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 29812 times)

Offline PBaruch

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2016, 10:53:51 PM »
I also wanted to mention that we bought and used this book when looking for campgrounds in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada:

https://www.amazon.com/Southwest-Camping-Destinations-Arizona-Mexico/dp/0974947199/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470883939&sr=8-1&keywords=campgrounds+of+the+southwest

KOA Campgrounds also has a free book listing all of their affiliated campgrounds.

If you are interested in RV's, you may consider getting a subscription to Trailer Life and/or Motorhome Magazine.  We've been reading both of these magazines for years.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 10:57:23 PM by PBaruch »
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Offline Galitzyaner

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2016, 11:06:21 PM »
I don't think I'll be shlepping pots across the country to cook, but using the microwave for a double wrapped may be a nice amenity.
How does the microwave work? On the generator?
Or on the engine if the engine is running?

Also, how clean do they expect it to be when you return?
Is it like the rental cars who all say it must be clean, but no one really returns them spotless..?
Or is this more for real?

Offline Galitzyaner

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2016, 11:07:44 PM »
I also wanted to mention that we bought and used this book when looking for campgrounds in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada:

https://www.amazon.com/Southwest-Camping-Destinations-Arizona-Mexico/dp/0974947199/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470883939&sr=8-1&keywords=campgrounds+of+the+southwest

KOA Campgrounds also has a free book listing all of their affiliated campgrounds.
I see you really planned this a year in advance, books and all...
I'm hoping there's some sort of app.

Offline PBaruch

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2016, 11:11:33 PM »
I don't think I'll be shlepping pots across the country to cook, but using the microwave for a double wrapped may be a nice amenity.
How does the microwave work? On the generator?
Or on the engine if the engine is running?

You can use the generator at any time - whether or not the engine is running.  On our RV, there was a switch to "prime" the generator with fuel.  After priming it with fuel, you hold down a button to crank it until it turns over and starts running.  The generator used fuel from the gas tank of the RV and it did not have its own separate fuel tank.  However, if the fuel level drops below 1/4 tank the generator will not turn on.  We used the generator while driving to power the AC unit in the rear of the RV since it was so hot.  We also used the generator while parked in different spots to power the AC.  The microwave appeared to be a regular residential microwave oven.  It works either off the generator or when connected to electricity in a campground.

Also, how clean do they expect it to be when you return?
Is it like the rental cars who all say it must be clean, but no one really returns them spotless..?
Or is this more for real?

The RV upon return does not need to be spotless, just broom swept clean.  However, as I mentioned to you earlier, the waste tanks must be empty and water holding tank full on return or there will be an added fee.
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2016, 11:20:47 PM »
However, as I mentioned to you earlier, the waste tanks must be empty and water holding tank full on return or there will be an added fee.

And the propane tank refilled as well.
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Offline PBaruch

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2016, 11:21:42 PM »
And the propane tank refilled as well.

Not necessarily.  El Monte RV - the place I rented from in Las Vegas - did not require me to refill the propane tank at all. 
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2016, 11:22:40 PM »
Not necessarily.  El Monte RV - the place I rented from in Las Vegas - did not require me to refill the propane tank at all.

Good to know. My place did.
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Offline PBaruch

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #27 on: August 10, 2016, 11:28:08 PM »
Since we are discussing propane, I should mention that I was told that I had to shut the valve on the propane tank before filling up the RV with fuel.  There was a small door on the side of the RV behind which the propane tank was located.  I had to turn the valve to shut it off before fueling up.  It wasn't a big deal.

Also, I was told that the refrigerator in the RV worked better if left in the manual setting to work only on propane rather than on the auto setting where it switches automatically between electricity and propane.  When we parked in campgrounds for the night, I flipped the switch to auto so that it would work off electricity and in the morning when we took off I switched it to manual/propane only mode.
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Offline SSLPhD

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2016, 08:19:59 AM »
A note on babies in RVs:  car seats must be installed in FORWARD-FACING seats.  There may be a rear-facing seat directly behind the cab (e.g., dinette), which may seem an awfully convenient place to put baby, but this is neither approved nor safe.  Also, if your baby is still rear-facing, the car seat should be installed rear-facing.  Some RVs even have top tether anchors for added safety.
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #29 on: August 11, 2016, 08:24:30 AM »
"5) How do these camping sites work? Reserve ahead of time, especially during popular times."
Well, I'm talking about next week...  Is there still any point?

Try BLM land or WalMart for nights you can't find a campground.  (Do research on BLM land beforehand.)

Are there any apps for RV's that can tell you closest campsite or place to get new water or empty holding tank?

"Is there anywhere safe to park (without the above fears) besides camping sites?I wouldn't, plus it may be illegal."
Wow, that's interesting. So you mean it can be illegal to just park by the sidewalk on any random side street in a random neighborhood?
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Offline shulem92

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #30 on: August 11, 2016, 11:09:13 AM »
Walmart +1 most people don't know this but its their official policy that they let you park rv's overnight and they let u grill in the parking lot...so if ur ever scared of the cops and can't find that park after dark...head to the closest walmart

Offline grodnoking

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2016, 11:17:55 AM »
Walmart +1 most people don't know this but its their official policy that they let you park rv's overnight and they let u grill in the parking lot...so if ur ever scared of the cops and can't find that park after dark...head to the closest walmart
They say you should call the local manager.

And there are exceptions, 800 of them.
http://www.walmartlocator.com/no-park-walmarts/
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #32 on: August 11, 2016, 11:19:38 AM »
I have 2 points from our experience
1. Make sure the dishes are locked in very good. One wide turn and all came crashing down.
2. Dont try to clean out the sewege ;D my father opened the latch by mistake and the site/smell was not pretty
#TYH

Offline shulem92

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #33 on: August 11, 2016, 11:19:58 AM »
They say you should call the local manager.

And there are exceptions, 800 of them.
http://www.walmartlocator.com/no-park-walmarts/
Didn't know that. Things must have changed in the last 4 years, since I needed it...

Offline grodnoking

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #34 on: August 11, 2016, 11:22:45 AM »

You don't want to park on a side street in a small town. Unlike NYC, if you park in front of someones house and the owner (or the local police department) does not recognize you they may wake you up. I dont know what they'll do thou.
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Offline Galitzyaner

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #35 on: August 11, 2016, 02:47:38 PM »
There may be a rear-facing seat directly behind the cab (e.g., dinette), which may seem an awfully convenient place to put baby, but this is neither approved nor safe.
So where are you supposed to put the baby?

1. Make sure the dishes are locked in very good. One wide turn and all came crashing down.
Lol! You see guys? What I mentioned earlier is not so crazy...
2. Dont try to clean out the sewege ;D my father opened the latch by mistake and the site/smell was not pretty
I'm lost. Isn't that the renters responsibility?

Offline whYME

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Offline PBaruch

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #37 on: August 11, 2016, 09:18:15 PM »
So where are you supposed to put the baby?
Lol! You see guys? What I mentioned earlier is not so crazy...I'm lost. Isn't that the renters responsibility?

You put the baby in a forward facing seat.  I made a mistake in an earlier post.  You can put the car seat facing backwards or forwards, but the car seat must be installed in a forward facing seat, not in a rear facing or side facing seat.

As for draining the waste and toilet tanks, that is most certainly the renters responsibility.  El Monte charges 75 to do it if you do not.
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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2016, 02:42:33 PM »
1) Do you think I can fit a pack'n play or similar small crib into a standard size (25') motorhome?

2) Any specific supplies to buy before starting the journey, both from an RV standpoint and Kosher-wise?

TIA!

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Re: RV/Motorhome/Camper Master Thread
« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2016, 02:50:36 PM »
1) Do you think I can fit a pack'n play or similar small crib into a standard size (25') motorhome?

2) Any specific supplies to buy before starting the journey, both from an RV standpoint and Kosher-wise?

TIA!

1. If your motorhome has slides, it is possible that you can put up a pack n play with a slide open.  Otherwise, I am not sure if there is enough room. 

2. Based upon our recent experience, I'd recommend buying disposable gloves and toilet chemicals.  It is recommended that you put in new toilet chemicals each time you flush out the system.  Also, in the hot weather, you may need to put in extra toilet chemicals to prevent the RV from stinking like a rolling sewer.
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