Friday, June 15, 2018

Buy This RV, Not That RV

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Buying your first RV? Trading up? Trading down?

The first decision in buying an RV is not to buy Brand X or Brand Y. It’s whether you want one vehicle or two. That’s what will  decide costs, stow-ability, ease of driving and maneuvering, depreciation, insurance rates, tolls, fuel efficiency and so much more. 
There is no right or wrong here. It all depends on your needs, your tastes, your budget. 


This: In buying a motor home you’ll have a huge choice of sizes, types, layouts. An entire home is with you everywhere you go, even at the mall or at the doctor’s office. Never use a public bathroom again. Excellent buys available in used motorhomes. 

Not That: Fuel prices going up. Unless you tow a car, you must unhook at the campground to go sightseeing, shopping, out for dinner. If you’re only a sometime camper, an expensive engine is just sitting there all year, depreciating. 

Travel Trailer 

This: See many choices of brands, styles, layouts, sizes, prices. Unhook the trailer and leave it in the campground while you travel locally in your tow vehicle. Change the tow vehicle or the trailer as needed. You’re not stuck with one unit. 

Not That: Towing is not for everyone. Maneuvering can be tricky. You may be limited to drive-through campsites. 

Truck Camper

This: With a camper that sits on your truck bed you can transform your everyday pickup into a compact home with basic facilities. Compared to buying an entire trailer or motorhome, prices are very attractive. Low insurance cost. Easy to store when not in use. Can be off-loaded in the campground, freeing truck for local transportation. Pay tolls on only two axles. Easy maintenance. 

Not That: Not the best choice for space efficiency or handling ease. Toilet facilities will be basic such as a portable potty. Unlike a motorhome, living quarters are not accessible from the cockpit. You have to park and leave the driver’s seat to enter your “home”.  Loading and off-loading the camper unit can take time and energy. 

Fifth Wheel Trailer

This: Like a truck camper or towed trailer, this type RV makes use of a truck that is also  your everyday transportation.  However, the unique hitch makes a fifth wheel trailer easier to handle on the highway, even in the giant sizes that are available. Because it doesn’t have an engine it’s more living space for the money. Change trucks or change campers as long as they are a good match. 

Not That: You’re paying to insure and maintain two vehicles. Tolls are charged per axle. Even though towing may be easier than with a travel trailer,  towing and maneuvering into a campsite are not everyone’s cup of  tea.   

RV with Slides

This: It’s almost impossible to find an RV without slides these days. Because they are so popular, an RV with slides in good condition may have better resale value than one without.  With the press of a button you increase the living areas of your RV. 

Not That: Until slides are out, your RV interior is cramped and may even be impassible. Stopping for lunch, a nap or a bathroom break along the highway can be awkward.       Potential for mechanic or electrical failure. Some owners complain of leaks at joints or structural stress.  Not all campgrounds have sites wide enough to accommodate extra width. If a slide sticks in the open position, you can’t drive away until it can be secured. Setting up may require putting jacks under slides. A  problem slide can greatly devalue your RV at resale or trade-in time.  

Can’t find a campsite at the last minute because everything is booked solid? Discover Camp Nab, an exciting new concept from a team of smart young Canadians. They found that most campgrounds actually have availability at the last minute due to cancellations. Jump in and nab a site just like that! 

A small charge is involved and you may not always hit pay dirt but this is an outstanding new concept well worth a try. Listed are thousands of campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada. Check it out at

You’ll need a telescoping handle to reach high and low places on the RV, the broom for the campsite patio and the soft buffing pad for the hardwood floor. There’s a quick release to change tools.
           It’s all the cleaning power needed for the RV, inside and out yet what a space saver!

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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Friday, June 1, 2018

RV Women and Weight

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Ladies in Weighting

We love our RV’s enough to make them homier and more comfortable with every trip. It’s tempting to kee adding little luxuries: a motorized mattress, a larger TV, chunky pottery dishes and mugs, perhaps a bread machine or larger microwave oven.

It’s only human nature that we carry too much stuff in our cars, purses, motorhomes. The problem is that it costs fuel dollars to drive, stop and start all that stuff. Worse still, a load that is too heavy, or too heavy in the wrong spots, can affect handling safety.   

How can you lighten the load?

* Before making major changes (one Class A motorhome owner actually added an upright piano!) consult an expert. It’s now possible to weigh the RV wheel by wheel to determine where it’s out of balance. It’s not just how much weight you add, but where you add it

. * Cleaning tools. RV supply stores offer space-saving, weight-saving mops, brooms and other cleaning equipment that uses one handle for multiple work heads.  Vacuum cleaners are more efficient and lighter now. You might also look into a built-in, central vacuum system. All you need to stow are the accessories. 

* Appliances. Replacing an older refrigerator or roof-mounted air conditioner with a new model usually means more energy efficiency and less weight. Tankless water heaters save weight,  water and energy. 

  Cast-aluminum cookware weighs a fraction of cast iron,  spreads heat better and won't leave rust stains.  

* Washer and dryer. Weigh the advantage of a bulky, on-board washer and dryer against the convenience of using a coin laundry where you can do multiple loads all at once.  One combination washer-dryer popular in Class A motorhomes weighs almost 200 pounds. Stackables weigh even more and have a higher center of gravity.

* Adaptive equipment.  If you need a physical aid such as a wheelchair, lift or electric scooter, see what today’s marketplace has to offer. New devices weigh less are easier for you or your partner to handle in and out of the RV.

* Food supplies. Provisions are one place where I won’t cut corners when traveling in an RV, but I do shave weight where possible. Only trimmed, boneless, skinless meats go into the freezer. Powdered drinks, made up fresh as needed,  take the place of cans and bottles. Choose plastic containers over glass and pouches over cans where possible. Use concentrates for such things as broth,  orange juice, cleaning products. 

Keep your guard up and your weight down. And remember that shoes don’t count. 

Do you dream of retiring early for a life of RV travel, even if you have to work along the way? We did it 10 years and this book tells how. Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition.  See it at

Good gift idea for Father's Day too. 
Be sure to get the 4th edition, which covers making a living anywhere via the Internet. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tips, Tricks, Trips for Women Who Travel by RV, Motorhome

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Janet Groene is a professional travelwriter who lived and traveled  full-time on the go for 10 years in a 21-foot diesel camper and a 29-foot sloop.

Each issue of Solo Woman RV is sent to your Kindle by Amazon for only 99 cents a month. Get two free issues here.

Janet Groene’s 
Little Lifesavers For
RV Travel 

Here are some of  my favorite money saving tips for traveling in an RV.

* Buy a museum membership at almost any museum, either for yourself alone or a family membership. With it you get free admission to that museum plus many other perks such as a discount in the museum gift shop. THEN,  as you travel, show your membership card at every museum you visit and ask if they’ll honor it.  Many do. 

* Call ahead to  sightseeing attractions ahead to ask about admissions policies.  Some theme parks and water parks lower admission after a certain hour. Most museums have a free day or evening at least once a month.

Many disposable gloves aren’t suitable for use with food. These are. Disposable, food grade plastic gloves allow you to handle and mix foods by hand, spread less mess in a water-short galley and protect hands.  Go here

* Local libraries are a great place to hang out on a rainy day. Even if you can’t take out books and movies  you can use the computers (free or fee), read books and magazines in a comfortable setting and attend programs.  Many libraries sell used books for a pittance, a good way to restock your RV book shelf. 

* The easiest way to cook on a campfire is with pie irons. Make hot sandwiches, pastries, patties, pies, biscuits.  Assembling recipes and cleanup are a snap and you can make a different meal each time over any fire from a few bricquets to a roaring bonfire. No grate needed.

* Always have enough food on hand to last three days. If it’s never needed, give it to a food bank periodically and restock with fresh. Food is the ultimate RV travel  insurance.

* Even if you don’t sew, make up a sewing kit with spare buttons, thread and assorted notions. Iron-on tapes make easy patches. Fusing tapes let you repair a hem with an iron. Many campground laundries supply an iron and ironing board. I carry a compact, dual voltage travel steam iron.

* I like to have a quick, compact electric hot plate to use as an extra burner indoors and out. Use it when plugged in at a campground to save propane.

* Many campgrounds offer free shuttle bus service to the beach, theme park or city center. Take the bus to avoid unhooking and/or paying a parking fee at the destination  for your RV or dinghy.  

* When shutting down the generator, cut off the fuel supply and let it die of fuel exhaustion. That leaves the carburetor cleaner and makes for an easier start next time.

* When shutting down the rooftop or dashboard air conditioner, turn off the compressor and let the blower run several more minutes to dry out the system.   Once mildew takes hold in the unit, it’s difficult to dislodge. If campground electrical power is interrupted, turn off the unit. The starting load is substantial and the unit could be damaged by off-again, on-again starts.  When electrical flow returns and settles down, wait a few minutes before starting the compressor. 

* Empty the black water tank as soon as possible after a hard drive. When solids are still in suspension, you get a cleaner, more complete discharge. Ditto oil changes. More contaminants are flushed away if oil is hot. 

Camp stove, campfire, RV and motorhome meals are easier, breezier when you use recipes with shameless shortcuts. Cooking Aboard Your RV, 2nd Edition has more than 200 recipes for camping and RV travel. Save time, water, fuel, mess and hassle.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Coming Clean about Women and RV, Motorhome, Camper Travel

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Each weekly   issue of Solo Woman RV is available on Kindle by subscription for only 99 cents a month. Try two weeks free here

Do you yearn to quit your job and travel in an RV before you get any older? Retire now, work as you go. We did. Book tells how. 

Talking Dirty

Note: No endorsement of any service or product is implied.  This information is provided to help you do your own research. 

When your RV is too high to reach and too dirty to ignore, it’s time to look at RV washing services and/or equipment for doing the job yourself.  
How to sort out the confusing array of services and price packages available?

                                          How to Choose an RV Car Wash

* Go to a specialist in washing RV’s. While a truck wash may be big enough for your RV there are differences. An RV specialist will know the best treatments for the roof, body, materials, slides, seals, trims. Different pricing may apply for various surfaces. (Aircraft aluminum campers, for example, require different, and usually more costly, care than a camper made with corrugated aluminum or painted steel.) 

* RV detailers often specialize in both  boats and RV’s and that’s a good thing. They are familiar with products  for steel, aluminum, painted surfaces, decals, plastics and fiberglass.

* Mobile RV wash service franchises are found in thousands of locations around the nation. One company is (www.),  (800) 601-0626. Just enter your zip code to find the nearest mobile car wash near you. You can also do a search for RV+Carwash+Name of Your City. 

* If the detailer comes to you, know what equipment they bring (ladder, pressure washer, wash and wax supplies, vacuum)  and what you must provide, such as water and electricity.  Your homeowner association,  landlord or zoning may not permit this work to be done on your property or campsite because of environmental concerns, water use or runoff.

* If it’s a drive-through truck wash, what about slides and the awning? 

* Areas that have a large number of RV travelers, such as Las Vegas and Orlando, may offer specials that include one or two free camping nights or coupons for a discounted meal.  Ask your campground host for a recommendation. 


Because so many services and products are available for so many types of RV’s it’s difficult to price shop unless you get very specific. 

     Generally, detailing is priced by the foot with options for regular wash, wash plus wax,  and  wash, wax and buff plus detailing the interior. Plan to spend about $7 per foot for washing a corrugated aluminum camper, $18 per foot for wash and wax, $34 per foot for wash, wax and buff. Because of the special polishes involved, the full treatment for an aircraft aluminum trailer (e.g. Airstream) may run $80 per foot or more. 

                                                           Do It Yourself

If you want to clean and maintain your RV’s exterior yourself, costs for equipment such as a pressure washer and materials can add up quickly. However, you can do a lot with a few basic items that can be stowed in the RV itself. This Carrand flow-through brush attaches to a hose, allowing you to wash and scrub gently all at the same time. The handle telescopes to 71 inches.  See it at   A smaller model telescopes to 55 inches. 

With a wide brush or mop you’ll want a rectangular bucket, 

     Inexpensive baby shampoo is ideal for basic washdowns. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Beating the High Price of RV Fuel

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Fuel for Thought

        Fuel prices are inching towards $4 a gallon and may already have passed  that in your area. 
It’s time to take another look at ways to save fuel money when driving your RV.

* The largest portion of your fuel dollar goes to state, county and federal fees and taxes. When you’re on a cross country trip, use an app such as Gas Buddy to check the next state’s fuel prices as you approach each border. It may pay to tank up before you leave one state, or wait until you’re in the next one.  

* Look at a map of your area and find all the camping parks, resorts and boondocking places available within 25 or 50 miles. There will be more sites, with a better variety of things to do there,  than you expect. Discover all the new close-to-home places where you can have a camping weekend. 

* Some experts recommend adding an extra fuel tank. The advantage is that you stop less often and can take a large load of fuel when you find a good price. With a big rig you might also qualify for bulk discounts.  On the minus side, it costs money to haul around this added weight.

* The old rule still applies. Keep the engine in tune and tires at optimum pressure. 

* New apps and GPS make it easy to plan the shortest route between waypoints. Interstates versus two-lane highways? The slow lane saves gas but means more stops and starts. 

* Free apps for finding the cheapest fuel in any area include, and mapquest fuel prices. 

* Pilot and Flying J fuel stations are popular with RV-ers for providing truck stop services such as large car wash, overnight parking, discount programs, showers and other conveniences. Sign up for the myRewards program. 

* Which credit card to use? That’s a huge puzzle and the scene changes constantly.  We all use cards for different reasons so it’s a personal decision. You might use one card to gain airline miles,  another for low interest rate, another for a cash back bonus.  Walmart’s credit card provides an easy discount at a large number of stops. Your card may offer up to 5% cashback at all times, but watch it. When the receipt says “Jiffy Food Store” it  may not be recognized as a fuel purchase. 

* As you travel keep an eye out for local practices and specials such as  supermarket chains that sell fuel, or will sometimes sell $50 fuel credit card for $40 when you spend  X dollars on groceries. 

The dollars you spend on RV travel are just part of the picture and they are dollars well spent. 

Do you yearn to quit your job and travel in an RV? It's possible to live on the go and earn a living too. We did it 10 years. Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Editions, covers full-time life on the go from making the decision to going back to "real life" if and when the time comes. Order the book here for yourself or a gift. It's available in paperback or Kindle.

Friday, May 4, 2018

RV Women Travel, Earn, Travel

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Join the Amazon CamperForce
copyright Janet Groene

Do you want to retire now, travel full-time in your RV and make a living along the way? Amazon Camperforce sounds too good to be true, but it’s real. 

Amazon courts RV campers for good reason. They need armies of workers, often only at peak periods. It’s almost impossible to fill those temporary jobs with local people or to provide housing for temporary workers. 

As an RV-er  you bring your own housing with you and, as a traveler,  you’re happy to move on when the contract ends. You are perfect for their needs and they for yours. 

What’s the downside? 
The work is hard. Physically hard. Hours are long and you’ll probably be standing, if not running,  for the whole 10-hour shift. Pressure is great to meet deadlines, quotas, standards. The campsite may be within walking distance of the work, or may be several  miles away. And they may not be the classiest campgrounds in town. 
The region where you want to work may not be hiring, or jobs there may not be available at the time of year you want to go.  You may have been a college professor or CEO before but here you’re just a cog in the monster machine. 

The upside?
The deal includes training, paid campsites, good wages with time and a half for overtime plus shift differential, a completion bonus when you stay until December 23rd, referral bonuses and a nice package of  insurances.  Best of all, you work to fill your nest egg, then move on. Depending on their spending habits many RV full-timers support a year of travel by working only four to six months of the year. 

(For more ideas on how to support yourself as an RV full-timer, including working  for yourself anywhere via the Internet, see my book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition. Go to

To Qualify for Amazon
You must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and be fluent in English. That means speaking, reading and writing. Security is high. Workers pass a drug test and go through metal detectors when leaving and entering buildings. 

Things To Know or Do NOW
* Start the application process online as early as possible. You don’t have to be at the location to apply in person. After you apply you can check your application status online.  After you're accepted, some training is available online before you arrive. 
* Amazon CamperForce isn’t the only game in town. Many RV Workampers sign on with temp help agencies, work seasonally in campgrounds or resorts, house sit or find other creative ways to work on the go. Many theme parks including Walt Disney World seek workers who bring their own housing with them. 

CamperForce Campgrounds are found in:

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina

Go to or 1-855-9-CAMPER