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RV Roadtrip Back Pain

Packing up for another extended roadtrip in your RV, you can’t wait to drive 20 hours across the country to explore a new part of America!

There’s only one downside

Sitting for hours upon hours.

You know how bad it is for your posture and your back, and you can feel the strain it causes after a long drive cross-country. But up until this point, you’ve just accepted a sore back as a fact of RV living.

Not anymore!

It’s mission-critical to enjoy every moment on the road. You don’t want to be held back by a completely preventable physical condition!

So if getting rid of back pain is important to you, take these 7 steps before, during, and after driving, and your sore back will be a figment of the past!

1. Practice Perfect Posture – Having good posture is one of the best ways to avoid sore backs while on the road. What’s perfect posture look like? Make sure to sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your butt should touch the back of your chair. In order to achieve this position, follow these steps: sit at the end of your chair and slouch; draw yourself up and curve your back as much as possible – hold for ten seconds; slightly release the position. Practice this for a week before your next RV trip to ensure perfect posture next time you’re on the road.

2. Tennis Ball Anyone? – Using tennis balls to help release tension is a common method used by sport trainers and physical therapists. You’ll need two tennis balls in two different socks for this exercise. The intent here is to stretch out the erectors, the long muscles that extend from your lower back up to your neck on both sides of the spine. Place the two tennis balls in socks behind you, and lay down slowly. extending over the two balls. Start in the low to mid back region, and use your legs to slowly roll your back over the tennis balls. Do this up and down your entire back.

3. Breaks Are Good For The Body – If possible, get up and move around every few hours, no matter where you are. If you’re at work, stand up and stretch. If you’re retired and lounging near the RV, take a walk every couple hours. If you’re on the road driving, be sure to pull off every now and then to move around. Sitting down for extended periods of time is harmful for the back. Release some of this stress by moving every few hours.

4. Streeeetch It Out – If you have chronic pain, make sure to correct your posture first. Once you’ve mastered posture, learning how to stretch will do wonders in helping to address back pain. Some common stretches to include in your routine are the back flexion exercise and the knee to chest stretch. For the back flexion exercise, do the following: While lying on your back, pull both knees towards your chest while simultaneously pulling the head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt in a balled-up position. For the knee to chest stretch, lie on your back with knees bent and both heels on the floor. Then place both hands behind one knee and bring it to the chest.

5. Cut a Few Pounds – The spine’s job is to carry the body’s weight around and distribute it evenly. If one part of the body is disporportionaly larger than another, this causes unnecessary stress on the lower back. Drop a few pounds to relieve some of that stress.

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Buying RVs on Craigslist

If you’re anything like me you dream of the day when you can wave goodbye to the world and spend your days relaxing on the road with your RV. While all of us have different ideas of the type of RV we want to relax in we can all find common ground in that we want the best deal we can get for our RV of choice. One place to look for that great deal is Craigslist. And while Craigslist has developed a shady name over the years you can’t deny that there are plenty of options there. But should you spend time digging through the sludge?

Is Craigslist for You?

Many folks simply don’t want to deal with Craigslist sellers. That’s fine, there are plenty of dealers out there that are ready to sell you the RV of your dreams at retail or slightly above retail. For those that are willing to dig through Craigslist listing (and potentially find a great deal) for their RV, it’s very important to be thorough. There are many kind, up-front, ethical people out there that are trying to offload their gently used RV at a reasonable price. But there are also many folks out there that would as soon offload your wallet and sell you a water-damaged disaster at an outrageous price. While there are certainly risks to buying your RV through Craigslist you can educate yourself by digging through those listings and learning how to find a great RV at a great price.

So, before going there ask yourself, can you wait 6 months for the right RV at the right price, or do you want / need your new RV now? If the answer is that you need it now then don’t wait, head over to your local dealer and start haggling. If your aren’t in a hurry then read on!

Tips for Searching for an RV on Craigslist

If the answer is that you are ready to wait then Craigslist might be the place for you. There are so many Craigslist ads for RV’s that it’s almost guaranteed you will find the one you want at the price you want if you are willing to wait. If you want to go that route then it’s time to start digging.

For those unfamiliar with Craigslist, you have the option of searching by city. If you are willing to travel to find that great RV than your options open up drastically. For others, you have to set your city of preference and stick to that.

Then you have to know your price range. Mostly know the most you are willing to spend so that you don’t close yourself off to the right RV at a lower price than you anticipated. So, pick your high price. Craigslist has a few filters built in so that you can really dial in to what you are looking for and not have to deal with a bunch of noise. Use those filters by plugging in your preferred highest price, any brands, makes, or models that you insist on, and also whether or not you insist on a picture in the ads you skim through. I always feel that if someone is really interested in selling their item then they will post at least one picture, so I tend to check off the picture box and ignore the items with no pictures.

The best advice from here is that you take the time to dig through the different listings. Certainly don’t be in a hurry, like we talked about before, if you are in a rush then go to a dealer. If you are looking for a great deal then be prepared to wait. I recommend looking through plenty of Craigslist ads before making a choice, not only in your area but in other areas too. This can help you get used to the different types of sellers and really help you cut through the nonsense and find the right person to buy from.

If you’d like more advice on buying your dream RV check out this blog and tell us what you think!

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How to Prevent Holding Tank Sludge Buildup

For all RV enthusiasts, the RV toilet system is a big deal not only for its important function but also because of the trouble it can cause when maintained poorly. Maintenance is the key issue here and getting to understand how the RV toilet system operates lays the foundation for proper maintenance. It is always easier to handle an appliance or gadget when you have background knowledge of how it works. For this particular toilet system, commonly encountered problems include overflowing tanks; clogged sewer valves and sludge build up in the holding tank. Failure to understand the operating mechanism of the RV toilet system may end up in futile troubleshooting.

Sludge buildup in the holding tank is actually a septic tank problem. Firstly, there is need to understand the operating system of a septic tank. The basic function of a septic tank is to collect human waste where the solid waste also known as sludge sinks to the bottom while the liquid waste floats above. As compared the conventional toilet systems, an RV toilet septic tank is intended to hold waste only for short periods of time. Therefore unlike the former which relies on anaerobic bacteria to breakdown the sludge, RV toilet system has a macerator pump. The pump functions to breakdown the waste into tiny bits. Moreover, to aid flow of waste out of the septic tank, lubricants are used. Unpleasant odor from the waste is managed by using chemicals. Consequently, sludge build up in RV toilet systems is a common problem due to the use of lubricants and some chemicals that inhibit bacteria which normally break down the waste particles.

Down to the details, how then are these toilets maintained? First of all, using the right chemicals for the septic tank is fundamental. Certain chemicals have a minimal effect in destroying bacteria and are therefore more suitable. Choose chemicals that are free from formaldehyde and its derivatives. The bacteria help in breakdown thus preventing clogged sewer valves and build up of sludge. Secondly, do a regular checkup of the RV tank sensors to make sure that build up is being eliminated when dumping is done. Sometimes, the sensors give false reading so it helps to check. Thirdly, try pouring hot water into the holding tank as it helps breakdown toilet paper and waste material.

Finally, preventing holding tank sludge build-up is a matter of following a number of simple handy tips. One of the ways for proper sludge disposal is employing the services of a ‘pump-out’ company which is able to professionally remove sludge from your holding tank. You can also try dumping holding tanks when they are almost full. This way, water will swirl within the tanks thus getting rid of deposits that could be stuck on the sides of the holding tank. The velocity during evacuation is much greater with a fuller tank. This helps to thoroughly flush out all contents. Lastly, you can prevent sludge build-up using something known as the Geo Method. It is basically a tank cleaning process that is easy and affordable. A solution is made using two cups of water softener and a cup of laundry detergent in powder form, dissolved in boiling water. When poured into the holding tank of your RV toilet, all solid waste particles will be washed off. This includes even those stuck on the walls.

Read more about RV holding tanks here.

This article has been written by Chris Troutner who is a greatly experienced freelancer. Some of his content includes amazing writing on simplicity, happiness and DIY living in the San Juan Islands. He writes of his experience with his sail boat, the Rock n Row. Read more material on marine toilet systems from his site.

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Hiking Knob Hill Trail Dallas

Knob Hill Trail is an 11 mile trail to the West of Lake Grapevine in the DFW area.  I hiked this fully for the first time last Monday afternoon and evening after having previously visited for a short one hour like just before sunset a couple of weeks ago.

The first thing I noticed this trip is that in just the first half mile the trail was been completely rerouted since my original visit.  It was previously a hard packed – obviously long used – path with lots of ups and downs thru mostly dry creek beds.  Now this old path has been blocked off with tree branches, and a new much flatter path is open.  I don’t know if this is a permanent of temporary change, but I’m sure the offroad bikers will not be happy with this new more mellow path.

Anyway, moving on!  After the first half mile the path rejoined what was clearly the normal hard packed path,  following this for another half mile it weaves thru trees and follows Denton Creek – which flows into Lake Grapevine.  Shortly after the first mile marker the path levels out and becomes very simple to follow, so for other Knob Hill hikers know that the first – and the last on the return – mile will be the most physically challenging.

The walk is pleasant in general.  I’ll touch a few of the ‘highlights’ briefly.  At about the 2.5 miles mark it gets a little shady…and not in the cool sense.  Lots of empty beer bottles, trash, and a bench that looks suspiciously like part of a meth lab can be seen in the remote woods off the path.  While I wouldn’t want to frequent that spot in the dark, it is fine during the day.  Thankfully this rather ugly area only lasts for about a half mile and things improve again.

At the 3.5 mile is a nice little bench on a hill.  You can sit here for a snack or a break and look out over Lake Grapevine.  It is not Grade A scenery, but a nice reward for making it out that far.  Knob Hill trail itself does go further, so do not head back thinking you are at the halfway point!

One point worthy of note – the mile markers on this trail are marked on both sides – so you can tell both how far in you are and how far there is to go.  For example, when I got to Mile 4 the backside of the pole indicated I had 7 more mile left on my hike.  Shortly after mile 4 I was surprised to see another hiker – only the second person I had seen all day – materialize shortly ahead of me.  When I got to the point he had appeared I discovered there was another short trail joining the main path from a parking lot.

The Knob Kill Trailhead is accessed by road from Hwy 377 just south of FM1171.  Apparently this guy had discovered another way in about four miles from the beginning, but I’m not quite sure what road he was parked on.

Shortly after this point the trail gets a little tricky.  It splits into two, and lacking a map I wasn’t sure which way to go.  I ended up veering right simply because the left path looked muddier:)  I was now a little worried about where I should be going however, I knew that I should get back to the fork within the next 3 miles (according to the 11 mile round trip rule) so I decided if I went that far and wasn’t sure where I was I would just double back.

What I eventually discovered is that the last couple of miles of this out and back trail is in fact a loop – and judging by the mile posters I probably took the loop the wrong way.  No harm done however!  The ‘far point’ of the trail occurred at a rather run down looking road with a ‘NO PARKING’ sign.  Up the road I could see a house, and in the other direction I saw the lake.  From memory I also believe I saw a sign saying ‘Cross Timbers’.  Hopefully that helps if you find yourself in the same spot.

From there I simply followed the loop around, and eventually I ended up back at the fork.  From that point it was simply a matter of trudging 4.5 miles back the same way I had come.  As usual I had overestimated my hiking speed – as opposed to my road speed – so the route as a whole took a little longer than anticipated.  I left around 2:45pm, and returned to the car close to 4 hours later.

Unfortunately, dusk is about 6:15!  While this did make for good wildlife viewing – I had an up close encounter with an Armadillo who didn’t even seem to notice me 10 feet away while he snuffled around off the edge of the trail – I did run out of light.  I was close enough I could have found  to the car in the darkness  – I could see the lights of road traffic in the distance – but I might have sprained an ankle getting there.

Thankfully I had placed my recently purchased Petzl Tikka XP2 headlamp in my backpack for just such an emergency! I tried briefly using its red light to illuminate my way, but kept losing the path.  Being rather tired, and admittedly a little stressed at finding myself roaming around in the woods in the dark, I cranked up its powerful white LED and finished up the last quarter mile of my trek.

While the route is marked as 11 mles, my GPS said I walked closer to 12.  I will put that down to the occasionally stroll off the trail – and doubling back a couple of times in the dark at the end off the hike:)  The weather was great, overcast and slightly chilly but no rain.  I completed the hike feeling fine physically, my legs are definitely gaining endurance as they could easily have gone further.

I really need new shoes!  My old walking shoes are really not up to off road hiking,  and I’m paying for it in blisters.  My feet are definitely building character, but I’m sure they will appreciate decent hiking boots when they arrive.

I recommend Knob Hill trail for anyone looking for an uncrowded hike or run that is not too difficult.

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Hiking – Perfect Pursuit for RV Dwellers

One downside about living in a Recreational Vehicle is that it can impose some limits on your hobbies.  Even the largest RV has only so much space for the various accessories associated with different activities.  Hiking, however, is the perfect passion for this lifestyle choice.  Both for reasons of freedom of movement and due to the minimal gear requirements of the hobby.

In an RV you can easily go to the best hiking locations.  This is a huge advantage over stick home living.  Even if your house is in the most scenic location imaginable – Colorado perhaps? – there are only going to be so many hiking options nearby.  If you read about a great hike that sounds appealing half way across the country, it is going to be a really big deal to actually go out and experience it.  You’ll need to schedule time out of your regular routine, budget travel and accommodation expenses, determine how to get to the trail head, etc…

With an RV, most of these issues go away.  See a great hike you’d like to go on in a far flung state like Oregon?  All you need to do is make a note of it.  Next time you find yourself out that way (maybe 6 months, or even 6 years later) you can make a point of stopping nearby to experience it.  If you are a really keen hiker, you can even plan your roaming across the country around the best hiking locations; the freedom of living in an RV is unprecedented in the advantages it offers in this regard.

 

 

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What You Need To Know About RV Insurance

People often travel long distances in their RVs, treating them as second homes. As a form of transportation, state minimum insurance coverage is necessary for RVs- however, there are some special insurance needs and options when it comes to covering all bases in insuring an RV.

  • What is the most basic RV insurance? How does it differ from car insurance?

The most basic insurance coverage available for RVs is comprehensive and collision coverage, which can be provided by many auto insurance companies. The difference between insuring an RV and insuring a regular motor vehicle is that the living quarters of the RV contain personal effects that require additional insurance in order to assure adequate coverage. Liability and loss of personal belongings are not covered by policies offered by most auto insurers.

  • What other types of insurance may be appropriate for an RV?

The amount of use the RV gets and the personal effects it generally contains are relevant to the types of insurance coverage that would be appropriate. Two of the most commonly used specialty insurances for RVs are liability insurance and personal property insurance. Liability insurance ensures that any damage caused by the RV to the property of someone else for which the owner of the RV would normally be liable is covered. Personal property insurance covers damage or loss to personal belongings. For people who use their RV as a full time home, full-timers insurance is available. This covers personal belongings, comprehensive personal liability and some living expenses.

  • What companies offer RV insurance?

Specialized RV insurance is available through a variety of sources with coverage and cost depending on a variety of factors including the type and model of the RV, the insurance laws in the state of policy issuance, other vehicles on the plan, driving history and level of coverage. Some of the most highly recommended companies for RV insurance include:

  • Good Sam VIP Insurance
  • Explorer RV
  • Foremost
  • Progressive
  • RV America
  • Twin Peaks Insurance
  • What other considerations should be taken by owners of RVs?

Some primary considerations that should be taken include maintaining the safety of the vehicle, its occupants and other people on the road by driving safely and using carbon monoxide, smoke and gas detectors with regular battery changes. Propane systems should also be maintained to prevent incident. When traveling internationally, RV owners should be aware of the efficacy of their insurance in the country in which they are traveling. For individuals who are renting an RV, consideration should be given to the insurance policy chosen for the rental duration, as options beyond those offered by the renter are available.

As with all automotive insurances, it’s important to take the time to compare rates and insurance coverage with different providers in your area. Depending on your prior driving history, age and state, you will find a wide range in pricing and policy premiums.

Thanks to the internet, we can rely on insurance coverage comparison sites to discover the many different policies that are out there and can compare quotes with a lot more ease. Make sure you don’t take the first policy that looks good to you, as many companies will lower their rates if you contact them directly with competitor rates.

This article was written by Paula, who writes about auto insurance coverage. You can view some of her publications by clicking here.

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How To Beat The Dealer – Get the Best Price On Your Next RV

Buying a vehicle of any sort is a nerve-wracking experience. When it is an RV that will become your living quarters, you really need to do your homework. Unless you’re sitting on a pile of money, payments will comprise a large chunk of your monthly budget for years after you actually select your ride. Consequently, the process of negotiating over the price can mean the difference of hundreds to thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. No wonder the buying process causes so much stress.

I learned this process the hard way. Although I’m satisfied with the last vehicle I bought, I realized later how much the dealer got the better end of the bargain due to my lack of planning. There are things you can do to overcome nerves and be prepared for anything at the negotiation table.

Strangely enough, learning to negotiate well on a big purchase will help you in all aspects of your life. You can turn conversations to your advantage by educating yourself about the options and utilizing a calm demeanor in your bargaining. What follows are some tips to help you get the deal you want.

Go Online

Rather than have a face-to-face encounter at the onset, where you are likely to be charmed into paying more, it is better to spend some time comparing costs before stepping foot on a dealership lot. Start by listing reliable dealers near your area. From here, you can gather contact details and send out quotation requests to begin comparing prices.

Prep Up

The biggest advantage you can have over these crafty dealers is your knowledge. The more you know, the less likely you will fall for their sugar-coated words and high pressure tactics. As you negotiate for a better deal, make sure to feel and, more importantly, look calm and collected. Never divulge to the dealer just how much you are willing to spend and let the salesman know that you are in control and not the other way around.

Price, Not Payments

Don’t get suckered into talking payments before settling on a final price of the vehicle. This was my downfall when I purchased my first car. Payments hide all manner of sins and extra fees. Agree on the sales price first. Then, you can start to discuss payment terms and loan periods.

Financing

It really does not matter whether you pay in cold hard cash or through financing. When choosing the latter, however, it is better to get a preapproval from an accredited bank or lending institution rather than go through the dealers themselves. Dealerships are likely to put in an extra markup to earn a bonus for themselves. Use an automobile calculator to set your maximum purchase price and plan for the monthly cost of your new RV.

Ask for Rebates and Freebies

Never hesitate to find additional ways to save. Rebates, for instance, are typically offered by dealers and manufacturers. Apart from the standard discounts, some providers also offer special deals for military, college students, and handicapped individuals.

If they won’t give you a discount, then ask for free upgrades. Adding a nicer stereo, TV system, or interior upgrades cost the dealer very little. It can be a better deal for them to offer $1000 in free upgrades versus lowering the price by the same amount.

Timing is Key

A great trick when purchasing your RV is to buy at the end of the month. It is likely that you will get additional incentives from your purchase because dealers are given monthly incentives and bonuses from their sales at this time. With the right timing, you can end up with the dream mobile living space of your choice for hundreds less.

Play Hard to Get

If the dealers are playing it tough, play tougher. If you don’t get what you want, simply walk away and leave them to pursue you instead. Keep in mind that the last thing any dealer wants is to see a prospective customer walk away.

Even though negotiation is what car sales people do, they often will not expect someone to be well-informed come in from a position of strength. They are just as desperate to make a sale as they believe you are to own a vehicle. The most important thing is to remain calm and collected. Making yourself hard to read in a bargaining situation will give you the upper hand in the negotiations, and ensure you get the best price on your new vehicle.

Tim is a writer for OnlineLoanCalculator.org, and routinely helps car, truck, and RV buyers get the best deal on their next purchase.

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RV Holding Tanks – Fresh, Gray And Black

Something that often isn’t thought about when people dream of living in an RV is how to handle the fluids we use – and wastes we produce – in daily living.  While not pleasant to think about, they are a fact of live and you need to consider them!

If you are used to living in a stick house they you are accustomed to rarely having to worry about your water.  You turn on the tap – water comes out, you pull the plug on the sink or flush the toilet, and water and waste is whisked away.  Your chief chore is to pay the water bill once a month.

Unfortunately, RVs require a little more thought about such things.  Don’t worry however; while it may not be pleasant to deal with wastes in a recreational vehicle, it really isn’t that difficult. First, some background.  Most RV’s have three different tanks for water.  These are the fresh water tank, the gray water tank, and the black water tank.  So, what does each of those do?

Fresh Water Tanks for RVs

The fresh water tank is pretty straight forward – it is like a big water bottle for your RV that supplies water when you are not connected to a permanent source.  Whenever you need water for activities such as showering, washing dishes, cooking, or flushing the toilet; it is drawn from your fresh water tank.

The size of this tank will depend on your vehicle; on a small trailer like a Casita it may be at little as 12 gallons, while if you own a large Class A Diesel it may be 40 gallons or more.  Your RVs fresh water capacity can be a limiting factor in the time you can spend on activities like boondocking, but carrying extra potable water in your tow vehicle can stretch your supplies.

RV Gray Water Tanks

Gray water is non-sewer water that you have used in your RV.  Water that has gone down the drain in the shower, or in sinks in the bathroom and kitchen goes to the gray water holding tank. If you take long showers in your RV, you may find yourself filling this tank quite regularly.

Owners of RVs with small gray tanks often purchase an additional tank to provide extra storage, which is connected to the grey water drain by a short hose.  These ‘blue boy’ portable tanks can get very heavy however, and even those with built-in wheels you may find are not particularly portable.

Black Water Tanks

Black water is the sewerage of the RV world.  When you flush your toilet the waste goes to the black water tank.  As you can imagine, problems with this tank can result in a big stinking mess; thus proper operational procedures are a must!

Be sure to use appropriate chemicals in a black tank.  There are various enzyme based chemicals available on the market designed to break down your waste, and also remove smells.  A wise RV’er makes use of these chemicals every time they dump their tank.

Don’t flush just anything down your toilet, the only thing that should go down there apart from your organic wastes should be toilet paper designed for RV use.  Regular toilet paper can cause clogging. No paper, napkins, tissues, etc… should be flushed down the toilet – including feminine hygiene products.  Dispose of items like this in your trash, not in your toilet.

Managing your Waste Water Tanks

There are two basic options for your black and gray water tanks at any particular campsite.  You can operate self-sufficiently, i.e. without sewer hookups, or else connect to a campground sewer system.  Either way you need to possess sewer hose(s) to drain your tanks.

Rule number one – never use a gray or black water sewer hose for moving around fresh water, and likewise never use a fresh water hose for your waste water.  I think the reasons for this are obvious!

Try to keep your black water tank in a state so that there is always fair amount of liquid in it.  If you have a lot of solid waste without much water to dilute it, you are likely to get smells – or even clogs.  After draining your black water tank place a little clean water in the bottom with some fresh tank chemicals, this will help keep odors down.

If you do choose to hookup to a sewer system, it is advisable not to just drain directly into it.  Instead keep the valves closed until you ready to drain.  This means the chemicals you add to your tanks don’t drain straight to the sewer – giving them a chance to work their anti-odor decomposing magic.  It will also prevent any stench in your campgrounds sewer system from finding its way into your home.

Dumping Your Tanks

No matter how you travel with an RV, at some point you are going to have to dump your waste tanks.  Remember this – never dump your black water tank except at an approved dump station!  There are certain circumstances where it is ok to dump you gray water – perhaps via an adaptor to a garden hose to water a garden – but I advise that in general you should aim to do this at a dump station also.

You should have a couple of heavy duty sewer hoses like the Rhinoflex pictured (it is always good to have a spare).  Don’t go cheap on these items, saving a few dollars on a cheaper model is not worth the increased risk of tears or leaks when you are dealing with raw sewerage!

Always dump your black water first – preferably not until it has a substantial amount of fluid in it, to ensure the best possible flush.  Dump the grey water tank second, as the cleaner water in this tank will help clean the sewerage from your sewer hose.

If you are ready to dump your tanks but there is not much in them – say for example you are taking a long trip, or putting your RV up for a while – then go ahead and add some additional water until both black and gray tanks are two thirds full first.  This additional volume will ensure more of the undesirable contents flush out.

After dumping, thoroughly flush both tanks.  This may take a bit of water, but it is well worth doing to ensure you remove as much odor causing material as possible.  Finally, be sure to add a little fresh water to the bottom of each tank, along with your normal holding tank chemicals.  At all costs you should avoid holding tank sludge buildup.

While nothing can quite prepare you for the experience of dumping your tanks for the first time, thinking the process through carefully ahead of time and not taking shortcuts will maximize the chance of avoiding issues. If you want to see what dumping the tanks looks like, check out this video (courtesy of RV geeks).

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Stealthy VanDwelling – An Alternative To A Traditional RV

Why Stealth RVing?

Some people love the idea of living in an RV, but don’t have the money – job, savings, or pension – to support it.  One option available to folks in this situation is to try and live an ultra-frugal RV lifestyle.

One of the largest costs for many ‘traditional’ (I’m not sure that is really the right word for anyone who lives in a recreational vehicle, but I will use it nevertheless) is the cost of campgrounds of RV park sites.

While it is possible to find cheap or even free sites in some place, many times they will have restrictions as to how long you can say.  Also, sometimes these lower priced sites are not in a great location – they may be way out in the middle of nowhere, next to a loud interstate or railroad, or in a somewhat dodgy urban neighborhood.

Why A Van?

The way some people get around having to pay for camping sites at all is by choosing to live a lifestyle heavily dependent on stealth parking.  The main requirement in order to be able to do this successfully is possession of an RV that does not look like an RV.  For this vans are ideal!

A van can look very commercial.  This means they can be parked many places inconspicuously where a regular RV would stand out like a sore thumb.  People who own vans can frequently get away with spending a night for free in an office district or near a warehouse without drawing unwanted attention from the authorities.

What Type of Van?

I am not talking about a Class B Motorhome like those from Roadtrek, which are blatantly residential – I mean a regular commercial van.  Preferably a white one that is in good shape, if it has some decals indicating it belongs to some kind of business so much the better.

You should also avoid buying a van that looks…well…creepy.  We are all familiar with the stereotype of the beat-up panel van that looks like it belongs in an episode of Law & Order – SVU.  If you are going to live in a van buy one that looks respectable.

The intent is that the local police or sheriff won’t figure out you are actually inside that van parked on the side of the road.  The hope is that if the van catches their eye they will just figure it belongs to a local business and not be bothered by it.

How to Avoid Hassles from the Authorities

While your presence – as long as you behave yourself and don’t make a mess – really does any harm to anyone, a lot of people will be uncomfortable at the idea of someone living in a van, especially nearby.  While I will leave the psychology of this for another article, it is fact that you will have to deal with anytime you stealth camp anywhere people are likely to observe your vehicle.

An attractive vehicle is an important starting point, but being discrete matters even more.  Don’t setup a chair outside of your van; keep all your gear inside.  Keep the rear doors closed as much as possible and access the van from the front if possible.  Make sure your windows are covered – preferably by a dark tint.  Cute fluffy curtains may hide the fact that you are inside, but they do suggest the vehicle is lived in.

Don’t stay to long!  It is important to note that this type of stealth living really requires you to move on a regular basis – preferably daily.  If you spend a week parked in warehouse parking lot, it is likely that eventually you are going to draw unwanted attention from either the owners of the local constabulary.

Is Stealth Van Living for Everyone?

The answer to this is definitely no.  You have to be pretty good at handling the stress of never knowing when someone is going to come and demand to know why you are camped somewhere you strictly shouldn’t be.

I really wouldn’t recommend this lifestyle to anyone unless they are in dire financial straits.  If you are pulling in much over a thousand dollars a month you should be able to afford to buy a cheap used ‘real’ RV and pay to camp somewhere legitimately.

Alternatively you could just take that van and go boondocking on BLM land in the middle of nowhere,  but that is assuming whatever income you have is portable…another subject altogether!

 

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RV Rental – Many Advantages

Picking an RV rental for your next cross country road trip can make for a great experience.  By renting an RV you can eliminate the unpleasantness of stopping in cheap motels by the side of the interstate during your trip.

While Motel 6 and Super 8 both have their place, neither of them can really be considered pleasurable places to stay.  For most road trippers they are simply a place to rest and recuperate between spells of driving.

This really isn’t the ideal situation.  There is no reason that you cannot take a trip and actually enjoy the places you are staying – rather than just tolerating them.

It is very easy to find nice RV parks to stay at if you are taking a long drive from any point A to point B.  Some people will make the whole point of their time on the road to get to those places!

Unfortunately, if you don’t own an RV of your own, you are really going to want to find a way to acquire one for the duration of your trip.  It is no good going to a scenic RV park if you have nothing to stay in after all.

Imagine selecting a mountainous destination by a lake in the beautiful Rockies.  You can pick yourself up a nice RV rental in Denver and drive it up into the mountains.  While the best camping spots are not cheap, they are comparable in price – even including the cost of renting the RV – with a nice quality hotel.

Odds are however; that you will enjoy yourself much more camped beside a mountain stream than you will in a small motel or hotel room.  With kids especially the extra space – and additional activities – can be a god send!

Activities like hiking, fishing, or simply relaxing to the sights and sounds of nature while sitting by a campfire are all opened up to you when you choose an RV rental for your vacation.

Taking your place to stay with you rather than taking yourself to the available places to stay is a wonderful thing, and will give you a good taste of the benefits available to those whom choose a life of fulltime RV living.