<p>If there's one thing the RV community enjoys, it's sharing massive lists of tips. Anyone who has ever gone RVing, researched RVing, or talked to a friendly group of RV people has probably heard more than a few camping hacks swapped over cups of hot cocoa, around a campfire, or during long hours on the road on the way to 'the perfect campsite.' You may have heard the one about using shoe racks for extra storage, insulation tricks, and half a dozen different suggestions for how to use command strips and we are all in favor. After all, who doesn't want to make their camping trips more enjoyable with a constant stream of clever DIY projects? With all the tips available, you could easily spend the months between trips improving your RV as a hobby and enjoy the DIY luxury during your annual or semi-annual camping excursion. </p>
Hardly ones to break with the proud RVer’s tradition, today we bring you one complete fifteen-point list of ways to improve your RV experience in no particular order because that’s how it’s done!
1) Stick-On Lights for Illumination in Tight Spaces
One of the major weaknesses of RV design is that there are a lot of little spaces that the lights simply don’t reach completely. Under your counters, the corners of your bathroom, and the inside of your closet are all key locations where you will want the ability to see but are probably can’t. One great solution to this conundrum is battery-powered lights command-stripped to nearby surfaces. They look fantastic strategically placed on the undersides of counters or the inside of your closet with zero wiring required.
2) Supplement Your Furnace With an Efficient Space Heater
The furnace or built-in heater used to warm up the inside of your RV can often become overtaxed, especially when you’re camping in the winter and a cold front hits your campsite like a ton of bricks. In this situation, it can be difficult not to use up your fuel source just trying to stay warm. However, as long as you’re connected to an electricity hookup, an efficient little space heater make a huge difference.
3) Practice Maneuvering in an Empty Parking Lot
It can take decades of occasional camping to become a real pro at maneuvering your RV. Even if you’re great with it on the roads, there are still tight camping spaces, backing up, and managing busy parking lots to consider as well. If you don’t want to feel like a complete dunce during a particularly difficult parking situation, take some time in a big empty parking lot to practice things like backing, turning, and wiggling your RV into specific locations.
4) Anywhere the Dog Sleeps Once is Theirs for Life
If you prefer your RV travel with a furry companion, it’s important that you set up the rules for where it is and is not OK to sleep early and keep them up during every camping trip. Otherwise, your dogs will assume they will always be welcome on your bed, couch, and passengers seat based on their own daily preferences. If there is a surface you don’t want to become a dog bed, make sure the rules are clear and consistent. Cats, on the other hand, cannot be stopped and will sleep wherever they care to whether you’re at home or in the RV.
5) Leave Early Instead of Speeding Up
There’s nothing worse for your gas costs than driving fast. Remember that you are driving a ton or more of metal, plastic, and appliances around in your cabin and there is absolutely zero reason to become the fastest vehicle on the road. Your best bet for both mileage and safety is to give yourself an extra day of travel time and stick with the trucks at safe truck speeds because essentially you are one of them. You might even consider getting a CB radio and simply joining the network.
6) Always Clean Your RV When You Get Home
Have you ever planned a lovely RV trip and looked forward to it for weeks only to open up the cabin and realize that you left it a complete musty mess? Most RV owners have gone through this experience at least once and learn the lesson: it’s better to take the time to clean after a long trip than to start your next one with an RV that has been steeping for a few months. We encourage you to do the whole works from bleaching the bathroom to steam cleaning the carpets.
7) Install Filter Faucets and Shower Head
No doubt you’ve heard the travel advice about watching out for local water when you change regions. The fact of the matter is that you never know about the quality of campsite pipes or if there are local microbes that are perfectly safe for locals to drink but will make you sick for a few days while your body adjusts. To avoid any unnecessary illness, no matter how temporary, consider installing filter faucets and shower heads to keep your water clean no matter where it comes from.
8) Spray Paint Can Quickly Touch Up Aging Plastic
One of the great things about well-built RVs is that the infrastructure often lasts a lot longer than the more inexpensive materials used for things like fuse box covers and handles. If yellowing plastic is making the outside of your otherwise snazzy RV look bad, you can quickly fix this problem with a little bit of color-matching spraypaint which is both efficient and incredibly affordable.
9) Start Experimenting with Solar Panels
Want to bring down the cost of an electricity hookup or extend the time on your batteries between campsites? Solar panels are cheaper and easier to install than they have ever been and you can start small at first while you get used to the idea. Long RV rooftops are perfect for solar panels because they are always out in the sun and the benefits solar can bring are very real.
10) Practice Chaining Up the Tires In the Driveway First
If you ever plan on camping or driving through a region with ice and snow, you will both want tire chains and to know how to put them on. Let us assure that the absolute worst time to learn how to use your tire chains is on the side of the road in the middle of a snowstorm. Practice putting on your tire chains and taking them off several times before taking a winter or mountainous trip so your hands know exactly what to do when the real time comes.
11) Set Up Call Forwarding If You Still Have a Landline
While cell phones and ultimate mobility have become the norm, if your household still has a landline and you don’t want to miss any important calls, it’s actually fairly easy to set up call forwarding to your mobile number. This will allow you to intercept all calls that would normally be sent to your house just in case something completely unexpected comes up. It also means that you don’t have to tell everyone you know and every service you use when you’ll be going on vacation or hand out your private cell number.
12) A Tarp is Useful for So Many Things
Have you ever wished you had extra protection from rain, a ground cover for a picnic, or a hammock in a particularly nice camp spot? A single sturdy spare tarp that usually lives tightly folded in a storage space can provide for all of these things and many more. For almost any camping trip, especially one where you’re not personally hauling all your supplies, a tarp is a great idea.
13) Give Yourself Plenty of Time and Space to Stop
When calculating for space cushion on the road and the time you need to stop for things like lights, signs, and traffic, remember to consider just how heavy an RV really is. All that inertia needs time and space to slow down, and it needs a lot more than a normal vehicle. Give at least five or six car lengths between you and other vehicles and start stopping as early as possible.
14) Keep a Pair of ‘Inside Shoes’ and a Place for ‘Outside Shoes’
While cleaning the RV is relatively simple when you’re home and have all your normal cleaning supplies nearby, this task becomes a lot more challenging when you’re actually out camping. In order to keep your RV nice and tidy no matter what kind of adventures you go on outside, it helps to keep a pair of indoor slippers or shoes that are always clean and a plastic-lined area for muddy shoes and coats.
15) Always Have an Emergency Fund
As the final point, never go RV camping without an ample emergency budget for the completely unexpected but still technically possible disasters. Remember that your RV is a vehicle that can break down, a house that can leak, and a physical object susceptible to weather conditions. It is also full of people who can be injured, get sick, or become suddenly inspired to take a much longer vacation than originally planned. No matter what happens on your trip, you’ll want to make sure there are a few extra thousand dollars lying around that can get you out of a bind or open up a great opportunity you didn’t expect.
Phew! That was a lot of tips but this is still small change in comparison to the major lists floating out there in the RVer community. If you have any interesting RV hacks you’ve discovered, invented, or heard about from a grisly RV veteran who’s been living the dream for fifty years, don’t forget to share with the rest of us!