. Walk in them. Sit in them. Lay on the bed in them. Take the whole family and sit in it together. Move around together in them. Open cabinets to look at the hinges; open drawers to see the construction quality . Collect brochures from those you like. Then, take them home, research the products and manufacturers. One thing to remember is don’t expect a $100,000 unit for $25,000. Higher end units will absolutely show differential such as cabinetry, flooring, furniture, hardware, and construction quality.
Also know that there is a huge difference between a regular camper/RV and one that is a ‘full-time’ camper/RV. So, judge based on what you’re going to need. If you will be using your unit up in South Dakota in the winter or Texas in the summer, there’s much comparison you need to be aware of such as wall insulation, plumbing insulation, HVAC expectations, etc. You will pay more for a unit that is of ‘full-time’ quality because essentially, they are built for all weather and elements. If you’re getting a unit to be your weekend getaway or two-week a year family vacation, then those won’t be of your importance. Assess your own family’s needs before even looking as it will rule out units you won’t need or won’t meet your needs.
We highly recommend taking a factory tour of a few RV manufacturers (we did up in Elkhart, Indiana where the majority of travel trailers and 5th wheels are built) to see and understand the build and quality of their construction. Find out which is close to you or if you’d like to take a mini vaca to go take a look see.
Now, if you don’t want to buy new risking depreciation, buying pre-owned is your other option. Again, know what you’re looking for. Please be extremely cautious about who and ‘how’ you shop for pre-owned. While Craigslist and Ebay ‘can’ be wonderful avenues, we’ve seen first hand on the downside of dealing with sellers. We’ve seen and read about countless people fall victim to criminal actions (fake sellers, no such RV for sale, weird payment requirement, etc.). If you choose to go this route, be very cautious about giving your credit card info out, paying cash, etc. Also, check around online. Oftentimes, a fake seller will post photos of a hypothetical RV for sale yet, really, there is none. They will use real address but never show up with the alleged RV. Read about this scam that left a couple penniless: Texas couple stranded in Omaha after falling for RV scam. Please do your research. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. We recommend you to familiarize yourself with scam tactics. Before making any monetary transaction, have friends and relatives look into also. It never hurts to have extra sets of eyes to see alerts that you may not. Just be careful.
Okay, enough of that. Yes, there ARE honest folks selling their RV’s and campers. When you find them, you’ll do fine. Make sure you have your checklist of questions to ask:
- Does it have a VIN #
- How old is the RV or Camper
- Who is it registered to? State?
- Where is it located?
- Has it ever been involved in a wreck?
- Is there a lien on the RV or Camper?
- Is it a ‘one owner’?
- Can you see the RV or Camper anytime you wish?
Also, here is a good checklist guide regarding buying an RV or Camper: RV Checklist: Know the Right Questions to Ask
We all have different standards of living; RV’s are no exception. Look at the condition first (ie. cabinetry, carpeting, flooring, etc. Look around windows, doors and ceilings for water damage. Water is an RV’s biggest foe. Your nose is your best indicator. If, at a dealer, it smells like an air freshener, RUN…FAST…because you have to wonder ‘what are they covering up’ unless you are willing to accept the risk.
The best way and time to see a pre-owned on their lots or even someone else’s yard is a surprise visit. Say ‘hey, we’re in the neighborhood and would love to see the inside of your camper/rv’. If it smells musty or moldy, it means there was or is a moisture issue. Look in corners behind furniture; look for black, brown or white powdery issues. Always, when buying a pre-owned, not everyone is honest about previous ownership and care.
One thing we highly suggest, before signing papers and writing the check for a pre-owned RV or Camper…like buying a S&B (sticks and bricks home), you pay an independent RV inspector to go through your pre-owned RV with a fine tuned comb. We suggest not using an RV inspector recommended by an RV dealer; they most likely will have an underhanded reward by working with an RV dealer. Hire your own; research their credentials; they should cost no more than $500 depending on the size and type of rig. Ask a potential inspector if they are NRVIA certified (National RV Inspectors Association) and ask for a copy of their certification. Here’s a great article Why Do You Need a Certified RV Inspection.
Like home inspections, inspectors should look intensely at every inch of the RV or Camper. They will look at roof structure and age; a new roof can cost upwards to $10,000! They will focus on all engineering of the coach; plumbing, sewer, electrical, and all mechanical features (ie. slides, awnings, etc.). They will look for water intrusion and critter invasions. Do appreciate that there are younger RV’s that are pre-owned that have ‘all the bugs worked out’, there are also dumps that we wouldn’t even let our two cats walk in. A good inspector should be honest and precise; providing you with a written report of their findings.
Here’s an ‘approximate’ what current inspector rates are. One thing to consider is rates may be regionally based, so keep that in mind.
For more info regarding hiring a pre-purchase inspector, here is a great article: NRVIA & RV Inspection Connection
And then there’s the whole ‘learning process’ about owning an RV…
Prior to taking the plunge, we can’t stress enough to NETWORK with like minded and those who are doing it or have done it. However, realize, when asking ‘who makes the best RV?’ is like asking ‘which truck is better?’; it could potentially open up a very opinionated dialog. We call them ‘truck or RV wars’ and those discussions…er ‘arguments’ always end badly. Just do your homework and research.
There are several Social Media avenues to get information, advice and suggestions from (ie. Facebook, etc.) Take lots of notes; written and mental. Keep a folder. Visit lots of RV dealers and step foot in tons of RV’s. Ask lots of questions. Before deciding and buying our current Heartland Landmark 365 Ashland, we reviewed approximately 30 other models of various manufacturers and floor plans. Arm yourself with information and questions to ask the dealer or seller.
Okay, onto the money part…
Today, you can finance an RV (depending on RV type, age, and size) all the way up to 20-30 years just like a house. But remember, when budgeting, one must consider also campsite/park/resort fees, fuel, RV and vehicle maintenance, and other finances (we will cover this on a later blog post). There are so many options out there on price. Once you find a comfortable budgeted amount, stick with it. Don’t over extend your finances when it comes to your purchase price.
Shop around for finance rates. Some RV dealers will offer financing but just remember, they are making money on ‘their’ financing also. Don’t ever feel you must finance through them. Do comparison shopping and if they offer financing, ask if they would be willing to match rates of your banking institution to make buying easier and benefit either of you. If you prefer to not finance and have the cash, you’re golden!
NOTE OF CONSIDERATION: If you are ‘selling it all’ to RV full-time, it is our recommendation that you purchase your RV first before passing papers on your home. You will need that address to set up financing from the bank. Once you sell and move into your RV, you can claim residency elsewhere as you wish. If you sell your home and THEN buy an RV (especially a larger one), banks are and will be reluctant to finance due to lack of you not having collateral assets.
And then there’s the insurance part…
Most insurance companies that insure your vehicles will also insure your RV or camper. Just read the fine print on what they will cover, deductibles, etc. Know the difference between ‘full-timer insurance’ and part timer.
Oh, and one more thing…
You will need ‘a roll to roll’; meaning you will need to outfit your camper or RV and it will cost you a small but necessary fortune. Always set aside approximately $3000-5000 to outfit your RV or Camper with necessities (another detailed blog post about that very soon!). You will need important ‘stuff’ so you can roll.
Your RV is out there! Just be patient. Its like buying a house. Your head will hurt (I think I’ve mentioned that before) but the end result will take you to places you’ve dreamed about; sitting on beaches, hiking mountains, visiting museums and eating at cool diners all across the good U.S. of A.!