This is definitely a new experience for both John and I. We are really glad we both had years of camping under our belts before we started this adventure. That really helped us figure out what we wanted in an RV and what to bring with us.
Below is a list of what we feel we have done right so far:
- We are really glad we purchased a Class A Diesel RV. John did fine hauling our travel trailer but it was not his favorite thing to do. He loves driving the RV. He prefers to drive this over the car. The seating is comfortable and the visibility is great. We set the car up to tow behind the RV and we don’t even know it is there. He is really glad that we went with the diesel over a gas. We are traveling through very mountainous areas and the power of the diesel is great for getting up the mountains and the engine retarder is great for coming down. The other thing is while we are traveling and the slides are pulled in the RV is still functional. We can use the kitchen and the bathroom without any issues.
- We are really glad we set the car up to tow. We purchased a used 2013 Honda CRV because it can be towed all 4 wheels down. The CRVs that are built after 2014 will have a new transmission and will not be able to be towed 4 down. It is great to get to our destination unhook the car and go exploring in something smaller than an RV. It is great to get 30 mpg too.
- Washer/Dryer Combo– we thought this was on our “nice to have” list but after traveling for 1-month it would be on our “must have” list. It is great to do laundry whenever we want instead of saving up our laundry to go to a laundromat. The small combo unit is fine for the two of us and Gizmo but it would be a challenge to keep up with a family.
- Small Infrared heater- we love our small infrared heater. We have used this item for years. It can actually heat the entire RV. It is a great way to take the chill out of the air without using up your propane.
- EZ Pass- It is great to glide right through the toll booths without having to stop and open up the sliding windows in the RV. We used ours from Maine through Chicago. Just remember to put that extra one in the bag in the Toad car.
- Tire Minder– Great to know the pressure in all our tires is OK as we roll down the road
- Viair- We have topped off the air in our own tires and helped a fellow RVer refill his leaky tire.
- Passport America– for a very small fee ($38 if you can find a sale) you can find 1/2 price camping. We have used this a ton. We used it as we traveled across the U.S. and we used this for our upcoming stays in Desert Hot Springs. Some of the campgrounds are OK for a one night stay others are 5-star. There are lots of rules about timing of stays but hey, 1/2 price is great.
- Verizon wireless- We have had phone signal for most of our travels. Our connection has been mostly 4G and we have used our data hot spot easily whenever campground wifi’s have been less than optimal
- Instant Pot– This is a great way to decrease all the cooking devices you bring with you. This is a pressure cooker, rice maker, slow cooker all in one. It has a locking lid so you can cook as you travel down the road without having to worry about anything spilling.
- Induction plate-Yes you need special pots and pans but we found a great deal on one by Tramontina at Sams Club. It’s great to not use up your propane when you have full electric hook ups.
- Apple watch- I love my new apple watch I got just before we left. I am using it to keep track of my activity level, the time, the weather and the sunrise/sunset times. In addition to this I am alerted to texts, phone calls and other messages. This is a great extension to the iPhone for all you tech lovers. The other added bonus is I plug it in next to the bed and turn it on its side and it becomes a nightstand clock.
- National Park Pass- Do I need to say more… this is an $80 investment that will save you tons plus it helps support our beautiful national treasures.
Things we have learned along the way
- Know what your alarms sound like- for those of you who have been following us you know that when the cord initially disconnected between the car and the RV we thought our meal in the Instant Pot was done. We had no idea this was the alarm on our towing system. By the way, they do sound almost alike and I am still wondering who creates a critical alarm that is not intrusive and continuous.
- Gather when you can… We spent a great deal of time on very scenic route in California. There are very small grocery stores. This is when it is helpful to have a full sized refrigerator so you can stock up on food before you get there. Fill up the fuel tanks too before you get to the touristy destinations. The price on food and fuel can be upwards of double the price you would pay outside of these areas.
- You need breaks- Riding in the RV is very comfortable but I think we have agreed that anything over 400 miles is really tiring. We try to stop every 100 miles or so to stretch our legs and let Gizmo stretch his.
- Walmarts are great for overnight stops between long driving days. In a future blog I will tell you about the apps I use to help us find camping, fuel and Walmarts.
- Checklists for everything- and use them. We have gotten lazy a few times and forgotten something on the list. We have left the refrigerator unlocked- first sharp turn it does fly open and contents come out. We have left a window open and wondered what the noise was. We have checklists for preparing the RV to move down the road and for setting up the car to tow.
- Camping costs are one of our biggest expenses. On the drive west we tried to keep them down with overnights in Walmarts. We have used Passport American whenever we could to get 1/2 price discounts. We are currently trying out a Thousand Trails campground. We got a free one year membership with the purchase of our RV. We get 30 nights of free camping with this and after that it’s just $3 per night for electric hookups. We plan on staying put for 1 month in February so we will take advantage of a monthly rate, another great way to save money.
Right now we are between trips, but we have gone cross country twice, and spent 6 months on the road at a time. Your tips are all great. We saved by getting our Travel Resorts of America membership from a private sale on the internet. They are comperable to Thousand Trails, and I know you can also get thousand trail memberships on the internet. They are basically a timeshare, and there is a buyout if you decide to not pay the annual dues, so we picked up our membership for about 20% of the original price, from someone who was getting older, and unable to use it. The parks are usually very nice, and our home park helped us with the title transfer. You may have signed a form, when you toured a park saying you would not purchase it elsewhere, But check it out…may save you a bunch.