There are a million RV tips and tricks to make the RV life easier, and this page offers some little jewels we’ve discovered since we started RVing full-time in our fifth wheel trailer in 2007. We’ve broken them down into:
OUTDOOR RV TIPS and TRICKS
High Powered “Search” Flashlight
We often camp in areas that are quite remote, and getting to and from and around the rig at night is much easier with a very high powered flashlight!
We have a Lumintop SD75 Flashlight which is downright phenomenal. We have hiked Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon at night to photograph the stars and the Milky Way, and this flashlight is literally like holding a car headlight in your hand.
Here is more info about this flashlight:
Lumintop SD75 Flashlight Review
Getting Parked Without Damaging Anything
The most basic element in RVing is learning to hitch up and unhitch, whether you are driving a car pulling a popup, a diesel truck towing a fifth wheel or a Class A motorhome towing a car. Of course, lots of people have loads of fun in their motorhomes without towing a car behind, but getting hitched up and unhitched is part and parcel of the RV lifestyle for an awful lot of us.
The most important thing for the driver and the person standing outside of the rig is to stay in eye contact with each other. This is entirely up to the person running around outside. If you can see the driver’s face in the rear view mirrors, you are golden. If you can’t, then any kind of gesture you make, including jumping up and down and waving your arms because the driver is about to drive the rig right off a cliff, will never be seen.
We use two-way radios to give us a way to talk to each other and to lessen the impact if I inadvertently end up in a position where Mark can’t see me in the rearview mirror. We use the longest distance radios we can get, to make sure the signal is decent. Right now we have 36 mile GMRS radios, which are realistically good to about 3-5 miles. We used these on our boat (a godsend when anchoring) and we’ve used them ever since we started RVing. We’ve gone through three sets so far, because the salt air ate up two pairs during our cruising years.
Besides the radios, it’s really helpful to have good hand signals. I indicate the distance until disaster by spreading my arms wide and then bringing my hands closer and closer together until I give a “halt” sign (palms forward). Shaking my head and waving my hands and giving a few slices to the neck can help too if it starts to look really bad.
It is royally embarrassing to make all these gestures when you’ve got an audience of people watching, but I’ve learned that there’s no ego in getting the rig parked well. Every RVer who has been around a while has made a huge blunder of some kind while parking, and they’ve all lived through it. So a few members of your giggling audience will probably be very sympathetic to whatever mistakes you have up your sleeve.
My worst gaffe was in front of two very special friends we hadn’t seen since we’d moved into our fifth wheel a year earlier. They had come out to camp with us, and we were all excited. I had just finished telling them (with great pride) that we didn’t need their help parking because we parked our rig all the time, we had a system, and we had gotten pretty darn good at it.
Mark began to back up as our friends watched, and I began to warn him that he needed to go more towards the driver’s side to avoid a tree. He adjusted, but again, I told him, he needed to go more towards the driver’s side! I kept repeating my instructions louder and louder as our good friends watched in bewilderment. When Mark was just about to cream the tree, we all started shouting STOP!!! Mark got out of the truck, calmly assessed the situation, and then said to me: “Ahem…. which side does the driver sit on?”
Our friends smiled weakly and I looked for the nearest rock to crawl under…
So, don’t be embarrassed and don’t be shy. Make your gestures big and strong, and remember which side of the rig the driver sits on!
Hitching and Unhitching a Fifth Wheel Trailer
Some folks drive their RVs solo, and although I can’t say much about hitching and unhitching a motorhome and car combo, our good friend Bob has found a great way to hitch and unhitch a fifth wheel trailer solo. He marked the front landing leg that’s near the extend/retract button at regular intervals all the way up and down the leg.
Then he numbered each hash mark. He keeps a pad and pen in the hatch near the landing legs button. When unhitching, once he’s raised the trailer to where he can drive the truck out from under it, he jots down the hash mark number that is visible on the leg. Then he drives out, parks, and returns to the trailer and raises or lowers the landing legs as necessary to get the trailer level.
When he hitches up again to leave, he adjusts the trailer height to the exact position where he unhitched. That way, when he gets in the truck to hitch up, he knows the trailer will be at the correct height as he backs the truck up into the hitch pin (and he doesn’t have to get in and out of the truck several times to check and adjust the height of the trailer).
We marked our landing legs at 1.5″ intervals and have not numbered them. There are only 6 hash marks, and I make a mental note of what mark we were at when we unhitched. Frequently, by the time we leave, I’ve forgotten where we were at before we leveled the trailer, but I’ve developed a good eye for knowing how much to raise or lower the rig as Mark backs the truck towards the trailer.
We also marked the centerline of the fifth wheel pin box and pin plate so it is easy for Mark to line up the hitch with the pin box and king pin when he is backing the truck into the trailer.
Leveling the Trailer
There are many methods for getting a trailer level, and hydraulic leveling is a blessing that takes all the excitement out of it. For those without hydraulic leveling, we found in our early years that with two 5′ lengths of 2″x8″ board and one 5′ length of 1″x8″ board we could always find a combination that worked to get the trailer level from side to side. A 5′ board is relatively easy to drive onto and provides a solid platform for the trailer’s wheels.
We store the boards in the bed of the pickup. When using two boards, we stagger them a few inches so the trailer is driven first onto one level and then up a step to the next. We have to remember to back up when coming off stacked boards or the upper one will tip up and hit the bottom of the trailer while driving off it (think of a sailor walking the plank).
If you don’t like the idea of hauling long boards around in your truck, there are nifty plastic leveling board kits (here’s another type) that are very popular.
We also use plastic wheel chocks whenever we park on a steep incline to prevent the trailer from rolling, especially while unhitching and hitching up.
Our friend Ken introduced us to using a sliced up horse stall mat rather than pine boards. We cut a 4’x6′ sheet of horse stall mat into five 1×5 strips and four 1×1 squares, and those have worked really well for us. They hold up to the elements really well and they roll along with the contour of whatever crazy surface we might park on. It is also possible to drive off of them either forwards or backwards because they don’t slap the underside of the trailer.
The only disadvantage is that they are much heavier than pine boards, but we can drag them around and they don’t disintegrate. We use the 1’x1′ squares under the landing legs and scissor jacks for cushioning.
We also have four large blocks made of three 1′ lengths of 2″x8″ boards screwed together. We put handles on the ends to make them easy to lug around. In a really unlevel site in the Smoky Mountains we had to stack them on top of each other AND extend the jack legs all the way!
What Is Level and How Do You Know?
Determining what constitutes “level” inside an imperfectly constructed RV is an interesting trick. We used a carpenter’s level on our kitchen floor, in several directions, and on our table, and on the bedroom floor. Of course, none agreed! But we found a good compromise and then mounted some RV levels on the outside of the rig to give us a reasonable guess when we’re setting up.
There are two different types of levels: Bubble Levels that have an air bubble that floats to the high side, and Ball Levels that have a ball that drops to the low side. Bubble levels are more responsive (the bubble moves more quickly as the RV moves). Ball levels take a few seconds to react. If you use both types, you can get confused because they move in opposite directions.
We have a large Level Master level on the fifth wheel pin box that is easy to see from inside the truck. We also have two small bubble levels on the trailer on the corner by the landing jack power button, one facing forward (for left to right leveling) and one facing sideways (for front to back leveling).
Our pin box mounted Level Master, a ball level, is easy to see from inside the truck. When the trailer is higher on one side than the other, the Level Master ball falls to the low side.
Our smaller levels on the front corner of the fifth wheel are bubble levels, so the one on the front of the rig showing the side-to-side level has a bubble that rises to the high side. This is the opposite of the ball level on the pin box, and sometimes, when we are struggling with white line fever from hours on the road, this messes us up.
I’d recommend sticking to either ball levels or bubble levels and not mixing and matching like we did! A good solution might be to mount a ball level like this on both the pin box and on the front of the trailer near the landing jack power button.
Why do you need two side-to-side levels? When I’m running around placing the boards in line with the wheels for Mark to drive onto, I want to see a level on the fiver easily myself, and the front of the pin box is impossible to see from the side of the truck when we’re hitched up.
However, lots of folks rely on a single pin box mounted level that has both side-to-side and forward-back levels in it. There are a few from Camco and Hopkins that are very popular.
You can forego all this nonsense with a slick hydraulic leveling system. However, this does introduce a complicated and expensive system into your life, and we’ve heard many stories of the jacks falling down while driving, or not retracting properly and systems failing in other ways. On the plus side, though, you can easily jack up the trailer to change a flat!
Cordless Drill for Easy Jack Setup
We don’t have electric stabilizer jacks on our fifth wheel trailer (nor did we on our travel trailer). However, we use an 18 volt cordless drill, and it’s very easy.
We use the following setup to crank the scissor jacks:
- 18 volt cordless drill and battery pack
- 1/4″ Hex to 3/8″ Socket Adapter
- 8″ socket extension
- 3/4″ socket with 3/8″ drive
We keep the 1/4″ Hex to 3/8″ Socket Adapter in the drill. Mark glued the extension and 3/4″ socket together with JB Weld, making it ultra easy to grab the extension, jam it in the drill and go.
This setup worked on both the four stab-jacks on our travel trailer and the two rear scissor jacks on our fifth wheel. We keep the drill right inside a basement hatch door so it’s easy to find during both setup and breakdown of the trailer.
Camco makes a special Leveling Scissors Jack Socket that replaces those three pieces, but there is no 8″ extension. Personally, I like the long extension because you don’t have to crawl in so far to make contact with the scissor jacks.
Last year we bought a Rigid drill kit which includes a regular 18 volt drill, an impact driver (awesome for the lug nuts when changing a tire) and a radio as well as two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and a charger.
After going through three different 18 volt drills during our years of RVing and sailing, we’ve been really impressed with this Rigid kit. The Lithium-Ion battery charges up in about 15-20 minutes and it’s good for a really long time.
The kit comes with two batteries, so we use one for the drill and one for the radio. And what a hoot it is to have a portable radio. In this day and age of slick electronics, we’ve gotten such a kick out of this thing…
Cleaning the RV
No matter where we park, the slide roofs need attention before we bring them in. Either they are dusty, in the desert, or they are covered with twigs and leaves, in the woods, or they are wet from rain. Slide toppers might help with this, although I have heard that they tend to make noise in high winds, sag over time, and sometimes end up with leaves and twigs trapped underneath.
Mark has a long handled squeegee he uses to get the water off, a broom for the leaves and branches, and a California Duster and/or broom for the dust. Getting up on the roof is also useful for checking out all the rooftop items like hatches, TV antenna, solar panels and wiring. His favorite cleaning tool for all this is a telescoping scrub brush that we used for cleaning our boat.
He just loves this soft bristled brush. Murphy’s Oil Soap mixed with water is a good solution to wash the roof. To get rid of black scuff marks on the outside of the rig, he uses Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges.
The first trailer we lived in full-time didn’t have a walk-on roof, and the signature of an RV without a walk-on roof is that it doesn’t have a built-in ladder.
We got a telescoping ladder so we could get up on the roof, and we have kept that ladder and used it ever since, even though our fifth wheel has a built-in ladder.
You may not think you need a second ladder when you’ve got one on the rig already, but polishing the front cap is one job where you do.
Washing or working on any part of the rig that is high up and out of reach of the ladder on the back is much easier with a second ladder, including the high corner of the rear end opposite the built-in ladder!
RV Patio Mats
A beautiful patio mat extends your living space and defines your outdoor area in an elegant way, and we love ours.
But they can be pricey if you’re just getting started with weekend RVing. An alternative is to get some green indoor/outdoor carpeting. We had this with our popup tent trailer, and it fit the bill perfectly (and our friends who now own our popup still use it!).
Waxing the Fifth Wheel Cap
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for getting the fifth wheel cap to have a deep shine. It’s made of ABS plastic and shows every swirl mark of a first-pass at waxing. The only way to bring back the luster it had when it was new is to use an orbital buffer and fiberglass polish and a whole lot of elbow grease.
Mark likes the 3M Marine Cleaner & Wax that we used on our sailboat. Unfortunately, you’ve gotta do this a bunch of times, and the worse condition the front cap is in, the more times it takes. But eventually you can get the shine back. Just be sure you keep the buffer moving lightly across the surface at all times so you don’t dig a hole in the plastic!
We have more cleaning tips for giving an RV that extra shine while boondocking here: Tips for Washing an RV While Boondocking
Our 14,000 lb. fifth wheel was right at the weight limit of what our 2007 Dodge 3500 could tow, and the pin weight of the trailer along with all the things we carry in our truck loaded down the bed of that truck quite a bit.
When hitched up, although the rig looked quite level, the truck sagged a bit, leaving the front wheels a little light and giving the truck a tendency to wander.
To alleviate this, we installed a Timbren Suspension Enhancement System between the axles and leaf springs of the truck. These are solid rubber donuts (not airbags) that fit between the axle and the leaf springs. That made the truck sit better and wander less.
We had that setup for eight years. In 2016 we purchased a 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 dually truck which had a much higher weight capacity in the truck bed and could handle the pin weight of the trailer along with the additional weight of the water jugs and leveling boards we carry in the bed of the truck much better.
How to Put Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in a Truck
Our 2016 Dodge Ram 3500 has a five gallon Diesel Exhaust Fluid tank which needs to be refilled every thousand miles or so. We’ve got some tips for where to get this stuff cheap and how to get it in the truck without spilling here:
How to Put Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in a Truck and Which Brand is Cheapest
RV Grill Operating on the RV’s Propane Tanks
Mark loves to barbecue, and ever since our first popup trailer, we’ve had a wonderful, small RV barbecue, the “RV sidekick grill.” It comes with a mounting kit to hang it on the side of an RV. Flipped sideways, this same kit becomes legs so the grill can stand up off the ground.
We had this grill installed on the side of both our popup tent trailer and travel trailer, but with the fifth wheel, Mark installed an extra gas line and valve coming from the RV’s propane tanks so it can run from them. A quick disconnect LP gas hose goes from the grill to this gas line.
We’ve had this little grill since 2005 and it still makes a great meal!
RV Water Toys – Water Spigot Connections
In many dry camping campgrounds where there are water spigots available but no water hookups at the campsites, the water spigots don’t have threads. We’ve found a water bandit makes it possible to thread our water hose onto the spigot so we can fill up with water easily.
In cases where we get water hookups and leave the water hose connected to the trailer, we screw a 90 degree elbow onto the trailer so the hose can hang straight down rather than come out of the our city water connection horizontally and then droop down towards the ground, putting pressure on the connection and potentially causing drips. We discovered this nifty little elbow when we lived on our boat in a marina before our cruise.
In addition, a water pressure regulator keeps the water pressure down to a level inside the rig that prevents any unexpected damage or leaks. A quick release makes it easy to connect and disconnect the fresh water hose. Mark also keeps a Y valve in his water hose arsenal. This is handy if the rig is connected to city water and we want to fill pails with water for washing the truck, or if an RV dump station has only one water spigot and we want to fill our fresh water tanks and run the black water flush at the same time.
Lots of folks like to attach a water filter as well. We used various filters at first, but no longer use any, although we periodically add a cap full of bleach to the fresh water tank. When we got a new fresh water tank, we were surprised that there was no sludge of any kind inside the old tank, even after 7 years of use.
Changing the Inner Rear Tire on a Dually Truck
We have a Dodge Ram 3500 dually truck with a B&W fifth wheel hitch, and wouldn’t you know it, the first time we had to change a tire on it, it was the inner rear tire. Ugh!
We had always wondered exactly how you went about doing this, and we found out. Here is a blog post that explains the entire process:
How to Change the Inner Rear Tire on a Dually Truck
INDOOR RV TIPS and TRICKS
Creating STORAGE SPACE with Seating for Four in the Dinette
We replaced the two chairs in our dining area with two wonderful storage ottoman benches, and this has increased our storage space by quite a bit. The storage ottomans we chose have a nice faux leather padded top that is really comfy to sit on, and they have voluminous storage space inside.
We have his-and-hers benches, and we keep our camera gear in them. The great thing is it got rid of all our clutter and gave us a place that is low down in the trailer and slightly ahead of the trailer’s axles (a smoother ride) where we could make custom padded storage for this delicate gear.
For more info and more pics of our benches, see this blog post about our setup: Making STORAGE SPACE in an RV.
You can buy the storage ottomans we purchased HERE, and you can get ideas of other brands and sizes of storage ottomans on the market HERE.
Protecting the Carpets Under the Slide-Outs
The carpets take a beating as the slide-outs roll in and out. Some slide-outs aren’t quite square and one wall or the other presses particularly hard on the floor while driving. You can buy fancy carpet protectors that fit under the slides. We went a cheaper route and bought a package of four flexible plastic cutting boards.
We used packing tape to tape two of these together, end-to-end, and each pair fits under the slide-out walls perfectly yet are thick enough to protect the carpets. I keep one pair under one slide-out wall while driving, because that slide is crooked and its one wall gets wedged against the floor pretty tightly. The other slide-out walls hover above the carpet as we drive, so I pull the plastic cutting boards out from under them so they don’t get lost underneath while in transit.
Keeping the Cabinets Closed
After having a cabinet door fly open while driving over a bumpy road, causing two unbreakable Corelle bowls to fly across the trailer and break in half, we now latch every cabinet door with 6″ bungee balls. For drawers we use mini 10″ bungee cords with a hook at each end, hooking the top and bottom drawer handles.
Rolled up Carpets
We have a large pots-and-pans drawer that occasionally likes to open. We roll up our throw rugs and place them so they can’t unroll in front of the drawer to keep it closed.
Rubber Shelf Liners
Rubber Shelf liners are invaluable, keeping everything in its place on each shelf as we travel. We try to make sure no plates, mugs or glasses are touching each other when we set out.
Closet Organization with Plastic Drawers
Our bedroom has a marvelous 8′ wide closet with sliding doors on it, but the interior is just open space with a rod for hangers. We don’t use it as a hanging closet (we have a different closet for that). Instead, we put stacked plastic drawers inside to give us more drawer space as well as a horizontal surface on the top.
These drawers don’t latch closed, so Mark drilled a hole through each drawer and the frame, and we simply slip a screw through each hole to keep it closed as we drive.
Book Organization with Special Bins
We like to keep our heaviest items, like books, on the floor, as shelving in an RV tends to be quite flimsy. I found an awesome line of Rubbermaid “All Access” bins that have a clear plastic latching door on the front. Ours fits neatly under our desk (which we never use as a desk, so it’s wasted space). We can move the whole thing easily, can load it from the top easily and can get at the books from the front easily.
Dish Drying Mat
We do several small loads of dishes everyday, and I just love our little dish drying mat. It soaks up all the water, and once I move the dishes off of it I can hang it up to dry. Every so often I throw it in the laundry with the dish towels, and it comes out just fine.
How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes!
Propane RV refrigerators build up a lot of frost very quickly. After trying many different methods for defrosting our fridge over the years, we’ve outlined the steps we use to get this job done quickly:
How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes!
LED Wax Pillar Candles
I love romantic lighting, and there’s nothing like candles for that. But having an open flame isn’t great. Sailing friends of ours introduced us to pillar shaped LED candles made of real wax, and they are delightful. We’ve had ours for five years now, and we’ve had to change the batteries just once. They are wonderful for dim lighting in the pre-dawn hours or late at night, and they are a nice light around the rig when we watch a movie. The best part is they really look and feel like real candles, but you don’t have the risk that comes with an open flame.
We thought we could memorize all the things that need to be done when we pack up the rig for towing, but a few mishaps taught us otherwise.
We now have a checklist taped inside the same cabinet that houses the main slide-out controls.
A quick glance before we leave ensures us that indeed all the hatches are closed, the shower door is latched, the window-mounted hummingbird feeder is not stuck on a window somewhere, etc.
This list is a comedy of errors made over several years of RVing. I’m sure more items will be added in the future!
Simmons Beautyrest Mattress
An RV can be outfitted with ordinary residential furniture, and we have upgraded our recliners to comfy La-Z-Boys.
More important for full-time RVers, there is no need to sleep on some funky RV mattress every night. We upgraded our mattress to a Simmons Beautyrest and just love it.
One important note is that many RV mattresses are non-standard sizes. An “RV Queen” is shorter than a standard Queen, and an “RV King” is narrower than a standard King. Here’s a chart showing the differences:
|Queen||60″ x 80″||60″ x 74″|
|King||76″ x 80″||72″ x 80″|
In most rigs that have a Queen bed, the floorplan clearly states whether it is an RV Queen or a regular Queen. However, in virtually all RVs that have a king bed, it is an RV king. If you are buying an RV with a king bed and think you might want to upgrade to a residential mattress someday, make sure there are 4″ of extra width on the sides so the mattress can fit, even if it hangs over a little.
Laptop Lap Insulator
I mentioned that we don’t use our desk, and that’s because we use our dining room table for writing things out by hand and we use our laptops on our laps in our recliners. To keep from frying our legs with our laptops, we each have a laptop sized thin piece of foam that was part of the packaging of a solar panel. If you don’t have that handy, there are laptop lap insulators that can do the trick.
Cleaning the Ceiling
We have a fabric ceiling liner and twice we’ve had to clean a stain from it. Each time we used spray bleach and the results were miraculous. You couldn’t see where the stain had been. Just make sure you cover everything nearby before spraying bleach in the air or you’ll have not just a clean ceiling but white spots on the rugs and upholstery too.
HEALTH and COMFORT in the RV LIFE
Living in an RV is not all that different than living in a stick-built house, so anything you enjoy in a conventional life is more than likely going to be something you can enjoy in your RV life. Here are some goodies that we use everyday, that have made a significant difference in our lives, and that we will continue to use daily no matter what kind of home we live in:
Mark has found that when he works around the rig, it is really easy for him to get little cuts and blood spots on the backs of his hand his hands. This turns out to be common with fair haired (red haired) formerly freckle-faced guys over 50. After some research, we found that the remedy is bunches of Vitamin K, and it turns out that wheat grass is loaded with Vitamin K! It has lots of other beneficial nutrients as well.
As long as Mark drinks a small dose of wheat grass everyday, his hands are as tough as when he was 20. But miss that wheat grass for a few days, and the next time he does any work around the rig, the slightest flick of his hand against something breaks the skin and he’s bleeding again. The best brand we’ve found is Amazing Grass.
Sound weird or too good to be true? We’ve suggested this crazy remedy to formerly red-haired friends, and they are now big believers and wheat grass connoisseurs too. Mark mixes it with fruit juice and actually loves the flavor! For those who don’t like veggies, the claim is that a spoonful of this wheatgrass powder is akin to a bushel basket of veggies. I don’t believe that myself, and I keep putting broccoli on our plates, but I think this stuff is worth its weight in gold when it comes to toughening up thin skin.
Hand-held Electric Massager
As former athletes, we’ve both spent a lot of time looking for ways to soothe aching muscles. We’ve owned a lot of different hand-held massaging tools over the years, including the very popular massager, and they’ve all been okay. But many of them ultimately wound up in yard sales because they had bad habits of pinching skin or were awkward to use.
We’ve found that the hand-held massager is really fantastic. Because it has just one ball head on it (rather than the more common and goofy twin ball heads), you can place it over any sore spot and get instant relief. Rub it slowly on your leg muscles after a hike or bike ride or rub it on that weird spot in your neck after you sleep funny and wake up unable to turn your head, and you’ll feel better right away.
This massager was a lifesaver for me after a bad cycling accident I had years ago that messed up my shoulders and collar bone for a very long time, and Mark recently relied on it heavily when he wrenched his back. We’ve never had it pinch our skin at all.
The neat thing about these massagers is that they increase the blood and fluid flow in the sore area, which is really helpful for getting nutrients into the injured spot and getting waste fluids out. You don’t need to press hard on it — just place it on the sore area and you’ll feel the muscle relax instantly.
We have had ours for four years now, and we used it both on the boat and in our RV. It’s amazing just how kinked up you can get living in a small space, and it is so helpful to be able to get unkinked in a matter of minutes. We keep it in our living room so it’s always handy.
If only these Sonicare toothbrushes (and toothbrush heads) had been around when we were kids! It may seem ridiculous to spend a bunch of money on an electric toothbrush, but brushing your teeth with one of these makes your mouth feel like you just came from a cleaning at the dentist’s office. I’ve used a Sonicare toothbrush for 13 years now, and what a difference it has made in the overall health of my teeth.
One note for boondockers and off-the-grid RVers living on solar power, Phillips, the manufacturer of Sonicare toothbrushes has noted that the rechargeable batteries do not like modified sine wave inverters very much. I read this years ago, and have always charged ours on our pure sine wave inverter. Perhaps the batteries are better in newer models, I don’t know.
Also, for tech junkies who like to collect tech goodies, the magnet inside the Sonicare toothbrush heads is incredibly strong. Mark has saved a few of the magnets from our discarded Sonicare toothbrush heads and has found all kinds of interesting uses for them, including gluing one onto a long stick to retrieve tiny metal objects from hard to reach spots in the bowels of something.
Other RV Tips & Tricks
We have loads of other tips and tricks for RVers on this website. Many of the links can be found here:
RV Tech Tips and Product Reviews
A small sampling is below:
Survival Tips for Winter RVing – How to STAY WARM in an RV!
What To Look For When Buying A Truck for Heavy Duty Towing
How to Install a Vent-free Heater in an RV
How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes!
How to Put Diesel Exhuast Fluid in a Truck and Which Brand is Cheapest!
RV dump station Tips – Fun, fun, fun!
A wonderful website dedicated to RVing tips and tricks is RVtravel.com
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- Wet Cell vs. AGM Batteries - Which is better, why we upgraded, PLUS wiring tips to optimize battery life
- Increase Your RV Storage Space - Add precious storage space at the RV dinette with storage benches!
- Which Solar Panels are Best? - Which is better: FLEXIBLE or RIGID?? 12 or 24 volt?? monocrystalline or polycrystalline???
- RV Solar Power Made Simple - An overview of how solar power works on an RV
- Trailer Disc Brake Conversion - Massively improve trailer stopping power with electric over hydraulic disc brakes
- Truck Engine Upgrade - How we improved performance, towing power and fuel economy with an engine tuner
- How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes - It is actually a cinch to defrost an RV fridge!
- Solar Charge Controllers - Understand and OPTIMIZE your RV / marine battery solar charging
- Suspension Overhaul on a 5th Wheel - A Total Re-design for our Suspension: Hangers, springs, shocks & more!
- Can you run SOLAR POWER and SHORE POWER together? - What happens when you're on solar and you plug in?
- RVing Tips & Tricks - Tips and tricks to make RVing easy
- Converters, Inverter/Chargers and Engine Alternators - How do these battery charging systems REALLY work?
- How to BE COOL in summer! - Tips for cooling off your RV!
- RV Budget, Costs and Expenses - A detailed analysis of RVing expenses over 7 years of RVing full-time
- RV Extended Warranties - Is an RV warranty a good investment or a waste of money? Our personal case history.
- Working and Living on the Road - How do you make money on the road and who lives this nomadic lifestyle?
- Sell or Lease the House? - Is it better to SELL or LEASE your house when you start a life on the road?
- Mexican Dentists - Are the Dentists in Mexico any good? Just how cheap are they? Here are our PERSONAL experiences.
- How An RV Warranty Saved Our Bacon - Literally! - One repair on our RV practically paid for our RV Extended Warranty
- Still Smiling After 3 Days at the RV Repair Shop - Why? Our RV Warranty put us $2,000 ahead of the game!
- 5th Wheel Suspension Replacement - When our trailer's suspension failed, we $aved $$$ Thousands getting it replaced.
- RV Toilet Replacement - Our RV toilet quit flushing (ugh!) but our RV warranty saved us again. Now we're $6,700 ahead!
- RV Boondocking - Tips for how to live in an RV off the grid
- Which RV Is Best for Full-Time Living? - Transitioning from a house to an RV - Which RV makes the best home?
- Full-time RV Lifestyle Tips - Full-time RVing Logistics - Mail, Domicile, Insurance, Warranties, Saving Money at RV Parks
- What are the MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES in a Full-time Fifth Wheel? - For anyone planning to live in an RV!
- Internet & Phone Access for RVers - An inexpensive, minimalist solution for internet access on the road
- RV Dump Stations & Compost Toilets - How to do the dirty deed at the RV dump PLUS RV Composting Toilet tips
- Choosing a Trailer for Full-time RVing - Why the payload capacity is so important
- Learn RVing the Fun Way!! - Go Cheap, Go Small, Go NOW and have a blast in little RV!
- Free RV Campsites - Resources for locating campsites for boondocking
- Glimpses of the Full-time RV Life - Anecdotes from the road and essays about living the RV dream.
- Travel Photography Tips! - All the cameras, gear, books, blogs and tools we used to learn to take great pics!
- Gear Store - A list of the goodies, equipment and gear we've found useful in our RV lifestyle!
Many thanks for your great tips, always good to learn from other people’s mistakes and I am sure I am not the only one who appreciates you sharing yours for us to learn from 😉
I have read and learned from so many of your posts, but am only now coming out if the woodwork to say thanks for your hard work and generous sharing, after learning that Chris and Cherie have had hateful comments, and then read Nina’s post about you bloggers receiving nasty feedback from trolls. I want to apologize to each of you for having quietly read and benefitted from your generous writings, without having taken the time to give the positive feedback you so richly deserve. I assume you and Mark have also been on the receiving end of some unfathomable mean feedback, it seems the norm as you become more well known. If so, I hope you know that there are far ore grateful, appreciative readers who admire and respect what you write, than there are haters.
Thank you, thank you!!
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Sally. I am really happy to know that our hard work has helped you out. I blog out of passion, and knowing I’ve helped someone believe they can live their dreams because they’ve seen us living ours and have learned from us how we do it is very rewarding.
Putting your life and love out there for the world to see is risky, and many people assume that we bloggers are making lots of money, like celebrities, so they have no qualms about expressing their envy and being mean. Fortunately, we bloggers have the ability to delete their comments, and I do. I have a friend whose photography blog dwarfs the biggest RV blogs, and every time he puts up a post he is inundated with 200 to 300 comments, many of which are spiteful and mean beyond belief. He lets a lot of them stand and handles it very well, although I imagine the stress can be overwhelming.
I stopped participating in the online RV groups because of the incredibly cruel treatment I received in several of them, but there are people like you who appreciate what I write on this website, so I keep going.
For Mark and me, writing and photography is far more than a 40 hour a week hobby (more like 80). Once or twice a year a very kind person donates a few dollars using our little Donate button, and every time someone buys something through one of our Amazon links or they bookmark a link like this one to use later, it gives us renewed energy, as a small commission rolls our way. Those rewards are modest financially, but are extremely meaningful to us.
One of the things that folks are often unaware of is that a website is available for the whole world to see. So everything we share, from financial info to the tips and tricks on this page, is read by folks all over the world, and we have many regular readers in Europe and Australia. Just two days ago, a link to this site was posted in a Romanian RV club’s forum, and lots of Romanians dropped by to learn a few tricks about boondocking, full-timing and solar power. The ones that don’t know English use Google Translate to read our articles.
So this business of blogging has many facets to it, and it has been quite an adventure, thrill and roller coaster ride for us. But the satisfaction it has given us, and the focus it has given our day-to-day lives, is extremely fulfilling.
Happy reading, and thanks for coming out of the woodwork!
Hi Emily – I only recently realized, through one of the other blogs, that if we link to Amazon through the blogs, that “host” receives a commission. Well, I really wish we’d learned that a LONG time ago, because we’ve bought a lot of stuff through Amazon in the course of RVing, but always before by going directly to Amazon.
Our new policy is to share out our Amazon purchases into equal bundles, and then link to Amazon through a different blogger each time, in order to spread the commissions to all of you we’ve learned so much from. I am also spreading the word to our other friends to do the same, even those who are not RVers – maybe they’ll get hooked on the idea of RVing by going to your websites, but even if they don’t, their purchases can provide some extra pennies to you folks!
As I say, really wish I’d known about this sooner – unfortunately I tend to read the main stuff I’m interested in and not notice much of the info on the sides (tunnel vision??!). I know you don’t want to be “in your face” about how we readers can give back to you, so I hope lots of people read your reply to me and take this to heart, it’s such an easy way to say thanks to you!
That is very true, Sally, and it applies to virtually every website that contains any kind of link that sends you to Amazon. Those sites should also have a disclosure like ours at the bottom of each page explaining their affiliate relationship with Amazon.
Most larger websites are like any other media (radio, TV, newspaper, magazine). They provide information and articles that are interesting and helpful to people. In return they present advertising for which they receive some kind of compensation from the vendor or ad agency. The money made from advertising is what makes it possible for them to provide useful articles.
Few people that operate large websites have the resources (time and energy) to provide valuable information for free, and contrary to the opinions of a very small few, there is nothing wrong with people making money from providing a valuable service to others in the form of a blog. Certainly, we don’t expect our teachers, TV reporters, radio DJ’s, sports photographers, magazine publishers and writers to work for nothing. Bloggers are no different.
For those who are unaware, Facebook is a website like any other, and it survives on the advertising that it sells. Google is a mammoth advertising broker. So we pay for the communications convenience of Facebook and the searching convenience of Google by viewing and occasionally clicking on advertising that they have sold to vendors.
For anyone that is curious about whether blogging is a big money maker and how to be an Amazon affiliate, I explain what I know at this link.
Thank you so much for the genius tips and tricks. Our new fifth wheel has a table and chairs and I am greatly missing the storage of my former U shaped booth. Why had I never thought of using storage ottomans before?!
You are welcome. The storage ottomans are a super addition but it took us quite a few years to come up with the idea. Necessity is the mother of invention!!!
Wow, I could be here all day reading. You guys are full of great ideas. May I put a link for you site on my site . I’m getting a resource page started and would love to send readers your way. Thanks again for the great tips, hope to see you on the road.
Thank you very much, Pam. We would be delighted if you shared a link to our page on your sight. Happy travels!
What a great read, thank you!
You are welcome!
That is a lengthy list of tips. I can say I use most of them. The addition of the Midland radios has been one of the best. Thanks for sharing.
You are welcome, Lou. We’ve had two-way radios since we bought our first full-time trailer 11 years ago and still use them all the time. Happy travels!
Have read and reread your Tip,s and Tricks, and found it very informative. I Would like to redo the dinette in our 28 foot Cardinal 5er. I have two questions regarding your ottoman makeover. No.1. Where did you get the Table? Bo. 2. Dose the table make into a bed? I will be reading moer of your very informative posts. Thank you / Lance
The table came with our fifth wheel and it does not make into a bed. Thanks for reading and re-reading this page. Did you read the blog post that is specifically about the ottoman makeover here? That article has lots of photos and includes a more detailed description of what we did with this makeover.
Hello. I’ve been reading your blog for many years and have really enjoyed it! Did you know the picture about the two way radios has become a meme? Pretty funny. Tried to copy it here but wasn’t able to. Basically it says “There are two things that test a marriage. 1) Having kids 2) Parking/Backing the trailer” So now you’re famous on Facebook!
I heard about that from two different friends. One saw it in an RV group and one saw it in a hunting group. All the photos on this website are copyrighted, and that photo was taken and turned into a meme and shared very widely without my permission. It would have been nice (and courteous and professional) if the person who stole it had had enough respect for me and for the law to ask me if it would be okay to use my photo and my likeness in that way.