Handling Cold Weather in Your RV

Here’s how we handle cold weather in our motorhome

A major benefit of the RV lifestyle is the ability to follow good weather.

Diamond Groove RV Park, Spruce Groove, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can hide out in the south during the winter and cool off in the north in the summer. Plus, you can enjoy spring and fall for several months as you move in between.

Creekside RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But sometimes you get caught in cold weather due to an early winter or unexpected circumstance. The typical recreational vehicle is not designed for use in the snowy, cold, and icy northern climates. Some RV manufacturers offer a “Polar Package”—don’t believe it, mostly marketing hype. There is not a chance it would keep you cozy warm in any “polar” climate.

Angel Lake RV Resort, Wells, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even with the cold weather limitations of most RVs, there are things you can do to reduce heat loss plus items you should have ready just in case.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is not the scope of this article to address winter-proofing an RV for those who are staying long-term in the cold.

Pony Express RV Park, Salt Lake City, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most RVs have furnaces, but cranking up the heat is expensive and counter-productive if you are losing too much heat at the same time. Look for ways to reduce this heat loss. Of course, you can pull out the sweaters and sweatshirts during the cold so you don’t have to keep the furnace temperature setting as high.

Gila Bend KOA, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you arrive at your destination, try selecting a site that will receive sun exposure throughout the day, and also offer some type of wind break. Position your RV in such a way that the front or rear—and not the side—receive the force of the wind.

Quail Ridge RV Resort, near Sierra Vista, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved rt, Sierra Vista, Arizona

Windows are a major heat loss in RVs. The first thing is to lock your windows. That extra latch helps close the seals in the window.

Close the blinds when you don’t need them open for the view or the warming sunshine. If you have curtains or secondary blackout blinds, use them.

The Springs at Borrego Golf and RV Resort, Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use Reflectix bubble foil. It is available from stores like Walmart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot, and comes in rolls. It can be cut to fit into window openings or anywhere you want to add an extra layer of insulation.

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

The foil will reflect the heat back in and the bubbles provide insulating air gaps. It can be used for both cold and heat. When not needed, it rolls back up for easy storage.

Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you really need to reduce heat loss overnight, bring in your slides. This reduces heat loss from the seals and reduces the exposed surface area. It also reduces the volume of the air inside your RV that needs to be heated. You may wish to retract your slides when dry camping and are trying to keep energy usage to a minimum.

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A goose down duvet is an investment with high returns that’s realized every time you cozily cuddle in bed. A duvet cover is typically purchased separately.

Down is a great natural insulator. It is the very first undercoating of goose feathers. The clusters of down are made of plenty of soft fibers that directly radiate out from the central core of the feather. The structure of down is perfectly created to trap air. For this peculiar characteristic, goose down duvets keeps you suitably warm. It still allows the moisture to escape and is a great product to keep snug yet dry. Goose down duvets is amazingly soft and light.

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The quality of down duvets is measured by its insulation abilities. The best quality down duvets would have larger clusters of down. Best quality down would be capable to acclimatize according to warmer or cooler atmospheric temperatures. If the thick, fluffy and breathable down can keep the goose so cozy out in the cold, it definitely is a sure winner for you.

Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You won’t need spare blankets for your bed with your down duvet but they add another layer in insulation during your waking hours. You can also hang a light blanket to add an extra layer over the door and the seal around the door.

Palm Springs-Joshua Tree KOA, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clothespins can be used to keep it in place. This especially helps if you need to go in and out the door as a temporary vestibule. More blankets or towels can be used to block any cold drafts.

Keeping warm in our motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fill your fresh water tank and use the pump instead of the city connection. Disconnect the outside supply water hose, drain it, and store it in your water/sewer compartment. Remember to turn on the tank heaters in your RV.

Keeping warm in our motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Try to dump your holding tanks during the warmer afternoon since everything is more difficult to work with in a cold morning. Depending on the temperature, you may wish to stow your sewer hose. Using it on an extremely cold morning may result in a cracked sewer hose.

Worth Pondering…

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.

—Roy Bean

Hidden Benefits of Camping

If you regularly camp out, you’ll enjoy dozens of significant health benefits

As long as campers set themselves up for a relaxing getaway, the potential for a stress-reducing trip is very attainable. When we go camping we spend most of our time outside. Mentally focusing on all the things that make you feel great outside can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul. Life pauses and stress levels drop making it a fantastic time for your body to have a break.

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

When we go camping we simplify, subtract, and strip back from our normal cluttered and hectic daily lives. This gives us more opportunity to get in touch with nature, find some solitude and time to switch off, and simply to breath.

Camping at Edisto State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This space and clarity allows us to see everything in natures playground, listen to it speak, and be reminded of how amazing it all is. This in turn helps us put everything else into perspective.

Being outside in the fresh air also seems to heighten our senses, which can bring more rewards. Food tastes better, air smells cleaner, and the birds and nature sound clearer.

Camping at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A byproduct of camping is the physical nature of setting up the camp, hiking, and typical environment enjoyment.

Leave your worries behind you. Focus on the simplicity of your current situation without reflecting on work, concerns, or anything else that may negatively affect your experience.

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

Appreciate the small, seemingly insignificant parts of the living world around you: light shining through a dew droplet just before it crashes to the ground, or maybe the simple elegance of a butterfly as it flutters from flower to flower. Notice how the slight breeze affects its flight, yet not its mission.

Camping in Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The feeling of being calm, appreciating the simple things in life, and knowing that things do not have to be complex all the time allows one to have a more positive and clearer outlook or perspective in life. Camping also gives an emotional rest from all the emotional expense from the usual day to day life.

Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ensure your gear is organized and in working order before your trip. Eliminate all potentially frustrating situations prior to your adventure.

There is nothing worse than having a camping trip ruined by a scraped knee. Bring along a basic first-aid kit outfitted with bandages, gauze, and anti-bacterial cream. Also make sure it has insect repellent and some cream to help relieve the itch of bug bites.

Camping at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take a walk, ride a bike, or sit on the edge of a lake or river to clear your mind. Simply focus on the “here and now” to get the most out of your experience. 

Camping will not only get you outdoors and enjoy nature, but it also has some awesome impacts on your health.

Camping at Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Modern life as we know it is full of the Internet, social media, work, demands, mobile phones, pressure, and deadlines. This has an impact on our bodies by getting it to produce extra adrenalin to deal with it all. Having this reaction is normal since the body is built to deal with it, however, what isn’t good is not taking time away from it all to give the body time to recover. Camping helps our systems recover ready for the next challenge.

Camping at Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we go camping we have more opportunity to get involved in hiking, biking, fishing, and simply doing what we enjoy. Exercising and moving is simply one of the best ways to combat an overworked body, mind, and soul, in an over committed lifestyle.

Camping at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many camping activities can be a good form of exercise. Walking and hiking help improve circulation, strengthen and pump up the heart, help in lowering blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart problems.

Camping at Galveston State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Back pains, eye strains, muscle aches and headaches, sluggish circulation that increases the risks of heart problems and heart attacks are just some of the results of too much stress. Any form of outdoor activities such as camping has been proven to reduce the level of stress in the body. This allows the body to recuperate and regain the energy lost.

Camping at Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping is an effective and cost efficient form of outdoor activity. Camp out and experience the many health benefits of camping and at the same time enjoy the beauty of nature.

Worth Pondering…

When your spirit cries for peace, come to a world of canyons deep in an old land; feel the exultation of high plateaus, the strength of moving wasters, the simplicity of sand and grass, and the silence of growth.

—August Fruge

What to Look For in an RV Campground?

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds

Plans for your next RV road trip is mostly complete. You’re excited to hit the open road with your family, but haven’t given much thought to where you’re camping. Obviously, you know your destination. But, you aren’t sure how far you want to drive the first day, and whether you want to make some stops along the way. You’ll just Google the nearest campground when you feel the time is right to set up camp for the night.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But before you hit the road, you should be aware that not all RV campgrounds are created equal and no one park is perfect for everyone. Campers can find RV parks in state parks and national parks as well as privately owned campgrounds. And the quality varies from budget to high end resorts.

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds.

Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re thinking that all campgrounds are the same, think again. Every campground has its own set of rules and regulations, as well as different amenities. If you aren’t looking for full hookups, you can be less picky about what campground you choose for your stay. But if you’re looking for all the amenities including electric, water, sewer, cable TV, and Wi-Fi, there are several things you should look for before making your decision.

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together.

Before leaving home, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choices for RV parks and campgrounds include luxurious RV resorts, activity-filled family destinations, 55+ parks, secluded natural settings, and basic parks conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices also run the gamut.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a variety of campgrounds, each offering different amenities and activities. These include private RV parks; casino camping; national, state, and county park campgrounds; Army Corps of Engineers parks; and service club facilities.

Harvest Moon RV Resort, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are the best tips for choosing a campground and campsite that you and your family will love?

Irwins RV Park, Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing can make or break your RV vacation like choosing a campground not suited to your family’s needs and interests. When selecting a park, think about your camping style and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you camping with a young family?
  • Are you an active couple looking for outdoor adventures?
  • Are you snowbirds who enjoy on-site activities and the opportunity to meet new friends?
  • How large is your RV?
  • Consider your needs when choosing an RV park.
  • What amenities do you require? Full hook-ups? 30- or 50-amp electric service?
  • Are you looking for a rural or urban setting?
  • What is your nightly/weekly/monthly camping budget?
  • Do you travel with pets?
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are campgrounds throughout the U.S. and Canada to meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be aware that RV parks and campgrounds have varied rules for check in and check out. Although some parks have 24 hour check in, most have set times that you must check in and check out. Some parks do not permit check ins prior to noon. If you plan to stop after hours call ahead to make the necessary arrangements.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

On Being a Good Camping Neighbor

There is an old expression, “be the person your dog thinks you are.” In line with that statement, campers should be the neighbor you would like to have.

Camping courtesy (the unwritten rules of campground etiquette) is an easy way to ensure that a group of people living in close proximity together where sounds travel and light can be a disturbance continue to camp together in harmony.

Spending time in a campground requires a certain level of community patience and a willingness to live and let live, there are some basic rules of campground etiquette that will help create a friendly atmosphere and make the camping experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Lakeside RV Park in Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Obey Campground Rules

Follow the campground rules and regulations. These rules usually include speed limits, fire regulations, quiet times, and so on. Adhering to these rules is one of the basics of campground etiquette. Be sure to review and enforce the rules with your children, as well.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be Social

A campground or RV park is your temporary home complete with new neighbors. Just like at your permanent home, you should get to know your neighbors. You don’t have to spend your vacation with them, but you should be friendly.

When you travel with kids, it’s especially important to get to know your neighbors. Kids will often play together around the campground or RV park and can form lasting relationships.

Jekyll Island Camoground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Respect Campsite Boundaries

You would never imagine cutting/walking through someone’s backyard to get home. But at a campground, it happens all too often. There are no fences or boundaries letting you know you are entering someone’s living space.

When camping, there is an imaginary boundary surrounding each campsite. It’s assumed the you know that this boundary exists and that you’ll respect it. Children, especially, need to be reminded of the boundary and told to stick to the path instead of walking through someone else’s campsite. Walking through another person’s site may be the easiest, most direct path to the bathroom, but it should be avoided.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clean Up After Yourself

Just like at home, you are expected to pick up after yourself. Bag your trash and throw it away in approved trash bins. Don’t be tempted to throw your trash into the fire. It creates a nasty smell that no one wants to endure. Plastic, especially, is foul smelling and is toxic if inhaled.

For RV owners, ensure that your wastewater is handled properly. Be sure that all your hoses and tanks are in good condition, attached properly, and nothing is leaking.

Galveston State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be Mindful of the Noise

Sound pollution is a real thing and it can be cause for a bad camping experience. Be mindful of the noise you create and keep the volume down whenever possible.

Yes, you’re camping, but that doesn’t mean the family next to you wants to hear your generator running at 1 a.m. or a kid’s movie blaring on an outdoor television.

Most parks and campgrounds have “quiet hours” in the evening to keep noise to a minimum. Power down at night; shut off your generator and dim the lights. Respect those quiet hours. They are there for a reason. Your camping neighbors will thank you for it.

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

Pick Up After Your Pets

Be a responsible pet owner. Keep dogs on leashes whenever they are outside so they are not bothering your neighbors and discourage them from barking. Never leave a dog that barks or howls unattended.

It’s great to have a furry friend as a camping companion, but make sure your pet isn’t leaving any surprises behind. When taking your dog for a walk, always pick up all pet waste. Many campgrounds provide pet waste collection bags to make clean up easy and convenient.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be a good neighbor, make a new friend. Enjoy!

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

14 Essential Items to Pack on Your Next Road Trip

There are certain essential products that are must-haves for RVers

Packing the right items is key to the perfect road trip. In addition to necessities like your wallet, phone, clothes, and keys, you’ll be glad you brought these 14 items along for the journey.

Basic toolkit

The essentials all in place at Columbia Sun RV Resort in Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s always a good idea to buy and stock a basic toolkit, just in case. The toolbox in your RV should include screw drivers, sockets, claw hammer, pliers, utility knife, tape measure, cordless drill, and adjustable and combination wrenches. Also, consider extension cords and spare fuses.

Roadside Emergency Kit

Water hose with pressure regulator at 12 Tribes Casino RV Park in Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An emergency roadside assistance kit won’t break the bank but it just might save the day in the event of a breakdown or accident. Pick one up from any big-box store and bring it along for long road trips. Reflective road triangles are so effective, they are used by the Amish as electricity-free tail lights.

First Aid Kit

Power cord and water and sewer connections in place at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Like a roadside emergency kit, a first aid kit is a must for road trippers. This way you’ll have essential first-aid supplies to help treat most common injuries, including cuts, scrapes, swelling, sprains, and strains. Your first aid kit should include antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, antiseptic cleansing wipes, gauze dressing pads in varied sizes, tape roll, tweezers, adhesive bandages in varied sizes, scissors, disposable vinyl gloves, and Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide.

Congaree National Park in the South Carolina Lowcountry issues bug alert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bug Spray

You will need bug spray when touring the Audubon Swamp Garden near Charleston, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All kinds of annoying bugs come out in the summer so make sure you’re prepared to keep them at bay and avoid itchy bites by grabbing some bug spray with DEET. 

GPS Device

Moody Mansion in Galveston, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Having a portable one of these helps for adventures taken outside your car, too. There have to be at least 24 satellites in a “GPS constellation” of synchronized orbits in order for your GPS device to work. That’s a lot of rocket science and delicate mathematics, so take advantage of it.

Paper Atlas

Hiking the trail to Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; don’t forget the bug spray © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An atlas you can hold in your hand is the ultimate back-up plan. If the technology seems old, that’s because it is—road maps go back as far as 5th century Rome.

USB Charger

Roseate Spoonbills along the Creole Nature Trail south of St. Charles, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t let your gadgets die on you. Modern USB connections aren’t just faster than their predecessors—they consume less power, too.

Vacuum

A warning to watch for and not step into a hill of fire ants © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’re enjoying the great outdoors—which means you’re bringing the great outdoors back into your RV with you. Staying at campsites means mud, grass, and insects—all of which can dirty up your home-on-wheels quickly. A small, cordless powerful vacuum is a must-have.

Folding steps

Monahan Sandhills State Park in West Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Folding steps are one of those useful tools you might not think about, but they’re handy to have around. As extra seating, an added step to get into your RV, and standing on to reach things when making repairs or finding the back of a high cupboard, it’s a useful tool.

High-quality sewer hose

Pack a high-quality sewer hose and required attachments © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some things you definitely don’t want to skimp on, and your sewer hose is one of them. No one wants to be dealing with a ruptured sewer hose while on vacation. Invest in a high-end hose—your peace of mind and nasal passages will thank you.

Folding tables

Horse farm in Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can find a basic folding table in most stores—but you won’t find them in most campsites. They’re a great addition to your packing plans for meals, games, and hobbies. The benefit of a folding table is they take up a small amount of space and are generally water-resistant.

Cooler

Touring Fort Adams State Park, Rhode Ialand © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The cooler, or portable ice chest, was invented in 1951, but things have gotten a little fancier in the 67 years since. Some modern coolers can plug into your RV’s electrical outlet and use a powered fan to draw away heat and keep things even cooler.

Cash For Tolls

Keep some quarters and spare paper cash so you never have to go digging.

Camera

Mitchell Corn Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This one is obvious, but don’t leave home without it. How else are you going to document your visit to the world’s only corn palace, located in Mitchell, South Dakota?

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Operating an RV: Departure and Setup Checklist

Checklists can make your RV arrivals and departures easier and safer

If you’re new to RVing, you’re smart to wonder about how to drive and operate your RV properly. It’s your home away from home, and should be treated as such. And RVing with Rex has you covered with answers, tips, ideas, and more, so you can hit the road with confidence.

From inspecting and maintaining your RV to knowing how to depart from a campsite and set up procedure upon arrival at a new campground or RV park, having a plan helps everything run more smoothly and ensures you’re informed and in control every step of the way.

Camping at Irwins RV Park in Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Below is a Departure and Setup checklist to help get you started. It is meant to be a starting point for your own list.

Departure Checklist

Lower antenna and satellite dish

Retract awnings

Camping at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Return slide-outs to their travel position

Secure loose items inside cabinets

Close and latch shower and closet doors

Close and latch oven, stovetop, and refrigerator doors

Camping at 12 Tribes Casino RV Resort in Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Close and latch all internal doors (bathroom, bedroom, etc.)

Close roof vents and windows

Turn off propane-powered appliances

Close propane tank valve

Camping at Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clear the RV of trash

Stow steps, hand rails, etc.

Close and latch external door(s)

Check tire pressure on all tires

Camping at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Disconnect all hookups (electricity, sewer, water, cable, satellite)

Remove stabilizing jacks, raise leveling jacks, and store leveling blocks (as applicable)

Hitch trailer to tow vehicle or dinghy/toad to motorized RV

Camping at River Run RV Park in Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Test hitch connection by driving forward

Check signal lights, 4-way lights, brake lights, headlights, and fog lights

Do a final walk-around

Check mirrors

Checking in at the office at Whispering Hills RV Park near Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arrival and Setup Checklist

Once you’ve arrived at your campground, RV resort, or final destination, it’s time to park, set up, and relax. Here are some basic pointers.

Check in with campground office/park ranger station

Obtain directions to campsite

Electric, water, sewer, and cable TV connections © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Upon arrival at your site, do a walk-through, and determine best location for RV and toad/tow vehicle

Drive into campsite (pull through or back in)

Check parking job (space, alignment with hookups, clearance for slide-outs and basement bins)

Level RV

Connected to city water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lower leveling jacks until RV is supported

Unhitch RV and park toad/tow vehicle

Extend steps and restore hand rails and slide-outs to their parked position

Open propane tank valve

RV connections with caution warnings © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Connect to hookups (electricity, water, sewer, cable, satellite)

Extend slide-outs

Raise antenna and satellite dish

Sealed sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set up outdoor gear and awnings

Return items to their parked storage positions

And now to kick back and relax © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

—Franklin P. Adams

Camping Benefits Mind and Body…Here Is How

Enjoy the beauty of nature while experiencing the many health benefits of camping

In his essay Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson dives into the healing powers of the wilderness: “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.”

It may be century-old wisdom, but his thoughts still holds true today. There’s just something about losing yourself in the natural world.

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

In fact, there are very real health benefits. We may not be able to transport ourselves back to Emerson’s quaint cabin in the woods, but we can certainly head outdoors. Below are just a few reasons to ditch it all for a few days or more and go camping.

Camping at Rio Bend RV Park near El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we go camping we spend most of our time outside. Mentally focusing on all the things that make you feel great outside can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul. Life pauses and stress levels drop making it a fantastic time for your body to have a break.

Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we go camping we simplify, subtract, and strip back from our normal cluttered and hectic daily lives. This gives us more opportunity to get in touch with nature, find some solitude and time to switch off, and simply to breath.

In today’s world it seems we are always rushing around, stressed out from work and our daily tasks and becoming less and less healthy all the time.

Camping at Edisto Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Being outside in the fresh air also seems to heighten our senses, which can bring more rewards. Food tastes better, air smells cleaner, and the birds and nature sound clearer.

Camping will not only get you outdoors and enjoy nature, but it also has some awesome impacts on your health.

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

Modern life as we know it is full of the Internet, social media, work, demands, mobile phones, pressure, and deadlines. This has an impact on our bodies by getting it to produce extra adrenalin to deal with it all. Having this reaction is normal since the body is built to deal with it, however, what isn’t good is not taking time away from it all to give the body time to recover.

There are three things we can all do to help our systems recover ready for the next challenge, and unsurprisingly camping provides a path to all of them.

Camping at Lockhart State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Exercise and Movement

When we go camping we have more opportunity to get involved in hiking, biking, fishing, and simply doing what we enjoy. Exercising and moving is simply one of the best ways to combat an overworked body, mind, and soul, in an over committed lifestyle.

Camping at Custer State Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many camping activities can be a good form of exercise. Walking and hiking help improve circulation, strengthen and pump up the heart, help in lowering blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart problems.

If bikes are available, biking uphill and downhill in the trails is also a good form of exercise and a great activity to enjoy with companions.

Camping at Jack’s Landing RV Park, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reduce Physical Stress

Back pains, eye strains, muscle aches and headaches, sluggish circulation that increases the risks of heart problems and heart attacks are just some of the results of too much stress. Any form of outdoor activities such as camping has been proven to reduce the level of stress in the body. This allows the body to recuperate and regain the energy lost.

Camping at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoying outdoor activities naturally reduces the feeling of being stressed and greatly improves our mood. The scent of grass can have a calming effect as some research suggested.

Camping at Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sleep

This is the other time we go into rest and repair mode—when we sleep. It’s a simple thing but restorative sleep is crucial for us to function properly. Camping naturally helps the body to wind down from stimulating activities and get into the mood for sleep.

Camping at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It doesn’t hurt when you fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves or the chorus of crickets and tree frogs and wake to the rising sun peeking through the tall pines or silhouetting stately saguaros or Joshua trees.

Camping is an effective and cost efficient form of outdoor activity. The next time you think of getting away during the weekends, try camping out and experience firsthand the many health benefits of camping at the same time enjoy the beauty of nature.

Camping at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
—John Muir

The Perfect Campsite: 10 Questions to Ask

The key to enjoying campground bliss lies in knowing the exact type of site you want, and then making the effort to reserve that spot

Most everyone in the campground industry wants you to book your campsite online. And many of you do just that.

But RVing with Rex has one thing to say about this trend: Don’t do it. Seriously. Just don’t do it. Pick up the phone. Yes, and talk to a real person.

Back-in site at Jack’s Landing RV Park, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

All campgrounds are not created equal, and you should never blindly book an RV park without doing the research—not knowing if it has the space, amenities, the views, and the location that you prefer.

You might have to work a little harder and actually talk to someone on the phone (GASP!), but when you are sitting with a view of the creek, you’ll know it was worth it.

Pull-through site at Toutle River RV Resort near Mt. St. Helens, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Many research junkies just put in their travel dates and leave the actual campsite selection to an impersonal computer algorithm.

But, not us. We have stayed at hundreds of RV parks and campgrounds around the country and can say one thing for certain: even the best 5-star campgrounds and RV parks have some mediocre (or just plain bad) sites. Even more importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all ideal. The best campsite for a family with small children might be senior’s worst nightmare.

Back-in site at Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The key to enjoying campground bliss lies in knowing the exact type of site you want, and then making the effort to reserve that spot. Here are ten questions to ask before booking your next great RV adventure.

Pull-in site at Holiday Hills RV Park, Penticton, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Can I talk to someone who knows the campground layout?

Talk to a member of the staff who knows the campground well. These days, many want to take the easy way out and book online, but that won’t guarantee you a slice of camping heaven. Open up the campground map on your laptop, and settle in for a chat.

This site offers 50/30/20-amp electric service, water, sewer, and cable TV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

What hookups do I want?

Campgrounds usually offer a range of hookup options. Some sites will have full hookups, with 30 or 50-amp electric service; other sites will offer just water and electric. If the campground is rustic, there may be no hookups available at all.

Pull-through site at Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want a pull through or back in?

People with larger rigs or limited experience often prefer pull through campsites since they are easier to navigate. However, these sites can also be less private, less aesthetically pleasing, and more costly. A back in site might be trickier to get into, but it could also offer you the scenery and space you prefer.

Clubhouse at Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want to be close to the action, or far away?

Many RV parks have hubs of activity where playgrounds, pools, and shuffleboard courts are located. Study the campground map to determine your preferred location

Pull-through full-service sites near the water at Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want to be close to the bathhouses or far away?

If you plan to use the facilities in your RV, then there’s no reason to be located near the bathhouses where you might find increased traffic and noise.

Back-in sites at River Run RV Resort, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Can I hear road noise from this site?

RVers who travel in motorhomes and run the air conditioning at night may not care that their campsite is backed up to a highway. But pop up campers and hybrid travel trailers won’t block out that road noise at night. Light sleepers should make this issue a priority when choosing a campsite. Also, be on the lookout for any railroad tracks that run by the campground.

Traffic is not an issue at The Lakes at Chowchilla (California) due to the layout of the park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Will a lot of campground traffic pass this site?

Traffic flow through a campground will affect your camping experience. If you are near the entrance, consider that every single vehicle entering and exiting will likely pass by your site. Garbage disposal bins are another source of high traffic.

It’s all sun at Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want shade or sun?

Are you looking for lots of trees where you can hang a hammock and nap under rustling leaves? Or do you dream of sitting in the sun with a glass of iced tea and a good book?

Waterfront site at Lake Pleasant, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want a waterfront site?

There is a reason why so many campgrounds are located on lakes, rivers, and streams. Sitting at your campsite and listening to the sound of rushing water may just be the most relaxing experience. But these sites are usually the most popular and fill up quickly. If you want to prime waterfront site, you need to book far in advance.

Waltons Lakefront RV Resort, Osoyoos, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Do I want a buddy site?

If you are traveling with family or friends, then look for a buddy site. These campsites are set up so that your RVs can be parked awning to awning, with camper doors facing each other. This creates a wonderful shared space in the middle where you can comfortably gather with friends.

Long pull-through site at On-Ur-Way RV Park, Onoway, Iowa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

There is no such thing as the perfect campsite. Some RVers want rustic and private spots, while others seek out immaculate landscaping and access to amenities. The trick to finding your perfect site is knowing exactly what you want and doing some research to make it happen.

Lakeside sites at Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

—John Ruskin

Five RV Tips BEFORE Your First Road Trip

The sun is shining, the RV is washed, and its tank is full

If you have an RV or camper, the open road and possibility of adventure is tempting.

What may not be as enticing is carbon monoxide exposure, usually from improper use of portable gas equipment, operation of someone else’s vehicle or generator when camping in close quarters, or inadequate maintenance.

Palm Campground in Anza-Borrego State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas known as the “silent killer.” It’s produced when a fuel like gasoline, oil, kerosene, natural gas, wood, or propane burns incompletely. Carbon monoxide incidents occur all too often, even though they can be prevented with proper preparation and attention.

Review the following five tips to ensure your RV season is a safe one.

Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Newer models of RV are usually hardwired with a carbon monoxide detector. Test, and replace the carbon monoxide detector as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s a good practice to replace the batteries when you change the clocks for daylight savings time or on a specific date you will remember, such as your first camping trip of the season.

Harvest Moon RV Park, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Watch Your Generators

Exhaust leaks from a generator are a common cause of carbon monoxide incidents. Inspect the generator exhaust system each time before using it. Do not operate your generator if the exhaust system is damaged in any way or making an unusual noise.

If you are camping in close quarters with other RVs that are running their generators, keep your windows and roof vents closed to prevent exhaust from entering your vehicle.

On-Ur-Wa RV Park, Onawa, Iowa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you use a portable generator, place the generator downwind of the RV with the exhaust pointed away from the camping area. Don’t sleep while the generator is operating and leave a roof vent open while it is running, even during the winter.

Not feeling well? Shut off the generator and step outside for some fresh air just to be sure you aren’t being exposed to carbon monoxide.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Stay Warm, Safely

Fuel-burning appliances such as portable heaters, portable stoves, barbeques, or kerosene lamps should remain outside when in use—NEVER bring them into your RV. Inside, DO NOT use range burners or the oven to heat an RV. When using the stove, keep the range fan on and always leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation.

Cajun Palms RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning while using appliances attached to your RV, immediately turn them off and open the doors and windows so the gas can escape and leave the RV. While the area is being ventilated, seek medical assistance.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Have your RV serviced by a Certified RV technician

Inspect your RV’s chassis and generator exhaust system regularly, at least before each outing and after bottoming out or any other incident that could cause damage. Inspect your RV for openings in the floor or sidewalls. If you locate a hole, seal it with a silicone adhesive or have it repaired before using your generator again. Inspect windows, door seals, and weather strips to ensure that they are sealing properly.

Do you see yellow flames in propane-burning appliances such as coach heaters, stoves, ovens, and water heaters? This usually indicates incomplete combustion which may indicate servicing is required.

New Green Acres RV Park, Walterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Keep Exhaust Away

Park your RV so that exhaust dissipates away from the vehicle. Parking next to tall grasses, fences, walls, or buildings can keep exhaust gases from dissipating as they normally would. To avoid this, be sure there is ample clear space around you when you park. When stopping for long periods of time, be aware of other vehicles around you, such as semis at rest areas, that may have their engines and refrigerators running, and take the necessary precautions. 

Two Rivers Landing RV Resort, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

These simple tips can go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe on the road. Always be sure to have work on your RV and any related gas-fired appliances performed by an individual with the appropriate qualifications.

Much of the above information is courtesy of Technical Safety BC.

Gulf Coast RV Resort, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.