RV Vacations For Dummies
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When you plan an RV vacation, you must pack certain essentials and check your equipment a few days ahead of your trip. If you plan to explore the great outdoors, you need to pack special equipment and footwear. You also won’t want to forget to prepare the RV kitchen for travel. Get the most out of your RV vacation by organizing your efforts a few days or more ahead of your trip.

Essentials for an RV Vacation

A little planning goes a long way to making RV travel much more pleasant. Prepare equipment and other items you need a week or a few days before leaving on your trip.

  • Pack any paperwork you need for your trip.
    • Insurance and registration papers
    • Hunting and fishing licenses
    • Stamps
    • Permits
  • Gather budget items.
    • Budget for fuel, food, overnight stays, and admissions or equipment
    • Cash or credit card, and coins for the laundromat
  • Prepare the RV.
    • On the RV itself no later than the day before departure, do what used to be called a once around brightly. Check the running lights, head lights, parking lights, and tires.
    • Use tiedowns, door stops, bungee cords, or whatever is necessary to eliminate “missile hazards” when braking or sharp turning your RV while on the road.
    • Use elastic cords on cupboard doors to keep them from flying open.
    • Put everything in storage compartments or storage drawers. Leave nothing loose in the RV that could become a missile hazard when making quick stops.
    • Pack paper plates between plates and bowls to reduce breakage and sound.
    • Inventory and check the condition of power cords, freshwater hoses and filters, and waste hose and accessories. Be sure to secure this equipment properly. Pack a supply of disposable gloves and a few trash bags.
    • Check tire pressures on all vehicle wheels and inflate to the standards indicated on the tires or door post of the RV.
    • Use gas and food stops to inspect your rig as you travel. Check the tires, and check oil and other fluid levels at least daily. Be sure you have enough windshield washer fluid to deal with the dust, mud, or bugs along the way.
  • Get your gadgets in order.
    • Assemble and test each gadget you intend to bring.
    • Install fresh batteries in all the electrical devices and bring at least one spare battery.
    • Pack 12-volt and 120-volt charging cords for phones, GPS, and e-readers.
    • Replace smoke alarm backup batteries, carbon dioxide alarm, and propane leak alarm. For help and troubleshooting, see the manuals for these items.
  • Pack trip-planning resources:
    • Pack RV Vacations For Dummies and any other travel guides and reference books you may need.
    • Bring a supply of notecards to record intended gas stops and campgrounds you plan to visit.
  • Have your campground’s phone number handy. If you will arrive late (past their office close time), call to let them know.

Pack for Outdoor Adventure

Gauge your intended relationship and the time you will spend with the great outdoors before you head out on your trip. It you plan to spend time in the woods on trails or walking along rivers, streams, and lakes for long distances away from the relative safety of the campgrounds, then your day pack/backpack should include a few more items:

  • Compass

Get a compass and learn how to use it.

  • Knife

A knife is an essential tool when you’re exploring the great outdoors.

  • Hiking boots

Hiking boots help protect your feet from injury from rough terrain and other dangers, such as venomous snakes.

Alaska is the only state considered free of poisonous snakes. Before you explore the great outdoors anywhere else in the US, familiarize yourself with the venomous snakes in the states you intend to visit.

  • Firearms or bear spray

Hills and woodlands in many states have resident populations of bears. If you are not comfortable or legal to carry firearms, do not enter bear country without at least considering including an adequate supply of bear spray in your pack.

Bear spay contains capsaicin and other capsaicin-like ingredients. Experience shows it can take four or more hits to discourage a determined bear, so be sure you carry a big can and that it’s full.

Do your best to avoid the bears and respect their space to reduce the likelihood of an encounter.

Packing tips for the Outdoors in the Eastern United States

Here are a few extra items you should pack when planning a trip to explore the eastern United States:

  • Rain gear
    • Overshoes or water-resistant shoes or boots
    • Umbrellas
  • Extra-layer clothing
    • Lightweight sweater
    • Hooded sweatshirt
  • Comfortable walking shoes or some sort of athletic shoe that you can comfortably walk in all day long.

Sandals and flip flops do not protect your feet from injury and are not a good footwear idea for most vacation destinations. Ask any emergency room nurse, technician, or doctor how often improper footwear plays a role in ER visits. Flip flops are useful as “shower shoes,” however.

If you visit the beach, you still need to protect your feet from sharp objects such as seashells, rocks, and other objects. When you walk the famous rocky shores of New England, you need the security of a sure step that flip flops do not provide.

Packing tips for the Outdoors in the Midwestern United States

Electrical storms, hail, heavy rain, high winds, and tornadoes can pop up quickly across the Midwest. A connection to instant weather information helps you stay informed, which means you can make choices to stay safe.

Here are a couple of essential items to pack for your RV trip through the Midwestern United States:

  • Weather radio.
  • Smartphone app.

Look for a popular app that connects with weather alarms and forecasts.

Packing tips for the Outdoors in the Western United States

In the western United States, you encounter plains, mountains, desert areas, and high desert areas. Spending time under the sky and sun, especially in desert areas, requires protecting yourself from the sun and other elements. Here are just a few things you need to pack when you explore this region:

  • Hat with a large brim.
  • UV-protection sunglasses.
  • Canteen or other way to carry enough water for your hike or other time outdoors.

Three quarts of water for every three to four hours of a hike is considered a minimum and may not be enough for everyone. Failing to bring along and drink enough water in the desert sunlight and heat can lead to serious injury or death, the same is true for high mountain elevations.

  • Snake-proof/snake-resistant boots.

The rattlesnakes are out there in abundance and not always easy to spot. When you encounter one, go the other way, the rattle is a warning. Constantly and cautiously check the ground ahead for anything you are not familiar with and poisonous snakes. Doing so will slow your walk but potentially save you from injury.

How to Stock an RV Kitchen

One of the many pleasures of an RV travel is cooking for yourself — and others! — while on the road. If you like to cook, you will want to stock your RV kitchen with these essential items:

  • Food processor
  • Can opener
  • Cooking and serving utensils
    Here are some examples of utensils you might consider stocking:

    • Tongs
    • Funnel
    • Long-handled cooking fork

Store the food processor, can opener, and any cooking utensils in overhead cabinets or kitchen drawers under the counter.

  • Spice rack
  • Fresh herbs
  • A large, stainless steel stockpot

A stockpot can double as a brats-in-beer pot, pasta pot, and many other things.

  • Several small skillets and pans
  • Nonstick sauté pan with lid
  • Well-seasoned cast-iron frying pan
  • Several microwave-safe measuring cups and dishes
  • Small whistling teakettle
  • Earthenware teapot
  • Dish towels

Packing Tips for RV Kitchen Appliances

Using small electric appliances to cook helps conserve propane. Here are a few small kitchen appliances to consider packing for your RV vacation:

  • Single-serve coffeemaker

A single-serve coffeemaker is also useful for creating instant hot water for tea or cocoa.

  • Instant Pot

Instant Pot is a pressure cooker that cuts down cooking time while conserving propane.

  • Single-burner hot plate

Plug into the outlet near the counter; if you’re cooking something such as fried chicken, boiled shrimp, or a long-simmering stew, you will save on the propane consumption.

  • Slow cooker

Plug into an outlet inside or outside the RV.

  • Optional appliances:
    • Toaster
    • Toaster oven
    • Small ice cream maker
    • Bread maker
    • Two-sided pizza maker that cooks both homemade and frozen pizza

Storage Ideas for RV Kitchens

To avoid rattling and broken kitchen supplies when you take to the road with your RV, secure items using these storage tips:

  • Secure breakable dining items in the beverage-carrier on your RV’s cockpit dash.

Breakable dining items include plates and soup bowls, glass wine glasses, and ceramic mugs.

  • Use cutting boards to separate glassware.

Cutting boards can double as glassware separators when traveling; the boards keep things from rattling while on the road.

  • Use nonskid matting to secure countertop items.

Use nonskid matting to help secure countertop items such as your spice rack, a jar of coarse salt, paper towels on a wooden spindle, and vacuum-topped canisters. You can buy nonskid matting in hardware stores, camping supply stores, and home-building emporiums.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Dennis C. Brewer has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from Michigan Technological University and is the author of several books. As a self-described traveler and snowbird, Dennis is a lifelong camping and RV enthusiast. He and his wife, Penny, visited 43 states in their Fleetwood Class A Motorhome so far.

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