From An RVing Woman
Get Ready, Get Set Go!
By Gloria Bryson Pyszka
We re on the road the again. Bailey, the Bichon, and I are about to head down the highway toward our next adventure. This time we re off for a week of dry camping, meaning no landline electricity or sewer hookup.
But, wait. What needs to be done before I leave? Throw a few groceries into the RV refrigerator and a few clothes into the closet?
Nope. Getting ready for an RV trip takes a bit more time and effort:
Vehicle And Coach Maintenance
Take care of any coach or vehicle mechanical issues that would otherwise screw up your trip. If you re leaving tomorrow, today is not the time to make an appointment for coach repairs.
Scheduling coach-maintenance service during summertime requires three weeks minimum at many RV shops. Lube and oil or other vehicle/chassis maintenance scheduling takes less lead-time.
Even when dry camping ,I can use the microwave with the generator, even though I prefer not to. I m just not that much of a "nuker" as my husband Ron calls microwaving.
The gas stove and refrigerator operate off the LP gas. I really don t need sewer hookups, although having access to a dump station every couple of days is a requirement.
I remember that if I use the campground toilet facilities, I will need to dump my black water less often. (Sometimes, inconvenience is ultimately easier.)
Fill the Water Tank
The day before leaving, I run a water hose from an outside house faucet to the RV water outlet and fill the 35-gallon tank (under my couch) about two-thirds full. Or, you can fill it at your destination; however, you might prefer city water to campground spigot water available at dump stations.
Cool The Refrigerator
The afternoon before, I plug in the landline electrical cord to a garage outlet to bring the refrigerator to the right temperature. It takes about 12 hours to do it.
The next morning I load my perishables and anticipate the luxury of fresh lettuce for a salad or a cold beer or other drink all there on shelves within easy reach. No longer do I have to root through a freezer chest, with the item I always need on the bottom, of course.
Use a check-off sheet for dry goods, clothes, and food. (Also, see other check list references at the end of this article.) I made up a master check-off list on the computer, which I use each time I get ready for a trip.
It includes everything for the kitchen, the bathroom, sleeping (e.g., sheets, bedding, pillows, etc.) clothing, and other necessities that I don t particularly want to replace while on the road. Also included are reading materials and anything that I want to take to make my trip pleasurable.
Recheck the items that are supposed to be left permanently in the coach. For example, did I put back the towels back from the last trip after I washed them, or did they end up back in the house hall closet?
I stow away the dry goods, canned and packaged food as well as other necessities such as wine (of course!), but am careful not to load the coach with unnecessary weight. I may buy food as I travel, unless I m in a place where you can buy most items but with limited selection.
How many dishes do I need? The answer: not as many as I think. I remember when I was so excited to get a new set of fancy plastic ware from Crate and Barrel everything in matching blue. (This will be a real color-coordinated RV, I mused.)
In hindsight, I wish that I d only purchased a couple of pieces of each. I just don t do gourmet meals while traveling, and I opt for paper plates (except that I enjoy my salad or soup in pottery bowls).
I use one two-quart saucepan with cover and one small fry pan. That s it. If a meal takes more than that, we don t eat it.
Wait; There s More
Don t leave home without them: Are the road maps and campground directories on board? How about favorite books, CDs, and a crank-powered portable radio?
Also important are the AAA card, insurance-company towing card for untimely problems, eyeglasses, prescription medicine, driver s license, etc.
I don t forget the Golden Age Passport, a lifetime admission permit for entry into all national parks as well as all federal recreation areas administered by BLM, fish and wildlife, etc. At twenty dollars for life, this has to be the best bargain ever offered.
Oh, did I remember to make reservations for a campsite? Popular destinations may be 100 percent booked or already closed down for the season.
The final two items that mean a great deal are my digital camera and a foldable bike. The bike seat comes off, the pedals fold down, and the handlebars can be removed.
The bike folds in half once a spring clasp is released. The front metal basket also can be removed by an easy spring release.
I have become adept at carrying the folded bike by myself (very slowly and verrrrrry carefully) up the steps into the RV and placing it on the kitchen floor. I have to step over it until I reach my destination, but having it is worth the trouble.
Bailey, in the basket, and I pedal all over interesting place near our RV site. We make friends and draw surprised looks wherever we go.
Storage Or Lack Thereof
My RV, at 22 feet, has limited storage, a complaint of most RV owners. I have two outside basement storage units.
One is taken up by the water hose and a sewer hose/ends for the gray and black water tanks and the supporting accessories needed with them. I also keep a plastic bucket with a pair of rubber gloves.
The second storage space is great for a barbecue and other stuff that somehow has become necessary rather than optional. I also use the bathtub as storage.
With a padded blanket (from OSH) to protect the tub, I stash folding canvas deck chairs, dog stuff, and random bags, etc., that don t fit into the compartments under the dinette and couch, plus four upper compartments around the periphery of the living area.
And, I always have painting supplies with me.
A telescoping, long-handled squeegee for washing windows is stashed behind one of the front seats, along with a small powered vacuum cleaner. I also keep a file-container-sized portfolio on aboard that has all the instructions for every system and appliance in the RV coach and vehicle.
I never leave home without it, as I usually want to look up something or read something again in order to understand the operation or instructions better.
The Day Before
The day before is important. Even with day-ahead preparations, I never pull out of the driveway before mid- or late morning of the next day. .
With the following three books, you ll have all the information you ll need from deciding whether or not to buy an RV, setting off on your first trip, to life on the road. I keep the first two in the RV.
RV Vacations for Dummies, 2nd Editionby Harry Basch and Shirley Slater, 2004 This is easy to read; it has everything from whether or not to RV, to choosing one, to good descriptions of all systems in your RV. It also has a couple of great checklists.
The Complete Idiot s Guide to Rving by Brent Pearson, 2002I have always liked the "idiot guide" books. This one is well laid out and easy to read with lots of tips and descriptions. A keeper.
The Rver s Bible:This has everything you need to know about choosing, using, and enjoying your RV. By Kim Baker and Sunny Baker, 1997, it has very thorough coverage with similarities to the Idiot s Guide. Even though written several years earlier than the others, remember that some things never change anyway.