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10 Must have gadgets for the serious RVer

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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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What is your word for the New Year?

A new year.  If there was one word that best describes the year 2015 for us, it would be “change”.  It was definitely a year of change.   We have seen so many beautiful things this year, made lots of great new friends, and are both so much healthier now than we have been in years.

christmas in fort desoto florida

A year of change.

Christmas didn’t involve the normal family get togethers this year. It was a little strange celebrating the holidays in 90 degree weather.

Yes, record highs!  Florida was supposed to be temperate this time of year.  Dave calls it Tropical.  I call it False Advertising.

But with new lives and new places come new traditions.  We celebrated with a beach picnic with our friends from Bar Harbor, Rick and Judy.

new year resolutions

New Year resolutions?  Well, let’s just say that my main resolution this year is to continue to live freely.  To take some advice from my dog Ralph who insists that New Years resolutions need to be simple.

Be nice to nice people.

Enjoy life, travel, go on an adventure.

Rather than focus on resolutions, I am focusing on one word this year.  From the website, One Word 365,

One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.

It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.

christmas in fort desoto florida

So let’s consider that word while I tell you about our holiday.

How do you celebrate Christmas when you are miles from your relatives and currently living in neverending sauna?

christmas in fort desoto florida

You snag your good friends and head to the beach for a picnic!  Fort De Soto, to be exact.

Fort De Soto Park is one of my favorite places in the St. Pete area. It is located on five offshore keys, or islands just south of the city.  Historically, the islands were used for military fortifications.  There are two piers, beaches, picnic areas, hiking trails, bicycling trails, kayak trail, and even a ferry to Egmont Key State Park!

christmas in fort desoto florida

This is Rick and Judy!  We met them while working in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Winter jobs are hard to get in the camping industry.  You see, Florida is in pretty high demand in the winter because much of the campgrounds in cooler areas are closed for the winter.

This means that you might very well run across folks that you worked with in other areas of the country if you are wintering in Florida.  Rick and Judy, and one other couple that we worked with in Maine, are working with us here in St. Petersburg.

christmas in fort desoto florida

It’s very nice to have friends in the area to celebrate with.

christmas in fort desoto florida

And do a bit of beach combing with.

Rick and Judy will be heading to the northwest in the spring, and we will be headed to Arizona.  We will definitely miss them.  The camping world is a small place, so we just may end up working together again in the future.

Change is becoming a regular occurrence.

christmas in fort desoto florida

Oh, and speaking of change, guess who stayed up past midnight for the first time in 30 years?

We have some plans for 2016.  We will be here until March, and then will be moving onto Arizona for the summer.  The fall is still a mystery.  But that is half the fun.

That word for 2016?  Let’s go with “Adventure”.  And we will see where that takes us.

Happy New Year!