A guide to products and services that will make life in your motorhome even better
As we all know, a motorhome is a gateway to adventure. Once you’ve purchased one, your travel options increase, and are limited only by your imagination — and where the road leads, of course. But as any owner — new or longtime — knows, ownership of a motorhome also leads to additional necessities. You wouldn’t buy a new home without furnishing it would, you? And although we’re not suggesting a new set of furniture every time you pull up stakes, the following items are virtual must-haves; some should be purchased right away (like insurance, sewer equipment and water hoses). All are easy to find at www.campingworld.com or other online retailers.
Before You Go
Good Sam Club Membership
With more than 2 million members, the Good Sam Club is the largest RV and outdoor organization. Club benefits include 10 percent off at Camping World, Gander Outdoors and Overton’s, plus free shipping on orders of $49 or more at www.campingworld.com; members-only discounts on RV products and services; fuel discounts at Pilot Flying J locations; online trip planning; Good Sam mail service; recall notifications; discounts on RV magazines (including MotorHome) and more.
Have you insured your motorhome on your auto policy, thinking your homeowner’s insurance will cover the livability features? Many auto insurance companies consider items like plumbing, refrigeration and dining equipment to be personal property that should be covered under a homeowner’s policy, which could cause the premiums to rise on both your auto and homeowner’s policies if your motorhome is in an accident. The best solution is RV specialty insurance, offering coverage options and features like: personal belongings coverage, permanent attachments coverage, storage option, full-timer liability, vacation liability, optional full replacement cost coverage and emergency expense allowance. The Good Sam Insurance Agency represents several specialty RV insurance carriers in order to compare protections and prices to find the best coverage and rate.
Water, Water Everywhere
In addition to on-demand mobility, having fresh, potable water on demand is one of the primary conveniences that sets motorhome ownership apart from camping in a tent. Proper hose selection is important; a cheaper hose can lead to a cheapened experience. Remember to carry at least two hoses with you: one for the city-water connection and one for rinsing the black-water holding tank (or other smelly tasks). After your trial run, you should also know which fittings and adapters will be necessary on future trips.
Every manufacturer offers a recommended pressure rating for water flowing into the motorhome from the city-water inlet. It won’t take long to realize that campground water pressure is often much higher than those ratings. To reduce the flow rate, simply attach a pressure regulator to the RV park’s water supply. Be sure to invest in a durable model (i.e., brass) that is safe to use with drinking water.
Although water from the campground spigot is a wonderful convenience, its quality can be inconsistent and it can not only taste bad, but also can damage the faucets, sinks and shower enclosures if left unfiltered. Installing an inline filter helps reduce harmful and foul-tasting contaminants. Many new motorhomes contain whole-house filters; when replacing those filters, we recommend a filter with a rating of 1 micron or less.
Adding chemical treatments to your motorhome’s holding tank helps control offensive odors, and also aids in breaking down solids for a smooth flow. As an added bonus, many of the treatments are designed to lubricate the seals, which helps prolong the life of these vital components to avoid nasty mishaps. They are available in drop-in or liquid forms; some use formaldehyde, while some go the all-natural route.
Sewer Hose and Components
Despite years of schoolyard jokes and guffaws, raw sewage is no laughing matter. And sewer hoses are nothing to take lightly, nor are they all created equal. A cheap hose may work in a pinch, but this is one area where you certainly don’t want to deal with a component failing. Spending a little more on high-quality fixtures, hoses and connectors is a good way to ensure smooth operation, and will help to avoid embarrassing and messy spills at the campsite or dump station.
Before you tune in, you have to plug in. And before you plug in, be sure to use a surge protector at the campground pedestal. Surge protectors are designed to protect motorhomes from damaging, unsteady and downright untrustworthy 30- or 50-amp, 120-volt AC power from an RV park pedestal. It only takes a few seconds of faulty power or a power surge to fry the circuits of your motorhome’s expensive electronics and appliances. Some surge protectors are also equipped with a miswired pedestal indicator, which informs the user that the coast is clear before plugging in.
Hey, I’d rather perform on-road origami and try to read the tiny lines on the trifold map buried in the depths of my glovebox … said no one, ever. How about voice-guided directions? A large visual screen to see your surroundings? Or, what about RV-specific road measurements and restrictions, with points-of-interest and favorite eateries along the way? Sounds good to us, too. Throw in weather monitoring, instant traffic rerouting, fuel stops and dozens of other technological wonders, and we’re sure you can see why an RV GPS is a smart choice.
Fuses can blow at any time, catching many motorhome owners unaware and unprepared. Much like you should carry extra fuses with you in your automobile, pack along a set of replacement fuses in your motorhome toolbox. They’re cheap insurance against getting stranded without some of the modern conveniences in your motorhome.
Once in camp, the wheels on your motorhome must be stabilized so that they don’t move when the vehicle is parked. Chocks for this purpose come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they deploy in different ways. Chocks range from simple wedges up to lockable models that are adjustable and retractable.
RV-park and campground sites are not all precisely on the level. For motorhomes that don’t have an automatic leveling system, blocks may be needed to raise some of the tires to get the vehicle on an even plane. Using wood blocks is an option, but there are dedicated, stackable units available that do the job even better.
Whether it’s a handheld tackle-box type with common household tools, or a larger box you keep in basement storage, every motorhome owner should have a toolbox stocked with common hand tools that help get the job done. Larger models could even house your dinghy-towing equipment, lug wrenches and the like.
Good Sam Roadside Assistance helps stranded motorhome owners get back on the road without breaking the bank. Good Sam Roadside Assistance is available 24 hours a day, and if an RV-specific technician is unable to fix the problem on the spot, Roadside Assistance will tow the vehicle to the nearest professional service center. Other Good Sam Roadside Assistance benefits include: coverage for RVs and autos, motorcycles and boat trailers; coverage for member, spouse and dependent children at no extra cost; unlimited distance towing to the nearest service center; and even battery jump-starts, fuel/fluid delivery, flat tire and locksmith service.
Wherever you go, and with whomever, it’s important to be prepared. Nothing ruins an adventure like an illness or injury. Make sure to pack all the essentials — band-aids, antiseptic wipes, anti-itch cream, eye wash, cold medications, painkillers, prescriptions, etc. And don’t forget to pack a kit for your four-legged companions, as well.
Your motorhome likely came equipped from the factory with a fire extinguisher. Make sure it is still operable, and maybe even buy a second one. Fire safety is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s definitely a case where we say get more than you think you need. The situation to put one to use may never arise, but spending a few bucks to save your motorhome, your family and fellow campers is more than worth it.
Good Sam Extended Service Plan
Nobody wants to think about the bad stuff, but the fact is that motorhomes, like everything else on the planet, may experience problems or, gasp!, breakdowns. The Good Sam Extended Service Plan can help you save thousands of dollars on repairs. Pay as you go, and immediately begin enjoying the benefits, which include unlimited annual mileage, plus the ability to choose your deductible and your repair center (within the Good Sam network). It’s easy to purchase and offers a 100 percent money-back guarantee. You can cancel anytime.
Life on the Inside
Anti-fatigue floor mats aren’t only for cashiers and professional chefs. Using a cushy PVC mat not only makes feet and legs happier, it keeps the galley and bathroom floors dry. This is also a great place to let your personality shine … go nuts with fun designs and textures.
Saving space is never more important than in a motorhome’s galley (especially in more compact floorplans). Conventional dishware can eat up your storage space quickly. An easy way to free up the real estate in your cupboards is to buy nesting cookware and collapsible storage containers, colanders, measuring cups, bowls, etc.
Think of the number of towels in your bathroom at home. Now, multiply that number by however many are in your motorhome crew. Considering many of us use more than one towel, daily, a single towel rod (if so equipped) simply won’t cut it. We recommend clipping a couple of inexpensive 3M plastic hooks on the bathroom door for hanging towels.
We can’t stress enough how valuable space is in a motorhome. That means double-duty isn’t a suggestion … it’s a way of life. Utilizing hanging cubbies or shoe organizers to hold items like toiletries, remote controls, magazines, etc., is a great way to reduce the clutter and maximize available space.
A no-brainer, really. Or is it? Leave your home’s toilet paper at home. The best practice for RV owners is to use quick-dissolving toilet paper designed for RV/marine use. That will ensure your motorhome’s sewer system works properly for many years to come, will help minimize clogs and will lead to a much more enjoyable tank-dumping experience. Besides, it’s good for the environment.
You might not believe it, but many motorhomes don’t come with a trashcan, let alone a dedicated space for one. Many owners often resort to hanging grocery bags from doorknobs or cabinet pulls to hold trash. Does it work? Yes. Does it look as bad as it sounds? Also, yes. One innovative solution is a collapsible frame that holds plastic kitchen bags. Topped with a lid, the trash-bag holder folds to an easy-to-store size for travel and sets up instantly, indoors or out. Another solution, of course, is to buy a conventional bin and keep it out of sight.
Investing in a good shade for your motorhome’s front window and quality tire covers will save you in the long run — especially if you’re traveling in sunny Southern states. The windshield shade will help regulate the temperature in your coach, as well as protect the interior fabrics from bleaching. The tire covers will help protect wheels from dry rot, and we all know how expensive tires can be to replace. Extend the life of one of the most important parts of your motorhome by simply getting a good cover.
You can never have enough surface area outside for preparing and serving meals, stacking supplies and plugging in appliances. Space-saving foldable tables not only have legs that telescope and collapse, the tops fold in half to fit in a storage compartment.
Because RVing isn’t always confined to the interior, you need some place to take a load off at the campsite. Granted, many sites have a picnic table, but they’re bulky, stationary and downright uncomfortable to some. Camp chairs can be quite comfy, often have cupholders and other embellishments, and can be folded down for storage.
For many, gathering around the campfire and discussing the day’s events is one of the finer points of motorhome life. But that means lugging around firewood (if the park allows it), or purchasing bundles of wood wherever you go. And, that’s not even mentioning the fact that some of your neighbors may not like thick smoke wafting from your site to theirs. A simple solution is a portable fire pit that connects to an LP-gas cylinder and lights up under a bed of lava rocks. They are widely available, and many break down for easy storage.
Make it Home
Hey, it’s your motorhome, decorate it how you want to! Hang pictures of family and friends or small works of art on the walls using self-adhesive hook-and-loop fastener (or reusable 3M hooks) to allow you to periodically refresh your surroundings. Buy throw pillows and area rugs. Make your motorhome more than just a sleeping space on wheels — make it your home.
This is supposed to be fun, right? With everything else you’re trying to remember to bring, don’t forget about the fun stuff! Pack your favorite movies, hobby materials, board games, books and more. One of the best parts of traveling is having the time to indulge in some entertainment. Don’t forget outdoor activities, like playing Frisbee, tossing a football or even your rod and reel and tacklebox. It’s your vacation, after all.