One of the biggest questions I hear from people thinking about becoming a full-time Rver is Internet access. And given the technologically advanced world we live in today, I’d say that being connected it pretty important. It used to be that you’d have to hook up to a dial-up modem at campgrounds or use public places like Internet cafes or libraries. If you’ve ever done that before, you know how limiting it can be. You most likely had to wait your turn and your time was limited.
Now we have several options for Internet access regardless of our location. We can send emails, surf the web and more while we’re traveling down the road or even boondocking. There are three main options you have to choose from. Depending on your Internet needs, you’ll have to choose the one that’s best suited for you.
The first option is to use a data-capable smart phone. If you’re only wanting to use the Internet to send emails, get directions and occasionally surf the web to look something up, then this may be the best solution for you. However, if you plan to be using the Internet a lot, this can get a little pricey.
The second option branches off the first. If you have a smart phone, you can do what is called tethering. This is where you plug your phone in via a USB port and use the phone’s Internet on your desktop or laptop. When tethering, you have the full functionality of your computer including the larger screen. I’d recommend this version if you meet the same criteria mentioned above. Again, tethering plans can get a little pricey but if you’re only planning on mild Internet usage, this is probably best for you.
An aircard is the third option and is for those of you out there who need the Internet to work from the road or want to surf the web more frequently and quickly. Aircards provide connectivity to the cell tower instead of connecting computer to cell phone. The mainstream service providers (like AT&T and Verizon) have plans that support these cards, with options for the amount of data usage. Aircards are generally higher speed connections and offer broadband in some major metropolitan areas.
So Tacoma RV owners, which option sounds right for you? If you decide to go with the aircard, which I personally recommend, be sure to do some shopping around and find the right plan. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask.
Switching from driving your standard passenger vehicle to an RV can be a little intimidating the first time. But if you know what to expect, it can make the transition a little smoother.
Let’s start with turning. Your RV is much larger and wider than your car, so you’ll have to make wider turns. I’m sure you’ve seen how 18-wheelers have to make a right turn. Though you won’t have to swing out quite as far, you will need to pull out straight and turn a little bit later than you normally would.
The next thing you should know is how to handle your RV in windy conditions. Again, you’re RV is a lot bigger than your car which means the surface area has at least doubled. Cross winds have a huge effect on RVs. You may notice “wind shadows” when you pass under bridges of past trucks that block the wind. All you have to do is remember to keep the wheels in a straight line. Be sure not to over correct though, or you may lose control.
You’ll need to watch your speed when going downhill. Heavier vehicles tend to pick up speed at a faster rate than cars. Another thing you need to watch out for is animals. Travelling across the states, you’re definitely going to be seeing them. If one should happen to wander into the road, do not swerve to miss it. Hold on tight to the wheel and do your best to keep her straight.
There are many other differences between driving an RV and a car, but the ones mentioned above are most important in my opinion. If you come across any others or have any concerns before hitting the road, please don’t hesitate to ask!
In case you haven’t noticed, motorhomes typically have larger windshields than your average passenger car. This holds true whether you’re in a Class A, Class B or Class C motorhome. But a larger windshield means more surface area for insect suicides. There’s nothing worse than hopping in the driver’s seat after a long night of driving and realizing your windshield is covered in so many bugs you can hardly see.
It’s been said that automobiles murder trillions bugs a year. Hard to believe isn’t it? Over in The Netherlands, a Dutch biologist named Arnold van Vliet decided to conduct a little study. He gathered 250 drivers and asked them to track their mileage and count the number of bugs found on their vehicles each night for the course of six weeks. Here’s what he found:
A total of 19,184 miles were traveled by these test subjects over the course of six weeks, after which the results were tallied: 17,836 insects had met their demise. That’s a lot of bug guts, but it’s not until you extrapolate that data across the entire frontal area of an automobile and the total number of cars in the world that your head starts spinning.
The friendly buggers from Treehugger decided to do a little math in an attempt to estimate the total number of insect fatalities in the United States. Are you sitting down? An astounding 32.5 trillion insects (estimated, of course) are killed in the U.S. each year by automobiles. Total insect genocide.
I’ll bet that makes you wonder exactly how many bugs you are murdering every day in your RV. It’s probably a lot… especially if you’re a full-timer. Now let’s discuss getting these little suicide bombers off of windshields. Even though we have windshield wipers and fluid, that usually just makes it worse (at least in my opinion). There are also a bunch of home remedies you could try, but there’s one in particular that I like to use when I’m out on the road and don’t have time to get out and give the old RV a good cleaning — a razor blade. It’s the simplest thing in the world and the quickest. This may not be the best idea for those of you with a weak stomach, but it’s quick and gets the job done fairly well! If you’ve ever used a razor blade to scrap off an old registration sticker, then this will be cake. Simply take the razor blade, and make a downward scraping motion. I like to have a paper towel on hand for the bug remains, but that part is purely optional.
So there you have it my fellow Washington RV owners. A quick solution to clearing up your windshields! Anyone else have a fast remedy they like to use on the road?
Have you ever been driving across the country and all of the sudden felt a little push against the side of your RV? If you’ve driven through a particularly flat area, odds are you have. Driving though high winds can be a scary thing for RV owners due to the possibility of a turnover. Motorhomes, fifth wheels andtravel trailersare considered high-profile vehicles and have a much different reaction to high winds than the average passenger car. Why is this? The answer is actually quite obvious — their boxy shape provides a lot of surface area. I know it may sound silly to think that an RV can actually be overturned by the wind so I thought I’d show you exactly what can happen. Check it out.
I can’t even begin to imagine how terrified that guy must have been. Crosswinds pose the greatest threat to your RV, by far. You could easily find yourself in another lane or over-turned on the side of the highway if you’re not careful. When it comes to dealing with high winds, there are really only two options. Slow down or stop. In most cases, I recommend pulling over and waiting for the conditions to clear up. However, if you’re able to slow down enough to a speed where you’re comfortable without disrupting the flow of traffic, this is an option, too.
I’m sure the guy in the video thought he could handle the wind, but he was obviously wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a little break. Pull over and grab a bite to eat, or watch a movie. Losing a little time on the road is definitely better than losing your load. Have you ever experienced high winds in your RV? Let us know.
I’m sure a lot of you remember family road trips being a lot different than they are today. Twenty years ago, we didn’t have things like MP3 players, Gameboys or iPads to play with on road trips with our parents. Instead, we passed the time by playing classic road trip games that involved the entire family and got us to look around and enjoy the scenery (whether we realized it or not). I don’t know about you, but I remember loving those games!
The next time you and the family are out on the road in your new or used RV Washington, try to get the kids to play one of the classics! There are many to choose from with different variations, but I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.
This game has been around for ages and can actually be played anywhere! But on the road is definitely my favorite venue. The rules are super simple. One person looks around and chooses an object that the others have to guess. You will give them one clue about the object… whether it’s the letter that it starts with or the color of the object. You can choose anything inside or outside the RV.
This game has many variations. How you choose to play all depends on the age of your children. For example, younger players can call out letters in alphabetical order, and the first one to finish Z wins. Then you can switch to looking doubles or triples! The older kids can “collect” out-of-state plates they see. (Make it tougher by going in alphabetical order.) Or they can try to build words or phrases using the letter sequence in the plates. A plate with the letters E, F and T, for example, might become the word “effort” (using those letters to start the word, in the middle and at the end). Those could make “Ed’s Favorite Tacos” if you’re running with phrases. Thanks to edmunds.com for the description.
Find the ABCs
This classic game can be played as individuals or teams. The basic idea is to find the letters of the alphabet on road signs, billboards, stores, license plates, etc. Each player or team has to find all 26 letters of the alphabet in order. The first one to the letter Z wins!
The Grocery Game
This game is great for exercising your memory. The first person starts by saying “I went to the grocery store and bought an apple” (or any other item you can buy at the grocery store starting with an A). If you mess up, you’re out of that round. The game finishes when only one player remains!
The Geography Game
Help your kids refresh their geography lessons while on the road with the geography game. The game begins with a person naming any place in the world, London for example. The next person then has to come up with a place name that begins with the last letter of the first location. So in this case, the next place would have to start with an ‘N’, like Nepal for instance. The game continues on until someone gets stumped, and no place can be used more than once. The game can be played with any topic, so give celebrity names, movies, animals or anything else you can think of a try. [TravelHacker]
These are just a few of my favorite games to play on the road. We’d love to hearsome of your favorites!
With all of this new technology rapidly developing, we are finding ourselves in less need of tangible information such as newspapers and paper maps. About 99% percent of the information we need can now be found on the Internet — directions, locations, phone numbers, etc. Are the days of relying on those folded up, outdated paper maps in our RV glove boxes close to being over?
Newspapers are to the Internet as paper maps are to GPS.
In my opinion, the answer is yes for one reason — the technology available on our smart phones. Not only do most of them have built in GPS and navigation capabilities, they also have downloadable applications specifically aimed at those who live the RV lifestyle. If you’re an iPhone user, check out this list from TechWrench.com of must-have applications for the RV enthusiast.
Top iPhone Apps for RVers
1. 4roadservice.com App: Helps you find services near your location without having to leave the driver’s seat. With a live data connection from 4roadservice.com’s website, you always have the most up to date information. Hurry on this one! You can get it for free while they are still testing the GPS portion of the app.
2. RV Parks: A free app that searches a database in excess of 18,000 RV parks all while allowing you to read authentic user reviews and photos. You can upload your own reviews too
4. RV Owner’s Community: From Social Knowledge LLC, this app allows users to post questions from the road or campground and upload photos for others to enjoy.
5. RV Trader: In need of a new place to call home? This free app allows you to search through more than 45,000 new and used RVs for sale. Only want to look for a Winnebago RV? No problem! RV trader will help you sort through listings by type, condition, price range, and model year. Then it will show you the RV dealers who have what you are looking for that are closest to your location.
6. RV Buyers Guide: Not just for buyers! This resource lets you bring the most popular magazine for recreational vehicle enthusiasts with you wherever you travel. Packed with information about travel destinations, the latest RVs and recent industry news.
7. Passport America RV Club: Traveling on a budget? This is app is your new best friend. Over 1500 campgrounds across the US, Canada, and Mexico participate in the Passport America program and if you become a member of Passport America you can find up to a 50% discount on campgrounds.
8. RV Checklist: Get organized! This great app has multiple lists for tasks such as departing from a site, preparing for a trip and winterization. It even allows the user to add, delete, and modify tasks on the lists.
9. RV Companion: The journal app for the RV world. This app makes it easy and fun to track all of your RV and camping information in one place. The RV Companion lets you keep track of vital information such as your supplies, campground site information, reservation contact details and more.
10. RV Dump Stations: Last but not least! Never have to think about where to get rid of the least appealing part of RVing again. RV Dumps does all the work for you by checking your current location and telling you where the nearest available Dump station is located.
Even though I said the days of paper maps may be over, that doesn’t mean I think you should throw them out all together. Cellphone and Internet coverage is continuing to spread across the country, but it still isn’t available everywhere. So for those times you may find yourself out of range or with a dead battery in your RV, you’ll be happy to have a paper map for backup.
Whether or not you will have a washer and dryer unit all depends on the type of RVer you are. If you’re only spending occasional weekends in your RV, then laundromats are probably you best odds. If you spend longer amounts of time in your RV or even if you don’t want to risk being stuck in a town where the laundry mat can seem a bit sketchy, then having a washer or dryer on board your RV may be the option for you.
Most of the newer, larger RV models come equipped with a unit(s) already installed by the factory. However, if you find yourself without one or are thinking of upgrading, you have one of two options. You can either install a combo unit or consider stackable units. The Fun Times Guide gives us an awesome break down of your two options.
#1 With an RV washer & dryer combo unit onboard, you can put large loads of laundry into the front-loading door and your clothes will be washed, and then the machine will automatically switch to the drying cycle when it’s time. Once the load is completely dry and ready to be put away, a buzzer sounds. With today’s wash & wear fabrics, most clothes can be hung up right away.
As great an improvement as a combo RV washer dryer unit is over searching for laundry facilities every couple days, there are still a few issues to address:
Doing laundry will empty your RV water tank quicker than anything else you do onboard your RV. (If you’re boondocking in the desert, you’ll have an even harder time justifying that amount of water consumption!)
You will be surprised how many clothes can be put into a 15-pound RV washer dryer. However, overstuffing the machine will simply mean the clothes won’t get clean and they won’t dry completely either.
With the issue of time, washing and drying your clothes will take a lot of time to get the job done from start to finish. That one load will take about 3 hours to finish up completely! It’s a long drawn out process to complete one load of laundry in an RV washer dryer combo unit.
The one-piece combo washer/dryer (pictured above) is the standard of the industry. You load the clothes, and after it washes them it proceeds to dry them. Because of its compact size, this is typically what you get when your RV comes from the factory with a combination washer/dryer.
Compact, easy to use, and relatively conservative in terms of water usage.
Once you start the load, you can forget about it until everything is washed and dried.
Many RVs come plumbed and ready for you to slide a combo washer/dryer in, and you’re all set to go.
Capacity is small and if you overload it, your clothes won’t wash very well.
Drying time is extensive (3 hours to wash and dry 1 load is normal). Overload it and drying time will be even longer.
There is one other option worth considering…
#2 On our last full-time experience, rather than install this small RV washer dryer combo unit, we opted for a stacked apartment-sized washer with a separate dryer.
Ours was actually cheaper than the designated RV washer & dryer. (Anything labeled RV will be more expensive.) The washer and dryer we bought handled 12-pound loads and could be drying one load at the same time that it was washing the next. It was so nice to be able to wash all our dirty laundry without leaving the RV. It was just as easy as doing laundry in our own home!
If we get another opportunity to go full time RVing, we will be in a bunk house model 5th wheel RV. I will convert the bunk room area into a laundry room with additional closet space and possibly a kitchen pantry. Usually, the bathroom is right alongside the bunk room, so plumbing in a stacked RV washer & dryer should be quite simple.
Stacked washer & dryer units are much less common, though in my mind a preferable option. Designed for apartment use, if you can fit a stacked washer & dryer into your RV, it will serve you much better than a combo unit will.
Much larger capacity (You can wash a load similar to what you do at home).
You can be washing one load while you’re drying another load. This cuts your laundry time in half.
Because the dryer doesn’t have to evaporate leftover moisture from washing, the drying cycle is comparable to what you have at home.
Because they’re not the industry standard, many RVs can’t accommodate their size. You may have to do some serious alterations to your RV if you want to go this route.
Water conservation isn’t a strong point. You will need to be hooked to a water and sewer source.
So Washington RV owners, which type of washer dryer system works best for you? Let’s us know!
Getting the family together for sing-alongs or road trip games is not as easy as it used to be. With all of the technology present in kids’ lives (smartphones, hand-held video games, iPods, etc.), it can sometimes seem as if there is a bit of a disconnect between family members. But taking trips together in your new or used RV can be the perfect way to build or rebuild these relationships!
Before you pack up the family and hit the road, read these seven strategies to ensure you do the best you can to make it a memorable trip for everyone.
Seven Strategies for Traveling Families:
1) Don’t expect kids to be grateful for all the sacrifices it takes to go on a trip. They are not going to thank you profusely or act wonderfully. Instead, watch for the moment of wonder or the “pure joy” smile – it is these “moments” that make the trip happy and memorable. Photograph those moments and it is all you will remember later.
2) Leave a little give in the schedule. Most kids are not naturally continuous “do-ers” on a vacation. If you have an agenda packed end to end with activities, the kids will start complaining and wish to stay somewhere and just hang out. Think of your kids sweating in Washington DC, hiking from monument to monument in the blistering heat and waiting in the sun at the Spy Museum. All good ideas but some down time is needed for them to retain their trip enthusiasm.
3) Let each person choose one event/activity and one restaurant destination during the trip. After we select our destination (even if it is a repeat), we put out a menu of options and each child can choose one of the options or propose something else. If one child chooses swimming, we make sure we get some swimming into the vacation, whether at a hotel pool or a beach. They also get to choose one type of food that we will be sure to eat. This is a huge hit with our kids and helps us minimize complaints during the trip. Our youngest and oldest like to do very different things but each knows that their treasured turn will come.
4) Set the expectation – traveling is a nightmare. Whether by plane or car, summer vacations are filled with other people on vacation and there are inevitable delays, traffic and waiting. Have a plan for the long waits. Don’t expect the perfect trip; if everything goes swimmingly, then it is a bonus. Electronics may be your best friend during these moments.
5) Everyone has to bring a book. This is a big rule and my kids now look forward to going to the bookstore to select a special book for the trip. We have a kindle and the kids love to borrow the kindle to read. I also give extra credit for creating and writing in a journal; they can write words or draw or both. I give them $1 a page for quality journal writing. It is almost certain the kids will be asked to write something about their summer when school resumes so they are getting a head start.
6) Try to pack light and smart. This is a basic but we all continue to “overpack” and drag around things we just don’t need. So now we sit down and make a list together, then make it an event. “Okay everyone bring down three pairs of pajamas”, then “everyone go get five shirts and one has to have a collar”, etc. And they have to carry what they pack.
7) Electronics are awesome but you need to set some ground rules about usage. The ipods, phones, ipads, DSs, and other devices are amazing and really help children stay distracted during the hectic travel challenges but they should not check out and not participate in the trip.
[RV Cooking Show]
If you haven’t already seen it, I’d recommend watching the movie RV with your family before you head out on your trip or even during your trip! It’s one of my all-time, feel-good family favorites.
Unless you’re in high school, you probably remember when paper folding maps were all we had to navigate ourselves on road trips. The first global positioning systems (GPS) in automobiles were introduced around 1995 by Oldsmobile, and over the next fifteen years, in-car GPS systems became more and more popular. Once Apple released its iPhone, we had a constant GPS in our hands at all times.
Now in 2011, we have an infinite numbers of applications we can choose to download that can show us where the nearest gas stations are located, what restaurants are nearby and even what campgrounds are close.
By far, my favorite RV app I’ve found is All Stays Camp & RV. With more than 20,500 Canadian and US campgrounds, 2,400 rest areas and welcome centers, this app has got it all! It even works when you find yourself in areas with low or no signal. Since the data is stored on the actual phone itself, you’ll always be able to access useful information.
But that’s not all this app can do… you can view the different amenities provided at campgrounds and even filter search results based on amenities. You can also see photos and review searches that use the entire web opposed to one single source. Need information on road conditions emergencies and state laws? Or maybe you’re looking for stores like Wal-Mart, Cabelas, Dicks or Bass Pro. This app has all of that and more. I’d definitely pay more than $5.99 for this handy tool.
Have you used this app before Washington RV owners? Let us know what you think!
Every time I drive by a gas station and see that the price has gone up again, I cringe. Though the prices have been fluctuating some in the past few months, they are still extremely above what they should be.
This can take quite the toll on RVers seeing how fuel economy is one of the largest expenses we incur from owning an RV. One of my favorite websites, GasBuddy.com, lists the lowest gas prices by area. So before you head in your RV, check the gas prices in Tacoma. That is one way you can save. RV-PartsPlus.com has some interesting and helpful tips on other ways to save at the pump.
RV Gas-Saving Tips
Ensure that your tires are fully inflated to carry the load you are carrying.
Check your routing to select roads that avoid stop and go traffic.
Do not let your engine idle unnecessarily; it is far better to drive and warm up your engine under light load than it is to idle.
Apply steady pressure on the accelerator and do not pump or fluctuate your pedal pressure.
Anticipate your starts and stops and gradually increase speed,
Try to time stoplights to drive through on a green light. Since many traffic signal lights are computer controlled and sequenced, if you maintain a steady speed you should be able to approach all lights when they are green.
Use the overdrive gear on your transmission as long as road and wind conditions allow it.
Use your cruise control when possible and set a fuel efficient speed. Reducing your road speed will save fuel. The enemy of motorhome fuel economy is drag and while we tend to focus on the frontal shape of our rigs; the reality is the rear section creates significant drag. Look at how much dust appears on the rear of your coach especially if you have one of the older recessed back models, to visibly see how the air travels around it. Drag horsepower is a function of Speed to the power of 2.86, slightly less than Speed cubed. The more horsepower you require, the more fuel you will consume. Reducing your speed from 65 to 55 MPH (a 15% decrease in speed) will reduce the drag horsepower by 39%. This could translate into about a 1 mile per gallon increase in economy. Combine the savings with your reduced travel distance and you will save $464.
The weight reductions could save another $50 or more
If you think these facts are interesting, check out what Mark Polk of RV Education 101 has to say in this video! Mark’s well-known in the RV world for providing sound advice. Check it out.
Hi, my name is LaDonna Kummerfeldt and I am the Owner of Tacoma RV Centers based out of Tacoma, WA. I love RVs and look forward to providing you with all your RV information from buying an RV to tips and maintenance. If you would like to contact me, be sure to leave a comment.