How to Choose a Safe Rest Area While Traveling in Your Minnesota RV

During those longer road trips we take (from Minnesota to California for example) in our new or used Minnesota RVs, you may find yourself in need of a break that wasn’t originally part of your plan. For instance, let’s say you had planned to stay the night at a specific campsite, but unforeseen reasons have put you behind schedule and you could really use a break. This is where “rest stops” come in. If you haven’t already guessed, a rest stop should be used for exactly what its name says. A rest stop.  While the average family or person stopping at a rest stop will have a pleasant experience, there are some rest areas known to be commonplace for criminal activity and potentially dangerous situations. Luckily for us, TLC has provided some great tips on how to choose a rest stop and what do once you are there. Stay safe out there, Minnesota RVers!

Be Aware of Your Surroundings. As you pull into a rest area, it’s important you remain alert. Take note of the stop’s name or the closest mile marker, so if you have an emergency you can give the authorities your location. Avoid individuals who seem to be hanging around parking lots and restrooms; that’s a good indication he or she is up to no good. It’s also a good idea to stay away from places where criminals might hide. Don’t park beside large trucks, which can block your view of the parking lot. When you’re walking up to the building, be wary of blind corners, recessed areas and thick vegetation. A well-designed rest area will have a rectangular design with few walls or bushes behind which people could hide.

Look For Secure, Well-Lit Areas. Proper lighting can go a long way in discouraging crime at rest areas. Buildings are often well-lit, but look for places where the parking lot is illuminated as well. At night, avoid the peripheral parts of the rest area, like picnic tables, trails and surrounding woods, where illegal activity sometimes occurs. At rest stops where crime is particularly bad, frequent police patrols or even permanent security officers may be present. If this is the case, approach the trooper or security guard and ask them to look out for you while you visit the facilities, especially if you’re alone.

Choose Your Stop Carefully. While crime can occur at any time of day, a rest area is most dangerous after the sun goes down, especially if it’s isolated and empty. If you’re traveling alone at night, it might be a good idea to visit a staffed facility like a fast-food restaurant or a convenience store instead of a rest area. If you want to know how safe a rest area is before you visit it, there are a limited number of resources available to help you plan your trip. One such book is the “Interstate Travel Guide,” a directory of America’s rest stops that, among other details, employ onsite security.

Take All Reasonable Precautions. Often the simplest safety measures are enough to keep you out of trouble at a rest stop. When you pull in to a parking place, don’t linger in your car. Closed up inside with the music on, you can easily become oblivious to your surroundings, giving criminals the time and opportunity to target and confront you. When you get out of your vehicle, lock the doors to prevent theft. Also, try not to enter the rest area facilities alone. If you’re traveling with young children, see if a family restroom is available. Even older children and adults should have someone accompany them to the restroom or wait for them outside.

Don’t Spend the Night. While it may be cheap to spend the night at a rest area, it isn’t necessarily safe. Many states have banned sleeping at rest stops due to increased crime, and many others have put up signs that discourage it. Your best bet is to look for campgrounds or state parks along your route where, for a small fee, you can more safely snooze in your car. If you have to sleep at a rest area, in an RV or car, keep the doors locked and don’t open them to strangers. Talk to any strangers through the window or door, and if you feel threatened, drive away.

 

A Lesson in RV Jargon for the First-Time Minnesota RVer

So, you’ve officially joined the wonderful world of Minnesota RVing. Now that you have the RV, you look the part. The question is, do you sound like the part? As with most hobbies or lifestyles, the RV world has it’s own form of jargon. So before you head out in your new or used RV, take a quick lesson in RV terminology to help you communicate with fellow RVers along the way.

Let’s start with a few RV terms you should be familiar with.

Fiver – Another name for a fifth-wheel RV.

Hula Skirt – A skirt placed on the back bumper of a motorhome to stop debris that is thrown from the rear wheels from damaging vehicles behind the motorhome, either the vehicle you are towing or other vehicles behind the motorhome.

Dually – A pickup truck, or light-duty tow vehicle, with four tires on one rear axle.

Boondocking – Also known as dry camping, boondocking refers to camping without any hook-ups, namely camping without hooking up to any electric, sewer or water facilities. You can still have electric from your RV batteries and water from your freshwater holding tank.

Basement – The storage area below the floor of the RV, accessible from the outside. Basement storage usually refers to storage in a Class-A or Class-C motorhome.

Dinghy – The term for a vehicle that you are towing with your motorhome. It is also known as a Toad.

Now let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about RV grammar. One of the most common mistakes I hear first-time RVers make is calling their RV a mobile home or Winnebago.

Winnebago is actually an RV brand. If you’ve mistakenly called an RV a Winnebago, don’t beat yourself up too badly. This little mess-up is similar to people calling all types of soda a “coke” or any type of tissue a “Kleenex”.  Back in the 1970s, the travel trailer maker Winnebago introduced an affordable, mass-produced, self-powered recreation vehicle. Given their massive headstart, people naturally began calling all motorhomes a Winnebago.

As an RVer, it’s also important to know the difference between “mobile homeand “motor home. This is an easy one to remember. Motor homes have engines… hence the name motor. A mobile home has no engine, no steering wheel, etc.

So Minnesota, after my quick little lesson in RV jargon, do you think you’re ready to hit the road and meet some fellow RV enthusiasts? Sure you are! If you’re looking for some more technical terminology, you can always swing by one of Pleasureland RV’s four Minnesota locations. Our experts will be more than happy to help.

[Source: RV-info.net]