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By Gillian Carter
RV travel is flexible and exciting, but it can also be a complicated and expensive way to see the sights. There are quite a few things you can do to keep the costs down and make the trip go more smoothly. Here are five hacks to help you toward those goals.
Toll roads can significantly, increase your cost of travel. To avoid them, go into the settings of your GPS and check the “avoid toll roads” box. Toll roads are popular in the north east from Chicago to the east coast, as well as in southern Florida, Central Texas and California.
Unfortunately, most of the toll systems operate under incompatible jurisdictions and many no longer take cash. They will instead attempt to read an radio-frequency identification (RFID) box or sticker in your vehicle. If you don’t have one, the system will photograph your license plates and mail you a bill.
If you are on an extended trip you may not get the bill until it is past due. With late fees, even a $1 or $2 toll can end up costing you $20 or more. Different states are also inconsistent in how they handle trailers and toads, which can lead to additional confusions and fines.
Use your GPS to compare routes, it may turn out that you save little or no time by paying the toll. This is particularly true in central Texas where many toll roads run parallel to the non-toll roads. You may have a few extra stop lights to deal with, but that is a small inconvenience compared to dealing with the toll system.
Save money boondocking
Nightly RV park or campground fees can add up quickly. Why spend the money on an RV park while you travel if your plan is to pull in, park, sleep and get back on the road first thing in the morning?
Boondocking is the act of staying at an off-grid location, usually for free, for one or more nights. Being off-grid you will likely have no hookups for water, electric or sewer so you will have to rely on the onboard systems in your RV.
To locate these spots try using the AllStays Camp and RV app. The most common places are the parking lots of many Walmart, Cabelas, Sam’s Club, Bass Pro Shops or similar stores.
Not every place will allow it, so make sure you use the Allstays app and check with the store. There are also many opportunities for free camping at some local parks, federal land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service, and even some private or business land.
Carry extra power
When traveling it is a good idea to carry an extra power source. This can be especially helpful if you plan to boondock. Your batteries will only last so long and they cannot run the air conditioner.
If your RV is not motorized, you can drain your batteries within a couple days of not being connected to a shore power source. To keep your batteries charged consider carrying a solar panel and charge controller combo. These will allow you to connect the solar panel to your battery to help keep it charged.
To run the air conditioning, you will need a generator of some sort. Generators can also charge your batteries when there is no sun, or when your solar panels cannot keep up. They can also run all the AC appliances in your RV like the TVs, microwaves and hair dryers.
To run a 13.,500-Btu air conditioner, you will need at least 3,000 starting watts. For a 15,000-Btu unit, look for 3,500 starting watts. A quiet inverter generator, while more expensive than a standard contractor generator, is the best choice for RV use.
Back your towable into a camp space at 6 o’clock
After a long day of travel with a towable RV, backing into a camp space can be a frustrating endeavor. Just remember it is best to do it at 6 o’clock — not the time of day, the position on the steering wheel.
When you drive forward, you put your hands at the top of the steering wheel. Move your hands to the right, you turn right. Vice versa for the left turns. When you are backing in a trailer, it is the opposite.
The best way to deal with this is to put your hands on the bottom (6 o’clock) position on the steering wheel. In that position, when you move your hands to the right, the tail of the trailer will move right. Move your hands left and voila! The tail of the trailer moves left. This makes backing up a trailer a snap!
Post your RV dimensions
Check and double check your RV length, width, height and weight and write it on a Post-It note. Stick that to your dashboard where you can see it while you are driving.
That way you will have it right in front of you when you come to low bridges, tunnels and construction areas with travel restrictions. Not relying on memory can save you from disaster.
These are five of the top RV travel hacks to help you on your journey. By using these your trip will be filled with relaxing enjoyment and unforgettable memories.
For more information and to rent an RV in Arizona, visit www.outdoorsy.com.