Friday, November 17, 2017

Kids on Board, Not Bored

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Bored Kids on Board? 

   It takes plenty of jet-propelled entertainment these days to wean little ones away from their screens and screaming earphones, but many RV campers try. 
A new season of books and games helps introduce children to the silence, serenity and sanctity of nature’s world.

Are you trying to unplug? With holiday giving in mind I found three  wonderful books and two fun card games that are perfect for camping and RV trips. Here are my discoveries, from Age 0 to 100. All are priced at about $15.

Little Houses, a Counting Book, is ideal for baby’s first book up to age three. It’s not just about learning numbers but about types of houses around the world. The drawings are delightful, educational and the binding is sturdy enough for little hands to handle time and again. Order from

Animal Architects, Amazing Animals Who Build Their Homes is for older children with an interest in anthills, beaver houses and termite towers. A well-constructed hardback, it should serve the family RV book shelf for years.  Order from

Sticky History of the World educates about history and geography by providing 150 colorful stickers that kids can place on 15 scenes of worldwide locations. Never has a social studies workbook been more fun. Order from

 Flower Families is a card game for all ages. It’s light to carry in the RV, neat to stow, sturdily built and boxed for many years of sit-down family fun. Based on the “go fish” card came it’s not complicated to learn and the whole family can play. Order from

Match A Pair of Birds is a more challenging card game. Like the Flower Families game it’s compact, boxed and sturdy for travel but it’s brainier to play. The goal is to match up male and female bird pictures. Along the way players learn a lot about birds. Order here 

Chores for Kids

Here are just a few age-appropriate chores for children on an RV camping trip.

* Keep checklists on their phone or iPad. Put kids in charge of almost any list from provisions to the break-camp checklist.

* Give everyone a trash bag and go on a “trashure” hunt to pick up any litter around the camp or trails.

* Take a wildlife or bird census. Add to these sightings on each camp-out.

* Gather tinder and kindling for the campfire.

* Participate in the state or national park ranger program.

Friday, November 10, 2017

RV News About Recalls

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I Seem to Recall
copyright Janet Groene
Recalls of any products can be a pain in the neck as well as a pain in the pocketbook. Yet to RV travelers they are also a heads-up that can save a highway breakdown or even your life.

The Takata air bag recall is just one example of a huge recall nightmare that continues to make news.  This product recall is so widely publicized, it’s fairly easy to learn if your vehicle is affected. Smaller recalls, however, may send you to the pantry or freezer to look for code numbers or manufacturer dates to see if your product is one of the unlucky ones. 

It's good to know that the product is defective before you find out the hard way but it’s also a burden. What comes next can be a real headache.  I just spent an hour rounding up my Kidde fire extinguishers, finding forms online, squinting over serial and model numbers and filling out forms that I only hope will eventually bring me replacements. 

Even when a company promises to make good on the product, it’s a nuisance to go through the drill. You may have to take the vehicle or product  in for service, return it to the store, ship it to the manufacturer or, in the case of food and other small items, just throw it away and chalk it up to experience. 

Here’s what’s new:

* On November 2, a massive recall of Kidde fire extinguishers was announced. Kidde is one of the most common brands used in RV’s, cars, trucks and households.
I was shocked to find that two out of three of my familiar red fire extinguishers are under the recall. One death has been reported from a malfunction, so don't ignore this recall.  

Go to for information and a long list of  fire extinguishers that are affected. It takes patience  just to find out if you have the exact years and models that are recalled.  I filled out the online form, which supposedly will bring  replacement extinguishers and information on what to do with the recalled ones. 

* Speaking of recalls, one good way to stay current on recalls for an RV or related highway product is through the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Association, . Here you’ll find information on vehicles that are affected by recalls including the massive Takata air bag recall.

* Recent class action suits have been settled for RV refrigerators. At any time, such suits may be underway for any product from toys to televisions.  If you think you are a party to such a claim, check

How to be ready for a recall:  
* Save time and anguish by knowing your vehicle VIN number as well as the brand, model number and year for everything. Keep it handy because it’s the key to knowing if you’re affected by a recall.

* Manufacturers can’t notify you of recalls if they can’t find you. Fill out cards that come with everything. Keep a copy because it contains the model and serial numbers as well as manufacturer contact information.

* Network with the RV community through forums, clubs, magazines, dealers. Stay in touch with your  manufacturer and the brand’s club if there is one. 

* Some retailers, such as Walmart, often post recall notices of product recalls in their Customer Service department. Take a quick look there from time to time to see if you have a product on board your RV that is recalled. 

* The Consumer Product Safety Commission ( is a goldmine of recall information for all products of all kinds. The Search window lets you check out products by category such as dishwashers or bicycles. 

* To report an unsafe product call 800-638-2772 or  go to

* Subscriptions to the indispensable weekly RV Travel newsletter are free. The newsletter promptly reports recalls of RV’s and RV-related products. Never miss an issue. Go to

See Janet Groene's quick and easy recipes for camping and RV travel at

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sell Your RV for Top Dollar

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How To Sell Your RV

Can you get more for your RV by selling it outright than trading in?  Maybe so with the advice of Shane Malpass at .  A seasoned expert in motorhomes, he’s in Burton-on-Trent, East Staffordshire, England. 

Do you dream of someday buying an RV overseas,  exploring Britain and the continent and then selling the RV before returning home? He’s  the person to contact.

Thanks to Shane Malpass for supplying these tips on How to Sell Your RV. Much of your RV’s resale value is destined from Day One depending on the care you give it.  Here are just some highlights of his full statement. 

* Papers Matter. A new buyer will want all the instruction manuals that go with the RV  plus warranties and  logbooks of its maintenance history. The more complete, neat and authentic these records, the more credible your sales pitch. 

*Wear and tear hurts resale. Make repairs. Check behind the scenes. For example, Malpass finds that a common flaw is awning damage caused when an awning is not correctly re-wound and stowed. A smart buyer will want to see the entire awning, slide-outs in both in and out positions, and convertible furniture in open and closed positions.  Maybe you never use the dinette as a bed but make sure you know how it works, and clean out all the crumbs in the crevices, so you can demonstrate it with a flourish. 

Water Damage.  First, says Malpass, remove and dispose of any soggy or damaged materials. If any wood displays signs of excessive rot and decay, it’s best to replace it with new wood. If the wood can be salvaged, then apply a coat of hardener and let it dry before adding wood putty to the more heavily damaged parts. 

Paintwork.   Malpass says there is a whole range of automotive touch up paint products for minor paint repairs.  He also suggests caring for the RV from the beginning to protect against damage from sun, scratches and acid rain.

Tires dry out. They should be replaced every six years, even if they appear sound. 

Roof condition. Inspect the roof at least once a year, preferably more, for leaks. Bedding around fittings that hold roof-mounted gear can dry out, loosen and allow leaks. He suggests re-sealing the roof every five to ten years. Here in hot, sunny Florida we have to re-seal the roof and re-bed sealing compounds more often. 

De-personalize. Malpass makes the interesting observation that when you add shelves, hooks and other accessories they can add a cluttered look.  Consider returning the RV to its original look. 

Cleanliness and presentation. Shampoo. Polish, Clean windows, Vacuum. Consider getting your RV detailed by a professional. Put flowers on the table, fresh bread in the oven, fragrant coffee in the pot. 

To make the sale quick and relatively painless, many people will sell direct to a motor home dealer. When you sell your motor home to a dealer , Malpass says you are sure of a guaranteed sale. You might be looking at less money than you would get if you were selling privately, but a dealer will take all the hassle out of dealing with private buyers. 

More Points:
* Digital photos are a must. 
* Describe the RV accurately. 
* Try getting quotes online or go to a motorhome appraiser. Use NADA guidelines.  Use as many sources as possible to get an idea of the price range. 

Summing Up:
1. Be friendly and try to build a rapport when people call. People buy from other people they trust
2. Never lie about your vehicle
3. Encourage people to come out and see your motor home in person
4. When a potential buyer arrives, have the sales paperwork at hand
5. Get complete buyer information prior to signing anything

If your dog is like mine,  she’s in the driver’s seat the minute you leave it. Why not? It’s the best view in the house. Solvit, a company known for its car pet accessories, offers a serious, stay-put bucket seat cover.

Friday, October 27, 2017

8 Ways RV Women Survive Campground Showers

blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. To donate $5 in support of this blog use your PayPal account to

8 Ways RV Women
 Survive Campground Showers

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Even those of us who have showers in our RV sometimes want to, or have to,  use campground showers. Here are ways to cope:

1. Buy a toiletries kit large enough to bring everything including a bath towel and clean clothes. The gym bag that works for you at the spa or fitness center may not work in campground showers.  Sometimes the only place to put your gear is a damp bench in the shower stall. Sometimes there’s just one nail or clothes hook to hang everything you need. I like this large size hang-up travel toilet kit with a hefty hook. 


2. Eliminate the ick factor by wearing good clogs or water shoes. When I get back to the RV, I wash and dry them and spray with Lysol. It’s just a personal choice, but I also feel better about athlete’s foot if I use a medicated powder in shoes and socks after using a campground shower.

 3. Liquid body wash and a shower puff are better than a washcloth and bar soap. Nylon shower puffs dry very quickly. 

4. A travel size spray-down of the whole shower adds a freshness factor. Lysol spray is available in travel size. 

5. Campground shower stalls are often very dark. Bring one of the new, tiny, ultra-bright LED flashlights. 


6. This rechargeable, waterproof shaver works anywhere. 

 7. No bath mat?  Look in the baby products department for disposable place mats. Parents use them on the table at home and in restaurants. Usually about 12 X 18 inches, they make ideal bath mats to use once and throw away. Or, look in the pet care department for disposable pet training mats. They are absorbent paper on one side with a plastic barrier on the back. Both products are inexpensive.   

 8. The shower head in each campground is different. Tuck a shower cap into your kit just in case.

Do you long for the day when you can take to the open road in an RV and travel free? I did. My book Living Aboard Your RV  covers it all, from choosing and furnishing the RV to making a living on the go. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Top 10 Mistakes for RV Women

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The Top 10 Mistakes Made 
by Women Who Buy an RV
copyright Janet Groene

1. It’s a vehicle, girlfriend. It goes 55 miles and hour or more. It will keep you safe on the highway but dump you if you don’t respect its cornering and braking,  load carrying capacity and overall size. 

2. Forget how many it will “sleep”. Look at how many it will accommodate.  

3. Energy isn’t free. The more the RV requires electrical power, the more you must rely on campground  hookups or a generator, alternator, inverter,  wind, batteries, sunhine et al.  

4. Size matters. You have to park it, use drive-throughs at the bank and McDonalds,  back it up and shoehorn it into campsites. If you have more than four wheels down, you’ll pay extra on toll roads.

5. Know where you’ll keep the RV. Homeowner association rules may prohibit your keeping it at home.

 Do you dream of a life of full-time travel in a complete home on wheels?  Book tells how to retire now, earn as you go and live your dream. I did.

6. Slides look good in the showroom but open them in a small campsite or in the Walmart parking lot and suddenly your bedroom or kitchen is hung over.  

7. Going overboard.  Initial price or monthly payments are just the beginning. You need to fuel it,  furnish it, buy insurance, pay nightly campground fees and regularly service all the vehicular components (oil change, tires, batteries,  transmission fluid).

8. Resale happens. Even if you think you’ll love this baby forever, you many want to upsize, downsize, trade in or sell. Give at least some thought to the value of this new or used  RV as an investment.  

9. Convenience costs complexity. As the old joke goes, “nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong.”  Push a button and the step comes out. Or the awning deploys, the drapes open,  the slide glides out, the sofa bed yawns open. Or maybe not. 

10. thinking you can do it yourself. Even if you’re the world’s best mechanic, carpenter, plumber and electrician, some RV components require special tools, diagnostics or expertise. In many areas it pays to hire a specialist in RV decor, repair and maintenance. 

See Janet Groene's Survival Food Handbook, a guide to using familiar, affordable supermarket food to fill your emergency pantry at home or on the road. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Off the Wall RV Storage Ideas

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved.

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 Take It Outdoors
 If your RV’s skin is steel (and the cab may be steel even if the rest of the body is aluminum or fiberglass), think of it as a big kitchen cabinet for days when you cook outdoors or under the awning.

 Crazy? You’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

 With magnetic kitchen tools and accessories you can set up an entire kitchen that goes up in seconds and stows away just as quickly when you’re finished.

 Just as you use the refrigerator at home for stick-up accessories like a towel rack or hook,  you can use the entire side of an RV to hold things handy for an outdoor meal.
Here are some things you can do with magnets:

 * Some kitchen gadgets, such as the familiar “church key” bottle opener, may come with built-in magnets. 

 * Magnetic hooks are available in many sizes and strengths, from small ones for hanging a tea towel to large hooks for pots and pans. With magnetic cup hooks you can hang up your favorite mugs, pot holders, measuring cups or spoons, cooking mitts and 
much  more.

* Have all the knives you need right there on the "wall" with this magnetic knife holder.

 * Convert anything to a hang-up tool.  Buy a large sheet of stick-on magnets and use as many as needed according to the weight of the item you want to hang up.

* A magnetic spice rack can hold the seasonings for today’s cookout. Magnetic spice jars don’t even need a rack.

 * Don’t overlook other steel surfaces too, such as your steel-belted  ice chest.  An ice chest can also be used as a  seat, a work surface and a expanse of steel where you can stick up cooking tools, the corkscrew and bar supplies.

 * Many useful magnetic items are found in tool departments and in  office supplies. Magnetic boxes and baskets are available in many sizes. Stick them on the side of the RV to hold barbecue sauce, condiments, tools, paper napkins.

 * A magnetic paper towel holder keeps towels handy . Magnetic towel holders can also keep terry towels handy yo your outdoor kitchen, shower or dog wash.

* This set of fold-up clothes hampers is just the ticket for trash holders in your outdoor kitchen. Line with trash bags, remove and re-line as needed. Use one for general trash, one for recyclables. They fold flat and small magnets hold them closed for storage and also help stick them to the RV or to each other.  

* A magnetic towel rack can hold towels or....? 

 Just don’t forget to remove everything before driving again.

 What’s your favorite magnetic item for RV travel? Leave a comment and share your tip.

 Don’t miss this week’s easy recipes for camping and RV trips at campandrvcook.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Personal Saety for Women in RV Travel

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To donate in support of this blog use your PayPal account to send to  

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PLB to the Rescue

    In your RV travels it’s almost a sure thing that you are sometimes in places where you can’t get a cell phone signal.  As a solo woman RV traveler you need the very best search and rescue aids available in or out of the vehicle. 

      Here’s where a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) can be a life saver.  

    It’s true that some phone apps can call for help and report your location. It’s also true
that authorities can sometimes also read your location via your cell phone. Too, you can buy a GPS receiver that pinpoints your exact location, or a satellite messenger that allows you to contact friends and family. 

    However, all these signals are weaker than those of a PLB and they’re all subject to battery failure, communications failure or just plain failure. And most of these systems,  including your phone,  require a monthly charge

    The best Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) do just one thing. They do it strongest and clearest, bringing the most effective and professional rescuers,  and they do it without a monthly charge. 

    Once used primarily in boating and aviation, these locators are now being used by skiers, archaeologists, hikers, climbers, parachute jumpers, rafters, paddlers and anyone else who might ever need rescue in a situation where other SOS calls fail.  

Which PLB is For You?

    First, understand that a PLB isn’t a two-way communication device. It is activated only when you’re in grave and imminent danger. Then it sends a signal saying one thing. HELP ME! And it sends it longer, stronger than your phone can. 

    Offered by several manufacturers, PLB’s are small and light weight, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It’s easy to carry a PLB on an arm band or in a pocket. Many models are  waterproof and buoyant.  (Some activate automatically when they hit water).  Some units have a strobe light. Some are GPS enabled. 

    You’ll probably pay about $300 for a PLB but that’s the end of it except for replacing the special batteries as needed, usually every five to seven years. There are no monthly costs,  no annual subscription fees.  

    Here’s how it works. When you need rescue, press a button.  Your unique signal code is sent to satellites that were launched just for this purpose.  In seconds the  signal is routed to a ground station and transferred to the Mission Control Center (MCC). A Rescue Coordination Center passes the information to Search and Rescue (SAR) forces in your location. 

    Here's one example of a non-buoyant PLB.  Marine models and PLB's with more and different features are also available. Get one for yourself, one for someone you love.

    To date, more than 30,000 lives have been saved by these systems. Once you own a PLB it’s essential to register it with NOAA. (Some models come pre-programmed for U.S. registration).  Once you’re registered, SAR forces have your back.  Period. 


Janet Groene’s book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition, is a guide to the full-time life on wheels.  It begins with getting into the lifestyle and covers all aspects of life on the go such as finding jobs, voting, home schooling and managing a budget.