YOUR FIRST RV TRIP: TIPS FOR SUCCESS

Have you ever watched someone trying to learn a new skill? Think of children learning to ride a bike. At first, they will require a lot of assistance, such as training wheels or a parent running alongside. Eventually, they’ll make some independent strides of their own—with plenty of wobbling and crashing involved. After a while, they’ll get it. And they’ll soar off down the street on their way to many wonderful adventures.

 

New RV owners may find themselves facing a similar learning curve. If it’s been a long time since you learned something new, it can be intimidating to suddenly find yourself in a situation where you’re wondering, “How in the world am I going to get this trailer through a tight gas station parking lot? Will I be able to empty the black tank without spilling it everywhere? Am I properly lighting this propane stove, or am I going to damage my rig?”

 

We’ve been RVing for 8 years now, but we still remember the nervousness we faced before our first trip. Even once we became seasoned RVers, we still faced the same apprehension every time we pulled out for a journey with a newer, bigger rig. The good thing is we can assure you that our unease was soon replaced with enthusiasm as we became accustomed to our new equipment.

 

The greatest adventure of your life is just around the corner–and we want to help you get to the fun part faster. Thanks to our years of experience, we have the following tips to help you make your first RV trip a success:

 

 

  1. Camp Close to Home for Your First Few Trips

You finally bought the RV of your dreams…now it’s time to hit those dream destinations, right? Not so fast. For your first few trips, you’ll want to book campgrounds close to home. This will allow you to gain confidence as you learn how to operate your new rig. Also, it takes a few trips to figure out what to stock in your RV. If you camp close to home, you can easily run home to grab the must-needed items, and you’ll be in familiar territory.

 

  1. Reserve a Private Campground for Your First Trip

If you want to spark an internet debate, just ask the people on an RV forum whether public parks or private campgrounds are better. While no one can debate that beauty and solitude are often found in our nation’s state and national parks, there are some added amenities that make private campgrounds a perfect choice for your first trip. First, they often have full hookups. Until you understand your rig and your family’s needs, it’s better to have electricity, water, and sewer onsite. Also, private parks often have helpful staff members who can assist with things like backing into a site for the first time.

 

 

  1. Reserve a Pull-Thru Site at Your First Campground

There are many beautiful campsites in this nation. Some are easy to pull right into, while others require backing down a long driveway at a 30-degree angle while trying to avoid some trees. You will eventually be able to veer your trailer into practically any spot with ease, but you can avoid some headaches for your first trip by booking a pull-thru site. A pull-thru site is one that is situated between two roads, making it easy to pull right in when you arrive and pull right out when you leave…no backing up required. On your first trip, you have enough to worry about without having to angle a trailer into a spot. Keep it easy peasy with a pull-thru!

 

  1. Divide and Conquer During Setup

Arriving at a campground is a little different from arriving at a hotel. There are quite a few tasks that need to be done in order to secure your trailer and set up a cozy campsite. Doing these for the first time takes a lot longer than it will once you learn your rhythm and routines. If you have younger kids, the easiest thing to do is to get them out from underfoot so one adult of the family can truly concentrate on setup, while the other concentrates on keeping the kids happy and safe. If you have older kids, they can help with the setup process.

 

 

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Even if you’re not usually the type of person to ask for help from random strangers on the street, you’ll learn that this is a wonderful benefit from campground culture, when needed. As you are learning to operate a new rig, there will, undoubtedly, be some tasks you forget how to do or never learned in the first place. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most of your neighbors were in your shoes at one time or another and will kindly pay it forward.

 

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Say No to Help When Backing In

One of the silly things that stress us out is feeling like other RVers are judging us when we are backing in the rig. For reasons unknown to us, there are some people who like to kick back in their camp chairs and watch other RVers set up camp. Some will eagerly jump in and offer to help, which is great—except when it isn’t. If you don’t want the help, don’t worry about politely declining with a simple, “Hey, we are new at this, and we want to learn how to do it. We’ll let you know if we need some assistance!”

 

 

  1. Expect the Unexpected—and Don’t Let it Get You Down

Things may go wrong, as they inevitably will. Perhaps you didn’t understand how long to cool the fridge and had nowhere to put your piles of groceries. Perhaps you found out something isn’t working in the RV or broke something that was working. Stuff happens. Try not to lose too much of your vacation time fretting over mistakes and mishaps. Do your best to problem solve and move on.

 

 

  1. Avoid Driving at Night

If at all possible, plan your early trips to include driving and setting up during daylight hours. Driving at night can be risky. If you have a breakdown, you’ll have a harder time finding help since the auto parts stores, garages, and RV dealerships will be closed. Setting up at night can also be immensely more difficult due to the lack of sight.

 

  1. Breathe. Go Slow. Have Fun.

Things will eventually get easier! You will soon be able to set up camp blindfolded. Until then, all you can do is be patient with yourself as you learn. Don’t be too critical on yourself…and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

 

Once you get your first-time jitters out of the way and gain some useful experiences, you can rest easy knowing that the road ahead is much smoother, with far fewer pit stops. You will get the hang of operating, maintaining, and towing that beautiful new RV. It won’t always be easy, but it will definitely be worth the effort, especially when you finally do take that dream rig to your dream destinations. Pretty soon, you’ll be like the kid on the bike, pedaling fast with a smile on your face.

 

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Best Places To Visit In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley offers the holiday spirit throughout the year. Known the world over as Christmas City, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has embraced that moniker since 1937.

A few years ago, the USPS reported that more than 250,000 pieces of Christmas mail from around the country flowed through Bethlehem to be blessed with the coveted cancellation stamp.

No matter when you visit Bethlehem, you will always be greeted by the Star of Bethlehem, which shines brightly atop of South Mountain.

Christmas City
Star in Bethlehem. Photo by A. Strakey/Flickr

Representing the star that led the Magi to Jesus in the manger, the 81-foot star has been illuminated year-round since first lit in 1935. It was upgraded to LED lighting in 2010.

A few miles north of Bethlehem is Evergreen Lakes Campground in Bath. Highlights of the campground include a miniature golf course and free WiFi in the main office. They have 250 sites, many with full hookups, as well as showers, laundry facilities, a store, propane, and fishing.

In addition to the town of Bethlehem, several other local boroughs and towns in Northampton County offer a Biblical connection. Nazareth Borough is named for the town in Israel where Jesus Christ resided during his youth. Allentown’s Jordan Creek is a nod to the Jordan River.

Christmas City
Bethlehem Golf Club

Weather permitting, Bethlehem Golf Club is open year-round. Established in 1956, Bethlehem’s Monocacy course is a Par 71 that stretches to 7,017 yards and offers five sets of tees. It’s one of the top courses to play in the Philadelphia area; the City of Brotherly Love sits less than 70 miles to the south.

Bethlehem’s colonial history dates back more than 250 years and is well worth exploring. A good place to start is the website www.bethlehempa.org. For nearly a century, the Bethlehem Steel plant served as the economic lifeblood of the community, but it closed in 1995.

Christmas City
Browse the local shops in Bethlehem. Photo via Discover Lehigh Valley/Flickr

Rather than demolish the historic mill or walk away and let it fall apart, the community rallied around the iconic plant. Today, SteelStacks is a 10-acre campus dedicated to arts, culture, family events, community celebrations, education, and fun.

The site offers more than 1,000 concerts and eight different festivals annually. There are a lot of things to see and do at SteelStacks.

Whether it’s Christmastime or summertime, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania offers a wealth of holiday spirit throughout the year. You can learn more about the city on www.bethleham-pa.gov; for more information on Evergreen Lakes Campground, check out their reviews.

See also: 6 Gifts For RVers That Keep On Giving All Year Long



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How to Get Free National and State Park Entry Passes

All parks budgets are squeezed to the max, but free national and state park entry passes are still a relatively easy thing to get. You’ll need to plan your RV trip carefully to do it, but the effort is worthwhile when you save the cash.

3 Tips for Free National And State Park Visits

free national and state park entry
Image: National Park Service.

Before getting started in your search for a free national and state park visit, remember a couple of things. First, you’ll save money with a free entrance pass, but in most cases the savings only apply to the actual park entry fee. Camping and other recreational fees like fishing usually apply once you’re inside the park. Second, those free park days tend to be quite busy, so don’t expect a ton of solitude once you arrive. Aside from those two limitations (and maybe others depending on the specific pass and location), scoring a free visit is pretty easy. Here’s how.

Go RVing on Free National Park Days

Unless you or a close family member qualifies for the free national parks pass for military members, or you have a child who qualifies for the free annual pass for fourth grade students, national park visits are more expensive all the time. The best way to get around the increases is by planning your adventure around any of the National Parks System’s free days that take place every year.

Drive into a national park on one of five annual free entry days and you’ll get a free ride for as long as the usual entry fee is good for (often up to seven days), as long as you never leave the gates. Keep these U.S. National Park Free Days in mind when planning your next adventure:

 January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
September 28 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans Day

Look for Free Days at Your Nearest State Park

Just do an internet search for “(your state) state park free days in (year)” and you might find a list of free park entrance days somewhere you want to camp.

For instance, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is legally required to give residents 12 free Washington state park free entry days per year.

Oftentimes, free days coincide with some sort of state celebration. Places like Vermont and Colorado offer free admission on or around their statehood day celebrations. Other states like South Dakota have an Open House weekend with free admission to state parks. And Nevada offers free state park entry on Nevada Public Lands Days. Thankfully many of these celebrations are during the summer camping season!

Last but not least, most states offer free park entry all year round for military members.

Volunteer at National and State Parks

free national and state park entry
Image: NPS.gov

Perhaps the best way to get free national and state park entrance is to help the park systems with your time and labor. Many states like Georgia offer free days for volunteers on certain days of the year. And the National Park Service gives a free entry pass to volunteers who log 250 or more hours of work with the parks.

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to live in states like Connecticut and New Hampshire, which offer free state park entry to residents with valid car license plates. That’s when an internet search engine can be your best friend to help you find free park entry fees that work with your travel schedule. Good luck and happy camping!



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GoFundMe For Camp Fire, California

The wildfire that recently ravaged California was the deadliest and most destructive in state history. The blaze known as Camp Fire claimed at least 86 lives, destroyed over 153,000 acres, and left 50,000+ people displaced in emergency shelters. Driven by high winds, the wildfire was finally 100% contained after seventeen days on November 25, 2018.

Though 18+ hours away in Denver, James (Woody) Faircloth felt compelled to help. He started searching Craigslist for RVs that he could take out to California and donate to a family who lost their home.

Woody set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the RV as well as supplies like food and diapers he could give out to other evacuees.

All photos via GoFundMe

When he told his six-year-old daughter, Luna, about his plans, she was up for the trip. “We were watching some of what’s going on out there and talking about what if that was us and what would we do,” Woody shared on GoFundMe. “And I told (my daughter) what the idea was and she was 100 percent on board. She said, ‘God and Santa Claus would be really proud of us for this.’”

After launching the fundraiser, Woody emailed almost every person selling an RV on Craigslist in Colorado, asking if they would consider donating or reducing the price of their RV for the good cause.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a man offered to lower the price of his RV to how much they had raised. Woody filled the RV with items like blankets and groceries and arrived in California by the holiday.

GoFundMe
Ready to help a good cause!

Once word got out, more and more people contacted Woody about donating their RVs and trailers. The next day, he got a call from a couple in San Francisco who wanted to donate their RV, it just needed some new tires.

“This amazing 1958 refurbished Greyhound bus was donated by Teri and Gordon Allen. This lovely couple first met when they were only 10 years old and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary later this year. They emailed us and let us know that they where moved by our journey when they saw us on the news and just knew that we could find a family in need who would be a good fit for their beloved vintage bus.

We plan to hand the keys and the title to a firefighter and her future wife who lost their home and all belongings in the fire tomorrow in Chico.”

GoFundMe
Woody with Teri and Gordon Allen in front of the donated 1958 Greyhound bus

To date, their GoFundMe has matched 35 families to purchased and donated RVs, and they have helped 127 people including 58 children, 69 adults, 9 single parents, 3 first responders, 8 veterans, and 11 medical cases.

Woody has repaired and renovated the RVs to make them feel more like home. On a recent trip to Home Depot, he spent over $1500 on smoke detectors, carbon monoxide sensors, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, and other items needed to live in an RV.

“Just met with this angel on earth named Coleman Johnson who handed me the title and keys to this lovingly used and well maintained RV. Coleman shared that he married his wife in 1962 and that she sadly moved into an Alzheimer’s memory care facility last year.

Coleman said he and his family shared a lot of memories in this RV and he wants another family to have the same opportunity.”

donate
Coleman Johnson and Woody in front of the donated RV

You can learn more about donating on their GoFundMe page. Woody is asking for the public’s help recommending families to give the RVs to by emailing RV4campfirefamily@gmail.com with as many details as possible. You can also follow his journey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

See also: New RVs Donated To Tents For Troops



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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE | Go RVing

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

     It’s the time of year for giving and if you’re like me, treating yourself to a few items on your own wish list as well. Since I grew up in a camping family in the 1970’s, using a lot of hand me down items from the 1950’s, I tend to be drawn to classic camp items that evoke the nostalgia of happy times and the simple pleasures of life. I found a few of those to share as well as some new things bound for classic status. Here are a few of my favorite things!

Mollyjogger Old School Ice Box – When you come across these in an antiques shop they tend to be pricey and sketchy. I’m reluctant to put ice in them if I plan to put that ice in a beverage later. They usually have pitted aluminum walls. I’ve been using this new “Old” Ice Box on my bar now for two years. It is where I store the ice I use for drinks. It will keep a bag of ice for about 24 hours and its size makes it great for the floor of the passenger seat in my truck too. I keep drinks, snacks and lunch handy there. Plus, it just looks great! $89.

 

 

Kavu Long Johns – These are long johns with a twist. In addition to the classic bottom to top one piece style they have the added features of a drawstring hoodie, center pockets and thumb loops, a requirement for cold nights around the campfire.  They are 97% polyester jacquard knit for easy washing and have tight cuffs and bottom hem to keep the cold out. A classic! They are the perfect sleep, nap and lounge apparel on a chilly campout.  $90

 

 

Keen Sneakers – Those who know me know that I love statement footwear! It’s hard to get me out of my bowling shoes but these sneakers hit the mark for me. First of all, they are plaid. Can there be too much plaid in the world? I think not. They are a classic design with lots of toe space, soft interior, nicely rolled edges that don’t rub, aluminum eyelets that let your feet breathe and a really rich fleece fabric that brushes clean. These are not hiking shoes. They are day tripping shoes for running errands, getting stuff done and looking cute while doing it. $79

 

 

Pendleton Motor Robe – Back in the old days when my grandfather would take us somewhere in his car on those freezing Chicago winter days, he had the Pendleton blanket on the seat for us to sit on. My grandfather was a steel worker in Indiana who owned very few duplicates of things. He had a dress coat, a suit, a summer and winter hat and he had a few Pendleton shirts! We all wish we knew what happened to them!! He understood the value of a dollar and quality. There are few things more timeless than quality wool and items that get passed down. I have taken to giving this blanket to the nieces and nephews as engagement gifts in homage to our “Poppy.” It’s a great size for the RVer in your life because it serves many purposes. It fits on a camp chair nicely and adds a layer of warmth between you and the night air. It folds neatly across the bottom of a bed to pull up in the night if it gets too cold. It’s a great lap robe around the fire, at a game or while tailgating and even if you have seat heaters, it’s a welcoming sight to a cold hiker getting back to the car! $99

National Parks Candles – The Good and Well Supply Company was started by Megan McLaughlin, a Girl Camper on a quest to harness the scents in nature. She traveled the US camping in her tent and storing up treasured memories from National Parks. She resettled in the Pacific Northwest and began making 100% soy candles in small batches that she sells in pint, half pint and travel tins. The labels are truly art and each candle is made from 100% renewable soy, have balsa wood wicks, are petroleum free, GMO free, and lead free. A portion of each sale is donated to the National Parks Foundation. $36

The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles – by Laura Farenthold.  A good read for RV lovers and anyone who has ever been dealt a crushing blow in life. This is no sad tale of widowhood and its trials but instead it’s the tale of a woman who used RVing to help herself and daughters gain their footing again after the sudden loss of her husband and the girls’ dad. It is full of poignant, funny, and mystical coincidences that kept me turning the pages at a rapid rate. It’s a book of hope, chutzpah and perseverance mixed in with stories of our National Parks, backroad towns and the strangers they met along the way who were angels in disguise. A really uplifting read. $15

 

 

LL Bean Boots – There are two things about these boots that grabbed me. One, I love festive footwear and two, plaid IS my favorite color. I have bought several pairs of LL Bean knockoffs over the years while my sister in law has had the same LL Bean boots since high school. Every year she breaks them out for winter footwear, sledding events and to use to and from the ski slopes at her family’s weekend home in Vermont. I realized that if I added up all my quick-to-deteriorate replicas I could have owned the real McCoy! I indulged in the 10”, hand crafted 106 year old tried and true design and think I just acquired my last pair of boots. That’s Yankee thrift for you. They are incredibly warm with duck rubber soles, shearling lining and wool plaid outer layer. The boot bottom has Thinsulate lining and supported steel shank, they are triple stitched and still handmade the old fashioned way, one boot at a time, by craftsmen (elves?) in Maine. They also are just sooooo cute!!! $245

Wicked Good Cupcakes – I fell in love with this idea when I first saw this mother- daughter duo present their idea on Shark Tank. I then received a six pack of these gooey homemade cupcakes in Mason jars and fell in love with their taste. They are now my new go-to “have to send a gift” item.  I’m thrilled to find a fun alternative to flowers and fruit baskets. I recently spent close to $90 to send a fruit bouquet to a camping buddy in need of a hug from afar.  I wish I had known that for $26 I could have sent her two S’mores in a jar and sat around a virtual campfire with her. They come freshly made and packed in ice packs. They will last a week without refrigeration on your countertop but can be frozen for up to six months!! Wicked good idea!! Two pack $26 including shipping.

Dune Jewelry – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a shell or sand or pine cones from far off places and packed them to take home. What happens when it gets home is the problem. How do you keep and display sand from a favorite beach? Dune Jewelry makes beautiful keepsake pieces to remember a vacation by. You can mail them your own sand, dried flower petals, crushed stones or other elements that you gathered on a vacation and then choose a design.  They offer cuff bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings and charms. If you don’t have your own sand they have an element bank to choose from. I purchased a necklace filled with sand from the beaches in Cape May, NJ. We had a home there when our children were little, and my oldest daughter is very sentimental about Cape May. I was thrilled when I saw they had Cape May sand in stock!! Each piece of jewelry is handmade by metal artisans. I’m thinking of starting a travel charm bracelet with element charms from the National Parks. After all, how many hoodie sweatshirts can you have? $36-$200

 

 

Old School Flashlight – When we camped as kids there were two light sources after dark, the Coleman lantern which kids could not touch, and the single flashlight our family owned. If you had to walk to the bathroom at night you were “entrusted” with the flashlight under pain of severe reprisal should anything happen to it. The batteries were probably more valuable than the flashlight.  I collect vintage flashlights which I use while camping and display around the house and trailer. I was excited to come across this little treasure online. The Chrome Vintage Flashlight is made by United Pacific and costs $9.95 on Amazon. It uses two “D” batteries, has the kid intriguing Morse Code Button in case of danger and the built in retractable hook to hang it from the tent pole at night. It’s sure to inspire lots of nostalgia and tales of the old days if you put it in an “old fart’s” stocking. $10

 

 

Williams Sonoma – Plaid Insulated Beverage Container. It’s a new “old” thermos with a nod to the Plaid Skotch Koolers I grew up with. This new version of a camp classic holds 16 fluid ounces, has double walled insulation to keep beverages hot for up to 12 hours and like the old version, the cap is also the cup!! $29.95

 

 

Chill Angel – I was gifted these incredible PJ’s last year and this year I got a second pair in this festive Christmas color for myself. I used these camping all year and discovered what they knew in the old days about the properties of wool. Have you ever wondered how the Civil War reenactors can be standing around in the heat in July and not sweating? It’s the wool uniform. These Merino wool pajamas are made of the best moisture managing and temperature regulating fabric known to man. They are made from super fine Merino wool that feels so soft on your skin but which also rapidly dissipates heat, minimizing temperature spikes during your sleep cycle. If you are one of those people who wakes up during the night kicking off the covers because you are hot, these PJ’s will return you to normal temperature and back to sleep quickly. If you just like luxurious pajamas that keep you cool in hot weather and very warm in winter you will love these as much as I do. They are not just sleepwear though. They are the perfect loungewear on a rainy day and a great gift for outdoor enthusiasts. $39-$139

 

 

Camco “Life Is Better at the Campsite” Goodies – This year Camco Manufacturing came out with a new product line aptly titled, “Life Is Better at the Campsite.” I couldn’t agree more! I’ve got two fun items for the holidays from Camco. The first is their new wrapping paper which is a perfect way to wrap gifts for your RVing friends! But, look closely, it’s not actually holiday paper. It’s all seasons. You can put a pretty Christmas bow on it during the holidays or use it for birthday gifts in July! The other fun items from Camco are their happy mugs!! I really loved this red ceramic one. It’s got speckles that make it look like snowflakes and it holds 12 oz. You can also put this in the microwave. It’s full of holiday cheer!! This will be my official hot chocolate and hot toddy mug all winter. I think it’s a great stocking stuffer or grab bag gift. Paper – $16 Mug – $10

 

 

 

 

https://www.mollyjogger.com/cart

https://kavu.com/products/wildwood?variant=12113657593927

https://www.keenfootwear.com/p/W-ELSA-SNEAKER-FLEECE.html?dwvar_W-ELSA-SNEAKER-FLEECE_color=1017967&cgid=womens_footwear_shoes

https://www.pendleton-usa.com/product/motor-robe-with-leather-carrier-71376.html?dwvar_71376_color=9442&cgid=blankets-throws#start=5&cgid=blankets-throws

 

https://goodandwellsupplyco.com/collections/national-park-candles

https://www.amazon.com/Pink-Steering-Wheel-Chronicles-Story/dp/1578267684/ref=asc_df_1578267684/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312176338241&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14434448599435065161&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003956&hvtargid=aud-466606931481:pla-490943437427&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=60258870897&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312176338241&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14434448599435065161&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003956&hvtargid=aud-466606931481:pla-490943437427

 

https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/121340?page=bean-boot-10-shearling-lined-wool-plaid&bc=474-630&feat=630-GN1&csp=f&attrValue_0=Bn%20Boot%20Brown/Burgundy/Bn%20Boot%20Brown/Gum

https://www.wickedgoodcupcakes.com/

https://dunejewelry.com/

https://www.amazon.com/United-Pacific-C5013-Vintage-Flashlight/dp/B07BKR5LPZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1543975543&sr=8-2&keywords=Chrome+Vintage+Flashlight

 

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/plaid-insulated-beverage-container/

https://chillangel.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Decorative-Different-Designs-Excellent-53239/dp/B07K565B5F

https://www.amazon.com/Vintage-USA-vintage-interior-Flashlight/dp/B01GCELIVM/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1543972589&sr=8-10&keywords=Chrome+Vintage+Flashlight

 

 

 

 

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Gift Ideas For RVers For Christmas And Birthday Presents

Looking to buy a gift for a seasoned RVer? The problem with buying a gift for someone that RVs full-time or has been on the road for years is they either already own it or don’t have room for it in the RV.

Therefore, consider gifts that are small and/or consumable. Let’s take a look at a few ideas:

1. State recreation passes

The majority of RVers enjoy exploring and camping on public land. Consider buying them a pass that allows them to recreate in their home state.

A majority of states require a day pass to enter their state park system, some even provide a discount on overnight camping. In Washington State, a Discover Pass also allows entry into Fish and Wildlife Areas and Department of Natural Resource land where there are thousands of free places to camp.

gift ideas
Free camping via Discover Pass. Photo by author

In Arizona, there are thousands of acres of land held in trust that can be accessed via an annual permit that allows day use and free overnight camping.

2. A Forest Service Pass

A Forest Service Pass allows the pass holder access to developed amenities on forest service land like trailheads, boat launches, and points of interest.

On occasion, they even take the place of overnight camping fees. Passes are available for different regions and are good for 12 consecutive months.

3. An all-access pass to National Parks & more

An America the Beautiful Pass will allow your RV friends access to National Monuments, National Parks, fee access sites managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and more.

gift ideas
These interagency passes are good for one full year from the month they’re purchased. Read more on Do It Yourself RV.

Those with an America The Beautiful Pass typically can access all (USFS) sites so they won’t need a Forest Service Pass as well. The America the Beautiful Pass expires annually until the age of 62 at which time the recipient is eligible for a lifetime pass.

4. Emergency services membership

Another gift that expires annually is a membership for Emergency Roadside Towing, which will bring peace of mind to you and your RVing friends.

Be certain to purchase them a policy that covers RVs. AAA and Good Sam both offer policies designed for RV owners and have lots of discounts and rewards for their members.

5. Fuel gift cards

Consider getting your RVing friend a Flying J/Pilot gift card they can use to buy motor fuel, propane, or pay for dump station fees.

gift ideas
Fuel gift cards are perfect for RVers. Photo by bamaspiveys on iRV2 Forums

Gift cards are available from most any store that offers gift cards or from a variety of online sources.

6. A roll of quarters

Every RVer has to do laundry while on the road, so why not save them a trip to the bank to pick up a roll of quarters for the laundromat?

Buying the perfect gift for an RVing friend will help them enjoy their next adventure in RVing!



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Food Tour Tips & The Best Food Tours In The U.S. For Travelers

One of the benefits of RV living is being able to travel to different areas and explore what is offered there, whether it is the vistas, the climate, the lifestyle, the adventure, or the food.

Food tours are a fun way to explore a city, giving you a unique insight into the cuisine and culture of a town, as well as great places to eat.  A food tour (or culinary tour) is a professionally guided tour of local food and beverage establishments in an area.

Some tours include hands-on workshops, one-on-one with the chefs or restaurateur, area history or architecture, and new people to meet.  Food tours have become quite popular and are offered in many cities and towns around the world.

food tours
A food tour at Pikes Market in Seattle (drukelly/Flickr)
How to find a food tour

Websites like Taste Trekkers or Urban Adventures are places to start your search for a food tour in the town you may be passing through.

You may be able to narrow your search for specifics as well. How about a coffee tour of Seattle?  New Orleans Cajun cuisine?  A wine tour around Grand Junction?  A beer tour in Cincinnati?

What to expect on a food tour

Most food tours are done by foot through a specific neighborhood or area visiting local shops along the route, although some bus tours are available.

If you have mobility issues, be sure to ask about the level of activity or mobility accommodations that may be available.  Typical food tours are smaller groups (10-15 people) with 6-8 stops.

You will get plenty of food, and time to digest as you walk the area between stops.  At the first few stops, some people may think that the smaller portion sizes will leave them hungry, but by the end of the tour, you won’t want a big dinner!

At each stop, your guide will explain why that location was chosen, and a particular food or drink is usually showcased.  If that menu item isn’t to your liking, don’t worry—the next stop will be something different!

Between stops, your guide may explain how the cuisine fits into the city’s culture or provide information on the history of the town itself.

food tour
Try the local cuisine wherever you’re traveling. Photo by Sarah Wu/Flickr

A good tour should provide you with an idea of what kind of food to expect. If you have dietary requirements, let your tour know at the time of booking so that they can accommodate you as best as they can.

Some tours or destinations may not be able to accommodate every dietary need, so be sure to ask before you buy your tickets.

Keep in mind that the time of day you take your tour may change what kind of stops and food are planned.  A lunch-time tour will often feature different food than an evening tour, and the ambiance of the city can change through the day as well.  Plan for a time of day that best suits your interests.

The cost factor

Food tours tend to be more expensive than other walking tours (around $35-$75 per person).  Price will vary based on the location, length, and type of tour you are booking.

You can sometimes find deals through Groupon or local travel sites.  Considering that you are actually getting a multi-course meal as well as an informative tour, and the smaller group size, you do end up getting your money’s worth.

See also: Why You Should Experience An RV Tour



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TIPS FOR CLEANING YOUR RV’S INTERIOR

 

The new camping season will be here before we know it and before it arrives you’ll want to give the interior of your RV a good deep clean! It may sound strange but I love cleaning my RV. Really! One, it takes much less time than cleaning my house even when it’s a pull-out-everything-from-cabinets deep clean. Two, my RV is my escape, my retreat, and that makes it feel like less of a chore and more like a chance to give her the pampering she deserves.

 

Below is how I clean my RV’s interior. I like to start with the ceilings. Then I work from one end to the other and finally finish with the floors. It’s so satisfying to know that my RV is clean and ready to go for the next adventure.

 

I’ve included a lot of small tips to help make the cleaning process more efficient, but I want to stress my favorite tip: While you are cleaning keep an eye out for any items that may need repair or require preventative maintenance and write it down. Cleaning is a perfect time to do this because you are going over every surface. If you do this along with regular exterior inspections your RV is sure to give you many years of enjoyment!

 

Tip: If possible, plan your cleaning on a reasonably warm day so you can open the windows. You don’t want to be breathing the cleaning product fumes and the air circulation will help things dry out quicker and cut down on odors.

 

Alright grab your supplies and get scrubbing!

Supplies

Multi-purpose Cleaner

Glass Cleaner

Floor Cleaner

Boxes of Baking Soda

Magic Sponge (for any tough marks on ceilings or walls)

Gloves

Vacuum with attachments

Rags and/or Paper Towels

Sponges

Step Stool

Garden Hose

Something to take notes on: phone or paper or my handy PDF checklist linked below! 🙂

 

Ceilings

 

Start with the ceilings so you can vacuum or sweep up anything that may drop out of the vents or fans. Use your vacuum attachment to suck up any cobwebs that may have collected on the ceiling and clean out any dust that may have accumulated in the vents/fans. Pull out the screens and vacuum them. If they are really dirty you may want to wash them with water. Don’t forget to vacuum the vents of your air conditioner and check the filter to see if it needs to be replaced or cleaned.

 

Tip: While wiping the ceiling down with a damp cloth, look closely for signs of discoloration or any “bubbling”. Make a note of any spots that may need some preventative maintenance.

 

Bedroom(s)

 

 

 

Start by cleaning the windows. Next scan the walls noting the condition. Wipe the walls paying special attention to the doorways where dirt tends to accumulate. Take out all bedding and give it a good shake. If the RV has been in storage, I like to wash everything to get ready for the new camping season. If I’m in the middle of camping season, I’ll likely just fold it and put it away. Next, vacuum the closets and clean mirrors. Finally, if you aren’t going to be camping for a few months, stick a box of baking soda in the closet.

 

Tip: Don’t forget to vacuum the under-the-bed storage compartment if you have it!

 

Bathroom(s)

 

 

Start with the walls to remove any personal product residue. Next is the toilet and tanks. You can use a garden hose to spray down inside the tank as best as you can. Drop in some holding tank treatment to keep things fresh and wipe down the toilet. Pull out your belongings from the cabinets and wipe the shelves. Clean the mirror, sink, and shower or tub. Make notes of anything that needs maintenance or supplies you may be running low on and need to replenish.

 

Tip: There is a special attachment for your hose (pictured above) to make the job of cleaning the tank easier. Or a number of people swear that you can keep your tank really clean by putting a bag of ice in it during drives. The movement of the ice scrubs the tank for you. If you do this regularly you may be able to skip the spraying the tank step.

 

Kitchen

 

 

 

Start by cleaning upper cabinets that way you can easily vacuum or wipe away anything that falls down. I throw away any expired or stale food and quickly wipe out the cabinets. This is really important to make sure you don’t feed any unexpected “guests”. Clean the microwave. Next move on to the walls around the kitchen, paying special attention to the area above the sink and the stove and scrubbing away any residue. Give the stovetop and inside the oven a good scrub. Wipe out the inside of the fridge and freezer and leave a new box of baking soda to keep things fresh. Finally wipe down the sink and counters. Few things feel as satisfying as a sparkling clean sink. Don’t forget to take notes for maintenance issues or needed supplies.

 

Tip: Heat up a bowl of water in the microwave a few minutes before wiping it out. The steam will loosen any grime making it easy to clean.

 

Living Area

 

 

Last but not least let’s give the living area a good clean. Wipe down the walls and windows. Dust and wipe down any upper cabinets. If you have a pull-out bed in the sofa, pull it out to vacuum underneath. Wipe down table. Lastly, dust the TV and entertainment system.

 

Tip: Store items under the dinette in bins or boxes that make it easy to pull things out to clean underneath.

 

Floors

 

 

We started by cleaning the ceilings of the entire RV and now we are going to end with the floors. Give them a good clean with the vacuum and then mop all the hard surface floors.

Tip: Enjoy the satisfaction of having a super clean RV! 🙂

 

That’s it! You’re done! To make things even easier for yourself I’ve put together a PDF “RV Interior Cleaning Checklist” for you to print out and use! CLICK HERE for PDF!

 

Do you have any tips for cleaning your RV’s interior? Please share in the comments below!

 

Thanks to Trailer Source for letting me use one of their RVs for photos while our Airstream is in the middle of a major remodel! If you are in Colorado be sure to check them out! They have a great selection of RVs.

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Are You Taking Chances with RV Business Advertising Graphics?

It’s common to see private trailers and motor coaches with RV business advertising graphics splashed across the rig. Some have vinyl lettering with a simple business logo. Others slap full-color wraps on every square inch. Today, many nomadic entrepreneurs use their RVs for business purposes. Unfortunately many of them may not be carrying the right kind of RV insurance coverage.

3 Things to Know About RV Business Advertising Graphics for our RV

In a Branding Your Rig webinar, RV insurance experts explained why applying logo graphics on your RV can be risky. Sponsored by Xscapers, a segment of the Escapees RV Club, the discussion featured a RV insurance expert, a well-known RV safety educator and a certified public accountant. Here’s what they wanted nomadic entrepreneurs to know.

Advertising Your Logo is a Red Flag to Your Insurance Company

RVs can make eye-catching rolling advertisements, but the minute you announce your business on the RV, your insurance company probably sees you as a commercial vehicle owner. This puts you in a different pool of insureds, which personal RV insurance policies don’t cover.

“When your logo is on the rig, and it’s clear you are using it for commercial purposes, you need a commercial policy,” explains Courtney Wooge, President of FCIS Insurance in Iowa. “The bigger the ‘billboard’ the higher the chance you need commercial coverage,” he says.

Whether or not you see customers inside your RV, using it for business use isn’t much different than a retail store or restaurant opening its doors to the public. In the eyes of RV insurance companies, using a motor home, trailer or other RV places the owner into a higher-risk insurance category. “Insurance companies see it as a “rolling office,” says Wooge.

The Effects of a Commercial RV Insurance Policy

When you work from your RV, the cost implications of RV business advertising graphics are enormous. For example, let’s say your insurance agent doesn’t know you’re working from the RV. Should you have an accident or general loss on the vehicle, your policy probably won’t cover it.

On the upside, with a proper (and more expensive) commercial RV insurance policy, you will be covered if the worst happens.

Commercial RVs Meet Different Requirements

Let’s say you do the right thing, and register your RV as a commercial vehicle. Afterwards, a slew of ramifications apply. Pulling over at highway weigh stations is one of the biggest. Escapees RV Club’s Safety and Education Director, Jim Koca highlighted some consequences of obtaining commercial RV coverage.

For starters, business use can void your RV warranty. Koca says that “When you register as a commercial vehicle, you lose your warranty on the RV.” Full-time RVers living in the vehicle also face that problem.

Motorcoach owners are often surprised to learn they need a Class A CDL commercial license endorsement. Koca says that in some states like Texas, commercial vehicle owners need a commercial truck driver’s license endorsement.

And just as truckers must do, owners of commercial RVs over a certain GVWR must pull over at weigh stations along the highway, or risk serious fines. “The chances of getting pulled over if you’re not branded are slim to none. But it depends on whether or not it’s a slow day,” Koca explains.

Talk to Your RV Insurance Agent and Roll Risk-Free

All insurance companies have different requirements for categorizing RVs as commercial or private policies. Many won’t require a commercial policy for RV entrepreneurs who never allow customers to step inside.

“If you’re a blogger and putting your URL on your rig, that could generally be titled and insured personally.” Wooge says that in these situations, a personal RV insurance policy is a no-brainer.

The important thing to remember is to avoid RV business advertising graphics until you talk to your RV insurance agent. Don’t agree to a policy until everything is on the table with the company. Share photos of your RV and give a full disclosure about your business. Be upfront about how you use the RV and get the correct policy for your needs.

Should the worst happen and you need to file a claim, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that nothing was hidden from the company that can help you get back on the road and making money from your RV.



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2019 RV Shows In The US And Canada: Dates And Locations

With the New Year comes new RVs and accessories. Winter is the prime time to visit a local RV show and see the latest RV models and aftermarket products. You can get a look inside the RVs and trailers on display, talk to industry experts, and watch live product demonstrations and seminars.

RV shows
Even if you’re not looking to buy, RV shows can be fun to browse. Photo via Pittsburgh RV Show, Facebook

These winter RV shows will have everything from motorhomes and campers to boats and accessories for sale. If you’re looking to upgrade (or downsize) your RV, now’s the time to get a great deal on the special show prices.

1. 2019 Austin Boat and Travel Trailer Show

Where: Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
When: Jan. 4 – 6, 2019
More info: www.austinboatshow.com
Tickets: Adults: $10; Seniors (60+): $6; Children (7-12): $6; Kids under 12 are free. Get a coupon here.

2. Indy RV Expo

Where: Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN
When:  Jan. 5 – 13, 2019
More info: www.indyrvexpo.com
Tickets: 
At the door — Adults: $8.00; Seniors (60+): $7.00; Kids (16 & under): Free with an adult. The regular admission tickets are buy one get one free Monday – Friday. Get a coupon here.

3. 58th Annual RV & Campgrounds Show

Where: Allentown Fairgrounds, Allentown, PA
When: Jan. 11 – 13, 2019
More info: www.allentowntradeshows.com
Tickets: Adults $7.00, children under 12 are free. Parking is free. Print this coupon for $1 off admission.

RV shows
More than just motorhomes: RV shows also have great deals on camping gear. Photo via Facebook

4. Valley RV & Camping Show

Where: Century Center, South Bend, IN
When: 
Jan. 11 – 13, 2019
More info:
www.rvshows.org
Tickets: Adults: $8.00, children 15 and under are free

5. Chicago Boat, RV and Sail Show

Where: McCormick Place – South, Chicago, IL
When: 
Jan. 9 – 13, 2019
More info: www.chicagoboatshow.com

6. Florida RV Super Show

Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa, FL
When: 
Jan. 16 – 20, 2019
More info:
www.frvta.org/show/florida-rv-supershow/
Tickets: $10 per adult, each ticket is good for a free 2nd-day return. Children under 16 are free. Parking is $8 per car, $14 per RV.

2019 RV shows
Aerial view from the Florida Super Show. Photo via the Florida RV Trade Association, Facebook

7. Toronto RV Show and Sale

Where: Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
When:
Jan. 17 – 20, 2019 
More info:
 https://www.rvshowsontario.ca/
Tickets: Thursday & Friday (Jan 17-18) Half-price tickets: $7.50 per ticket. Saturday & Sunday (Jan 19-20) – $15.00 per ticket. Children 16 and under are free if accompanied by an adult.

8. Pittsburgh RV Show

Where: David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA
When:
Jan. 19 – 27, 2019
More info: www.pittrvshow.com
Tickets: Adults: $12; Seniors (55+): $10; Active Military: $10; Children 6-16: $5; Kids 5 & under: Free

9. Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

Where: 700 S. Central – Quartzsite, AZ  85346
When: Jan. 19– 27, 2019 (9 am – 5 pm daily)
More info: www.quartzsiteRVshow.com
Tickets: Admission and parking are free!

RV shows
The Quartzsite RV Show spans over 20 acres. Photo via website

10. Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow

Where: Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, KY
When:
Jan. 23 – 27, 2019
More info:
 http://www.louisvilleboatshow.com/
Tickets: Buy them in advance online for $10. They will also have a one-day-only special on January 24, 2019, with tickets at $5 for show admittance after 5 pm. Group admission is $9.

11. 31st Annual Inland Northwest RV Show and Sale

Where: Spokane Fair and Expo Center, Colbert, WA
When:
Jan. 24 – 27, 2019 
More info:
 www.spokanervshow.com
Tickets: $8.00 cash only. Kids 12 & under are free with an adult. Admission is good all weekend. Free parking available.

12. Fort Wayne RV & Camping Show

Where: Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, IN
When: Jan. 31 – Feb. 3, 2019
More info: www.rvshows.org
Tickets: Adults: $10.00; Seniors (60+): $6.00; Children 5-12: $3.00; Under 5: Free; Family Day Pass (2 adults and up to 3 children): $20.00. A coupon will be available online closer to the show.

13. Detroit RV & Camping Show

Where: Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi, MI
When:  Feb. 6 – 10, 2019
More info: www.marvac.org

RV shows
So much to see, so little time to see it all! Photo via Seattle RV Show on Facebook

14. Seattle RV Show

Where: CenturyLink Field Event Center, Seattle, WA
When: Feb. 7 – 10, 2019
More info: https://seattlervshow.com/
Tickets: Order them online and receive a free parking pass for the Mariner’s baseball field parking garage. For each ticket purchased at the gate, $1 will be donated to Washington State Parks. However, free parking is not included with tickets bought at the gate.

15. 51st Annual Chicago RV & Camping Show

Where: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL
When: Feb. 7 – 10, 2019
More info: https://www.chicagorvshow.com/
Tickets: Tickets are discounted on their website. They also have a coupon that you can print here!

16. Ottawa RV Expo and Sale

Where: EY Centre, Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)
When: Feb. 8 – 10, 2019
More info: https://www.rvshowsontario.ca/
Tickets: 
Friday (Feb 8) – $7.50 per ticket. Saturday & Sunday (Feb 9-10) – $12.00 Per ticket/per day. Cash/debit only for box office tickets (No Visa/Mastercard)

17. 50th Annual RV Super Show

Where: Bennett Event Center, Oklahoma City, OK
When: Feb. 14 – 17, 2019
More info: http://okcrvshows.com/
Tickets: Admission is $12, and free for police, firefighters, first responders (with ID). Kids under 12 are free with a parent. Print this coupon for $2 off admission!

18. 45th Annual Northeast RV Show

Where: Rockland Comm. College Field House, Suffern, NY
When: Feb. 15 – 18, 2019
More info: www.showoffice.com
Tickets: Admission is $10 at the gate, $3 for juniors (10-15), kids under 10 are free. Sign up on their website ahead of time for discount coupons!

19. 54th Annual Maryland RV Show

Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium, MD
When: Feb 15-17th, Feb 22-24
More info: https://www.mdrv.com/
Tickets: At the show—One-day: $10, Multi-day: $15. If you wait to buy at the gate, print and take in this coupon for $2 off admission. Or, buy your tickets online in advance: One-day $8, Multi-day: $13.

RV shows
Find RVs and boats for sale at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, & Travel Show

20. Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show

Where: Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN
When: Feb. 15 – 24, 2019
More info: https://indianapolisboatsportandtravelshow.com/
Tickets: Get them online and save: Adults: $13, Kids (6-12): $9, Two-day admission for anyone 13+: $24.  At the gate, regular admission is $15.

21. 2019 Austin RV Expo

Where: Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
When: Feb. 21 – 24, 2019
More info: www.austinrvexpo.com
Tickets: Adults: $10; Children (7-12): $6; Seniors (60+): $6; Kids under 7 are free

22. Battle Creek RV & Camping Show

Where: Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek, MI
When: Feb. 28 – Mar. 3, 2019
More info: www.marvac.org
Tickets: Adults (13 and over): $7; Seniors (55+): $6, Kids 12 & under are free

RV shows
Browse your options before you buy. Photo via Facebook

23. CNY RV and Camping Show & Sale

Where: New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY
When: Feb. 28 – Mar. 3, 2019
More info: http://www.cnyrvshow.com/
Tickets: Adults: $10; Unlimited days: $12; Kids under 16 are free. Print and fill out this form for a $2 off discount!

24. Greater Philadelphia RV Show

Where: Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks, PA
When: Feb. 28 – Mar. 3, 2019
More info: http://www.phillyrvshow.com/
Tickets: Adults: $11, cash only. Kids under 12 are free with an adult. Lots of free parking is available. Fill out this form on their website for a free coupon.

25. Fredericksburg RV Show

Where: Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center, Fredericksburg, VA
When: Mar. 1 – 3, 2019
More info: www.fredericksburgRVshow.com
Tickets: In advance: Adults: $9; Seniors (60+): $8. At door—Adults: $10; Seniors: $9. Friday, March 1 is Senior Day with $5 tickets. Children 12 and under are free.

26. Port Huron RV & Camping Show

Where: Blue Water Convention Center, Port Huron, MI
When: Mar. 7 – 10, 2019
More info: www.marvac.org
Tickets: Adult admission (Ages 17+) is $6; Senior admission (55+) is $5; Children 16 and under get in free. Parking is free!

27. York RV Show

Where: York Expo Center, York, PA
When:  Mar. 8 – 10, 2019
More info: http://www.yorkrvshow.net/
Tickets: $8 at the door, free for kids 12 and under.

28. FMCA’s 99th International Convention & RV Expo

Where: Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, Perry, GA
When: Mar. 13 – 16, 2019
More info: https://site.fmca.com/

RV shows
Find your new home on wheels this winter. Photo by MARVAC on Facebook

29. Flint RV & Camping Show

Where: Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center, Flint, MI
When: Mar. 14 – 17, 2019
More info: www.marvac.org
Tickets: Adults (13 & over): $6; Seniors (55+): $5, Children 12 & under get in free. Parking is free.

30. Northwest Michigan RV & Camping Show

Where: Howe Ice Arena, Traverse City, MI
When: Mar. 22 – 24, 2019
More info: www.marvac.org
Tickets: Adults (13 & over): $6; Seniors (55+): $5, Children 12 & under get in free. Parking is free.

See also: An RV Show All Year Round: A Stress-Free Experience

Do you know of any other winter RV shows coming up in 2019? Please add them to this list in the comments below.



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