Preparing for Cold Weather in the RV

For many, RVing brings to mind fantasies of following the warm weather, and basking on a beach throughout the winter. However, in reality many folks who live and travel full-time in their RVs must stay in cold weather climates for a variety of reasons, such as family and work obligations. If you are in the latter category, good news. Ashley Mann from RV Inspiration has some ideas to help you prepare your RV for cold weather.

RV PREPARATION FOR COLD WEATHER LIVING

In this article, Ashley shares some tips and things they have done to protect their RV systems from freezing, reduce energy costs, and stay comfortable living in a camper in cold weather. Topics include:

  • The water supply system
  • The sewage system
  • Heat sources
  • DIY vinyl skirting
  • Window insulation that lets light through
  • Slide insulation

Click here to read the full article

$200 DIY VINYL RV SKIRTING FOR WINTER

Learn how to make DIY RV Skirting to help keep the RV warm during the winter.

In this article, Ashley listed all the supplies they used to make the DIY RV skirting along with their cost. She got a $1,600 quote for a professional install.  While actually a great idea for professionally made trailer skirting, Ashely’s DIY savings was even better! This was her second year making the skirting and she improved upon her first effort.

Click here to read the full article.

WINTER RV WINDOW INSULATION IDEAS

This article explains how to add extra insulation to RV windows to retain heat during the winter. It also describes how to make DIY Plexiglass Storm Windows.
DIY Plexiglass Storm Windows

One of the biggest causes of heat loss for RV owners who camp or live in colder climates is single-pane windows. A lot of people cover their RV windows with Reflectix, but as sunshine is extremely important to Ashely, especially during winter, anything that would block light wasn’t going to be an option for her.  In this article Ashley share some ways she added extra insulation to her camper’s windows to prepare for the winter months.

Click here to read the full article.

SMALL SPACE HOLIDAY DECOR TO CHEER YOU UP ALL WINTER

Small Space Holiday Day Decor from RV Inspiration. These ideas will inspire others who don’t have much room for storing seasonal decorative items or who also want to decorate in a way that looks nice all winter.

When it is cold outside, try these interior decorating ideas to warm your heart! Ashely said, “Since we have to stay in the Midwest for work right now and I can’t spend winter parked next to a warm, sunny beach, having cheerful lights and candles and pretty things that celebrate winter helps me to feel more cheerful during the coldest, darkest time of the year, and more appreciative of the season as a needed time of rest and contemplation.”

Click here to read the full article.

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Essential RV Gear Guide

Guest post by Chickery’s Travels, a couple who have been working and living full-time in their RV for 3 years.

We compiled a list of the items we consider “must haves” for full-time RVing. In the beginning, we wasted a lot of money on things we didn’t need. Here we only share those items that we are still using 3 years later.

Note: This article contains affiliate links meaning if you purchase something using a link, we will get a small commission (and no additional cost to you).

Water Systems

Fresh Water Hose – Having a hose that is rated “drinking water safe” is critical for your RV. After using a very bulky water hose, we changed to this Zero-G Marine/RV Drinking Water Hose for its ease of storage on moving day. The flexible material allows is to fold up much smaller than a traditional water hose.

Water Pressure Regulator – A water pressure regulator is an insurance policy for your RV’s fresh water plumbing system.  Connect it to the campground’s city water connection to ensure you don’t exceed the recommended pressure (between 45 and 50 psi) and damage your RV water lines.

Water Filter System – If you want to protect your water lines from sediment that can create blockages, as well as filter your water for bacteria and other impurities, check out this simple DIY Water Filtration System.

 

 

 

Back Flush Hose – We use a collapsible garden hose for your back flush. You don’t need to waste money on one that is rating drinking water safe. This one compresses for easy storage.

 

 

 

 Sewer Hose – We use the RhinoFlex hose and the only piece we had to replace was the one we lost on the highway when Julie accidentally left it in the truck bed! We are glad we got the 20′ because not every campsite and dump station is created equal. Some are placed quite far from where you’d expect. The clear elbow and 4-in-1 dump station fitting will make life much simpler too.

Sewer Hose Support – This sewer hose support ramp keeps your hose off the ground, and assists in drainage. We actually have two for the occasions that we need the entire 20′ sewer hose.

 

 

Shower Head – One of the first things we changed in our RV was to this Oxygenics Shower Head. There are five different settings and we think it has terrific water pressure.

Electricity

Surge Protector – Actually, the Progressive Electrical Management System is much more than a surge protector and we learned the hard way how valuable it is. We had a surge take out our power transfer switch, and it cost more than this to fix it. We have the external one, but they also make one that can be hard wired. They also make a 30 amp system.

 

 

Power Cord – The original power cord that came with our RV was so big and bulky, Julie had a hard time wrangling it into the basement storage. Since switching to this power cord, moving day is much simpler.

Dehumidifier

It is not just those RVing in humid climates that need this inexpensive preventive maintenance tool. If you shower, wash clothes, cook, or even breathe in your RV, you increase the relative humidity in the air and can create excessive condensation and moisture.  We use four dehumidifiers in our 44-foot fifth wheel.

In the bedroom and in the kitchen, we have an Eva-dry Electric Petite Portable Dehumidifier. These are small, but hard working. They are also very, very quiet. We recently had to replace one because it quit working. The other one is still going strong after 3 years. These are very quiet and easy to empty.

 

The other two dehumidifiers we use are Damp Rid Disposable Dehumidifiers. There is one in the bathroom and one in the garage. Once they are full, we throw them out and buy a new one. They last about 3-4 months.

Mattress

Our RV mattress was so uncomfortable something had to be done about it right away. We tried the less expensive method first, and purchased a foam mattress topper and cut it to size (RV mattresses aren’t the same size as residential).  While this wasn’t a perfect fix, it was an improvement. After about six months full-time, we purchased a new custom mattress and couldn’t be happier.

Kitchen

Click here to see our kitchen set up.

Other Outdoor Items

Wheel covers – To protect our RV tires from the damaging rays of the sun, we purchased these triple axel tire covers. They also come in double and single.

 

 

 

Wheel chocks – We use this inexpensive set every time we park!

 

Satellite TV Wineguard – We use this Winegard Playmaker portable satellite antenna on a tripod to get our satellite signal.

 

 

Caravan Sports Infinity Zero Gravity Chairs – We use these chairs for our outdoor seating area.

 

 

 

Outdoor RV SignSign – We love our outdoor sign we purchased from Craft Village two years ago. It has been outside in the elements since and we’ve noticed no sign of wear.

 

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Cutest RV Inspired Holiday Decorations

RVs and Christmas – two of my favorite things! Check out these  RV inspired holiday decorations. Indoors or out, these little touches are perfect to decorate your RV or your home if you are missing your RV this holiday season.

Click the images below to see more details.

Note: This post includes affiliate links which means if you make a purchase after clicking one, I’ll get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

Tabletop Decor

 

This adorable, musical Christmas Tree Selling RV Trailer has colorful LED lights and plays 8 different Christmas songs!

 

 

 

 

Who wouldn’t be a happy camper with this cute set up?

 

 

 

Best Christmas cookie jar ever! Now I want to get to my Christmas baking to fill it up!

Throw Pillows

Changing the covers are your throw pillows is the simplest way to dress up the living room!

Wall Art

Lightweight and simple, these wall hangings are perfect for the holidays.

Ornaments

Who doesn’t love vintage trailer ornaments?

Outside Ideas

One of the easiest ways to decorate outdoors is with these little lawn flags. They are easily interchangeable for the seasons and take up very little storage room.

These little lawn stakes are another affordable, and lightweight option to decorate outside the RV. Don’t forget the Christmas cards!

 

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DIY Fall to Winter Holiday Decor for Small Spaces

When you’re living in a tiny house or RV, you don’t have a lot of room for decorations. That’s why these DIY mason jars are the perfect idea. Not only are they perfect to display in your fall space, you don’t have to worry about storage. Instead easily convert them from Fall to Winter.

Fall DIY Mason Jar Decor

These adorable thumbprint flower mason jars are perfect for late summer and fall. See how to make them here.

Thumbprint Sunflower Mason Jar

Photo: Mason Jars Crafts Love

Lights and leaves, what’s not to love? These mason jar lanterns will dazzle any small space. See how to make them here.

fall mason jar lanterns

Photo: Crafts Unleashed

Paint your own mason jar votives with this beautiful fall theme. See how to make them here.

painted fall mason jar votives

Photo: The Idea Room

For another take on sunflowers, try adding a little burlap and lace. See how to make them here.

fall burlap and lace mason jars

Photo: Crafting In The Rain

Winter DIY Mason Jar Decor

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, you can easily transform your mason jar decor for the winter holidays!

Replace your sunflowers with a little pine branch and add a red bell for holiday cheer for these lovely mason jar vases. See how to make them here.

mason jar winter bell vase

Photo: Our Thrify Ideas

Lace, lights, and aren’t they nice? To see how to make these sparkling mason jars, click here.

mason jar winter lights

Photo: Making Lemonade Blog

Paint a red and white diagonal stripe to make a beautiful holiday vase. Learn how here.

Candy Cane Mason Jar Vase

Photo: Proflowers

For a super simple decorative touch to any kitchen, try this snowman inspired mason jar. For instructions, click here.

snowman mason jar

Photo: Debbie Doo’s

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7 Simple RV Decor Ideas to Personalize Your Small Space

Just because your home is pint-sized that doesn’t mean your decorating ideas have to be. Add instant style to your RV decor with these simple decorating ideas.

Colorful Accent Pieces

Add a little color and personality with accent pieces like throw pillows, runners, and table top pieces.

Rv Runner and art
Photo credit: Connie Tinkle

Try your hand at some easy, no sew throw pillow covers from Follow Your Detour.

Wall Hangings

Bring a little personality into your RV decor with wall hangings that reflect your personal style.

Bathroom wall art
Photo credit: Kris Brown

Wallpaper

Wallpaper can be used to add a unique look to a small space.

Wall Paper Headboard
Photo credit: Ginger McCarty

Window Treatments

RV valances and blinds can often be brown and boring, but adding your own curtains can really liven up a room.

Take a look at these RV window makeover ideas from RV Inspiration.

Paint

We all know that a little paint can go a long way to really making a difference in your RV decor. Consider paining an accent wall or kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Backsplash
Photo credit: Wheeled and Free

 

Backsplash

Adding a backsplash to your RV kitchen (see above) or bathroom can showcase your style and help provide visual separation from the rest of the small living space.

Barn Tin Backsplash
Photo credit: Ginger McCarty

Here’s a peel and stick tile tutorial from The Camping Gypsy.

Lighting

Changing out old lighting fixtures is a terrific way to update an older RV’s look.

Updated RV light fixtures
Photo credit: Mountain Modern Life

Check out this great tutorial from Mountain Modern Life.

Need More Inspiration?

If you’re looking for more ideas of simple, but beautiful decorative touches for your RV, please take a look at the RV Inspiration website.

 

 

How to Choose the Right RV

Many RVs at dealership show

If you are trying to find the right RV, you’ve probably already realized there are many variables. What type? What size? Hopefully our featured bloggers can help you with your research.

What Type?

Living the RV Dream provides a great breakdown of the various Types of RVs, with a discussion of their suitability for the full-time lifestyle.

Follow Your Detour wrote this terrific piece about why a Fifth Wheel was the best choice for them: 10 Reasons to Choose a Fifth Wheel for Full-Time RV Living.

Fifth Wheel RV
Photo credit: Follow Your Detour

If you’d like a sneak peak of a Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler after 3 years of full-time living check out this video from Chickery’s Travels.

What Size?

More Than A Wheelin’ recently interviewed several RVers in a range of RVs and sizes in their article: What Size RV Should You Buy? Bigger Isn’t Always Better.

Tear Drop RV
Photo credit: More Than A Wheelin’

New or Used?

Chickery’s Travels provides some insight in their article Should I Buy a New or Used RV?

Overwhelmed?

This great article from Liz Wilcox provides a humorous look at  What Your RV Says About You.

Article Image for Choosing an RV

Cooking in Your RV Kitchen

Featured post by Chickery’s Travels.

Living in an RV, I had to learn quickly how to manage small kitchen cooking. In this article I’ll share a few lessons learned and some of my favorite recipes. Hope it inspires you to start cooking in your RV kitchen.

interior view of RV kitchen

My Set Up

Luckily, my countertop is large enough for my favorite appliances: Cuisinart mini food processor, 6-quart slow cooker, and Vitamix blender. My husband even has room for his single serving Keurig coffee machine and Nespresso expresso maker. I have a three burner propane stove top and propane stove that I use daily. I also have a microwave oven, but I don’t really use it very often. We’re considering converting it to a convection oven/microwave combination.

When downsizing from our 2,500+ square foot house to the RV, I decided to forgo the knife block and instead use a three-piece ceramic knife set that I keep in the drawer. I have a large glass cutting board that I leave out on the counter. It doubles as décor. I also purchased a set of cookware that I’ve been using for 3 years now, and am still very happy with.

You can see my set-up, and watch how I use my propane stovetop and oven to make three separate recipes: Shepherd’s Pie, Vegetable Soup, and Potato Salad in the video below.

Lessons Learned

A few things I’ve learned about small kitchen cooking include:

  • Pre-preparation. I try to do as much pre-prep as possible to make things simpler when it’s time to actual prepare a meal. For example, I’ll chop up veggies like peppers and onions and store them in the fridge. That way, when I need them for a stir fry or soup, they are ready to go. I’ll also make a big batch of rice and/or quinoa to use for several meals.
  • Clean as you go. There’s not a lot of space to work with so I clean and use measuring cups and utensils as I go.
  • Multi-task. I try to make dishes that use some of the same core ingredients so I can get more done in a day. For example, the recipes below all use potatoes. I’ll boil the potatoes and make the three dishes in the same day: a large batch of soup that we can have for a lunch a few days, potato salad for a side dish, and a lentil shepherd’s pie for dinner.

In episode 2, I make Potato Leek Soup and Green Smoothies using my Vitamix blender.

In episode 3, I make Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles and a Coconut Cream Fruit Salad.

For more on how we live in our tiny, traveling home click here.

Note: We follow a plant-based diet meaning we don’t use any dairy, eggs, or meat. However, any of the recipes can easily be modified to include them. In fact, I’ve done so myself when we’ve had family visiting.

For more featured bloggers, see our Blog Directory.

Q&A Ten Months on the Road

 

Featured blog post provided by Chapter 3 Travels

Several weeks before we headed off on our trip last year, I wrote up a FAQ article about our travel plans. It has remained a pretty popular page on this site, probably because folks researching RVing assume the article will include valuable information about traveling in an RV full time. Of course, my post discusses things like the Tower of Terror and MacGyver, so it’s probably not all that helpful, but sometimes people need to learn things the hard way.

Anyway, it occurred to me as we visited the homeland of Virginia last week, that we were fielding a lot of really interesting questions, and actually being able to answer those questions made me realize just how much we’ve figured out over these past ten months. Many of these questions were things we once wondered or worried about ourselves, so I figured it might be helpful to answer them here. Continue reading “Q&A Ten Months on the Road”

5 Ways to Fund Full-Time Travel

Featured blog post provided by Chickery’s Travels.

There are numerous ways to fund full-time travel ranging from more traditional employment to entrepreneurship. The key is identifying your goals, strengths and weakness. Then choose the one that best fits you.  In this article, I explain how my husband and I fund our full-time travel. I also share the  methods of several other full-time travelers. Continue reading “5 Ways to Fund Full-Time Travel”

Eyeglasses and Dental Work in Los Algodones MEXICO!? Am I Crazy?

Featured blog post provided by RV Chickadee

This is the true story of my harrowing near-death experience crossing the border at Los Algodones, Mexico.

I mean, it’s Mexico, right? SUPER dangerous! Drugs! Cartel! Guns! Human trafficking!

And you know what? I got caught by the bad guys.

Somehow, they figured out I was an American. I really don’t know how they knew. Once they did, I was a target. Despite my rigorous spy training, they captured me.

I was bound and gagged then locked in a cell. Silly them, I dug my way out through the dirt floor. Thank god I used to do Pilates. Got me right out of there.

Well, ok. You got me. That’s not really me. I’m not that pretty. Or young. And my boobs aren’t that big.

But then, they found me again, trudging through the desert.

I was pretty tired and dehydrated, but I still managed enough energy to slap them across the face a few times, then bonk them in the head with that pipe in my hand in the photo to the right.  (There were only two of them) I clean knocked them out.

Then, I jumped the wall (There IS a wall) into the USA without any issues.

Am I kidding?

Of Course, I Am Kidding!

So I just pissed off any naysayers and/or negative nellies who still think Mexico is dangerous and you will die if you go. Too bad, people!

This is the type of story many people hold about Mexico. “You’re going to Mexico for DENTAL WORK?? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND??!! YOU’LL GET BODY SNATCHED. DRUGGED. RAPED. THEY’LL TAKE AN ORGAN WHILE YOU’RE OUT. SERIOUSLY.”

People, I’m here to tell you that Los Algodones Mexico is totally safe. It’s completely Americanized. Stay in the ‘American’ area and you are guaranteed to keep all of your organs.

Or, use this to protect yourself:

Click photo to get one. You’re welcome.

Seriously, I can’t attest to any other areas, but I do have full-time RV’ing friends who are down there now, and all are alive and well. (Well, they are in Baja, Mexico) Guess what? The USA has some cities with high murder rates. All places have bad areas. Los Algodones is clearly not one of them.

During my stay at American Girl Mine Rd, I crossed into Los Algodones Mexico more than once. Sometimes with friends. Sometimes with just Marshall. Had a girlfriend, Becky, who went alone more than once. She made it back alive and with cleaner teeth!

I have other friends, Lauri and Jase, who live in Yuma for a few months out of the year. They cross over all the time to feed friends their favorite taco crawl tacos or go just eat by themselves.

Went on a crawl with Lauri and Jase (left), John and Becky (right) and new to me buddies, Kym and Kevin.

Look! We’re having fun in Mexico, but probably are about to get drugged by our food.

Marshall’s folks go to Los Algodones for dental work from Phoenix, along with thousands of other Americans who don’t rely on ‘conventional’ wisdom of “Stay Away From Mexico! It’s Not Safe! Instead, Spend Way Too Much Money On Your Drugs And Teeth And Eyes In The States, You Dumbasses!!”

(If you live more than 150 miles from there, of course, you might not go. Still, for the cost savings of big dental work, a flight and hotel could easily save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.)

There are a few general things to know before crossing over to the ‘dark side’.

12 Tips For Going To Los Algodones, Mexico

Bring Your Passport

Hopefully, you just said “duh”, but I figured I had better mention it for those who didn’t. You’ll need it to get back into the USA.

You Don’t Need To ‘Check in’ To Get In

You simply walk through a roundabout. No-one checks on you, you don’t need to show anything. Anyone can enter the country. Arrive EARLY. Weekends are good as the dental places, mostly, aren’t open, so it’s less crowded/less of a line getting back.

Arrive Early, Leave Early

If you want to avoid a long line coming back in, that is. Whether you are walking or driving, there’s going to be a line if you come back after 11 or so. We had like zero wait time when we got back across at around 9:30 or 10. Hell, around 8:30 am there was already a pretty decently long line of cars.

The day we came back around 11:30 or noon? We had to wait about 45 minutes in line.

I believe they don’t sell alcohol until after 11. Be advised.

I can only attest to walking over, which I recommend over driving. They have spotty places to park, and sure it’s pretty safe there, but I am guessing the chances of your vehicle getting broken into are much higher across the border. Not to mention the insurance issues. You’re supposed to have Mexican auto insurance before crossing.

Parking

There is a BIG secure parking lot on the US side where you can park. It’s right at the border crossing, but there is a fee. $5 per car, RV’s and camper vans $7, 27+ foot motorhome is $12. Parking and the border are only open until 10pm.

Free Parking

On the only road to the border of Los Algodones, there is free parking on the side of that road up to a certain point. What point? The point where you start seeing ‘no parking’ signs on side of the road. There are always cars parked there once the border is open, and the walk is about 3/4 of a mile.

Quechan Casino Free RV Parking

The Quechan Casino, right off I-8, offers free parking for RV’ers. The walk would be longer from there, but not too bad for a free night’s stay.

Buying Liquor

You may purchase liquor in Mexico for a lot less than it costs in the USA. Mine was about half the price. Only ONE bottle per person may be brought back over the border. (Bring friends to carry back!)

I got some Captain Morgan. It did not taste quite the same and had a pretty icky taste to it, actually. I cannot attest to other brands. Also, I didn’t die.

Money Honey

Everywhere I went they took US dollars. Yay. No, nobody tried snatching it or anything from me on the street.

Finding A Good Dentist In Los Algodones

So yes, they have completely modern facilities. We went to Dental Betel. I took photos so naysayers would have to believe it was modern if they didn’t buy my word. They even have a website. My total for a cleaning was a mere 20 bucks.

Dentists in Los Algodones have a MUCH lower cost of operation and can charge much less. They don’t have to deal with insurance companies. Therefore, they stay super busy. I did see a place that said they take insurance. Not sure what that’s all about.

Was my cleaning thorough? I have to admit, not as thorough as in the USA. However, I keep my teeth pretty spotless, and there’s not much to do. In the US, they may be overdoing it. The only plaque I ever have is on the inside of my bottom front teeth. No cavities.

What do I use? I use this:

They could have done x-rays (I inquired) but they asked if I had any pain and, no, so they weren’t necessary.

I’m definitely going back next year. I do not have dental insurance. I definitely feel like I don’t ever need it again. Not at these prices.

Mexico does not have any accreditation process or licensing requirements, so get a recommendation from someone who has been. Or check Yelp and Tripadvisor for good ratings. Do a little homework before going!

Getting Eyeglasses In Los Algodones Mexico

For this, I went to one of the first places you see across the border- Algodones Optical. (OMG, they have a website TOO???) Yes, they are *that* modern. There are plenty of other reputable companies as well.

I got an eye test, including checking for glaucoma. I picked out my rims and lens type and came back to pick them up the next day. (Could have waited just an hour, but didn’t want to risk the line)  Total: $120.

I put them on and was disappointed that I couldn’t see (near) any better. I figured they had messed up my eye exam or something. I had a bad feeling about the whole thing for some reason. Maybe it was the woman we talked to that morning while walking across the border- she said glasses from Mexico just didn’t cut it for her.

She planted that seed and I had watched it sprout and come alive. I was very disappointed. Thought I had just thrown away $120.

Miffed, I decided to go back and ask them about it. They immediately re-checked them and noticed that they had been made for FAR sightedness. I needed near. They fixed them in about an hour. We went on our taco crawl, came back and BOOM! I could see up close perfectly with them on. YAY! Another win for Los Algodones. And no-one died.

Los Algodones Street Sales

You will be a bit bombarded by Mexicans on the street selling this or that dental or optical place. Just ignore them. It’s what they do. Unless you need services!

Also, the street vendors are pretty gregarious. They will do anything to persuade you to come in and buy something. You can ignore them. Or go in!

You can ALWAYS get the price down. Just start walking away. Never pay the first price offer, everything is negotiable. They will even give you free shots of tequila (Some places) to encourage you to buy! Watch out for that one.   : )

Buying Drugs In Los Algodones

Yes, you can buy drugs. They have a few drugstores just like in the USA, but with less stuff. You can buy shampoo, food, liquor, band-aids, aspirin, weird Mexican candy and treats, etc.

Be aware, it’s illegal to bring some drugs back into the USA. Cipro, the antibiotic, for one is considered illegal to bring into the USA. You can buy it there. Just don’t bring it over the border!

You can, um, also get Viagra. Surely for much less than in the USA.

Anyway, there’s other stuff you can get for pennies on the dollar such as amoxicillin and penicillin. I won’t go into all the ins and outs here, but here’s a general list of rules and things to know.

You can get prescriptions filled from a US doctor also for pennies on the dollar. (As long as it’s legal to bring back across the border)

Ladies, you can also get SUPER inexpensive Retin-a in Mexico. You can get name brand or generic. It’s the same stuff. I bought one tube for $3, another for $5. Incredible! That stuff is like $150 in the USA. 🙄

We didn’t die doing that either.

Moral of the story is, if you seek cheap dental work or eyeglasses, or you just want to explore Los Algodones, you likely won’t die, get raped, murdered or body-snatched. You might even get a great deal!