17 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 106 Simplifying Weekend Get Aways

On this weeks show I am talking about ways to make more use of your RV. You dreamed the dream, you made the purchase but now it seems harder than you thought to use it as often as you hoped. I discovered that weekend get-aways sometimes feel as pressure filled as the big trips. Having the RV packed and ready is only half the battle. Having the right state of mind is key as well. How do you shut the negative loop that starts telling you to “just stay home and relax here this weekend”?

I have a new check list of things to do when the camper rolls in the driveway from the last trip that make the next trip less pressure. In addition to the usual things like emptying the trailer of food, garbage and laundry I have now added these time savers that make the next trip more likely to happen.

When You Get Home

Strip the bed of dirty linens. Even if you don’t wash them until Tuesday or Wednesday, at least they’re in the house and it’s more likely to get done before the weekend.

Stripping the bed as soon as I get home allows me to get the bedding changed during the week and have the bed made up and ready to go before Friday afternoon.

Clean the trailer when you get it home rather than when you are ready to use it again. Getting out there in the middle of a busy work week can feel like a chore and add to the loop that starts playing telling you to just stay home. I now wipe the floors, bathroom and surfaces after I strip the bed. Having it all clean just begs you to repack it and get out.

During The Week 

Think of food differently when planning quick trips. I always have this ideal for camp meals and I want to make them extra special. Ideal meals are a bit of a dream. I think I’d rather sit around the fire with a reheated leftover than be at home with probably the same leftover. Some ways to not overthink the food are to:

Cook an extra large meal during the week and freeze a portion for travel. When you get to the campground on Friday you can unwind with a heated up leftover rather than ramp up and start chopping and dicing.

Freezing a serving or two from a weekday meal makes it easier to get out of Dodge on a Friday afternoon without worrying about what’s for dinner.

If you plan a special meal for Saturday night,  buy the ingredients when you are doing your family shopping. Don’t make anything so special that you need to make a special trip to get ingredients. Freeze it if necessary but get what you want when you are already at the store.

Have a pantry with ‘go to’ meals that don’t require refrigerated food. Tuna casseroles with Ramen noodles make great camp comfort food in a pinch. Beans and Rice. Tomato soup and oyster crackers. White sliced potatoes and hash. Ask yourself if the meal is more important than the location and if the idea of food having to be “special” is stopping you from even going, you may need to rethink the food part.


The Night Before

Plug the trailer in so that the refrigerator is nice and cold and you can transfer the food items you need for the weekend to the trailer right before you leave. I cleared a shelf in the home refrigerator and I use it as my stash for trailer sized food. Mini sized condiments and things I like in the trailer and then I don’t have to search for them around the fridge. I put them on the bottom shelf on the door because no one will ever find them there!

I now know keep my RV sized condiments on the lower shelf of my home fridge so I can grab them quickly when I’m packing for a weekend.

Add the clothes items that you need for the trip and put them in the trailer the night before. I use packing cubes which I bring in when I get home and then I can add the clothes I will need during the week as I am watching what the weather forecast looks like. I have coats, rain gear and extra shoes in the trailer all the time so I just need the street clothes for the weekend ahead.

Gas up the tow vehicle. Having to make one less stop on the day of departure is a real stress reliever. It puts you closer to your goal of getting to the campground as soon as possible. Last minute errands on a Friday take longer than the rest of the week because of high traffic volume  and create tension when the goal is to start unwinding.

Having the trailer hitched the night before makes the travel day a lot easier.

Hitch up the trailer the night before if you don’t need the tow vehicle to get to work. If you need your tow vehicle to get to work on Friday, check the tire pressure on all the tires (trailer and tow vehicle) as well as the fluids on your tow vehicle so that on departure day you only have to hook up and check the lights and hitch connections.

Camp close to home so that you are not overwhelmed by the traffic, tolls and hours in the car. The goal is to get to your happy place. A site in the woods 25 miles from home offers the same benefits as one 100 miles or more away.

One of my “go to” campgrounds close to home for a weekend get away is Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia, New Jersey.

Making the most use of your trailer can mean spreading out the tasks over the course of the week. If you pull it off you can find yourself sitting around a campfire on Friday nights instead of ordering a pizza and spending the night at home paying bills or organizing your sock drawer!


11 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 105 Answering FAQ’s

On this weeks show I am answering FAQ’s ranging from “Is Girl Camper a group I can join?” to “Do I really need to use expensive  RV toilet paper?” I am also linking here to a few of  my “go to” experts in all things RV.

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I’m answering the question about whether Girl Camper is a group you can join.

Walter Canon is the  Executive Director of the RVSEF,  (Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation). The RVSEF provides comprehensive information on all things RV safety related including towing ratings for vehicles. Walter is a frequent guest speaker at RV events but also produces great videos. One of the ones I highly recommend taking the time to watch is Walter’s video on matching your truck and trailer.  Arming yourself with expert advice will help make your RV travels safe and fun.

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Walter Cannon, Executive Director of the RVSEF is an industry expert and frequent public speaker.

Another industry expert I rely on is Mark Polk from RV Education 101. Mark has perhaps the most comprehensive body of work compiled on RV Safety, Maintenance and Repairs. Mark also has the gift of being able to convey complicated subjects in a clear and concise manner. He has an extensive body of DVD’s, YouTube videos, Ebooks and articles on everything you need to know about your motor home, tow vehicle or travel trailer. Mark’s work on tire safety and tire inflation guides should be a must read for all RVers.

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Mark Polk and his wife Dawn Polk are the founders of RV Education 101. Their work is keeping RVers safe and helping them enjoy years of extended life from their motor homes and travel trailers by learning how to properly use and maintain them.

04 Oct

Beddy’s Beds! A Girl Camper Dream Come True!

Traveling with your own things, especially ones  own linens, make life on the road so  enjoyable.  I love returning to my trailer at the end of a long day and flopping in the bed with my movies, laptop or book! I’m just a person who loves bedtime!!

A follower of mine sent me an email asking me if I knew anything about Beddy’s Beds and if I could recommend them. I had never seen them before but was immediately smitten with the idea. It is an entire set of bedding that fits like a fitted sheet with the top blanket zipping into place when you make it each day eliminating all the tucking and pulling and tightening. It always looks nice and you don’t break out in a sweat while making the bed.

I chose the Chevron pattern in a grey because I knew I the floors had a grey tone to them and I also had already decided on a Boho Chic touch. I thought that the Chevron would create a neutral background.

The Beddy’s Bed Company makes many pretty designs from their feminine “Always Enchanting” pattern  to their nautical “Hot and Coaled” pattern. They come in twin, full, queen and king sizes as well as crib sets.

RV manufacturers make two different size Queen beds – the standard Queen of 60×80 inches and what they call “RV Queen” which is 60×70 inches. The Max trailer has a standard Queen bed which made my Beddy’s Bed set fit perfectly.

The zipper on the bed set is an easy glide, non stick one with a large toggle to grab to pull it up. I worked in a sewing workroom for years and know first hand that all zippers are not alike. I am happy to say that I never experienced any trouble with the zipper.

There is a saying that goes, “Make a perfect bed, have a perfect day!” In my 12 years of RVing I can say that there were many days in which I just threw the covers up and went on my way. I never liked it though but I was unwilling to grunt and groan over making the bed when it was just me there to see it. I loved that making the bed was so simple and that I felt great each day when I got back and saw it!

Now, some details.

There are two fabrics involved in the bed sets. The first is the cotton quilting that makes up the top and sides of the bed set. I followed the directions explicitly when I got my set and washed them with white vinegar the first time to set the colors. It was simple enough and they came out great. I have washed the set a half dozen times since then and they are holding up nicely. No fraying seams or color fading. I take them out of the dryer when they are 90% dry and put them back on the bed. The cotton is tightly woven and a good quality.

The second fabric is the super cuddly fabric on the underside of the quilt top. It’s a soft fabric that is a cross between chenille and flannel although it is not at all hot like flannel can be. It is soft like flannel without making you sweat. This fabric is sewn to the underside of the top quilt and has “wings” that tuck in when it is zipped up. The “wings” allow you to toss and turn left and right without becoming uncovered. This fabric has also stood up to washings, is not hot and has not developed “pills”.  I’m very happy with the feel of it as well as the wearability.

The zipper is nylon and “runs” well up and down. It can get caught if you are zipping too fast but is easily backed out. I thought the most important part of the zipper is that it does not buckle along the sides of the bed when zipped up. It lays flat and looks very neat. The zipper has a nice size round plastic toggle to pull it up and down with.

The Fit – Since I have a standard Queen the fit is a good one even though the mattress is not as high as a home bed. I queried a few friends who bought them with RV Queens and they said they fitted them at the bottom and tucked the extra inches in at the top without a problem. Please be aware if you have an RV Queen it will not fit as snugly as mine does.

The price – You can get a 20% off a purchase by using the coupon code Girl Camper. My set was $299 before the 20% off and included everything I needed to “make a perfect bed”.  I got the bottom fitted sheet with the quilted sides, the top quilt with the super soft fabric inside and the wings and zippered sides, a set of Chevron patterned Queen size quilted pillow shams and a set of Queen size pillow cases that matched the bottom sheet fabric. I love the way it all looks when it is made up and I am happy that I chose the grey Chevron because I can change my accent throw pillows and blankets for the season. I am so happy with the product that I am going to get the full set for my 1966 Go Tag Along which also has the rear, hard to make bed.

If you go on the website be sure to use the coupon code Girl Camper for an extra discount. You can even use it on sale items!!




03 Oct

Girl Camper: Episode 104 Strategies for Buying at an RV Show

Click the arrow before to listen to the podcast.

Before we head into this week’s show I’m welcoming our newest Girl Camper friendly dealership and podcast sponsor,  Bankston Motor Homes of Alabama and Tennessee. Bankston’s is a Number One Best in Business Award Winner with five locations and over 500 new RV’s arriving each month.  They are a family owned dealership that “has been selling motor homes, and family dreams, since 1970.”  Mr. Bankston,  the President and owner of Bankston’s has plenty of experience RVing himself. He raised his own children doing it and still camps today in his Class A Motorhome. The fun part of a multi generational dealership is that its in their blood! Two of the Banskston grandsons run the dealership along with their Grandpa today. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – in my own experience it is the family owned dealerships that have the highest dedication to the customer and the industry. They are the dealerships that go the extra mile and I am so looking froward to bringing that dedication and enthusiasm to the Girl Camper Podcast listeners through our new association. Stay posted for upcoming events! We’ve got some great things planned.

I’m also sharing my RV Show Tips for those that are ready to buy. RV Shows can be daunting and you need a strategy for tackling them and making the best use of your time. For those who are ready to buy and have done your online research the RV Show itself is a great opportunity to see the models, different floor plans and compare prices.

Here’s my strategy for those who are ready to buy!

  • Know your Tow! If you already own the tow vehicle you plan to use make sure you know its GVWR. I suggest going to the RV Safety and Education Foundations video on Matching Trucks to Trailers and make sure you are buying something that can handle all you plan to tow and haul in both your truck and trailer. You will also find many good articles and FAQ’s answered here. Lean heavily on this site for expert information. Walter Canon, the Executive Director has been a guest on the podcast and he is the top in his field.
  • Before the show – get a notebook and write out the models you are looking at the old fashioned way. Keep that information handy so you can make additional notes at the show.
  • Study the show map and mark out the dealers and models you plan to look at. The shows are often quite large and knowing ahead of time where your target spots are saves time and energy.
  • Do online research about the dealers that are carrying the models you hope to look at. You might want to call the dealer and ask if they are bringing the model you are interested in. Take a look at their online reviews and read customer notes. Sometimes the best price is not the best deal. Sometimes paying a higher price for a dealership with a better reputation may be the better deal.
  • Show Day Strategy – Start the day as early as possible. If you can be there when the doors open you can have the attention of sales people and floor space to really look at the models. Also, if you can take a day off work and go on a weekday you are always better off.
  • Resist the urge to tire kick the 500K dollar Class A’s and stick to your notebook. Leave the dream machines for another day.
  • Have your phone or camera and take pictures of all the models. Before you take a picture of the trailer itself, photograph the outside of it including the name of it and the poster of all the statistics and floor plans along with the show price. It is so easy to have the information bleed into each other after you have looked at two or three models.
  • When viewing the trailers – pay close attention to the available storage and where it is at. If it has 40% of the available storage under the bench seats and bed ask yourself if that will be a problem for you. Try to think of the things you take along and where you will put them.
  • Pay attention to the windows. Are there enough? Do they open in a way that will suit you? Do they have covers that you like or will you need to upgrade that? Is there enough airflow? Will the windows by the bed pose a problem if you read in bed?
  • Kitchen – Is there enough refrigerator space? Is the fridge at upper level or under the cabinet? Is there enough storage? Counter space? Imagine yourself cooking there? Is the sink deep enough?
  • Bathroom- If it is a wet bath, can you turn around in it? What size storage tanks does it have? Where will you keep toiletries and dry towels if it is a wet bath?
  • The bed – It’s okay to lay down on a bed at an RV show. Go ahead! Is it long enough? If it is against the wall, will that work for you? Are the windows near it enough to give you air? Privacy? Is there lighting for reading in bed? Are there plugs near the bed and a USB port? Is there enough clothes storage?
  • Dining table – Can it sit four comfortably? Do you need it to fold down for an additional bed? Do you prefer the U shaped table? Does the table go up and down easily?
  • Try and get through the trailers you want to see by lunch time and review your findings over lunch. Return and ask any questions you have and see how the price compares to the prices you saw for the model before the show. Frequently RV Show prices are some of the lowest of the year but not always. It’s really about supply and demand so still shop price and see if the dealer will match a lower price you may have found.
  • Lastly, go to the seminars if you can. Industry experts give them for free and they are a fount of great information. Some of the shows are given by resorts trying to sell you a spot. Look over the menu of speakers and choose the industry experts.

RV Shows are a great way to see many different manufacturer models and floor plans in one place and to narrow down your choices to get your RV dream rolling.

26 Sep

Girl Camper: Episode 103 DIY Your RV- Small Projects for the Fall

On this week’s show I’m talking about DIY projects for your RV. Whether you own a newer model RV that you would like to personalize or a vintage trailer that you want to refresh, there are simple and inexpensive ways to make your home away from home cozy and inviting. Here are a few of my favorite projects.

WALLS – You can bring light and a sense of space to your trailer by wallpapering, painting or using vinyl cut outs.

I love this British caravan from Pinterest with the floral wallet and painted cabinetry.

This photo was taken many years ago when NJ Monthly Magazine did an article on me. I’m hanging out in my 1959 Field and Stream which I wallpapered with my leftover bedroom wallpaper.

Another detail of the Pinterest caravan that I love is the added real house furniture. If you go this route you must make sure you’re keeping the weight even on both sides.

Vinyl cut decals are a great way to add interest. I get mine from my Instagram friend Brittany at Wordsandsuch.

Quilter Kaye England’s painted trailer is a favorite of mine. The deep color adds so much warmth.

This is my 1966 Go Tag Along. I used garden burlap on the walls in the bed berth. I applied it with store bought wallpaper glue (very messy) and painted over it when it was dry.

WINDOW TREATMENTS- A simple way to add a personal feel to your trailer is to change the window treatments. If the trailer is newer chances are it came with a cornice covered with an industrial styled fabric of brown swooshes with mini blinds behind it!! We can do better than that!

Jennifer Megliore who owns Artware in Hilton Head, South Carolina and uses her vintage trailer as a pop up shop as well as a camping trailer used reproduction state map tea towels as curtains in her trailer.

Last year in my spring clean I took down the mini blinds and added matchstick blinds to my Riverside Retro, the St. George.

Sister on the Fly Carol Thompson cut down thrift store curtains for her 1963 Cardinal. It’s easiest to cut from the top and put in a new rod pocket. Saves a lot of hemming!

I love that sister on the Fly Debra Facer kept the curtains that came in her reproduction Shasta but embellished them with bright red ball fringe.

MESSAGE BOARDS – Adding a DIY message board is a good afternoon project that doesn’t take a lot of time or money. Chances are you probably have all you need to make one in your house. An old cookie sheet, a painted tray or a few Dollar Store metal serving trays can become great message boards. I hang mine with 3M Command strips.

I couldn’t resist this metal board found on a trip. I applied it to my RV fridge with Command strips by 3M.

This Pinterest photo has some great cookie sheet ideas. Cover with your favorite scrap book paper to match your trailer.

I bought this metal map of the US and all the state magnets on vacation last summer for $180! Big splurge! It’s on Amazon from several different sellers for around $80. Don’t tell my husband.

I made the mini message board by the front door for notes and as a place to keep my fishing licenses and the spice racks by the stove from Dollar Store trays. I put them on with Command strips and in the 8k miles I drove in 10 weeks they didn’t budge!

CABINETS – Changing your trailer cabinets can help get rid of the cookie cutter look of most new RV’s and create a more “home” vibe. I painted the cabinets in almost every vintage trailer I’ve ever owned. New hardware also adds a personal touch.

Older trailers with brown cabinets and original hardware are easily freshened up with paint and new handles.

I haven’t done it yet but I want to paint the base cabinets in my Riverside Retro trailer. I love the cozy birch wood but it’s almost too much of a good thing. I haven’t decided on a color yet though. I did switch out the sink cabinet handles.

BATHROOM UPGRADES – I recently ordered a teak bath mat for my Max wet bath. It will sit away from the drain an inch or two and allow me to drop the towel without getting it all wet. I also think I will love the warmth it adds to an all white bathroom. Another plus in wet bath design is a bunch of spring rods to hang towels, shower curtains and when doubled one in front of the other as a handy shelf for shampoo and conditioner.

This photo from the Airstream forum shows a mat similar to what I ordered for the Max wet bath.

I couldn’t resist sharing this Pinterest photo of an Airstream makeovers new bathroom. Check out the teak  floor, bench and penny tile! Swoon!

Lastly the spring rod curtain rods that hold my towels in Max. Inexpensive and effective!