6 Things You Need To Do BEFORE Your Next RV Trip

One of the first things many new RVers discover is that planning an RV trip requires a lot of forethought. You can’t just hitch up your RV and head out for an adventure. A successful RV trip requires weeks and possibly months worth of planning.

The best parts of RVing are the trips themselves but many people are filled with dread when it comes to planning. To help you feel confident about navigating the challenges of travel logistics here are five important things to do before you take your next RV trip.

1. Plan your route

There are a handful of questions to ask yourself when choosing where to travel. What appeals to your lifestyle? Are you looking for hiking opportunities? Or would you prefer to relax? Some enjoy the tradition of returning to a favorite spot whereas others may be inclined to go somewhere new.

Of course, some people know exactly where they want to go next. Whether you’re traveling to the beach or the mountains, you will need to plan and budget your route. To make the most of your road trip, research scenic areas, historic sites, landmarks, and roadside attractions.

If you’re interested in efficiency, you can download an app such as GasBuddy to determine how much you’ll spend on fuel before you even hit the road. You can then figure out how long you want to be on the road or how long you’ll be staying in your desired location.

Here are some articles to help:

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Write your packing checklist

Once you know where you’re going—and for how long—you’ll have a better idea of what items to bring along with you.

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of your RV trip plans. However, if you’re not careful you could leave behind some important items. I recommend keeping a detailed packing list of everything you want on your trip.

Many RVers find it very helpful to list out the days and plan out their outfits and meals. This can help ensure they have enough clothes and food for the RV trip. You don’t want to hit the road and discover you only have two pairs of underwear for a week-long RV trip. If you do, your first stop will likely be a local Walmart.

Perhaps most importantly, you should make sure you have a first-aid kit on hand. Keeping a tool kit handy is never a bad idea, either. And always store on the curb side.

Besides clothes perhaps (everyone packs twice as much as they need), small personal items are easy to forget. These include your toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, toiletries, and accessories such as belts, hats, and sunglasses. Plenty of premade packing lists are available online but since everyone is different it’s a good idea to write your own list and check things off as you go. Just don’t forget toilet paper!

That’s why I wrote these two articles:

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Secure RV protection

Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. That’s just the way things are so be prepared. Check the expiration on your insurance policy before you head out. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong only for you to realize your safety net has expired.

In addition, you may want to consider investing in an RV extended warranty policy. Although they aren’t legally required like insurance warranties will cover everything your insurance policy doesn’t. Unexpected breakdowns are often expensive and inevitable. Let your warranty policy administrator cover your repair bill.

Here are some helpful resources:

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

4. Address routine maintenance

As mentioned in the previous section, prevention is important when it comes to protecting your RV. Before heading out, make sure your home-on-wheels is in good running condition.

In preparing for your next road trip check your roof, tires, and tow equipment (if applicable). You should check your RV tire pressure if your vehicle has been in storage longer than a month. Tires lose up to 2-3 psi per month in storage. To be extra cautious, this is also an opportunity to check for air leaks, lug nut tightness, and wear. Examine the tread and sidewalls for obvious signs of damage such as cracks or wear in the tread. Tires should be replaced every six years or earlier if there is obvious wear.

Don’t wait for it to rain—you’ll also want to inspect your roof for leaks. Over time, sun and air exposure weaken seals. You’re looking for cracked or broken seals. To check the integrity of the roof itself, you can do a hand test. If there is white residue on your palm after running your hand along the roof, this may indicate that it’s time to reseal your roof.

If you suspect any component may require attention, it isn’t a bad idea to get an RV inspection. The technician will alert you to any mechanical or electrical problems you may have missed. They will take a look at your filters, fluids, brake system, and so on. RVs continue to age in storage; it’s important to address any repair needs before your next trip.

Read more:

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Have snacks or meals on hand

On long travel days, the last thing you’ll want to do is stop to make an elaborate lunch to satiate your hunger. Always have a few road trip healthy snacks or meals prepared to make your breaks easier and make sure you’re not stuck eating greasy or highly processed fast foods on your route.

We love having leftovers from dinner the night before, salads that are pre-made and just in need of dressing, or sandwiches. Nuts, hummus, veggies, or fruit can be another great snack.

Since I’m talking snacks, here are a two related articles:

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Tie up loose ends

Now is the time to review your to-do list. Did I pack sunscreen? Did I check the oil? Are the slide outs functional? Is the sink working? There are so many factors to consider when embarking on a road trip. These may seem like obvious factors to address but planning trips can be stressful.

There are so many things to remember and there is so much to do! Make sure your awning is closed and secured. You also don’t want to take off with your leveling system deployed—that is an expensive repair. Items often shift around in transit so make sure loose items are secured and cabinets securely latched. If you’re worried about kitchenware rattling around, consider purchasing the special grippy mats that prevent this. Storage bins, bungee cords, and magnets are your friends.

Planning your road trip should be exciting, not stressful. The more informed you are, the better prepared you will feel on your journey. We want you to hit the road with peace of mind. Good luck and safe travels!

Read more:

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

Make some priceless memories on an RV Trip

Hopefully, these tips will ease a bit of the stress and headaches of planning an RV trip. Just remember, things can still go wrong even with the best of planning. It’s easy to get frustrated and stressed if that happens but don’t fret. It’s all a part of the experience. I can assure you that years from now, you’re going to look back and cherish the memories you’ll create while on RV trips with your friends and family.

Take advantage of every opportunity to go on an RV trip. Where are you planning your next RV trip?

Worth Pondering…

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey.

—Eric Hansen

Do You Have A First Aid Kit In Your RV?

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

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

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

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

Why you need a first aid kit in your RV?

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

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

What to include in your first aid kit in your RV

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

The following is a list of suggested items:

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

How to assemble a first aid kit in your RV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First-aid kit instructions

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

Trip-specific first-aid supplies

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

Preventative items to keep on hand

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Worth Pondering…

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

—J.M. Richards

Winter Woes: How to Stay Safe in an RV as Arctic Blast Hits US and Canada

Over 150 million Americans are under a winter chill advisory due to life-threatening temperatures. Every state besides Hawaii has issued some form of caution to residents as nearly 80 percent of the nation faces below-freezing weather.

The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.

—Ray Bradbury

More than half of U.S. states have experienced some sort of winter weather warning over the past few days with an Arctic blast bringing subzero temps to even Texas. Amid the cold snap, it’s important to keep yourself—and your pets and RV—safe and warm. 

Winter RVing comes with its own set of challenges. Cold temperatures, snowy roads, limited daylight, and extreme weather events can all make for a more difficult and dangerous trip.

However, with proper preparation and knowledge, you can safely navigate the winter roads and enjoy all the beauty and serenity of winter camping.

In this blog post, I’ll share tips on how to prepare your RV for winter, plan your winter RV trip, and drive safely in cold weather conditions. I’ll also provide tips on staying warm and comfortable in your RV during your winter trip.

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

RV winter driving tips

It’s important to know how to safely navigate snowy and icy roads. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while winter RVing.

How to safely navigate snowy and icy roads

When driving on snowy or icy roads, patience is the key to staying safe. Following the 330 Rule will help set a good pace for your road trip and the following tips will help keep you safe:

  • Slow down and increase your following distance (it’ll give you extra time to stop)
  • Use your headlights and turn signals (rule of thumb: If your wipers are on your headlights should also be on)
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating so you don’t lose traction
  • Steer in the direction of a skid
  • Familiarize yourself with your RV’s heating and defrosting systems before you drive to keep your RV windows clear
Diamond Groove RV Park, Edmonton, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to handle skidding and sliding on winter roads

Never take black ice for granted! Just because you can’t see ice on the road doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mentally prepare yourself by imagining what you will do if you start to slide.

If your RV starts to skid or slide it’s important to stay calm. Steer in the direction of the skid and avoid braking or accelerating.

If your RV has anti-lock brakes, make sure to use them correctly by pressing them consistently and firmly. If your RV does not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently to slow down (pumping the brakes helps give you traction).

Sun Outdoors Salt Lake City (formerly Pony Express RV Park), North Salt Lake City, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Always carry an emergency kit for winter travel

It’s also essential to prepare an emergency kit for your RV road trip whether winter camping or en route to a warmer snowbird retreat (in our case, Arizona). This should include items such as blankets, warm clothing, a first aid kit, flashlights, warning triangles or flares, and a tool kit.

It’s also a good idea to include a small shovel, a bag of sand or kitty litter (for traction), and a bag of salt or de-icer.

Additionally, make sure to have a fully charged cell phone and a way to charge it while on the road.

Know how to properly use snow chains and tire chains

If you’re planning to travel on snowy or icy roads, it’s important to know how to properly use snow chains or tire chains. These devices can be a lifesaver in snowy conditions but they must be used correctly. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and practice putting them on before you hit the road.

If you’re going to be traveling entirely in snowy weather consider putting snow tires on your motorhome or tow vehicle and travel trailer.

Be aware of rules and regulations for winter driving in the states and provinces you plan to drive through. Know where and under what conditions snow tires and snow chains/tire chains are required.

Fort Camping, Fort Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What to do if your RV is stranded in winter

If an emergency arises while winter RVing, it’s important to stay calm so you can think clearly. Call for help immediately and stay with your RV if possible. If you must leave your RV, make sure to take your phone, emergency kit, warm clothing, water, and a snack with you.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Stay with your RV: An RV provides shelter and protection from the elements; it’s also much easier to spot an RV from the air than a person on foot.
  • Stay warm: Dress in warm layers, use a good-quality insulated mattress pad, and keep a duvet and extra blankets in the RV for added warmth. Use a space heater to supplement your RV’s heating system and make sure to keep your furnace or heating system serviced and maintained.
  • Create a signal for help: Place a brightly colored cloth or flag on the roof of your RV or on a nearby tree to signal for help. Keep a small light or lantern on at night (preferably one that is battery-operated and will not drain your house battery).
  • Conserve fuel and power: To conserve fuel and power only run essential systems such as the heating system and refrigerator. Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and nourished: Ration your food and water to last for at least a few days in case you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Keep your phone on but preserve its battery: Turn on “battery saver mode” and only use it when trying to contact help.
Fort Camping, Fort Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangers of carbon monoxide

This is must-know information to make sure that you are safe in your RV. Since carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, it can be an immediate danger to your health and, yes, some of your RV appliances do emit it.

How to Prevent and Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV

We need to know how to detect carbon monoxide in our RV. This is serious if you want to stay safe.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that you don’t expect to encounter when traveling the great outdoors. However, some RV appliances emit carbon monoxide which can be dangerous to your health. It’s important to be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it while enjoying the RV lifestyle.

Read more…

How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in your RV?

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. Protect yourself and your family by learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to prevent it.

Read more…

The Ultimate Guide to Cold Weather Camping

Whether you do winter RV camping by choice or by necessity, there are steps you’ll want to take to stay warm in your rig. When temps dip below 32 degrees, that’s when you have to worry about freezing pipes, increasing heat needs, and cold—and complaining—family members. 

Read more…

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Insulate your RV

Another important step in preparing your RV for winter is to insulate it against colder temperatures. This can be done by adding insulation to the walls, floor, and ceiling of your RV as well as around windows and doors. You can also use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside and the cold air out.

How to stay warm while camping

While it is difficult to combat extreme cold, there are some surprisingly simple and inexpensive ways to help you stay warm when RVing in chilly temps. Taking these steps is also important for protecting your motorhome or towable from damage.

  • Keep windows and doors closed and use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside
  • Use a space heater to supplement your RV’s heating system
  • Add weather stripping or door sweeps to your RV’s doors and windows to prevent drafts
  • Insulate your RV’s underbelly, pipes, and tanks with heat tape or foam
  • Use an RV skirt to reduce heat loss from under your RV
  • Keep the windows clean to allow maximum sunlight in during the day
  • Use a good-quality duvet and blankets to keep you warm during the night
  • Dress in layers and keep extra blankets in the RV for added warmth
  • In severe cold, confine yourself to one room and focus on heating that small space
Heated water hose and faucet protector © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check weather forecasts and road conditions

Before hitting the road, it’s essential to check the weather forecasts and road conditions for the route you plan to take. This will help you prepare for any potential winter weather such as snow, ice, wind, or freezing temperatures.

Know the winter driving restrictions by state

Some states and provinces restrict RV driving in certain weather conditions just like commercial motor vehicles.

For instance, Pennsylvania DOT puts motorhomes in Tier 1 (the most restrictive tier) when it comes to “winter weather events.”

It’s always a good idea to Google “winter driving restrictions in (state)” before you leave. This might spare you from getting stopped at a state border with different restrictions.

Also, check out the link to ALL the State Driving road conditions below.

It looks and feels like winter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose the right route for winter driving

When planning your winter RV trip, it’s best to choose a route that is well-maintained and has lower elevations. This will help you avoid steep and winding roads that can be dangerous in snowy or icy conditions.

Avoid mountain passes and remote areas if possible as they can be more difficult to navigate in winter.

Many state Department of Transportation have interactive road maps that will show you which ones have ice and snow like this one from the Iowa DOT. The blue lines are roads that are partially covered.

And here is the link for road conditions for each state: Winter road conditions

There is a list of phone numbers and websites for each state. Select the website link to see each state’s road conditions.

I have a series of RV winter camping guides that links to valuable information and life-saving advice. Be sure to check that out.

Worth Pondering…

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

—Roy Bean

What Every RVer Needs in Their Basic Tool Kit

25 tools you need on hand for your RV

For the most part, a basic RV tool kit is what every RVer needs. And when I say basic, I really do mean BASIC—the parts and tools you’ll most likely actually USE at some point.

Why You Need an RV Tool Kit?

Driving an RV down the road is frequently compared to owning a home that goes through a continuous earthquake and hurricane at the same time. Because of this, things frequently go wrong and need to be repaired. Whether you are handy or not (and I’m not), you will find it helpful to have a set of tools for simple fixes or even major repairs. Often a problem can at least be patched up to prevent further damage until a proper fix can be made.

What is an RV Tool Kit?

An RV tool kit is a collection of standard tools and items to assist with RV repairs and maintenance. Different situations call for various tools, so having an array of commonly used items can be handy.

Your RV set-up may require certain tools © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tool Kit Basics

Ready to hit the road? Not so fast! Let’s take a moment to inventory that tool kit of yours. I’ve rounded up a list of tools you want in your tool kit before you hit the road. Unnecessary tools waste space and add weight to your RV. You don’t want to carry around tools you’ll never use–and you certainly don’t want to be without the right tools when you need them most! Let’s look at some tools I think anyone should have in their RV tool kit. Cheers to a fun (and prepared) RV adventure!

Heavy-duty work gloves

Your hands can take a beating while RVing. A pair of heavy-duty work gloves can protect your hands when working on odd jobs or doing repairs. They can also add grip when needed. 

Multi-tool

Put fixing power in your pocket with multi-tools including pull-out knives, screwdrivers, scissors, bottle opener, and pliers from top brands like Leatherman, Victorinox, Gerber, and Outbound. Multi-tools come in handy in all situations so it’s never a bad idea to have one—even just to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.

Sewer hose and connection to sewer outlet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set of screwdrivers

Your RV is going to have all different shapes and sizes of screws. If you could pick just one tool to have, it’s a screwdriver. But, you’ll need to make sure you’ve either got a range of screwdrivers or a multi-bit screwdriver to save space. From vehicle-related issues to cosmetic things like decorating or adjusting your finishings, a range of screwdrivers will come in handy.

Silicone spray lubricant

Silicone spray stops squeaks but does not attract dirt.

Channellocks

These will come in handy if you ever find yourself having to change the hitch ball on your tow hitch. In combination with the right socket wrench set, they can also help you make adjustments to other hitch equipment that needs to be tightened to the right specs for safe towing.

Hex Key Allen wrench set

Hexagonal screws are used in all sorts of products including tables and bicycles. To loosen or tighten these screws, you’ll need a special type of wrench called an Allen wrench or hex wrench. These wrenches usually come in a set with several sizes and feature different arm lengths, end types, and storage cases.

Crescent adjustable wrench

No matter how many wrench sizes you already have, an adjustable wrench is a must. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to find the perfect wrench size for the nut you’re trying to loosen. This is where your adjustable wrench will keep you from damaging the nut or bolt and putting yourself in an even deeper hole.

Electric Management System including surge protection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

LED flashlights

Flashlights aren’t just great for taking on night hikes but also for peering into your RV’s dark spaces. This tool can provide light when working in cabinets or under your rig. Have one designated to your tools and several others in the different location in the interior of your rig as well as your tow/tow vehicle. Many people like LED headlamps or magnetic LED lights to keep their hands free to work. Naturally, you’ll want a pack of batteries, too.

Assorted fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel with a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

Tire pressure gauge

Having a tire pressure gauge is a huge must. Checking tire pressures before each travel day should be an RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. Be sure to carry a heavy duty tire gauge that works for 120 psi or higher.

Ladder

If you have an especially tall rig, consider a telescoping ladder so it can be easily tucked away. From sorting out issues with your awning to cleaning debris off the roof or checking for issues, it’s never a mistake to have a way to get up high safely.

All the tape

As is the case with any tool kit, you’ve got to have duct tape. From temporarily fixing leaks and other on-the-go repairs, you’ll be so happy you have it. On top of that, you’ll want to pack Rhino tape and electrical tape so you can deal with any issues that arise. Tape could be your best friend in a pinch, so you can never have too many options in your back pocket.

Zip ties

In the same vein, you might find yourself in a pinch and in need of an easy and creative fix. Especially when it comes to RV travel, you want to be sure everything is secured in place. Zip ties (and tape) are some of the best things to keep on hand.

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tape measure

Self-explanatory! We use ours endlessly. You never know when you will need to measure something in the RV. A 25-foot tape measure should be more than long enough for most situations. Knowing if an item will fit before buying it can save you many dollars and headaches.

Bungee cords

There’s a laundry list of applications for which bungee cords will help you: keeping water containers upright in your truck bed, securing heavy tools so they don’t slide around, securing cupboard doors, expanding your carrying capacity by allowing you to strap camping gear to your roof rack. I recommend having a variety of different lengths and thicknesses so that you have the right bungee cord for the job.

First aid kit

No one should leave home without a first aid kit especially when they’re going on an extended adventure. This is why first aid kits are a necessity in every RV. First aid kits include the essentials such as bandaids, antiseptic wipes, gloves, swabs, scissors, iodine pads, and an emergency blanket. Some first aid kits come with a first aid guide.

Reversible mat

Much of the RV experience is spent relaxing outside the rig, perhaps under an awning but certainly on the ground alongside the RV. A mat which can be used to provide some underfoot protection goes a long way toward making the experience that much more comfortable.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utility knife

A utility knife is a fantastic tool to have in your tool kit. It cuts with a removable razor blade, so the edge is both incredibly sharp and very disposable. That means this type of knife is ideal for all of the grunt-work cutting jobs that are too difficult for scissors and too dulling and damaging for a nice pocket knife.

Pliars

Any good set of pliers will do but you’ll definitely need them in your RV tool kit. Needle nose pliers are perfect for harder-to-reach applications and great for precisely pinching connectors when finishing electrical repairs.

Vice grips

Another variation of pliers, locking vise grips allow you to maintain a better grip without constantly squeezing with your maximum strength. They’re also useful for holding things in place temporarily.

Hammer

A claw hammer is always good tool to have available. In addition to using it as a hammer, you can use it to bend things back into shape, knock something loose, or use the claw as a crow bar to pry something apart.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water pressure regulator

Since water pressures vary depending on where you’re camping, a pressure regulator is a small but vital addition to your RV tool kit for protecting your RV water system.

Folding step stool

Whether you’re 5 feet 2 inches or 6 feet 2 inches, a step stool is a handy accessory to have in your RV. They help you reach higher storage areas and can provide an extra step up into your rig.

Camp chairs

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere but it’s a little hard to do that if you don’t have anything to sit on. Folding camp chairs are compact, comfortable, easily stored. 

Hammock

Not really a tool but hammocks bring some comfiness to the outdoor space. When you arrive at that epic campsite you can set up a cozy reading or napping nook in the trees.

Jack pads © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s in Your RV Tool Kit? 

As you can see, there are many tools that you’ll find helpful in your RV tool kit. Most don’t take up much room but you’ll be glad you have them. Having the appropriate tools can help reduce anxiety and stress, especially in emergencies. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re a weekend RVer, a snowbird, or a full-timer, carrying an RV tool kit is important. But you don’t need to break the bank for the basics. Many of the tools and items noted in this article may be things you have on hand. If you keep them together in a versatile tool kit, you can move them into the RV whenever you travel. Or better yet—simply reach for your RV tool kit when you need to do a project at home.

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

How to Stay Safe When RVing

10 tips for staying safe on RV trips

There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.

If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.

While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.

Predators, drunk drivers, thieves, and scammers are everywhere and breakdowns can and do occur. There are also risks when dealing with nature. Therefore, it’s up to you figure out how you will deal with unhappy situations if they should happen. This article will show you how to do that.

Drive defensively © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Drive defensively

Every person who owns a camper, travel or fifth-wheel trailer, or motorhome should make it a point to learn how to safely drive their travel unit.

You can avoid many mishaps by staying within the posted speed limit, being especially careful when entering and exiting Interstates and secondary highways, taking care when pulling into truck stop fuel islands, and avoiding driving distractions such as texting or trying to read maps while driving your RV.

Even if you do all of these things, you need to remember that the next guy might not be as conscientious as you.

People do stupid things such as putting on makeup, reading maps, talking on cell phones, and trying to balance food or liquids on their laps when they drive. Some are drunk, high, or medicated as well. Others may never have taken the time to learn how to drive big rigs.

No matter the cause, these people are a danger to you and your family so you must remain alert at all times.

If you see someone driving erratically, too slow or too fast, stay as far away from them as you can. Doing this may slow down your arrival time but it can also save your life.

Maintain your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Take care of your vehicles

Repairing and maintaining vehicles is costly and time-consuming. For this reason, many people allow their rigs to fall into disrepair. When this happens, they are no longer safe to drive.

If you cannot afford to take proper care of your RV or tow vehicle you need to find some other way to travel because to do otherwise can bring great harm to you, to your family, and other people as well.

On the other hand, if you take the time to learn how to make minor repairs yourself and check your coach regularly for problems (and fix them quickly), you should be able to safely use your coach for many years.

Checking to see that tires are properly inflated, lights and turn signals are working, brakes are functioning, steps are retracted and antennas are down, and awnings are secured are all simple things you can do that will help you to avoid problems. Also, walk around your RV at each travel stop to ensure that no issues have arisen en route.

Keep a clean campsite an stow belongings when not in use © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Protect your belongings

Many people think campgrounds and RV parks are safe but this isn’t always the case. Most have poor security systems, so it is up to you to take steps to protect your belongings.

It is never OK to leave camping equipment and gear outside of units when you go off to fish, hike, or take part in a variety of other activities.

This is a bad practice because other campers also like to play tourists. This means there might not be anybody left to oversee your belongings when they are gone.

Awkward as it is, the only way for you to make sure your belongings will be there once you return home is to stow them away before you leave.

If you have a safe in your coach, you should use it. If you don’t have one, take your valuables with you.

You may think that locking your doors and windows will protect your things but the truth is that many RVs share the same locking systems. Thus one key can open many doors and windows are fairly easy to open, even when locked.

To resolve this issue, put a dead bolt lock on your entrance door.

You may think you can avoid doing these things by asking a neighbor to watch your things but you don’t know who these people are or who will be visiting them.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Practice safe camping

Camping is one of the best opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, your picture-perfect camping trip can quickly go awry if you’re not careful and prepared. To enjoy your camping trip to the fullest, you need to ensure that everyone on the trip is safe.

When it comes to camping, safety should always be your #1 priority (although having fun is a close second). A camping mishap can quickly turn a great trip into a camping nightmare.

Never assume that stopping points are safe. Many are not. The world has changed a great deal since the days when people could stay overnight in rest areas or camp in unsecured and unguarded areas.

The last thing you want is to head out on your camping trip unprepared for the weather only to be faced with unexpected rain, snow, or even extreme heat and humidity. Weather conditions can be very unpredictable and can change on a dime. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the entire length of your trip before you hit the road.

Not only is extreme weather unpleasant but it can also be dangerous if you’re unprepared and caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The bottom line here is that you should do whatever you can to stay safe and also avoid taking risks if you want a good RV travel experience.

Camp safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. More safe camping tips

When you are inside of a coach, there is only 3 inches of wall protecting you and it doesn’t take much to shoot a bullet through that wall or break through it.

This is why you should do as follows:

  • Only stay overnight in campgrounds or in well populated spots that are monitored regularly
  • Hide your valuables and cash
  • If you do not feel safe in your campsite, drive away and find a better situation
  • If you hear unusual noises in the night, do not step outside to investigate. Instead call the campground manager or 911.
  • Keep windows covered so that outsiders are unable to judge where you are when you’re inside your coach

Remember that things can be replaced, but people cannot.

Prepare for every emergency © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Protect your health

first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, and most pharmacies, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads, and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source of first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

Hike safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Understand nature’s safety issues

Nature is wonderful. People love to go to places that provide peaceful, quiet beauty, and the sense of serenity these areas provide. However, as noted above, going into nature has risks, especially for travelers who normally live in city environments. Therefore, travelers need to understand nature’s risks and be vigilant when faced with them.

8. Prepare for potential problems

One of the best ways to stay safe is to do whatever you can to prepare yourself for potential travel problems.

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped toolbox in the RV (always store on curbside).

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson’s head and flat-bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

9. Create an escape plan

People often get a false sense of security when they look at their recreational vehicles because they give the impression of being solid and safe. But are they?

Do you know how you would react in the event of a blow out, a fire, a rollover, an approaching hurricane or tropical storm, heavy rainfall, severe winds, a flood, or a wildfire? Most people don’t which is why it’s important to take the time to create escape plans and practice using them so that you’ll know what to do in an emergency situation.

Know how to use emergency exits © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Learn how to use emergency RV exits

Every second can be critical if you experience an emergency while RVing. The last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to use an emergency exit window latch or having it stick.

An egress window is large enough to serve as an emergency exit window allowing for easy escape. The windows look like standard windows. However, they open fully to allow you to reach safety.

They should always be labeled with an EXIT label and have red latches that indicate how to open them. Everyone in the RV needs to know where the emergency exit windows are and how to use them.

Emergency exit windows are standard features on just about every RV. Most have at least one but sometimes multiple, emergency exit windows or an exit door.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel safety is important

There are few things as rewarding as taking an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue.

If you use the above methods for protecting your RV travel safety, you should be well prepared for whatever might come your way.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

15 Essential Items You Should Pack When Visiting a National Park

From food to clothing to personal items, here’s what to bring to stay safe and comfortable during your next park visit

National parks give people the opportunity to learn about and explore nature up close. However, visitors often forget these stunning destinations are more than tourist attractions. They’re also wild landscapes with animals, rugged terrains, and intense weather conditions that can all be dangerous if not respected and properly prepared for. 

Weather, region, and elevation are important to consider when packing for a national park trip. Weather can be unpredictable any time of year, so be sure to check the forecast and pack accordingly.

If a trip to a national park is on your road trip itinerary, here are a few items that you should pack to be prepared for weather conditions, hiking trails, pesky bugs, and unexpected situations.

Food and gear

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

1. Water and snacks

Whether you’re exploring for an hour or an entire day, you should always bring water and food or healthy snacks along for your journey. Pack foods that will keep you moving such as nuts and trail mix, fruits and veggies. And you shouldn’t expect these items to be readily available at a moment’s notice. While some parks have food and drinks for sale in certain areas, others have limited (if any) shops or restaurants. You should always stay hydrated and pack enough food to keep yourself fueled throughout the day. 

2. Backpack or waterproof bag

Even for short park trips, you’ll want to bring a backpack or waterproof bag to keep your belongings safe and distribute weight evenly on your back which is especially important when you’re hiking. And if you’re hiking through water or in a rainy environment, a waterproof backpack can help ensure your gear stays dry. 

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Phone charger

Don’t plan on being close to power outlets or other areas where you can charge your phone. Bring a portable or solar charger with you if there’s an emergency and you need to reach out for help. If you’re visiting isolated areas of a park with no cell phone service, you should consider packing some type of GPS beacon for safety. This allows you to reach emergency responders without a cell phone signal.

4. Park map

When you enter the park, grab a map to carry with you during your visit. While maps on your phone and hiking apps are helpful when your phone is charged and there’s cell service, if you’re unable to use your phone, a paper map can help you find attractions and navigate trails. Plus, these can be fun souvenirs to keep track of park visits and the trails you’ve hiked.  

5. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is important year-round. Even on cloudy days, sunscreen will protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Not only does sunscreen help prevent damage to your skin, it also protects from painful, irritating burns that can put a damper on any outdoor activity. 

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Bug spray

Insect repellent is another essential for your packing list. You’ll want to avoid pesky bugs throughout your hiking adventure. Protecting yourself from constant bug bites is key to an enjoyable park experience, from mosquitoes and ticks to biting flies and gnats. Before your visit, research the types of bugs you can expect to encounter and purchase repellents for those specific insects. Not all repellents are made the same, so it’s important to have one on hand that’s formulated to deter the environment you’re visiting. 

7. First aid kit

Be prepared for cuts, scrapes, and blisters with a small first aid kit. Keep a larger one in your RV.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Photo equipment

Of course, you will want to document your trip to the national parks you visit. While you can simply rely on your phone to capture some of the most memorable moments, once you get to the top of that beautiful peak where the sun is setting over the distant horizon, you might wish you had brought along your tripod and D-SLR camera to help you better capture the beauty before you. Some basic photo equipment and a good camera bag won´t add much weight to any pack and will allow you to save for the ages your memories.

TIP: Remember to bring backup batteries and extra memory cards for your camera.

Clothing

9. Hiking boots or comfortable shoes

Come prepared with hiking shoes or boots that are durable and comfortable enough to wear for the duration of your visit. Unless you’re simply driving through the park, you’ll likely be on your feet most of the time. Flip flops, open-toed shoes, and other casual footwear aren’t recommended even if you’re not hiking. You should also consider bringing an extra pair of shoes if you’re walking through wet areas or hiking trails like Zion’s Narrows which requires you to submerse your feet in water for most of the journey. 

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Layers

Elevation change, desert landscapes, cold fronts, and other factors make temperatures fluctuate significantly. Pack an extra warm layer to keep on hand for unexpected temperature drops. This could be anything from a jacket to a thermal shirt depending on where you visit and during what season. While it may not make sense when hiking in the heat during the day, if you become lost or stranded outside after the sun sets, an extra layer could become a vital piece of gear.  

11. Protective hat

Aside from shielding your eyes from glare, a good protective hat will have a brim wide enough to protect your nose, ears, and neck from sunburn. If the temperature is cold, you’ll likely want to wear a beanie or other winter hat to stay warm and protect your head from the sun. In warm or mild climates, you should wear a brimmed or billed hat for sun and bug protection. Hats can be an easy way to prevent ticks and other bugs from disturbing your visit. 

New River Gorge National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Change of clothes

Bring along a change of clothes or store them in your car or a park storage locker (if available). When you’re out in nature, you and your clothes may get wet, muddy, sweaty, or all of the above. Having a spare set of clothes, especially dry socks and shoes can keep you comfortable and your day on track, no matter where you’re headed next. 

Personal items

13. Identification

Keep some form of identification with you especially if you’re traveling solo. If you sustain an injury or become unresponsive, this will help emergency responders identify you and potentially notify your loved ones of the situation. Be sure to store it in a protective case or wallet along with other important personal belongings.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Credit/debit cards

Many parks are going cashless. The idea is that by freeing national park staff from handling and processing cash they can spend more time improving visitor experiences and making park upgrades. So far this year, more than a dozen national park units have opted to go cash-free including Mount Rainier, Badlands, and Crater Lake. That’s on top of various other NPS units including certain monuments, historic sites, lakeshores, and recreation areas which no longer accept cash.

15. Medications

If you take any prescribed medications, keep them with you when possible. From hikes taking longer than expected to long lines at the park entrance, even well-planned itineraries can encounter an obstacle. Having your medications on your person helps keep you safe and provides peace of mind.

Worth Pondering…

I encourage everybody to hop on Google and type in national park in whatever state they live in and see the beauty that lies in their own backyard. It’s that simple.

—Jordan Fisher, American actor and musician

23 Must-Have Items for your RV Roadside Emergency Kit

This list of 23 emergency preparedness items that every RV must have will make sure that you’re set up for success on the road

Anyone who takes a road trip of any distance or duration should be prepared for potential roadside emergencies. But, RVers who tend to travel roads unknown with some frequency while carrying heavy loads in their home-on-wheels need to be well prepared for unexpected events that can occur based on weather, tire blow-outs, and other breakdowns. And they can (and often do!) happen in the most remote areas. This is why having an RV roadside emergency kit is so important.

In today’s post, I’m giving you 23 ideas of things to carry in your RV roadside emergency kit.

A well-equipped roadside emergency kit can save a call for roadside assistance © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What do I mean by RV Roadside Emergency Kit?

To me, an RV roadside emergency kit contains items that one might find a use for in the event of a roadside emergency. The emergency could be anything that leaves you stranded on the side of the road (or anywhere, really) such as a tire blow-out, a mechanical breakdown, a weather event, mudslide, fire, illness—anything that impedes your ability to continue traveling down the road to your destination.

Is a fully stocked roadside emergency kit on board? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are some of the most important things to have in an RV Roadside Emergency Kit?

I’ll preface my list of 23 items by saying that this list is likely to contain numerous items that you already carry in your RV when you travel. That’s great—if you’ve already have the item onboard, check it off your list! You’ll have it when you need it.

However, if you don’t, give some serious thought to whether or not you feel the item belongs in your RV roadside emergency kit.

This list doesn’t cover all potential situations but it’s a list of 23 items that I feel are important to have for emergencies.

1. Road reflectors

A good set of road reflectors is an inexpensive but very important piece of any RV roadside emergency kit. Reflectors are designed to make sure you’re seen along the side of the road before someone is on top of you.

Set your road reflectors a distance ahead of and behind your rig to give oncoming traffic advance warning of your presence. You’re already having a bad day—don’t make it worse!

2. Tools

A basic tool kit is important for every RVer to carry. Your tool kit is likely to already contain the tools that you find most useful and like the rest of us, you probably add to that tool kit from time to time as you complete new repairs and projects. If you’ve been looking to compile your tool kit, you’ll find some ideas in my post, The RV Tool Kit Every RVer Needs

However, the  bare minimum that should be in every RV roadside emergency kit (and every vehicle, for that matter) is a good, durable multi-tool with some basic tools.

What’s in your roadside assistance kit?© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. First-aid kit

You can create your own first-aid kit or buy a pre-made kit but having a first-aid kit on board your RV is an absolute MUST.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

4. Work gloves

A strong pair of work gloves is an important piece of any RV roadside emergency kit to help protect your hands during any emergency mechanical work or tire changing, etc. The last thing anyone needs when they’re stranded roadside is an injury that makes the emergency even more urgent!

A quality pair of work gloves with a good grip will serve you in an endless array of circumstances.

You’ll drive with confidence having a roadside emergency kit on board © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. ​​Spare fuses

A variety of extra fuses that can replace any that have burned out in your RV is an important part of an RV roadside emergency kit.

Depending on which fuse is blown, you could be disabled in some fashion. Being able to replace a blown fuse right there on the spot can be the difference between a very minor headache and a migraine.

6. Air compressor

An air compressor that you can use wherever you are is a fantastic item for any roadside emergency kit.

7. Slime

Also in the tire emergency category, a couple of cans of Slime can repair a punctured tire long enough to get you to a service station where you can deal with the issue.

There are also tire repair kits available but the Slime is more user-friendly and gets the job done.

I don’t recommend using Slime every time your tire goes flat but if you don’t have a roadside assistance plan or you’re so far out in the boonies that they won’t come to help you, the Slime will get you rolling to someplace you can get a more permanent fix.

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Flashlights and headlamps

Chances are good that you’ve already got some good quality flashlights and headlamps onboard the rig but they’re extremely important so we’re including them on this list.

A good flashlight is handy if you’re stranded on a dark roadside, if you need to walk any distance in the dark, and for any work you may try to do on the rig yourself in the dark or in other poor lighting conditions.

Headlamps are fantastic flashlights that leave your hands free for working or carrying items. You’d be amazed at the number of times you’ll pull out a good headlamp when doing a repair or a DIY project.

So…flashlights…whether they’re in your hands or on your head—these are important items for your RV roadside emergency kit!

9. Portable power bank

Having a portable power bank that’s always charged and ready to go is an important asset to any roadside emergency kit.

A fully charged portable battery bank ensures that if your phone runs out of juice, you’ve got a handy way to power it whether you’re walking a distance for help or you have no power available for some other reason.

It’s also important to note that many smartphones/cell phones lose power in the cold. So, if you’re walking in cold weather and are trying to get help using your phone, it can go dead much faster than you’d expect and it won’t reboot until it warms up. This won’t happen if it’s connected to a portable power bank.

10. Jumper cables

No one likes having to jump-start a battery but the day will probably come when you have to. Aside from having the best RV battery under your hood, make sure that you have a set of decent jumper cables. You don’t want to be that person who asks someone for a jump and if they have jumper cables.

Don’t be caught without this inexpensive essential.

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Jump start

You may carry jumper cables in your rig’s basement but a battery jump-start box can get you out of trouble even if you’re in some very tight quarters or if there’s no one around with a vehicle capable of giving you a jump.

These compact boxes usually have an integrated flashlight so you can see to connect it properly and they do an amazing job of jumping even the biggest rigs. They’re also great for charging devices and usually have a USB port or two handy for just this purpose.

12. Reflective vest

If you have to walk in the dark or you’re broken down in traffic and you need to alert oncoming vehicles (by laying out your reflective triangles noted above!) or if you need to direct traffic around an accident, you’ll want to have a reflective vest.

A package of two for two travelers is a great idea so that you’re both equipped to be seen, day or night.

13. Fire extinguishers

This one needs no explanation. If you don’t already have at least one fire extinguisher in your RV, get one TODAY. Depending on the size of your rig, you may want to keep one accessible at the front and a second at the rear or one inside the rig and one in a bay, accessible from the outside.

Fire extinguishers come in various sizes, including small cans without hoses. No matter what, you need to carry a good quality fire extinguisher in your rig because you never know when you’ll need to extinguish a blaze quickly whether in your galley kitchen or during a roadside emergency.

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Safety hammer

Safety hammers allow us to break a window in the event of certain emergency situations. You could use the hammer to break out a window of your own rig in an emergency or to get to someone else who’s been involved in an accident you encounter in your travels.

This safety/emergency hammer has an integrated knife for cutting a seat belt off of someone who needs extrication from the belt to escape the vehicle.

15. Air horn

Air horns are often overlooked as an emergency kit item but they can be extremely helpful in an emergency situation. Not only would an air horn allow you to call attention to yourself if you need help, but if you’ve had an accident that has left your rig precariously positioned in the roadway and you need to alert oncoming traffic, an air horn can be just the item you need while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

16. Electrical tape

There are many uses for electrical tape. But, one example is your rig breaking down on the side of the road, leaving you stranded. You pop the hood and look around, and find that a rodent has apparently set up shop in your engine compartment at some point and has chewed on some wires that are deliciously encased. You use your electrical tape to wrap a section of wire (if you’re lucky), start up the rig, and drive it to the nearest service station.

There are a lot of reasons why electrical tape belongs in your RV roadside emergency kit. Toss some in there today.

17. Collapsible shovel

If your rig gets stuck in sand, mud, or snow, having a small shovel on board can be very helpful.

The ability to dig your self out of a sticky situation is important. A small shovel—especially one that’s collapsible for compact storage—is a great thing to have on hand. (And if you happen to have something like kitty litter on board, don’t be afraid to use that for traction!)

What’s in your roadside emergency kit? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

18. Antihistamine

If you’ve got severe allergies to ANYTHING (nuts, bees, etc.), you should be carrying a prescription epinephrine pen (or Epipen) in your emergency kit.

Even if you don’t have severe allergies, EVERY emergency kit should contain Benadryl or the generic form of diphenhydramine in case anyone on board the RV has an allergic reaction to something.

This antihistamine is inexpensive and everyone should have some on hand because severe allergic reactions can’t wait for a trip to a store (if you can find one open) and if the reaction occurs when your RV is broken down on the side of the road, you’ll have no way to obtain the simple drug that could be the difference between life and death. Always carry antihistamine.

19. Emergency food and water

All roadside emergency kits should contain extra food and water—just in case. You can keep a few gallons of emergency water onboard your RV (accessible from the outside if possible) and you should also have some non-perishable foods on hand.

Specific foods are a matter of personal preference but they should be nutrient-dense and able to be stored in the vehicle or RV even in heat/cold. Store them in a solid container that isn’t accessible to rodents!

Many people keep high-protein bars, organic jerky, or a certain amount of freeze-dried foods onboard at all times.

20. Wheel chocks

If you get stuck or become involved in an accident, your RV may be perilously positioned on an incline or a decline. In an emergency, wheel chocks can be an important part of your kit.

You most likely have some wheel chocks for the purpose of leveling your RV, but if you don’t, a set of these are highly advisable and could be very useful in an emergency.

Ice scraper and snow brush for snowy conditions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. Ice scraper/snow brush

“But we don’t travel where it’s icy or snowy.” We’ve heard that one before! An RV emergency kit means being prepared and a combination snow brush and ice scraper is a good thing to have.

22. Tire pressure gauge

Checking tire pressures before a trip is one of my RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. If you have large RV tires, your tire pressure could be well over 100 psi.

If you have the room, consider buying an air compressor. These can be invaluable if you have tires with high PSI ratings that most gas station pumps won’t work on and for those who like to take their campers off-the-beaten path, the ability to air down and then air your tires backup can be a game changer.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23. Duct tape

Duct tape, gorilla tape, Rhino tape, gaff tape…it doesn’t matter. Just have a strong tape onboard!

I’ve seen Duct tape used to fix just about everything. I also carry Rhino tape.

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

35 Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your RV Road Trip

Here’s a list of little things to remember that make a big difference on the road…

Packing for an RV road trip can be both exciting and overwhelming. With limited space, it’s important to prioritize what items to bring along. And while it’s easy to focus on the big-ticket items, it’s the small things that can often make the biggest difference.

One such example is a tool kit. It may not be a glamorous item but having the right tools on board can make all the difference in a pinch. Whether it’s a loose screw or a minor repair having a tool kit can save you time and money by allowing you to quickly fix the issue without needing to visit a repair shop.

Another important item to consider is a water filter. While most RVs come equipped with a water filtration system, it’s always a good idea to have a spare water filter or even a backup. A portable water filter can ensure that you have access to clean, safe drinking water no matter where you are on your journey.

In summary, it’s important not to overlook the small things when packing for an RV road trip. A tool kit, water filter, and first aid kit can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.

There are at least 35 little things that can make a big difference in your next RV trip!

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

35 Little Things to Remember Before You Hit the Road

I have written in the past about 16 must-have RV trip accessories. However, I am expanding on that post to include other small things.

Just because something is small does not mean it is not important. In order to remember all the things you need for your next camping excursion, you may want to keep a checklist. 

The following are important items that you can add to your list!

1. Basic tool box

It is always a good idea to have a tool kit on hand in your RV. You never know when you might need a screwdriver or wrench or to hit something with a hammer! Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut. To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side). This is definitely one of those things you’ll kick yourself for not having if you end up needing it. 

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Electric Management System

Protect your RV from electrical threats with an electric management system sometimes referred to as a surge protector. That way a power surge or low and high voltage issues will not cause harm to your rig’s electrical system. 

There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV. We’ve had a power surge, situations where pedestals were miswired, and both high and low voltage situations. Fortunately, our Progressive Electric Management System has protected us from all of these situations.

Check out the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard. Both portable units and hardwired units are available.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Water pressure regulator

You do not want your RV’s water system to get damaged or spring a leak! That is why you need a quality water pressure regulator for your RV. It’s an $8 part that will save your plumbing system.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Water filter

Having an RV water filter ensures that you have clean, safe drinking water. A water filtration system cleans out the gross gunk in many campground water hookup systems. 

5. Foldable rake

This little item can be very useful. You never know what the ground cover will be like when camping. Use a rake to even it out. You can also use a foldable rake to put out a fire, clear out a sitting area, or make your RV more level. A foldable shovel is also useful to carry onboard.

6. Portable air compressor

Be prepared. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere with low air or a flat tire especially if you are far away from services! A portable air compressor can pump up your tires if needed to get you out of a jam. It can also help keep your tires properly inflated to ensure they have a longer life. 

A nifty trick is to use your air compressor to dust off picnic tables, BBQs, and other campground fixtures.

7. First aid kit

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, online, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

8. Road atlas: Digital and non-digital

I always recommend keeping a hardcopy road atlas in your RV in case your GPS fails. However, most GPS systems and apps allow you to look up routes ahead of time and download them to your phone. That way, you can still access them even when you do not have cell service. 

9. LED flashlights

Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip. 

10. Long jumper cables

Do not risk being stranded with a dead battery and no jumper cables. Or ones that are too short to reach your RV’s engine. 

Another thing to consider is a jumper starter that can jump-start a rig without needing another vehicle. This may be a good idea for you boondockers out there!

So, make sure to include jumper cables in your Emergency Roadside Kit.

11. Emergency radio

An emergency radio can help you stay in touch with the NOAA Emergency Radio Station in the event of a natural disaster or emergency. They can help you identify fire danger or recovery information for other natural disasters. All in all, it can help keep you and your family safe. 

12. Folding step stool

Whether you need to fix your awning or clean up a spill in a high cabinet, a step stool saves the day. The best part about this stool is that it folds up flat for easy storage. It can easily be stored in an outdoor storage hatch or utility closet inside. It can even be tucked away under a couch or bed if they are elevated above the floor.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Disposable vinyl gloves

Emptying the RV black water tank is probably the most common reason to have disposable vinyl gloves around. But, they can also be used for a variety of other things like cleaning and handling food. Yes, you should absolutely use disposable gloves for sewer tasks.

14. Assorted fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel in a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

15. Duct tape

You probably already know that duct tape can come in very handy around the home. It is no different when you are in your RV! As one person said, “If it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape.” 

Use it to temporarily repair frayed wires, holes or leaks, or hang up holiday decorations. The uses are endless with good ol’ duct tape!

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Space heater

Space heaters are great for warming up an RV. Even though they are small, they are mighty. 

A small electric space heater can quickly warm your RV, keeping you toasty in chilly camping conditions. They are simple to use since all you need is a plug. 

17. Fan

Just like a heater, having a camping fan to keep cool can be make camping that much more enjoyable. Fans are great for cooling you when it is not hot enough to warrant using the air conditioner. 

18. Heavy duty RV dogbone electrical adapters

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals). Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into 30-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source

19. Gorilla tape 

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue and available in several sizes and colors including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

20. Rain gear

Another small thing to keep on hand is rain gear. That way, you can be prepared for any unforeseen downfalls. 

Keep a poncho and rain boots in a closet for rainy days. Here me out on this one… Another great tip is to purchase plastic disposable shower caps to wear over your socks inside your shoes. They can help keep your feet from getting soaked!

Comfortable pillow and bedding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. Comfortable pillow and bedding

Comfort is key to a successful camping trip and that includes a super comfortable pillow. Instead of just grabbing a spare pillow from your house, invest in a good one specifically for your RV.

22. Fly swatter

A fly swatter makes a great addition to your RV. You can quickly rid your space of annoying flying insects. 

23. Mosquito and bug repellent

One downside of being in nature is being around unwanted bugs. While many folks love all of nature’s creatures, most do not want mosquitos and flies bugging them. There are products on the market that will combat pesky bug on your next road trip. You’ll be ready to battle the little buggers on your next camping trip with one of the following deterrants: Thermacell Patio Shield, Yaya Tick Ban, Buzz Away, OFF! Deep Woods Bug Spray, and Citronella candels.

24. Silverware

This one might seem funny to some folks! It certainly won’t be amusing if you forget to pack silverware on your next RV trip.

Stabilizer jack pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

25. Stabilizers

One small item you do not want to go without is stabilizers for your rig! These small pads can help keep your rig level, making your camping experience much more enjoyable. 

Prevent hydraulic or electric jacks from sinking into the ground by using RV stabilizer jack pads. Available in sets of four they are solidly constructed of durable polypropylene with UV inhibitors.

26. Chairs

Sitting back and relaxing on a trip is one of the main reasons I travel! Camping chairs are an absolute must.

27. Spare keys/hidden keys

It’s a VERY GOOD IDEA to make an extra copy of your key and hide it on the outside of your rig using a magnetic hide-a-key. Of course, make sure you hide it in a clever place that won’t easily be discovered by no-do-gooders. I also recommend leaving a spare with a family member that can ship it to you, just in case.

28. Zip ties

Zip ties are convenient, especially while camping. Zip ties are handy to tie up a cord or attach something inside your rig. 

29. Matches or lighter

Nothing is worse than trying to light your stove only to realize you do not have matches or a lighter. Even if you just want some ambiance by lighting a candle, you do not want to learn too late that you cannot burn it. 

30. Paper towels

Camping is messy, and paper towels can help keep you and your rig tidier. Paper towels help clean up spills at home and in your RV. They also make great napkins for those messy BBQ nights when camping. 

31. Can opener

You’d be surprised by how many people forget to pack a can opener! It’s not something you really think about until you stare dumbly at a can and wonder how the heck you will open it.

32. Pot holders

Same as can openers, people often overlook packing pot holders. And, trust me, a double-upped towel doesn’t work as well. Especially if you’re using cast iron! Do your hands a favor, and don’t forget pot holders!

33. Large trash bags

Inside our rig, we use small trash bags or grocery store bags to line trash cans. The 13-gallon trash bags do not always cut it, so we also pick up the large black trash bags from Costco and bring a handful along. And having large trash bags for all the outside debris is really useful. 

You’ll need a corkscrew for most wines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

34. Corkscrew

We all know how catastrophic forgetting a corkscrew can be to some people’s camping trip. Settling in for the evening with a nice glass of wine is a common RVer indulgence. But what do you do if you forget a corkscrew?

35. Dog poop bags

Last, but not least, bring along some dog poop bags. That is, if you travel with a dog, of course.

In addition, these little bags can be handy for other items too. Put raw meat or strong-smelling foods in them before throwing the food in your trash. It can help keep your trash fresher for longer!

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

15 Things to Buy After Getting a New RV

RVing is so much easier when you have the right gear

Congratulations! You just purchased your first RV. That sense of accomplishment, excitement, and joy is mixed in with “What the heck did I just do?” Now it’s time to get those 15 things you have to buy after getting a new trailer or motorhome.

The call of the road is stronger than ever and you’re ready to hit the gas pedal. You bought a camper, now you need to prepare for the road.

Your wallet may feel like it’s smoking from the large amount of money you just spent on your RV, but now you have some essential gear you’ll need to purchase. The good part is the amount of money you need to complete your travel trailer supply checklist is like adding a few sticks to the fire, not another gas can.

To make this as painless as possible, I’ve put together an organized list for first-time RV owners on what you should keep in your recreational vehicle of choice. You don’t need to wait until you have your RV this is what you need to know before buying an RV concerning essential gear.

Sewer hose and attachment © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What comes with a new RV

If your sales representative was good at their job, they did a complete walkthrough of your new RV. We hope you came prepared with your own version of an RV checklist to make sure everything is in proper working order. You may be asking yourself, “Do new RVs come with sewer hoses?” or other questions about essential gear.

RV dealerships may have a “new owner’s kit” or some other goodies they give to their customers but there’s no such requirement. If they do offer basic hoses, they may be too short or poorly made.

You’ll either want to walk into their parts department, take a ride over to a camping supply store, or go home and jump on Amazon to find the best RV gadgets.

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

Essential supplies checklists

1. Hoses

There are a few different hoses you’ll need. If you’ve seen that movie with Robin Williams, we promise the real versions are a lot more sanitary.

Sewer hose: A high-quality sewer hose is essential to avoid any unpleasant leaks or malfunctions. I prefer the Camco RhinoFLEX kit that includes a 15-foot hose, a fitting that connects to your RV sewer outlet, an adapter that fits any sewer connection, and storage caps for each end. The durable hose is reinforced with steel wire so you can shape it as needed. Also, carry a 10-foot extension—you’ll be glad you did.

See-through sewer hose attachment © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sewer hose attachments: There are various attachments that make the draining process easier. One type connects to the end of the hose to create a good seal to the dump station. Another is a clear plastic elbow that lets you monitor the flow.

Disposable protective gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Protective gloves: There are two schools of thought to keep your hands clean. Some like to use rubber gloves that can be washed while others prefer disposable latex gloves they can throw out after each use.

Water hose: RV potable water hoses are lead and BPA-free. I recommend traveling with two hoses since you never know how far your RV will be parked from a city water connection. This hose looks like a garden hose but it’s white in color instead of green. The interior of the hose is lined to keep it sanitary for drinking.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heated water hose: A heated RV water hose is required for winter camping. This product will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. These hoses cost $100 or more depending mostly on length but will save you a lot in frozen pipes. A heated hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Some brands are rated to keep water flowing at minus 40 degrees.

Water pressure gauge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water pressure guage: This brass attachment connects between the campground’s shore connection and your water hose. It protects your RV’s plumbing system from receiving too much water pressure. It only takes one situation for your water lines to blow.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water filters: RV water filters probably aren’t the first thing to leap to mind when you’re contemplating everything you need before you hit the road in an RV. But water flavor and quality can be variable when you’re camping. The goal of an RV water filter is to remove sediment (like dirt and sand) and other unwanted contaminants from your RV’s water supply.

Campground water quality is all over the map and that goes double if you’re getting your water elsewhere like an unknown water tap at a truck stop. There are two main categories of RV water filters you can use. One is an exterior RV water filter that goes between the spigot and the RV’s fresh water tank. The other is an interior drinking water filter that goes between the fresh water tank and the faucet used for drinking water.

Progressive electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Electric

Most RVs come with electric cords that plug directly into shore power. There are additional things you’ll need to hook in correctly.

Electrical protectors: There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.

What exactly are you protecting your RV from when you use an electrical protection device? It’s much more than power surges which we typically associate surge protectors with. Surges are actually the least common problem with RV electricity. An RV typically has a lot of sensitive electronic circuitry in it and having steady power is crucial to keeping these components from having an early funeral. Failure of components like AC units, refrigerators, washer/dryer, and computers plugged into a wall outlet can be very expensive to replace. You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable or hardwired units.

Extention cord: Sometimes you may have to park your RV further away from the utility box than your cord can reach. You’ll want the same amp extension cord that your unit comes with (30 or 50 amp).

Power adapters: Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals). Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source

Fuse kit: Pickup a set of fuses that handle different amperages. Each color represents a different level of current. They’ll work for your automotive and coach systems.

Stabiiizer jack pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. RV jacks

Using your jacks on grass or dirt can be problematic. You may start out level but as you move around in your RV they may start to sink into the ground.

Stablilizer jack pads: Prevent hydraulic or electric jacks from sinking into the ground by using RV stabilizer jack pads. Available in sets of four they are solidly constructed of durable polypropylene with UV inhibitors.

Jack blocks: Jack blocks work like Lego to give your jacks a higher surface to sit on. They are useful if your jacks can’t reach the ground. Interlocking for convenient storage they are available with a handy strap.

Tire chocks: If you’re on an incline, tire chocks prevent your RV from rolling. Use these first, and of course make sure your brakes are set. Always use with travel and fifth-wheel trailers.

Bubble levels: Putting bubble levels on your trailer will help you with the leveling process. Higher-end travel trailers and motorhomes use auto-leveling systems that won’t require the use of bubble levels.

4. Toilet

Your RV’s bathroom doesn’t need to smell like a state fair’s port-a-john. Using the proper tools can keep your RV bathroom smelling fresh and toilet clog-free. Preventive maintenance isn’t that difficult but you do want to keep up with it.

Black tank chemical: This chemical comes in your choice of liquid, powder, and packets. A weekly treatment poured down your toilet is all you need to prevent odors and proper breakdown of waste. An an alternative to commercial products you can use Dawn dish soap.

RV toilet paper: Toilet paper designed for RVs are designed to breakdown in black holding tanks. Most residential toilet papers are too thick and will create clogs.

5. Emergency kit

Nobody wants to think about it, but emergency kits are one of those items you want stocked and ready to go. There are still places take hours or days for emergency services to reach. Making sure you’re safe if a disaster strikes is essential.

Road Side Kit: A good quality kit will have hazard signs, flares, jumper cables, and tow cables. You may not find an all-in-one kit with everything you need, so you’ll probably have to piece it together yourself.

First Aid and Survival Kit: You’ll want more than just band-aids and gauze. Good quality first aid kits have everything you need for almost any situation. You’ll also want survival items like matches (waterproof matches if possible) and freeze-dried food for a couple of days. Your freshwater tank will be your source of water, so use it sparingly.

6. Tool kit

Every RVer should have a basic knowledge of D.I.Y. repair. A couple of quick YouTube videos will show you travel trailer dos and don’ts in basic RV repair. Your tool kit should have the following items:

  • Hammer
  • Set of screwdrivers with flat and Phillips heads
  • Set of Allen wrenches
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Drill (if it’s cordless, have at least two batteries where one is fully charged)
  • Drill bits, screwdriver bits, and bits that fit your jacks
  • Heavy duty tire gauge
  • Two (or more) flashlights (preferably one wearable one to keep your hands free)
  • Small tube of silicone caulk
  • Work gloves
  • Rhino, duct, electrical, and masking tape (If you don’t know why, watch a couple of episodes of the Original Macgyver)

7. Generator

If your RV doesn’t have a factory-installed generator, it’s always a good idea to invest in a good one. There are many affordable options that are relatively quiet. This way you’ll have a power source when you’re dry camping or in a power outage.

Pack supplies for your pets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Pet supplies

If you’re one of the over 65 percent of RVers that bring your pet with you having separate pet supplies just for the RV is a great way to avoid forgetting something. Outside safety equipment like leashes, latching devices, and outside toys will make their RV adventure a fun time. If your coach doesn’t have a built-in dog station I recommend a dog dish with a collar to prevent messes.

9. Back up camera

If you have a motorhome, you’ll already have a backup camera. Most towables now come prepped and wired with backup camera brackets. This camera makes traveling and parking easier.

10. Kitchen supplies

RV kitchen must-haves are essential. Having cookware, dishware, cutlery, and other kitchen items separate from your home make it less complicated when you’re getting ready to leave for your camping trip. Camping accessory manufacturers make these items specifically for camping to hold up to the conditions of camping.

RV mattresses come in different sizes © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Linens

RV mattress sizes can be different than residential sizes. Queen mattresses come in short, three-quarters, and other near residential measurements. Sheets, towels, and a portable laundry basket designated for your RV will keep your home linens from degrading too quickly.

12. Outdoor furniture

Picnic tables are good to use but they aren’t that relaxing. Having a mat at your entry will help you keep the dirt outside. Folding tables, folding lounge chairs, and other outdoor furniture will help you make the most of the outdoor camping experience.

Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Cleaning supplies

Camping and dirt go hand-in-hand. Vacuums, laundry detergent, and cleaning wipes should always be in a cabinet. Many veteran RVers like to use Dawn dish soap because of its many uses to clean other items besides dishes.

14. Internet service

Pretty much everything we do these days, we do online—so if you’re going to be spending significant time in an RV, internet is an essential. The bad news is, there’s no one easy answer to this question. Staying connected will depend on where and how you camp and what kind of surfer you are. But that bad news is also good news because it means there are plenty of ways to secure internet for your RV, which means you’re bound to find an option that will work for you. Here are the basic options for RV internet:

  • Public WiFi
  • DSL or Cable
  • Cellular data 
  • Satellite
  • Starlink

15. RV insurance

The last and most important thing is RV Insurance. RV insurance is different than car insurance. That’s why motorhomes, travel trailers, and campers need custom coverage. RV insurance gives you many of the same benefits you get with car insurance coverage but includes more protection based on the unique risks that RVs face.

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

The Deadliest National Parks in America & Tips on Staying Safe

More than 2,000 visitors died in national parks across the US from 2014 to 2021

Millions of people visit America’s national parks each year exploring the stunning terrain and breathtaking wildlife and some don’t make it back home.

Unfortunately, some of those parks can be more dangerous than others.

Based on available mortality and visitor data from the National Park Service (NPS), five parks were found to be the deadliest.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Washington State’s North Cascades National Park has the highest mortality rate at 0.004 percent with nine deaths between 2014 and 2021. Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park & Preserve came in second, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Reserve was third, Fort Bowie National Historic Site was fourth and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site rounded out the top five.

According to the most recent data released by NPS over 2,000 visitors died in national parks between 2014 and 2021.

Despite the proximity to wildlife and overall freedom to traverse sometimes dangerous terrains the leading cause of death with the exception of fatalities deemed “undetermined” was motor vehicle crashes which accounted for 415 deaths over eight years. Following crashes were drownings (402) and medical-related deaths (385).

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

Alternatively, deaths caused by wildlife or animals were among the rarest—only five were reported between 2014 and 2021.

Two of those deaths occurred at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Reserve in 2020. While details about individual deaths in the NPS report are limited records show a 22-year-old Ohio hunter was killed by a grizzly bear in September of that year while he was field-dressing a moose he had harvested a day earlier.

Another animal-related death happened at Yellowstone National Park in 2015 when a 63-year-old Montana man was killed by a female grizzly bear. NPS didn’t release details as to why the attack happened but said the bear was euthanized and her two cubs were taken to a facility.

 As expected, some of the most visited parks have reported among the highest deaths.

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

Topping out the list is Lake Mead National Recreation Area at 145 where the single most common cause of death was drowning. Of the 385 drownings reported in national parks between 2014 and 2021, 47 happened at Lake Mead, the most of any park.

The second most deadly national park was Grand Canyon National Park which reported nearly 100 deaths over the eight-year period. Though it’s known for its panoramic cliff edges overlooking steep canyon walls, falls were not the leading cause of death in the frequently visited park. Instead, nearly half of the deaths at the Grand Canyon were listed as medically related.

Some of those deaths are likely caused by the heat hikers experience in the park. Officials often warn hikers to stay hydrated, rest in the shade, and hike during the cooler parts of the day.

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

These five national parks reported the most fatalities between 2014 and 2021:

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area: 145 deaths with drowning the leading cause (47)
  • Grand Canyon National Park: 97 deaths with medical issues the leading cause (48)
  • Yosemite National Park: 94 deaths with medical issues the leading cause (33)
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 80 with a motor vehicle crash the leading cause (29)
  • Natchez Trace Parkway: 74 with a motor vehicle crash the leading cause (62)

Proportionally, based on the available mortality data and visitor data from NPS (not every park is listed in the mortality report and not every park tracks visitors), far less than 1 percent—technically, less than 0.0002 percent—of visitors died within national parks.

North Cascades National Park has the highest mortality rate at 0.004 percent reporting nine deaths and over 220,500 visitors during the same time period. Those deaths include three falls, two motor vehicle crashes, two environmentally-related deaths, a medical death, and an undetermined cause of death.

Hiking trail at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Based on death-to-visitor rate, these are the five deadliest parks:

  • North Cascades National Park: 9 deaths; 220,547 visitors with a 0.0040808 percent death rate
  • Lake Clark National Park: 4 deaths; 132,637 visitors with a 0.0030157 percent death rate
  • Wrangle-St. Elias National Park: 11 deaths; 523,239 visitors with a 0.0021023 percent death rate
  • Fort Bowie National Historic Site: 1 death; 69,942 visitors with a 0.0021023 percent death rate
  • Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site: 1 death; 85,621 with a 0.0011679 percent death rate

The five parks with the most fatalities all have death rates below 0.0003 percent.

Many of these injuries are easily avoidable by following basic park safety tips.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10 National Park Safety Tips

The following park safety tips can keep you safe on your trip.

1. Be careful in water

The first park safety tip applies to all parks with bodies of water. Follow signs or advisories regarding water safety in the area. Lifeguards are not present at all national park swimming areas. Being a strong swimmer does not guarantee that you will not drown; in many cases, this is a false sense of security that has placed visitors in dangerous circumstances. A properly fitted life jacket can help you float in water while you wait for help to arrive.

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Bring emergency supplies

Safety does not only rely on your actions during an event but also the actions you take before the event occurs. Here is a list of some items you can bring to limit potential danger:

  • Map and/or compass: Navigation systems are used when planning your route before your trip and when you need help orienting yourself in your surroundings during your activity.
  • First-aid kit: Be prepared for emergencies by packing medical care supplies. Check the expiration date on all items and replace them as needed.
  • Tent, blanket, or tarp: Shelter is one of the most important elements during an emergency survival situation. It can protect you from severe weather conditions and exposure to the elements. These are all lightweight options for emergency shelter.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bring weather-appropriate supplies

Always keep in mind that the weather can change drastically at a moment’s notice. You should bring supplies not only based on the current temperature but also the potential change in the weather. Sunglasses and sunscreen are necessary to protect your skin and eyes against harsh UV rays that are responsible for sunburns and skin cancer. Gloves, and rain jackets are also good to have in the event of a cold or rainy change in weather.

4. Do not interact with wildlife

It is illegal to feed, touch, tease, frighten, or intentionally disturb wildlife. Interacting with wildlife can cause harm to both people and wildlife including injury and disease. Stay on trails to help keep human presence in predictable areas.

5. Do not take risks

It can be tempting to take risks for a good picture or even just for thrills. However, it is not worth the danger especially considering the potential difficulty in retrieving and transporting you to a medical facility. A lack of caution may result in serious injury. Check park alerts for information on closures and other hazards in the park. Also, you should always remain on the safe side of barriers and railings.

Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Obey signs and flyers

One of the simplest park safety tips is to follow signs. By following any signs, flyers, or advisories provided by the park you will prevent damage to the surrounding vegetation and erosion. Some signs may display park rules or directions to ensure visitor safety.

7. Remain on marked trails

Trails are marked for a reason. Diverting from marked trails is irresponsible and harmful to the environment. As stated in a previously mentioned park safety tip, it is important to travel through marked trails to keep human presence in predictable areas.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Stay hydrated

The average person drinks needs to drink one quart of water per hour while hiking on a hot day. Therefore, it is crucial to be prepared and bring plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Although the park may have natural sources of clean, potable water, most springs and water sources along the trails are unprotected and susceptible to contamination. For this reason, all water should be purified before drinking it except for developed water fountains and marked water spigots within the park.

9. Store food properly

Storing your food properly is a park safety tip that has life-saving effects for humans as well as animals. Depending on which national park you visit, regulations differ for how best to store your food. Not following park regulations for food storage can result in fines, confiscation of food, or other penalties to protect visitors, property, and bears. It is helpful to choose foods that are compact, compressible, and lacking in strong odors. Bear-resistant containers only work if they are closed and locked.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Tell someone where you are going

The last of the park safety tips is to let your emergency contacts know where you are heading.

Whether you are going on a day hike or exploring the wilderness, it is imperative to let someone know where you will be going and how long you expect to be gone. Some parks will also have check-in policies. Therefore, let park rangers in the visitor center know your plans before setting off. Anything can happen so it is helpful to have others know where you are at all times.

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin