New Years is a time to reflect back upon the year that has passed and a time to anticipate what the coming year holds. I have been writing this blog for over ten years and as I reflect on the hundreds of thousands that have read my blog entries over those years, I really have no idea who my readers are.
Are you old, young, male, female, longtime RVers, just entering the lifestyle, live in the west, live in the east, maybe you live abroad, pet owner, some may just be looking for interesting places to travel? I suspect there is a mix of everyone I just listed.
As I shared in my last post, I have been camping and enjoying the RV lifestyle my entire life. I can remember the days before RVs had gray tanks, you didn’t need a battery to operate your furnace or refrigerator, and most travel trailers were pulled by cars.
On the RV industry side of the equation, I have held every position in an RV dealership other than bookkeeping (my wife handled that end of things), so I understand how the industry (sales and service) works, its strengths and weaknesses.
In those ten years that I have been blogging, millions of new RVs have been purchased, some by those already enjoying the RV lifestyle and others just joining in the fun. While I don’t have statistics to confirm it, I bet there have been over a million first time RV owners during that time.
That said, I would love to help my readers (whoever you are—old, young, seasoned, or new to the RV lifestyle) reach your New Year’s RV resolutions by addressing items you are looking to tackle in the months to come.
Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to give me a rough idea of who you are and what you would love to hear about in future blog posts.
While it is unlikely I can respond to everyone’s request, I will do my best to write entries that address the subjects I am qualified in and of interest to many. Hope to hear from you soon and may your New Year hold many adventures in RVing!
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.
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.
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.
Are you one of the thousands of BLM boondocking RVers flying south to Arizona this winter? If so you’ll love having one less thing to do before setting up camp in Yuma or Quartzsite. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) short and long term visitation area (LTVA) permit system is now digital at YourPassNow.com.
BLM Boondocking Permit Changes in Arizona, Other Destinations
Whether you’re joining snowbird crowds and headed to a Quartzsite RV rally, boating on the Colorado River or making family road trip plans to the Grand Canyon, now you can buy your recreation permit before ever leaving home.
“Purchasing a permit through YourPassNow offers our visitors improved access to recreational opportunities on public lands,” said William Mack, Jr., BLM’s Colorado River District manager. In a recent press release outlining the service,Mack reported that “This digital service will greatly improve the convenience of visiting LTVA sites for our visitors and streamline our internal BLM fee collection process.”
Between September 15 and April 15, BLM permits are required in many camping areas. For example, any camper who enjoys cheap or free BLM boondocking in popular BLM Long Term Visitor Area dispersed camping destinations like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu and Yuma must have visible BLM parking decals on their rig. Boaters cruising along the 155 miles of lower Colorado River managed by the agency must also have permits.
How the New BLM Permit System Works
Remember when you had to arrive at a BLM LTVA during business hours to get a permit before setting up camp? The new YourPassNow.com website gives you the ability to secure a permit online before ever leaving home.
After completing the online purchase process, you must print the receipt as proof of your purchase. Upon arrival in LTVA areas, you then trade it for visible BLM parking stickers. Buyers can obtain the decals during normal business hours at three LTVA stations:
La Posa LTVA – Tyson Wash Contact Station
Imperial LTVA Contact Station
Yuma Field Office
Once exchanged for the official permit and decal, the LTVA permit is valid for BLM boondocking at all of the Bureau of Land Management LTVAs:
The LTVA permits are special recreation area permits authorizing permit holders to use the LTVAs. These areas that designated as highly impacted “special areas” by the BLM. The new permit system website makes life easier for the tens of thousands of BLM boondocking enthusiasts who enjoy low cost winter camping in Arizona. Buyers must keep in mind that no discounts apply to the LTVA long term or short-visit permit fee. Unused or unwanted permits are non-refundable.
Get Permits for Many Other Destinations
The system is the result of a partnership between the BLM Yuma Field Office and NIC Inc., a digital government services provider. YourPassNow is the latest big news from the BLM. It’s the easiest and fastest way for road trippers to purchase advance permits. The service is good for many other popular camping destinations like Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park and Colorado National Monument.
Much like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu City in Western Arizona is a haven for snowbirds in the winter. This city along the Colorado River has year-round sunshine and endless ways to get outdoors. You can find lots of local shops to browse, restaurants to choose from, and RV resorts with 5-star amenities. The city also claims home to the iconic London Bridge, relocated from England, which now connects the mainland to an island on the river.
The area hosts over 300 events throughout the year, including a few RV rallies coming up soon in Lake Havasu State Park. Make sure you add these events to your calendar for January-February 2019!
1. Buses By The Bridge
Date: January 17, 2019
Cost: Admission: $2 per person (good all weekend). Camping: Thursday-Sunday: $40, Camping Friday-Sunday: $30, Camping Saturday & Sunday: $20
All kinds of Volkswagen buses will be rounding up at Buses By The Bridge. Over the last two decades, this event has become a popular VW rally with classic buses coming in from all over the country. Keep an eye out for panel vans, seven and nine-passenger microbuses, Kombis, and cab pickups.
Besides vintage eye candy, this weekend-long event will have activities for all ages. There will be a bouncy house for the kids while adults can partake in hot air balloon rides, raffles, a chili cook-off, and a cornhole tournament. On Sunday morning, the event will wrap up with a pancake breakfast.
There will be a parking area designated for RVs, campers, motorhomes, trailers, and non-VW vans. The 500+ spaces are first-come, first-served, and pre-registration is not required. You can learn more about the 23rd annual event and see the full schedule from Go Lake Havasu.
2. Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair
Date: January 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – January 13, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
Hot air balloons will again be soaring over Lake Havasu City at the 9th Annual Balloon Festival. You can watch mass ascensions of hot air balloons take off and float over the London Bridge and the Bridgewater Channel. There will also be a Balloon Night Glow, air shows, skydivers, special shape balloons, antique cars, and live entertainment.
Dry camping will be available at the festival just steps from the activities, carnival rides, and vendors. The RV parking includes pricing for 5 nights and 2 festival entrance wristbands.
Tickets are $15 through their website and will also be sold at the gates. Alternatively, they have Gondola VIP tickets available with exclusive food, drinks, VIP parking, and prime views of the balloons.
Vintage campers will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2) from 10am-3pm. They will have dry RV campsites with no hookups, restrooms and showers, and limited power for medical devices.
Pets will be permitted at the event on a leash, but they are not allowed on the beach. You can learn more about the upcoming Vintage Trailer Campout from Go Lake Havasu.
Getting into RVing is definitely a very exciting experience, partly due to being away from technology and enjoying fresh, unpolluted air when camping and partly due to RVs of 2018 actually offering some pretty exciting features and being really affordable for first timers to get a gist of this life before getting a more expensive rig or upgrading their current one. Keeping that in mind, here’s a list of the top 5 best pop-up campers for first time RVers.
What puts an RV on the list: In our list of the possible candidates, the pop-up campers that made this list were the ones that provided a good sleeping capacity, were the most recent ones for state-of-the-art features and have a decent amount of options for upgradability. After all, you don’t purhcase an RV everyday!
The Top 5 Best Pop-up Campers For First Time RVers:
Why we recommend the Coachmen Clipper Pop-up Camper: Coachmen’s clipper is one of the few pop-up campers out there with a huge number of floorplans as well as an extremely positive rating, which is quite a feat in itself. They’re obviously lightweight as well, tipping the scales at 1503 lbs in the Clipper floorplan to 3065 lbs in the Clipper floorplan. I can also hold 7 people at once in a few floorplans, which is great if you’re traveling with many people and need a place to kip at night but spend most of your other time outdoors.
As far as features go, the clipper features a sturdy tubular steel frame coupled with laminated aluminum skin walls on the outside. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by the walnut cabinetry, LED lighting, residential countertops amongst other bells and whistles you don’t normally notice in a pop-up camper. In essence, it’s one of those pop-up campers that’s great for first time RVers as well as for the ones who wish for a little more luxury in their RV.
15 different floor plans available
Tubular steel frame
LED exterior lights
12-Volt LED interior lights
Residential laminated countertops
#2. Forest River Flagstaff High Wall Pop-up Camper
Why we recommend Forest River Flagstaff High Wall pop-up camper: Forest River’s flagstaff series is a series you’ve probably heard of as they feature brands in various RV categories. It also has over 5 different brands in the pop-up categories of which we found the Flagstaff High Wall to be the best not only because of its sleeping capacity, but also due to the fact that it its quite roomy as well, spanning 19 feet even in the shortest of its 3 floorplans; the Flagstaff High Wall, the Flagstaff High Wall and the Flagstaff High Wall.
Apart from the bare essentials, the Flagstaff High Wall has a few extra features thrown into the mix. Examples include the three-speed ventilation fan, USB charging ports, microwave, 3-burner cooktop among others. If you want more out of this rig, they also have a few options available. Check out their website for more details on this awesome pop-up camper for fist time RVers.
Why we recommend the Sylvansport Go pop-up camper: The Sylvansport Go gained quite a lot of popularity among those who are on the lookout for a pop-up camper that is affordable and is quite portable. Weighing at a super light 840 pounds, it features 2 floorplans: the Go Standard Model and the Go Go floorplan. Both of them are identical in nearly every aspect, with the Standard model offering a little more transport capabilities.
The Go also offers many features in a compact space such as stargazing windows, insulating bed platforms to keep you warm if camping during winter, awnings in the entrance and the rear among many others. It even has a few options available such as an extension kit, self-inflating camp mattress, camp and travel organizer, and the list goes on. Needless to say that the Go is definitely one of, if not the best pop-up campers for first time RVers.1
Why we recommend the Jayco Jay Series Sport pop-up camper: Similar to the Flagstaff, the Jay Series has its roots in the pop-up camper line as well, and the Sport brand over here is nothing short of impressive, akin to its travel trailer cousin that goes by the same name. It has 4 floorplans that offer a maximum sleeping capacity of 7 and is 18 feet long (Jay Series Sport). If you’re looking for a cozier and an even lighter option, then the Jay Series Sport is the one for you.
The Jay Series Sport offers a lot in the features department as well. It primarily focuses on tailgators (which is common for people who buy pop-up campers anyway), which is clear when you notice the canopy awning wide enough to hold a table and some chairs completed with a dedicated space for an outside stove. However, head on inside and it’s just as comfortable with stereo speaker, A/C, bunk lights, 2 cubic feet refrigerators among others. As with our other choices of the best campers for first time RVers, the Sport also features many expansions, which we recommend taking a look at by clicking on the link above!
Why we recommend Forest River Rockwood Premier pop-up camper: Another one of Forest River’s crazy successful lineup is the Rockwood which offer versatility, durability and are priced reasonably. The Rockwood Premier pop-up camper is a perfect example of this. It has 4 floorplans which are under 3,000 pounds dry weight and under 5,000 pounds GVWR. It also has a sleeping capacity between 7-8 people meaning this is definitely the one for you if your camping trips always involve a group of people. We recommend checking out the Rockwood Premier and the Rockwood Premier floorplans.
The Rockwood Premier has a lot to offer which is clear when you head on inside and notice the tinted vinyl windows, maple interior, USB charging ports and other doodads. It goes without saying that such a great pop-up camper also features lots of upgrade options such as 15,000 BTU air conditioner, bike rack, 40W solar panel and a screen room with privacy panels for instance. All in all, the rockwood premier is another solid choice if you’re looking for great pop-up campers.
Pop-up campers pose a lot of advantages, especially for someone heading into RVing for the very first time. Hopefully this list will provide a good starting point for you and let you know exactly what RVs have to offer without spending a ton of money right at the beginning.
You’ve probably had people tell you to “be positive” or “don’t worry.” While optimism is a valuable trait in many situations, you shouldn’t let it prevent you from knowing what to do in a crisis or buying the right emergency gear.
In-the-moment emergency supplies
Window breaker/Seatbelt cutter tool: If your RV is in an accident and ends up sinking in a body of water, this tool is a lifesaver (literally). It is capable of slicing cleanly through a locked seatbelt and easily breaking glass windows. The tool attaches to a keychain for easy access.
First-aid kit: From minor cuts and scrapes to large-scale injuries, it always pays to be prepared. You should always keep a first-aid kit in your car and RV for unexpected emergencies.
Fire extinguisher: This is an obvious one, but always make sure you keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible spot in your RV. In addition to purchasing a standard extinguisher, you can install an automatic extinguisher system in the engine compartment, behind the fridge, or throughout the rig.
Emergency information card: In case you are involved in an accident and are unconscious when help arrives, be sure to keep an emergency information card in your wallet or pocket at all times. You can buy one to fill out, or make your own with a laminator. Make sure to include your blood type, allergies, and emergency contacts.
Pepper spray: You should always have a way to defend yourself, especially while camping. Who knows when some creep is going to sneak out of the woods in the middle of the night? This pepper spray attaches to your keychain and sprays up to 10 feet.
Bottled water: In the event that something happens to your holding tanks and you are stranded far from civilization, it’s important to have an extra water supply. Keep enough bottled water for your group stored away in your RV.
Water purification tablets: If you’re low on storage, an alternative to packing bottled water is to pack water purification tablets. These can cleanse natural water sources of harmful bacteria and make them safe to drink in just 30 minutes.
Flash drive: It t may not seem like an emergency item, but a waterproof flash drive containing a will, vehicle titles, and other emergency documents is much more practical than carrying around loads of paperwork.
Analog compass: If you end up stranded in a remote area, a good old-fashioned compass is a necessity. Yes, a compass app is available for most smartphones, but if your phone dies, you’ll want a backup navigation system. A paper map of the area is a good idea as well.
Glow sticks: During a long-term emergency without electricity, glow sticks are a reliable and waterproof way to produce light. Use them to find your way through the RV, make necessary repairs, or get the attention of rescuers.
Batteries: Make sure you pack extra batteries to power devices like flashlights, radios, and walkie-talkies. The last thing you want is for the batteries in all your emergency electronics to die.
Portable smartphone charger: A portable smartphone charger can be useful if you wind up with a dead RV battery, especially when you can get a cell signal. This one is waterproof, solar powered, and features a built-in compass and flashlight.
Hand crank radio: When you don’t have cell service, you’ll need another way to get weather updates. This hand crank emergency radio warns you about threatening forecasts and requires no battery. It also features a USB port for charging your smartphone.
Solar battery charger: Prevent your RV battery from dying by hooking up a weatherproof solar trickle charger. Even on cloudy days, this solar panel can convert sunlight into electricity and keep your battery fully charged.
Roadside emergency supplies
Jumper cables: Jumper cables are an essential part of any roadside emergency kit. If your RV or tow vehicle battery dies, you’ll want to restart it. Just hope that another car comes along and is willing to help.
Tow strap: There’s always the chance that your RV could get stuck, especially if you’re camping on the beach. This tow strap can pull up to 11,000 pounds and save your vehicle.
Emergency flares: Although traditional roadside flares are a common choice, these electronic ones are brighter and last for up to 12 hours. They are also safer and more environmentally friendly, as they don’t release dangerous chemicals or create a fire hazard.
Wheel chocks: Use wheel chocks when parking your trailer to prevent it from rolling away, either at the campsite or on the side of the road during an emergency. They might seem like an unnecessary precaution, but the second your trailer starts to leave without you, you’ll wish you had used the chocks.
Warning triangles: Give other drivers time to slow down by placing emergency warning triangles along the road behind your broken-down vehicle. You can use these during the day or at night.
Safety whistle: If your vehicle malfunctions and you end up stranded without cell service, a safety whistle can save your life. Use it to signal to anyone within a mile.
Motor oil: Don’t get stuck without motor oil. Bring some with you so that you can change it if you need to, and bring a funnel to make it easier on yourself.
Extra fuel: When camping, it’s easy to run low on fuel far from a gas station. Keep a supply of extra gas or diesel with you, and avoid becoming stranded in the wilderness.
Cash: Not many people carry cash with them these days, but you should definitely keep some in your tow car or RV. You never know when you’ll want to thank someone for their help in an emergency (or bribe them to help you).
Emergency repair supplies
Extra fuses: It may not be a life-threatening emergency, but blowing a fuse in your RV can definitely make your trip less enjoyable than you planned. Pack extra fuses and avoid the issue altogether, but be sure to check what type of fuse your vehicle uses.
Toolkit: It’s good to have some basic tools with you for any minor repairs you have to make on your trip. With this 79-piece, multi-purpose toolset, you can fix everything from loose screws to leaky faucets.
Multi-tool pocket knife: For small but crucial repairs, you might not want to lug around your toolkit. Keep this multitool pocket knife handle to fix any small problems your RV might be having.
Duct tape: Never underestimate the value of duct tape, no matter where you are. Shattered window? Prevent shards of glass from falling back into the RV by taping it up. Broken taillight? Use this transparent duct tape to fix it and keep you and your family safe on the road.
Headlamp: You never know when you might need to make some nighttime repairs on the road. A headlamp frees up both hands and allows you to see what you’re working on.
Disposable gloves: When making repairs in the engine compartment and other grimy areas, it can be very helpful to have a pair of nitrile gloves on hand. You should always keep a pair in your first-aid kit as well.
Rain poncho: A rain poncho can also be helpful for those drizzly roadside repairs. The last thing you want is to be soaking wet while trying to fix a tire.
Tire repair kit: When you’re out in the boondocks, you can’t always call AAA. This tire repair kit comes with everything you need to fix a punctured tire. As a last resort, always carry a spare tire for your car and RV as well.
Cold weather emergency supplies
Ice scraper: Be prepared for a windshield full of ice in the morning whenever you camp in a snowy spot. This ice scraper/snow brush combo lets you scrape off that frozen layer and drive safely.
Tire chains: When driving in icy areas, be sure to fit your motorhome or trailer and tow car with chains. You’ll be grateful for the extra traction when you no longer have to slide around dangerously on the road.
Snow shovel: Always remember to bring a snow shovel when traveling in chilly weather. No one wants to be snowed into their campsite with no way to dig themselves out.
Hand warmers: In the event that your heater should fail when you’re stuck somewhere cold, hand warmers can provide heat inside clothing or sleeping bags. This pack of 40 air-activated heating packs will warm the whole family.
Rainproof blanket: You should always keep a rainproof emergency blanket tucked away in case you find yourself stranded in a freezing environment. You might break down on the side of the road with a broken heater, so make sure you have a way to keep you and your family warm and dry.
Waterproof matches: If your RV breaks down and you are stranded without electricity or propane, a fire can keep you warm and heat up your food. Keep a pack of these waterproof matches in your RV at all times.
Accidents happen, and you should always be ready for the unexpected. Having the right gear can be helpful and even save your life in the event of an emergency. Stay safe and add these supplies to your packing list.