Safety and Security Tips for Traveling in your RV

Traveling into the great unknown can be a lot of fun. Discovering new places adds excitement to an RV trip. Yet many people worry about RV safety. RV security is an important factor to consider and there are things you can do to increase the security of your RV, no matter where you are traveling.

RVing has become one of the most popular ways to travel. But a successful and safe RV trip takes preparation and planning to make it a good experience. Whether you are new to RVing or not, these tips can help ensure that your trip will be problem-free.

Embarking on an RV adventure brings the promise of freedom and exploration but ensuring safety as you travel in your RV is critical. In this article I delve into the realm of RV security providing key safety measures to safeguard your RV while you travel.

Cracker Barrel in Goodyear, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be aware of your surroundings: A critical crime-prevention tool

This rule of thumb sounds obvious but it can be easy to forget. Whether you’re parked at a Walmart or Cracker Barrel or boondocking in a national forest, always be aware of what’s around you. When you stop somewhere, get out and take a look around before you commit to staying. We’ve stopped in places where we just didn’t feel safe. Rather than try to talk ourselves into it, we’ve moved on.

We’ve also learned that those uncomfortable feelings are a matter of perspective. We’re more cautious when we’re in the backcountry in areas that are unfamiliar to us. Use your best judgment and only stay in places where you are comfortable.

Leave temptation behind: Keep valuables hidden

Though it may seem obvious, you should never leave valuables in plain sight and unattended. Laptops, smartphones, cameras, and other personal belongings should be stored when they are not in use.

This one seems pretty obvious. To eliminate temptation put all your things away prior to leaving your site. This could include camping chairs, cooking equipment, and/or firewood. Don’t make it easy for them!

Don’t litter your site with valuables. Put away tablets, cell phones, and extra gadgets. Pull the blinds after dark in your rig. Don’t be a lone ranger; camp near other people. Get a safe. Each of these simple steps will keep robbers at bay.

Camping with your dog © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set up your campsite with security in mind

From the moment you park your RV, you should start thinking about security. For instance, most RVers reverse into their parking spot but this means that your rig is more accessible.

Also, take a good look at your surroundings and follow your gut feeling. If something about the spot can become a security risk, you’re better off finding a space that feels safer.

If you’re bringing your furry friends with you, you’ll also need to think about their well-being. Therefore, you’ll need to follow RV pet safety best-practices like sweeping for choking hazards and making sure you’re far from a busy road.

Lock it down: The importance of robust door and window locks

One of the first lines of defense for your RV is secure entry points. Invest in quality door and window locks to thwart potential intruders. Consider upgrading to smart locks that provide added convenience and control through mobile apps ensuring you can monitor and secure your RV even when you’re away exploring.

One of the easiest ways to deter thieves is to simply lock your doors anytime you leave, no matter how long you’re going to be gone.  Also, make sure to close and lock exterior storage compartments.

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Illuminate and deter: Motion sensor lights for enhanced security

Enhance your RV’s security by strategically placing motion sensor lights around your vehicle. These lights not only illuminate the surroundings at night but also serve as a deterrent to potential intruders. The sudden burst of light can startle and discourage unwanted visitors adding an extra layer of protection to your home on wheels.

Eyes everywhere: The benefits of a security camera system

In the digital age, technology offers advanced solutions for RV security. Consider installing a security camera system to keep a watchful eye on your RV. Modern systems provide real-time monitoring accessible from your smartphone giving you peace of mind and the ability to act promptly in case of any suspicious activity.

Conceal and protect: Disguising your RV with camouflage measures

Make your RV less enticing to potential thieves by adopting camouflage measures. This could include discreet branding, covering valuable items, or even using window coverings to conceal the interior. The goal is to avoid drawing unnecessary attention, reducing the risk of burglary when your RV is parked.

Camping at Lady Bird Johnson Park near Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

GPS tracking for recovery: Protecting your investment with GPS technology

In the unfortunate event that your RV is stolen, having a GPS tracking system can be a game-changer. These devices allow you to track the location of your RV in real-time aiding law enforcement in recovering your property quickly. It’s a worthwhile investment for both security and peace of mind.

Community vigilance: Utilizing the power of RV communities

The RV community is vast and supportive. Leverage this by staying connected with fellow travelers. Join online forums, share your location with trusted friends, and participate in local RV groups. In the world of RVing, a collective eye is often the best security measure with fellow enthusiasts looking out for each other’s well-being.

Camping at Palo Casino RV Resort, Palo, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emergency preparedness: Security beyond theft

Security extends beyond theft prevention. Equip your RV with emergency preparedness items including a first-aid kit, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. Being ready for unexpected situations helps to ensure the safety and well-being of you and your fellow travelers.

Have a way to protect yourself

Whether you’re at an RV park or out in the wilderness, there may come a time when you need to protect yourself. This can mean protection from another person, or from a wild animal like a bear or mountain lion.

There is no shortage of choices when it comes to self-defense from firearms to pepper/bear sprays to blunt objects. Pick the method that you feel most comfortable with. Then, practice using it. Whatever you choose, it’s important that you know how to use it before you ever need to (and hopefully, you won’t).

Camping in Dixie National Forest, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Never post your current location on social media

I totally get that you want to share your cool adventures and amazing places you are at. But, be cautious about giving your exact location and time.

If you want to post a photo of your RV at your campsite or in a certain location, refrain from posting the campground name and town you’re currently located. In other words, keep your social media shares vague. Wait until after you leave the area to share those beautiful views online.

Here are some helpful resources on increasing the security and safety of your RV:

Effective security requires a layered approach. There is no single security measure that is guaranteed to deter and prevent crime. However, by implementing the layered approach outlined above, you can feel confident that you have a good plan in place to deter and prevent crime.

As you embark on your RV journey, remember that security is a crucial aspect of traveling. Implementing these measures can safeguard your home on wheels, allowing you to explore with confidence. By combining technology, community support, and smart practices, you’ll fortify your RV against potential risks ensuring a secure and enjoyable adventure on the open road.

Safe travels!

Worth Pondering…

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

—Okakura Kazuko

Do You Have A First Aid Kit In Your RV?

It does not matter if you are a weekend tailgater or a full-time RVer you need a first aid kit in the RV

Many RVers have discovered, often at the worst possible time that their rig lacks a basic first aid kit. Usually, this happens right after an injury or medical condition that requires treatment. Another version of this oversight is the first aid kit which never seems to have the right items like discovering that it has four bottles of aspirin but no Band-Aids.

Whether you’re a full-time RVer or an occasional weekend warrior, having a well-stocked first aid kit in your RV is essential. In this article, I’ll explore the benefits of having a first aid kit and what you should include in one to be fully prepared for any medical emergency that may arise during your travels.

Camping at Bird Island Basin Campground, Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why you need a first aid kit in your RV?

Here are just some of the benefits of having a first-aid kit in your RV:

  • Peace of mind: Knowing that you have a first-aid kit in your RV will give you peace of mind on your travels. If something does happen, you will be prepared and know exactly what to do.
  • Preparedness: Having a properly stocked first-aid kit, knowing what’s in it, how to use it, when to call emergency medical services (EMS), or handle the situation yourself. Being prepared could help save a life.
  • Convince: First-aid kits are very convenient. Have a full first-aid kit for in your RV and a smaller kit for when you are out on a hike, in a boat, or in your care.
  • Peace of mind for loved ones: If you are traveling with family or friends, having a first-aid kit will give them peace of mind as well knowing if something happens you are prepared.
Camping at Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to include in your first aid kit in your RV

Your RV first aid kit should be packed with items that will allow you to deal with minor injuries and illnesses.

The following is a list of suggested items:

  • Bandages/tape: Assorted sizes of adhesive bandages and gauze pads, adhesive bandage tape
  • Ointments and cleaning: Hydrocortisone cream, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, antiseptic spray 
  • Pain relief medication: Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen
  • Anthihistamines: Benadryl 
  • Supplies: Tweezers, scissors, thermometer, pulse oximeter, disposable gloves, flashlight 
  • Hot/cold pack: Instant heat pack, instant ice pack
Camping at Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to assemble a first aid kit in your RV

There are many different types of first-aid kits available on the market; it is important to choose one that is right for your needs. You may want to consider a kit that is specifically designed for RVers. These kits typically include items such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and more.

When choosing a first-aid kit, it is also important to think about the type of medications you might need while on the road. If you have any allergies or medical conditions, be sure to include medications for those in your kit. It is also a good idea to pack extra supplies of any prescription medications you take regularly.

Assembling a first-aid kit for your RV does not have to be difficult or time consuming. By taking some time to think about what you need, you can easily put together a kit that will serve you well in case of an emergency.

Making sure you and your family members are familiar with the first aid kit, where it’s located, how to find the items, and how to use them in an emergency is as important as having the kit.

No matter how careful you are accidents do happen. That’s why it’s important to have a first-aid kit in your RV. You never know when you or a family member will need it.

If you have pets, remember to include their needs too! If your four-legged companion is joining you on your journey, be sure to pack pet first-aid items as well.

Camping at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First-aid kit instructions

Always include a quick-reference guide or more comprehensive booklet that explains how to administer first aid. Kit-makers pay close attention to the quality of their guides, so you should do the same.

Trip-specific first-aid supplies

Just as you would with a premade kit, you should supplement your home-assembled kit with extra supplies for a longer trip or special supplies for your destination, activity, and group members.

Preventative items to keep on hand

In addition to the first aid kit, I recommend that you keep some preventative items on hand. Things like sunscreen and insect repellent should be readily available in the RV. Chapstick with SPF is also a great thing to keep on hand to prevent chapped lips.

Hand sanitizer and soap should be available at each sink. You want to make it easy for people to clean up, wash away bacteria, and keep nasty germs from spreading.

While not necessarily preventative, I also recommend keeping some cough drops on hand during the fall/winter months. Even if they are just for sore throats following a crazy football game, these sure come in handy.

Camping at Snow Canyon State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

Having a first-aid kit in your RV is an essential part of being prepared and keeping everyone safe. With the right items, you can help prevent minor injuries from becoming major ones. By having the necessary supplies and medications on hand, you won’t have to worry about running out or not having what you need when an emergency arises.

Take some time now to stock up on all the items that should be included in your RV’s first-aid kit so that it will always be ready when you need it.

Worth Pondering…

I suppose that means you don’t want any band-aids, either,” I said, a touch more bitterly than I’d meant to.

—J.M. Richards

High-Elevation RVing: How to Beat the Heat and Camp in Perfect Weather

As another camping season approaches I want to share how you can beat the heat and camp in perfect weather all year. The solution is high-elevation RVing.

Let’s face it, summer camping is great but it also brings 90-degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity.

Even in northern climates, it gets very hot during the dog days of summer. 

But by moving about in your RV and using high altitude camping to regulate the heat you experience, your summer locations can be much more agreeable—and scenic.

Let me show you some examples of how to do this when the temperature rises and some peculiarities of high-altitude RV operation.

The goal is to camp in perfect weather, to experience daytime temperatures in the low to mid-70s which we have found to generally be the most comfortable camping climate there is.

High elevation camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are a few great articles to help you do just that:

The formula to camp in perfect weather: Keep it around 70 degrees

New Mexico is a great state to begin a summer’s travels and by April you can pretty much always find those sweet seventies.

That will last close to Memorial Day if you move around a bit. A good place to be in late May is around Farmington, New Mexico waiting for the snow to melt and the mountains to open up.

Eventually, when you see the snow line climbing higher on those peaks, you’re starting to sweat at lower altitudes and experience those 80 degree days.

Head up the Million Dollar Highway (US 550) into the Colorado high country when the weather is so warm you need the A/C on.

Try Haviland Lake in Colorado at 8,100 feet assuming the snow has melted. Daytime highs in early June will probably be upper 60s to low 70s. Once the holiday crowds dispersed, you should have lots of places to boondock. It’s a National Forest campground with electricity and water and online reservations for maybe half the spots.

High elevation camping at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take it slow when high-altitude RVing

I recommend spending about a week and a half getting acclimated to the altitude. Watch the snowline on the mountains. The elevations will undergo a remarkable transformation. Feet of snow will quickly start melting away and in rapid order those low 70s at Haviland Lake will start to hit the 80s and you’ll know it’s time to start climbing again.

You can follow the hummingbirds also looking for perfect weather. A good place to stay in the 70s in mid-June is around Silverton, Colorado.

Mineral Creek has great high-altitude RVing spots to camp in perfect weather.

There are numerous boondocking locations here. Mineral Creek dispersed camping in the San Juan National Forest is a favorite for many of those chasing perfect weather.

High elevation camping at Dillon, Montana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Up there, you’ll now be at 9,600 feet and the weather for what will not be full-on summer should be ideal. High temperatures that high will seldom get above 70. At night you may need the heater as it will regularly dip into the 40s.

Since the Forest Service will allow you stay a maximum of 14 days, it’s a simple matter of moving over to the other side of Silverton which is BLM land (Bureau of Land Management, another Federal agency) to Maggie Gulch at 9,800 feet.

It’s time to reset the 14-day clock in another spectacularly beautiful place with near-perfect camping weather.

There are some quirks to being up where the air pressure is 70 percent of normal—if you make biscuits they’ll be things of beauty. 

But your potato chip bags may have popped those air seals as you climbed up to this altitude. Fortunately, the low humidity will keep them from going stale. The downside is that water boils 20 degrees cooler so potatoes will take forever to cook. 

Forget about cooking rice. Plus you’ll need to add more coffee and boil it longer if you prefer it strong.

High elevation camping at Fish Lake, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your camper appliances may be affected when you are high-altitude RVing

RV appliance operation can also be affected by altitude. If you have a generator you may find it has a hard time warming up and running smoothly.

The key is to get out the manual and make an attitude adjustment on it. Pull the generator access cover and look for a black plastic set screw cap with a line on it pointing to a 0-10,000 foot scale.  Rotating the set screw clockwise until the line in the black plastic cap corresponds to your altitude will make your generator a lot happier.

A propane hot water heater could develop the mechanical equivalent of emphysema at 9,800 feet with the flame popping and going out requiting much relighting and lean-burn smells.

Alas, this is something that you probably need to leave alone and turn off. You can heat water on the propane stovetop just fine in a pot. 

When it really gets hot down below, head to the Beartooth Pass

There’s one more climb you may want to take if the weather gets really hot in late July and August; head north toward Montana and the Beartooth Plateau at 10,164 feet. Up that high, 70 is about the highest temperature you can expect even when it’s 90 a few thousand feet lower.

High elevation camping at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Again, get acclimated to the higher elevations

All that altitude does require acclimation.

Ascend gradually and stop for a week or so on your way up through successively higher altitudes. If you climb slowly you won’t suffer any adverse altitude sickness consequences other than shortness of breath with sustained exertion. Everyone notices that.

You aren’t the only species looking for perfect weather

One other possible downside of high-altitude camping is that you aren’t the only species up there.

Bears will almost always be found at altitude in the summer. Practice keeping a clean camp and secure your vehicle, especially at night. 

To be extra cautious, I suggest you never take any food outside the vehicle when you’re in bear country and be sure to read Hiking and Camping in Bear Country: What You Need to Know.

Whether you’re fulltiming or just hot, head for the mountains and enjoy a break from the oppressive summer weather. 

Worth Pondering…

We shall not cease from exploration 

And the end of all our exploring 

Will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

39 Best Apps for RV Travel (iOS & Android)

Apps for RV travel can come in handy on the road. From finding a place to stay to documenting your journey, chances are you will find more than one app that fits your needs.

Planning and executing the perfect RV road trip can be a challenge and having the right RV-related apps makes all the difference.

Whether you’re going on a weekend camping trip or you’re full-timing in your rig, there are numerous things to consider when you’re hitting the road in your RV. Where are you going to camp? Will there be internet? Will it rain and keep you trapped inside all weekend?

Whether you’re looking for free dispersed camping options, a place to dump your RV tanks, read campground reviews, connect with other travelers, plan your route, or check the weather there’s a mobile app or two (or three) to help you do just that. 

Keep reading for my list of favorite apps for RVing and travel.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel: Find a place to overnight

Finding a place to stay, of course, is integral to any successful RVing adventure which is why five of the 39 apps deal with finding a place to stay overnight.

Allstays: Allstays lists campgrounds, boondocking spots, BLM land, parks, attractions and more, and it shows them all on a map. You can search near you or along a route or by state and you can have the map show you everything from campgrounds to interstate rest areas to Walmarts, RV dump sites, pretty much anything an RVer needs to find.

Harvest Hosts: More than 5,100 farms, wineries, breweries, and attractions across North America are listed in this subscription service…places where RVers can stay free overnight. The app shows details, gives directions, contact numbers, photos, and reviews from other RVers. Many of the Harvest Hosts offer overnight camping in absolutely beautiful spots.

KOA: KOA is the go-to campground for many RVers. The app lets you see photos of the campground, get an idea of what amenities are available, and read reviews from other RVers who have stayed there. You can also reserve a spot from the app.

Overnight RV Parking/TogoRV: Togo RV is now integrated into Roadtrippers Premium

Cracker Barrel: The Cracker Barrel app shows Cracker Barrel locations near you or on your route, many of which allow free overnight stays in the parking lot for RVers. You can also order take-out meals from restaurants along your route allowing you to have it ready by the time you get there. Cracker barrel is very friendly to RVers usually offering parking even for big rigs.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Plan a trip

Whether plotting out a trip or already on the road and looking for a place to stop, these apps help you find the destinations you’ll be seeking out.

iExit: Making a pit stop for food, gas, or a bathroom break is easy when you have the iExit app. Whether you’re looking for well-known franchises like Starbucks and Walmart to convenient amenities like free Wi-Fi and truck or trailer parking, this app has you covered. It locates fuel stops, tells you the average cost per gallon, notes what restaurants and businesses are at that exit.

Yelp: Yelp can help you find restaurants, bakeries, donut shops. Pick a location and see what’s near you.

Here’s a hint: Always look for places with the best reviews, four or five stars.

Roadtrippers: This app helps you find fun and interesting things to see along your travel route. You can filter it however you want but the app covers just about every region in the country and makes some great suggestions for off-the-beaten-path exploration. Read the reviews from others who have been there and you’ll find some fun places to stop.

Waze: Waze is a community-driven travel app that shows you the shortest possible route to your destination. Like Google Maps, Waze makes real-time adjustments for traffic jams and other obstacles—but Waze is often more accurate since it caters specifically to drivers.

Yes, you may have GPS built into our RV. But Waze is hands down the best app I have found to not only navigate us to where we need to be but to show us in almost real-time things like traffic backups, speed traps, road construction, debris on the road, and other important information about what’s ahead. It’s updated by users like you who are up ahead and you’re encouraged to report issues you encounter for those behind you.

GasBuddy: GasBuddy is an app specifically designed to find nearby gas stations and save money on gas. Use it to find the cheapest gas in your area and filter gas stations by amenities like car washes, restaurants, and bathrooms.

It’s the app you want to have if you’re serious about finding the cheapest gas around. Information comes from users like you, so you have the most up-to-date prices.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Connect with a physician while on the road

Health care should always be a priority when you’re on the road. These apps can connect you with a physician via smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Keep in mind of course there will be costs/insurance involved.

Teladoc connects you with a board-certified doctor 24/7/ via phone or video. Teladoc physicians can diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication, for many medical issues, including sore throat and stuffy nose, cold and flu symptoms, and respiratory infection. The app is free for iOS and Android with costs for connecting with a doc dependent on insurance and other factors.

Doctor On Demand allows users to connect face-to-face with a doctor through video on your smartphone or tablet. Doctor On Demand works with or without insurance and is available at reduced rates through many major health plans and large employers. Providers are licensed and board-certified. The app is free for iOS and Android with costs for connecting with a doctor dependent on insurance and other factors.

MDLive offers virtual doctor visits with board-certified physicians from wherever you are, whenever you want. Users can schedule a non-emergency appointment at a time and day that’s convenient or have an on-demand visit in around 15 minutes. The app is free for iOS and Android though there are costs for connecting with a doc dependent on insurance and other factors.

Apps for RV travel – Keep track of your family and friends

Keeping track of family members and friends you might be traveling with is important. Likewise, if you’re traveling solo, you want to make sure others know where you are located while on the road. These apps take the idea of staying connected to a whole new, safer level.

Life360 sets up small circles of friends to automatically share information such as location and arrival. You can create custom circles, too, like if a group is going on a hike or exploring and wants to keep track of each other for a short time. The app allows for chatting and sending private messages to other users. It’s free for Android and iOS.

MamaBear Family Safety: MamaBear Family Safety is designed for parents to monitor their kids’ location. But since it allows users to get updates and messages, it can easily be oriented towards RVing. For example, you could use it to check in with family back home and keep them updated as to your location without having to text or call or check-in. The app even has a panic button that can be activated if needed.

For parents, the app has a social media monitor that allows Mom and Dad to see what the kids are doing on social media. It even can be set to show their teen’s driving habits to know if they are speeding. But RVers could use those features so friends and family back home could follow their social media posts and see whether they are on the road or camped somewhere.

Apps for RV travel – Summer Safety

With the brunt of RVing during the summer it’s important to remember the elements presented by Mother Nature during the warmest time of the year. These apps help you practice even better summer safety.

OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps you take precautions against outdoor heat while working or playing. It features a real-time heat index and hourly forecasts, specific to your location. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Waterlogged app makes sure you stay hydrated. The app tracks your water intake with minimal effort and can send reminders of when it’s time to drink water. The app is free for iOS and Android with in-app purchases for premium features.

EPA’s SunWise UV Index app provides a daily and hourly forecast of the expected intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun as well as sun safety tips to help you plan your outdoor activities. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Get help in the kitchen

I suppose you could technically dine out for every single meal you have while on the road but that doesn’t seem especially economical or super healthy. Be sure to check out these steady flows of recipes tailored to RVing as well as resources for great-tasting dishes.

Tasty Meal Planner & Cookbook offers more than 3,000 recipes right at your fingertips. The app features an innovative search tool that allows you to filter by ingredients, cuisine, and social occasion you’re in the mood for. There are even videos to help you figure it all out. The app is free for iOS and Android.

NYT Cooking browses and searches thousands of recipes from The New York Times. Recipes feature photography and easy-to-follow instructions. It sets up your own personal recipe box. Mark recipes you’ve cooked, rate recipes, and leave notes. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Food Network Kitchen includes more than 80,000 recipes and step-by-step cooking classes. Choose from more than 50 live classes each week taught by your favorite Food Network stars, culinary experts, award-winning chefs, and surprise celebrity guests. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Connect with nature

Use your smartphone or tablet to (ironically) connect with nature.

Audubon Bird Guide is an app that helps you get outside and get your birdwatching on. It covers 810 species using photos instead of drawings, includes range maps, has a good selection of audio recordings including alternate calls and regional variations, and slightly more descriptive text including habitat, range, and nesting information. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Sky Guide shows a detailed picture of the heavenly bodies above as well as what’s over the horizon and on the other side of the world. The app points out constellations and their exact locations so you can look up at the real sky and find everything. The app is $2.99.

iNaturalist app helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature when you document what you’ve seen. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Fishing apps

What’s a great RV trip without doing some fishing? We have three apps for RV travel that will help you.

Fishbrain is currently the number one fishing app serving as a personal fishing log, map, and forecasting tool. Other features explore the most effective baits and you can know exactly what you’ve caught with the app’s species recognition tool. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Fishing Points lets you save and find your favorite fishing locations and trolling paths. There are satellite views from Google Maps or you can use offline mode with nautical charts for boating whether on open seas, lakes, or rivers. The app is free for iOS and Android.

BassForce puts the expertise of the greatest bass anglers of all time right at your fingertips. Just input the conditions for your fishing day and the app’s pros will show you the specific baits that have worked for them under those exact same conditions. The app is free for iOS.

Apps for RV travel – Streaming video apps

With so many TV shows and movies available in so many different services like Netflix, Hulu, and more, keeping track of it all can be a big job—especially if you’re looking for your favorites.

JustWatch Streaming Guide lists streaming services where you can watch movies and TV for free, rent, or buy. There are nearly 40 streaming providers including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go. The app has lots of interest and genre filters and newly added shows and movies for each service. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Yidio Streaming Guide monitors major services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as well as smaller services, delivering more than 100 in total. When you find a TV show or movie, the app will list the streaming sites that have it available. Choose one and you will be taken to their app or website to buy, rent, or watch. Some shows you can watch in-app. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Improve your sleep

Having trouble sleeping? These apps can monitor how well you sleep—or don’t. This information can be especially useful if working with a physician to address what could be pretty serious problems.

SleepScore app tracks your sleep and shows when you sleep light, deep, and when you wake up. The app uses sonar technology so you only have to have your phone by your bedside for it to work. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Sleep Cycle provides analysis to help you get a good night’s sleep. The app has an intelligent alarm clock designed to gently wake you up while you’re in your lightest sleep phase. It also integrates with Apple Health. The app is free for iOS and Android with premium features available for purchase.

Apps for RV travel – Weather apps

Bad weather can happen anytime. There are several apps for RV travel that will help you prepare for the worst when it comes to the potential devastation that can be brought by Mother Nature.

Drive Weather app illustrates the National Weather Service’s forecast shows weather along your route at the expected time you will be at each point on your trip. Drive Weather also compares weather on different routes allowing drivers to add stops and interactively change departure time to find the safest time to travel. The app is available for Android and iOS.

NOAA Weather Radar Live provides weather forecasts with features including a radar overlay that shows areas of rain, snow, and mixed precipitation in high resolution and vivid colors. Set your device to received alerts from the app whenever severe weather is on the way. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Storm Radar app brings you up-to-date high-definition radar provided by NOAA. In fact, Storm Radar lets you view weather patterns up to six hours ahead of time. Allow the app to send you notifications and you won’t even have to keep checking the app for bad weather that might be on the way. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The Weather Radar app from AccuWeather goes beyond your local forecast to provide a daily snapshot of the UV index, visibility, allergy, precipitation, and air quality reports, all the information can be accessed directly via the app. Look ahead 15 days to ensure you’re prepared for any weather or use the app’s MinuteCast feature for hyper current and local forecasts. The app is free for iOS and Android.

There’s an app for that © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Apps for RV travel – Petcare on the road

With so many RVers traveling with their pets, I would be remiss to not include two apps that can be useful for RVing with four-legged friends.

Pet First Aid from the American Red Cross is a first aid guide and knowledge base for owners of dogs and cats. The app provides instant access to simple first aid lessons, step-by-step guides, and how-to videos. There’s also a section for vet contact details. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Rover: Dog Sitters & Walkers is often called a Uber for dog sitters. It helps you find dog sitters near you all of whom have been vetted for trustworthiness and the service is covered by insurance. Book a pet sitter for boarding, house sitting, and doggy daycare. Sitters can use the app to provide photo updates and notifications to pet owners. The app itself is free for iOS and Android.

Apps for RV travel – Document your journey

When it’s all said and done, you may want to document your story for your records—or to share with others.

Driftr: Social Travel Platform app supports photos and videos and encourages sharing reviews and travel advice. Create your own travel blog instantly. Quickly and easily find the best places to stay, attractions, places to eat anywhere in the while taking advantage of exclusive offers. It’s helpful in planning a trip as well. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Day One Journal lets you create an entry with just one click or use one of the numerous templates. You can add data like location, weather, the music you are listening to, and more. Plus, you can embed photos and videos or even draw. And to make sure you stay consistent, you can set notifications to remind you that it’s time to journal. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Worth Pondering…

You don’t need to have all the answers. What you need to do is be curious and open-minded enough to learn.

—David Fialkow, co-founder of General Catalyst

How to Go Camping in National Parks: Tips and Tricks for the Best Experience

If you missed National Park Week, you can still celebrate by camping in one of the country’s pristine national parks

Did you know you can camp overnight in many national parks? It’s one of the best ways to enjoy a national park—you can spend a night under the stars far from the noise and traffic of busy cities and enjoy an immersive experience instead of simply passing through.

The National Park Service (NPS) recently commemorated National Park Week which ran April 20-28 this year with a slew of celebrations. If you missed out on the fun, you can still celebrate by visiting a national park and even camping in one. Here is some advice for having the best experience camping at a national park.

Camping at Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to go camping in national parks

1. Reserve a campsite

Not every national park has a campground, but most do. You can find which parks have campsites on the NPS Find a Campground locator.

Once you’ve chosen your desired campground, make sure to reserve a spot. NPS campsites can fill up quickly, so you should always have a reservation before you arrive at the campground.

Some campgrounds are closed during certain times of the year because of weather so spring through fall is generally the best time to camp in a national park.

Keep in mind that the remaining national park free entrance days in 2024 are June 19, August 4, September 28, and November 11—this could be an optimal time to go if you want to avoid park entrance fees but a bad time if you want to avoid crowds.

Camping at Pinnacles National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Do your research

Once you’ve confirmed your reservation, read up on the campsite’s rules and regulations. This information available on the park’s website will let you know whether campfires are allowed (and if so, whether you can buy firewood in the park), if there are food lockers, what sort of bathrooms are available, and whether the site has potable water. This will help you plan what to bring on your camping trip.

You should also research the park itself. Each national park’s website has “plan your visit” and “learn about the park” sections which are great resources to help you prepare. Learn what the park has to offer so you can plan hikes and other excursions and study the flora and fauna so you can identify the native plants and animals you come across while there.

Camping at Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pack for the weather

The park’s website should also have information on weather patterns so you can get a general overview of what to expect from the conditions when you visit. This will help you guide whether you need rain gear, how insulated your sleeping bag needs to be, what kind of shoes and clothes you should bring, and more. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray!

Even if you’re camping in the middle of the summer and rain isn’t in the forecast, you should always be prepared with a rain cover for your tent, an extra blanket and a rain jacket.

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Bring food

Some national parks have restaurants on site, but many don’t. Again, do your research before you go to see what options are available within the park you’re visiting. However, in case of unexpected closures, it’s safest to bring your own food.

Nonperishable food is always great for camping but if you have the space, you can bring a cooler and have more options. If campfires or camping stoves are allowed in your campsite, you can cook something over the fire or bring packaged backpacking food and reheat it in minutes.

5. Be prepared for wild animals

If your food looks or smells enticing to you, it’ll be even more so to the animals in the parks. Make sure you keep all food safely stored—some sites have food lockers and in others you’ll want to bring a bear box.

Never keep food in your tent and make sure to clean up your food and wash all plates and utensils immediately after eating. Dispose of any trash in designated garbage bins and clear everything out before you leave your campsite.

Camping at Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Leave no trace

This is one of the most important elements of visiting any natural area but especially in a national park. These areas are beautiful, diverse environments and it’s important to protect and preserve them for future generations to enjoy and for the good of the ecosystem. Furthermore, national parks are protected by law and causing any harm to them could leave you subject to a pricey fine.

To keep them safe, follow the seven basic principles of Leave No Trace which are:

  • Plan ahead and prepare: If you know where you’re going and what the rules and regulations are, you are less likely to cause accidental harm to an area.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Never go off trail in a national park, as you can disturb the environment. Even if an off-limits area seems like plain dirt, you may actually be looking at something like cryptobiotic soil crusts, which are full of biotic organisms that hold the soil together and prevent harmful erosion. Make sure you stay within designated areas at all times.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Waste can attract animals causing dangerous situations for them or you. Additionally, garbage and other waste can pollute the local environment causing additional harm to animals and nature and making the park experience less enjoyable for others.
  • Leave what you find: While it may be tempting to pluck flowers for scrapbooking or take home a giant stick, these things are all essential parts of their respective ecosystems. Leave them where they are to avoid affecting the environment and to allow others to enjoy them.
  • Minimize campfire impacts: Nearly 85 percent of wildfires are caused by humans according to the U.S. Forest Service and unattended campfires are one of the biggest culprits. If you make a campfire, make sure you watch it constantly and keep flammable items far away from it. When you put out the fire, don’t just douse it with water; mix in cool ashes and make sure you see no smoke or glowing coals before you leave.
  • Respect wildlife: While it may be tempting to offer a squirrel your leftover sandwich crusts, it’s best not to feed animals. If you see any, make sure to admire them from a distance. If you bring any pets with you, make sure they are on a leash and stay close to you.
  • Be considerate of others: Don’t be that person that brings a loudspeaker on a hike and don’t stop to take pictures in the middle of the trail if there are people trying to get past you. Be courteous and do your best to stay out of others’ way.
Camping at Arches National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. DIG DEEPER: The Ultimate and Complete Guide series

I have written two series of guides on national parks to help you explore these protected areas in greater depth. Each guide helps you plan your adventure and discover the magic of the park.

The Ultimate Guide series of National Parks include:

The Complete Guide series include:

Worth Pondering…

However one reaches the parks, the main thing is to slow down and absorb the natural wonders at leisure.

—Michael Frome

Class B or Class C: Which Motorhome is Right for You?

If you’re wondering, “Is a Class B or Class C motorhome right for me?” you aren’t alone

Should I get a Class B or Class C motorhome? Whether you’re looking to buy your first RV or ready to move on to a new one, that’s the big question many RVers face when heading out to make that big purchase.

But how do you know which one is for you? 

Let’s start with Class Bs. 

Class B motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Class B motorhomes and vanlife

Two factors are driving the growth in Class B motorhomes. The first is downsizing with more people wanting to get into something a little more maneuverable.

The Class B motorhome is also referred to as a campervan. They have become so popular that they have spawned a movement called vanlife. 

The second big factor is technology. Lithium-ion batteries, solar panels, and more now make it possible to connect with the world as you’re driving and, well, work from anywhere.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Understanding the Class B motorhome

If you’re looking at a Class B, you’re talking about an RV that is built on a commercial van chassis. That includes the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, the Ford Transit chassis, or the Dodge ProMaster chassis.

So, it’s really the smallest of motorhomes. Yet, they still have sinks, stoves, refrigerators, holding tanks, toilets, house batteries, beds, sitting areas, and even entertainment features.

When it comes to engines, Class B motorhomes are either gas or diesel. A Class B generally get about 10-25 miles per gallon.

Class B motorhomes are designed in various lengths generally ranging from 18 to about 23 feet.

They also have different floor plans offering various combinations of sleeping arrangements whether traveling alone or with others. The different floor plans are a big attraction for many Class B owners.

Of course, you’ll wonder about storage and tank capacity in the smaller RVs and you’d be right if you suspect both are limited. However, what they lack in storage they make up for in compact agility because driving a Class B is like driving a minivan.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That means fitting into smaller campsites and easier maneuverability when getting into or out of or visiting a town. The versatility, in fact, is one of the primary reasons many prefer Class Bs.

Many of these smaller rigs come with lithium house batteries and solar panels to maximize and extend electrical output.

However, if you’re thinking Class Bs are less expensive because they’re smaller, you will be disappointed.  Delivering the luxury features of larger coaches compressed into smaller spaces creates engineering and construction challenges which translate to higher costs.  In addition to the engineering challenge many Class B motorhomes use more costly higher-end components like lithium batteries in their designs.

Class C motorhomes

One of the most popular segments in the motorhome industry is the Class C. First off, Class C motorhomes have an instantly recognizable silhouette. Here’s what a typical Class C motorhome looks like.

Class C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The classic Class C motorhome cab is covered by an overhang or cab-over that in most models houses a bed. A short passageway leads into the body of the motorhome usually a step or two up from the driver’s compartment. They are built on a cutaway truck chassis.

But first, let’s clear something up.

You may have heard the term Class B+ motorhome. They are small motorhomes that do not have the front overhang. But a so-called B+ motorhome really IS a Class C motorhome. The industry just made up that B+ designation.

Here’s a picture of Class B+ motorhome.

Class B+ motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But for the purpose of this article, I’m talking about the classic Class C motorhome with that distinctive cab overhang.

CLICK HERE to read an article on the Class B + motorhome

The cutaway truck chassis a Class C motorhome is built on is able to carry more weight and that gives RV manufacturers the freedom to add more bulk.

As expected, everything is a bit bigger with Class Cs: a separate dining area, larger stove and refrigerator, and larger storage tanks for water, waste, and propane. The bathroom is larger and usually with a shower stall separate from the toilet. There are usually one or two slide outs for extra width when parked.

When it comes to storage, Class Cs typically offer plenty of cupboards and hiding spaces inside and several storage compartments outside.

In fact, some of the modern Class C motorhomes are so large that they rival the Class A or bus-style motorhome in space and amenities. They range all the way up to 41 feet in length though most are between 25-30 feet.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Super Class C motorhomes: When you need even more space

Yes, there is Class Cs that go beyond the 26-foot mark—some up to 45 feet. They’re the Super Class C motorhomes. They are built on a heavy-duty truck chassis and are able to tow huge loads.

The name pretty much says it all! Super C motorhomes are larger versions of traditional Class C motorhomes. More specifically, that extra space gives these unique RVs all the luxuries of a Class A Motorhome with additional safety features.

Here are some of the Super Class C motorhome advantages:

  • Wider wheel-base: This creates a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.
  • Tons of exterior storage: Most Super C RVs have exterior storage running the length of the body.
  • Tow and cargo carrying capacity: Super Cs have powerful engines; some can tow up to 25,000 pounds.
  • Easier to repair: Using traditional large-truck engines, there are a lot more service shops that can work on your engine. Unlike Class As, the engine is easily accessible from outside thr RV.
Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To be clear, Super C is really a made-up RV classification just like the B+ motorhome. Most of the Super Cs would be on the Ford F550 or the Freightmaster chassis. They have much more in common with Class A motorhomes than their smaller cousins including multiple slides.

Bottom line: It’s really big and yet somehow maintains the Class C classification. It’s pretty cool though.

So, Class B (or B+) or Class C (or Super C) motorhome?

Worth Pondering…

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.

—John W. Gardner

April 2024 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 17 Recalls Involving 11 RV Manufactures

Is your RV on the list? A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired.

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you and your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

Thousands of RVs are affected by the latest RV recalls issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Before you head out for spring camping, check the latest roundup of NHTSA recalls to see if your RV is affected.

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, NHTSA publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

When a manufacturer or the NHTSA determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable risk to safety or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

Per strict NHTSA protocols, manufacturers will next notify its dealer partners of the recall notice. Each notice will include details of the affected vehicles as well as the appropriate remedy.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

NHTSA announced 17 recall notices during April 2024. These recalls involved 11 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (4 recalls), Keystone (3 recalls), Winnebago (2 recalls), Cruiser (1 recall), Heartland (1 recall), Jayco (1 recall), Airstream (1 recalls), Tiffin (1 recall), ORV (1 recall), REV (1 recall), and Alliance (1 recall).

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Aurora and Coachmen Catalina Travel Trailers. Improper routing may leave the distribution panel wire unprotected from the battery.

Dealers will reroute the distribution panel wire to the breaker side of the mini breaker, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 15, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-4995. Forest River’s number for this recall is 203-1757.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Cardinal and Wildcat Fifth Wheels trailers. The operator may utilize the rear towing hitch without locking the turning point fifth wheel hitch into the “Conventional Transport” position.

Dealers will install a warning label to the hitch and rear wall of the vehicle, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 22, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-296-7700. Forest River’s number for this recall is 15-1755.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Forest River Cardinal, Wildcat, 2018-2019 Cedar Creek, 2021 Columbus, 2023 Continental Cargo, 2021-2024 Dynamax DX3, Dynamax Dynaquest XL, Dynamax Isata, Forest River IBEX, 2022-2024 Dynamax Europa, Forest River NOBO, 2022-2023 Forest River Sandstorm, Shockwave, Stealth, and 2021-2023 Dynamax Force trailers. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers will disconnect and cut the circuit powering the LED backlights and terminate the wiring, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed by May 27, 2024. Owners may contact Suburban customer service at 1-574-247-9235 option 5; Cardinal & Wildcat customer service at 1-574-296-7700; Cedar Creek customer service at 1-260-593-4000; Columbus customer service at 1-574-821-1487; Continental Cargo customer service at 1-254-420-0171; Dynamax customer service at 1-574-264-6664; Ibex & Nobo customer service at 1-574-6421612; and Sandstorm & Shockwave customer service at 1-909-873-3777. Forest River’s number for this recall is 51-1760.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Coachmen Catalina BCAT154RDX and Forest River Aurora BART15RDX travel trailers. The panel that isolates the cooktop from the furnace was not properly sealed during manufacturing, which could result in an inverted cooktop flame.

Dealers will seal the furnace from the cooktop, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 29, 2024. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-4995. Forest River’s number for this recall is 203-1766.

Keystone

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2021-2023 Montana, 2021-2022 Montana High Country, 2022-2024 Fuzion, 2021 Crossroads Cruiser, and 2024 Dutchmen Aspen Trail LOFT vehicles. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers can remove the LED backlights or terminate the circuit for the red LED lights, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 17, 2024. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 24-452.

Keystone

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2024 Crossroads Sunset trail 20SS, 253RB, 258RD, 272BH, and 330SI travel trailers. A window roller shade may have been incorrectly installed near the stove, which can allow the shade to contact the burner.

Dealers will remove the roller shade and install the correct mini blind, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 23, 2024. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-866-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 24-454.

Sand Hollow State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone

Keystone RV Company (Keystone) is recalling certain 2024 Keystone Retreat, Residence 40CLDL, Residence 401CLDL, Dutchmen Aspen Trail 421LOFT, and Crossroads Hampton 390PVL trailers. The equalizer may provide inadequate clearance, allowing the axle to contact the frame.

Dealers will replace the equalizer, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 31, 2024. Owners may contact Keystone customer service at 1-8696-425-4369. Keystone’s number for this recall is 24-453.

Winnebago

Winnebago Towable (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2024 Access travel trailers. The electrical circuits for the GFCI outlets may have been wired incorrectly, which can cause the outlets to not be protected.

Dealers will rewire the GFCI circuitry by adding a GFCI outlet upstream of the outlets that need protection, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 13, 2024. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-825-5280 ext. 5220. Winnebago’s number for this recall is CAM0000036.

Winnebago

Winnebago Towable (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Voyage, Micro Minnie, Micro Minnie FLX, Hike 200 and Minnie travel trailers. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers will replace the cooktop control panel, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 30, 2024. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-825-5280 ext. 5220. Winnebago’s number for this recall is CAM0000035. This recall supersedes NHTSA recall 24V-054.

Countryside RV Park, Dillon, Montana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cruiser

Cruiser RV (Cruiser) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Avenir, Embrace, Shadow Cruiser, Radiance, Stryker, MPG, 2024 Twilight travel trailers, and 2024 Essence fifth wheels. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers will disconnect and cut the circuit powering the LED backlights and terminate the wiring, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 17, 2024. Owners may contact Cruiser customer service at 1-574-206-7920.

Heartland

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC (Heartland) is recalling certain 2023 Elk Ridge, Lithium, 2024 Eddie Bauer, Corterra, 2023-2024 Big Country, Big Horn, South Fork, Fuel, Gravity, Mallard, North Trail, Sundance, Milestone, Pioneer, Prowler, Torque, and Trail Runner fifth wheels and travel trailers. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers will disconnect and cut the circuit powering the LED backlights and terminate the wiring, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 17, 2024. Owners may contact Heartland customer service at 1-877-262-8032.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2020-2022 Entegra Esteem, Odyssey, and Jayco Greyhawk, Redhawk, and Greyhawk Prestige motorhomes. An inadequate connection between the power steering pressure line and the brake hydroboost unit may result in a sudden loss of power steering fluid.

Dealers will replace the power steering pressure line and the hydro boost jumper line, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 30, 2024. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267.

Monte Vista RV Resort, Mesa, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2024 Pottery Barn travel trailers. The rear axle weight on the Federal Certification label is incorrect. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Airstream will mail corrected labels to owners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed June 4, 2024. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 ext. 7401 or 7411.

Tiffin

Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc. (Tiffin) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Allergro Open Road, Allergro RED 360, 2024 Byway, and 2022 Phaeton motorhomes. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers can remove the LED backlights or terminate the circuit for the red LED lights, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed by May 31, 2024. Owners may contact Tiffin customer service at 1-256-356-8661. Tiffin’s number for this recall is TIF-138.

ORV

Outdoors RV Manufacturing (ORV) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Titanium trailers. The LED backlight circuit board in the cooktop range may fail, causing the board to overheat.

Dealers will disconnect and cut the circuit powering the LED backlights and terminate the wiring, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 17, 2024. Owners may contact ORV customer service at 1-541-962-1866. ext. 222.

Settlers Point RV Resort, Washington, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

REV

REV Recreation Group (REV) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Fleetwood Discovery and Holiday Rambler Endeavor motorhomes, equipped with Remco 50-54 Rebel 4.0 GPM water pumps. The water pump harness was designed with inadequate fuse protection.

Dealers will inspect and relocate the water pump circuit to a properly sized fuse as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed June 16, 2024. Owners may contact REV customer service at 1-800-509-3417. REV’s number for this recall is 240416REV.

Alliance

Alliance RV, LLC (Alliance) is recalling certain 2022 Paradigm 295MK, and Avenue 32RLS fifth wheels. The freshwater tank may be installed incorrectly, which can result in the tank detaching from the vehicle.

Dealers will remount the freshwater tank, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed June 17, 2024. Owners may contact Alliance customer service at 1-574-218-7165.

Please Note: This is the 62nd in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

Tornado Safety for RVers: What to Do During a Tornado

You can’t always drive away from bad weather. That’s why you need to know tornado safety for RVers. Here’s what to do if you’re in your RV when a tornado hits.

I want to give the biggest tip right off the bat because if you don’t read anything else, you’ll at least have read this. Take every single tornado warning seriously. 

People easily become desensitized when repeated warnings don’t lead to traumatic results. But you have to remember, it only takes one tornado to wipe you out. So, you have to take every single warning seriously.

Not taking it seriously throws away the amazing gift we have of advanced warning. Up until very recently, any warning that preceded obvious visual evidence was rare.

A pending storm in Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life-saving tips

Now that you’ve hopefully committed to properly reacting to tornado warnings, here is what you need to know. The following are life-saving tips that can keep you and your family safe in the event of not only a tornado but also severe windstorms.

Tip #1: Take tornado warnings seriously

Okay, okay, I know I covered this ad nauseam in the intro. But I just had to note it again real quick for the scrollers. If you scrolled past the intro, go back and read it!

Tip #2: Stay calm

Following my excessive warnings to take warnings seriously, it’s important to then advise you to stay calm. To paraphrase Hunger Games, the “odds are ever in your favor” to not get hit by a tornado. In fact, on average, more people are killed by lightning than by tornadoes every year.

Your odds of not being killed by a tornado, however, improve even more if you remain calm. And, the best way to stay calm is to be prepared. So, the following tips prepare you for you to stay calm more easily…

A storm in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip #3: Know where to go before you need to go

If you are camping in tornado country (and especially in tornado season), talk to your campground director when you arrive. Ask them if there are any nearby shelters or what they recommend in case of a tornado.

If you’re not staying at a campground, check local resources to locate storm shelters. A simple Google search should do the trick but you can also stop in at tourist, fire, and police departments. At the very least, you can ask some locals at a diner during lunch.

The locals will likely reassure you that you don’t have to worry about tornadoes, but, remember, it only takes one tornado to take you out! 

Growing up in the area, the locals are most at risk of being desensitized to the real danger. So, let their reassurances calm you but not lead you to take storm warnings for granted.

There are also warning signs of a tornado coming you should be aware of.

Tip #4: Have old school technology on hand

Yes, your phone sends notifications of weather warnings. Yes, your GPS can show you all of the routes out of town. But neither are reliable in remote locations let alone in a severe storm. That’s why old-school tech is part of tornado safety for RVers.

You should have a weather radio with NOAA scan technology. The National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts.

A physical map can also help you navigate away from a storm. But, you should only try to drive away from a building storm, not an actual tornado! 

Once you receive a tornado warning, it’s time for the next tip…

A storm in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip #5: Abandon your RV

Your RV offers very little protection from tornadoes. As gas usage has taught us, they’re just big windsails. Not to mention the relatively thin walls and basic glass windows. 

If a tornado is headed your way, abandon your RV to seek shelter. What kind of shelter is best? That brings us to Tip #6…

Tip #6: Seek these types of shelters

Whether or not you’re from Tornado Alley, you likely know that underground shelters are best. If there is one nearby, go for it. But in many cases, an underground shelter will not be available or close enough, especially in campgrounds.

Your next best bet is to hunker down inside or behind a concrete structure. Campground bathrooms are often made of concrete so that can be a good option. Dumpsters are often surrounded by concrete walls so pushing the dumpster out and hunkering inside is another option. 

Most deaths and injuries from tornadoes are caused by flying debris. So, your goal is to put a thick barrier between you and debris whether it’s the ground, concrete walls, or a large boulder.

An interior room without windows like in the clubhouse is a viable option as well.

If there are no shelters nearby (which is often the case if you’re driving) then the next best thing falls under Tip #7.

A storm in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip #7: Seek the lowest point in the ground

If you are driving along and suddenly realize a tornado is bearing down on you, pull over, get out of your RV, and seek the lowest point in the ground. The same is true if you’re camping or parked somewhere where no strong shelters are available.

As I previously mentioned, flying debris presents the biggest danger. So, lying down in a ditch or even crawling into a large storm pipe can give you added protection. The idea is for any debris to fly over you, not into you. 

If it’s possible to quickly and easily grab some couch cushions or a mattress from your RV to cover yourself with, all the better. But only do that if it doesn’t cost you much time. Your priority is to get in the ditch!

Tip #8: Beware of downed power lines

Aside from flying debris, another big danger most people don’t consider is downed power lines. If you were in or near a tornado’s path, be alert for power lines that went down in the storm. This is key in practicing tornado safety for RVers!

Give downed power lines a very wide berth! They can skip around. More so, they can still transmit electricity through wet ground. Since rain often accompanies tornadoes, getting anywhere close to a downed power line can get you electrocuted.

After the storm? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More tips for tornado safety for RVers

Though I’ve covered the “biggies” in this article, I always say the more tips the better! If you have any additional tips for tornado safety for RVers, please share them on social media. 

Since I’m talking safety, here are a few related articles:

And now to take our minds off the scary threats of nature, let’s take a trip through all of the beauty America has to offer…

I have a travel library filled with RV adventure guides. They’re tried-and-true itineraries based on our real travels. Here is a sampling:

Worth Pondering…

Outside the rain began to pour in sheets, and the wind howled. Giant pieces of hail began to pelt the building—banging off the skylights so hard that Simpson worried the glass might shatter. Then, as it had earlier in the day, the wind briefly let up. It was then Simpson heard a sound she had dreaded—a sound she couldn’t believe she was actually hearing. It was 2:40 p.m. and the tornado sirens in Moore started to wail.

―Holly Bailey, The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado

RV TPMS: What It Is and Why You Need It

One of the greatest fears every RVer has is a breakdown on the road. Apart from it dampening the enthusiasm of your road trip and ruining your schedule, a breakdown can be downright scary if it happens in the wrong place, at night, or during bad weather.

Though there are a multitude of things that can go wrong on any vehicle at any time, one of the most common failures on an RV is a tire. Motorhome owners have a lot of them to contend with between the coach itself and the towed vehicle and it only takes something as small as a wayward nail to cause a flat—or worse yet—a blowout.

For decades, RVers simply had to remain vigilant about inflation pressure—checking it before travel and during fuel stops. While this is still a good habit to be in, it won’t help if you start to lose pressure in one or more tires as you travel down the road. That’s why a Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is such a worthwhile addition.

By constantly keeping tabs on all the tires as you travel, a TPMS can let an RV owner know the instant a tire starts to lose pressure and address the problem before it gets catastrophic. At the very least, a good TPMS can save owners a lot of money especially if the tire can be fixed rather than replaced.

An RV TPMS is a safety feature that not only protects you (and everyone riding in and around your RV while you’re on the road) but it also helps to keep your tires in tip-top condition, a goal near-and-dear to the hearts of RVers—for many reasons.

Let’s take a look at why this system is so important.

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What is an RV TPMS?

The purpose of an RV tire pressure monitoring system is to track the pressures of all tires on the rig to make sure proper tire pressure is maintained as you travel.

Many factors can cause tires to lose air including a change in ambient temperature, a slow leak, and a fast leak caused by something the tire strikes on the road or even just time and travel.

Using our rig as an example, we’re 40-feet long (without the car in tow!) and heavy. If we’re rambling down the highway at 65 miles per hour and one of our RV tires blows out we could find ourselves in a very precarious situation. Not only would we be in danger in this scenario but so could anyone traveling near us on the road.

This is what makes an RV TPMS so critical.

Constant monitoring of tire pressure allows you to be alerted to any changes in the tire pressure of every tire on your rig as they happen.

Shop for quality, ease of use, and reliability © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How does an RV TPMS work?

A TPMS places a sensor at each of the RV tires and the sensors allow the constant monitoring of each tire’s pressure. As soon as the pressure in any one of the tires drops below the appropriate level, the driver is notified via the information on the TPMS console mounted on the dashboard of the rig.

Those are the basics of how a TPMS system works but depending on the model, some offer a variety of additional features. Some systems offer customizable high and low-pressure alerts and a high-temperature alert (each sensor also monitoring the temperature of the air in the tire).

Why do you need an RV TPMS?

There are several important reasons to have an RV TPMS. The first and most important by far is for safety.

1. Safety

A system that monitors your tires contributes to your safety, the safety of everyone in your RV, and the safety of everyone in the vicinity of your rig.

A TPMS system is a good tool for every vehicle and even more so for RVs. Most motorhomes are large, long, tall, and very heavy. Some have twice as many tires as the average vehicle on the road.

Our rig has six tires and our toad has four more. So, we ride down the road on 10 tires. Our RV alone weighs over 14 tons and we spend a lot of time on the road. At any given time any one of those 10 tires could have an issue and we want to be alerted as early as possible.

A blowout in any vehicle is dangerous. A blowout in a 38-foot motorhome towing an SUV while hurtling down the highway could very easily be catastrophic.

2. An RV TPMS extends tire life

Tires that are over- or under-inflated wear out more quickly than tires that are maintained at their recommended psi. Overinflation leads the tire tread to wear more quickly at the center of the tire while underinflation can cause the outer treads to wear prematurely. For this reason, a TPMS extends tire life.

3. Environmentally friendly

Under-inflated tires wear sooner and reduce fuel efficiency by increasing drag. This makes a TPMS an environmentally friendly system in a couple of ways.

First, there’s the fuel consumption issue, of course. Improperly inflated tires can increase the drag resisting the rotation of your wheels causing your RV engine to have to work harder (i.e. burn more fuel) to roll down the road. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2 percent for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.

There’s also the matter of tire replacement. A worn tire requires replacement and the more tires you replace, the more rubber, steel, nylon, silica, polyester, carbon black, petroleum, etc. you use (and dispose of)!

Types of RV Tire Pressure Monitor Systems

There are two types of RV TPMS—direct and indirect. Let’s take a look at what distinguishes them from one another.

Direct RV TPMS

The most common form of TPMS, this type adds a sensor to each tire (either installed inside the tire by mounting it to the wheel/rim or externally on the valve stem). The sensor is programmed to that tire position and then provides real-time data alerting the driver if the tire’s pressure drops below the appropriate level.

Some direct TPMS units will also alert you to a slow leak in a tire as well as when a tire’s temperature rises above a certain point.

Shop for quality, ease of use, and reliability © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Indirect RV TPMS

Indirect tire pressure monitoring systems are less common. They work along with the antilock braking system of your RV or vehicle.

An indirect TPMS senses and monitors how fast the wheels are spinning. When one wheel spins at a different speed than the others, it generally indicates improper tire pressure in that tire. The driver is alerted to the discrepancy and can stop and tend to that tire.

With an indirect TPMS, the sensor must be recalibrated every time the tire pressure is changed.

Indirect TPMS units are factory installed only and are not available as aftermarket systems.

Shop for quality, ease of use, and reliability © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to look for in an RV TPMS

Here’s where we get into the details. RV tire pressure monitoring systems have a number of features that are important to assess when considering the purchase of a system for your rig.

Display

The type of display on a system you need to monitor while driving is an important consideration. If you can’t read the display in the sun, for example, the monitoring system is relatively useless whenever you’re driving in those conditions. Look for a display that is easily read even when wearing sunglasses. While this may seem like an obvious feature of any TPMS, it isn’t.

Also consider the size of the display screen; for most people a 4 ½ inch x 3 inch screen is easy to read.

It’s very important to have a TPMS with a high-quality display that’s easy to read.

Ease of use and installation

This is self-explanatory but no one likes to have to spend hours trying to figure out how any system works. You want a system that’s easy-to-install and easy-to-use so that you can set it up, learn how to use it quickly, and carry on about your business.

So, when shopping for a TPMS, be sure to read reviews where you can often find comments from people who will often express how frustrating a system was to install or to learn.

You want a system you’ll install and walk away saying, “That was easy” and one you’ll use almost without having to think about it.

Reliability

The reliability of any product is always important. But when you’re counting on a product to give you accurate information related to a safety item, you want to be darn sure that information is reliable.

I’ve heard complaints about wireless connectivity issues. If your TPMS only monitors the condition of your tires some of the time then it’s not serving its intended purpose.

The reliability of how the system responds is crucial. The system must properly respond to changes in tire pressure and temperature or it’s of no real use and could even present a danger if it’s giving inaccurate information.

Flexibility

One size does not fit all with a tire pressure monitoring system. The reason is that we’re all driving and towing different rigs. But let’s say you’re taking a road trip and leaving your toad behind.

You’ll want a TPMS system that allows you to separate the two different parts of your towing configuration. If you leave the toad behind, you want to be able to drop it from the system and monitor only the tires on your motorhome.

This is perhaps an even more important feature for trailer/fifth wheel owners. They need to know that even if they’re not towing their RV their TPMS will work on their truck.

Another important element of flexibility is whether or not you can buy as many sensors as you need, based on how many tires you have.

Shop for quality, ease of use, and reliability © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

User-replaceable sensor batteries

A system that allows you to replace the batteries is an important consideration when purchasing a TPMS.

Some systems don’t have user-replaceable batteries and as the batteries began to die they start having an issue with individual tires not properly reporting. The cost of replacing the low-battery sensors can be more than buying a whole new system.

You’ll want a system that has a monitor with a built-in rechargeable internal lithium battery and comes with a common USB charging cord that can be connected to a USB port for easy charging.

If you’re looking at a system that doesn’t have user-replaceable batteries, you need to know the predicted life of the included batteries and you also want to know whether the sensors can be sent back for replacement when they’re no longer sensing accurately due to low battery power. (Or perhaps replacements are offered at a discounted price.)

Cost/budget

Budget is always a consideration when shopping for a product and a tire pressure monitoring system is certainly no exception.

There are various systems out there at various costs.

But shop for quality, ease of use, and reliability. If you buy a quality product up front that performs well, you won’t need to replace it for a long time to come.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Why You Should Attend an RV Rally

Attending an RV rally can be a great learning experience

RV rallies are wonderful ways to connect with other RVers, to become a part of the RV community and to sharpen your RV skills, develop more practical, on-the-road and camping knowledge, and to truly enhance your RV lifestyle.

There are different types and sizes of rallies. Large national rallies are hosted by Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).

Freightliner rally © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are brand club rallies for owners of a specific brand of RV. In addition to a major annual RV rally, some of these RV clubs and manufacturers host regional events. And there are numerous local chapters of various types that may hold RV rallies throughout the year.

As a general rule, the larger the RV rally, the more activities and scheduled events. Chapter rallies typically center on the gathering of a smaller group yet often include side trips, activities, door prizes and so on. The cost to attendees will vary too, depending on the size and location of the rally, the cost of camping, and what is included. Sometimes meals are part of the RV rally price, sometimes not.

There are rallies for families with kids who travel fulltime, rallies for people with common interests, and even rallies specifically for, say, Newmar owners. No matter who you are, there is an RV rally for you, and here are some of the reasons you should make a point to attend.

Rally entertainment © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Experience community

The most valuable thing a rally can offer is community. When traveling, it’s not unheard of to go weeks or even months without a good friend, let alone a group of them.

Rallies bring together groups of like-minded people who enjoy the same sorts of activities and give them time to socialize. Obviously, this builds community quite quickly and often the rally attendees will end up staying together after the event to continue the nightly campfires, weekend potlucks, and group outings.

Considering the fact that it can be difficult to find a good solid community even in a stationary home, finding such a group in the RV world is an incredible thing that nobody should pass up.

FMCA regional rally in Indio, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Shared ideas

Good rallies can be a bed of great ideas. These can help us find work-arounds on issues we may be having with our RV. They can also provide cost-saving concepts when we find out how someone else is handling an issue we have been stumped by for weeks or months. We may even discover a way of doing something that saves us time or makes our lives just a little easier.

3. Learn new skills

Rallies usually include seminars, classes, and workshops. They might bring in speakers on any number of topics and attendees are welcome to join any event that interests them.

What this means is that everyone leaves the rally with a new skill set that can be applied to their RV lifestyle. From cooking lessons to lectures on solar power, you never know what kinds of learning opportunities you’ll find at a rally.

On top of those organized opportunities, many rally attendees also find themselves learning new things from fellow RVers. After all, if your new friend is an expert on RV roof repair and you know a lot about finding internet on the road, why wouldn’t you exchange knowledge?

Pets are always welcome at RV rallies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Find new travel buddies

As mentioned before, rally attendees often hang around the same place and enjoy the company of one another in the days following the event. However, some of the more social RVers out there aren’t content to end the fun after a mere few weeks.

These individuals will use rallies to find friends to travel alongside for extended periods of time. Sometimes these travelers even go so far as to build a group of friends who then travel together as a caravan, sharing the benefits of community while still traveling.

5. See different rigs

I don’t know about you, but I’m always interested in seeing how other RVers live. Rallies are the perfect opportunity to do just that. Some rallies include a parade of homes in which attendees can show off their respective setups. Others feature a lot of brand-new rigs for rally participants to walk through.

That said, even if a rally has no such event, you can always ask to have a look around the homes of your new friends. Not only is this interesting and fun but it’s also a good way to get new ideas for how to organize and use your own space.

RV supplies are often demonstrated at RV rallies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Discover new hobbies

Some rallies are for folks with niche interests. However, not all rallies are so specific and those that cater to more eclectic mixes of people tend to provide awesome chances to discover new hobbies.

Chat with other RVers and find out what they do. Make a point of attending crafting or sporting events put on by the rally. Use the event to venture outside your comfort zone. After all, you probably don’t have much to lose in doing so and you might just gain a cool new passion you would never have thought to try on your own.

It’s a dog’s life at an RV show © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Gather new recipes

Many rallies involve one or more potluck meals. What’s great about potlucks with other RVers is that you know any food you find and love can be made in a tiny RV kitchen. Many RVers are happy to share their recipes with others at the rally.

These are just some of the many, many reasons to attend an RV rally. If you’ve never been to one, seek one out and give it a try. I bet you’ll have a blast!

Worth Pondering…

Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.

—Frank Herbert