Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Things that make our lives and experiences easier!

Finding the perfect RV

Whether you are looking to upgrade your current RV or thinking of purchasing your first RV, you have a lot of choices. While having choices can be good, it can also be overwhelming. Is there such a thing as the perfect RV? Finding an RV that has everything is nearly an impossible task. So how do you decide?

Determine your style of RVing

One of the great things about RVing is that there is no one-size fits all. However, knowing how you will be using your RV will best help you narrow down your choices to find the ‘perfect’ one for you and your family.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Will you be RVing full-time or part-time? Full-time RVers have different needs and often require more from their RVs than the occasional camper.
  • Do you prefer to park at traditional campgrounds or in remote places? If you like to get off the beaten path and want to go for days off-grid your options will be vastly different than if you want to camp at luxury RV resorts in popular tourist spots.
  • Do you want to camp at National Parks? There are length restrictions at many National Park campgrounds.
  • What is your comfort level driving and parking RVs? Does driving something the length of a semi-truck scare you? Do you hate backing in trailers? Identifying these things will quickly narrow down your list.
  • If part-time RVing, do you have a place to store your RV when not in use? Many neighborhoods have restrictions on parking RVs in front of or on site. If yours is one, finding a good storage facility should be part of your planning.
  • Will you be traveling with children or pets? As you consider RVs, think about the space you would be occupying during inclement weather…because bad weather does happen. Would you and your family be comfortable?
  • Do you plan to do a lot of entertaining or prefer to keep to yourself? There are some great RVs out there with outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas but if you a
  • Will you need to buy a new vehicle? Depending on your budget, this might make a significant difference in your RV options.
  • Do you prefer new or used? New might get you a great warranty, but used typically have already had warranty issues taken care of.

Know RV classifications

RVs for sale are segmented into two main categories; motorhomes and towables. If it has a motor it’s a motorhome and if you tow it, it’s a towable. But within those categories there will be classifications such as Class A’s, B’s, C’s etc. Check out this great post on RVing 101: Types of RVs for detailed information on each class.

Set a realistic budget…and stick to it

This can be the hardest to do. As you delve into looking at RVs for sale, you are going to find many attractive options. But remember, owning an RV is only part of the cost. Make room for maintenance, insurance, repairs and accessories as these costs can quickly add up.

Make a list of must-have features

I remember a must-have for me when we bought our RV, was an oven. Guess what….we don’t have an oven. And i’m fine with it. The point is, something I thought was an absolute, was something I could actually do without. But there are some things that you can not budge on. For example, we have friends who need to have an outlet in near the bed for their CPAP machine.

Make a list of things you really want in your dream RV. Now go back and put whether each item is a need or a want and separate them into two lists. Finally, rank each list in order of importance. This exercise will really help keep you focused as you narrow down your choices.

Watch videos and tour RVs

RV shows can be a great way to tour many RVs at once. Another overlooked benefit of RV shows is the accessibility to talk directly with the manufacturers. Check out our RV Show Schedule to find one near you.

But what if you can’t get to a dealer or show? There is no shortage of RV related videos on YouTube. They are a great resource to see not only what certain RVs look like, but more importantly real-life feedback from current owners as well. Pay attention to both positive and negative information to best educate yourself in your RV purchase decision.

Take, for example this video:

Now, we absolutely love our Little Guy Max. That being said, there are still features that we dislike. We cover which items we were able to address and a few items we could not. More importantly, we also mention how the manufacturer has responded to issues. That was a big factor when we decided on which one was best for us and we are pleased to say we have had a very positive experience. Through videos like this, you might learn about features that you would have otherwise missed.

Do a test run

Once you think you have decided what RV you want, we suggest renting one to see how you like it. Websites like Outdoorsy, RVShare and Cruise America offer great prices and options on RV rentals. Do a test run as well and compare units before you commit to a large purchase and it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Get the best price

Prices can vary greatly from dealership to dealership. Use tools like RV Trader, RVT and NADA RV Guide to give you an idea of what the RV you are looking for will cost.

In the end, there is no perfect RV. But it is possible to find one that fits many of your needs and wants and will make you very happy, making it perfect for you…for now. Remember, what is perfect for you now may change in the future. Thank goodness there are plenty of options ready and waiting for you when that happens!

How to avoid a black tank mess

Dumping the black tank can be a source of extreme anxiety for new RVers. I know it was for us, so much so that even though we were full-time RVers, I forbade anyone from using the black tank except in the most dire of situations. That was until we learned a simple and easy way to avoid a black tank mess.

Black Tank Fears

Blog posts, YouTube videos and that scene from “RV” (the hilarious Robin Williams movie) fed and legitimized this fear.  

Iconic scene from the movie ‘RV’ with Robin Williams

After awhile, I learned that the fear and anxiety I felt about having a catastrophic black tank disaster was mostly unwarranted. Mostly…I would be lying to you if I told you I never had an issue dumping my black tank. However, the issues I experienced while dumping RV tanks were relatively minor and never, ever at the level Robin Williams experienced in “RV”. 

Escapees events are a wealth of information

Escapees is an RV club that supports, educates and entertains RVers. While attending an Escapees rally a few years back, Kerry and I attended an RV Tanks How To class and in it, I learned the one tip that cured me of my black tank phobia.  

Typical causes of a black tank mess

First, I need to explain how a black tank mess usually happens. Many RV tank dumping disasters occur because of the lack of a good seal at the points where the sewer hose connects to your RV tanks or where it connects to the dump station. 

This actually happened to me because I wasn’t aware that the o-ring/gasket inside the sewer hose at the point where the hose connector marries up with your tanks and or dump station port had fallen out.

The other incident occurred when my sewer donut (odor proof sewer hose seal) was not seated and therefore I had no seal. 

To dump tanks, the RVer typically has their sewer hose connected to the rig as well as the dump site and then empties the black tank then the gray tank to help rinse any remaining black tank deposits. We are going to add one small variation to our normal RV tank dumping process. 

Quickly release the gray for 2 seconds

Before releasing the contents of the black tank and hoping for the best, try releasing a small amount (2 seconds or so) from the gray tank first. This will reveal any leak points with water that was used for bathing, dishes and hand washing instead of revealing it with human waste.  

Once you have confirmed there are no leaks, continue with the normal process of dumping your tanks. The entire process as I’ve described is as follows: 

  1. Release a small amount from the gray tank (2 seconds should work) 
    – If no leaks continue with the normal process 
  2. Release contents of the black tank (don’t forget to close this valve after) 
  3. Rinse with the contents of the gray tank 
  4. Rinse your sewer hose with a dedicated tank rinsing water hose (separate from your drinking water hose).  
Avoid black tank spills with this simple tip

I hope this simple but effective tip helps you as much as it has helped us. Watch our video for more info and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any other questions.