Category: RV Living Tips

How to Buy the Best Used RV

How to Buy the BEST Used RV

In this blog, I want to share the process I used to purchase a new-to-me, used RV, replacing the infamous “Matilda”. The decision to purchase a new-to-me RV was definitely not a rash one. It took me a couple of years to make the choice to part with my first RV, Matilda, which was a giant lemon! I learned a lot through this process and want to share my experience, along with a few tips and tricks on how to buy the best used RV, while still traveling and living as a full-time nomad.

Being A Nomad Has Its Advantages When Wanting to Buy the Best Used RV You Can Afford

The beauty of being a nomad while looking for a used RV is that I looked for and researched used RVs all across the country and in different seasons. I actually started seriously looking in Tallahassee, Florida when my second, third, or fourth round (I lost count!) of the Matilda issues started. With all the RV troubles, I was at my wit’s end. I just couldn’t’ do it anymore.

( If you missed my adventures with repairing Matilda, check out my video below).

I started looking in May and I learned:

  1. You do not want to buy an RV in the summer. 
  2. You do not want to buy an RV in states where RVing is popular. For me at the time this was Florida.

After doing some research, and looking all across the country, I knew prices were higher in Florida than in other states. I also realized that buying in the summer meant I was buying at peak season when everyone was looking to buy, which drives prices up on new and used RVs. It’s a law of economics: high demand and low inventory = higher prices.

There Are More Options to Choose From When You are Mobile!

As a full-time solo female RVer, I am mobile, and this means I can look at any state to purchase a new-to-me RV. I was in the Oklahoma/Texas region in the fall when I decided to look Northwest, Midwest, and Southwest. I had so many options being in this central part of the country. Using RVTrader.com and Craigslist, I was able to look for the best used RVs to buy. Through all this research, I found my 2005 Itasca Spirit all the way over in Albuquerque. I thought, “Well, I’m headed west, so Albuquerque is my next stop!”

When I arrived in Albuquerque, I took my time inspecting the RV and negotiating the price down. If you don’t know this, never pay the sticker price! You can and should negotiate the price down. I was only willing to pay cash for my new-to-me RV. The beauty of paying with cash is you already know exactly how much you can afford to spend, and there is no need for financing or credit approval. 

Be sure to have enough money set aside for registration, licensing, taxes, and your emergency fund. NEVER ASSUME YOU WON’T HAVE BREAKDOWNS! Breakdowns happen and routine maintenance is a must, so don’t forget to always budget and save for this!

Buying used rv

Negotiating Does Not = Preparing for Battle When Buying the Best Used RV

The negotiation process intimidates most people. The first thing to know and remember: it’s not a fight. Stay calm and confident. Negotiating is about creating a win-win for you and the seller. You have the power to walk away, so remember that! There will always be another RV. And maybe this one just isn’t the right one for you after all! 

How do you know what a fair price is when buying a used RV?

First, do your research! I’d been looking at RVs all across the country for months, so I’d seen a range of comparable RV costs nationwide. Then I looked at comparable RVs in Albuquerque to hone in on the local used RV market

I realized I was too excited about the Itasca and wanted backup. I visited a couple of other dealerships in the area and found a 1995 Class A. The Class A motorhome was in really good condition and it was listed for a lower amount than the Class C. I now had options, and more importantly, leverage! I purposefully told the salesman during negotiations about the Class A down the road that it was a lower-priced option I was seriously considering.

Be Patient and do your Due Diligence! 

It helps to inspect the RV (taking it to a professional for inspection is best), so you know its condition. Use any flaws or downsides to your advantage. “Well it does have that dent in the bumper”; “I really wanted something smaller, so I’m not really sure…” This will show that you’re not committed to that particular Residential Vehicle. The seller might be more willing to come down on price if they think you’ll walk away.

We spent an entire afternoon going back and forth on price. I was very firm with the salesperson and I kept saying, “I have cash, and this is it, this is all I can give you.” Keeping myself from being emotionally invested or reactionary helped me stay calm. I kept reminding myself that in the end, if the price wasn’t right for me, I could just walk away. And I almost did several times! 

Negotiating to buy a used RV
Here are some phrases I used that might help you when you start feeling pressured:                        
  • No, I can’t do that.
  • I’m going to need to think about it more.”
  • You know, I think I’m going to sleep on it.” 
  • I think I’ll look around a little more. I’ll let you know..

The last thing the dealership salesperson wants is for you to leave.  They know once you walk out the door, the chances of them making a sale plummet. So, if you stay calm, they will keep negotiating with you, “working the numbers,” and “trying to get you the best deal.”

In the end, both you and the seller should feel good about the price you’ve agreed on.  

To Trade or Not to Trade-In?

The other part of my process of negotiating was trading in Matilda.

Keep in mind, dealerships will always give you the least amount possible for your trade-in. I mean their first offer will be almost insultingly low. I basically got nothing for Matilda. Sure, I could have gotten more from selling my RV myself to a private buyer, but I wasn’t motivated by the money. I just wanted Matilda out of my life once and for all! I didn’t want the hassle of trying to sell Matilda. It was a peace of mind decision to just trade her in – even if at a loss

Being a solo nomad, there was also logistics of how I would drive two RVs and where I would park them both until I could sell Matilda. I wanted to get on the road, so storing Matilda until I could sell her wasn’t an option for me. It just wasn’t worth the hassle for me at the time. Free time and sanity are worth more to me than a few hundred dollars.

The bottom line is if you have an RV to trade or sell, be realistic about its condition and how much time and energy you want to invest in squeezing more money out of it.

Here’s my vlog on my experience and a tour of my new-to-me RV.

Ask These Questions Before You Buy the Best Used RV

  1.  What kind of repairs or maintenance has been done to the RV? (You can and should ask for records and paperwork, and probe about things like tires, bearings, roof repair, winterizing, and water damage.)
  2. Where has the RV been stored? Weather naturally damages RVs over time. Has it been in covered storage, or exposed to severe weather like the direct sun or heavy snow? Climb up and Inspect the Roof! And look for signs of leaks inside (stained ceiling and walls, bubbles, or warping in the sides of the RV inside or out) 
  3. How often has the RV been used? (Owners who use their RVs regularly tend to maintain their RVs and spot problems for repairs before they become bigger issues. Rarely used RVs with low miles are not always a better option.)
  4. How many previous owners? (This could be a red flag for having continuous repair issues.)

You can also bookmark this page on my website as a helpful resource for buying an RV to live in: https://www.carolynsrvlife.com/buying-rv-to-live-in/

I hope this helps you with researching your next used RV purchase. Good luck and safe travels! And as always, Be Happy, Be Free, and Be KIND!

Haven’t started your RV life yet? Here are a few links to help get you started!

Fun Facts of RV Life

Full-Time RV Living Resources

RV Living Challenges

Full-Time RV Living Q & A

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel by clicking the icon above for more RV Life How-To and Not Tos.

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DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

Finding Free Campsites Tips

Viewers on my YouTube channel ask me all the time, how I find the Most AMAZING FREE campsites for boondocking in my Class C RV. Below, I’m going to share with you my best tips and secrets for how I find free campsites for boondocking locations using my favorite apps.  So let’s talk about Boondocking.

What is Boondocking?

Boondocking simply means “dry-camping” outside of a formal campground. It’s formally called “Dispersed Camping”.  There are no services! No toilets, garbage service, water, or electrical hookups. Just you and nature! While it feels wild and free there are some rules and regulations, so be sure to check with the Public Land Agency you’re visiting before camping anywhere.

Free Campsites for boondocking

The Best Websites for Free Boondocking Campsites

So, let’s jump right into the tips and what I use for finding free campsites.  I have two favorite websites:

  1. http://Freecampsites.net 
  2. http://Campendium.com

These two websites are invaluable to my RV Life! You plug in the city or town you’re in or simply use your current location’s GPS coordinates and it will show you places that other boondockers have reported.  Here’s why I love these resources:

  1. Each provides great detailed information about the sites they list.
  2. They tell you conditions and what size rig it would accommodate.
  3. They often tell you if there’s a cell signal and which carriers pick up service.
  4. Most sites are reviewed by others, which is invaluable!

In most cases, I already know if I can get there with my 25ft Class C RV before I arrive.   

Next, let’s talk about other tools I use for finding my own special boondocking spots!

Apps for Free Campsites

Are there Apps for finding my own Boondocking off The Beaten Path??

“Is there an app for that?” is probably the first thing you think or say when someone says you should try something new. The answer is YES, of course, there are Apps for going off the beaten path ad exploring public lands on your own! Here are a few of my favorite apps that are available for Androids, iPhones/iPads, and Google devices.

Free Apps and Tools for Going Off the Beaten Path

  1. Google Earth & Google Maps (Free Apple App Store & Android Google Play Store): Google Maps with Satellite view is my FAVORITE App! If you want to avoid crowded sites and like exploring remote places, you’ll love using Google Satellite View for boondocking. I can use Google Maps to virtually explore National Forests, Deserts (BLM), and other Public Lands for potential camping spots away from the crowds. Then, I can use Google’s Satellite layer to explore an area further by zooming in on the map. It’s the perfect tool because it allows me to can get right down to the road and see any openings for camping. So for me in Class C RV, being able to see the road is really important and it gives me a good idea of whether or not I would be able to drive the roads.
  2. FreeRoam (Free Apple App Store & Android Google Play Store): This app will help you find campgrounds, boondocking, and RV Parks. There is a filter setting for things like the weather, safety, crowdedness, cell signal, and more. You can also find nearby dump sites, fresh water, groceries, propane, and more. You can even find routes around low clearances! There is a lot of detail with this app than can help you plan routes and make the most of your next campout.

Purchased Apps and Membership Websites for Finding Free Campsites

Now a few tips on apps that you will need to purchase for finding free campsites.

  1. US Public Lands App ($2.99 Apple App Store & Android Google Play Store): This app will show you an overlay map of public lands around you. It will show you the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service, National Park Service, Army Corp of Engineers, and more. Moreover, you never have to guess where one boundary begins and one ends.
  2. Boondocker’s Welcome & Harvest Hosts App (The App is Free Apple App Store and Android Google Play Store): Boondockers Welcome (boondockerswelcome.com) and their app, Harvest Hosts, are great for escaping crowded campgrounds and instead of finding a private spot to camp that is provided by a host. The annual membership fee is $50 and the app (Harvest Hosts) is free to download. What you get in return is access to over 2900 Host locations across the country on private property to boondock for free. You must have a self-contained RV that can dry camp for as long as your stay. This is not for tent camping or vans. Travel Trailers, motorhomes, and truck campers are allowed.
Free Campsite Tips

Ready, Set, Let’s Camp!

I hope these resources help you find some amazing boondocking spots this spring and summer.  If you’ve never tried boondocking, I hope you will give these resources a try and go explore our beautiful country! Get out there and travel the unknown roads and live adventurously! I’ve listed more apps and vids, below. As always…be HAPPY, be FREE, be KIND.

Helpful Vids & Links:

How to Drive an RV on Mountain Roads Without Killing Your Brakes

Remote Boondocking in a 29′ Class C RV

Easily Share Your Location with Family and Friends with Google Maps

BEST Tires for Boondocking RV Life

My Favorite Free RV Camping Spots

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel by clicking the icon above for more RV Life How-To and Not Tos.

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DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

FIVE REASONS TO LIVE IN A CLASS C RV

If you had the choice to live in an RV, van, motorhome, School Bus, Class A, Class C, or Sprinter van what would you choose to live in??  There are many things to consider when purchasing the right Residential Vehicle for your nomad life or RV adventures.  For instance, are you interested in living in your RV(or as I like to call it, Residential Vehicle) full-time or even part-time, it’s important to think about what is important to you.

Can you live in a confined space for months and months and be comfortable/happy?  Do you need a vehicle to separate from your rig (A “Toad”) because you are a city explorer and less of a nature explorer?  Will you be boondocking or staying in National Parks, RV Parks and campgrounds?

Most of you know, I’m a nature wanderer.  I love boondocking and finding the hidden treasures our Public Lands have to offer. If you are like me and are considering an RV life-style and enjoy boondocking, This is a must-read blog for preparing for your RV Living adventures!

Below, I’m going to share five simple reason why I chose to live in a Class C for full-time RV living.

Vehicles for RV Living

WHY I LIVE IN A CLASS C RV

#1: Why I chose a Class C vs. Class A?  I like the van chassis. It actually sits on a Ford E450 Van Chassis as opposed to a Class A which is typically on a commercial bus chassis.  So, if I need any work done it’s just a Ford van as opposed to something more complicated.

#2: Why did I choose a Motorhome vs. Van?  More space of course!  I spend a lot of time inside, working from my laptop.  I didn’t want to feel like I was in a cave, feeling claustrophobic, and have to sit on a bed.  Having my table and bench to work from is so much more comfortable.  And most importantly, I have windows!!! I can gaze out them and let the light shine in as I work!

There is also more headroom to walk around and having a full kitchen is important to me. 

Full-Time RVing

RV SAFETY & DRIVABLILITY CONSIDERATIONS

#3: Why I chose a Class C vs. Trailor?  Above all, safety. I like not having to exit my living courters to get in the driver’s seat.  For safety as a solo female RVer and nomad, I like that I can easily get from my living quarters to my driver’s seat without having to go outside of the rig.  Think about it, it’s like being trapped in a big box if you are in a questionable situation.  Therefore, I wanted to know I could easily and quickly leave a situation I’m not comfortable with.

#4: What I like about my Class C vs. Class A? Most certainly, it’s size. I like that the Class C is smaller, more aerodynamic and has higher clearance making it easier to drive on the less traveled roads for boondocking.  Another thing to consider is that a Class C is easier drive through trees and brush.

RVing

RV SHOPPING: MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK

#5: Price.  Both my Class C RVs cost less than Sprinter and Coachmen Vans (both of which I considered).  It’s a considerable difference when you are looking at a used sprinter van that can cost $67,000 versus used Class C in good condition for around $15,000 (when I bought mine, they’ve gone up a lot since!).

There you have it!  Five simple reasons for choosing a Class C for full-time RV living.  I hope this helped and I hope you will find yourself living your best RV life soon!  Until next time friendlies… be Happy, be Free, be Kind!

Check out this three part video to help you choose the right RV!

Check out the Playlist below for more info on how to start your RV Life!


More Helpful Video Links for RV Living:
Full-Time RV Living & How to Find a New Home State
How to Earn Income for Nomads
Things to Know About RV Life

Helpful Blogs on RV Life:
How Much Does RV Living Really Cost
How to Find the Right RV or Van to Live In

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more RV Life How-To and Not To.

DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

RV Living Safety Tips

RV living can feel exhilarating, challenging, and scary simultaneously. After setting out in my RV in 2016, I’ve learned a lot about RV Living safety and dealing with fear. Most of my encounters with strangers have been overwhelmingly positive, friendly, and harmless. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never been afraid or questioned whether I’m in a dangerous situation.

From Fear to Freedom

I am a huge proponent of showing, through my travels and experiences, that the world is NOT a scary place. The media bombards us daily with images and commentary sensationalizing worst-case-scenarios of the human experience. Daily news stories leave many people convinced the world is scary and danger lurks in every corner. When we live in fear, we restrict ourselves. We can’t fulfill our dreams when we’re afraid to live. How did I overcome my fears? By getting out there and living my life, researching, studying, and taking precautions.

Experience and preparedness give us a greater sense of empowerment, especially as women traveling alone. Fear is a natural response to certain situations. It brings out the fight or flight instinct in everyone. Pay attention to how a situation is making you feel. If you are uncomfortable, do not talk yourself out of how you feel! So many times we dismiss our gut instincts instead of taking a minute to validate what we are feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, there’s probably a good reason. Don’t let your fear paralyze you. Instead, use it to get yourself to safety. Remember, YOU are your #1 priority!

RV Living Safety Tips

Lessons Fear Teaches Us

Fear is a primal instinct. Our bodies and minds are always on the lookout for threats to our safety and well-being. However, allowing fear to overtake our thoughts can distort reality and keep us from rational thinking. Fear can protect us or cripple our ability to live freely and make decisions. How we handle fear reveals a lot about us. Is your fear protecting you, or is it limiting you?

If You Haven’t Had a Crazy Experience, You Will!

RV and nomad life are not for the faint of heart. You will encounter unique people and challenging situations. You may even have to face and continue to deal with the same fears daily. I’ve had some interesting encounters over the years. Knocks on my door in the night, interrupted showers, and headlights glaring into my RV from big noisy pick-up trucks, to name a few. I’ve learned a few things about where to camp and where not to camp. I’ve learned where you might run into some sketchy situations or where it might take a scary turn. Whether or not I’m in danger or feel the area might put me at risk, I’ve learned to quickly assess a situation and rely on my gut instinct to keep me safe.

Below are the six best tips for RV living and camping safety.

Safety for RV Life

RV Living Safety Tips for When You Arrive at Camp

Tip # 1 The biggest thing to remember for RV living safety is to be ALERT at all times and TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCT.  Just because you pull into a campsite, it does not mean you are now in a protective bubble. I’ve learned 99.9% of people are friendly and helpful. However, I have camped in a few locations that made me feel more on guard than others. You are not being fearful when you have your guard up. You are being alert and prepared! If someone or something doesn’t feel right, it is OK to say, I don’t want to be here and leave.

Some warning signs that a campsite might not be safe – or peaceful:

  1. Lots of garbage, especially beer cans and such. If it looks like a party spot for locals, I skip it.
  2. Drug paraphernalia. Yes, I’ve seen needles– even in the forest. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to camp in someone’s shooting up spot.
  3. Unfriendly locals. If the locals drive by and sneer at you, or worse, get out and harass you, GO!
  4. Homeless encampments. I prefer to steer clear of areas where people have taken up permanent residence. The sad fact is, there’s more crime in places like that. And even if you’re not in danger, these areas also attract people who could harass you for money and other favors.

If you are a solo female traveler, you will also want to watch the video below for more tips.

Tip #2 Have an escape route.  It’s important to know how you will exit your campsite. You want to be able to leave your parking area quickly without turning around. You should always park with your nose facing the way out. If someone is trying to break into your RV, leave whatever is outside and drive away.

Tip #3 Always leave your keys in a strategic place at night.  Select a place close to you and easy to access at night in the dark. This goes along with tip #2. If you have to flee in the middle of the night, you want to be able to grab your keys and jump in the driver’s seat quickly. The last thing you want is to be fumbling around and having to turn on every light to find your keys.

RV Living Safety Tips for When Encountering Alarming Situations

#4 Don’t Panic!  Take a minute to breathe, collect your thoughts, and remember you are the #1 priority to take care of! Just because someone is knocking or calling to you from outside, does not mean you have to immediately respond. Take your time to put your thoughts and a strategic response together. This leads to my next tip in RV living safety.

#5 Don’s admit you are alone!  If you are camping or traveling alone, do not admit you are alone. Answer in the plural. (“Yes, WE’RE camping here…” ). Carry an extra camp chair and put them both out. Put a pair of Size 14 men’s shoes outside or in the dash. To see how I handled a situation like this check out this latest video on a midnight visit by some persistent locals.

#6 Don’t open your door for anyone.  While most people are not wanting to harm you, you never know when a situation may become dangerous. You don’t have to open your RV door to communicate. You can speak through the door or ask the person to go to your driver’s side window, but do not roll down the window. Asking them to go to the driver’s window, means you can also drive away quickly if needed, as you will be sitting in the driver’s seat ready to go.

Stay Safe, Stay Prepared, Stay Fearless, and Travel On

So there you go, six simple RV living safety tips. These are my very basic tips to help keep you safe while traveling and living your best RV life. Check out my list of videos below from my YouTube channel for other helpful tips and shared experiences as I travel and live in my RV. Be sure to like and subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos on How To while living in an RV, Tips, Tricks, and more! If you are looking for more RV Life resources, visit my resource page here.

And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND. ♥ Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more RV Life How-To and Not To.

Video Links:
Scary Visitors in the Night
Trusting Your Gut Instinct
13 Safety Tips

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel by clicking the icon above for more RV Life How-To and Not Tos.

DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.


Safety Tips for RV Living and Extreme Weather

Weather Safety Tips for RV Life

Living and traveling full-time in my Class C RV since 2016, I have experienced more extreme weather this year than any other time. I have encountered tornado watches in Wyoming, windstorms that knocked down trees, and blocked forest roads causing difficulty to get out. I have been in heavy winds in the desert, to the derecho (which is a long stream of wind and thunderstorms), that I had to escape in Wisconsin. With these real-life lessons, I’ve learned it is imperative to know safety tips for RV living and extreme weather.

Just recently, I was under another tornado watch in Arkansas. I found out the next day after waking up I was only a hundred miles from the tornadoes that wreaked devastation across four states. My heart and thoughts are with everyone affected by that horrible devastation caused by those tornadoes. Sadly, I think severe weather occurrences are only going to get worse. So it’s critical to know how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, especially if you live in a vehicle.

Be Prepared Living on the Road or in Sticks & Bricks

Living as a Nomad, either in an RV, bus, or car, we are at higher risk than any other group. What puts us at higher risk? We’re often in unfamiliar places. Living in California most of my adult life, I know what to do and where to go for help if there was an Earthquake. I was familiar with the community and the resources offered. Nomads do not have that familiarity. We are at a disadvantage, especially if we are moving a lot. We probably won’t know the surrounding area, where the safe places are, where to get help, and in some cases, we don’t even know what to expect from the weather.

Weather Safety Tips for Nomad Living

As I was lying in bed the other night, I started getting alert after alert on my phone for a tornado watch. My first thought was that I don’t know what to do if a tornado hits! I don’t even know if there are warning signs before a tornado hits. This situation got me thinking about other nomads and newbie RVers. So, I decided to put together the single most comprehensive bad weather/extreme weather safety guide out there. I will share how to stay safe in tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, high wind events, earthquakes, flash floods, and extreme hot/cold temperatures. Everything you need to stay safe while living in your vehicles and traveling is right here in one place.

Here is a baseline guide of seven things you need to have in an emergency. These are general tips for just about anything, whether living a nomadic lifestyle or even a static lifestyle, that will help you be prepared in an emergency.

7 Safety Tips:

1) Keep a cell phone charged and a charged backup battery.

2) Have clean water and food ready.

3) Fill your gas tank.

3) Have a bug-out bag packed with a flashlight, cell phone charger and backup battery, a transistor radio and batteries, a flashlight, water purification system, and your important papers (ID, Passport, medical records, prescriptions, bank info, etc.) and don’t forget your Vet records for your pet.

4) Have a plan for your pet.

5) Know your area- what weather is it prone to?

6) Be familiar with the nearest shelter/grocery store/gas station/hospital/vet/ have emergency phone numbers on hand for the area.

7) Have a reliable weather alert system in place.

These are general safety tips to help you be more prepared in case of a major emergency. Now let’s talk about specific weather types you may encounter while traveling the country and how to stay safe.

Specific Weather Conditions

The first one is not weather-related, but still an environmental threat: Earthquakes. In California, it is common for people to jokingly say, “It feels like earthquake weather today.” Really, there is no scientific evidence that weather changes cause earthquakes, and there are no warning signs. Here are important things to know and do in the event of an earthquake.

Earthquake safety for full-time RVers

Earthquake Safety Tips

  • Drop, cover, and hold on to something sturdy and stable.
  • Protect your head and neck with your arms and hands.
  • Get out of your RV if parked under power lines.
  • Follow the 7 Safety Tips I listed above.
High wind and living in an RV

Heavy Wind Safety Tips

Wind as low as 10 miles per hour can cause problems when driving an RV. Always be aware of this. I have encountered some pretty heavy wind while driving, and it is not a fun experience. The wind can flip your RV around like a soccer ball. Most RVs can withstand winds up to 75 miles per hour when parked. So remember, it’s usually safer to be parked during a wind storm.

  • When parked, point the nose of RV into the wind and hold on. It takes a lot to flip an RV, especially a Class A or C.
  • Avoid parking under trees, find a clearing to prevent injury or damage from falling trees or limbs.
  • If boondocking, think about if you can get out if trees fall and block the roadway. How remote are you? Either stay closer to town or carry a chainsaw or an ax to remove fallen tree branches.
  • Secure everything down, on, and around your RV. You do not want to have to go out in the storm and risk injury during a storm to save your favorite camp chair!
Thunderstorm safety tips for RV dwellers

Thunderstorms Weather Safety Tips

Midwest weather in the summer and fall usually consists of rain and thunderstorms. How do we stay safe in our RVs during severe thunderstorms?

  • You are safe from lightning inside your RV as long as it has an aluminum/steel frame, which most have.
  • If plugged into shore power, unplug and turn off all electronic systems in case of a lightning strike to prevent damage. 
  • During heavy thunderstorms, watch out for flash flooding. Know if you are near a stream, river, or creek that could overflow and drag you down. Washes in the desert that may look like they have been dry for years can rage in a matter of seconds. When you see them filling with water, get on high ground!
  • Hail can damage your RV solar panels, vent covers, and roof. It’s best to find shelter for your RV, if possible.
Tornado preparedness for nomads

Sleeping in a Tornado’s Backyard

I was a hundred miles from the crazy tornadoes that ripped through four states on December 11, 2021. I was under a tornado watch for 12 hours. For those not living in tornado alley, in case you did not know, the weather service issues a tornado watch and then a tornado warning. A tornado watch is not as serious as a warning. With a tornado warning, you need to be hyper-vigilant and pay attention to what is going on around you. The tornado watch was supposed to end at Midnight.

As I tried to go to sleep, I kept getting alert after alert on my phone, updating the situation to let me know what was happening in my area. I could see lightning all around me. I started thinking, “Will I know if a tornado is coming? What will I do? Should I stay in my RV?” I want you to remember that just because you are only under a watch, this does not mean you are not in danger! Tornadoes can change directions in an instant. Below are ways I found you can stay safe during a tornado while staying in your RV or vehicle.

Tornado Safety Tips

  • Watch for a rotating and/or funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, and listen for roar like a freight train.
  • If you are driving – PULL OVER! 
  •  Do not stay in your RV! Get out and seek shelter.
  • If under a tornado warning, find the nearest shelter. Visit the Red Cross website here and zoom in on the map. Do not assume a shelter is open!
  • Seek shelter on the ground floor of a concrete building or basement stay away from outside walls, windows, and doors.
  • DO NOT go under an overpass or bridge.
  • If no shelter is available, lay flat on the ground in the lowest level you can find, like a ditch. Always beware of flash flooding zones.
  • Use your arms to protect the head and neck.

Tornadoes also come with the danger of unpredictability because we often do not always know the direction they will continue to travel in. I would rather stay where I am than be on the road in severe weather. Just because we live on wheels, it does not mean that it is always an option to drive away. Hurricanes also come with this same danger.

Hurricane safety for RVers

Hurricane Season is Real

Did you know there is an actual hurricane season? Right now, this schedule is fluid because of the changing environment. The current seasons to be aware of for hurricanes are:

Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season: May 15 – November 30.

Atlantic Hurricane Season: June 1 – November 30.

Central Pacific Hurricane Season: June 1 – November 30.

Emergency sirens sound to alert residents of a hurricane (or tornado) approaching. Most communities in hurricane/tornado regions use sirens, so find out if the area you are staying in uses emergency sirens. Remember, you do not want to prevent yourself from hearing the sirens at night, so do not sleep with headphones or ambient noise playing too loud. Follow the below guidelines to stay safe during a hurricane in your RV.

Hurricane Safety Tips

  • Pay attention to Hurricane Evacuation Zones on your weather alert channel or App. If you are in one – LEAVE! 
  • DO NOT STAY INSIDE YOUR RV! Get out of your RV and find shelter, like listed with tornado safety.
  • Be aware of the high risk of FLOODING. Be mindful of where you take shelter! 
  • DO NOT walk, swim or drive through floodwaters. Just 6 inches of water can knock you down and drag you away. One foot of water can pull a vehicle away.
  • If you are stuck, find a sturdy building or hill and park your RV on the opposite side from the wind.
  • Check to ensure all doors and windows are closed and locked to prevent water damage.
  • Park on a level spot.
  • If you are parked and on leveling blocks, roll-off of them for better stabilization and less chance of wind coming under and flipping your RV over.
  • There are some techniques for anchoring your RV with wheel chocks, stabilizing jacks, etc. Visit VEHQ.com for a complete How-To Guide on anchoring.

Extreme Heat and Cold Safety Tips

We’re going to be seeing more extreme heat and cold in the years to come. It’s difficult to escape the heat and cold when living in an RV. So what do you do? You can change your elevation.

  • For heat – go HIGH! Higher elevation is always cooler. Learn how to prepare for warmer weather and stay cool with this video. Click here to view.
  • For Cold – go LOW.
  • Plugin to shore power or use your generator so you can keep things warm/cool.
  • Winterize/summarize your RV. Watch the video below for Winter RV Living MUST Haves!
  • Stay in a hotel if you can when temperatures are extreme.
  • Protect your Pet! Extreme heat and cold can be dangerous to your pets too!

You can visit my Shop Page here to view items I use to heat my RV. Visit my Amazon Store here for more ideas for your RV.

Resources/Tools to Use

NOAA

Now let’s talk about some of the best resources that you can use to stay safe on the road when encountering extreme weather. The first tool I want to tell you about is the NOAA all-hazards radiofrequency. Did you know 98% of the population is under their radio frequency? Visit www.weather.gov/nwr for a list of radio stations where you can get up-to-date weather information.

CLIME APP

The second one is the App called CLIME. This App is the NOAA Weather Radar Live app that is an all-in-one weather tracker and uses your GPS signal to alert you on conditions where you are in real-time. This App, by the way, told me I was under a tornado watch. It sent alerts to me on the tornado status and thunderstorm status. I had my alerts turned on for both. I received a notification every time lightning struck within five miles. The app uses real-time radar and enables you to see which direction the storm is going. Monitoring the storm around me and saw I was just on the edge of it. Using the App, I escaped the derecho up in the Midwest. I just barely missed it! I drove out of the path of the storm using this app as a guide.  

“Ryan Hall Y’all”

The final resource I want to tell you about is a guy on YouTube. This guy is amazing! His information is better than most weather stations or weather channels. He’s called Ryan Hall Y’all. You can follow him on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. He seems to be an amateur meteorologist and avid weather enthusiast that borders on expert predictions. I’ve been keeping an eye on him for awhile, and he is good at predicting the direction storms are traveling and new storm development. Ryan is very thorough and very meticulous about his data.  I think he is an excellent resource. I have subscribed to his channel and am now going to be using his information for planning purposes. Check out his YouTube channel here

Stay Safe, Stay Happy, Stay Free

I hope you found this helpful and a resource that you will refer to time again, in your RV life and maybe even in your regular sticks and bricks life. Check out the video I posted with all this information as well! 

Here are some quick resources I used to put this guide together.

Ready.gov  for all emergencies 

State Farm Hurricane Tips 

Hurricane Survival Guide

Another video you might like from my channel about high winds: Surviving Crazy Winds in an RV: https://youtu.be/B3wUldsSCuk

And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND. ♥ Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more RV Life How Tos and Not Tos.

Carolyn's RV Life on YouTube

CaroynsRVLife.tv

DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

Live Full-Time in an RV- Simple Budget

How much does it cost to live and travel full-time in a Class C RV

How Much Does It REALLY Cost to Live and Travel in a Class C RV Full-time? | RV Living Blog

Are you thinking about taking the leap and becoming a full-time RVer? If you are thinking about hitting the road in a Class C RV, Class A Motorhome, Skoolie or Van, you are probably asking yourself, How much does it really cost to live and travel in an RV full-time?

Whether you are planning or curious about RV life and affordability, this will help establish a budget for expenses.

Reminder, my experiences are a guide – or a template – to help build your budget for RV living and travel. My expenses reflect services or conveniences I am willing to pay to have. You might find your budgeted expenses to be less or more, based on your preferences. The goal is to give you a starting point to begin planning your budget for nomad life. Ready to dive into some real-life necessities and expenses to live full-time in a Class C RV? Here we go… 12 items for Nomad budgeting (and a bonus tip at the end!)

Nomad life budget to travel and live in a Class C RV Full-Time

Expenses you NEED to Plan For When You Live and Travel Full-Time in a Class C RV

Emergency Planning: If you do not have an emergency fund for major repairs and unplanned events, you are not ready to start your full-time nomad life just yet!  This is step #1…period!

Monthly Savings for Emergency Fund: ($300 – $500 per month): Take it from me with five years’ experience on the road and purchasing two used RVs-you NEED to have at least $3000 to $5000 saved for emergencies at all times! You need to save $300- $500 a month to have this on hand or to replenish if you use it. I cannot stress enough how important this is! I spent more than $10,00 on repairs my first year on the road!

Fixed Expenses – Must Haves

Remember, I’m listing necessities to live in your Class C RV while traveling full-time. Some expenses listed don’t apply and have a lesser dollar amount with stationary RV living. This example is for NOMAD life…so travel away!

Medical Costs and Personal Care ($350 per month): You need medical insurance.  As a full-time RVer, Prices vary for each person/family, based on your income. Study the plans and be realistic about what type of care you need and how often you use medical services. This includes prescriptions, haircuts and other personal care items.

Routine Maintenance: ($235 per month): This is the second most important expense you need to plan for.  Maintenance is something you will need to structure into your budget. Monthly maintenance for me includes oil changes, black tank treatment solutions, water filters, and minor repairs costing about $135 per month. My maintenance expense may seem high at $235. Here is why: I set aside $100 into a  Maintenance savings account separate from my emergency savings, which will take care of the oil changes, brakes, and new tires when the need arises, so it doesn’t bankrupt me for the month when I have to dish out a large amount all at once.

Insurance and Road Side Assistance: ($175 per month): You can get a policy for your RV that is like having a homeowner’s policy to help protect you in the event of an accident, injury, or theft. Be sure to ask for “Full-Timers Insurance.” Not all auto insurance companies carry it so you may have to shop around. I also pay for roadside assistance, which is handy when stuck in sand or having a flat tire.

Laundry ($15 a month): As a solo female RVer and traveling most of the time, I do not need to do laundry often. I typically do laundry once a month at a local laundromat. For myself, I’m able to do one or two giant loads. I don’t even bother with sorting colors anymore, lol, no need! 

budget to live full-time in an RV while traveling

Variable Expenses – Must Haves

Gasoline and Propane Tanks: ($400 per month): Next you will obviously need to plan for gas money and powering your RV. I love to travel and move around! Freedom to travel is the best part of RV life, right?! I usually track about 1000 miles per month in driving. It costs about $375 for the month to fill up my gas tank. I use propane for my cooking, fridge and heat, which costs a bit more in the winter. This also includes the extra gas to run my portable generator (click here to see why I carry an outboard generator) when I do not have enough solar power stored, costing about $15 to $25.

Groceries/Necessities/Pet Supplies ($580): Everyone has different dietary needs and preferences, so this expense is specific to my lifestyle. I prefer a vegan and gluten-free diet due to health reasons. I am careful about what I eat and eat all organic fruits and vegetables. Eating a vegan diet, I also take supplements to ensure I get the nutrients and vitamins I need. I typically spend about $430 a month on food and supplements. There are also pet needs like food and possibly medicine and vaccines. Pet needs cost about $100 a month.

Water and Tank Dumping: ($30 a month): In my travels, I find most cities and full-time living RV parks offer dump stations. Fees can range from $5 to $25 to dump. About every two weeks I dump my tanks. Usually, I can fill up my water tank at the dump stations as well. I can get 10 to 14 days out of a full tank of water. Occasionally, I have to supplement my water with jugs at a pay water station, grocery store or rest area.

Personal Preferences: Additional Expenses to Live and Travel Full-Time in an RV

The expenses that I’m going to share next are things most people would want. The dollar amount reflects personal preferences for how often used or services you would rather have. This budget is an example based on how I like to travel and live. The goal is to get you thinking about what you can and not live without.

Fixed Expenses- Personal Preferences

Cell Phone and Internet: ($225 a month): I have a Verizon cell phone and an ATT Cell phone that, combined, provide me 130 gigs of Mobile Data. I use Mobile Data to connect my computer to the internet no matter where I am. If you do not need the internet for work or entertainment, your expense will be lower. Mine is higher based on the data usage I need for working and uploading large videos to YouTube. Check out this video for more details about the internet on the road. >>> 

Mail Box and Mail Forwarding: ($35 a month): While living and traveling in an RV full-time, you don’t have a permanent address for mail to be delivered directly to you. I rent a mailbox from the UPS store. I can call to have my mail forwarded to me, where ever I am. Why the UPS store and not a PO Box with the post office?  Great question! Check out this video for more details on the why and how to have mail service when you are a full-time RV and traveler! Watch Now>>> 

Variable Expenses – Personal Preferences

Entertainment/Eating Out/Clothes/Miscellaneous ($80 per month): I love being out in nature, the truth is I still have movies and shows I like to watch, especially in the winter months when it’s cold out and get’s dark early. I have streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (including 2-day shipping). Streaming is about $40 a month. Eating out, grabbing a coffee, and clothes I budget around$40.


RV Parks: ($30 per month): If you get tired of boondocking, you might find a state park or decide you want to have hook-ups to electricity and internet, so you stay at an RV Park or Campground for the night. I typically do not spend more than about $30 a month on RV Parks. I love boondocking, but occasionally I need to reset and have some amenities available.

earn income when you live and travel full-time in an RV

Bonus Tip: Earn Income While You Travel and Live in Your RV Seeing the World!

Web Hosting for Website: ($15 a month): A website might seem like a business expense instead of a personal expense, but it is both. Many have asked how to earn income or side income while on the road and living in an RV full-time. You can earn extra income by blogging and using sponsored affiliate link, like Amazon. To do this, you’ll need a website. There are free web host options available, but they don’t usually allow affiliate links.  (Not sure how to go about this? Contact me for a business consultation! I offer services for Full-Time RVers, those wanting to start a YouTube channel, or in need of marketing advice. View my services here. You can also check out the videos I’ve made about How to Earn money while RV Living: and some Weird and Wacky Out of the Box ways you can earn too!

RVing Advice, YouTube Creator Consulting

Can YOUR BUDGET Work for RV Life?

So, there you go! I live comfortably in my RV as a full-time nomad for about $2500 a month, including saving $300mo for an emergency fund.  Can you make this work for your dream of RV Living? I hope this guide helped you to begin planning live comfortably in a Class C RV full-time. Remember, the numbers provided reflect my personal preferences and lifestyle. This is just a springboard to help get you started. You can watch this video on my YouTube channel.

And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND. ♥
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more RV Life How Tos and Not Tos.

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DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

Freezing Weather RV Living

Freezing Weather and RV Living

Simple and Affordable Ways to Winterize Your RV for Full-Time RV Living | Camping in Freezing Weather Tips | RV Life Blog

RV in Freezing Weather?

If you are a full-time RVer like me, or perhaps a Van Dweller, you know the beauty of this life is spontaneity in your travels. But what do you do when your plan does not include an overnight in freezing weather? Would you be able to survive the night with just the items inside your rig and stay warm? In this blog, I share simple and affordable tips on how you can winterize your RV for winter nights and stay warm while it is freezing outside.

During one of my travels, I stopped over just outside of Winnemucca, which is in Nevada. During my two-night stay, it snowed. It was gorgeous and cold! If you thought it never snows in the desert, you have never visited the desert in November! The nighttime temperature dropped (and quick!) down to about 20 degrees. While full-time RVing, I usually do not have a rigid plan of where my travels will lead me. However, I prepare for environmental unknowns, and you should prepare as well!

(*Note: I have Amazon affiliate links on my website and in this blog. DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this blog and video.)

Winterizing the RV inside to keep from freezing

Preparing the House of Your RV for Freezing Weather and Cold Nights

Here are some simple tricks and tips to help keep the inside of your RV warm and cozy on freezing nights and cold days too.

  1. Start with the Cab of Your RV.  The first thing I do is cover up my windshield with a reflective sun visor or Reflectix. The visor will insulate the cab windshield.  Heat will remain in this area for a while as the engine begins to cool down.  Remember this first step when just pulling into your campsite. You can trap the heat inside longer by placing the reflective visor/reflectix in the window. 
  2. Insulate the House Opening from the Cab of your Class C RV. Next, once the truck cab has cooled to a colder temperature than the house part of the RV, hang blankets. Most Class C RVs have a storage space right above the cab area. I double insulate this area using a heavy blanket and thermal blackout curtains. You do not need to spend a fortune on specialty items. You can easily find these at discount box stores, thrift stores, or Amazon. First, place the blanket on top of the shelf and weigh it down. Next, make sure the blanket covers the entire entry to the cab. It should be as wide as the opening and length should touch the floor. Lastly, using the installed RV curtain clips, hang full-length thermal blackout curtains. When you close the curtains, they should reach from wall to wall in width and touch the floor in length to provide more insulation.

Don’t like to read?  Watch the video instead on YouTube and follow my channel for more tips.

3. Cover the House Windows.  You probably have curtains that cover your side windows. In addition to closing your curtains, you can put up a lightweight fleece blanket that can cover the entire width and length of each window. I hang the blanket by folding it over my curtain rod. A tip for more insulation is to leave some extra blanket at the top when you fold it over the curtain rod. Doing this creates more of a cushion and filler to seal the top of the window and prevent outside air from drafting in. Remember to cover the small window in the kitchen area as well.

Affordable ways to insulate your RV

Doors can be cold air culprits in FREEZING WEATHER!

4. Cover the Door. The door can be a huge culprit for bringing in cold air. If your weather stripping is old or failing, you need an extra layer of protection against the cold air seeping in. I installed a little curtain rod over my door to hang a thermal blackout curtain panel to cover the doorway. Make sure your curtain is wide enough to cover the whole door and can touch the floor as well.

5. House Battery Compartment.   Next, fill in the area where house battery access is. Mine is right in front of the door. If you travel with a dog as I do, you can place your pet’s bed there to create a barrier on the floor. If not, lay a big blanket or pillows from your sofa in the area.

6. Keep the Bathroom Door Closed.  Yes, this should be obvious. Keeping this door closed will trap the cold air in the bathroom instead of seeping out into your sleeping quarters.

Stay warm sleeping in freezing weather

Preparing Your Sleeping Quarters for Freezing Weather

  1. Don’t Forget About the Floors!  If you have laminate flooring in your RV, you will find that they are cold and drafty in the winter, especially if you have an older RV. To combat this, you can place rugs/runners over the floor to provide more insulation. Laying a runner or several runners together along the wall behind the bed can help insulate the seams and keep cold air out. I also use a down comforter to give extra insulation from the floor.  
  2. More Windows.   My RV has three windows in the back in the sleeping quarters. I have two small windows and a large emergency window behind the bed. These many windows can make the sleeping area cold and drafty. Using blankets over the curtains will make a huge difference in keeping the cold out. I suggest using full-length curtains for extra insulation from the walls as well. To insulate the emergency window, you can place a reflective sun visor in the window over the blinds/curtain. Next, place a blanket over the sun visor. I also use extra pillows to line the wall to hold the blanket in place. The extra pillows create a barrier between the wall/window and my head while sleeping.  
  3. Remember Warm Clothes.  If you are in freezing weather, the best thing for you to do to keep your body heat is to wear a hat. Sleeping in a zero-degree sleeping bag is also a great way to stay warm and cozy in your bed.
Alternatives to using a furnace

How to Heat your RV When You Do Not Have a Furnace

Whether you are primarily boondocking or do not want to drain your battery using the furnace, or maybe your furnace quit like mind did, there are other ways to heat your RV.

  1. Mr. Heater Buddy.  The Mr. Buddy is portable and heats up to 200sqft. It runs on propane, so you will need a separate propane tank, hose, and filter to filter the gas going into the Heater Buddy.  I know some of you are gasping: What about CO2?  This heater has a low oxygen sensor shutting it off automatically. The shutoff safety feature keeps carbon monoxide from being produced at dangerous levels. CO2 is the result of not enough oxygen being present in the air. As a precaution, your RV should have a CO2 detector/alarm installed, even if you are not using a portable heater.  My RV is older and very drafty. I can feel fresh air circulating, even with the extra coverings. But, if you do not feel safe with this, keep reading for more options.
  2. Catalytic Heaters.  If you are worried about CO2, a catalytic heater is another alternative.  Catalytic heaters use chemical reactions to produce heat, which means no CO2.
  3. Electric Space Heater.  If you are at a campsite with hookups, an electric space heater is an option instead of using your furnace. Take caution as these can be a fire risk. I suggest finding a model with built-in safety features for shutting off if knocked over or too hot.
Prevent breaks in freezing weather

How to Keep Things from Breaking in Freezing Weather

You will never be able to keep things from freezing if you are indeed in freezing weather, but there are measures you can take to make sure your pipes and tanks do not break. Water in your black and grey tanks will freeze when you are in freezing weather conditions.

  1. Don’t keep your Fresh Water Tank and Waste Tank full in freezing weather.  In case you did not know or did not remember, liquids expand when they freeze. The liquid in a closed container will expand when frozen and create stress on the container and possibly crack it. Foreseeing that I would be spending at least one night in colder weather, I dumped my waste and only filled my freshwater tank about less than half full.
  2. Turn off your Water Pump and Open Faucets.  Water left in your pipes will freeze. Everybody who lives in an RV and dry camps relies on the water pump. Turn your water pump off. Turn your faucets on to empty all of your water, including your shower. Remember to make sure no water is remaining in your toilet. You can pull the toilet lever releasing the remaining water for the flush to drain.
Thawing out in freezing weather

Be Prepared for When Things Freeze

It can take a few hours for things to thaw out. You may not have running water for a while if not hooked up to city water.  

  1. Before you go to bed, fill everything up. I have my Britta Water Pitcher that I I fill up before I go to bed to ensure I have water to drink, water to make coffee and breakfast. 
  2. Keep another gallon of water on hand for the toilet.   You will not be able to flush your toilet if the water is frozen.  Have an extra jug of water on hand to place some water in the toilet for flushing. You can keep it in the cabin with you to keep it from freezing.  

And that is it! Simple steps to survive some freezing nights. Notice I said SOME, as in a few. These are steps I take because I know I will not be in the cold weather for long. The few times that I have had to stay overnight in freezing temperatures, as low as 15 degrees, the steps I’ve shared have worked very well for me. Enjoy your travels! Stay warm, stay safe. And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND.

Check out my list of places you can Remote Boondock in a larger RV.

Curious about Full-Time RV Life? Here are some fun facts >>> Fun Facts of RV Life

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DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

How to Find the Right RV or Van to Live In

Where to find your nomadic home on wheels

Deciding to live a nomadic life can be as scary as it is exciting. Similarly, choosing the right vehicle can be intimidating. That’s why, in this blog, I give you my best tips for shopping for an RV.

Which vehicle is right for you? There’s much to consider! For instance, size, type and cost. Therefore, before you begin, I suggest watching this three-part video series I made covering the pros and cons of RVs, Motorhomes, Vans, Truck Campers, Trailers, Skoolies and more.

Once you decide on the right vehicle for your RV Life or Van Life you can start shopping. But what’s the best place to find your new home on wheels?  And what are some tips for finding the right one for you? Everything I learned buying the two RVs I’ve lived in is outlined below. (Click here to watch why I choose to live in a Class C Motorhome).

Carolyn Higgins of Carolyn’s RV Life

RV, Motorhome & Van Shopping Tips

  1. Craigslist: Craigslist is always my first choice for searching for most things. You can search RVs, Motorhomes, Vans, Skoolies, Minivans – or anything your heart desires on Craigslist. You can refine your  search for new or used, private or dealer sales and you can enter other filters like price range, mileage and more.  I like Craigslist because I can shop anywhere in the country and compare makes and models, prices by region and more. It’s also a great place to begin your research into the right home on wheels for you.
  2. RV Trader: You can also sign up for RV Trader and other auto-sales online sites.  I’ve found that most listings were out of my price range.  If you’re on a fixed budget, your choices on these sites may be more limited than what you find on Craigslist.
  3. Visit Local RV/Van Dealers:  It doesn’t hurt to visit local RV lots, take tours, test drives and talk to the dealers to become familiar with RVs, Vans and Motorhomes. This is a great way to learn about RVs and Motorhomes and figure out what is going to work best for your RV Life.
  4. Expand your Search: If you live in a large, expensive metropolitan area, I suggest expanding your search to another city or state to get more for your dollar. When I first searched for my RV to live in, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and therefore paid San Francisco prices. I got an $8000 lemon that probably would have been far less in another state.
  5. Search Off-Season:  Trying to buy an RV or Motorhome in Spring or Summer, during the height of the recreation season is going to limit your lower priced options. Demand will be higher when everyone else is shopping, driving the prices up.  Buying in Fall or Winter can earn you a much better deal.
  6. Take Your Time:  Waiting until the last minute to shop for your RV or Van is a mistake. Do your research, take your time and wait for the right one to come along. I’d even start searching before you have the money. That way you’re already familiar with what’s on the market and the price ranges.
Carolyn’s RV Life in Alaska

Other RV Buying Resources

There are other sources for buying RVs and Vans like Facebook Marketplace, local classifieds and more. I have given you the sources and tips I’ve used to shop for and buy two Class C RVs that I’ve lived in for three years. I hope you found this helpful.

For more an extra tip, check out the 5 Minute Video I posted on YouTube, How to Find an RV to Live In.

To read more about my process of buying an RV and choosing the right one, click here.   

Are you living in an RV, van or motorhome? How did you find yours? Or are you in the planning and shopping stage? Leave your comments below.

How to Drive an RV on Mountain Roads Without Killing Your Brakes!

I recently drove my 29’ Class C RV over two mountain passes in one day. I climbed from sea level to over 7000 feet,  back down to about 4000 feet, back up to 7000, and finally down to 4000’ again. This is a lot of work for a six-and-a-half-ton RV built on a van chassis.  And as my brakes smoked and spewed the toxic odor of burning brake pads, I realized I had a lot to learn about driving a big Class C Motor Home on mountain roads. The more I drove, the softer my brake pedal became; I had to push it almost all the way to the floor to slow down.  I eventually pulled over to let the brakes cool and that helped, but it didn’t take long for the pedal to get spongy again and by the time I reached the bottom of the grade I was barely stopping at all.  (You can read the whole harrowing story here). I was able to get to the bottom safely by pulling over to let my brakes cool and using low gear, but it was nerve-wracking, to say the least!

Driving RV Mountain Roads

Once I was on flat land again I did research to learn what I’d done wrong to make my RV brakes overheat and fade on the mountain passes. Here is what I learned.

Know Your Route and Prepare Ahead of Time!

I’d driven my Class C RV on plenty of mountain passes in the Sierra Nevada’s, so when I glanced at the Google map and saw the squiggly lines of switch-backed mountain roads, I thought “piece of cake”. What I learned that day is that not all mountain passes are alike. Everything from the length of the grade, steepness of the grade, road conditions and weather can impact travel on mountain roads.

The Lesson: Plan your route ahead. Ask others or do research on the route before you go. My mistake was doing both passes in one day. The grades on both were very steep and very long, causing me to use my brakes a lot! I should have done one pass and rested my brakes at least a couple of hours before tackling the next one.

Driving up to toward Winnemucca, N

Safety First – Know the Condition of your RV

The one thing I had going for me that day is that I’d recently replaced my front brake pads, calipers and rotors. My rear brakes had been inspected and the drums replaced. I knew my brakes were in good shape. So, as I was mentally trouble-shooting what was causing my brakes to slide and smoke, I could deduce they were overheating. However, “to safely control a vehicle, every braking mechanism must do its share of the work. Brakes with excessively worn pads or rotors will not provide the same degree of braking power. If you are not sure about the condition of your braking system, have it inspected by qualified service center.” (Source: FMCA, “Mountain Driving: Let Your Engine Do the Work”)
The Lesson: Keep your vehicle maintenance up to avoid dangerous or even deadly RV brake or engine malfunctions on dangerous roads. If my brakes had been old and worn out, a caliper had gotten stuck or I had a brake fluid leak my situation could have had a very different ending.

 Use Your Motor Home  Engine to Slow You Down!

You should also “shift into low gear before starting the downgrade”,  advises the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA). FMCA also states, “with motorhomes, a rule for choosing gears has been to use the same gear going down a hill that you would to climb the hill. However, new motorhomes have low-friction parts and streamlined shapes for fuel economy. They may also have more powerful engines. This means they can go up hills in higher gears and have less friction and air drag to hold them back going down hills. For this reason, drivers of newer motorhomes may have to use lower gears going down a hill than would be required to go up the hill.

Usually you want the lowest gear that will keep the motorhome at or near the speed you want in negotiating the downhill. For example, if you’re going down a six-percent grade and wanted to go 35 mph, you would start downshifting and using the brakes to get to an engine rpm that will enable you to maintain a speed at or near 35 mph.”

The Lesson: I drove a stick shift for years and if my RV was a manual shift, downshifting would have been a no-brainer. But with an automatic transmission, I’m always unsure when I should shift into low gear.  A rule of thumb, according to RVers Online who attended an RV Driving School is that if your “RV accelerates more than 5mph going downhill then you need to shift to a lower gear”. How helpful! I will be remembering that!!

On the edge of the Anza Borrego Badlands

Proper RV Braking on Steep Downgrades

RV and Motorhome brakes overheat from excessive use – or “riding”.  Riding your bakes on long steep downgrades will cause your brakes to fade- or with consistent use, to stop working completely.

The Lesson: The goal for safe RV and Motor Home driving on mountain roads is to keep the brakes cool enough to keep working. You can do this by letting up on them for 3 seconds for every 1 second of application. (Source RVersOnline.org)

What to Do if Your Brakes Overheat

If you’re driving your RV or Motor Home down a hill and notice smoking, burning brake odor and/or brake fade, pull over as soon as you are able to do so safely and let the brakes cool. Turn off the engine and test the brake pedal if, after sitting a while, the sponginess disappears and the brake pedal becomes firm again, most likely your issue is brake overheating. It’s best to let your brakes cool completely before getting back on the road; that could take an hour or more depending on weather conditions.

Overheating your RV brakes can cause permanent damage to your pads, rotors and calipers. If you do overheat them, it’s best to get them checked out by a brake service center as soon as possible.

Do you have any RV driving safety tips you’d like to share? Or how about a scary story to share? Leave your comments below!