Whether you get an RV rental or you own one, it’s always fun to pack up your things and travel cross-country or just in one state if you don’t want to travel too long. There are so many sites to see, lakes to swim in, campfires to build, and bugs to endure. Here’s a guide on how to start your RV up, how to be frugal in your travels, and how to find the best places to go.
How to start your RV after winter:
When it comes to bringing life back into your RV after a long, cold winter season, there are two parts to follow to make sure the process goes smoothly.
First part: Inspection After Winter Storage
- Check RV for any damage. If you’ve had your RV locked away in a storage unit then this step is probably not necessary, but for people who store their RV’s outside on facility lots, you never know if animals got into it or if weather has done some damage to the exterior.
- Reinstall the battery. Once you’ve finished looking for damage, all you need to do is hook up the battery again. It’s also a good idea to make sure the brakes and lights are working properly too.
- Take a quick look at your tires. Make sure none of them are flat and that the air pressure is where it should be. Also make sure they don’t have any kind of deterioration. You don’t want those tires to pop while you’re traveling across the country. Lastly, give those lug nuts a nice torque and then you can start the second part of this process.
Second part: Get Your RV Ready For Summer
- Water system. This step is a long one because of all the different things you need to do to make your water system work. The first thing to do is get the pressure built up. If you used low pressure air to empty the system last fall, close the drain petcock before turning the pressure on. If you don’t do this then filling it back up with pressure could be rough. Once the pressure is on, it will fill the water heater, and shut off when it’s finished. If you pumped RV antifreeze through the drinkable water tank, pump, and lines, then you’ll need to flush the system with water. Probably a few times to clean up the taste. You may find that sanitizing the water system is the best way to take care of any bad taste or odor. You’ll also need to flush the water heater.
- Plug the RV trailer into shore power. The reason why you want to have the water system full and working first is to make sure you don’t accidentally have the electricity for the water heater turned on. Applying electricity to an empty water heater will burn out the element at best and burn down the trailer at worst. Next, turn the refrigerator to automatic. Once it’s on, it’ll to start to cool.
- Gas appliances. If you have one of those high-end RV’s where the stoves run by electricity, then you don’t need to worry about this step. For those who have gas stoves, this is what you need to do. Turn on one of the LP tanks and light the stove burners. This will take most of the trapped air out of the gas line. After they light, turn them off. Follow suit on the furnace and water heater. It may take some patience, as gas appliances can be a little difficult after being stored for months at a time.
- Safety features. Install new batteries in the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide detector. While you’re at it, check the fire extinguisher to make sure the needle is in the green.
Bonus: DIY method for sanitizing the water system yourself
- Add 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of water and pour it into the empty tank.
- Then fill the tank and run all faucets until you smell bleach.
- Let the water system set for 24 hours, then drain and fill with fresh water.
- Run water through all faucets until there is no longer a bleach smell. This may take a couple tanks of water to eliminate the bleach from the system.
How to be Frugal
When thinking about going on an RV trip, it can seem a bit daunting because of all the costs you have to take into account like grocery shopping, all the gas it’s going to take, and the fees of parking the darn thing. Not to mention all the costs of the extra things you might want to do, such as having a few nights to go out to eat or buying wood for campfires. It all adds up. But RVing doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some ways to cut the costs as much as possible.
- Travel during the off-season. One way to take the frugal route is to plan your RV travel during the “shoulder seasons” – before and after prime travel time – when discounts are often offered at various campgrounds and attractions. In addition, boondocking on public lands and staying at free and inexpensive publicly-owned campsites is a great way to pinch your pennies. To help locate them check out the Ultimate Public Campground Project, which offers a free website, apps and POI lists.
- Trim the fat. Make your RV as light as a feather! Well, not really. The lighter it is though, the more gas mileage you have. Look around the RV and see what kind of things you can put a “less is more” policy on. One example would be your water tank. You can save money by not filling your tank all the way full. It might seem kind of counterintuitive, but if you only fill it for a day’s worth of travel each day you’re on the road, you’ll actually save a bit of money.
- Use plastic, not paper. Here’s kind of a weird one, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s way easier to buy bulk paper plates throw them away after each meal, but if you take that one-time expense of buying plastic plates, cups, and cutlery, you’ll be saving in the long run. Plastic you can wash and reuse so you’re not having to make those constant runs for more paper products. Plus, it’s better for the environment if you just reuse.
- Boondocking. Earlier I mentioned about traveling on the shoulder season where you can camp on discounts, but there is an alternative. It’s call boondocking. For those who have never heard of this, Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups. You may also hear it referred to as ‘dry camping’. Dry camping often means staying in a campground without hookups, whereas boondocking typically means staying in a completely undeveloped area like the desert!
You can find more ways to save by looking into travel guides or by simply going on the internet. There’s a whole new world to explore when it comes to saving on RV trips.
Finding the Right Places
Even though I mentioned ways to be a frugal camper, if you’re someone who’s more worried about the experiences than the expenses, then here are some amazing places to visit and camp at, all in the state of Utah. These awesome sites were all found on TripSavvy.
- Pony Express RV Resort. It comes with full utility hookups, cable TV, and internet access, including a personal picnic table. You have all the amenities to get clean such as bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. Other basic features include a rec hall, lending library and DVD rental, convenience store, propane fill up, and courtesy patrol around the park to take care of any issues. You have tons of hiking, biking, and great views of the Great Salt Lake, home to some of the best sunsets in the country. You are also only a few minutes outside of Salt Lake City, home to some great museums, dining, and other attractions.
- Panguitch KOA. You can get a pull-through site, complete with full utility hookups and a digital antenna to catch local stations. The showers and bathrooms are kept really clean. This KOA has a pool, playground, group pavilions, and propane refill. You are surrounded by Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Red Canyon State Park, and you’re not too far away from Zion National Park. If you’re looking for some unique angling, Panguitch Lake is only 17 miles up the road.
- Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City. A Mountain Valley valet will guide you to one of 95 RV sites outfitted with 30/50/100 amp hookups, along with water, sewer, free cable TV, and internet. The bathrooms and showers at Mountain Valley RV Resort are private. You have a fitness center, RV supply shop, camp store, full kitchen in a common area, and plenty of onsite recreational activities like horseshoes and volleyball. Heber City is in the Heber Valley Rocky Mountains and is full of angling hotspots like the Provo River. If you’re bringing your ATV, you’ll get plenty of use out of it on the local trails. Take a scenic ride on a Heber Valley Railroad Excursion or drift over the landscape in a hot air balloon.
- Spanish Trail RV Park in Moab. Moab is rated as one of the top tourist destinations for those who love the outdoors, and Spanish Trail RV Park can be the base for your Moab adventures. They have large pull-through sites outfitted with full utility hookups along with free cable TV and Wi-Fi. The bathrooms and shower facilities received a 10/10 from Good Sam RV Club, so you know they’re spick-and-span. Other facilities include a dog park, laundromat, group pavilions, convenience store, and large, lush grass areas where you and the kids can play around. You have easy access to two popular national parks: Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, along with the popular Dead Horse State Park. You can spend days hiking and biking the trails around these parks or going all out on a backpacking adventure. You can also go whitewater rafting on the Colorado River and catch incredible views of the La Sal Mountains.
- Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground in Virgin. Each individual site comes with full utility hookups, fire ring, picnic table, cable TV, and internet access. Restrooms and showers are private with individual rooms containing a toilet, sink, and shower. Other facilities and amenities at Zion River include a social hall for groups, 24-hour laundromat, propane refill, a takeout grill, camper kitchen, camp store/gift shop, and a dog park. The prime jewel of the area is Zion National Park and Zion Canyon. Catch some spectacular scenery, a sky loaded with stars, and plenty of wildlife in Zion. Other areas of interest include Pipe Springs National Monument, Snow Canyon State Park, and the Brigham Young Home.
When reading about these amazing places, it makes me want to rent an RV and start having adventures. There’s so much to see and do, and planning these trips doesn’t have to be difficult. You can make many memories with your loved ones by knowing how to take care of your RV, save money, and find the best places to go.
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