Tag Archives: camping

5 Things to think about before becoming a Full Time RVer

Living in a 400 square foot motor home isn’t for everyone.  When we made this decision about 2 years ago, we weren’t really sure what we were getting into.  All the planning for years in advance does not totally prepare you for the reality.  But we knew that any obstacles would be figured out on the fly.  I mean, you only live once, right?

So we jumped into it with both feet.  Now that two years are behind us, we are so glad we made this life-changing decision.  In an effort to keep things real and help out anyone else who is considering this lifestyle, here are 5 things to think about before you hit the road.

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Downsizing is pretty painful

In order to fit your life into 400 square feet, you have to decide which possessions you can and cannot live without.  Unfortunately, many of them will have to go, especially if your are a full timer that also sells their home like we did.  I have to say that many of our treasured belongings went to people that did not treasure them nearly as much as we did.

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As I talked about in my earlier post “Never Say Free on Facebook“, the hardest thing about simpler living is learning to let go.

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What can you live without?  Well, sometimes it takes a little time to know.  We packed the bottom of our coach with those things we could not part with such as vintage books, golf clubs, various craft supplies and fabric.  We have reached the point now that we will be going through those things again.  What we haven’t used in the two years on the road will find a new place to live.  Downsizing is hard, but it really is freeing.

mount washington new hampshire

Choose a coach with an all-weather package

Coaches are rated for living and traveling in various types of weather.  Unfortunately, that is something we did not know when we bought ours.  Ours is a bit shy on insulation and it really hates cold weather.  Which means that we spend a bit of time each year avoiding cold weather and just like the snowbirds, head south in the winter.

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Even so, places such as Tucson can get cold in the winter.  This year we purchased an electric radiator to help keep the chill out.  But we still have to worry about pipes freezing.

It is best to choose an all weather unit to ensure that it will hold up to temperature differences and be comfortable no matter where you are.

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Choose a RV that works for your lifestyle

I have to say that love our washer and dryer.  I would never want to have to hang out at the laundromat once a week like many of our coworkers do.   We also love the large storage area under the coach.

When planning to hit the road consider what is important to you.  What conveniences you really would love to have.  Because once you are out on the road, those things are not always as easy to come by.

Gadgets make life easier.  Be sure to check out my list of 10 Great Gadgets for the RVer.

Keep the clutter down to a roar

Living in tight quarters involves a bit of organization.  We have two people and two dogs in our coach.  Everything has a place.  Otherwise craziness will ensue.  I’m lying if I say that my RV is always organized, but each day I put in an effort to keep things down to a roar.

I am a professional crafter, and about half of the cabinets in our coach are designated for supplies.  Keeping things organized helps keep us both sane.

What is great is the fact that there is always that amazingly beautiful place right outside our front door to enjoy when things get a little tight inside.

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Keeping in touch with the rest of the world

I’ll tell you now, most campground wifi is not worth the effort.  Occasionally, you will find a good one, but for the most part, there are too many people trying to access it, too many people trying to stream videos and not enough signal to compensate.

We use our own data most commonly, but that involves having a decent phone signal.  We have actually turned down jobs where a phone signal was not existent.  Because of my websites, this is one area where I cannot compromise.

While life on the road full time can be a major adjustment, we took the chance and have never looked back!

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12 Great ways to make a living on the road!

We often get asked how we support ourselves on the road.  Our answer up until now has been work camping and my website income.  I wanted to show you 12 more ways to make a living on the road.

Of course, we have cut our living expenses down simply by not owning a home any more.  Traveling as we do, our expenses include lot rent, insurance, our rv payment, food and spending.

You can lower your expenses even more by not having a rv payment, staying longer in one place, cooking at home and even boondocking (camping for free without water, electric or sewer connections) when you can. You really have a surprising control over your overhead.

But there will be overhead.

We chose this life to get away from the stress of a 40+ hour a week workweek.  We wanted to get away from the traffic, the crowds, the chaos and the strict time schedules and wanted to be healthy and stress-free.

Having the freedom to decide how much you want to work and how much free time you want is one of the biggest advantages of living the RV lifestyle.  And there are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of!  I have talked a bit about work camping (working in campgrounds in exchange for a site and/or pay), but let’s talk about some of the other things out there!

Our main sources of seasonal employment opportunities are websites such as:

Work at KOA
Workamper News
Coolworks
Workers on Wheels

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There are jobs to be found everywhere.  You won’t get rich, but you should be able to support yourself and your lifestyle on the road.   Seasonal and work from home positions are readily available if you look for them.

Here are some of the positions that we are considering for future:

Make a living as Guest services and maintenance at a resort ranch

Most resort ranches offer accommodations, hiking, water activities, horse back riding, fly fishing and often a full service restaurant.   Positions available are usually seasonal, but offer a full range of interesting opportunities depending upon where your interests may lie.  Often resorts will offer you pay along with room and board.  In some instances, they have their own mini rv parks to house some of their employees.

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Make a living Working at a lighthouse

Often this is a volunteer position, but there are instances where you can get paid as a park ranger.  As a lighthouse worker, you would be responsible for overseeing the lighthouse and keeping it secure during off season.  This job usually offers a place to stay on site (sometimes even a place for your coach).

Click here for more!

A Review of 2016 on the Road

We left Atlanta in April of 2015 for a life on the road.  Over the past nearly 2 years, we have enjoyed lots of great sights, met lots of fun people and experienced living in a 400 square foot “tiny home” with 2 dogs and one bathroom.

And this is just the beginning!

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Santa Fe, NM

We get asked a lot if we will ever settle down again in a regular home.  At this point in time, we have no plans for that.  We have absolutely no regrets.  We love our new roaming lifestyle and the fact that as we work-camp across the country, we get to actually experience each area as the locals do.

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Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX

With the year 2017 on the horizon, I wanted to do a review of the past year on the road along with some of the trials and tribulations that went along with it.

Many ask about our financials, so I will go into that a bit, along with a few things we have learned and experienced as we traveled this year.

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Total Mileage this year

We began our year working in St. Petersburg, FL at the St. Petersburg KOA.  Our job ended there near the end of March.  Our next job would begin around May 1 in Williams, AZ, but we needed to make an extended stop in Atlanta due to health issues with our dog, Ralph.

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Our route took us to Orlando, a short pit stop in our favorite campground on Tybee Island, then onto Atlanta for a total of 633 miles.

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route to williams

We then traveled westward through Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and finally Williams, AZ, right near the Grand Canyon.  This was a total of  1,798 miles.

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Our job in Williams ended on October 31 and our job in Tucson began on November 15.  We took the long way with a detour through Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City, AZ, adding another     520 miles.

Grand total miles on the coach for 2016 was 2,951 miles.

Click here for more!

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Life in Tucson

As full time RVers and work campers, we find ourselves moving with the seasons.  Most campgrounds hire for a six month long season.  You can work longer if you’d like as long as the campground is open all year.  Unfortunately, in the wintertime, most of the campgrounds in the northern section of the United States close due to inclement weather.

Our new home...
Our new home…

And not to mention, our coach has issues with below freezing temperatures.  In the future, we have learned that when buying a coach, you need to get what they call a “Polar Package”.  This includes not only heated floors, but extra insulation and a heated undercarriage.  These were things we didn’t think about at the time, and as usual, we learn the hard way.

With that said, we move to warmer weather just as the snowbirds do.  In fact, I guess that makes us snowbirds too!  LOL!

Our view from our front yard
Our view from our front yard

We find the majority of our work camping jobs on the internet and in May, we ran across an opening at the Lazy Days Tucson KOA for kitchen staff.  After several seasons of working the front desk, reservations and check ins, we decided we would love to have a small break.  So we applied.  I figured we would either love it or hate it, but either way- we only will be there through the winter.

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Sunset on the campground
Sunset on the campground

Why stay in Arizona?  Northern Arizona was absolutely beautiful with its pine forests and high mountains.  We wanted to also experience the desert of Arizona.  Tucson is located in southern Arizona very near the Mexico border.  Here we can experience the local desert, beautiful Saguaro forests, local Indian and Mexican influences, and much more.

Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA
Thanksgiving dinner at the KOA

We arrived here in the middle of November and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving celebration with everyone on the campground.

Tucson KOA is a huge campground with around 500 sites.  Every site is gravel, with a poured concrete patio and and a small asphalt driveway for your vehicle.  And every single site has at least one fruit tree.

Click here for more!

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A little break from the real world at Lake Havasu

Our contract at the Williams Circle Pines KOA ended on Oct 31, and our new job at the KOA in Tucson began on Nov 15.  That gave us about 2 weeks to take a break as we make our way down to Tucson.

Bet you wondered what happened to us.  I’m a bit behind on my posting!

Over the summer, many of our guests had come from southern Nevada, Laughlin and Lake Havasu.  They had come to Williams to get a break from the heat as that area of the country sees triple digits all summer.  We decided that we would check out that area of the country in a round about way to Tucson.

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Our first stop was the Laughlin Avi Casino KOA in Laughlin, Nevada.   Laughlin is located on the southernmost tip of Nevada along the Colorado river where Nevada, California and Arizona meet.   The town is known as a fun casino town.

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It is about a half day drive from Williams.  And all down hill.  We went from over 7000 feet above sea level in Williams to about 500 feet above sea level in Laughlin.

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While we missed the heat of the summer, it was still nice and warm there.  I enjoyed sitting under the palm trees and working on my laptop in my beautiful new back yard.

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On our second day there, we took the London Bridge Jet Boat tour down the Colorado River from Laughlin to the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.

This is a great way to see the area from the water.  The trip takes about 2 hours to get to Lake Havasu City, you get a 2 hour break there to check out the bridge and grab a lunch, and then take the 2 hour ride back up the river.

And best of all, it was very affordable at about $70 a person.

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We really enjoyed the boat tour and our tour guide was incredibly informative.  Check out the green tint of the water behind Dave.  It was really that green!  Apparently from minerals in the water.

Click here for more!

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Leaving Circle Pines and heading to new Adventures!

We have been on the road now about a year and a half.  And the adventure has just begun.  Selling the house and nearly everything that we owned was difficult.  Leaving our friends and family behind was too.   But I have to tell you that we have absolutely no regrets.

Life on the road is everything we thought it would be.

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We often are asked how we can support ourselves on the road and I have to say that fortunately for us, we are able to handle most of our bills with income from my websites.

However, we do need a buffer.  And that is where KOA has come in.  We are doing seasonal work at various campgrounds in order to supplement our income while we see the country.

Last week we left Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ and I have to say that it was a sad farewell.  We not only loved this surprisingly beautiful area of the country, but made a bunch of new friends in the process that we definitely will miss.

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And we absolutely loved working for Bruce and Lori.  They made campground work an adventure.

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rv life camping etiquette

Our cool shady spot underneath the tall pines is now just a memory.  I would have loved to stay through the winter, but our coach does not love cold weather.  So it is onto to warmer regions.

We are currently at Lake Havasu for a brief vacation and then moving onto our winter job in Tucson, AZ.

But as I like to do, I’ve created a video of our memories from this beautiful campground on the high plains of Arizona.

Next week as a final chapter, I will be posting the top 10 Things to do in Williams, AZ.

Want more videos?

If you would like to see a bit about the parts of the country that we have visited so far, you can see our other videos here:

Our Season working at the St. Petersburg KOA

A Compilation Video of our Summer at Bar Harbor!

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Northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon!

We are currently living and working at the Circle Pines KOA in Williams, AZ.  We arrived here about a month ago and were assigned a spot in the center of the campground.

I have to say that in our work camping career so far, this site is the best that we have had!  It includes trees, a nice size yard (even when campers are around us), a huge fire pit and lots of flat space to store the motorcycle!

appreciating the grand canyon

We love this laid back campground!  It is a lot smaller than Bar Harbor, and St. Petersburg.  With just 20 cabins, and about 150 pull through sites, it is not only pleasant to live here, but working behind the counter is that much easier.

We will be here until October 31, which gives us plenty of time to explore the area and take in all that we can.

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And Circle Pines also owns a Go Cart track, putting a little variety into our work routines!

So why did we choose northern Arizona for the summer?  Well, there were several reasons.  At about 7000 feet above sea level, this area of the country does not get extreme heat in the summer.  In fact, evenings are jacket weather!

But the biggest draw of the area has to be The Grand Canyon.  Since neither one of us had ever seen it before, this area of the country was on our “bucket list”.

The Grand Canyon National Park

appreciating the grand canyon

It is about a 60 mile drive from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The drive is actually very interesting as you move from pine forests to dry desert land.   Keep an eye out for deer.  They are everywhere!

Along the way, you will find the occasional camper parked off the roadway.   You see in this area of the state, you can dry camp off road for as long as two weeks.

appreciating the grand canyon

Entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park is $30 per vehicle. Parking spaces are plentiful and even include areas for RVs and buses.

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Once parked, you can either hike along the rim trail, or take free shuttles to restaurants, stores and view points along the South Rim.

appreciating the grand canyon

The canyon itself is absolutely breathtaking.  No photos or words actually do it justice.  You have to see it for yourself to understand the magnitude of this amazing Natural Wonder.

The Grand Canyon is about 277 miles long. At its widest point it is 18 miles wide. The average width is a distance about 10 miles. The average depth is about 1 mile.

Click here for more photos and info on the Grand Canyon!

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An insiders look at Campground Etiquette

As full time campers and work campers, we have come to the conclusion that for the most part, other campers are awesome!  We all have so much in common.  We love the outdoors, we enjoy cooking on the grill, we enjoy the stars at night.

But there is always one bad apple in the barrel.  Isn’t there?

rv life camping etiquette
Circle Pines KOA, Williams, AZ

The problem is that most campgrounds this time of year become very full.  A larger campground such as the one we worked in St. Petersburg, Florida has nearly 500 campsites.

Filled to capacity, you are looking at the very least, 1000 people crammed into one campground!  St. Petersburg KOA was full to capacity the entire winter season that we were there.

The closer people camp together, the grouchier they become.  It’s just a fact.

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St Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA, FL

That is why campgrounds have the need to post rules.  Usually you will receive a pamphlet of rules along with a map of the campground upon arrival.  Some of those rules may seem a tad restrictive, but I have to tell you that there is a reason for every one of them.

As campground workers, we are more than aware of some of the biggest pet peeves of those that camp around us.  Here is our list of the top 10 complaints that we receive at the campground and how to avoid being the bad apple.

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Top Ten Rules of Campground Etiquette

life at the campground
Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA, Maine

10. Quiet time is not just a suggestion

Many of the campgrounds that we have worked at post quiet time as 10:00 PM at night until 7:00 AM.  Why?  Well, some folks want to sleep at night.  Common courtesy is at play here.

Yes, we are all on vacation, but do respect your neighbors and keep the noise down after 10:00 PM.  Most campgrounds try to enforce quiet time as best as possible, but we cannot be at all places at all times.

Click here for the rest of the list!

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Oklahoma, land where the buffalo roam…

On our way across country from Atlanta, GA to Williams, AZ, we made several stops.  One of which was to spend a couple days in Oklahoma City,  visiting with my oldest daughter, Laura.

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We stayed at the Oklahoma City East KOA.  Check out this amazing site!  We were so impressed by how beautiful this little campground was- and how well kept!  Frankly, if it wasn’t for the scary tornado potential in the area, we would consider working here.

But there is the tornado thing and the fact that we really don’t have a basement.  And I’m sure that is something that I just have to get over now that I live in a virtual tin can, but at the moment I am good with heading west.

Anyway…

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The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

My daughter took us on a tour of the area, including a drive out to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, roughly 100 miles south of Oklahoma City.  It is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the United States.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was important in saving the American buffalo from extinction. In 1907 the American Bison Society transported 15 buffalo, from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge.  At that time, buffalo had been extinct on the southern Great Plains for over 30 years.

The buffalo herd now numbers about 650 on the refuge!

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One “rule of thumb” when you are around wild animals.  If you hold up your thumb in front of them, and you can still see them, you are too close.

And as you can tell from the photo, wild animals come in all forms!

Scary.

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Mount Scott

Our tour of the mountains included a trip to the summit of Mount Scott which offers amazing views of the Oklahoma countryside.

And of course a visit to Meer’s Restaurant- a popular place in the area famous for it’s giant Meer’s Burgers.  Because we had to eat, right?

Here is a short video of our visit! To see is in large screen, click here.

Our next stop- Amarillo, TX!  See you there!

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10 Must have gadgets for the serious RVer

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

Dave has always been a fan of gadgets.  He loves perusing the internet for handy-dandy tools and extras that would make our life even easier here in this big metal can we call our home.  Usually, I don’t understand the issue, but go along with it to keep him happy.

One irritating thing about the hubby is he’s always right.  LOL!  Anyway, here is our top ten list of gadgets we simply can’t do without!

Top 10 Must have gadgets for the RV

must have rv gadgets for full timers

1. Water Softener

Many campgrounds that we have been to have very hard water.  Personally, I kind of like hard water because for me, it results in awesome hair days.  Unfortunately, hard water also does things like build up limescale on your equipment which affects the life of your appliances, and causes rust stains and water spots.  Sinks, toilets, and showers with hard water damage can make it difficult to resell an RV, and hard water will greatly reduce the life of hot water heaters.

So what to do?

must have rv gadgets for full timers

Dave purchased a water softener that easily manages our water from outside the RV.   Because we seem to end up in major hard water areas, he does a regeneration about every two weeks.  This simply means he does a back flush and adds two containers of table salt.  This results in some nice soft water.

The hair?  Well, I just use a little less creme rinse.  And the plus is not only is our equipment safe, but our skin is soft too!

must have rv gadgets for full timers

2. Tire Pressure Monitor System

Shortly after we got on the road, Dave purchased a Tire Pressure Monitor system that automatically monitors tire pressure and temperature on not only the coach tires, but the tires on the tow vehicle behind us.  It will alert us when pressure or temperature exceed pre-set thresholds.

We love this extra safety feature.  Having a tire blow out can be pretty damaging, especially if you are not immediately aware of it.  The system uses sensors that you simply screw into each tire valve stem.  The radio monitors them for any inconsistencies.

Dave also said that I need to tell you that he had to purchase a repeater in order get the proper signal for the entire length of our coach and the car behind it.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

3. Outrigger Pads

We have a wonderful automatic jack system on our coach that does the job of stabilizing without a whole lot of effort.  Unfortunately, if you happen to be parked on soft ground, those jacks have a bit of difficulty in maintaining a level coach.  While in Maine, we had to re-level the coach quite often to keep doors from swinging open.

Dave finally purchased Outrigger Pads and the problem was solved!  These are made of heavy duty plastic, do not take up a ton of room in storage (which is always important) and are not incredibly heavy.  But they do the job of helping to keep the coach level on softer ground.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

4. External propane tank

While in Maine, we found that we went through a whole lot of propane.  Our coach uses propane for cooking and heat.  Maine was often cold and while we do have an alternative electric heat system, the propane heat always seemed to warm the coach better.

To fill up the propane would mean to move the entire coach to the propane station, which is something that we would rather not do.  So Dave purchased a 30 gallon external propane tank which he could easily take and have filled when needed.

Installation involved a hose kit with t-valve that you can attach to your existing system.  (If you decide to mess with the propane system of your coach, be sure to have an experienced person do the installation- propane is dangerous!)

roof vent covers for rv

5. Roof Vent Covers

Rain!  I love the sound of it on our roof!  But the sad issue is that you cannot have your roof vents open when it rains.  Otherwise you end up with a huge puddle on your floor.

Ask me how I know.

Anyway, Dave solved this little issue by purchasing Roof Vent Covers. These vents act as little tents over your roof vent allowing air to circulate freely while protecting your coach from rain.  The vent covers that Dave found attach to the current roof vent so that he did not have to drill holes into the roof of the coach.

Always a good thing.

brake controller for tow vehicle

6. Brake Controller for Tow Vehicle

This is not only a great gadget, but a required one in many states.  A brake controller is designed to activate the tow vehicle’s brakes proportionately to how the RV brakes are applied.  This allows the tow vehicle to slow down on it’s own accord when needed.

It is very easy to install and can be stored in the trunk of your tow vehicle when not in use.

Most states and Canada require a system like this for any tow vehicles over 3000 pounds and some states are even more stringent than that!  It is recommended that you research the laws of each state that you are passing through to be sure that you are compliant.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

7. Pool noodles or tennis balls

Yep.  Pool noodles and tennis balls.  Here is a gadget that costs next to nothing, but has the potential to save you lots of money.  Sitting out in the sun, UV rays create much havoc with the rubber on your windshield wipers.  As with most things on a RV, windshield wipers are expensive.  An easy way give your blades longer life is to place tennis balls under the wiper arms, removing the tension off the wiper blades themselves.  Add blade covers for UV protection.

Pool noodles are great for putting along the edges of your slides.  I don’t think there is a RV owner existing that hasn’t knocked the heck out of his head on the bottom of a slide when trying to get to the compartments below.  No more goose eggs on the head with a pool noodle cushion!

internet wifi hotspot

8. WiFi Hotspot

So…some of these gadgets are more for me I guess.  I have three websites to maintain while on the road.  Public WiFi has quite a few drawbacks including no security and lack of speed.  Venturing into the wilds can mean little or no internet connection.

My WiFi hotspot can pick up a signal when my phone cannot.  Since it is dedicated to Wifi, it is stronger than tethering to my phone, and costs about $25 a month in addition to my phone service.

rand mcnally motor carrier atlas

9. Rand McNally Motor Carriers Road Atlas

I bet you were expecting me to say RV Friendly GPS.  Well, we have one, but we have found it to be unreliable.  When we found ourselves out in the middle of nowhere on a one lane road with a rickety weight restricted bridge in front of us, we realized that maybe we should have something else to rely on.

Dave’s dad is a retired trucker, and he gave us the latest version of the Rand McNally Motor Carriers Road Atlas.  It is a heavy duty, laminated book that includes more than 40,000 truck approved routes, updated charts of low clearances and weight stations and details of restricted routes, bridge restrictions and toll roads.

Dave uses it almost exclusively to safely plan our routes.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

10. Tire Covers 

Remember that issue with UV damage for the windshield wipers?  Well, there is something even more expensive that can be damaged by UV rays.   Those fancy tires that you depend on to get you from point to point need a bit of protection too.  Tire covers are a relatively inexpensive way to save your sidewalls from cracking and dry rotting.

egret on the water

These are just 10 of the handiest gadgets that we have discovered on our first year on the road.

What handy-dandy gadget do you recommend for RV living?

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