Do You Consider Yourself a Good RV Driver, Minnesota?

Photo Courtesy of MobileLifeStyle

If you currently own an RV or you’re thinking about purchasing a new RV in the near future, then it’s probably safe to say that you’ve been driving for several years now. Every driver forms their own driving habits over the years and most consider themselves to be a good driver. But obviously, this isn’t true. Not everyone out there is as good of a driver as they think they are. In fact, more than 33,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents last year — most of which were preventable.

In the motorhome world, we tend to spend more time driving than the average person. Therefore, we of all people should practice safe driving and be considered the best drivers out there. You’d be surprised at how even the smallest things we do behind the wheel of our RV can make a difference. Let’s take a look at some statistics from Consumer Reports and see how we can prevent ourselves from becoming them.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids between 3 and 12 years old. By placing all children 12 and under in the back seat, you can reduce injury risk by 64 percent for children under 8 and 31 percent for 9-12 year olds.

Secure you children. Not only will this possibly save their lives in an accident, it will also prevent you from losing control of the vehicle due to the children bouncing all over the car.

Speeding is a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes, killing nearly 900 Americans every month.

This one is a no-brainer, don’t speed. Sure there’s a window of five to eight mph over the posted speed limit, but the only time you should ever exceed that window is if you are passing someone. This pertains to RV owners mostly because our RV, travel trailer or fifth wheel is much larger than our passenger cars.  (So this pertains to RV owners more than anyone.) As a bonus, not speeding will help with your fuel consumption.

In 2009, over 5,400 people were killed due to distracted driving and 448,000 were injured.

Keep your eyes on the road at all times. Don’t text, email, eat, play with the GPS or anything else that may cause you to become distracted. Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds can result in a deadly crash.

The use of seat belts saved the lives of 13,000 people in 2008.

Buckle up. Seat belt laws are there for a reason, people. Should you happen to be involved in an accident, your seat belt will prevent you from flying through the huge windshield of your RV.

Another way to prevent an accident is preventative maintenance. Be sure to routinely check the tire pressure and tread of your tires, your fluid levels and battery. You should also always use your signals to alert other drivers of your vehicle and what you are planning to do.

As I mentioned before, a high percentage of motor vehicle accidents are preventable. So Minnesota RVers, what will you do to be the best RV driver you can be? Let us know!

7 Tips For Backing Up and Parking Your New RV

I ran into a friend of mine who purchased his first RV, a 2002 Forest River Georgetown, at the beginning of the summer. I hadn’t seen him since he made the purchase, and I was dying to know how his first few RV trips had gone. Come to find out… he hadn’t taken his new RV out once! I couldn’t believe it! When I asked him why, he was a little bit reluctant to tell me, but I finally got it out of him. He didn’t know how to back-up and park the RV. At first, I was shocked that this had kept him from using his beautiful, new home-away-from-home. But the more I thought about it, I realized that he was probably not alone with this fear.

If you’re a first-time RV owner, getting out on the road can seem a little scary.  After all, RVs drive a lot differently than your average four-door sedan.  Whether it’s a motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer, there are several things you should know about backing up and parking. I found seven excellent and helpful tips from the Fun Times Guide that I shared with him and would now like to share with you.

7 Tips For Parking & Backing Up RVs

#1  Stop right where you are, when you reach the point where you no longer have clear vision of where you want to go. Never attempt to move into tight quarters, if you can’t see all possible hazards.  That is, unless you have someone positioned where they can see the obstructions and they can warn you.  Your assistant must be positioned so they can see both you and the possible dangerous situation

#2  Avoid places that are impossible to get into, or nearly so. Don’t blindly pull into an unfamiliar driveway, dead end street, or parking lot that doesn’t have a second exit.

When you pull into shopping areas, stay out near the perimeter and chose your parking spot so that you can simply pull ahead to leave. Don’t go down the aisles of parked cars — because you’re likely to be making a sharp corner in a confined spot, when you get to the end of the aisle.

 

#3  Learn to rely on your mirrors. An RV isn’t like the family sedan. Looking over your right shoulder and down through the center of your motorhome or tow vehicle to back up won’t work. You have to rely on the image in your side mirrors.

Straight vehicles, without trailers, are pretty easy to back up — because a properly adjusted mirror should give you a view of the side all the way back to the rear bumper. As long as you can see daylight between your RV and the obstruction, you’re good.

 

#4  Set up temporary parking & driving patterns, using safety cones or milk jugs. Head out to a closed supermarket parking lot and set up your cones like a driveway or camping spot. Practice backing into those spots until you can do it without hitting any cones.

 

#5 Practice blind side parking. If your luck is like mine, more often than not you’ll end up backing into a campsite from the blind side with your trailer.

The blind side is the right (passenger) side of your vehicle. It’s known as the blind side because at some point, as you’re turning, your tow vehicle will no longer be in a straight line with your trailer.  You will no longer be able to see what’s happening on at least one side of your RV. This is where an outside helper is essential to keep you posted on your progress.

A trick I’ve used to increase my range of vision when backing around corners is to readjust my side mirrors at a different angle as I start making my turn. Most motorhomes, and many trucks, have electrically adjustable mirrors that you can control with a switch from the driver’s seat. Adjusting the mirrors, as you proceed through the corner, will give you a clear view most of the way.

 

#6  Never rely on rear vision cameras, because they’re pointed down toward the ground behind you and don’t give you a broad enough picture. There are overhead obstacles to be concerned about too.  Low-hanging branches, building overhangs, even sagging power lines can hook your RV. By far the best way to back into a tight spot is to have a person (or even 2) outside watching all the angles. Maneuver with your windows down, and instruct your helper to talk loud enough so you can clearly hear them. A set of inexpensive walkie talkies can be very handy for just this purpose.

 

#7  Use extreme caution when backing a motorhome with a tow vehicle attached. In fact, backing up with a toad (car) on a tow bar more than a foot or so is impossible. Since the steering axle of the car being towed is free to track wherever it wants, as soon as you start backwards it will immediately turn the wheels, causing extreme pressure to be applied to the front end components of your vehicle in tow.

Damage can occur, because you will be skidding the car sideways, with the front wheels turned all the way to the stops. If you need to back up when towing a car, just unhook the car first.  After you’re situated where you can go forward again, re-hook the tow bar. It’s the only safe way to do it.

[The Fun Times Guide]

Something else that can seem tricky at first is backing into a camping spot (especially if the two spots next to you are both occupied). There is a little trick, though, that some of us RV vets use called The Scoop. Once you nail this technique down, you’ll be pulling into camp spots like a pro. Check out this little illustration video showing exactly how it’s done. If you need any help at all with anything RV-related, don’t hesitate to give us a call or swing by.

 

The Boondocking Code of Ethics

For those of you new RV owners who may be unfamiliar with the term, boondocking, also known as dry camping or primitive camping is basically camping without the electic, sewer or water hookups.  There are generally two types of boondocking – blacktop and boonies – and there is a certain code of ethics associated with each one that we should follow. The general rule of thumb is to always leave the place nicer than it was when you got there. Let’s check out some other rules we should follow.

Blacktop boondocking is when you pos up in a parking lot (Wal-Mart, Casinos, etc.). The main appeal of this type of camping is the convenience and budget. Some places have actually passed bans on this type of boondocking. To make sure bans aren’t passed, RV clubs like The Escapees, have come up with their own code of ethics for blacktop boondocking. They have even gone far enough to post a print out of these rules that you can leave on offender’s vehicles.

Blacktop Boondocking Rules

1. DO obtain permission from a qualified individual. This way you’ll never have to worry if you are violating any sort of code or law.

2. DO try and park out of the way. Most of these parking lots are huge, and most likely there are spots way in the back that will be vacant.

3. DON’T use your awnings, chairs, or barbecue grill. These things tend to send the message that you are here to stay.

4. DON’T use slide-outs if at all possible for the same reason as mentioned above.

5. DON’T use your leveling jacks on asphalt.

6. DO try and limit your stay – one night is best, and two is the absolute maximum. We recommend staying two night only if you must.

7. DO purchase gas, food, or supplies as a way of saying “thank you”.

8. DO leave the area cleaner than you found it. This one is sometimes dificult for people to folllow, but think of it this way… you’re only helping blacktoppers reputation climb by cleaning up. Even if it’s after other’s.

9. DO practice safety precautions. This is important in any situation.

You can print out of these rules and then leave them on offender’s vehicles. Everyone should know proper boondocking etiquette.

[The Escapees]

Now let’s switch gears and take a look at the guidelines we should follow for boondocking in the boonies. As you can probably guess from its name, this type of boondocking is done out in the wilderness. A lot of campers do this purely for the wilderness experience and enjoy the peace and quiet they wouldn’t necessisarily have at a slotted campground. The more serious boondockers even modify their vehicles with solar panels and an inverter to charge their batteries so they can freely camp in the beautiful wilderness.

Rules for Boondocking in the Boonies

  • Park in previously used areas. Do not create a new road or parking spot or run over vegetation.
  • Park away from other RVs so each can enjoy the peace and quiet. If you do have a generator you plan to run, park far away from other RVs and limit your use to an hour or so in the morning and another in early evening. Generator noise carries and is not part of the wilderness experience.
  • Respect quiet hours. Do not run generators or play TVs or radios loudly after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (Some areas may have different quiet hours so check with the agency.)
  • In some areas dumping grey water on the ground is permissible. Always check with the agency first. Dumping black water on the ground is never permitted.
  • Leave the area cleaner than you found it. Dispose of trash in a trash container after you leave.
  • Read and follow the agency’s rules regarding fires, collecting firewood, and quiet hours. Respect time limits, which are typically 14 days.

Boondocking is one of my favorite aspects of owning an RV, but we have to remember to always follow that golden rule in order to continue boondocking for years and years to come. Leave the place nicer than it was before you arrived.

The Number One Source for North American RV Park Reviews

Hey fellow RVers, I have found the perfect web site for picking a campground! From rates to reviews, this site has it all! Whether you’re the type of person who likes to strategically map out your camping spots or if you like to decide at the last minute, it doesn’t matter. This site is fully compatible with smartphones!

First, you select Mexico, the U.S. or Canada. Then you can choose your desired province/state and narrow your selection even further (see image below). Once you’ve chosen your area, you’ll see reviews of all the campgrounds nearby.

 

Once you’ve selected a campground, you’ll find the general camp information on the left-hand side of the page including the number of sites and the latest rate. Below that are the campground’s contact numbers, website and a map view.

On the right-hand site of the page, you’ll find a section for the campground’s accommodations and the type of hookups provided. If you scroll down the page, you can read reviews of other campers.

Click on the image to be taken to this site's information page.

The other cool thing about this site is the ability to submit reviews. There are currently more than 133,900 user-submitted reviews. If you’d like to review a campground, all you have to do is choose “Downloads” from the main page and fill out a review form.

The site also features a search function, so if you already have a campground in mind, why not check out the reviews before hitting the road with your fifth wheel or motorhome?

This site definitely gets a five-star rating from me, and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself!

 

 

 

Properly Store Your RV Minnesota

Unless you’re a full-timer, there’s going to come a time when you’ll need to store your RV. Whether its for a few weeks or few months, proper storing techniques must be applied in order to protect one of the biggest investments you’ve made. If you’re planning on storing your RV on your own, here are a few things you should keep in mind and consider.

RV Storage Tips

  1. Get rid of the gas. If you’re planning on parking your RV for longer than a month, you may want to consider emptying the gas tank. Gasoline begins to deteriorate over time and can end up causing your engine some problems and causing you a chunk of change. This is especially true in the hotter months. If you’re unable to empty the tank, you can use a gas stabilizer.Stabilizers can preserve your gasoline for up to a couple of years but they can’t fix what has already started to deteriorate. Once your tank is nearly empty, measure out enough stabilizer to treat a tank of gas; pour it in your tank; then fill your tank with gas to about 95% capacity. Filling your tank to 95% capacity minimizes the possibility of condensation and still leaves a bit of room for expansion and contraction.  [ViringiaWind.com]
  2.  

  3. Custom-fitted RV covers. The best thing you could possibly do for your RV is buy a custom-fitted RV cover. Look for one that blocks sun damage, is water resistant, and fits your unit. Do not use a regular, old dark blue tarp. This will attract the sun’s heat and allows many areas for moisture to accumulate.
  4.  

  5. Tires. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t take tire care into consideration when storing their RV. It’s good to use tire covers to protect the rubber and prevent cracks and dry decaying from the sun. It’s even better to remove the tires all together and store them in a cool, dry place away from gasoline and oil.
  6.  

It may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t have to be… you could leave it up to the experts. Storage services offer all sorts of cleaning and maintenance, and is probably your best bet if you are unsure of how to properly store your RV on your own.  If you need any advice or more information about properly storing your RV, don’t hesitate to give us a call or visit one of our four locations!

Vintage RV Group Holds Summer Rally in Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of RedwoodFallsGazette.com

One of my favorites sites for getting the latest on RVs is RV News Magazine’s website. I recently became addicted to their new section called “RV News Digest” which is where I found a story about a vintage RV group who recently met in Redwood Falls, MN, for its summer rally. The group, named Greater Midwest Classics,  is made up of people who share a passion for the General Motors RVs manufactured between 1973-78. Members reside in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois. There’s even a member from Australia! These folks know all there is to know about the history of these RVs and each have a story of there own about how they came to own one (read the full story from the Redwood Falls Gazette).

Reading about these vintage RVs got me wondering about what the very first RV might have looked like. As I surfed the Internet, I found a brilliant montage YouTube of vintage RVs dating back all the way to the thirties! Check it out!

Are you a proud, vintage RV owner? Come by and show it off!

 

RV ABCs: Class A Motorhome

When it comes to buying or renting an RV, there are many things you should consider. First and foremost, you need to decide what type of RV you are looking for. RVs come in all shapes and sizes and each class has its respective advantages and disadvantages. Here at Pleasureland RV, we want to make sure you find the perfect fit. So let’s take it back to elementary school and learn the ABCs of RVs starting with Class A Motorhomes.

Class A Motorhome

Description: Class A Motorhomes are big, square and boxy and are considered the most luxurious of all RVs due to their top-of-the-line amenities. You’ll often here people refer to Class A Motorhomes as their home-away-from-home.

2012 Winnebago Vista

Advantages: Class A RVs can be as long as 45 feet. With all of this space inside, they’re usually equipped with a rear master suite including a full bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower. The water closet may be in its own separate room, and there’s probably a washer/dryer unit on board to handle the laundry.

Today’s Class A motorhomes tend to have multiple slideouts. Some can expand to a width of over 14 feet. Large flat screen HDTV’s, surround sound systems, even dishwashers and ice machines are common options. The list of upgrades and options is almost endless.

Basement storage can swallow enough supplies to keep you on the road permanently. These are great traveling machines that let you drive comfortably all day and sleep comfortably all night so you can get up the next morning to do it all over again.

Disadvantages: For Class A RVs, fuel economy is a big one. With their boxy and large profile, you’ll be spending big dollars to keep a Class A motorhome rolling down the highway.

Once you get to your destination and set up camp, you’re pretty much stuck there. Unless you tow a car for local transportation, you’ll be staying put at camp. That is unless you want to put everything away, roll up the awning, and suck in the slide-outs so you can motor on down the road again.

If you’re timid about driving something this large, keep in mind that close area maneuvering is a learned skill.

[The Fun Times Guide]

 

So, is the Class A Motorhome for you? Maybe yes, maybe no. Stay tuned for the next two letters of the RV alphabet.

Extreme RV Weather: High Winds

You don’t have to be in the middle of a hurricane or F3 tornado to experience high winds while on the road. The skies may be clear and the sun brightly shining, but we should never forget about that unseen force of nature that can so easily leave you’re fifth wheel or travel trailer overturned on the side of highway 90. I’m pretty sure this RV driver did not see this coming…

Crosswinds pose the greatest threat to fifth wheels and travel trailers because they can push the vehicle into another lane, or as we saw above, they can cause the vehicle to turnover.

So how can we avoid this situation, Minnesota RV enthusiasts? You can do one of two things: slow down to a speed where you feel comfortable or pull over and wait for conditions to clear. Unfortunately, these are really your only two options. If you have any questions or need some more tips on how to handle your RV in high winds, you can always give us a call or stop by one of our locations.

Got an iPhone and An RV? Check This Out!

As the years have passed, it has become overwhelming apparent that technology is going to make its way into our life.  We have social networks, seach engines, You-Tube, and informational blogs like this one!  And while all these different mediums have helped RV users out in some way, some of the newer technology has been lacking when it comes to getting quick information on your phone.

In comes a new iPhone application called Camping Finder made by CampingRoadTrip.com.  This handy app allows for a bunch of features to help an RVer or camper plan and execute a great trip.

“Camp Finder puts 14,000 U.S. campgrounds and RV parks in your pocket,” says Julian Fenn founder of CampingRoadTrip.com. “We want to help people have a great time in the outdoors and also save a few trees by getting rid of the big paper based camping directories. Camp Finder app is all about giving campers and RVers the freedom and spontaneity to have a great time on the road.”

The reality of being on the road means that plans do change. RVers and campers can now use the Camp Finder iPhone app to access the most up to date information and search for campgrounds and RV parks by name, city and state or current location. With just one touch campers and RVers can check out rates, amenities, camping discounts, contact details and even photos and reviews posted by others. “Camp Finder is even smart enough to give you directions to your destination. The only thing it won’t do is drive your RV or car there!”

Check out a video demonstration below:

httpv://www.youtube.com/campingroadtrip

So if you do have an iPhone, make sure you spend the $1.99 to purchase this very helpful and informative application.  And when you do download the app, make sure you put in Pleasureland RV first!!

[Source: PR Web]

Dealing With an RV Flat Tire

If you are driving your RV with too heavy of a load, under inflated tires, or old and damaged tires, then you are putting yourself at risk for a massive tire failure while driving down the road.  If this has never happened to you, then you should consider yourself lucky.  For those of us who have gone through this, then you know that it can be a bit frightening as well as confusing.  What should you do if this happens?  Well I found an excellent video produced by Michelin Tires about handling your RV in case a blow out occurs.

While the video is a little long, coming in at around 10 minutes, I do highly recommend watching the whole thing if you are not sure what you should do while experiencing a blow out.

We hope you found this information useful during such a stressful situation.  If you need for information, leave a comment or visit us at Pleasureland RV!