So much to do…so much to learn about the RV lifestyle. And we have only just begun.
In a nutshell, things I have learned in just the past few days (we attended the local RV show and did a huge amount of web research):
1. Do not overload your unit with STUFF. Dear me…my camera gear alone might do that.
2. An Albertan can claim back part of the HST if you bought your unit in another province because Albertans pay NO provincial sales tax. We still must pay the GST, however. Just fill out the federal rebate form up to a year after bringing your vehicle into the province.
3. You must make your unit rodent-proof. My mind goes straight to those long, slithery things that live in the southern states, especially after watching the Oasis channel and watching an African python wrap itself around the wheel of the photographers’ jeep. Ewwww…. I have heard of using steel wool to plug entry holes, but it is highly flammable, so I am not too keen on that solution. I found something else called, X-cluder Rodent and Pest Barrier.
4. Document EVERYTHING! We are starting a binder complete with photos, all paperwork referencing maintenance, insurance, RV clubs, etc.
5. Get a special hose to help flush out your toilet plumbing (we bought one). Got a clogged RV toilet? It’s probably best not to get the toilet clogged up in the first place. Here is one of the best tips we learned about RV toilets: Don’t put toilet paper into the toilet. Instead keep a small bucket with a lid (add a little bleach) and dispose of used TP in the bucket. Add a little bleach in the bottom and dump regularly. Keep baby wipes handy and dispose of those in the bucket, too. And, of course, save the bowel movements for other people’s toilets when possible.
6. Bug spray for the front of the RV unit—a good idea unless you are keen on scrubbing those gucky green and yellow corpses off the grill after every trip down the highway.
7. A local dealership will give our 2005 Travelaire RV a complete go-over and make suggestions for safe and efficient boondocking, also known as “dry camping” or “independent parking” or living “off the grid.” If you can find BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, you can stay up to 14 days for FREE! Like here in Quartzsite, Arizona. Or on Crown Land in Canada. Residents of Canada can camp for up to 21 days on Crown land unless otherwise posted, but a permit is required for non-residents. For more information : 1-800-667-1940
8. This is an excellent site with tips for short term boondocking or long term boondocking.
9. Not all Walmarts allow boondocking, but there is an iPad app called, “Walmart Overnight Parking Locator,” that can help locate those that do. It costs $2.99 in the app store. Well worth the cost, I think. We shall see. Categories: “Walmart Possible Parking and Walmart No Parking.” Search by state or province. Click on a Walmart and the app indicates the driving distance in kms and miles. It also provides an address and an instant directional guide via Google Maps. If you click on the INFO icon, it will take you to an auto email page with GPS coordinates and questions that you can answer to help others wondering about whether or not to stay there.
10. RV shows are terrific resources. We met the nicest people eager to help us. We found a contact who will teach us all about the RV, including driving hints and tricks. But there are “learn to drive recreational vehicles” videos online, too. Get RV driving tips and hints from veteran RV owners.
11. RV clubs cost a ton of money like timeshares, but are they worth it? We have no clue, but we will find out, because the nightly costs of parking an RV in an established campground is as costly as some motels. My question: Why stay in a rig with a teeny shower and limited hot water, when you can spread out in a Holiday Inn and have a long, hot shower? Especially when you can amass points for free night stays as a member of a loyalty program like Priority Club or Choice Rewards.
12. We found this cool RV stovetop cutting board, a heavy wooden platform, a counter extender of sorts that sits atop your stovetop elements and also acts as a muffler for the clinking and clanking that goes on in your stove when you are moving.
13. Solar panels and batteries…ugh, all Greek to me…but very necessary since we are planning on boondocking as much as possible. Here is a great site for RV boondocking tips.
14. The web is full of seasoned RV pros eager to share their knowledge. Got odd smells in your rig? Here is a video to help get rid of smells in your recreational vehicle.
15. We found a must-do RV boondocking rally in Arizona. We can’t go this year, but we want to go in 2014. I was in from the instant I saw a photo of the “wagons circled” out in the desert. Ah, the Wild West!
16. Maintenance of our RV! Wow, it’s a daily job, very unlike our house. Lots to do, to check on, to keep everything smooth sailing for the road ahead. Where to start? We found some sites with very good RV maintenance tips. Here is a site with an almost inexhaustible checklist for RV maintenance.
17. Mosquitoes and other pesky bugs? Try Listerine. No kidding.
18. Bugs sticking to the front grill of your RV? Pull out the Pam cooking spray.
19. Now what to pack? There are all kinds of RV camping lists, including this very detailed stocking your RV list.
20. Blog every day and share your experiences with others. We are so grateful to all the veteran RV owners out there who have unselfishly shared their adventures, their upsets, and their good advice with us. Bless you!