Topic Wiki

Trip Reports featuring an RV/motorhome/camper
PBaruch - Iceland
PBaruch - Utah and Arizona
PBaruch - Washington State
PBaruch - Alaska
PBaruch - Death Valley NP
PBaruch - Denver to Seattle
Something Fishy - Alaska
Something Fishy - Iceland
AJK - New Zealand
LookBeforeYouLive - RVing across the country

Shabbos in an RV
There are many potential issues.

- For starters you'll have to be hooked up to power - the batteries won't last all Shabbos and you can't/wouldn't want to run the generator instead. You'll probably also need 220v for the AC, so make sure the campground could supply that (many do).

- The water hookup often leaks, which could be an issue of watering on shabbos; AYLOR.

- You can't put the cabin lights on a timer, so that may be an issue since some beds are in the main living area.

- Going in and out of the RV could be an issue of maaras ayin (even if no Jews are around), so you may have to cover up your wheels to indicate that you're staying put (obviously AYLOR).

-Make sure to empty the black water tank and treat the toilet before Shabbos; that's not something you want to get stuck with.

- Carrying anything outside is obviously an issue to discuss.

- The fridge runs on propane, so the compressor going on may be more serious than a regular fridge (is it considered a fire???).

- As far as I remember all living-area lights are manual (unlike the cab or a regular car). Opening the door doesn't turn on anything. This may obviously vary by model (I had a stock Winnebago).

Winter concerns
You need to choose if you want the amenities or if you want to risk it.

I did a lot of research before my last trip and decided to risk it, BH it worked out great.

- It could take many hours for the tanks to freeze up, and we were expecting above-freezing temps every day. Theoretically it wouldn't have frozen up just overnight. I also emptied a couple gallons of RV antifreeze into the gray and black tanks on the coldest nights. Keeping the tanks half full instead of draining them all the way also helps (more water = slower freezing).
- The bigger issue are the connections, which can freeze up in minutes. So we didn't connect to shore water and sewer on cold nights.
- You can also open the cabinets and drawers near the plumbing so the furnace can heat them a bit better.
- Another tip is to keep a constant drip going, keeps it from freezing a bit longer.

That being said, this all could work if you're expecting to be above freezing most of the time. The desert is cold at night, so moving a few miles away from the park won't do you a whole lot of good.

And remember that this is all at your own risk, freezing damages could get really expensive really fast.

Minor mentions
General RV rentals and discussions
General RV rentals and discussions, thread 2
Tri-state area RV rentals
RV in Banff?
@yehuda's Iceland campervan discussions - begins here and continues on and off for a while
Campers and CC insurance


Pros and cons, from one of @PBaruch's trip reports
Motorhome Pros

1. You have your home wherever you go - easy to cook, shower, and use the restroom;
2. Most of the time you will not need to rent a car - the motorhome is your home and car;
3. If your kid needs to use the bathroom, just find a place to pull over - no hunting for restrooms and no accidents waiting to happen;
4. When you get to a location that has kosher food, you can stock up and keep it in the fridge and freezer;
5. If anyone gets hungry, easy enough to pull over and make some food;
6. No need to hunt for decent hotels each night and no need to unpack for each night and repack the following morning;
7. You have the ability to stay very close to your intended destination for each day instead of sometimes driving for an hour or two from the nearest
    gateway city where your hotel is located;
8. Some campgrounds are lots of fun to stay at - and most have a BBQ pit and picnic table at your campsite.

Motorhome Cons

1. You have your home with you wherever you go - depending on the vehicle length, you cannot take it everywhere and you might have to rent a car, as
    we did, when we visited Sequoia National Park;
2. Can be difficult to drive in urban locations;
3. Have to find campgrounds to stay at each night for an added cost or find a free location (usually without hookups);
4. Have to deal with emptying your waste tanks;
5. They are gas guzzlers - even with relatively cheap gas, it is an added expense;
6. Travel times are longer in a motorhome - you will not be able to drive as fast to your intended destination as you would with a car.

Additional Q&A by @PBaruch
Even though we've been to most of the places in this TR, we've always wanted to try an RV but have found the logistics daunting (it also helps that we have tons of hotel points so almost never pay for lodging), so I'd love some pointers about how to feel secure enough to go ahead with it. Specifically:

Are there any websites or generally good strategies to use to find good deals on RVs, whether 1-way or just cheap rates?
Are there specific RV rental companies that are more reliable, and any to avoid?
Are there any that include unlimited miles as is standard with car rentals?
In hindsight, were there any red flags you missed or questions you wish you had asked to avoid getting an RV Poopypants? :)
Any tips about how to find good places to stay each night?
Did you have prior RV experience, and any advice about how to handle unique RV issues like emptying tanks, leveling, etc., to ensure a successful first experience?
1. I would check with each RV rental company to see if they have any specials.  Here is a partial list:

El Monte 1-way specials
https://www.elmonterv.com/rv-rental/cool-deal-detail/ONE-WAY-SPECIAL/

Great Alaskan Holidays
https://www.greatalaskanholidays.com/alaska-rv-rentals/specials/

Cruise America
https://www.cruiseamerica.com/

Apollo RV
https://www.apollorv.com/reloc.aspx

Road Bear RV
http://www.roadbearrv.com/en/rental-deals
http://www.roadbearrv.com/en/rental-deals/one-way-specials

https://www.imoova.com/

https://www.transfercarus.com/

2.  We have rented from El Monte, Apollo and Great Alaskan, as best as I can recall.  I do not know if there are any to avoid.  We have always had some issues with the rentals but I wouldn't characterize the issues we had as a reason to avoid that company in the future.  @Something Fishy once mentioned reading negative things about Apollo but we did not have any issues when renting from them and, at the time, they were one of the cheapest.

3. I think there are some that do include unlimited miles for an added fee, but you would have to check with each rental company.  Generally, it is not an option.

4. No red flags that I can specifically point out.  All I can say is that I have learned to check all of the major systems of the RV before you take off.  Make sure the AC, generator and refrigerator work.  Check to see that the outlets work.  Make sure the shower and sink work.  Turn on the stove and ovens.  It pays to spend a few extra minutes before you leave to make sure everything works rather than realizing later on and having to call the RV company and try to diagnose the problem.  With this particular 1 way rental, the RV was definitely beat up a lot more than any other rental we had in the past - but then again it was $75 a night.  Other 1-way rentals can be brand spanking new RVs that need to be relocated from the factory to the rental company - so you can really luck out there.

5. We like KOA campgrounds as they are a chain and are fairly consistent throughout.  We have also found other non chain campgrounds that we liked very much.  I'd suggest doing some research about the locations you want to visit.  National parks have some really nice campgrounds but those are often without any hookups.  You can also camp on BLM land for free but again, no hookups.  Info can be found here:  https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/camping.  Another option is to camp at farms, vineyards and breweries by purchasing a membership here:  https://harvesthosts.com/.  The cost is $79 or $119 per year.  Finally, if you are on the road and want a free place to stay for the night, most Walmarts allow you to stay overnight in the parking lot.  This list is by no means exhaustive. 

6.  We started renting RVs without any prior experience - just jumped right in.  The rental company will show you a video before you take off, which will contain a number of useful tips.  There are also many videos on YouTube that you can watch, to learn the basics.  Emptying tanks is not hard at all.  It's not a pleasant job but I don't understand why people make such a big fuss about it.  Likewise, leveling isn't a big deal.  Most RVs you rent do not have auto leveling.  The rental company provides you with one of those bubble levels.  Once you know which side needs to be adjusted, you drive the RV onto one of those small ramps that you are provided with.  I am sure it will be a little daunting your first time out, but once you get the hang of it everything will be fine and you will have a great time.

I hope I answered all of your questions.  If I missed anything, please let me know.

« Last edited by whYME on March 15, 2021, 11:30:31 PM »

Author Topic: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread  (Read 15635 times)

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #90 on: December 01, 2020, 01:48:09 PM »
I'm exploring the idea of heading this month to Death Valley in an RV rental.
The issue I'm stumbling into is called "winterization" ::) .

Basically, I was told by the rental company ("one last thing" they remembered to tell me just as we were about to hang up the phone and after I was excited at the final price quote I got, lol) that if I take the motor-home to any area under 30F degrees, the RV must be "winterized".
Which means that the tanks must be emptied of all water (so that they don't turn into ice, swell, and burst the pipes), and anti-freeze must be inserted instead. Which thus renders all the wonderful amenities like the toilet and sink completely unusable, thus majorly decreasing (though not completely) the whole point of renting an RV...

I've only rented RV's in the summer, so I have no experience what it's like in these temperatures.
Anyone here experienced with winter? Or going to death valley in winter - regardless of RV?
I'd like to know how worried I should be about this. Because from what I'm seeing in the current weather there, nights dip down to 30 or 20's. Is that only in the actual park, but surrounding areas are not as cold?

I'd really appreciate if someone can shed some light on these issues.

TIA!

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #91 on: December 01, 2020, 01:58:13 PM »
You need to choose if you want the amenities or if you want to risk it.

I did a lot of research before my last trip and decided to risk it, BH it worked out great.

- It could take many hours for the tanks to freeze up, and we were expecting above-freezing temps every day. Theoretically it wouldn't have frozen up just overnight. I also emptied a couple gallons of RV antifreeze into the gray and black tanks on the coldest nights. Keeping the tanks half full instead of draining them all the way also helps (more water = slower freezing).
- The bigger issue are the connections, which can freeze up in minutes. So we didn't connect to shore water and sewer on cold nights.
- You can also open the cabinets and drawers near the plumbing so the furnace can heat them a bit better.
- Another tip is to keep a constant drip going, keeps it from freezing a bit longer.

That being said, this all could work if you're expecting to be above freezing most of the time. The desert is cold at night, so moving a few miles away from the park won't do you a whole lot of good.

And remember that this is all at your own risk, freezing damages could get really expensive really fast.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #92 on: December 01, 2020, 01:58:42 PM »
You may also need to re-winterize it before returning, so that's another thing to look out for.
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #93 on: December 01, 2020, 02:11:27 PM »
I've only rented RV's in the summer, so I have no experience what it's like in these temperatures.
Anyone here experienced with winter? Or going to death valley in winter - regardless of RV?
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #94 on: December 01, 2020, 02:35:57 PM »
You need to choose if you want the amenities or if you want to risk it.

I did a lot of research before my last trip and decided to risk it, BH it worked out great.
Thank you so much for all that helpful info!
Please don't mind my follow-up questions:

- It could take many hours for the tanks to freeze up, and we were expecting above-freezing temps every day. Theoretically it wouldn't have frozen up just overnight.
What was the lowest overnight outside temperature you stayed at with the RV?
If you were expecting above freezing, why would it have frozen up overnight?

I also emptied a couple gallons of RV antifreeze into the gray and black tanks on the coldest nights. Keeping the tanks half full instead of draining them all the way also helps (more water = slower freezing).
"Tanks half full" you're referring to both clean and dirty water tanks?
I presume then that mostly full (clean water) tanks would be even better, correct?
"couple gallons"?! Wow, that much?! Also, any idea where the cheapest place is to buy this type of stuff?

- The bigger issue are the connections, which can freeze up in minutes. So we didn't connect to shore water and sewer on cold nights.
By that you mean connections to outside sources, correct? (i.e. not inside the rv).

- You can also open the cabinets and drawers near the plumbing so the furnace can heat them a bit better.
Great tip! You keep the furnace running all night? Does that require the generator running all night as well?

- Another tip is to keep a constant drip going, keeps it from freezing a bit longer.
I assume you refer only to the sink?

That being said, this all could work if you're expecting to be above freezing most of the time. The desert is cold at night, so moving a few miles away from the park won't do you a whole lot of good.
I wish I'd know the temperature weeks in advance, but i don't :-\  From what I see online Death Valley could be just upper 30's overnight, but could also possibly hit the upper twenties...

And remember that this is all at your own risk, freezing damages could get really expensive really fast.
Yeah, that's what I'm so scared of. Seems winter is not so hospitable for RVing :(

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #95 on: December 01, 2020, 02:37:51 PM »
You may also need to re-winterize it before returning, so that's another thing to look out for.
Seems in that region they don't do any winterization, so thankfully that wouldn't be an issue.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #96 on: December 01, 2020, 02:45:29 PM »
Thank you so much for all that helpful info!
Please don't mind my follow-up questions:
What was the lowest overnight outside temperature you stayed at with the RV? 29-30 IIRC
If you were expecting above freezing, why would it have frozen up overnight? Above freezing by day, below freezing by night
"Tanks half full" you're referring to both clean and dirty water tanks? All three
I presume then that mostly full (clean water) tanks would be even better, correct? No. If it's full and it freezes, the tank bursts.
"couple gallons"?! Wow, that much?! Also, any idea where the cheapest place is to buy this type of stuff? Two or three. Walmart has them for $2-3/gal.
By that you mean connections to outside sources, correct? (i.e. not inside the rv). Correct
Great tip! You keep the furnace running all night? Does that require the generator running all night as well? Furnace is generally run off the propane tank
I assume you refer only to the sink? And shower. Didn;t have to do it in the end though, never got that cold.
I wish I'd know the temperature weeks in advance, but i don't :-\  From what I see online Death Valley could be just upper 30's overnight, but could also possibly hit the upper twenties...
Yeah, that's what I'm so scared of. Seems winter is not so hospitable for RVing :(

See bolded.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2020, 03:33:00 PM by Something Fishy »
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #97 on: December 01, 2020, 03:28:31 PM »
What's this furnace thing you guys are talking about ;)

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #98 on: December 08, 2020, 12:59:33 AM »
Anybody interested in taking my RV reservation?

NYC (Linden, NJ) - MCO
This Wednesday, 12/9 - 12/16 (dates might be slightly flexible, as of when it was booked a couple of weeks ago the latest available return was 12/17)
$49/night, 3500 free miles, $200 gas credit.
El Monte AF33 - https://www.elmonterv.com/rv-rental/rv-details/slideout-af33-family-sleeper-rv/
PM me if interested.

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #99 on: December 08, 2020, 07:44:57 AM »
Anybody interested in taking my RV reservation?

NYC (Linden, NJ) - MCO
This Wednesday, 12/9 - 12/16 (dates might be slightly flexible, as of when it was booked a couple of weeks ago the latest available return was 12/17)
$49/night, 3500 free miles, $200 gas credit.
El Monte AF33 - https://www.elmonterv.com/rv-rental/rv-details/slideout-af33-family-sleeper-rv/
PM me if interested.
Nice, I wish I could.

Have you rented a Class A before?  How does it compare with driving and otherwise operating a Class C, if you've rented that before?
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #100 on: March 03, 2021, 02:00:45 PM »
Hi all,

I'm interested to take my family on a RV trip to national parks this summer somewhere btwn June 30-July 8.  Looking for any and all recommendations in the USA!  We are 4 people and based in Boston but will fly anywhere in US to start trip and aren't looking to drive TOO much...

1) Was thinking of Yellowstone & Teton but seems like campsites already all booked?
2) Is $330/nt make sense from CruiseAmerica (RV sharing sites seem to be all booked except trailers)

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #101 on: March 03, 2021, 05:15:28 PM »
Hi all,

I'm interested to take my family on a RV trip to national parks this summer somewhere btwn June 30-July 8.  Looking for any and all recommendations in the USA!  We are 4 people and based in Boston but will fly anywhere in US to start trip and aren't looking to drive TOO much...

1) Was thinking of Yellowstone & Teton but seems like campsites already all booked?
2) Is $330/nt make sense from CruiseAmerica (RV sharing sites seem to be all booked except trailers)

Thanks in advance for any feedback!
1) Campgrounds in the national park may be fully booked, but there are usually plenty not far away.  The benefit of a campground outside of the national park is you can usually get full hookups, which is quite rare within.

2) That sounds like way too much.  What route are you choosing to get that price?

Look through trip reports that have the word "motorhome" in them; you can find a ton of info.  I will try to add a wiki to this thread, hopefully sooner rather than later.
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #102 on: March 03, 2021, 08:52:20 PM »
Added wiki.
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #103 on: March 03, 2021, 09:17:37 PM »
Added wiki.

That's awesome. Thanks!
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #104 on: April 12, 2021, 03:43:27 PM »
El Monte RV has some insane deals now.  Brand new from factory (size TBD, but sleeps 5), pick up Thursday 4/15 Indiana (Elkhart?), drop off Monday 4/19 in New Jersey, $11.  That's $2.75 per day.  For anyone that wants to try out RV travel or needs to do that trip in that time frame.
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