René M. Agredano
The weather gurus at the Old Farmer’s Almanac released the Winter Weather Forecast for 2017 – 2018 and it’s not great. If you’re a snowbird RV you need to pay attention to these three ways to keep warm when RVing in winter.
Is your RV winter-friendly? Image: iRV2 member kgchampagne
Snowbirds in Texas or California won’twon’t escape a cold wet winter in the coming months. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “much of the South and West can expect to feel cooler than normal.” However you may be able to ditch the heavy coat if you head to Florida or the Southeast, “where milder-than-usual temperatures will be felt” according to the 2018 winter weather forecast.
3 Ways to Keep Warm When RVing in Winter
Regardless of where you go, cold snaps are inevitable. The good news is you can do something to prepare for those brisk days. Here are three ways to keep your RV warm in winter.
Invest in a secondary heat source.
A secondary heat source is helpful for RVing in winter. Image: iRV2 member Mau Mau.
Ditch the expensive and dangerous space heaters for a secondary heat source. In his RV Life article “How to Avoid Winter Camping Problems in Your RV,” boondocking expert Dave Hegelson suggests a catalytic RV heater or an oil-filled electric heater.
“Your built-in forced-air furnace should always be the primary source as the ducts are routed to keep the plumbing from freezing and keeping the occupants warm. Further, a secondary option are oil-filled electric heaters. They emit a mild radiant heat, are essentially noise-free and present little fire hazards. Catalytic safety heaters too, which run on propane rather than electricity, offer radiant heat and operate safely below the combustion level of flammable materials.”
Get an electric blanket.
Save money and warm upwith an electric blanket.
Don’t want to invest in an extra heater?
When RV camping gets a little too routine, consider adding some variety to your adventures with fire tower lookout rentals in the west. It’s not as luxurious as sleeping in your rig, but these antique relics of a bygone era are a best-kept-secret for travel memories of a lifetime.
Tall Sentinels Watching Over America’s Forests
Fire tower lookout rentals are reservable each summer.
America’s forests have always been vulnerable to fires. In 1910, a devastating fire that burned three million acres and killed 85 people in Washington, Montana, and Idaho prompted the construction of over 5,000 high rise fire tower lookouts across the U.S., 600 of which were built by President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (the CCC) in the 1930s.
Volunteers teach visitors about the Osborne Fire Finder.
Situated in some of America’s most remote areas, fire tower lookout accommodations were made as crude shelters, with no running water or electricity. Early technology in these towers was bare bones, with “smoke chaser” staff using mirrors to send out Morse Code signals when a fire broke out.
Later the “Osborne Fire Finder” device was invented, which made pinpointing fires much easier.
Telephone service was gradually brought in to fire tower lookouts, and fire spotting technology later developed to the point that it was no longer cost-effective to pay people to stay in these lookouts.
Over time, America’s fire tower lookouts faded into obscurity, with less than 250 in use by 1964. Although some fire towers are still in use and staffed by dedicated (and hearty) volunteers, the forest service only uses the system to enhance their high tech fire fighting strategies.
Today, that loss is your gain. As you travel across the west in your RV, consider taking a break from the road by renting a fire tower lookout.
For a change of scenery from RVing.
Fire Tower Lookout Rental Facts
If you aren’t afraid of
Deciding to live as RV nomads is relatively easy. But winnowing your stuff down and knowing what not to pack for full-time RVing is the hardest step of the journey. Here’s how to get started:
If you haven’t worn it in six months, donate it. (Image: iRV2 member lynch763)
Downsizing for full-time RVing is a shocking process. I never thought I was a consumer until I started taking dusty boxes off garage shelves and emptying my closet to begin downsizing. When everything was laid out on the floor and I had no room to walk in my home, I couldn’t believe the items I was hanging onto. Here are some lessons I learned while ditching these boat anchors.
Things you haven’t used for six months or more
There’s an old rule that says if you haven’t used a piece of clothing in a year, get rid of it. That’s well and good for conventional living but for tiny house living you need to speed up that timeline. If you haven’t worn something in your closet at least once every six months, donate it. The same goes for cooking utensils, books and even non-perishable food. All of those things can be bought somewhere along the way if you need them. The only place this rule doesn’t apply is your tool box. You hope you’ll never need to use that roadside emergency kit or jumper cables but you’ll be glad to have them if you do.
The kitchen utensils you carry seem like such a small thing but each one takes up space and weight. Although new culinary gadgets are fun to have on hand, most only serve one purpose. That Smore maker, kiwi peeler, and pineapple corer should all go in your Goodwill pile. If your Grandma lived without it, so can you. Only carry
Do you ever question the meaning of the phrase “settle down”? Kelly and Marshall did. Today these two full-time RVing nomads put their old lives behind them for an endless adventure on the open road and a website for camp addicts that they can run from anywhere.
Not content to put up with the flying cockroaches, humidity and hurricanes that inundate her home state of Florida, Kelly Beasley, age 44, hit the road nearly three years ago with her two dogs Gizmo and Trixie.
“Right after the end of an 8-year relationship, I found myself with nothing holding me back,” she explains. “With a rental income stream and a part-time job that could go mobile, and no relationship stopping me, I jumped at the chance to live like a nomad.”
She sold her house and the contents inside it to buy a truck and trailer. Soon she was on the road discovering the joys of dry camping throughout the country. It’s not always easy being a solo woman RVer but the benefits far outweigh the draw backs she says. She discovered the joys of dry camping far from civilization and shares them in an article she wrote called The Hold-Your-Hand Guide To Boondocking Without Fear.
News and media only show us the worst of what goes on in the world. They lead us to believe that without the supposed ‘security net’ of society, we are vulnerable to some sort of attack . . . Is it safe to be out on public land all alone? HELL YES. It’s way safer than living in a city! Or the suburbs, even. Why? Because if you’re scared of other people, just know this: Criminals are lazy. They don’t drive out to BLM land looking for a target.
She laughs at the thought of returning to a conventional sticks-and-bricks lifestyle.
Everyone likes a good bargain and full-time RVers are no exception. Smart nomads who carry their homes on their backs know how to keep costs down by taking advantage of cheap and free places to camp.
From parking lots to public land, driving a self-contained home enables you to choose a variety of inexpensive overnight accommodations. When you do it, just remember the trade-offs, like these pros and cons of free camping in different settings.
Not all free camping is this good! (Image: iRV2 member raytronx)
When your RV changes from a vacation vehicle to a full-time way of life, your perspective about where you park your home should change if you want to save money.
Many new full-time RVers have unreasonable expectations about parking spots, even if they’re only staying for a night. Not every campground is going to be a resort. Many won’t even have a decent picnic table to eat on. But if you’re a full-timer without unlimited financial resources, it’s smart to take advantage of free RV camping opportunities whenever possible.
Just be aware that like anything, parking on the cheap has advantages and disadvantages.
The pros and cons of free camping in parking lots
First make no mistake, this style of free camping is not ‘camping.’ It’s a bare bones way to rest your head for one night. When you legally take advantage of Walmart overnight parking, stay curbside in an industrial neighborhood or stay overnight in a rest stop, the RVers Code of Conduct must be your guide.
The main advantage is obvious; you save a few dollars when you don’t need a place to hook up your self-contained home. But this kind of overnight stay has lots of cons including: noise, crime risk and some unsavory characters who give free camping a bad name in the eyes of the public.
The pros and cons of free camping in a
The Internet is no longer just a plaything, it’s a way of life for everyone from grandma to hipsters. You can use it to stay in touch with friends and family or earn a six figure income, the possibilities are endless. But when it comes to living as a full-time RVers, these pros and cons of mobile internet for RVers shows that it’s not always easy and often expensive to get online.
It’s not always this easy to get online.
You don’t often think about internet access when you’re in a city or at home in a sticks-and-bricks. Much like the water that flows from the sink, broadband is usually cheap and plentiful. But getting online when you go RVing is like dry camping without a water hookup. You’ve got to savor every bit of data your computers and mobile devices use up, because you’ll quickly run out if you don’t. When you live in your RV and enjoy seeing the best nature has to offer, getting online can be a challenge.
You’ll find that where internet access does exist in the hinterlands, cellular broadband speeds can be slow and frustrating. And while commercial RV parks make a valiant effort to keep up with demand for fast internet, seasoned RVers know that relying on park WiFi is a gamble. Sometimes it’s great but more often it’s lackluster at best. Only a fool (or someone who doesn’t need to earn a living online) relies on RV park internet to get connected.
Three things to consider for mobile internet access
Whether you plan to work from your RV or are living the retired life, you’ll most likely need to get online at some point during the week. Costs can exceed $200 if you actually rely on the internet to make a living. Don’t hit the road until
Ah that “new RV” smell. The aroma of a brand-new trailer, motorhome or truck camper can be intoxicating during the buying process. Unfortunately the scent wafting from the toxic formaldehyde glues holding the units together can also be bad for our health. Today a new generation of eco-smart RV manufacturers are trying to limit our exposure to toxins in RVs. They’re going for the Green RV certification process and attracting more savvy, eco-conscious buyers in the process. Here’s how they do it.
The Basics of Green RV Certification
Airstream Class B coaches are TRA Green Certified.
RV manufacturers have often used less than eco-friendly materials to build their homes on wheels. Formaldehyde is the most well-known controversial RV material included in the fabrication process. This is a known carcinogen found in glues that hold wood products together. It’s also the key ingredient in that “new RV smell” and one of the reasons why RV manufacturers were thrust into bad press about it a few years ago. That’s when hundreds of Hurricane Katrina evacuees reported similar respiratory problems after moving into their temporary government-issued FEMA trailers. Over ten years later, the RV industry is striving to recover from this bad press by aiming for Green RV Certification from third-party evaluators like the Elkhart Indiana-based TRA Certification Incorporated.
The Four Components of a Green RV
TRA has certified green RVs for nearly a decade.
TRA Certification Incorporated is an independently owned organization that works with RV and modular/manufactured home producers who voluntarily strive to incorporate green practices into their business models. The organization assesses and assigns points to major manufacturing categories common to all RV makers’ facilities, procedures and practices. Within those categories, applicants can earn points in one of many areas such as:
Indoor Air Quality
Are the RV’s wood materials “CARB compliant”? The “CARB” acronym refers to a standard set by the California Air Resources