27 Feb

Episode 120: RV and Travel Lessons Learned

To listen to this weeks podcast, click on the arrow!

On this weeks show my travel buddy and BFF Carol and I continue the conversation on lessons learned while on the road. In the 12 years since we began RVing we’ve traveled thousands of miles in every conceivable weather condition. Along the way we made a few mistakes, dodged a few bullets and had our confidence tested. We are sharing these experiences and those of our online community on the Girl Camper Podcast Facebook page, in the hopes that others might avoid our mistakes or at least know an appropriate course of action if they run into trouble.

Travel Day Lessons 

  • Be realistic about how long it will take to get somewhere when you are towing.
  • When traveling into the night without reservations, look ahead for campgrounds and check availability.
  • Don’t depend on the GPS alone. Always have paper maps.
  • Try to arrive at the campground before dark. If you arrive after dark, consider staying hooked up and setting up in the morning.
  • Fill or start looking for gas when the tank is half empty. Use IExit App to find gas stations. Remember that is sometimes harder to find diesel so don’t let tank go too low.
  • Always have cash with you. Sometimes you can’t use your credit card or don’t want to in unrecognized locations.
  • Have all of your Roadside Assistance numbers in your phone and your account numbers as well in case of emergency. Find out ahead of time if your Roadside Assistance plan will tow your RV and your tow vehicle.

Be realistic about the added time that towing adds to a GPS estimated arrival.

Weather Worries 

  • Be prepared to adjust your driving plans for bad weather
  • Change routes if necessary to avoid extreme weather
  • Pull over and wait out bad weather along the way
  • Delay departure if high winds or sever weather is called for
  • Have a weather alert App on your mobile device to warn about dangerous weather
  • NEVER drive through high water
  • Know where tornado shelters are in the campground before you need them

I was driving parallel to this fierce looking thunderstorm on my way to Buffalo, Wyoming.

Campground Booking  Lessons Learned 

Call the campground when booking rather than booking online.

Ask the campground employees:

  • What is the most requested site?
  • Are the sites level? Shady? Sunny?
  • How close am I to the access road with all the rigs coming in, bathroom, playground, pool?
  • What time is check out? Is late check out available? Is there a fee?
  • Full hook ups?
  • Read the online reviews

This campsite in the Tetons was thoroughly investigated before booking it and it did not disappoint.


Packing Tips 

  • Put extra t-shirts, towels, soft items in decorative zippered throw pillows and use them as decor while storing extra supplies.
  • A five gallon bucket can be used as a porta potty, foot stool, wash bucket, dry lock for fire starters, extra seat to name just a few.
  • Use a Dollar Store pack of shower caps to put on muddy shoes before storing them, as a cover for bowls and to cover the seat of your bike in the rain.
  • Have designated camping bins in the garage for grilling supplies, and campground gear so that you can load the trailer or tow vehicle quickly and not forget anything.
  • Use packing cubes, and ebags to keep cabinets organized.

Packing cubes and bins helped me stay organized in my trailer.

Tips From our Online Community

“Run water before attaching your hose and filter. I ruined a new water filter when mud ran through it. It also gets the earwigs out.” Liz Deck

“Always have headache medicine and sunglasses with you. Driving and squinting in the sun can give you a headache.” Sally Bauer

“Replace factory tires before you have to.” Lori Little Wolf

“Be willing to take a day off from driving even if you have an itinerary.” Karen Polansky

“If you dry camp and stay hitched, don’t leave your electrical hooked up to the tow vehicle. If you use all of your trailer battery it will pull from your tow vehicle battery and you will wake up to a dead tow vehicle.” Denise Webster Mahoney

“Go to Harbor Freight and buy solar rope lighting for $10. Charge them on your dashboard while driving and when you arrive at the campground lay them out around the drive in area so you can see your margins in the dark.” Debbie Hamm

Camco’s Curved levelers  are designed to level your travel trailer by raising it up to four inches. You wedge them under the tire that is lower and drive up onto them until the trailer is level. You then place the chock under the wedge to hold it in place. So easy! Camco’s curved levelers have fixed a few of the problems similar brands struggled with. They are made with a honeycomb design that will hold up to 30K pounds and prevents slipping. The chock has a built in handle and anti slip rubber grippers to hold in place. They are shorter than other levelers so if you have closely set tandem wheels they will fit without needing to be cut down. There’s a great Youtube video channel here!!








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!


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!!