Friday, August 17, 2018

RV Travel with Kids on Board

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 Kids on Board

    When children join your RV life, everything changes. You need all the usual parenting precautions indoors and out, plus additional hazards unique to the RV itself, highway travel, and campgrounds.

    You travel at 55 mph. That means that age-appropriate seat belts, car seats or booster seats are a must underway, no matter whether the child is in a passenger seat, in bed taking a nap, or sitting on the sofa playing video games. My own rule is to buckle up before starting the engine. Nobody unbuckles until we’re at a full stop.

     No matter how brief or urgent, no potty breaks or trips to the refrigerator are permitted in a moving RV. Also, it’s illegal for passengers to ride in a trailer under tow, seat belts or no. 

     Just as it's dangerous to leave a child in a hot car or alone in the house, it's dangerous in an RV.

     You’ll be camping in different places every night so safety drills have to be re-tuned for each new locale. For example, most families who live in houses designate a spot where everyone assembles if they have to exit a house fire or other emergency. When traveling by RV you’ll need to choose a different assembly spot in each campground.    

    Here are just some of the things to consider when you are a woman traveling alone with children:

    * In addition to the assembly spot mentioned above, you may need a different method for summoning help in each campground. You’ll grab your cell phone, of course, but there may be times when you don’t get a signal. Review alternatives such as a pay phone, call station, ranger station or campground host.

    * One set of rules applies if you’re the legal parent with full authority over the child. Other other rules apply if you’re the grandmother, aunt, or family friend.  Before traveling with a child who isn’t your own, get temporary medical power of attorney from the parents in case of emergency. It’s likely too that you won’t be permitted to cross any national border, even if you’re the custodial parent, without written permission from the court or the other parent or both.

    * Bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate for proof of citizenship. 

    * Have occasional fire drills so children  know all  ways to escape fromthe RV–not just when it’s standing upright but if it’s on its roof or side after an accident. In addition to doors you use every day there is probably an emergency exit such as a  break-out window or roof hatch. 

    * All families have rules about the stranger danger, but a reminder is needed in campgrounds where it’s all one big family. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Children shouldn’t wander around areas alone and should never go alone into the restrooms or  another RV, tent, cabin or even the screen room.

    * Campsites in RV parks are usually close quarters and pets can get nervous if kids appear to intrude their territory. Teach children not to approach pets. As for other animals, it’s unwise (and usually illegal in state and national parks) to feed wild creatures. 

Thinking of going full-timing with children? That's just one of the A to Z topics covered in Living Aboard Your RV, a Guide to the Full-time Life on Wheels. See it in paperback or ebook at

Friday, August 10, 2018

Top 10 RV Women Personal Packing Mistakes

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To donate $5 a year I support of this blog use your PayPal account to send to janetgroene at




1. Aflutter with Clutter. We all have too many clothes and shoes. RV travel takes us to so many wonderful activities and destinations as well as boutiques, shopping centers, souvenir shops and discount malls. One way to cut the clutter is by sticking to one color palette such as pastels, or denim or chinos or  red-white and blue. If you shop only for blacks and whites, you can go wild with accessories in any color. One pair of dressy black shoes can be partied-up with clip-on bows.

2. The Wrong Fabrics. For short trips, where you save the wash until you get home,  it’s just a matter of fabrics that travel well without wrinkling./ However, for longer trips you’re looking at hand laundry and/or trips to campground coin-up laundries. 

      If your camping life is mostly outdoors, look into performance fabrics treated for bug resistance or UV protection. For hot weather and working out, specialty fabrics wick moisture away from the body. For cold weather, new high-tech fabrics provide more insulation for less weight and bulk.

3.  Something Old, Something New.  It’s tempting to show off your newest togs for travel. Most authorities recommend laundering garments before wearing them for the first time. On the plus side, new garments are treated to resist wrinkles, Unwashed, they are usually good for several wearings before they soil. On the minus side, some fabric treatments are downright unhealthy. Some  people are sensitive to any fabric treatments.  

4. Trouble Afoot. Nothing spoils a trip more than blistered feet. Bring shoes you have already broken in, shoes suitable for the terrain and climate. Bring plenty of clean socks. It’s important to keep feet clean and dry.

Speaking of shoes do you have a rules about indoor/outdoor shoe inside the RV?  Many people do. Just make sure everyone is on the same page.

 Don’t forget waterproof shoes to wear in the campground shower. 


5. Social Security. Because travels take me to many unfamiliar places I add an extra layer of security to a travel wardrobe. This can vary greatly. Depending on the place (indoors, outdoors, crowded, deserted) it may be anything from zippered pockets or a ScotteVest to a fanny pack.

This versatile all-season dress has seven pockets, some zippered, and comes in several colors. 

Scottevest dress
Scott vest $140

6. Shoulder Arms. A handbag, day pack or backpack should be sturdy enough and

large enough for the load, well balanced for spine health, fashionable enough that you don’t look like a bag lady,  and not so unwieldy that you hate taking it with you.  

7. Head and Shoulders. Even if you never wear hats, it’s wise to have one for sun protection. Many types of hats, from sporty to stylish, are available in roll-up materials. Speaking of shoulders, many women carry a light silk or pashmina scarf or shawl for their shoulders in summer because air conditioning can be just too cold.

8. Be Culture Conscious. These days almost anything goes but do be considerate when visiting religious points of interest. That may be a head covering, covered knees and, in some places, removing your shoes.

9. Layers. Everyone tells you to bring layers, but it isn’t that simple. It begins with the right underwear and ends with the right outerwear such as a jacket with zip-off sleeves or cargo pants that zip apart to become shorts.

 For winter travel I love my silk long johns and long-sleeve white silk undershirt. They insulate, feel great, pack light, launder easily and double as pajamas.

 Another of my secret layers is a pair of dancer’s leg warmers, which I can slip on under slacks or sleeves in very cold weather.

10. Two for One. Versatile garments are always a plus. One of my favorites is button-front dress. It’s a real dress that can be worn belted or unbelted. It can also be slipped on as a robe or swim suit cover-up. 

Little extras:
 RV women also need flexible, women's-size work gloves for dirty work such as hooking up and fueling.  High-temperature fireplace gloves are also a good idea for handling embers and I like this log carrier. 
It takes up no room at all and is ideal for handling firewood and other oddments around the campsite. It also holds a small dog and, when I'm shopping the farmer's market, it holds long, stalky items such as asparagus, rhubarb and greens.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The RV Woman's Toolbox

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The RV Woman’s 
Tool Box

In the RV life, some repairs can wait until you get home or find a specialist in, say, upholstery repair or rewiring a reading light. Others need immediate attention or first aid to keep it from getting worse.  

Make it Snappi

    Broken nails again because of a stubborn snap somewhere in or on your camper?  Heavy duty snaps are everywhere in the RV life. They are reliable, durable and secure fasteners that attach windshield covers, wheel covers, screen rooms, awnings,  tent flaps.
    Sometimes they can hold too well. A new tool called Snappi  (not to be confused with Snappi diaper snaps)  cleans and lubes these snaps so they open and close easier. All it takes is a   twist of the wrist. See it here. 

Screen Test

    The dog burst through the RV's screen door and mosquitoes poured in. Even the smallest hole in a screen in an RV screen can spell an insect invasion. When you have this screen repair kit on  hand, patches can be made on the spot, quick and easy. See a good screen repair kit here   

Yawning Awning?
    Your tent camping days may be over but the RV life is still filled with canvas and other outdoor fabrics: the awning, wheel and windshield covers, sun flies, folding chairs, stuff bags. I found this canvas repair kit with boating supplies. It’s especially designed for heavy duty fabrics such as duck, treated canvas, awning materials and boat covers.  

Hose Say Can You See?

    Hoses are the hookups that provide water to the RV and take sewage out. When one of these hoses gets holed  it’s not just an inconvenience. It’s a health hazard and, if raw sewage leaks on the ground, it’s a crime.  

     Any hole in your drinking water hose is a place where precious water is lost and dirt can get in. And drips can leave muddy puddles in your campsite. Even a repair with tape or adhesives can introduce harmful chemicals or contaminants into a drinking water hose.
     It's difficult to repair a sewer hose and leaks are not only unpleasant, they are against the law. This hose is so important, and so difficult to patch, I carry a spare.

Small Change
    Here’s a fun way to have extra spending money on an RV trip. Throw your change into a container, then turn it in for gift cards that can be used at movies, restaurants and major retailers. For years I’ve avoided using coin counting machines because they charge a fee of 10 percent or more. Now some machines give full measure for the money IF you take a gift card instead of cash. 

  Look in stores, movie theaters and restaurants for coin sorting machines that give you full credit for the money IF you exchange the coins for a gift card. 
Most have a $5 minimum. 

Look for the machines at large stores such as Target and Walmart and always check to make sure the gift card option is available. The large choice of gift cards includes Chili’s Grill and Bar, Home Depot, Southwest Airlines and Starbuck’s.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Janet Groene's Solo Woman RV Travel Tips

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RV Ideas, Inspirations,
Tips and Trips
copyright janetgroene 2018

Highway or the hard way? Here are some lessons I've picked up along the way.

    * My Class C motorhome lost a hub cap once and it cost bigtime. It was a rare design and size. Another like it could never be found.  To make a match I had to  buy a whole new set. Then I heard about this tip. Inside each hub cap on your RV, tape a waterproof note with your name and phone number. If you wish, add an offer to pay a reward for return of the hubcap. If it the hub cap is lost,  it just might make its way back to you.

    * I always end up camping in places with sandy soil (think beaches) and too much of the sand always ends up inside my camper. Now there is Sandlite, a new kind of material that allows sand to fall through. Use it as a beach mat or runner on the campsite patio. It rolls up for easy storage, hoses clean and dries quickly.  At home it’s a good runner to lay down  from, say,  the kids’ sandbox to the back door.

     * Also a wonderful find  for beachgoers are the new  microfiber beach towels. Unlike a loopy terry towel, the weave is flat so it doesn’t trap sand. The quick-drying towels come in lots of kicky colors and patterns.

* I always stock up with green bananas before a long trip but they may get ripe faster than I can use them. Try this. Put whole, ripe bananas, still in their skin, in a  bag and freeze them. Thaw out one or two, cut off one end and squeeze out the squishy banana like toothpaste out of a tube. It will mix right into your  smoothie or pancake batter. 

    * For serious travel and long camping trips it’s worth investing in a Scrubba Bag. Inside this waterproof bag are little nipples that scrub dirt out of socks or underwear, or gently coax soil out of bras and delicate undies. The bag is easy to fill from any faucet, bucket or brook. Instructions are written right on the bag. The bag can be used to haul or carry extra water or as a dry bag when hiking or kayaking. The black model can be placed in the sun to heat water for laundry or a shower.  See details at

    * You say you don’t travel enough to invest in a real Scrubba? Put water, a little detergent and a few pieces of laundry in a big zip-top plastic bag with one or two of the little bristly gadgets known as as scalp brushes or shampoo brushes. They are gentle, snag free, small to stow  and very inexpensive. Seal the bag (make sure it won’t leak) and let it jostle while you travel. Later you can rinse and wring in the RV sink or in the campground restroom.


* No matter how tight we are for space, most of us RV women like to have at least one good outfit on hand. My  favorite “little black dress” (It also comes in colors) is this all-season, easy care dress with seven (!)  pockets. Accessorize it six ways from Sunday.  Made by the people who make famous Scottevest travel vests,  the dress is so cleverly designed it took me a while to find all the pockets. For security, convenience and versatile good looks, see it at

    * Don’t load your cupboards with too many spice jars. Buy empty gelatin capsules, the kind that medicines come in. Fill them with spices you use most often. When camping, add the capsule to hot soup, stew, gravy, etc. It will melt and disappear, adding the right amount of seasoning just like that. I found refillable capsules in small, medium and large sizes on Amazon. 

Come back every week for more tips and trips.

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Llifesaver for Women RV Travelers

Your Personal Lifesaver
copyright Janet Groene

    What is a PLB and why do you need one? Picture yourself stuck upside down in a ditch, or injured, or lost and alone with no battery power or no phone service. Press a button and a  Personal Locator Beacon will contact a satellite from anywhere on land or sea, bringing  you rescue. 

 This issue and a new issue every week are available for Kindle by subscription from Amazon. Try it free for two weeks at

    As a solo woman RV traveler,  you need the very best search and rescue aids.  Of course, some phone apps can call for help or report your location. Authorities might also get your location via your cell phone.   

    However, phone signals are much weaker than those of a PLB and they’re all subject to battery failure, weak signal, or no signal at all. 

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

Once used primarily in boating and aviation, these locator beacons 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 smart phones just aren’t smart enough.   

Which PLB is For You?

    First, determine basic needs. To keep it smallest and lightest choose a small, basic PLB.  If you want to take it on the water, order one that is waterproof and buoyant.  (Some activate automatically when they hit water).  Some units have a strobe light too. And, because of the PLB’s very long battery life, it keeps working for days. 

    A PLB isn’t a two-way communication device. You activate it only when you’re in grave and imminent danger. 

    The devices use a special frequency that’s reserved just for search and rescue. Government rules require units to undergo rigorous testing.  One manufacturer, for example, has units that work for more than 30 hours at minus 20 degrees C. You’ll probably pay about $250 for a PLB but that’s it forever except for replacing the special batteries about every five years. There are no monthly fees. 

See a PLB here, It's a lifetime investment. The only additional cost is to replace batteries every 5 years.

    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 local ground station and transferred to the Mission Control Center (MCC). A Rescue Coordination Center passes the information to Search and Rescue (SAR) forces closest to you.  

    To date, more than 30,000 lives have been saved. Once you own a PLB, whether new or used, you must register it with NOAA.  After that, SAR forces worldwide have your back.

Friday, June 29, 2018

RV, Motorhome Buyer Beware

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To donate $5 per year in support of this work send via PayPal to janetgroene at

 Each issue of Solo Woman RV  will be sent to your Kindle automatically from Amazon by subscription. Free trial.

 Water spots on your RV? Now there’s a portable water softener! Simply hook the water hose to one side of this 10 X 18-inch cylinder and the other side to the hose that will deliver the water you want to soften. It’s easily stowed in the RV or at home.

Browsing for your Next RV? Avoid These
Buyer Pitfalls

copyright janet groene 

     By now you’ve owned enough cars, computers, campers and can openers to know that complexity breeds breakdowns.

     The more bells and whistles, the more potential for trouble . Fancy conveniences also require more energy in camp and on the highway.

 Rule One in choosing an RV is the same KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) maxim most of us live by.  A frustrated follower sent me a list of everything that went wrong on a new motorhome. He picked it up at the factory, hit the road and during the first three months amassed a squawk list that covered three, single-spaced pages!

     Instead of traveling and RV-ing, he was cooling his heels in waiting rooms at maintenance facilities. Although most things were covered by warranty, every failure meant another trip to a fix-it shop, another day NOT enjoying the RV life. 

      Almost everything in an RV has more than one way to fail.  For example, an automatic entry step can fail electrically, hydraulically or mechanically. A three-way refrigerator can stop because of a failure in the  refrigerator itself, the 12V system, 110V current or propane supply. If the TV doesn't work the trouble could be in  the TV, electrical system or the antenna/satellite. Solar? It's great until the sun doesn't shine or you camp under shade trees.
 Only you can decide which conveniences are worth it  for you. 

 Additional Buying Tips

* When a big investment is on the line it pays to have an attorney go over the financing agreement and the warranties. 

* Whether the RV is new or used, insist on getting all the written warranties, operator manuals and instruction books for every system including the engine, flush toilet,  individual appliances. It’s also good to get instructions for care of flooring, counter-top materials, upholstery and other materials.  Mis-use can void a warranty. 

* I’m constantly hearing from hustlers who have a book or product to promote. They use the RV or camping hashtag to get our attention. They may be experts in, say, insurance or cuisine but they don’t really know the unique needs of RV-ers. Know who writes what you read. 

Dreaming of going on the road full-time? Do it now, work as needed and,  if you have kids, there's home schooling. Book covers the lifestyle from making the decision, getting in, staying in and getting out when the time comes.

An RV Shopper’s Dictionary

 Here are some items to think about.

 Awning.  Sometimes built in but often added in the aftermarket, an awning shades one side of the RV to form an outdoor seating area. If it’s also fitted with screen walls, it creates an extra room. It’s a nice addition if you are parked a lot. To stay lean, however, it’s better to avoid the weight and wind drag.  

 Basement refers to storage under the living area of an RV, accessible from the outside. Even the smallest units have at least some basement space.  Use this area for tools, buckets and brooms, off-season clothing storage and sports and equipment.  Some items, such as the generator and propane tanks, must be isolated from the living area.
 Bus conversion. A luxury bus, custom converted to an RV, is the Taj Mahal of RV-dom. On the other hand, a ratty old bus converted to an RV may not be allowed at nice campgrounds. 

 Curb weight refers to the weight of the unit with full tanks but not people and personal gear. 

 Departure angle. The distance from the rear axle to the rear bumper will determine how steep an incline the RV can climb before the rear bumper (or some piece of the undercarriage) drags on the ground. Beware of RV’s with extra-long overhangs. 

 GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, the most-ignored term in the RV universe. If you’re towing a trailer you need to know its total weight including full tanks and all your gear, so you’ll know what kind of vehicle is needed to tow it safely. Keep in mind total weight after filling every cupboard, closet and storage bin . Your chassis, transmission, brakes and tires have to handle it all at highway speeds.  Weigh the fully loaded  unit at a truck stop.
    Hitch. If you will tow a travel trailer it’s important that the tow vehicle, trailer hitch and RV make a good match. Your mechanic will tell you how much tow can be handled by your engine, transmission and brakes. A hitch expert will bolt or weld on the best hitch for both the tow vehicle and the RV.
    Leveling jacks. Sometimes portable, sometimes built-in, jacks are needed to level the RV. Even the smallest deviation causes eggs to roll off kitchen counters and keeps water from draining from the shower pan.
    Slides, slide-outs or bump-outs are room extensions that are deployed once you’re parked in a campground. They look great in the showroom but are subject to leaks and electrical and mechanical problems. They’re great for RV-ers who spend weeks at a time without moving but can be a nuisance if you’re traveling lean mean. You may soon weary of extending slides just for a one-night stop or a lunch break  Too, extended slides are a dead giveaway to the zoning police if you’re boondocking in a friend’s yard or shopping mall.
  If  you need a quick overnight in a truck stop, there may not be room in your parking slot to extend a slide and you’re stuck inside the accordion. Before buying, see the RV with slides closed. Ask yourself if you can live with it either way.
     Toad is a slang term for a small car towed behind a motorhome. Others call it the dinghy. Some are towed “four wheels down”, some “two wheels down” with front wheels on a small trailer.
     Umbilicals. When you get to a campground you’ll hook up to electricity, water, sewer and perhaps cable television.
    Wide Body.  Standard RV width is 96 inches/ While “wide bodies” may go to as much as 102 inches/259.1cm, you’ll have enough to handle on two-lane country roads with a standard width RV.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Loves Her Motorhome, Loves Her Horses

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. Thank you for donating $5 a year to support these weekly issues. Send via PayPal to janetgroene at

Businesswoman Has RV,  
Has Horse, Will Travel
copyright Janet Groene

     When GiGi Stetler isn’t riding on four wheels she’s riding on four hooves. An accomplished rider, she’s headed in her RV for Saratoga Springs, New York for a summer of equestrian events including competing in hunter and jumper events. 

     Her story is a perfect blend of business success, equestrian successes and salvaging a personal life born in tragedy and abuse. RV's play a major part in her happy endings.  

Today she is CEO of a major RV dealership,  carves out her own path in what is essentially a man’s world and urges other women to “Greet life as a warrior, not a victim.” She is a successful businesswoman, a single mother, an accomplished equestrian and the author of an inspiring new book UNSTOPPABLE: Surviving is Just the Beginning, Second Edition.

No matter what your business or personal battle, GiGi’s book will inspire you to grab life by the horns and come out a winner.  Her life began its turn-around when she was hired for $500 a week at an RV dealership. Within two weeks she was promoted to manager. She is still there. Her RV Sales of Broward in Davie,  Florida, and the related group RV Planet offer a full menu of RV sales, service, consignments, rentals, repairs, a membership club and emergency housing. 

Years of ups and downs led to today’s triumphs. In her early years at the RV dealership she was once  $11 million in debt. She was pronounced financially dead. Once again she came back.  “With a recession underway, RV’s were a tough sell,” she reports, but her caring customer service kept her customers coming back. 

     Transforming the business into a service-focused operation, she “fixed toilets and made homes level and did whatever it took to get customers to trust us,” she enthuses. “Then I threw a thank-you party for customers at the dealership and offered a $500 credit for every new customer they brought. People saw we were paying attention to them and started coming in by the truckload." 

Keeping her customers front and center has always been the secret of her success.

Says Gigi, “I invented myself. That is my invention. When RV’s stopped selling I quickly went to plans B, C, D and E. I tell people to never give up and keep your eye on the goal. People need to know there is always light at the end of the tunnel even though you may need a telescope to see it. To me, success is how quickly you get up and start over.” 

Her books are the story of her life. 

        What does she have to say to other women who want a full life including travel in an RV? “ I wrote my book in part as a way to exorcise the many demons that have plagued me all my life and, more importantly,  to show other women and just as many men that when life happens to you, happen right back," said Stetler.

Her own RV is a 45-foot diesel motohome with four slides and four flat screen TVs.  At most of the equestrian events where she competes, she camps right on the show grounds, enjoying  all the comforts of home.

To see Gigi’s success formula firsthand, visit her dealership, RV Sales of Broward at 3030 Burris Road,  Davie, Florida, (888) 587-3337. 

Order her book, UNSTOPPABLE, Surviving is Just the Beginning, Second Edition at

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