Your RV Camping Checklist: 10 Essentials for RV Travel

What To Take RV Camping?

COVID continues to restrict many people’s travel plans but you still need to take time to unwind and relax on a summer vacation. You can still enjoy everything you love about getting away in the comfort of your RV as these vehicles provide the perfect place to socially distance and stay safe while you’re away from home.

Want to make the most of summer and enjoy a vacation this year? The following camping checklist is a starting point to help you pack your RV and start exploring the country.

Driving an RV on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why Choose RV Travel

One of the greatest benefits of staying in the US (or Canada, for Canadians) is the money you save on your vacation. Going abroad can be very costly. You have to pay for flights, accommodation, airport transfers, food, and souvenirs. However, with RV travel you save the cost of flights and airport transfers. You save on the cost of accommodations too.

Driving an RV in Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another benefit of RV camping is convenience and ease. Many countries around the world currently have travel restrictions and quarantine restrictions and these are constantly in flux. At the best of times, security checks and transfers can be quite stressful but add on restrictions and your vacation will definitely start off stressful. Whereas, RV travel is easier and can reduce stress meaning you can start enjoying your vacation from the start-go.

Business Wire found that in 2017 over 10 million US households owned an RV and the numbers have increased substantially since then. If you’re one of the many that own an RV then you’re able to pack up your rig and go on vacation whenever you want. However, before you go, make sure you have everything you’ll need during your trip with our RV camping essentials checklist.

Essentials include heavy duty sewer hose and water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. RV Essentials

There are certain RV camping essentials you need to take with you such as your RV paperwork (insurance, registration details, roadside assistance documents, and road maps). You also need to make sure you pack other RV essentials such as electrical or battery equipment, a tool kit, and a first aid kit

Check for essentials for the kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Kitchen Essentials

If you plan to prepare meals in your RV (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll need to ensure you have all the equipment and supplies you need. For example, you’ll require bowls, plates, cutlery, cups, pots and pans, knives, chopping boards, and matches. You’ll also need to pack products to clean these items once you’ve used them, such as sponges, detergent, and trash bags.

Check for bedroom essentials © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bedroom Essentials

The RV checklist for the bedroom includes linen and bedsheets, duvets and blankets, pillows, and laundry essentials. You might also want to pack towels in your bedroom because RVs usually lack space in the bathroom to keep them.

4. Bathroom Essentials

Fully stock your bathroom with your bathmat and toiletries. Toiletries could include a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, razors, and a hairbrush. And don’t forget the toilet paper and bathroom cleaning products too.

Check for essentials for the living area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Clothing Essentials

Nobody wants to go away and realize they only have one pair of underwear and socks, so make sure you pack your clothes carefully. Work out the number of days you’ll be away and decide which clothes you want to take and how frequently you’ll do laundry. For example, if you’re going away for a week, you’ll need enough clothes to last for seven days. 

Your clothing pack list should also be influenced by the location or time of year. For example, if you’re going on vacation to the coast make sure you pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and your swimsuit. If you’re heading to the mountains be prepared for all four seasons.

Plan to attend an RV rally or other event? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Entertainment Essentials

You won’t always spend all your time outside and on the go, so you’ll need to pack some entertainment. The type of entertainment depends on you and how much space you have in your RV. Some examples of entertainment essentials include movies, laptops, games, puzzles, toys, and books. 

7. Personal Essentials

Personal essentials you’ll need during your RV travels include your smartphone and charger, credit card and cash, and campground and RV park confirmations. Another personal essential might be medication; make sure you pack enough to last you the whole vacation.

Plan time for relaxation! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. First Aid Essentials

Accidents can happen which is why it’s important to be prepared and ensure your first aid kit is fully stocked. Ensure that your kit includes bandages, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, disposal plastic gloves, a thermometer, and any other medications or creams you might need. You might want to pack some insect repellent and bite and sting ointment. 

9. Grocery Essentials

A major positive about RV travel is that you are self-sufficient meaning you can be off-grid and explore the backcountry. However, if you’re planning on going off-grid and away from stores make sure you think about the grocery packing list for RV camping. Since you’ll need sufficient food in your RV to last during your vacation, pack plenty of canned goods, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and cereals.

Plan to spend some time fishing? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Camping Essentials

Whether you plan to go off-grid or not, you’ll also need camping supplies. These may include flashlights, maps, pocket knives, a compass, water filters, and ropes. If you plan to do specific camping activities such as fishing or kayaking, you should also pack these items.

Plan to spend some tome canoeing or kayaking? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pack Everything You Need for an Incredible Adventure

Never forget or leave anything behind again with this RV camping checklist. Remember to pack everything you need and think about the time of year, weather, and the location where you’ll be going, so you can pack accordingly and be prepared.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

How to Choose the Perfect RV Park and Campsite?

A guide to finding the perfect RV campsite

Are you a boater enthusiast and swimmer looking for a lakeside or oceanfront RV park? Prefer wide open spaces in the great outdoors with plenty of hiking trails? When deciding where to stay, whether for the night, the weekend, or the season, there are several things to consider.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley. Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Find the Right Site

Many RVers spend a lot of time searching for the perfect RV park while overlooking the fact that finding the perfect campsite can be just as important. Terrain, location, amenities, water sources, and traffic patterns—just to name a few—play a big part in selecting the perfect spot. Here are a few strategies to help you find the right site.

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Questions to ask:

  • What’s your budget? Having a clear budget will help you make your decision when looking at various campgrounds and resorts.
  • Are you staying in an RV? Is everyone in your group staying in an RV, or will some prefer tent or cabin?
  • What is your length of stay? Is this an overnight stop, several days, or a longer stay?
  • What is your camping style? Do you prefer numerous amenities or low-impact camping?
Palm Canyon Campground, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds are generally your most basic setup and are usually publicly owned and found in national, state, and county/regional parks. They tend to be more rustic, have ample room for tent camping, and cater to more outdoorsy types. They usually have greater emphasis on nature and scenic views than amenities and typical stays are shorter. It’s hit or miss as to the number of campgrounds that can accommodate big rigs so check the website or call the campground directly.

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

RV parks and resorts offer amenities and creature comforts, typically with full service sites. They are usually privately owned and offer both short and longer term stays. Most RV parks offer Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, showers, and dog parks.

Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV resorts will be well manicured and in good condition. The roads in the park should be wide enough to allow RVs of all sizes to enter and leave sites easily. Some RV resorts are gated with manned gate houses and you might find that your RV must be of a certain caliber in order to gain entry.  There is no industry standard; you may notice more luxurious amenities and surroundings according to price. These amenities may include exercise rooms, Jacuzzis, lap pools, in-house restaurants and/or bars, or golf courses.

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

Is your campsite spacious enough for a comfortably stay? Is there room to extend slide-outs?

Is there enough space to back in your rig? Do you require a pull-through site?

Are you bringing your pet? Does the campground provide pet-friendly amenities?

Do you want to a park with a bustling social scene or are you seeking solitude?

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

Planning

Take the time to research not only the campground or RV resort but your route, when you’ll be arriving, and any current restrictions related to COVID-19 or weather. And with today’s travel challenges, it’s even more important than ever to stay safe and be prepared. The RV park website is a great place to start. Supplement this with online reviews and personal recommendations.

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

And when you do call for reservations, be sure to give them a detailed description of your RV (length, height, toad) and what your requirements are in the way of hook-ups and additional services.

Pala Casino RV Park, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make a reservation

Demand for RVs in the era of COVID-19 has surged across the country. Many Americans are skipping hotels and air travel for RV parks in this era of social distancing with the industry scrambling to keep up with the demand. With an increasing scarcity of available sites it is advisable to book a site well in advance. This maximizes the likelihood of securing your top choice site. Phone the park to make a reservation. Reserving online isn’t always a possibility. You’re also more likely to snag a great spot if you’re more flexible with your dates. Popular destinations occasionally have campsites available mid-week.

Golden Palms Village RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pro tip

Discounts are typically given for longer stays. Are you able to escape for a week or even a month? Ask about specials and you’ll likely receive a lower price per night.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RV parks post their campground maps online. You can even check out the satellite view on Google Earth for a bird’s-eye view of the campground.

If you’re traveling with children, you might prefer a spot near the pool or playground.

River Plantation RV Park, Seviereille, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When selecting the right campsite, you may face a trade-off and need to prioritize which factors are most important to you.

Worth Pondering…

It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning.

—Claude Bernard

Top 7 Tragic Rookie RV Mistakes To Avoid

Make sure to avoid the following rookie mistakes

You’re out on the road in your new recreation vehicle for the first time and you commit that huge mistake that tells the world you’re a newcomer to the world of RVing. It’s embarrassing and there may be a mess to clean up, but it wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t witnesses to see your mistake.

Before departure ensure all cords and hoses have been securely stored © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the first couple of years of RVing it seemed I learned something new every time I pulled into a campground. Sometimes, it was not the most enjoyable experience but a learning experience. 

Everyone makes rookie RV mistakes, but you can avoid the worst ones if you do your homework ahead of time. Here are the most common mistakes new RVers make—and how to avoid them.

Back-in campsites are more challenging than pull-through sites and require considerable practice © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive-off Disasters

The most horrifying mistake a new RVer can make is driving off while you’re still connected to water, sewer, and/or power. The damage is expensive, and it’s extremely embarrassing.

Forgetting to lower the TV antenna is common mistake of even much traveled RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Also make sure you lower the satellite dish and TV antenna, retract the awnings and slides, and pick up and stow any jack pads, leveling boards, or wheel chocks prior to departure.

And don’t forget to check head lights, tail lights, and signal lights, front and rear.

Camping at White Tank Mountains, a Maricopa County Park in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Using Your RV before Learning How

It’s Sunday morning and you’ve had your first awesome camping experience in your newly purchased RV. Before leaving the campground, you make a pit stop at the dump station only to realize you have no idea what to do. As you search through the manual, you realize you have a line of vehicles behind you waiting to dump. 

Ensure you know how to use a dump station correctly and have adequate heavy duty hoses © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are many new procedures you need to learn—from simple things to more complex items. Before leaving home on your first camping trip, read through your operator’s manual and conduct a practice run of the major procedures, including hooking up utilities, leveling the RV, extending and retracting the slideouts, and dumping gray and black water. 

Driving a large Class A motorhome can be challenging especially on narrow roads with limited shoulder © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not Knowing the Size of Your RV

First time RVers often have a difficult time managing the large size of their RV. Usually, cornering and parking are the toughest tasks. Also, ensure know your height and width.

Know and post on dash height of you RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No Plan No Prep

Many new RVers make their first mistakes before they even hit the road. The key to success is in the planning. For a smooth, worry-free trip, make sure you consider all of these things:

  • Your budget. Set aside more money than you think you’ll need—especially for food, fuel, and camping fees. Also, be sure to set aside enough money specifically for an emergency.
  • Your route. Avoid narrow roads with sharp turns, and highways with low bridges or tunnels. There are apps for this.
  • Your reservations. Many an RVer has been denied entrance to a campground because they didn’t have a reservation. Popular camps fill up quickly and RV sites are limited.
  • Your necessities. RVs are tiny places, making it easy to overpack. Make sure you only bring what you need.
Be prepared for all kinds of weather…and an amazing sky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not Using a Checklist!

These newbie RV mistakes can be avoided by using a checklist before, during, and after your trip. Update your checklist with every trip—you’re bound to learn a lesson or two as time goes on.

We love pull-through RV sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not Doing a Walk Around?

There are many things that must be done when breaking camp with your RV. Often, a checklist is followed to assure that each item has been readied and checked before hitting the road.

The larger the RV the greater the challenge! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Generally, the last item to be completed is a full walk around. This involves the driver walking entirely around the vehicle and checking everything, verifying that all slides and awnings are fully retracted and locked, jacks are up, all appendages are disconnected from the services and stored, the hitch is secure, tires are fully inflated and not damaged, windows and vents are closed, antennas are down, and no kids, items, or other obstructions lie under the vehicle. The ground should be checked to make sure no fluids are leaking.

Now relax and enjoy the sunset… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remember—everyone’s an RV newbie at some point, and we’ve all made some of these newbie mistakes. You’re in good company, so keep your sense of humor, a toolbox, first aid kit, and consider yourself officially a veteran RVer.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

6 Great Tips for RV Beginners

Here are six quick tips for every RV beginner to consider

Have you ever loaded up a camper and ventured into the wilderness? RVing might not be everyone’s idea of a great vacation but that hasn’t stopped it from growing in popularity over the last few years. With many favorite summer activities closed by COVID-19, more people are turning to RV trips to have a safe and exciting vacation this year. Even if you’ve never gone RVing before, now is the perfect chance to try.

Fifth wheel trailers at Canyon Vista RV Park, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs are exciting and they come with some new challenges, ranging from finding the right RV to getting comfortable with driving your home-on-the-road. This is all part of a journey that will bring a sense of freedom and discovery to your life.

Here are six quick tips to consider before you pile in and head out.

Class A motorhomes at Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 1: Choose the Right RV For You

There is no right or wrong choice. Each type of RV has features that are attractive to some RVers, and less attractive to others. It’s really not a matter of a towable is better than a motorized, or vice versa, rather, it’s a matter of what will fit best with your RVing lifestyle.

Fifth wheel trailers at Katy Lake RV Resort, Katy, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Factors such as family size, whether you want to tow it, or need a bathroom play a role in your choice.

Class C motorhome rental from Cruise America at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 2: Decide Whether to Buy or Rent

This isn’t always an easy decision, with pros and cons for both. However, when you consider a few key factors, the answer becomes clearer.

Buy: You plan to go RV camping often or full-time and you have storage for the times when you aren’t traveling.

Rent: You plan to go on a single trip, or want to test the waters before making a purchase.

Class C motorhome at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 3: Get to Know Your RV

With little road experience, it’s especially important that RV beginners take time to learn how the RV works, even if it’s a rental. If something breaks, you should be able to assess the problem, and potentially fix it. This saves time and money spent on a mechanic.

Know how to hook up and use electric, water, and sewer servies © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you get to know your RV, you’re less likely to make operational errors. For example, if you don’t know how many amps your main breaker can handle, there’s a good chance you’ll blow it. This is a potentially expensive error that can be avoided by getting to know your rig.

Class A motorhome traveling north to Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 4: Take a Practice Drive

Many find driving an RV easier than they thought, but it’s important to practice. Get in the driver’s seat and adjust the mirrors, seat belt height, lumbar support, and armrests so you’re comfortable, and make sure you can easily turn your head to see in all directions. Become familiar with all switches and controls.

Class A motorhomes on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Then take your RV for a drive around a big parking lot practicing backing up, turning, braking, and parking. It’s best to have a partner to assist with the backing up. Finally, take your it for a drive on the road over varied terrain, if possible.

Once you know the intricacies of driving an RV, you can make necessary adjustments. For example, if your drawers pop open you need to find a way to keep them shut.

Learn the correct way to use a dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 5: Pack Tools and Spare Parts

Pack a well-stocked tool kit and store on the curb side of your RV. Include basic tools and items that may need to be replaced including LCD flashlights, spare fuses, LCD lights, jumper cables, nuts and bolts, WD-40, silicon spray, duct and gorilla tape, and cleaning supplies. Be sure to bring spare parts that are unique to your rig.

Know how before you go © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 5: Don’t Wing It

The urge to be spontaneous is tempting when your home is on wheels. There’s a certain pleasure in going where you want, when you want. However, it does help to have a solid plan in place especially if it’s your first RV trip.

When planning your RV trip, consider:

Use a pressure regulator when hooking up to city water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 6: Use a Campground Setup Checklist

Pulling into your RV campground is just the start. A set-up checklist will help you keep everything in order and make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Use an electric management system to protect against surges and high and low voltage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walk your RV site before you pull in to ensure you have the adequate space and clearance for your vehicle checking for low hanging branches and obstacles on the ground. Locate the hookups, including electric, water, cable TV, and sewer. Level the RV if needed. Test that the hookups are working properly.

Worth Pondering…

Our wish to you is this: drive a little slower, take the backroads sometimes, and stay a little longer. Enjoy, learn, relax, and then…plan your next RV journey.

Top 10 RV Travel Tips of All Time

Here are some tips to consider before you pile into the RV and head out

I have read hundreds of tips and hacks for traveling and have tried many of them. Some are game changers and others sound great in theory but are more trouble than they are worth. Here is a list of our favorite tried and true tips that make RV travel a breeze.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Be flexible. It is a given that something won’t go as planned. Embrace that in advance and the little annoyances won’t be a big deal.

Saguaro Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Don’t rely on GPS. Think maps are outdated? You won’t feel that way when you lose service or you find yourself on an old forestry road in the middle of nowhere.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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

Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. With moist cool weather our first instinct is to keep those windows and vents tightly closed. Today’s RV doors and windows do a great job sealing everything up but with that come ventilation issues. To reduce condensation keep one or two windows or vents slightly cracked and make sure to use your hood vent fan when cooking. Keep a small, portable dehumidifier in the bathroom, kitchen, and in an outside bin.

Goose Island State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Don’t let your RV adventure start before you reach your destination. Make sure your RV maintenance checklist is complete and all major components are in working order before you depart. If you do end up with deviations from your plans make the best of it and enjoy wherever life takes you.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Bring Tools and Spare Parts. Pack a well-stocked tool kit that should include screw drivers, sockets, claw hammer, pliers, utility knife, tape measure, cordless drill, and adjustable and combination wrenches. Also add in the things that your RV might need like extra fuses, LCD lights, batteries, jumper cables, nuts, bolts, and connectors.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Service Center in Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. First Aid Kit. Like a tool box, 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.

Covered bridge, Parke County, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. When you see flashing lights, “Move Over”

FLASHING LIGHTS? GIVE ‘EM SPACE! MOVE OVER!

We hope “Move Over” rings familiar. If not, let’s refresh your memory: “Move Over” is a law in most states (and Canadian provinces) that requires motorists to move over one lane—or slow down if it is not safe to change lanes—when approaching any vehicle with flashing lights pulled to the side of a road or highway.

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That includes first responder vehicles such as tow trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, and police cruisers, as well as utility trucks and even passenger vehicles that have emergency flashers blinking. Lives can be saved when vehicles “Move Over.”

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tragically, tow truck operators being struck and killed is not uncommon as being a first responder to vehicle crashes and disabled motorists is dangerous work. Nationally, one tow truck operator is killed every six days. On average, about 23 highway workers and one law enforcement officer are killed every month and five fire fighters are killed every year in the United States.

Remember, when you see flashing lights on, give ’em space and “Move Over.” 

Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Install and maintain a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide and propane (LP gas) detector.

Special 12v smoke alarms, designed specifically for RVs, are available from RV dealers. Test monthly and replace batteries annually. Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm in your RV near the sleeping area. Test monthly and replace batteries annually. Install and maintain a propane (LP gas) leak alarm at floor level in your RV, no more than six inches above the floor. Test monthly and replace batteries annually.

Ajo Scenic Loop Drive, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Camera. 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?

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

Worth Pondering…

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

What to Pack for Extended RV Trips

Here are the essentials for an extended RV trip including snowbird travel

Over the course of 22 years of our snowbird RV lifestyle, we have learned what we really need to pack and what we can do without. Our list of “essentials” has changed over the years based on changing needs and available storage space.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before leaving on our snowbird journey we go through the RV to determine the items needed and those no longer required.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following is a list of the items we currently pack into our RV for our snowbird travels to the U.S. Sunbelt. It should be noted that the majority of these items are never removed from the RV.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hopefully, if you are new to the snowbird lifestyle the following list will provide some assistance on the essentials required when planning an extended RV trip.

It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inside Items

  • Laptop computer, printer, camera, lens, and camera bag
  • Manuals for the motorhome and toad
  • Atlases and maps
  • Campground directories (Good Sam and Big Rigs)
  • Office supplies
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kitchen Stuff

  • Place setting for four people
  • Eating utensils
  • Coffee mugs and assorted glassware
  • Placemats
  • Small, medium, and large pots w/lids
  • Electric fry pan
  • Salad spinner
  • Roasting pans
  • Air tight plastic containers of various sizes for food storage
  • Toaster oven
  • Slow cooker
  • Kettle
  • Kitchen knives
  • Mixing bowls
  • Coffee maker
  • Cutting boards
  • Assorted utensils (spatula, ice cream scoop, can opener, measuring spoons, peeler, etc.)
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outside Items

  • Camping chairs
  • Folding tables
  • Outside mat
  • Tire covers
  • Tarp
  • Jack pads
  • RV Leveling Blocks (plastic stacking blocks in carrying case)
  • 5 gallon bucket
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utility Hookups

  • Fresh water hoses
  • Water pressure regulators
  • Sewer hoses, connections including clear plastic elbow, and support
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Coaxial TV cable
  • Progressive Industries Electric Management System
  • 30-amp extension cord
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cleaners & Lubricants

  • Windex
  • 303 Aerospace Protectant
  • Meguires RV wash and wax
  • Long adjustable pole with attachments
  • Silicone and white lithium spray lubricants
  • WD-40
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tools & Maintenance Items

  • Basic tool kit (Screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, hammer, tape measure, etc.)
  • Assorted screws, nuts, bolts, and washers
  • Heavy duty tire pressure gauge
  • Folding shovel
  • Duct and Gorilla Tape
  • Spare oil, hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid for motorhome
  • Distilled water
  • Funnels
  • Work gloves
  • Portable collapsible ladder
  • Heavy duty clippers with extendable handles
It all fits somewhere. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Safety & Emergency Items

  • 4 fire extinguishers—bedroom, entrance, storage, and toad
  • Emergency road side reflective triangles
  • First aid kit
  • Spare batteries for LED flashlights, CO, smoke, and LP gas detectors
  • Battery jumper cables
At the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wow! When I actually sat down and listed our stuff and it sure adds up. It’s hard to believe it all fits in our rig, but it does. Fortunately, our Dutch Star diesel pusher’s ample storage space and a decent amount of extra cargo weight capacity.

At the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Along with the reliability of Newmar motorhomes and the quality service provided by our dealer—Midtown RV in Penticton, British Columbia—the ample cargo carrying capacity was one of the reasons we chose it. Something to think about if you’re buying a rig for extended RV trips.

At the Newmar Service Center in Nappanee, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.

Southward Ho! Snowbird RV Tips for Migrating South

Learn the basics of RV snowbirding

As Neil Young once sang, “the summer ends and the winter winds begin to holler all around the bend…”

The snow doth fly © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yes, it’s that time of year once again when the cooler weather sets in and the truly cold and snowy months of winter loom ever closer on the horizon. Residents of the northern half of North America have long found respite from winter’s chill by fleeing to the southern half.

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

Snowbirds are already preparing for the journey south for the annual escape to the sub-tropical climates in southern states that include Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California.

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

Following are several key tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your journey to gorgeous coastal regions, inland escapes, or breathtaking desert areas.

RV and Tow Vehicle/Toad Preparations

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ensure that your RV and tow vehicle or toad are in top operating condition before leaving for your winter destination by following several practical tips:

  • Have a local auto shop inspect your tow vehicle/toad before departing; you never know if you may have missed something and it’s always a good precaution to take
  • Have a local RV service center inspect tires, brakes, axle bearings, and other moving parts
  • Check the air conditioning to ensure it is working properly. A broken air conditioner in a hotter climate makes for an uncomfortable snowbird experience
  • Add tank cleaner to your rig’s waste tanks

Winterize Your Home

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

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning. Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort, El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires a regular walk-through during your absence and if so, how frequently.

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

Arrange with a mail forwarding service to have your mail forwarded to your winter destinations.

Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

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

Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turn down the thermostat on your heating system.

Unplug lamps, TVs, radios, and all electric appliances.

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

Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve. Upon returning home, relight the pilot if you turned it off, and gradually turn the thermostat to the appropriate setting. Don’t forget to turn the water back on before restarting the water heater.

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

Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly.

Finally, lock all windows and doors, and activate the alarm or security system.

Pack the RV

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The best way to ensure you have stowed aboard you RV all the essential items is to use a checklist. Following is a starting point for creating your own personal checklist:

  • Clothing for all types of weather
  • Toiletries
  • Fully stocked first aid kit
  • Tool box (stow on curb side of RV)
  • Essential house wares (dishware and utensils, cooking supplies, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, fire extinguisher, batteries, LED flashlights)
  • Technology (smart phone, laptop, tablet, ebook reader, printer, camera, batteries, battery chargers)
  • Outdoor recreation/hobby items (hiking boots and poles, fishing poles, cameras and camera supplies and equipment, knitting/quilting/sewing supplies)

Canadian Snowbirds

Lake Osprey RV Resort, Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to all of the usual preparations, Canadian snowbirds must deal with extra details that include:

  • Passports and other travel documents
  • Extended health care insurance (Don’t leave home without it!)
  • Smart phone and internet service
  • Buying U.S. dollars/U.S. dollar credit card
Casa Grande RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I’ll take heat rash over frost bite any day.

—Ken Travous

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

7 Campground Hookup Essentials

Trouble-free camping makes for happy camping

You’re out on the road in your new recreation vehicle for the first time and pull into a campground or RV park. You commit that huge mistake that tells the world you’re a newcomer to the world of RVing. Everyone makes rookie RV mistakes, but you can avoid the worst ones if you do your homework ahead of time.

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

For the first couple of years of RVing it seemed I learned something new every time I pulled into a campsite and hooked up to the utilities. Sometimes, it was not the most enjoyable experience but a learning lesson.

Pull-in sites with a view at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Over the years, experienced RVers develop a mental “checklist” of items to inspect, clean, and prepare for when hooking up at a campground or RV park.

Following is a list of seven campground hookup essentials to follow:

Choose a Site That Best Meets Your Needs

Pull-through sites with a view at Irwins RV Park in Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

You may want the patio side away from the glaring afternoon sun, or you may want to look out on a beautiful sunset. North facing campsites will have the sun warming the patio early in the morning. 

Back-in sites at Gulf State Park near Ocean Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The closer to the bathhouse, Laundromat, garbage bins, and dog park, the more traffic and noise. If you need Wi-Fi, check with the campground host to see if the signal is strong enough to get to the site you’ve been assigned.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you are camping in extreme heat, check to see what side the refrigerator will be parked on during the heat of the day. Your refrigerator will run more efficient if it’s not in direct sunlight in the hot afternoon.

Inspect the Site

Inspecting the site at Coastal Georgia RV Resort near Brunswick and the Golden Isles, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Upon arrival at your site, do a walkthrough, and determine the best location for RV and toad/tow vehicle. Inspect the site for low hanging limbs and other obstacles that are in the way of an extended slide, broken glass, or other sharp items. Look down; look up. Check line of site for a satellite dish. Be aware of location and height of utility box in relation to your hookups and slides.

RV Leveling

Level sites at Cajun Palms RV Resort near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Level the rig before extending the slideouts. A level coach means a level chassis which means a solid and flush sidewall for the room to extend out.

Electrical supply

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

First step is to make sure the circuit breaker on the campground pedestal is turned off. Attach your RV power cord to an electric management system and plug into the pedestal. There are numerous choices in the marketplace but we believe the Progressive Electric Management Systems are the best. These units continuously monitor the power supply coming into your RV and if it detects a variance outside of the tolerances will shut the power down. Without the device, a power spike or low or high voltage can damage to your electrical system.

Sanitize

At the very least, check the electrical supply at the campground before plugging in by plugging in a GFCI tester. 

Sanitize the city water faucet before connecting your water hose and pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Sanitize the city water faucet with ½ cup bleach in a gallon of water prior to attaching your pressure regulator and water hose. Fecal coli and other pathogens can form on exposed fixtures and a simple spray will provide a sanitized environment. Make sure you use an approved drinking water hose for the supply and store it away from the drain hose equipment. Make sure the valve is set to city water, not “fill tank” if you rig has this feature.

Dump Hose

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

Connect your dump hose to the dump station if applicable but leave the valves closed. Open valves let odors into the rig and worse, allow liquid to drain out and solids to stay in the tank and pyramid.

Propane Tank

Open your propane tank slowly! There is an excess flow valve designed into the POL valve connected to the tank and opening it fast with shut down the valve until pressure subsides which can be several minutes. Check the stove and oven before opening the valve to make sure they are not on.

And it was another beautiful day at Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

5 Tips for Safe RV Travel

Plan to travel safely with these tips

It’s that time of year again. The weather is warming up and spring has finally arrived. That means more motorists on the road and as the spring and summer travel season to picks up.

RV travel can be enjoyable but these large recreational vehicles demand respect. RVs are not particularly difficult to drive but there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your travels safer and more relaxing and enjoyable.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

RV Checklist

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up, or steps extended. Use a step-by-step checklist and conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away. A pre-departure checklist should include the following:

  • Check propane level and fill if needed
  • Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels
  • Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required
  • Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational
  • Turn propane off at the tank
Sunset Valley RV Resort, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

RV Safety Check

Before leaving ensure you conduct a thorough inspection on your RV. Do a final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving on your road trip. Check all doors to make sure they are properly latched, disconnect power, water, and sewer lines.

River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Look for any leaks and ensure your propane and smoke detectors are in working condition. Always test your carbon monoxide detector to make sure it is working properly. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are only noticeable when you’re awake, they include dizziness, vomiting, nausea, muscle twitching, headache, throbbing in the temples, weakness and sleepiness, and inability to think coherently.

As a final step prior to departure, check mirror adjustments. Adjust the side-view mirrors to barely see the side of your RV. Adjust the convex mirrors to include blind spots, keeping in mind that distances may be distorted.

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

Drive Safely

Be extra cautious when driving or towing an RV. RVs brakes are different from those in a car or SUV. Since most RVs have air brakes rather than hydraulic brakes, braking will have a different feel. Turning a corner in an RV is very different from a car. You need to compensate for the additional weight, height, and length. Slowly approach your turn and make sure you finish the turn before straightening out.

Experience is a key. The best way to become a good RV driver is by practice.

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

Know RV Height, Width & Length

Some of the most common RV accidents include hitting bridges, underpasses, and gas station overhangs.

Post your exterior height, width, and total length in the motorhome or tow vehicle where it can easily be seen while driving.

Jack’s Landing RV Resort, Grants Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Height: Measure to the highest point such as air conditioner or satellite dish

Width: Measure to the outermost points such as mirrors, awnings, or handles

Length: Measure from the front of the vehicle to the end of the towed vehicle or trailer

Also keep in mind that a typical highway lane is 10 feet. Most RVs are about 8.5 feet in width.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Tips to Backing up an RV

Have the co-pilot get out of the vehicle and scan the site before backing up, checking for site obstructions, overhanging branches, levelness of site, and location of utilities.

Adjust the mirrors to tilt down enabling you to see the lower rear corner of the RV.

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

The co-pilot should stand at the back of the site slightly to the side of the vehicle. Make sure that you can see the co-pilot in your side-mirror. The co-pilot should use hand signals that you both understand.

Back in slowly and very carefully.

Practice makes perfect. Try backing up in a big parking lot before tackling a campsite.

Blakes Ranch RV Park, Kingman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Remember, safety is no accident.

Worth Pondering…

Take your time.

Slow down.

LIVE.