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RV Camping Advice Needed

Cape Coral, Florida
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46 posts
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RV Camping Advice Needed

My family is renting an RV for 25 days in June. We have never used an RV and I have some concerns. Is it doable to stay at a state park (no hook ups) for 2-3 days then stay at a park with full hook ups for 1 day? (Then keep alternating it this way.) There will be 4 of us & I realize that the more water/sewage we use the sooner we will need to use a dump station. I also know that some of the state parks have dump stations even if they don't have hook ups. Can we refill our water supply at those places too? How many hours should I expect to use the generator when we don't have hook ups?

Cape Coral, Florida
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46 posts
16 reviews
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1. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Also, some parks have only electric without full hookups. I'm just wondering how flexible we can be in an RV.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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2. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

How much time you have "dry camping" with no hookups will depend a lot upon your individual use of the motorhome. As a loose guide, most people can go at least two days.

First, the electricity. The water pump pulls the most from your batteries and I always suggest running the generator when using the pump for more than a few minutes, such as for a shower. Lights pull very little. Your coach battery will recharge as you drive, and also when you use your generator.

It is quite common to hear a generator running for a couple of hours in the middle of the day - those folks are recharging batteries. Note that some, or even most, rustic campgrounds have generator hours when you can run them.

If your unit has a slide, you will need good battery strength for it.

Holding capacities - that depends a lot upon your use. You will probably always need to take "GI showers", you know, where you turn the water off to soap up then turn it on to rinse. RVs do not have much hot water, and you'll go through your 6 gallons (or possibly 10, depending upon the size of the motorhome) very quickly with four of you. Washing up at the sink also uses more than you might realize. Since you don't have a tow car, it is fairly easy to just swing by the dump station each day, if there is one.

If you begin to get full, the grey water will appear in your shower/tub, so if you see water there, that is what is happening. You can usually peer down into the toilet to see that level as it begins to get near the top!

During the day, if you're dry camping, use the campground toilets to reduce your use of your black water tank.

There may or may not be potable water at a dump station. There often is, but it will be located at least 10-20 feet away from the dump drain for health/safety reasons. Any faucets will be clearly marked. The ones marked non-potable are just the same water from the same source, but are too close to the dump drain, and you do not want to fill your tank with a hose that has been in a sewer ... so they just mark them that way as it's easier :-)

Water usage - Once again, it depends a lot upon what you're doing. The dish sink uses more than you might think, using running water to rinse, for example. Your capacity will be something around 40 gallons fresh, I'd think, so two days should be fine. Three might be pushing it for four people.

Even if you have sewer hookups, leave your valves closed until you dump. That keeps the hoses from drying out with, er, crud in them......

As you use your rig, you'll start to get a feel for your usages within the first few days. Do not depend upon the indicator lights to check levels as those are notoriously inaccurate!

Christchurch
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3. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Hi Blue2ribbon

Half-brit has given you some excellent info as always. I will see if I can add to it from a RV renters perspectus.

We have hired RV's twice before - once for three weeks and the second time for six weeks. There are four of us. We tend to stay in State or National parks only staying in Private camps when we have too. We rearly use hook ups - and just use the facilities the park supplies during the day. The boys and hubby tend to use the showers if provided in the park and I get to use the RV one. But if we all have to use the RV one for what ever reason we have a 2 minute rule. Its enough time to get clean.

We just dump the tanks on our way out in the morning and fill up with water. In rental RV's the water you fill up is just for showering and washing dishes. You need to use bottled water for cooking, drinking and cleaning teeth. Reason being is you don't know where the tank has been filled up in the past and there may be bugs residing in the tank.

Generator use is usually dictated by the camp you are staying in. Generally generator use is allowed for about 2hrs around meal times. Most State and national park campgrounds have rules regarding quiet time from around 10pmish to 6amish and can be very strict about this. Your RV will have battery power for lights and in modern RV's generally when the battery gets down to a 1/4 it will shut your power down so you have power to turn the engine over the next day. Though most also have an emergency battery for this also.

You didn't say who you were hiring your RV from - depending on the company - this will also dictate what extra's you have and how much power you will need. TV's, microwaves, and air con will not work on battery - only generator or hook up. We tend to go with the basics - not worried about the tv etc as we are there to see the outdoors and in the evening we are so tired after a full day of adventures sleep is the only thing we want.

Hope that helps - if I can be of any further help just e-mail me through the private message system of TA.

cheers

Kiwi

Cape Coral, Florida
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46 posts
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4. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Thank you both for the excellent advice. It makes me feel better that it is doable not to stay at a campground with full hook ups all the time. It would be really expensive. I've made some of the reservations already. When I was looking at the state park campground maps I was also looking for the bathrooms & if there were showers available. My husband asked why we would need a bathroom or showers when we have one in the RV. I told him that we would use up too much of the water & need to dump sooner if we used the bathroom in the RV all the time & we have no hook ups. I said we should use the campground bathroom as much as we can. I was considering that idea about the really quick showers in the RV if they aren't available at the campground. I am tossed between paying for showers or the quick GI showers though. Is it worth it to pay for the showers or do the quick GI showers and use up some water? I guess that would depend on how much the showers cost & how long they last Vs. How much water we still have & when we will be refilling.

We are renting the RV from Apollo. There is a Super Walmart 0.6 miles down the road. Our first stop is to grocery shop & get supplies. I plan on getting a lot of water. Large gallons for cooking & a few cases of the hand held size bottles for hydrations while we do lots of hiking. I agree about not using water in the tanks for drinking. Who knows what could be in those tanks.

I appreciate the advice.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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5. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Good point about the fresh water tanks on rentals. Since we have owned a variety of RVs for nearly 20 years I never would have thought of that!

We have a large rig now with lots of fresh/grey/black water storage, but when we had smaller RVs DH always preferred to shower in the RV since he takes short showers. I always trooped over to the public showers - they are free in regular RV parks. Then I could take a "real" shower! Even when we stayed in a State Park and I had to pay I did that. The cost varies, but is usually in the neighbourhood of about $2-$3 per shower for a fairly long shower. Keep a roll of quarters with you, by the way :-)

At your first Walmart stop, buy some cheap towels for the floor of the public showers, then keep them separate from your other towels. Sometimes the floors are really, really cold, and the extra towels also work to keep your feet dry once you're out.

Can't remember if you're going to Grand Canyon? There are two campgrounds there -- one is Trailer Village with full hookups and toilets but no showers and one is Mather with no hookups but it has showers and toilets. Generator use is strictly enforced at Mather.

Banks, Oregon
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6. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Hi, blue2ribbon!

Just one more little hint-----also at your first Walmart stop, buy a couple really cheep rugs (or a cheap boot tray)- or both - that way you don't have to keep cleaning the floor of your rv every day-that gets really tiring. Yes, this is from personal experience-spent a month in rented camper in Yukon during their rainy season. Also, now I can't remember if someone already mentioned this, but I heated up the water to wash dishes and my own GI washups on the stove-much easier than waiting for the water heater. Not worth using the water heater just for that as you have to wait for 15-20 minutes for the water to heat up. It's also more cost effective. I do hope you have a marvelous time!!!!!

Edited: 28 December 2010, 20:30
Banks, Oregon
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7. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

p.s. I can spell, but my fingers can't. "cheap" not "cheep" sorry ;0)

Ottawa, Canada
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8. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Hi Blue2Ribbon,

Welcome to the ROAD TRIPS FORUM.

Great advice here… as a long time camper let me add some more…

Water… many ways to save on this precious commodity have already been given… using the resources at the Parks you visit is by far the BEST Info (not only the toilets & showers) but also consider the drinking water / cooking / cleaning water too.

When at WalMart make sure you purchase a BIG water jug (they are often blue or white in colour). You can just fill it up at any faucet in the park (they are always well located) and bring it back to your campsite… and use that water for drinking / cooking / and washing dishes. We’ve always found that whenever we have the stove running we just keep a metal pot or kettle going as well. Then the water is ready to go after you are done eating.

Another good item to pick up is some sort of wash basin. You can either wash the dishes in it (great to do outdoors on the picnic table, if the weather cooperates)… or even use it as a bin to collect dirty dishes / holding spot… or to transport them to the wash-sink inside the RV.

Other great additions to your kit should include:

A plastic table cloth… and clips to hold it in place. The picnic tables are always less than clean, and a table cloth is also a pleasant way to cheer up your campsite, lol. Also works as a great surface after a meal to place the wet dishes on from the wash basin, while someone is doing the drying. In the end because it is plastic you just wipe it all down (Lysol Wipes and a couple of rolls of Papertowel are great things to have on had for all your cleaning needs… much better than a whole bunch of various bottles of cleaners etc. You’ll find ways to multi-purpose both).

As for the sand, dirt and mud & muck situation. Having a scrap piece of carpet (mat) and a boot tray is a wonderful idea (maybe even 2)… if you have any sort of shelter around the RV stick your boots (wellies) outside, and your other shoes (runners) inside. You’ll also want a broom and a dust pan for the daily chore of sweeping the RV floor… you’ll be amazed at how much dirt gets tracked in. Which brings me back to those Lysol Wipes… after sweeping… you can stick one on the end of a broom, and swish it around a bit… and you’ve got yourself a homemade Swiffer Wet… lol

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

PS... There are a ton of great Camping Websites (campers love sharing info) so if you GOOGLE you'll be able to find litterally 100s of helpful hints.

illinois
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9. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

We usually camp at State / Nat. Parks and I don't remember ever having to pay for showers. When we showered at the shower house I always carried my stuff in a canvas bag with a handle to hang on the hook. This will keep you stuff dry. Also wear waterproof sandals in the shower. No need to dirty a towel on the floor.Dry off with the wash cloth, then use your towel. I carried a small zipper bag with mini shampoo, body wash, etc. We now have a travel trailer and we are happy to take GI showers. I still carry the above but haven't used it yet! If you like to grill food I would suggest some of those disposable flat foil gill pan with holes in it to cook your food. Grill spray. Shish kabob sticks. Electric skillet (use out side) As mentioned search the web for an RV forum and you will find a lot of camping ideas/advise.

Happy camping!

Cannock England
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10. Re: RV Camping Advice Needed

Had a camping trip last year in Utah and Yellowstone ( see reports on TA) so had to use paid showers or in the main had GI showers in the tent. The paid showers were good and hot at about $4 a go. In the past we have hired small old VW camper vans in California so no shower but has small fresh drinking water tank, and we managed for 2 weeks each time .Had great shower at The Devils Postpile, hot water from hot springs that was one we will always remember but other paid showers were ok as well.

As for drinking water you will have no problems as any sites you go to will have piped water. As we were tent camping last year (2010) we got a gallon container of spring water from Walmart and used that by topping up at all campsites plus a few smaller bottles and this worked fine.

Just get out and have fun any problems you can deal with, we had never camped before and we are not spring chickens and are not from the states so you should be more than ok.