Note: I posted this in the blog several years ago, but based upon the questions I get, I thought it was worth updating and sharing again.
No two RVers are the same. Some of us are fulltimers, some are snowbirds, and some are weekend warriors. Some of us like the wide open spaces and enjoy boondocking, while others prefer state parks, or RV resorts with full amenities. But no matter how we travel in our RVs, or where we go with them, we all have some things in common, and I want to share some suggestions that I think every RVer should do to make their experience more fun, safer, and easier. So here is my list of a dozen things I believe that every RVer should do.
1. Take an RV driving class – Whether you tow it or drive it, RVs are bigger, heavier, have a bigger footprint on the roadway, take longer to stop, and turn differently than your family car or SUV. Take an RV driving class from a qualified professional. The RV Driving School has instructors at many RV rallies nationwide.
2. Know your RV’s height – Not just the factory stated height, but the height including any add-on accessories, such as satellite TV antennas, roof vent covers, etc., and write it down on a card that you can stick in an easy to read location when going down the road.
3. Know how to read a map – Yes, computer mapping programs and GPS units have made trip planning a snap. But there are still times when you need to take a detour, or when your electronic goodies want to lead you down a path you shouldn’t be on. That’s when some basic map reading skills can be essential. Learn how to read a map, and what all of those different colored and shaped lines mean. Someday you’ll be glad you did!
4. Invest in a tire pressure monitoring system – Our TireTraker system has made monitoring our tires a snap, and has saved us from trouble more than once.
5. Protect your electrical system – Our Progressive Industries Electrical Management System (EMS) saved our MCI bus conversion three times from damage from low voltage and high voltage spikes. When we bought our Winnebago diesel pusher, it was the first accessory we added.
6. Have your RV weighed – Traveling with an RV that exceeds its gross vehicle weight rating can lead to early tire wear and failure, undue wear and tear on suspension and shock absorbers, and unsafe stopping in an emergency situation. The Escapees RV Club and some RV rallies offer weighing programs that can tell you what your loaded RV weighs, and the proper tire inflation for your RV and its load.
7. Know your tires – How old are the tires on your RV, or how old are the tires you are getting ready to buy? Do you know how to read the weight and date codes on your tires? Roger Marble’s RV Tire Safety blog has a lot of excellent information on RV tires, and how to get the most from them.
8. Join Passport America – We have saved a small fortune on campground fees in our travels with our Passport America membership. With over 1800 affiliated campgrounds nationwide offering members a 50% discount, we have spent many enjoyable nights at member parks from coast to coast.
9. Get an RV roadside service policy – AAA or the company that provides your homeowner’s insurance policy may offer some type of towing coverage, but for an RV, spend the extra money to get a roadside service policy that is designed for RVers. Coach-Net and the Good Sam Club both offer good RV roadside service plans.
10. Carry good fire extinguishers – RV fires happen, and they are terrible things to experience. We have had two fires in our RVs, and having and knowing how to use our fire extinguishers, saved us both times. Not all fire extinguishers are created equally, and we get ours from the RV fire safety expert, Mac McCoy. We also have an automatic engine compartment fire extinguisher and had a refrigerator compartment automatic fire extinguisher before we replaced our RV refrigerator with a residential model.
11. Use jack pads – We use square laminated wood jack pads whenever we put our jacks down on pavement, concrete, grass, or anyplace else where our jacks could cause damage or sink into the surface.
12. Buy an auxiliary braking system – If you tow a car, you need a good auxiliary brake system to stop it. For years we traveled without one, and then a panic stop to avoid a collision showed us the folly of our ways. Fortunately, the only damage was to a motorcycle rack on the back of our rig, but it could have been worse. Today we never pull out onto the highway without our SMI Air Force One auxiliary brake hooked up.
Just to be clear, none of the products or vendors listed here paid for a referral in this blog post. In fact, they won’t even know I mentioned them unless they happen to read the blog. I believe in promoting the folks who sell quality products, and are committed to customer service. I recommend these items and services because we use each and every one of them ourselves, and because I believe they are necessary for every RVer.
Yes, many of the things I am recommending cost money. In fact, some of them cost a significant amount. But each and every one of them is an investment in your safety and in getting the most from your RV experience. You have a lot invested in your home on wheels. How much is it, and your own safety, worth?
Congratulations Judy Kerns, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Highland Passage by J.L Jarvis. We had 61 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.
Thought For The Day – Love isn’t what you say, love is what you do.