Apps that Make Traveling Easier

Apps that Make Traveling Easier

Gas Buddy Logo

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

GasBuddy– When it comes to fuel, we are all looking for a way to save money. This social app allows users to share the prices they are paying at the pump.  This makes it easier to find the best value in a given area. This is also a great resource for finding the closest gas station and nearby parking.


Image Credit: TJ DeGroat/ flicker

Hotel Tonight Logo

HotelTonight– Usually when planning a trip, the destinations and stops are usually predetermined. There are times, though, that you could find yourself needing to stop to rest to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel. This app is designed to allow you to book discounted rooms in just a few minutes at the last minute.

TripAdvisor LogoImage Credit: Wikimedia Commons

TripAdvisor– TripAdvisor is a great app that has countless recommendations for different things such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more. This is perfect for those on a road trip as it is easy to not be aware of what’s around you if you aren’t familiar with the area. In addition to giving you recommendations, it allows you to book tables and restaurants in the app and compare prices for hotels and flights.

ParkMe Logo

ParkMe Parking– Specifically designed to check parking in any location, it is the world’s largest and most accurate parking database. Through the app you will be able to compare prices and buy your parking spot. It includes street parking and meter rates and parking lots. Real-time updates will be given to you on parking spots. The only thing to keep in mind is that the rates and hours may be inaccurate in some locations. This is a beneficial app to use when taking a road trip in the US, Canada or Europe.

Open Table Logo

Image Credit: Wikipedia

OpenTable– If you are looking for somewhere to eat while on the road that isn’t a well-known fast-food chain, this is the app to use. It allows you to search local restaurants, check out the reviews and make reservations all within the app. There are filters for you to choose your preferred settings and you will be able to access images of the dishes as well to help you make your decision.

Image Credit: Sean MacEntee  / flickr

Hotels.com– This is another great app to help you look for a last-minute stay. Perfect for when your plans change unexpectedly, you will be able to find and book somewhere while you are on the go. You will be able to filter through hotels and see what amenities they have included as well as compare prices and see what rooms are available.


Image Credit: Dominic Alves  / flickr

RAC’S Motoring Service- Safest driving routes is the name of the game with this app. They believe safety is the top priority and assists you in helping to avoid accidents. It is also extremely conscious of current weather conditions. You will be able to find hotels, and it has a fuel cost calculator included to ensure you aren’t overspending on gas. Unlimited stops are possible without a subscription in this app unlike some of their competitors.

TravelSpeed

Image Credit: OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay

TravelSpend– This app allows you to keep track of your budget. Simply input your budget and expenses for the length of your trip to keep yourself accountable to avoid overspending. If you are travelling with friends, you will be able to pay debts, split bills and check balances all within your app. TravelSpend is perfect to keep you accountable while you are out having fun.

 

 

Stealth Camping: The Essential Guide

Stealth Camping: The Essential Guide

What Exactly Is Stealth Camping?

Stealth camping, or ninja camping, is like regular van or RV camping, except nobody should know you were ever there after you’ve left. The goal is to attract as little attention as possible to avoid getting spotted and told to leave.

Why do people stealth camp? One of the main reasons that people stealth camp is to avoid expensive campground/parking fees. Others stealth camp out of exhaustion after driving a long time, or to be near a special attraction when they wake in the morning.

Consider this article your one-stop shop for all things related to stealth camping, including which locations are best, how to prep your van, what to do if you’re caught, and more.


Image Credit: Neil Turner / flickr

How To Prep Your Van for Stealth Camping

To avoid unwanted attention when stealth camping, consider these tips on preparing your van:

  • Tinting your van’s windows is a great way to add a bit of privacy and should also help keep the cabin cool in the summer. Just don’t tint them below the legal limit, or you may get stopped and given a ticket.
  • Another option is to soundproof your van. Check the weatherstripping around the doors and windows, as age can cause cracks that allow more noise. You may also consider adding sound-deadening “acoustic” curtains.
  • Electrical hookups aren’t usually an option for stealth campers. You can combat this by installing solar panels in your van and/or carrying extra batteries.
  • Leaving your RV’s door open is another thing that may draw attention, especially if the radio is on or you’re cooking something. Installing an RV vent fan is a much more subtle alternative for keeping the cabin cool.

10 Places That Often Work For Stealth Camping

  1. Legal Street Parking: Street parking is usually paid for until late afternoon. So long as you show up after the paid period is finished and leave before it begins, you should be good to go.
  2. Hotel Parking Lots: Many hotel chains, like Best Western, Holiday Inn, or Mariott, make solid stealth camping locations. Just make sure parking is not enclosed and that a parking pass isn’t required.
  3. Walmart: Yes, Walmart does permit overnight RV parking. Savvy stealth campers have even given this a nickname: “Wally Dock.”
  4. Cabela’s: Many Cabela locations allow overnight parking. However, rules differ between stores, so you might want to inquire first. Look for trailer parking too, which suggests overnight stealth camping is allowed.
  5. 24-hour Businesses: Gyms, laundry mats, and casinos are just some of the 24-hour businesses that should make for a solid 12-hour stay. These places usually see lots of traffic no matter the time of day, helping you to blend in.
  6. Mall Parking Lots: Mall parking is ideal due to having minimal policing. They are also usually well-lit. If you’re lucky, there may even have a designated area for overnight parking, so be on the lookout for signs indicating an overnight parking space.
  7. Truck Stops: Most truck stops tolerate RV camping. Moreover, you’ll usually have access to bathrooms, vending machines, and even water-refill stations. Just be sure to avoid parking in designated spots reserved for passing semi-trucks.
  8. City Parks: Parks can be hit or miss for stealthy campers. Some communities will post signs refusing overnight parking, while others encourage it and even offer free electrical hookups and water.
  9. Big Box Stores: Home Depot and Lowes do allow overnight parking. However, some state laws about sleeping in vehicles may supersede this, so it’s best to call ahead and check before setting up camp.
  10. Church Parking Lots: Religious establishments tend to be understanding of others and will likely permit your RV if you ask permission first. As a rule of thumb, though, parking at a church without permission is now allowed.

Places To Avoid When Looking For Stealth Camping

 

Government Buildings

Usually, government buildings are heavily surveilled and do not allow overnight parking. You’re also far more likely to leave with a fine if you park illegally at an embassy, DMV location, or any other government building.

Privileged/Underprivileged Neighborhoods

An unknown vehicle might be seen as a threat in upper-class neighborhoods, which may lead to someone calling the cops. While you might be able to get away with camping in a lower-class neighborhood, you also up the odds of getting robbed.

Airport Parking Lots

Other than the fact that airports are loud throughout the night, they also require a parking pass for anyone hoping to stay any amount of time. In terms of places to avoid when stealth camping, airport parking lots aren’t a reliable option.

Change Locations Frequently

While you shouldn’t have too much problem finding a place for a night, the last thing you want to do is overstay your welcome and get banned from future visits. For this reason, changing locations frequently is your best bet.

In general, if you can find 10 or so places in the area that let you stay overnight, and rotate between them, you should be set for a longer-term stay. Just be sure to clean up after yourself when leaving so you can keep the location on the list.

Porta-Potty
Image Credit: Ray_Shrewsberry / Pixabay

How To Find Bathrooms & Showers Stealth Camping In The City

 

    • Truck Stop Facilities: While you won’t typically find a truck stop inside a city, they are often found in the outskirts. Truck stops are not only friendly to respectful overnight RV parkers, but they also tend to offer public bathrooms and showers.
    • Add A Portable Toilet: If your RV doesn’t have a toilet, you may consider adding a portable one. Portable toilets are simple to set up/dismantle and typically start under $50. You can also bring a few “Waste Alleviation and Gelling” (WAG) bags as a last resort.
    • Gas Station Bathrooms: Sure, gas stations don’t usually have the cleanest bathrooms, but if you’re in a pinch, they do serve their purpose. For the best experience, check out this 2019 report by GasBuddy, which details which gas stations have the cleanest bathrooms in each state.
    • Body Wipes/Dry Shampoo: There are several personal hygiene products to consider when stealth camping, including body wipes and dry shampoo. If you haven’t heard of dry shampoo, it’s a powder that absorbs dirt, oil, and grease from your scalp without needing water.
    • Public Beach Showers: Many beaches offer public showers for people to rinse off salt and sand. While the water is usually cold, and you’ll likely be out in the open, beach showers do make a reliable option for stealth campers needing a wash.
    • Fast Food Chains: There’s almost always a Chick-Filet, Starbucks, or McDonald’s nearby. These fast-food chains have the best bathrooms, per Business Insider. If the lights are on, you can walk right in.

How To Cook Food When You’re Stealth Camping

 

Avoid Cooking Smelly Foods

For carnivores, there’s not much better than the smell of a sizzling T-bone or drumstick over a hot flame. Yes, BBQs go together with camping, but they also give off an aroma that can draw crowds.

Consider shelf-stable foods like canned tuna, protein bars, and peanut butter as protein-rich alternatives.

Consider Opening a Window

Cooking food when stealth camping in a van or RV does have its hazards (i.e., small spaces, open flames, poor ventilation). Before cooking, consider cracking a window or opening a vent.

You should also check that the kitchen is uncluttered to avoid a potential fire, as a van engulfed in flames isn’t exactly stealthy.

Keep Recipes Simple

The last thing you want is to have to hastily pack and leave when in the middle of cooking a complicated meal with many ingredients. Instead, keep recipes simple so that you can quickly put things away, move to a new location, and then finish preparing your meal.

For a few simple (and tasty) meals to cook when stealth camping, check out these recipes from Harvest Hosts.

Park Ranger Vehicle
Image Credit: DrFrank / Pixabay

What To Do If Someone Knocks

The occasional knock on the door is common when stealth camping. If someone does show up unannounced, don’t be surprised if it’s a security guard or the police telling you to leave. In some states, getting caught means an instant ticket. In others, you may just have to relocate.

Ignoring a knock on the door from law enforcement is not suggested as you may end up getting towed.

If someone knocks on your door at night and they don’t have a badge, you might do best to keep the door closed. Instead, slide a window open to communicate, which should at least keep you safe from someone with malicious intentions.

Finally, if you are told to leave, make sure to notate the location on a map so you don’t return. While you may not have gotten a ticket the first time around, the officer might not be as lenient on the second.

Plan Your Escape Route When Stealth Camping

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when stealth camping, like getting told to leave at 2am, having a bear show up to nibble on your tires, or getting harassed by an aggressive stranger.

For these reasons and more, your best bet is to prepare an escape route ahead of time so you can speed off in a hurry.

First, consider where you’ll go. Police stations, 24/7 businesses, or even just the nearest highway are all more secure than a secluded campsite.

If you’re camped somewhere without cell coverage, a health scare can be disastrous. For this reason, try to keep track of coverage quality before going too far into the wild, as you may have to return to a hotspot in a hurry.

To avoid stumbling, you should always keep the path to the driver’s seat is clear. Moreover, knowing where the ignition key is at all times will ensure you don’t waste time. Consider designating a place to store the keys that’s close to the steering wheel.

Stealth Camping in The Wilderness

Wild camping is essentially setting up camp in an undeveloped wilderness site. Camping in the wilderness is inherently sneaky, making it a perfect option for confident stealth campers.

Of course, there are downsides to wild camping, like not having electrical hookups, cell coverage, or toilets. There’s also the possibility you encounter some larger wildlife, like a coyote or even a bear.

When done right, stealth camping in the wilderness can be an extremely rewarding experience. To ensure your trip is a success, check out the wilderness stealth camping tips below.

 

Wilderness Stealth Camping Tips

              • Don’t Get Lost: You do not want to get lost when wild camping. For this reason, keep track of where you’re headed, notating any landmarks or signs along the way. If directions are not your forte, you can pick up one of the best handheld GPS devices for just $300.
              • Leave No Trace Behind: With the goal of stealth camping being to go unnoticed, you surely don’t want to leave behind a mess. Building a fire pit is fine, but leaving trash is not only bad for aesthetics but can harm wildlife as well.
              • Wear Bright Colors: No, bright-colored clothing is not ninja, but doing so does tell hunters you aren’t a target. According to the International Hunter Education Association, between 700 to 1,000 people are accidentally shot each year by hunters. Wearing bright colors may be what keeps you out of this statistic.
              • Pick A Safe Campsite: Before picking a site to camp, give the area good once-over, scanning for potential hazards like landslides, flooding, and predatory animal droppings. While you can’t prepare for every occasion, you can minimize the chances of a dangerous situation occurring.
              • Be Cautious of Bears: Encountering a wild animal is possible when wild camping. Bears, black or brown, are the biggest threat. If you aren’t sure of how to handle a bear encounter, you may want to brush up on best practices, like staying calm, not running away, etc.

           

          Apps & Websites To Find Stealth Camping & Boondocking Sites

          Having troubles finding a good stealth camping or boondocking site? Well, there’s an app for that, several actually, plus a handful of helpful websites. Below we’ll cover some of the best apps and websites for stealth campers in 2022.

          Apps For Finding Free Stealth Camping Sites

                    • FreeRoam: While FreeRoam has only been around for a year or so, the app has a large directory of campsites with user reviews that you can browse through. FreeRoam also allows you to create a profile so you can save your favorite locations and share them with friends.
                    • Gaia GPS: Gaia is a detailed GPS app that helps users find free camping locations. The unpaid version offers lots of value, but upgrading to Premium allows for map usage even without Wi-Fi. The app also has options for off-roaders, backcountry skiers, and mountain bikers.
                    • Avenza Maps: This offline map app offers nearly a million available maps for you to download. Avenza also allows you to measure distances and plan routes. You can also save locations if you find somewhere interesting that you want to return to.

          Websites For Finding Free Stealth Camping Sites

                    • FreeCampsites: As one of the oldest campsite finding tools, FreeCampsites offers a massive collection of free (and paid) campsite locations. The search feature has many filter options to help you find the perfect spot, including for things like fishing, hunting, rock climbing, and more.
                    • Recreation: A popular camping website that lists over 4,200 government-owned camping facilities and 113,000 individual sites throughout the US. You can even buy entry passes for national parks through the site, as well as sign up for tours.
                    • The Dyrt: Last, but surely not least, is The Dyrt, a camper-friendly site with a detailed map showing campsites across the US. Helpful map icons indicate things like what type of camper the site can accommodate, if pets are allowed, and whether bathrooms and/or shows are available.

          What About National Parks?

          Many national parks allow backcountry campers, but only in designated areas. These camper-friendly locations are usually displayed on trail maps, so be sure to take a gander before starting your search for a campsite.

          Yes, camping in a national park has a cost, typically ranging between $20 and $130 depending on location. Those seeking a day pass can pick one up for around $15 per person.

          Are you allowed to pay for a day pass and then camp overnight? No, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t done. If you attempt to stealth camp in a national park, at least follow the basics to avoid curious eyes, like arriving late, leaving early, keeping noise to a minimum, etc.

          Hammock in Woods
          Image Credit: independentwolf / Pixabay

          Alternatives To Stealth Camping

          If planning escape routes and searching for bathrooms isn’t your thing, you may want to consider an alternative to stealth camping.

          Hammock Camping

          Hammocks are a great stealth camping alternative. These are easy to set up (find yourself two trees in proximity) and they aren’t intrusive. Sure, you’ll need to watch the weather forecast, and safety may be iffy (i.e., thieves, wildlife, etc.), but done right, hammock camping is very rewarding.

          If you don’t yet own a hammock, you can purchase a good one for as low as $20. Spending more adds things like bug nets, a base, and rainproof covers. Check out some of the best camping hammocks in this online review from NYMag.

          Campground Discount Memberships

          Another stealth camping alternative is to sign up for a monthly campsite-discount membership. Depending on the provider, as little as $29 per month can save you as much as 50% at participating locations. Good Sam, Passport America, and KOA are some of the options available.

          Memberships are best for those that camp often, as you’ll surely save a lot vs. paying for single nights, which run as much as $150 in peak season.

          Woman with VW Van
          Image Credit: Victoria_Borodinova / Pixabay

          Final Thoughts on Stealth Camping

          Not everyone enjoys stealth camping, but those that do usually swear by it. If you don’t mind having to occasionally relocate at 2am, and you keep the TV volume low, stealth camping can be extremely rewarding.

          In general, if you are respectful to those around you and clean up after yourself when you leave, you shouldn’t have too many issues. What’s more, thanks to the plethora of available apps and websites, finding a place to stealth camp, and researching the location, is easier than ever.

Featured Image Credit: Michel Curi / flickr

Best Multi-Stop Routing Apps

Best Multi-Stop Routing Apps

Traveling is a great pastime, especially when traveling by RV. No one uses paper directions anymore and the days of just winging it and hoping for the best are thankfully behind us. Technology has brought us a slew of apps designed specifically to coordinate multiple stops for gas stations, rest areas, camping spots and more.

Top Apps for Multi-Stop Routing


Image Credit: petterijokela / Pixabay

Google Maps– Google Maps is by far the most popular app used by travelers. It informs you of traffic issues and gives estimated arrival times based on current traffic conditions. It will automatically reroute you if there is an increase in traffic, an accident, or other problematic road conditions. You can even use this app offline. A couple of things to keep in mind – the GPS requires a lot of battery power and there is no social sharing feature.

 


Image Credit: Ian Lamont / flickr

Waze– This multi-stop routing app is constantly updating to ensure the information is fresh. Based on traffic conditions, Waze will find the most efficient route. It will also inform you about accidents, construction, police, and road closures.

What sets Waze apart from other mapping apps is its social features. It allows you to:

  • Chat with other drivers.
  • Share your location.
  • Share your drive with others.
  • Send a beep beep to your friends.
  • Send a private message to other Wazers.
  • Carpool with other Wazers.
  • and more…

One pitfall of this app is the speeding alert obscures the speed limit icon for an extended period of time, so you can’t tell what your speed SHOULD be. Like the other GPS apps, it uses a lot of battery power.

Image Credit: @gletham GIS / flickr

Mapquest– has been around for years, and was originally a website that required users to print out directions. The app version offers multiple route options and allows you to use filters to set preferences. The app will alert you to slowdowns in traffic. In addition to mapping routes, this app shares gas prices and even has a function for making hotel and restaurant reservations. Some cons to using Mapquest;  the map size can be small, directions are reportedly less accurate than other apps and it cannot be used offline.

Image Credit: Harry Wood / flickr

Maps.Me– The main feature of this app is that it is entirely offline. This is perfect when you are in a spotty cell service area as you can still navigate to your destination.  Because everything on this app can be used offline, the app uses much less battery power. Not too many complaints from users, but there have been reports that the maps load slowly after being updated and businesses on the maps are not updated frequently.

Image Credit: ErikaWittlieb / Pixabay

Inroute Route Planner– A benefit of this application is that you can design your trip based on weather, elevation, and road curviness. Simply drop pins where you are looking to stop, and the app compiles a route for you. You will be able to search along this route for gas stations, hotels, or restaurants. There are also special features for motorcyclists, RV’ers, and truckers. With the free version, you can specify up to 8 locations. Users have reported that it can be hard to get back on track if you go off route and that it may be difficult moving and changing pins.

Image Credit: 2606772 / Pixabay

Apple Maps– a rival of Google Maps comes preloaded on every iPhone. It includes turn-by-turn directions and voice navigation. It plots the fastest way to get to your destination based on traffic, location, time of day, and your schedule. Another helpful feature is that it gives guidance on which lane you should be in. On your map, you will be able to see the current weather and air quality for your location. Some users have reported that exit directions and information about businesses are not always correct. There is also no option to use this map offline. The street view function does not have images for everywhere in the US.


Image Credit: Tumisu / Pixabay

Mapfactor Navigator–  is a free offline multiplatform GPS navigation app, with maps for over 200 countries.  There is also voice navigation to assist you in your journey. Keep in mind that even though the maps are up to date, the traffic information is not. Some users have stated the maps have some inaccuracies and can be slow to load or crash. To receive premium features, you will also have to pay a yearly or monthly fee.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Roadtrippers– collaborate with your friends and family to find exciting hot spots along your planned route, such as national parks, gas stations, restaurants, and more. This app is free to use but there is an upgrade needed to use all features.

                                                                   
Image Credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

Plotaroute– is an application that allows you to plan out routes for outdoor activities. It is the perfect app for designing your perfect walk, run, or bike ride. It allows you to check out scenic routes, so it is a little different than the typical road trip app.

                                                               
Image Credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

Scout GPS– Typical features are included in this app such as turn-by-turn navigation and real-time updates on traffic and speed. Scout prides itself in being a social destination app, as users can recommend restaurants to each other, notify their contacts of ETA, and can see in real-time when their friends will be arriving. One downfall of this app is concern over privacy because of location sharing.

When it comes to planning a trip, it is always best to have the best resources available. As much as we want everything to run smoothly, there are times that catastrophe happens, and the plan you had falls through. By downloading a few of these apps, you will have plenty of information in your arsenal to help you get to all your destinations, and find new ones along the way. Not only will you be able to get to your locations seamlessly, but you will be able to find exciting places to stay, eat, buy cheaper gas, and more.

Learn More About RVing from your Fellow Travelers

Learn More About RVing from your Fellow Travelers

The web has made it easier than ever to learn about RVing, travel, and road-tripping. Whether you’re getting started or have been hitting the road for decades, an old dog can always learn neat tricks. Blogs, videos, social media, and more give you a plethora of information on RVing at your fingertips. When it comes to learning, following others’ examples and seeing what they did to overcome obstacles can be more beneficial than you realize.

Here are five RV blogs to follow and learn more about RVing, destinations, customizing your rig, and more. Ready to become an even better RVer? Let’s get started.

5 of the Best RV Blogs to Follow

Love Your RV

The Love Your RV  blog comes to us from a Canadian couple who sold their brick and mortar home, buy a 5th wheel RV, and go traveling across North America. I chose this blog due to the variety of content. The Love Your RV blog is full of travel reports, RV product reviews, tips, and tricks, and plenty more.

The author’s background as an electronic technician shows on the blog as he offers tons of significant modifications that can be used by the reader to improve their RV. With three years and 50,000 miles strong, this helpful blog is a great resource for many RVers.

Everything About RVing

Everything About RVing is run by Al Wiener and provides about everything you’d ever want to know about RVing online. From articles on where to go RVing to how to fix up your ride, there’s something for every level RVer here. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of what RVing is and can be on and off the road, Everything About RVing is a must-read blog. Not finding what you need to know on the site?

Alan takes questions, too! Consider submitting your question and see if it gets answered on the website and make sure to watch his Twitter feed because he’s sharing new articles, tips, and tricks on social media.

Technomadia

The unique blog Technomadia is geared towards the younger X, Y, and Millennial generations that are rivaling the baby boomers on the road. The couple running the blog met on a Toyota Prius forum fell in love and have been on the road ever since in their converted bus. This blog focuses on current issues not addressed by many other full-time RVers such as sustainability, minimal impact travel, and the trials of tribulations of working in the tech sector while on the road.

Technomadia’s website is the expert resource on staying connected to the web and technology no matter where they are, and they try to help other RVers out with their posts on solar panels, and lithium-ion batteries and have even authored The Mobile Internet Handbook. The Technomadia blog also provides several links to other younger generation full-timer blogs.

Wheeling It

Wheeling It is brought to us by another couple that quit their monotonous jobs and hit the road full-time with their two cats and Great Dane in tow. This blog stands out because it addresses some of the many critical issues for full-time RVers that some travel blogs gloss over, such as getting health care, pet care, and working.

The blog is also mixed with an updated tips and tricks section, a modification section, and a dense section of travel stories browsed by individual states. The vast amounts of content are organized on this blog, making it a formidable resource for those looking for everything from recipes to information on finding a veterinarian.

Frugal RV Travel

The Frugal RV Travel blog is a guide on how to save money while RVing, full-time or not. The blog discusses boondocking in depth. Boondocking is the practice of RV camping without any utility hookups, often to save money by staying at free campsites.

This blog also discusses budgets, purchasing an RV, doing repairs on the road, and many other varieties of topics that concentrate on maximizing your dollar and adventure. The blog also includes links to buy extensive and detailed boondocking guides specializing in RVing destinations like California and Arizona.

More Blogging Resources for RVers

Here are a few more blogs to check out to learn more about RVing that we love:

Here’s a  best RV blog list that is curated from thousands of blogs on the web and ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority & freshness.

When learning the ins and outs of RVing, or road tripping in general, relying on others’ expertise and experience is the way to go. The web makes it easier than ever to see what others are up to. Check out the above blogs for guidance before your next adventure and see how to get the most out of your trip no matter the destination.

Featured Image Credit: Skitterphoto / Pixabay

Essential RV Checklist for Camping

Essential RV Checklist for Camping

What You Need to Pack for Your Next Road Trip.

Whether you are renting an RV for a road trip or purchasing your own vehicle you will need to check these items off your checklist to make your travels stress free. This is the ultimate checklist for an RV engine, Items needed inside the motorhome, products you need to ensure your safety and security while you’re on the road, camping extras and things to help with RV dumping

For The Engine

Keeping your motorhomes engine well maintained is crucial. There are some simple things you can do to prolong your RV’s life and avoid having it break down on your travels.

If you are buying your own RV for your road trip, we strongly recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection done by a trusted mechanic. This can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

RV Engine Checks

Some helpful items you can keep in your RV that will help with any engine needs:

  • Oil – Find the correct type of Oil that your motorhome takes and then buy a few gallons to make sure you’re covered when you hit the road. It’s a good idea to check oil and water levels every time you head off on a big drive. You will probably need 5W-20 or 15W-40 depending on your motorhome. Read the owner’s manual before putting any in. You want to get an oil change every 5000-6000 miles to keep your engine healthy.

  • Empty Gas Can – These come in super handy when you get a little too cocky on how many miles per gallon your RV can get. It’s not easy to push an RV to a gas station if it runs out of fuel. So keep an empty gas can in the coach in case you do run out. We recommend a 5 or 10 gallon. 1 gallon might not get you to the gas station.

  • RV Battery Starter – You don’t want to be stranded, off-grid and not have any way of getting your camper jump-started. Cables work, but you need another car to run for 20 minutes or so to charge the battery from dead. Get a battery starter pack so you can jumpstart yourself from anywhere.

Inside the Motorhome

Life inside the motorhome can get crammed and messy if you don’t keep on top of the mess. It can make it an unpleasant place to live if it’s dirty and starts to smell. These are items that made life a little easier inside the rig.

 
  • Broom/Mop – With people coming in and out of the motorhome so often, RV floors can quickly get dusty, dirty or sandy. Having a broom or mop on board will allow you to have sparkling clean floors in minutes.

  • Brush and Shovel – These are perfect for tidying up any breaks or spills in the motorhome. If you secure your items properly you can help avoid these. Scroll down to Secure the Interior for more on this.

  • Handy Wipes – these are great for cleaning any surface and you don’t necessarily need running water to help clean everything, so it’s perfect for an RV.

  • Camping Lantern – Most lanterns charge while you drive, or you can get solar ones. These are perfect if you are going off-grid and can’t plug your RV into a power source. Or if you just want to limit your camper’s battery or generator use.

  • Playing Cards or Board Games – Great way to fill in your downtime in the Camper. The Struggle for Catan was our personal favorite.

  • Portable Battery Bank – You can charge these in your RV and then plug your phone or laptop in when the battery runs low. It’s perfect for when you’re going off-grid or hiking for a few days and still want to take pictures or use your devices.

  • Portable Wireless Router – for connecting to the internet when you go off the grid. Perfect if you plan on working online while you travel.

Safety/Security

There are lots of things that can go wrong on an RV Road Trip, but by being organized, and preparing properly before setting off, you can help avoid these.

  • Surge Protector – If you plan on connecting to an outside power source on your travel then you need one of these. All it takes is a power spike to completely fry your RV electrics and cost you thousands in repairs. A surge protector can be an expensive investment but look at it as insurance, a $200 outlay could save you your RV or at least thousands of dollars.

  • Travel First Aid Kit – These come in really handy sometimes, you never know what you might need. Fill it with band-aids, antiseptic creams, and painkillers/medication.

  • Insect Repellent and Sunblock

  • Cell phone

  • RV Fire Extinguisher – Self Explanatory. A fire could rip through an RV in no time so it is crucial to have a small fire extinguisher on hand. Especially with all the cooking inside that is done in an RV.

  • A Door Lock – Doors to Motorhomes aren’t very secure, especially older ones. We learned this the hard way, as one night when we had it parked on the street the door into the motorhome was broken into and kicked in. An RV secure door lock could easily have prevented this.

Secure the Interior

If you haven’t done much driving in an RV, then you need to know how important it is to secure the interior before hitting the road. Otherwise, you will hear a lot of banging and crashing as you start driving and going around corners. If you don’t secure cupboards, clear counters and benches and lock the fridge or freezer, then you will be dealing with a big mess when you stop driving.

  • Waffle Grip Mats are a great way to prevent this. You buy these in big rolls and then cut them to fit your cupboards. This creates friction and will protect your items from getting thrown around the motorhome as you drive.

  • Adjustable Fridge Bars are perfect to stop things flying out of your fridge or freezer when you’re on the road. On our road trip, our fridge door flew open when we went round a corner and a full grocery shop ended up on the floor, not a fun clean up.

Off-Grid Camping Extras

  • Camping Chairs and Table – Great for RV Road Trips in good weather, gives you a lot more space for preparing and eating meals (there’s not a lot of room in an RV kitchen…) and a nice outside area to hang out. Get ones you can easily fold down and put in the storage under your camper. Tip: Get Low-Quality ones that work great, for $5 at Walmart.

  • Tent – If you like to get off-road and go further into nature, you will want to bring a tent with you. They also work as extra sleeping room if you haven’t got enough beds in the camper. Get one that doesn’t take up too much storage room.

  • Hammock – When you’ve parked the RV up, it’s nice to kick back in a hammock and read a book in the sun. These are a great investment if you have crammed sleeping areas in your Motorhome. Hook it up between a tree and your RV.

  • Grill – A camping grill can be easily be kept in the storage underneath the RV and they are an awesome way to extend your living area and cook outside. We used ours a lot on our West Coast Road Trip as it was almost always sunny outside.

  • Chilly Bin or Cooler – If you need extra fridge space or just somewhere to keep your beer or wine chilled, then keep a chilly bin in your RV. (This one holds up to 36 cans).

  • Portable Insect Repeller – When you’re out in the wilderness and have a fire going or lights on in your motorhome, you will get hounded by mosquitos. Keep bugs out of your campsite by putting one of these just outside your RV.

  • Leveling Blocks – Some RVs have inbuilt leveling blocks to make sure you have a flat sleep, even if you’re parked on a hill. We didn’t have inbuilt leveling blocks and didn’t buy portable ones, and there were a lot of nights parked on a hill or a serious lean. These could’ve stopped us rolling on top of each other in our sleep.

  • RV Solar Panel Kit – If you want to reduce your energy usage while on the road and want to have a renewable power source on your RV. Then invest in an RV Solar Panel Kit. As long as there is sun, you will have power inside the motorhome. You can still plug into power sources to top up your batteries levels even if there is no sun.

Items for RV Dumping

 

This is probably the worst thing about having to drive an RV, emptying your poop tanks. No matter if you rent or you buy, if you use the toilet, you are responsible for emptying the tanks.

Thankfully there are products that make the process a lot easier and cleaner:

  • A good quality RV Sewer Hose – you won’t have any leaks and you’ll be able to store it easily, unlike an old bulky hose.

  • Support stands for the Sewer Hose – this makes it a long easier to clean and your hose won’t lay in any leftover liquid from previous campers.

  • Disposable Gloves – It’s a messy job and gloves help a lot.

  • Organic Holding Tank Chemicals – Removes any smell from your shit tanks and its organic so doesn’t put nasty chemicals into the drain.

  • Water Hose – You need this to fill up the freshwater tanks in the RV and they come in handy for cleaning up any messes. Especially after the RV Dump, you will want a good hose…

Ready to plan your next trip? Town&Tourist offers a FREE RV ROAD TRIP PLANNER which is essential to planning your trip!