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

23 Pros and Cons of the RV Lifestyle in 2024

Welcome to my article about the pros and cons of the RV lifestyle! If you’re considering a life on the road or are just curious about the benefits of RV living, you’re in the right place.

I’ve compiled a list of 23 reasons why the RV lifestyle can be an amazing experience and 23 reasons it can be challenging.

This is the time of year people are making plans and becoming an RV nomad is an option many are exploring whether for full-time RV living, snowbird lifestyle, or as weekend warriors and vacation escapes whenever they can get away.

But, like everything in life, there are pros and cons to consider.

From increased freedom and flexibility to the opportunity to spend more time in nature there are so many advantages to living in an RV.

And there are lots of challenges or cons that are involved, too.

So while for many of us, it can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, it’s important to be aware of the RV living challenges you may face along the way.

In this article, I’ll explore 23 reasons why the RV lifestyle may be for you and 23 reasons why it might not!

Let’s start with the positive reasons to embrace the RV lifestyle.

Lower Colorado Potash Scenic Byway near Moab, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23 RV lifestyle pros

From increased freedom and flexibility to the opportunity to spend more time in nature, there are so many advantages to living in an RV that it’s hard to list just 23. Dania and I have been living the RV snowbird lifestyle for 25+ years and on every new adventure we find a new benefit.

We can confidently say from experience that whether you’re a digital nomad looking to work remotely, a senior seeking new adventures, or a family looking to bond and create lasting memories, the RV lifestyle has something to offer for everyone.

So read on to learn more about the numerous benefits of this unique and exciting way of life.

Freedom to travel and explore new places at your own pace has to be the very top benefit of the RV lifestyle on almost everyone’s list. Wanderlust lovers find a unique fulfillment in this lifestyle.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Ability to live a minimalist lifestyle and declutter (or sell) your home. Life today can be complicated. The RV lifestyle forces you to do with less—and that can be a good thing.

2. An opportunity to meet new people and make lasting friendships. If you are a warm and friendly person you will come into contact with so many new people with different backgrounds that your life will be greatly enriched.

3. Ability to spend more time outdoors and in nature. In an RV, you can live right in the middle of God’s awesome creation.

4. Flexibility to work remotely or take extended vacations. Thanks to technology with many jobs you can now work from anywhere your RV is parked. All you need is good Internet and technology keeps improving those connection speeds.

5. Potential to save money on housing and other expenses (notice I said potential). If you budget wisely and can do some basic maintenance and repairs yourself and like to camp off the grid, you can indeed save money.

6. Increased family bonding and quality time spent together.

7. Ability to travel with pets and have them with you at all times.

8. Potential to save money on transportation costs by driving your home with you. Fuel prices have been on a roller coaster lately but for those who work from home, there’s no commute time because your home is your RV.

8. Ability to enjoy a variety of different destinations and climates in one trip. Don’t like the weather? Hitch up and head to somewhere where it’s nice.

9. Opportunity to try out different locations and see where you might want to settle down. Many use an RV to explore the country to find the perfect spot where they can put down permanent roots someday.

Daytona Beach, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Increased sense of adventure and spontaneity in your daily life—–trust me on this, it’s NEVER boring!

11. Ability to have all your belongings with you at all times rather than relying on storage or shipping. You learn to minimize. That is very freeing.

12. Greater sense of control over your living environment and surroundings. Home is where you park it. That’s the ultimate in freedom.

13. Ability to customize and personalize your RV to fit your needs and preferences. It’s so much easier to redecorate an RV than a house or apartment.

14. Opportunity to learn new skills such as basic vehicle maintenance and camping techniques. RV owners tend to be much more self-reliant than non-RVers.

15. Potential to reduce your environmental impact by using a smaller, more efficient living space.  We have a small house but a big yard.

16. Increased physical activity and outdoor recreation opportunities. RVers tend to be fitter and healthier than non-RVers because they do much more.

17. Ability to be self-sufficient and live off the grid if desired. Thanks to solar power and things like lithium batteries, it’s possible to actually be energy independent in an RV.

18. Potential to save money on entertainment by dining out by cooking and enjoying meals in your RV. Most serious RVers prefer cooking their own meals because they usually are camped well out of town.

19. Increased appreciation for the simple things in life. There’s truth in the saying, “Less is more.”

20. Ability to disconnect from the distractions and stresses of daily life and focus on what matters most—time with loved ones, being connected to nature, slowing down, and de-stressing.

21. Opportunity to create lifelong memories and experiences with your loved ones.

22. Opportunity to experience regional culture and cuisine. You can do a deep-dive into any given region. Find all the hidden treasures and sites often overlooked by vacationers. The slower pace is one of the most advantageous aspects of RV living.

23. Spend money on experiences, not things. The final advantage of living in an RV is that you can spend your money on experiences rather than on things. You will be making memories every day that will last a lifetime.

Bernheim Forest south of Louisville, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

23 RV lifestyle cons

While the RV lifestyle can certainly be an exciting and fulfilling experience, it’s important to be aware of the RV living challenges that you may face along the way. From limited space and amenities to maintenance and budgeting many aspects of the RV lifestyle can be challenging to navigate.

This was a hard list to compile. Almost all of these RV lifestyle cons can be overcome. However some personality types don’t do well with new challenges and problems. There is a learning curve to the RV lifestyle.

So in this section, I’ll explore 23 common RV living challenges that people may encounter while living in an RV. I’ll also suggest how you can overcome them.

Whether you’re a seasoned RV enthusiast or a newcomer to the lifestyle these challenges are worth considering before hitting the road.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Park, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Limited space. RVs can be cramped and may not have as much storage or living space as a traditional home.

2. Hooking up utilities. Setting up and connecting utilities including water, electricity, and sewer can be challenging and time-consuming. Then there’s the unpleasant task of dumping the black tank.

3. Maintenance. RVs require regular maintenance such as checking and replacing fluids, cleaning and inspecting the exterior and interior, and performing routine upkeep. Things will break. When you are driving down the road, your RV is going through the equivalent of a 4.0 earthquake!

4. Driving and maneuvering. Operating an RV is more challenging than driving a car especially when it comes to parking, backing up, and navigating tight spaces. In heavy traffic or on congested city streets you will need to be extra alert and careful.

5. Weather and road conditions. RVs can be affected by adverse weather conditions and rough roads which can make traveling more difficult.

6. Finding campsites. It can be difficult to find campsites or RV parks that are suitable and available, especially during peak travel seasons.

7. Limited privacy. RVs often have thin walls and limited privacy which can be challenging for people who value their personal space. In campgrounds, your neighbors may be parked just 10 feet away!

8. Limited amenities. Some RV parks and campsites can be somewhat rundown and may not have all the amenities that a person is used to such as laundry facilities, dog runs, level spots, and reliable Wi-Fi.

9. Limited resources. Most RVs do not have the same resources as a traditional home such as a full-size fridge or freezer, an oven, or a dishwasher. Closet and storage space can be limited.

Elephant Butte State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Budgeting. The cost of purchasing, insuring, and maintaining an RV as well as paying for campsites and fuel can be expensive and requires careful budgeting. That old saying Count the cost before embarking on such a change in life is very true regarding finance.

11. Limited access to certain areas. Some roads and areas may be inaccessible to RVs due to their size or weight restrictions. You will want to carefully plan routes to be sure overpass and bridge clearances on secondary roads will safely let your RV pass beneath.

12. Limited socialization. The RV lifestyle can be isolating at times as people may not have the same opportunities to socialize or participate in community activities as they would in a traditional neighborhood. Each time you move camp and set up somewhere else you will have to adjust to a new community. If you are socially awkward, this can be a challenge.

13. Separation from family and friends.The RV lifestyle may involve spending long periods of time away from family and friends which can be challenging for people who value close relationships. You will need to find new ways to stay in touch like FaceTime or Zoom. You will want to plan for regular trips back home for in-person visits.

14. Limited access to healthcare. Some areas may not have adequate healthcare facilities or services which can be challenging for people who require regular medical care. Telemedicine for travelers can help a lot.

15. Limited internet and phone service. Some remote areas may not have reliable internet or phone service which can be a challenge for people who need to stay connected for work or personal reasons.

16. Limited access to groceries and other supplies. It can be difficult to find groceries and other supplies in some areas especially if you are traveling to remote or rural locations.

17. Limited access to entertainment. Depending on where you are traveling you may have limited access to entertainment options such as movie theaters, concerts, or sporting events.

18. Dealing with breakdowns and emergencies, RVs can and will break down and you will experience the same emergencies and other issues that happen in everyday life while you are on the road. Dealing with them in unfamiliar new locations can be stressful and costly.

19. Escalating fuel costs. This has become a major concern and a dealbreaker in recent months for many new fulltime RVers especially those on a fixed income.

20. Limited pet-friendly options. It can sometimes be difficult to find pet-friendly RV parks or campsites which can be a challenge for people who travel with pets.

21. Limited accessibility. Some RVs may not be accessible for people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions as they may not have features such as ramps or handrails.

22. Limited vehicle options. RVs come in various sizes and styles but some people may have difficulty finding an RV that meets their needs or preference.

23. Adjusting to a different way of life. The RV lifestyle is a significant change from living in a traditional home and it may take some time for people to adjust to a different way of living. This can be challenging for some people who are used to a certain routine or way of life.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Central Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There you have it—23 pros and 23 cons of the RV lifestyle!

Consider using these two lists as a checklist. Which of these is more important to you? Sort through them and find your own way of managing them.

Which of these would you rather spend $200 on?

Going on an all-day whale watching trip which includes sightings of multiple bears and cubs searching for eels along the beach, sightings of numerous humpback whales and porpoises, dozens of different species of sea birds, and the star of the show, the orcas, which are everywhere. All the while the captain is narrating a captivating story of the wildlife and the native cultures that are intrinsically woven around that wildlife. Oh yeah, and the trip includes lunch. 

OR 

Buying a new table lamp or wall hanging depicting sea life!

Where to next?

Explore Arizona with my RV adventure guide:

Worth Pondering…

If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved.

—Maurice Chevalier

Tips on How to Get Better Fuel Mileage in Your RV

Here’s advice on how to get better fuel mileage in your RV

With fuel prices skyrocketing across the country, you may be concerned about your next big road trip. And rightly so! You may not know this but the average RV is driven about 5,000 miles each year. For us, it’s somewhat more.

Some rigs get only 5-7 miles per gallon (mpg) while other more fuel-efficient models can get up to 18-25 mpg. This is important because gas mileage efficiency can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your RV (and maybe even on one long, road trip).  

How you drive and take care of your RV can have a big effect on how much fuel you use.

Class A motorhome in northern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The cost of RV driving

Most RVs average about 10 mpg. If you have not calculated your RV’s mpg or have an upcoming trip that you would like to prepare for, you may find this helpful:

Check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer says your mpg is. 

Google the average cost of fuel in the area you are traveling. This matters because the fuel price is much higher in California and Washington than it is in Texas and Louisiana

Map out your entire route in miles.

Divide the total number of miles by the mpg of your RV. Then multiply that number by the average cost of gas in the region you’ll be traveling in. 

Class C motorhome on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Getting better fuel mileage in your RV

RVs are perfect for road trips but they can consume a lot of fuel. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your RV’s fuel efficiency. Here are 13 tips to help you get more out of the fuel you buy.

1. RV size/weight

One of the most obvious ways to increase your fuel efficiency is by purchasing a smaller RV. If you want a better mpg, you need to go smaller and lighter.

On average, class A motorhomes will get about 6-13 mpg. Class B motorhomes will average approximately 18-20 mpg. And Class C rigs usually average 10-15 mpg. To learn more, read Meet the RVs: Find the Right RV Class for Your Travel Style.

If you already own an RV and don’t want to purchase a different one, there are other things you can do. We’ll cover those other options in just a bit.

Diesel Pusher at Sea Breeze RV Park in Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Consider diesel

You can choose to a diesel engine in any class and see some fuel savings. Overall, diesel provides about a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared to regular gasoline engines. 

Diesel engines do require considerably more oil than gas engines, though. So there’s an added expense there. But you only need to change the oil once a year or every 15,000 miles compared to every 6 months with a gas engine. Also, the initial cost of a diesel motorhome will be higher than a comparable gas engine.

3. Trip planning

Plan ahead. Trip routes matter! You get better fuel mileage on highways than on winding backroads. If you’re trying to maximize fuel efficiency, select a route that avoids gusty winds and intersections as much as possible. Google Maps has a setting for this. It’ll show a little leaf next to the most fuel-efficient route when presenting your route options.

Many other apps, however, try to route you to your destination in the shortest way possible. But sometimes, these routes can have increased stops or mountainous roads. Some routes may be slightly longer but can save you fuel because you can drive smoothly and at a steady speed. 

Do the little research before you go!

Motorhomes at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. RV maintenance 

Be sure to stay current on your RV maintenance. A dirty air filter can decrease your fuel efficiency by about 10 percent. A faulty oxygen sensor can be even more damaging by cutting your gas mileage by up to 40 percent. 

By staying on top of your rig’s regular maintenance, you can avoid any hidden gas zappers. 

I have a few helpful articles on maintenance:

5. Towing weight

The heavier weight of your RV, items that you pack, and any tow vehicles can affect your mileage. Avoid carrying items you don’t need. In other words, the heavier your rig, the less mileage you can get. This also goes for vehicles (toads) that you may be towing. 

Check air pressure every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Maintain the correct tire pressure

Maintaining your RV’s tire pressure can profoundly affect your fuel mileage. Properly inflated tires can boost your RV fuel efficiency by up to 3 percent. 

There’s usually a sticker in your door frame that shows what tire pressure you should use. Or, check your user’s manual. 

Don’t fill your tires based on the psi number on your tires! That’s the maximum pressure your tires can hold, NOT the recommended pressure for your vehicle.

By the way, you should always check your tire pressure when the tires are cold, not after driving. And be sure to check the psi on EVERY travel day.

7. Check your oil

Keeping your oil at the recommended level for your vehicle helps maintain the efficiency of your engine. When your engine runs smoother, your fuel efficiency increases.

Keep your oil between the minimum and maximum marks on the oil dipstick to maintain your RV’s performance. 

8. Watch your speed

Maintaining a steady speed and keeping that speed below the maximum for the road you’re traveling on can help with your fuel mileage. Driving too fast can cause your engine to be overworked, needlessly using fuel. 

The greatest improvement comes with slowing down. The difference between 65 and 70 mph is surprisingly dramatic.

Overall, slowing down and maintaining a steady speed can prevent you from braking and repeatedly accelerating which also zaps your fuel. 

Balance the weight in your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Balance matters

RV owners can improve fuel economy by optimizing their RV’s weight distribution. Heavy items should be closer to the floor and RV owners should try to distribute their weight to balance front to rear and side to side. 

10. Don’t idle excessively

An idling engine can eat up a ton of your fuel. If you make a stop that will last more than a few minutes, you’ll want to turn off your engine. 

You also want to try and avoid hitting rush hour traffic in the cities through which you are driving. Not only will it save fuel but it will be less stressful.

Avoiding idling not only saves you money on wasted gas but over time it can also save wear and tear on your engine. 

11. Mind your air conditioner

Another tip for increasing your fuel economy is to mind your A/C. Turning off the air conditioner and changing the A/C filters can also save you money. 

Running the A/C adds strain to your engine especially when you are traveling at lower rates of speed. That strain equates to more fuel usage. In addition, replacing your A/C filters can reduce that strain on your engine and increase your fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. 

That might not seem like much, but combined with all of these other tips, a vast gas-saving!

Tear drop trailer in RV park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Avoid rough terrain

Avoiding rough roads can also end up saving you money in the end. That is because unnecessary braking and acceleration can sap your gas. 

Scan the roads for hazards, drive slowly, and use highways or smoother and well-maintained roads as much as possible. 

Fifth-wheel trailer at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Keep track of your fuel economy

A drop in your vehicle’s fuel economy can be a sign of engine trouble. Keep track of your fuel economy by noting the odometer reading and the number of gallons purchased each time you fill up. To calculate your fuel mileage, divide the number of miles traveled between fill-ups by the number of gallons purchased.

By following these few simple steps, you can prolong the life of your RV’s engine and save money on fuel and maintenance costs. Overall, being a smarter driver can make your RV lifestyle less expensive and more enjoyable. 

We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite Go-To places―places that draw us back again and again.

Arizona is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter. 

That’s why I wrote these five articles:

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

The Danger of Underinflated RV Tires

Do not drive with underinflated RV tires! I have some critical advice to save you lots of grief.

One of the most important but neglected parts of your RV: your tires. There is nothing more frightening than having a tire blow out while you are driving at highway speeds. Studies show that more than 30 percent of us drive with underinflated RV tires.

In an RV it is dangerous!

Maintaining proper tire pressure in your RV should always be a top priority but with summer underway, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your tires. The dangers of underinflated tires include increased risk for tire blowouts which in turn can cause you to lose control of your RV and potentially cause harm to your vehicle and other drivers on the road.

Not the way to care for your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What causes a tire blowout

There are a variety of reasons that an RV could experience a tire blowout but almost every cause for blowout can be traced back to the condition of the tire and whether or not it was properly inflated. In the summer, drivers have a tendency to underinflate tires, knowing that heat causes air to expand. This approach makes sense; however, in order to keep your tire pressure at a safe level, tires should always be inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications.

When tires are underinflated there is undue stress put on the internal components—the fabric, steel, rubber, etc. The extra heat of summer along with the low air pressure can cause these internal components to snap and break. If your RV tires are already weak or in poor condition, then you’re at an even greater risk for experiencing a blowout during the summer months.

Another cause of tire blowout includes overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have the capacity for. Overloading your vehicle poses its own set of dangers and puts too much pressure on your tires. As I discussed above, too much pressure paired with too much heat spells out disaster.

Potholes, uneven driving surfaces, and sharp debris left in the road can also cause RV drivers to experience a tire blowout. A pothole can cause an underinflated tire to explode if hit at just the right angle. When driving your RV you need to keep a lookout for potholes, debris, and other issues so you don’t put yourself and other drivers in danger.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What can you do to prevent a tire blowout?

Preventing a tire blowout from happening is of extreme importance as an RV driver. While there will always be factors that are out of your control, you need to take the time and effort necessary to do your part in keeping tires in safe working condition:

  • Always inspect your tires, checking for tread depth, signs of wear and tear, and most importantly, checking for adequate tire pressure
  • Make sure you aren’t overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have capacity for
  • Keep a watchful eye on the roadways looking out for debris or potholes that could cause tire damage
  • Maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles at all times just in case you would lose control of your vehicle due to a tire blowout

Tire blowouts can be very dangerous, not only for you but also for other unsuspecting drivers that have to swerve to avoid tire pieces. Follow these tips, maintain your tire pressure, and be safe driving this summer.

Is it safe to drive with low tire pressure?

Maintaining good tires is one of the most important parts of RV ownership. After all, without good tires, you won’t be traveling anywhere! Despite this, many people end up driving on low tire pressure which puts unnecessary strain on the tires and the entire vehicle. 

It’s a bad idea to drive with tires that are overinflated or underinflated because this shortens the lifespan of your RV tires. Although tires can be replaced once they blow, it’s best to avoid this situation altogether. Blowouts can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving at highway speeds when they occur. 

Driving with underinflated tire causes numerous problems for your RV, some more obvious than others. Below I’ll discuss a few of the risks you run when you drive with underfilled tires. I’ll also cover some tips for proper maintenance so you can enjoy disaster-free road trips. 

Check your tires at each stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Poor fuel mileage

One of the downsides of low tire pressure is the effect it has on your fuel efficiency. RVs are already fuel guzzlers so you don’t want to throw any extra money into that pit. If you drive with underinflated tires, your engine has to work harder to complete each rotation. This effort uses up your fuel and that means you need to stop for refills more frequently. 

Nobody wants to pay for extra gas, especially with the rising price of fuel. Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended level will help you save money and keep your RV in better condition. 

Increased vehicle strain

Every part of an RV has to work in order to get it moving. Whether you’re driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer, there’s an engine that’s working hard. It doesn’t need to deal with the added stress that comes from driving on low tire pressure. 

RVs are also significant investments, so it’s important to keep them well maintained and in good driving condition. Keeping your tires properly inflated and performing regular maintenance ensures that everything is in good working order. Underinflated tires require your engine and the other automotive parts to work extra hard. In turn, this shortens the lifespan of your RV. 

Check your tire pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Uneven tread weathering

Driving with low tire pressure also puts unnecessary stress on the tires themselves. When your tires are underinflated they tend to slump and spread out. This means that more of the tire comes into contact with the road as you drive. 

Typically, only the center of a tire will face the wear and tear of the road. But if you drive on underinflated tires, the sides will also be exposed to this rough treatment. This weathers your tread in an uneven way. Even if you reinflate your tires later, some damage has already been done. 

Reduced traction

This is related to the point above. When you place extra stress on your tires and wear them down, you’ll inevitably lose some traction. All tires eventually wear out but you’ll speed up the process if you’re always driving on low tire pressure. 

Traction is very important for RVers, whether it’s the tires of your RV or the tow vehicle. You need to have as much grip as possible to get your rig moving and control its direction. Driving on snow, ice, mud, and gravel also becomes much harder if your tires have lost their traction. 

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Less responsive vehicle

Driving with compromised tires is extremely dangerous especially when you’re driving something as large and heavy as an RV. Tipping and swaying are already huge risks, so you’ll want to do everything you can to make the experience safer. 

Low-pressure tires make your vehicle less responsive to small adjustments. This is connected to the reduced traction and uneven wear and tear of the tread.

If your vehicle can’t respond quickly enough to turn, change lanes, or make other adjustments, you’re in trouble. You also might deal with some wobbling and drifting if your tires are out of shape. 

Increased risk of blowouts

One of the biggest risks of driving with low tire pressure is the increased likelihood of blowouts and flat tires. Blowouts are dangerous for you and everyone around you on the road.

It’s never fun to deal with a flat tire but it’s especially hard when you’re working with an RV. Because of their increased size and weight, it’s harder to jack them up and replace tires. In addition, you can’t always guarantee that there will be a mechanic nearby, so you have to rely on your roadside assistance program.

It’s imperative that you avoid tire blowouts at all costs. Maintaining the proper tire pressure is a great way to start. 

Tips for RV tire maintenance

If you want to keep your RV in the best possible condition, you need to practice proper RV tire maintenance. This means more than just replacing tires once they go flat. You need to include tires in your regular check-ups, so you don’t miss any budding problems.

There are also preventative measures you can take to keep your tires good for as long as possible. You should always check your tires before leaving on a long trip. Also, check them before and after you put your vehicle into storage for the winter. Below we have a few tips that will help you keep your tires properly filled and in great shape!

Use a tire pressure monitoring system

Tires can unexpectedly become damaged, even if you look after them. This is why a tire pressure monitoring system is a great gadget to have. It can alert you if your tire pressure is too low or too high, if a tire has a puncture, or if the temperature is too high. These early warnings will help you address problems before they become dangerous.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cover tires during storage

If you choose to store your RV during certain seasons, make sure you cover your tires. Quality tire covers will insulate your tires from extreme temperature changes, prevent UV damage, and keep them cleaner.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Next RV Road Trip

A helpful guide for planning an affordable RV trip including budgeting techniques, free places to camp, and useful travel discounts

Going on an RV trip doesn’t have to mean big spending or months of saving. With a little bit of research, careful planning, and some simple techniques, you’ll quickly realize just how affordable an RV trip can be.

Rental RVs at Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Advice for non-RV owners

For many non-RV owners, the cost associated with renting an RV for a trip might seem sky high. And while it’s true that renting an RV can sometimes be more expensive than booking a hotel room, there are actually more opportunities to save with an RV.

You have the ability to cook all meals which greatly reduces the amount of money you have to spend on food. You can pack extra gear (bikes, kayaks, canoes, surfboards) and eliminate the need to rent these items elsewhere.

If you’re traveling with a family or large group, it might be tough to squeeze everyone into one hotel room (most standard hotel rooms can accommodate four people). And some hotels don’t even allow pets or charge an extra pet fee. But with a wide variety of RV sizes and layouts to choose from you’re likely to find one that fits your whole crew—dog included—without having to pay double.

Class A motorhome and toad at a rest area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Before you hit the road

While most people think of food, fuel, and campground costs when putting together a travel budget, one factor that is often forgotten—but is still extremely important—is maintenance. Taking good care of your RV goes a long way in preventing major, costly repairs.

Just like a car, your RV’s oil should be changed regularly and the tires inspected daily. If something in your rig needs fixing, do it sooner rather than later. Letting a problem sit for too long can end up costing you more in the long run.

Double-check that your insurance and roadside assistance plans cover not only your tow vehicle/toad but also your RV. There’s nothing worse than breaking down and finding out that your insurance won’t pay to tow your rig to a repair facility.

Fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Plan around peak travel times

When considering prospective destinations, take note of the peak travel seasons and accessibility—for example, fall foliage in New England or holiday weekends at national parks. Peak seasons will not only impact reservations and campgrounds rates but fuel and grocery prices as well which can vary based on demand and time of year. Tours and entry fees may also fluctuate by season, day of week, or even time of day.

To help save money, when possible travel during shoulder seasons (commonly early spring and late fall) and visit the most popular destinations on weekdays or during slower hours. If you’re thinking about taking a longer trip—a few weeks or even a few months—consider staying in one place for more than a few days. Most RV parks and campgrounds offer weekly and monthly rates which will reduce your per night cost. Minimizing your driving time and staying put can help keep the cost of fuel down as well.

Newfound Gap Road, an RV-friendly route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Be mindful of fuel prices

When deciding which route to take, try to use an online fuel calculator to help budget. 

Once your RV-friendly route is set, search for fuel stations along the way and compare prices. Even if the difference is only a few cents per gallon, the cost can add up quickly when you’re averaging 8 to 10 miles per gallon. Try to fill up well in advance of national parks and other popular tourist destinations, top off your tank before you hit a stretch of road with limited fuel stations (these have a tendency to be more expensive), and keep any border crossings in mind. Fuel prices vary by state based on taxes, types of fuel, and other variables like real estate.

Boondocking along Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Venture off the beaten path

Humans are programmed to do what is familiar and popular, including visiting well-known tourist destinations. However, with a little extra research you can often find a similar view, a little-visited roadside attraction, a self-guided tour, or an alternative hike without the added crowds or cost.

Also, keep in mind is that not every night has to be spent at a five-star luxury RV resort. While you may want to budget for one or two nights at a more upscale place, your other nights could be budget camping or boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. 

To prevent trespassing or illegal overnight stays, always read posted signs and generally don’t stay longer than 14 days. 

6. Pack for various situations

Always check the forecast before you leave including average temperatures and storm seasons. Being prepared for various weather conditions will prevent unnecessary shopping trips for warmer clothes, rain gear, or alternative footwear. Travel with an umbrella, a rain jacket, waterproof pants, and warm layers just in case. Other essentials include a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and extra batteries as these tend to be more expensive at travel plazas and RV parks.

Driving Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Plan inexpensive driving routes

You’re always going to spend money on a road trip but the route you take heavily influences how much you spend on things like fuel and overnight stays. For example, the highest fuel prices are in Washington and California. You still want to find pleasant campsites with electrical, sewage, and water access, if possible, but compare prices to locate the cheapest campsite in each area.

Other considerations you should have when planning an RV route include:

  • Points of interest along the route
  • Cheap gas station/truck stops availability
  • Avoiding areas of congestion and toll roads

When researching your route and destinations, look into various pass options for state and national parks. Figure out how often you will visit to determine whether paying for each entry is cheaper or purchasing a multi-visit pass, such as America the Beautiful.

8. Cook in the RV

An RV is a home on wheels which means you can limit the cost associated with restaurants by cooking your own food. However, if you do want to eat at a local restaurant, consider eating there for lunch instead of dinner—lunch menus allow you to experience the regional food without paying the premium pricing.

Include some healthy road trip snacks and beverages. This will prevent you from pulling over to buy higher-priced, less-nutritious gas station treats. Additionally, food prices will vary by location. Produce, meat, and dairy are almost always more expensive in remote areas and can be harder to find, so stock up before you go.

Make use of campground grills and enjoy the ever-changing scenery with home-cooked meals. A small crockpot or slow cooker can be another great time and money saver when it comes to food on the go.

Not a good way to care for your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Keep your tires properly inflated

It may not be something that you associate with saving money but keeping the tires on your RV properly inflated will not only make it easier to drive and handle but it will save you money over the cost of the trip on fuel, as well. The U.S. Department of Energy states that for every 1-psi drop in tire pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to lower by 0.4 percent. This can certainly add up over a lengthy trip, so take the extra time to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Tucson/Lazydays KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Consider a membership

There are many different RV clubs and other types of travel memberships including Good Sam and Passport America. One of the biggest benefits of joining is the discounted camping rates. Some other cost-saving perks include promotions at RV retail stores, fuel savings, propane discounts, and free dump station privileges. Other memberships to consider include Thousand Trails, Escapees, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and KOA (Kampgrounds of America).

If you and your family enjoy visiting museums, botanical gardens, plantariums, and science centers, consider a membership. Reciprocal museum memberships allow you to visit other participating museums which grant free or heavily discounted entry to members.

Worth Pondering…

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will—whatever we may think.

—Lawrence Durrell

10 Basic RV Maintenance Tips Every RVer Should Know

Here are basic RV maintenance tips that can save you time, money, and headaches

Your RV brings you and your family countless hours of enjoyment and you likely intend to enjoy using it for years to come. Taking good care of your investment is a good way to prolong the lifespan of your RV and make your camping and road trips fun and safe. Just like your car and home need routine maintenance, your RV needs to be properly cared for to remain in good condition.

RV Repairs are a costly part of RV ownership. But, regular preventative maintenance can help reduce the chances of these expensive repairs from happening. It’s far easier to prevent a problem than to repair it. Stay ahead of the repairs and stay on the road with my tips every RVer needs to know.

This handy RV maintenance guide will help you learn about general RV maintenance and specific tips for using RV service centers, mobile techs, and roadside assistance.

Motorhome at dealership for service © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. It helps to be handy

If you love heading into the great outdoors on an RV road trip, you know that not every camping adventure goes smoothly. Mechanical and functional issues with your RV can quickly bring your road trip to a standstill. With a little knowledge and preparation, you can make many minor RV repairs yourself to get back on the road sooner.

Many RV repairs will be small issues. These could range anywhere from a loose piece of trim to broken door hinge or even a leaky outside seal. These are things that if you are able-bodied can be handled with a quick trip to a hardware store and a bit of your time.   

Carrying basic tools with you is important for any RV repair project. Also, a variety of screws, drill bits, sockets, and wrenches are recommended. And, never travel without duct tape and Rhino tape.

Waiting at dealership for service © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. The waitlist at any RV service center will be long

The RV industry experienced a major boom during the pandemic. More rigs were sold than any other time in history. This also means they have been built faster than usual for the manufacturers to meet demand. Faster almost always means a drop in quality; therefore, many new RVs are now requiring repair. 

Many turn to their RV service center and shops authorized by their manufacturer’s warranty. Because there are more RVs and potentially more issues than in the past, the wait times for an appointment at an RV service center can be weeks or even months. 

>> Related article: 7 Essential RVing Tips for the Perfect Road Trip + Resources

Also, bear in mind that even when you do get in for service your RV may not be repaired in a day. The service center needs to communicate with the manufacturer to authorize repairs and reimbursement. The onsite RV tech will have to confirm and/or verify the issue. Parts have to be ordered and received. 

Meanwhile, more RVers are lining up to get service. If you do opt for an RV service center, check online reviews thoroughly before choosing a shop. Not all service centers are created equal.

Mobile RV tech © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Mobile RV techs can save you considerable time

If your repair isn’t warranty-based, a mobile RV technician can be very helpful. For starters, they come to you. Many RV techs aren’t allowed to perform warranty repair based on a variety of state laws. Check with your manufacturer if you’re under warranty and if your RV and location allow for certified mobile techs to help you out. 

Mobile techs are usually experienced on a variety of RV types; they are often great troubleshooters and it is in their best interest to be quick about the work so they can get to the next customer.

Motorhome at Canyon de Chelly National Monument campground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Parts might be hard to come by

Having extra parts on hand for common issues can save time, money, and frustration. In addition, if you have an RV service center or mobile RV tech do repairs for you, having those parts in advance can mean a huge difference in time if you cannot get them ordered quickly.

>> Related article: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

Waiting at dealership for service © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Does warranty coverage work?

There are countless anecdotes on the internet about how a manufacturer’s or third-party extended warranty didn’t cover the repairs someone needed. Read through these warranties in detail and ask questions for clarifications. 

Always get the name of who you spoke with and have a copy of the details forwarded to you in an email or a text for future reference and proof. The warranty industry is in the business of not paying when they don’t have to or can get out of it, much like insurance.

There are worthwhile warranties and there are others you’ll want to avoid. Check online rviews and discuss with other RVers before signing on the dotted line.

Motorhome heading north from Flagstaff to Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Utilize family and friends with expertie

If you can wait and it isn’t a critical repair, the next time you visit with friends or family, perhaps they can assist you. They may have more experience, skill, tools, or even just more strength! There’s no shame in asking for help. That’s what family is for, right?

Mobile RV tech © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Roadside assistance can be useful

Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one—and we wouldn’t be without it—despite the fact that in our 20+ years as RVers we’ve only very rarely used it.

There are many sources of roadside assistance available. You may even have multiple roadside assistance packages that you aren’t aware of as they can be offered by your RV insurance company, RV manufacturer, cell phone plan, or even credit cards in some cases.  And you can purchase additional coverage through a number of avenues.

>> Related article: Safety Dance

Having a good roadside assistance package can make the difference between spending the night beside the highway and arriving within a reasonable time to your destination.

Bear in mind that like insurance policies and warranty coverages there are details and fine print to examine when comparing these assistance packages.

Coach-Net has been providing assistance to owners of towable RVs and motorhomes for more than three decades and their reputation is excellent. Coach-Net is the roadside assistance plan I know best because it’s the plan we use.

Motorhome at rest area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Have your manuals, diagrams, and build sheets handy

RV parts change from year to year and even have different build-outs within the same model year. The maufacturer should provide you with a parts list of what is installed including model and serial numbers. If not offered at time of sale, ask your dealer for one. Knowing which model of refrigerator or furnace you have can help you find the right parts faster. 

Check condition of tires prior to leaving on a road tip © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Your insurance might be helpful

Since RV repairs can be very costly, assistance from your insurance company will be helpful. Class A motorhome windshields, for example, can cost thousands to replace. 

>> Related article: How to Keep Your RV Drains Clean, Fresh, and Functioning Properly

An RV roof that is damaged can also be costly to repair but often an insurance company will require a separate policy or rider to your current policy to cover a roof. Discuss your policy in detail with your insurance agent to ensure you have the correct coverage for your RV type and budget. When possible use an insurance company that specializes in RVs.

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

10. Preventative maintenance is your best friend

Many repairs can simply be avoided by performing routine RV maintenance. Be sure to check the caulking around windows and seals and strip and replace it when you see flaking or gaps. 

Periodically check every screw you can find. Ensure you lubricate things that move. Check your roof for worn-out lap sealant around vents and fans. Catching symptoms early can help you avoid costly future repairs such as leaks. Check deep-cell batteries monthly and add distilled water as required. Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs. Keep all of your documents in one place.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground