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For 3-4 years our whole family camped in a travel trailer exclusively. It was fun to prepare an entire meal of home-made lasagne perhaps, complete with china and silverware, and watch the other campers enviously eat hot dogs over campfires.
On Monday morning, the kids and I would search the empty campground for fires still burning and any other detritus left behind. We hiked all over the place and I would incorporate what we found into our lessons which I was teaching them.
By Susan W. Gompf from Baltimore, MD
I learned this tip from friends who not only camped, but owned a campground. It works wonderfully! When traveling with a travel trailer, always crack open a front window on the left side of the camper, and a right window on the back side of the camper. This allows air to flow through easily and prevents the camper from whipping back and forth as you pass large trucks by.
By Jacketbacker from Greer, SC
I love camping but I will be honest, I do not "rough it" very well. No tent and sleeping bag for me, I prefer a camper. But camping in a camper can be very expensive. I work hard to keep it frugal. Several years ago we purchased a used camper that a fellow lived in for a bit. We knew it would take a lot of work and good old elbow grease to get it the way we wanted it but the price was low enough to make it worth our while.
The probes in the dirty tanks did not work and the tanks had a horrible odor. There are several ways to clean these, one of them requiring a visit to a camper dealer. I did some research and decided to try the cheapest ways first. Before we left for a weekend camping trip I filled the tanks, by my estimate, about a little less than 1/2 full of water. I added 1 cup of Calgon water softener and 1 cup of laundry detergent. Then, I poured 1 ten pound bag of ice cubes down the camper toilet. My hubby thought I was off my rocker. It took two camping trips, then a miracle happened, the probes started working and there was no odors from the tank!
I don't like paper plates so I hit up a yard sale to find a complete set of dishes for only $2. To make sure they traveled well during towing times I went to the Dollar Tree and purchased several rolls of non skid shelf liner. I cut them into squares and put them between each plate, saucer, and bowl. It works like a charm, no broken dishes!
I keep the camper stocked with personal hygiene and cleaning items. During tow times I place a clothing basket in the bathtub and store the items there. They are not flying around the camper in transit, and if by accident a lid came off, the mess is contained.
The camper, for some odd reason, did not have a light switch in the bedroom area. I purchased a cheap lamp to use in there and became tired of having to removed it during tow times. So I placed self stick Velcro on the lamp and the laminated built in night stand. It worked. The lamp stayed put.
I hit up yard sales and thrift stores for linens, towels, flatware, everything I would need and stored them in the camper, too. When we planned a camping trip all I needed to add was food. :-) After every camper trip, upon our return home, we would wash and repack linens and clean the camper, ready for our next getaway!
If you have a camper, you know about the refrigerator odor that can occur after a camping trip. I have found that after emptying the refrigerator, if I leave the door open, all of the condensation will evaporate from the unit. No mold from the moisture and no odor from the unit being closed up tight!
By Gwen from Columbus, MS
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
When booking an RV spot to use with a travel trailer, do we reserve a spot that is big enough for both the truck and trailer, or just the trailer length?
By Lewissan from Port Orchard, WA
Truck and trailer would be best if you are towing a vehicle or hauling a trailer. The trailer length spots are usually for actual RV's. Most spots provide room for your to park your vehicle as well as set up your trailer though so I wouldn't worry too much if you find a spot that is trailer only. Happy Camping!
I have a 34' camper that we're looking to take from Michigan to South Carolina. We've planned an overnight stay at a campsite in Nashville the first night and plan to be at a state park in SC the following day.
I'm pretty much a newbie having never gone out of state with our camper. I was wondering how difficult is it to have to stop for gas along the highway and does anyone have any tips for doing so?
I've owned camper's before, but this one is the longest I've owned and I've only had it for a year. I have this nightmare of trying to wiggle into a gas station, having a hard time maneuvering around pumps and traffic and not being able to back up if I need to because of the sway bar. I've been told it will crimp if you do.
The major problem with long trailers is that they are loooooong, as you note. On all major highways in the nation you will find large and well designed facilities for gas, etc., for large trucks and long trailers as well as cars. You should not worry about refueling on the major roads, however, this can be a problem away from the freeways. You can find much more information and ask questions online regarding RV travel, facilities, RV parks, repair, etc. A few of my favorites are rv.net, rveducation.com, frugal-rv-travel.com.
Have a great trip!
An addition to my prior reply-make it a rule that you stop for gas when your gauge hits 1/4, no less. Unless you are very familiar with the area, it is safer to buy gas sooner, even for a bit more $$, than risk being out of gas in an unknown area. Also, we always travel with well researched plans, destinations, travel and RV insurance, emergency road service, etc., and the best resource to start planning is your computer.
Sorry, I keep thinking about your driving plans-from your information, it appears you plan to drive two days with one overnite stop? If so, you have alot of driving to do in a limited time-approximately 500+ miles each day for apprx 1000 one way. 500+ miles driving is a very long day-apprx 10 hours each day not counting stops. This will be difficult, very tiring, and possibly dangerous, especially for a first time long drive with your long and heavy trailer. If you include kids, much worse. I suggest you try to cover the distance with a three day drive and two overnites-6-7 hours drive each day. Much Safer!
I just recently traveled with my son to off-road competitions through Canada, Idaho, and into California. He was hauling his off-road truck on a long flat deck trailer, and had to choose his gas stations carefully. When you travel on the interstates, you will likely have no trouble finding gas stations that are convenient to use, but you may have to pass some by. Flying J truck stops are always convenient. In Canada, the provinces we drove through are farming and ranching areas, and have lots of tourists pulling boats and camper trailers, etc. We do not have interstates such as you do in the US, but even on the less traveled highways, there was seldom a problem. You will want to look for truck stops, and always travel on the top half of your tank! Fuel up well before you are desperate for fuel.
We also have a 34', but ours is a fifth wheel. Getting gas can be an adventure. We buy a book called "Next Exit" that has all stops along interstates by exit and has RV friendly stops in red. This is helpful but not foolproof. Not all truckstops have RV friendly gas islands. We have also had RV friendly gas stops that were a nightmare of backing out. But the Next Exit is helpful.
I live in New York, and am planning to go south in late February; I am new to camper travel. I am going to the Keys. How do I get out of the northeast and still be able to use my 23ft Hornet? How far south do I have to go before I will be able to live out of the camper the rest of the way? What suggestions do you have for me to prepare for the trip in regard to the trailer? Any and all will be helpful.
By Tom P. from Clifton Park, NY
Question: I live in New York, and am planning to go south in late February; I am new to camper travel. I am going to the Keys. How do I get out of the northeast and still be able to use my 23ft Hornet? How far south do I have to go before I will be able to live out of the camper the rest of the way?
What suggestions do you have for me to prepare for the trip in regard to the trailer? Any and all will be helpful.
Answer: Preplanning is a necessity! The trip will be a long one, for sure, along the way are many, many RV/camper parks. These are where you spend the night/few days whatever your schedule allows. You can find these parks on the internet. Easy.
You can travel as far south as the road extends! Its these parks you need to find along the way. You really need to decide where you are staying in the Keys and reserve a site just as you would a hotel room. Preplanning is the key to this lengthly trip. The internet is all you need. Hope this helps.
We have a camper that needs storage space. Any ideas as to how we could make more room? We will be traveling and selling our product "on the road".
By dan ward
I lived in a school bus off & on for many years. You'll naturally come up with a strategy as the weeks go by. Buy some of those new portable space bags, called "Space bags 2 go". These have a one-way valve that won't let air back in when you squeeze it out:
Also, buy the smallest things you can. For example but a "travel-size" blow dryer instead of the regular size. Take showers at camp grounds & keep lots of quarters to do it (also quarters for the Laundromat). Buy every size of zip-locks you can because you'll use them a lot. For drying wet clothes, buy one of those retractable clothes lines that coils up then goes back inside itself. You can clip this across the RV to dry things while to sleep (get some plastic clothes-pins). Those netting bags (that breathe) they sell at the dollar stores are wonderful to store dirty clothes in & other junk in!
It goes without saying that you want things that can serve double-duty. Lets say you want to go into a nice restaurant. For females: You can wear a dress & sandals that serve as day or fancy wear. Bring wrinkle resistant clothes & only one of each. For summer, I'd pack a fleece light weight jacket, several pairs of shorts, & a pair of jeans along with sleeveless, short sleeve & long sleeve tops & 2 or 3 of each. You''ll most likely need long sleeves even when it's hot when the mosquitoes are out, so bring 100% cotton long sleeve T-shirts. Only bring 2 pairs of shoes, sandals & tennis shoes. Shoes take up LOTS of room! Bring rain gear & an umbrella. You can get more clothes in a space if you roll them up instead of folding.
If you have a Microwave then that's VERY cool! If you're using a camper stove, I always used stainless steel bowls (or pans) to cook in & I brought 2 cast iron pans. Both of the same size. This way you can turn one on top (inverted) on the other on to kinds of "bake" with or at least melt cheese on burgers etc. Try to never have leftovers & only cook what you'll need. I purchased mostly dried foods & canned. (I had no refrigeration).
Netting. You can buy netting to attach across you space to store things in. This easily folds up! ...Sometimes you can find it in kids areas (to store their toys in). Attach everything you can to the underside of cupboards (like your radio, etc). This gives additional space. Make sure you have a board that covers your sink (like a cutting board) for extra counter space. You can also cover your stovetop with a fold-down stainless cover so you have even more counter space. Take lightweight folding chairs & several card tables to live outside. I'd also bring a piece of Astroturf rolled up to set outside the RV to keep mud & dirt out. Store it rolled up in a large plastic bag. Cover your seating areas with cotton towels or easy to wash covers.
Flash lights, bug spray & sunscreen & blowup mattress's. These go without saying, but be sure to purchase them at a dollar store instead of needing them in a small town at quadruple the price! Many Walmart's will let you park for free for 1 day in their lots & B.L.M (Borough of Land Management) will let you stay for free for up to 30 days. Google these before you leave so you don't always have to pay for campgrounds. Maps. Have good maps of everywhere you go & a list of the local "news" radio stations so you can listen to traffic info & weather. Be prepared for anything, especially a flat tire!
Lighting. Buy yourself several head lamps. These are Wwonderful for reading or crocheting & you'll have both hands free! ... Buy rechargeable batteries & a charger for your lights, etc. Use florescent lamps or LED's because they use much less power that regular bulbs. Bring a camping ax & a folding saw for campfires. Be super careful where you light a fire! Obviously, you'll need a cell phone for emergencies on the road or medical. It can pay to have AAA for help with your vehicle or some other towing package. Also AAA offers free maps of place all over the US & they have branches everywhere in to USA.
In your cupboards, you want pull out boxes or pull-out boards on rolling bearing strips so you can easily get to the things in back. If you have room, bring a light weight step ladder. Save all your "burn garbage" in a separate bag so you can use it to start fires. Buy organic dish soap (& other cleaners) so you can throw out your dishwater with no guilt. If you're bathing in the camper (I used to bath in a large stainless bowl) Use baby shampoo, or baby-wash. It rinses out much, much faster & easier than other body soaps or shampoo. Stop drinking 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed, or you'll be up all night! Keep your shoes & a flashlight right next to you for nighttime use. Bring some good nylon rope.
Find a craft that takes up little room. Be it computing with a laptop, crocheting or knitting, watercolors or pencil drawing. Also, several good books. This way you'll not ever be bored! Bring a digital camera to snap photos of your're trip. You'll be glad you did!
Go to an RV show. They have ALL KINDS of great ideas for space saving stuff! As you drive around, you'll naturally rethink things you've brought with you. Just pack them up & send them home or to a friends' house! Anything you forgot you can probably find at the thrift store. This is all I can think of for now. I'll post you a note if I can think of more.
For really great wash and dry with no wrinkles, try travelsmithoutfitters.com
They sell some great clothes that pack neatly, don't wrinkle, and they have lots of collections that go together, so you can mix and match and still have nice, comfortable outfits.
In our camping trailer I hung shoe organizers in different areas of the trailer. In the bathroom and I put shampoo and toothbrushes and paste, in bedroom, scissors, remotes. In the common room and kitchen it was a godsend. It really works. If you sew you can sew them and it looks pretty. The kitchen I had one just for spices
It is possible to find storage space in a camper that may not have been thought of. If you have steps up, like in a fifth wheel, you can open those up, put a hinge on the step, and use that for storage. If you do not already have storage under the bench seats by the table, you can put drawers or doors there. Check out above cupboards, above the built in couches and so on. There may be unused space that can have a door built in, and then you have extra space. If you have open decorative shelving in the bedroom, perhaps you can make that into a cupboard, or find some sort of special containers that would fit there.
There are often storage spaces accessible from the outside for things like BBQ's and lawn chairs. Be sure you are taking advantage of all that sort of space, and again, check to make sure all empty spaces have doors built into them, so you can use that space. If you have a large area for a TV, and you do not intend to install one, make that into a cupboard. Look around and you will likely find a number of areas that you can convert to cupboards.
Can I leave linens in my camper while storing it in Florida?
By Sophie K.
You can store linens in a camper, however, you should put them in an air tight bag like ZipLoc and, perhaps, a dryer sheet or other scent to eliminate musty and other odors from the humidity.
Good idea. Just so you have another option, the dollar stores now carry the smaller vacuum bags. Keeps them fresh and takes up less space.
If the storage is going to be closed up, you might want to invest in another dollar store item. It's crystals that absorb the air. Here is a photo. Good luck!
After each camping trip, I launder and fold my linens whether it be bed linens or bathroom towels, washcloths,kitchen towels. A place each item in a bag comforters and other bed linen or bottom with zippers ,store my bed linens together my bathroom accessories together and my kitchen accessories together in separate bags and I place them in the areas where they belong. I put fabric softener sheets layered between the linens to keep them fresh.
We just bought a 5th wheel trailer. My question is after we camp do you leave canned foods in the trailer or do you take everything out each trip?
If you're going to be storing the trailer where it might be subject to extreme temperatures (freezes or high heat-high humidity) you probably should take your canned goods in to the house between trips.
By 'canned goods', you do mean tins, right? Because the answer for 'canned goods' like the ones home-preserved in mason jars is different - if you're talking about home-canned goods, you definitely want to be sure the jars aren't exposed to temperature extremes to avoid bursting!
We do not store any food items in our travel trailer. We have a large plastic storage bin we store canned goods, tea, coffee, pantry items plus all paper goods are stored in another small bin. We found that some times there might be a rodent or insect problem in the trailer. When we are ready for a trip, we pack the storage bins, unload into cabinets while camping only.
Can you run you fridge on LP gas while traveling down the road?
Yes, you can. Our fridge we keep on Automatic. When we are plugged into electricity it will use it, but when we unplug, it goes to gas. We travel with our camper all over, and keeping food cold is a must!
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This is an idea for getting use out of your shower in a trailer. We have a trailer that we live in 6 months of the year. I am sure there are lots of others like us doing the same thing. I love house plants and came up with an idea to allow them in my trailer home. Our shower has a skylight in it. I put my plants in it when we are not using the shower. It's like a mini solarium and looks great in the bathroom. My plants seem to love it and have grown tremendously.
By Sheila from Ontario, Canada
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My husband and I just purchased a small camper. I would love to hear your space-saving and organizing ideas for in a camper or RV. Also any camping tips in general that you might have.
April from Knoxville, TN
Hi, April! Congratulations on the purchase of your camper. We have a pop up camper ourselves and find that, although it's wonderful to be able to store most of our cookware and camping gear in one place and not have to unload it every time we come home, there's certainly a limited amount of space. We have friends who also own a pop up and they bring along one of those plastic Rubbermaid three or four drawer systems for storing their clothes.
We use a large plastic tote and keep it in the camper to store paper towels, popcorn, aluminum foil, cooking spray, etc. We store our towels in a smaller tote which we also leave in the camper. Sheets (which we bought at the thrift store) are left on the bunks until they need cleaning. We have bought all our camping cookware, flatware, etc at yard sales and so we leave those in the camper so that we don't have to stock up before each trip.
Have a great time with your new camper! (07/01/2006)
-Use under the bed Rubbermaid tubs that will fit into small areas.
-Plastic Ziploc bags
-Hanging shoe organizers to hold bathroom items.
We have camped for over 30 years and I use lots of Ziploc bags and plastic tubs of all sizes to hold items. Our trailer has an under the bed compartment that I store a lot of things in tubs - label everything. I store all my decorative items together (party lights, wind chimes, or anything decorative for the outside), all the cooking items are stored together and labeled. I found a hanging laundry bag that is mesh and has a hanger on it; it can hang outside or inside (if space is available).
Check at your local Dollar stores and Walmart stores for plastic tubs and storage units that might suit your needs. The RV section of some stores are expensive on items for camping so I improvise or create an item that will work for our camping experience. Plans for a portable picnic table can be found at http://www.Familyfun.Com, we have two of these tables and they are very handy at the campsite.
Have fun! (07/01/2006)
First off, never throw away a plastic container till you've looked it over twice to see if it has other uses. I save kitty litter containers and cut out the front, saving the handle and the "bucket" part. Lots of small items will fit in there and are very portable (like bathroom items you may want to take to the shower house in a campground or store away after use), they are good to store toilet paper in a steamy bath too. The whole ones, cleaned well, will hold flour, sugar or other dry goods that might get bugs otherwise.
Those mesh bags produce come in are great to hang onions and potatoes on a hook inside or out. They are also good for a bar of soap to hang in the shower. That way they are a combination scrubby and soap, or just a place to keep the soap dry when not in use. Laundry detergent boxes are good to store stuff too. Ziploc bags and plastic boxes are great but this stuff has been paid for already, use it till it can't be used any more! (07/06/2006)
By carla bledsoe
My best idea is for storing/organizing the kitchen. We do all of our cooking outdoors so I wanted my kitchen items outside. I purchase two of the Sterlite 4 drawer wheel carts. All of our kitchen items fit neatly in these (plates, cups, silverware, kitchen gadgets, plastic baggies, tin foil, napkins, etc). When we get to the campsite, we just pull them out of the camper and put them under the awning outside. Makes unpacking and packing a breeze. (07/26/2006)
By Donna Z.
We have a very small fifth wheel so storage is always a challenge. Our interests, archaeology and biology, take us far and wide and we are often far away from stores for days or weeks so we try to stay organized and prepared. We use soft side briefcases, bought at garage sales and thrift stores for $1-5, to organize and store many necessities in the truck and trailer. They are durable and very easy to stash. We have the basics: first aid, picnic, tools, etc., bags in the truck and trailer. We also store reference books, maps, camera gear, biology and archaeology materials, grand kid toys, etc., in the bags, as well. Each bag is tagged with it's contents.
This storage method is certainly not decorative or "cool", but is incredibly useful and serves our needs very well.
I just found a canvas zip bag at the thrift store. It was originally made to hold one of those NuWave domed cookers, but it is just the exact size and shape of an ottoman. I'm going to store extra towels, sheets, etc and use it as a foot rest. I also stuff all my throw pillows with sweaters or other out of season clothes and soft items. You might leave a little note inside a cupboard listing what each pillow is full of. (01/01/2009)
I have a collection of large and small handbags. I store things in them and hang them from the vanagon metal bar that raises up when you pop the top. It is a great vertical storage system. When I lower the top and all are slid to the side behind the driver's seat, there is no vision block for driving. (02/15/2009)