Traveling with Cats

Happy National Cat Day! One of the many benefits of traveling in your own home (RV) is having the freedom to bring your pets along. While most vacations with our furry pals are enjoyable, pets can bring challenges. Check out these tips on how to properly travel with cats to ensure everyone is “feline” good before, during, and after the trip.  

  • Practice: Make sure your cat is comfortable in your RV before you actually go on your trip. It may take some time for them to acclimate to the new surroundings. Once you think they are comfortable hanging out, try to take them for ride. It’s essential to get them accustomed to the bumps, jerks and turns of the road. We suggest starting with slow and short trips, then increasing the travel distance from there.
  • Litter Box: Find a good place for the litter box. Some recommendations include: under beds, empty cargo compartments, cabinets, and showers.
  • Medical Emergency: Be prepared for a medical emergency by having a pet medical kit handy. Be sure to travel with your pet’s vaccination records and always have a tag on their collar. This will help avoid a cat-astrophe.
  • Make them Comfortable: When cats are stressed, they typically find somewhere to hide. Consider creating some hiding spaces for them. Examples would be in cabinets or under furniture or beds. Packing their toys, bedding, and scratching post will also help them adjust to their new surroundings.

Have you ever traveled with your cat? We would love to hear how your adventure went and if you have any recommendations.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

It’s important to prepare your home for the colder months ahead! Check out these fall home maintenance tips that every homeowner should do to prevent damage this winter.

  • Gutters: Clean and repair your gutters! Fallen leaves and standing water can cause mold and attract pests.
  • Chimney: Inspect and clean out your chimney before using your fireplace during the colder months.
  • Windows & Doors: Check for air leaks and seal with caulk to keep the cold air out.
  • Storage: Put away outdoor furniture and tools to keep them safe through winter.
  • Roof: Check for damaged shingles and have them repaired before winter.

RV Dog Safety Tips

Happy National Dog Day!

Whether you are headed on a long road trip or traveling up the road for a weekend stay, your four-legged friend can be a great companion! While it might sound like a good idea to bring them along, there are many things you need to consider before and during your trip.

  • Pet-friendly Traveling: Yes, your RV is your second home (or maybe even your real home), but that doesn’t mean your pets can roam freely while riding down the road. It is extremely dangerous to let them wander in the RV. If you were involved in an accident, they could get extremely hurt. One way to keep your dogs safe while riding is to use an adjustable seat belt harness.  
  • Packing List: Obviously, your dogs need food and water, but here are some other essentials you might not think about packing: brush, leash, toys, waste pick-up bags, crate, bed, first aid kit, etc. Make a list to ensure you don’t forget anything!
  •  I.D. Your Dog: Many RVers have lost their dogs while at the campground or while hiking and exploring. Make sure your dog has been chipped or has a proper I.D. tag so that people can help get them back to you!
  • Pet Information: Keeping records and pet ownership information is important in case your dog does run away. Believe it or not, some people claim a dog that they found belongs to them. Having proof of ownership will help you avoid this awful situation!
  • Comfort: Throwing your dog in new surroundings and situations can cause a lot of stress to him/her. You can make sure your dog is comfortable by providing things they normally have at home (bed, toys, etc.). We also suggest incorporating exercise into their daily activity to keep them from being cooped up in the RV for long periods of time.

For more tips and safety information on how to travel with your dog, check out AKC at https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/how-to-travel-safely-in-an-rv-with-a-dog/

How to Take a Relaxing RV Trip

As we all know, planning and packing can bring stress to a trip that’s supposed to be enjoyable. However, your trip can be relaxing with proper organization! In honor of National Relaxation Day, here are some tips to help you have a great trip with ample time to relax and unwind:

  • PLAN: Make sure you reserve your spot at the campsite early. Depending on the campsite, it may require booking up to a year in advance. Always use your RV network to find a good spot. Researching and reading reviews will ensure you find a campsite that guarantees a relaxing stay.  
  • PACK: Whether you are renting an RV or taking your own, there are many things you need to check off the packing list. Doing this in advance is necessary to maintain stress and feel road-ready. Thankfully, Campanda Magazine provides printable packing checklists to use. You can find them here: https://www.campanda.com/magazine/rv-checklists-printable/
  • MUSIC: Create a playlist for your drive! There are many platforms (YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.) that allow you to pick from a variety of genres and artists. Music can help set the mood and give you a stress-free, enjoyable ride.
  • UNPLUG: Remember what the goal of your trip is: a break from everyday life. Be conscious about putting your technology away and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

RV Reno on a Dime – Part 2

NOTE: Peggy and Jeff Miller, while not new to the RV lifestyle, are rookies when it comes to RV renovation. But the couple has used their smarts and made little and big changes that have made their 2015 Class A Jayco Precept a much more inviting place to hang out.

As Peggy and Jeff Miller continued their DIY redecorating project, they found a few snags related to Covid, mainly concerning shipments and availability, but they have managed to continue to renovate the interior of their vehicle in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Folly Beach.

“We recovered the headboard in the bedroom with gray vinyl and raised it to a more prominent position,” Peggy said. “I got the vinyl on a 40% off sale at Joanne’s. I ordered room-darkening cellular shades from Blindster.com, but haven’t yet received them.”

The Miller’s recent trip to IKEA gave them ideas for things to order, but they then had to go home do some measuring before pulling the trigger. Peggy ordered a pegboard system for the bathroom wall that comes with hooks for towels and a set of containers with lids that can hold small things such as Q-tips and other toiletries. She also ordered a spice rack that, when turned upside down, can function as a towel rack. Unfortunately, IKEA can’t promise these things until the end of August! She even called IKEA and tried to arrange pickup, but to no avail.

The old headboard was lower and darkened the room.

The new headboard offers a higher profile than than the original.

Meanwhile, Jeff wallpapered the bathroom and dyed the captain’s chairs a taupe-beige. They were originally gold with brown piping.  He also ripped out the shag carpet in the cab area and installed a Dynamat (pictured above), a noise-reduction product, to make the area quieter while driving.

The old bathroom wallpaper was monochromatic, like much of the interior, and darkened the small area.

The new wall paper adds some interest and coordinates nicely with the color blocks the Millers have incorporated.

Stay tuned for more updates as the Millers continue their renovation project.

Camping in the Covid Era

With recent spikes in Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the United States, a real monkey wrench has been thrown into what was supposed to be a phased, well-planned rollout regarding dining, travelling, and as it pertains to this blog, camping.

Many scheduled openings have turned into hasty retreats as the number of confirmed cases has risen. Therefore, it’s vital during the summer months keep a myriad of factors in mind, before, during and after venturing out to camp.

BEFORE

  1. Make reservations – The days of pulling into a random KOA when you are tired of driving are over. This is where planning, checking and re-checking to make sure that the campground you will be visiting on your way to another destination is open and ready to accommodate you. Check websites and make phone calls to make sure that everything is status quo. It also doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan, especially if you are making multiple stops.
  • Know that the best-laid plans can swiftly go awry – Here’s an example – On June 23, according to the Associated Press, after a limited opening in June, Yosemite National Park closed its parks for the entire month of July after a spike in infections in the state of California.
  • Measure the potential consequences of travel – There are several municipalities  that are strongly suggesting, or mandating a 14-day quarantine for people who have  visited beaches or tourist attractions that have been identified as places where the virus is spreading rapidly. Recently, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, eastern Virginia and West Virginia officials have acknowledged that a large number of people have contracted the virus after visits to South Carolina beaches, in particular, Myrtle Beach. Palmetto State health officials advised that anyone who has been to the beach recently get tested for the virus.
  • Make sure what “open” means in terms of camping – Many state or federal campgrounds are defining the number of services that will be provided during the Covid era. Take, for example, 11 Oregon state parks are technically open, but with the following restrictions: camping spots are reservation-only, yurts and cabins remain closed, and many of the usual gathering spots are shuttered, including playgrounds, group campsites, restrooms, beaches and picnic shelters.

DURING

  1. Make sure you are comfortable with your camping situation – no matter how many measures a campground or state park has purported to have put into place to ensure social distancing, you may find that upon arrival, not it’s not all being enforced. Several areas have advised people to “turn around if crowded” in public areas.
  • Follow the rules – A Google search of the state-by-state rules for camping will reveal an incredible array of different regulations. In Ohio, non-campers are banned from visiting campsites, and the number of campers on one site is limited to 10 people. Campers must sign an agreement that they will follow guest safety rules, and if they don’t, they will be asked to leave without a refund. There will also be different regulations regarding public and private campgrounds throughout the United States.
  • Make sure everyone in your party is aware of your policies when it comes to interacting with others – Camping inherently is a social activity, but in the Covid era, the rules have changed. Your idea of safe social distancing will likely be different than that of your neighbors. Making sure everyone in your party agrees about acceptable behavior will make the experience much more pleasant for everyone.
  • Make and enforce sanitation rules within the campsite area, especially if you are camping with those outside your family – establish protocols for cleaning shared appliances, showers and bathrooms and make sure they are being followed.

AFTER

  1. Monitor your health – no matter how careful you are, there’s always a chance that you or your camping party has been exposed to the coronavirus. Be ultra-vigilant, especially in the two weeks after you return from a camping expedition.
  2. Be prepared for the worst – If you discover that you have been exposed to, or contracted the virus, communicate with those with whom you were travelling, report exposure to the proper authorities, and seek appropriate treatment, based on your health status.
  3. Learn from your experience – think about the elements of the trip were successful and those that weren’t. Solicit feedback from your camping buddies about how you can ensure a safe and rewarding experience for future expeditions

RV Safety Tips

Staying RV safe. It’s as easy as 1-2-3

  1. Learn the essentials of driving your RV before you hit the road.
    1. Practice turns, and backing and maneuvering in tight places. (back into tight spaces, pull out facing forward),
    2. Make sure mirrors are correctly aligned.
    3. S.A.F.E. Cornering.
  1. Make sure you are road ready.
    1. Check tire pressure, condition of tread.
    2. Keep the RV level and reinforced with a block when parked.
    3. Do routine maintenance (this could be a checklist that says fluids topped off,  schedule engine maintenance, make sure that the vehicle’s exterior lights are functional).
    4. Check the weather before you leave.
  1. Drive safely.
    1. Know height and width of RV with bridges and tunnels in mind
    2. Use turn signals at all times – be predictable in your movements
    3. Respect speed limits.
    4. Keep far right to give yourself best visual access.
    5. Know your braking parameters.
    6. Keep your distance – 400 feet from drivers in front of you.
    7. Understand your tail swing (between 18 and 30 inches).
    8. Stay Alert…. Don’t drive when tired.

Should I travel?

While everyone is anxious to “get back to normal,” the reality is that the world is going to force a shift to “the new normal.” While camping holds less of a risk than say, sitting in a crowded restaurant or going to a concert, there are still inherent risks to leaving a place where you have been safely sheltering and moving to another area about which you are unsure.

The Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov) has a measured response for those who are inquiring about traveling with seven questions to explore. All are linked to sites that can give you the answers (for example, the question about whether Covid-19 is spreading where you want to go links to a map of the United States showing the total number of cases per 100,000 people and all sorts of other great information).

The first step would be truthfully answering these questions that are listed on the CDC website:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
    You can get infected while traveling.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community?
    Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
  • Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip?
    Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
  • Are you or those you are traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19?
    Older adults and people of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do you live with someone who is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19?
    If you get infected while traveling you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • Does the state or local government where you live or at your destination require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling?
    Some state and local governments may require people who have recently traveled to stay home for 14 days.
  • If you get sick with COVID-19, will you have to miss work or school?
    People with COVID-19 disease need to stay home until they are no longer considered infectious.

The CDC also weighs in on the risks of RV travel with this statement: “You may have to stop less often for food or bathroom breaks, but RV travel typically means staying at RV parks overnight and getting gas and supplies at other public places. These stops may put you and those with you in the RV in close contact with others.”

There is also the fact that some campgrounds are not yet open. Checking with all the stops on your destination, if you decide to take a trip, is essential, as well as having a backup plan in case of a sudden change of plans.

The CDC website also recommends checking state or local health department websites and provides a link to a list of public health websites by state or territory.

RV Reno on a Dime

Peggy and Jeff Miller, while not new to the RV lifestyle, are rookies when it comes to RV renovation. But the couple has used their smarts and made little and big changes that have made their 2015 Class A Jayco Precept (pictured above) a much more inviting place to hang out.
They purchased their current RV in 2018, trading up from a 2006 Class C Ford Itasca, because of several features, including a larger kitchen with full-size refrigerator, a more functional bathroom and the fact that the living space was all on one level, meaning the driver’s and passenger’s captains chairs could be used for additional living room seating.
For two years, the Millers used the vehicle for short and long trips and were pretty satisfied with the functionality overall. But the onset of Covid-19, and the fact that Peggy had recently retired, gave them the opportunity to think about several improvements that would make the RV more functional, lighter and brighter.

The seating area in the Miller’s van was unwieldy.

The table, purchased from Ace Hardware, and the chairs, from HomeGoods, are easy to stack and move outside.

After doing some research on seating and lighting, the two tackled a variety of projects, including trading out an uncomfortable couch with two recliners, changing out the kitchen’s back splash, and removing the banquette dining space and replacing it with stackable chairs and a removable folding table.

The old backsplash was outdated and ill-fitting.

The new backsplash does the job and is lighter and more modern.

To cut costs, Peggy and Jeff have been purchasing items online in order to get the best prices, reusing materials from a previous renovation and doing all the demo and installation work themselves.

Next on the agenda: a trip to IKEA in Charlotte to find shelving, towel racks, and possibly a cheerful wall covering for the kitchen. Peggy found a helpful Instagram account, called rvfixerupper https://www.instagram.com/rvfixerupper/?hl=en, that features a video of a trip to IKEA and pointed out low-cost items that could be adapted to RV use.

They hope to be done with Phase 1 of the renovation by July 30 when they take a short trip to Folly Beach (notwithstanding Covid-19 restrictions).

Stay tuned for more updates as the Millers continue their renovation project.

Make Summer Travel a Cool Experience!

Summer is a great time to travel, but one of the side effects of enjoying the warm temperatures is exactly that – warm summer temperatures.

While everyone enjoys a hot day at the beach or outside hiking, being able to cool down is just as enjoyable. Employing just a few of these practical tips will allow you to save energy while keeping indoor temperatures to a comfortable level.

  • Know how and where to park: Obviously a shady campsite is preferable, but when that’s not available, park so that the side of your RV with the most windows is facing in an easterly direction. That way, the morning sun, which is less intense will be coming into those windows. If either of those options are not available, look to see if there is a wind patter for which you can take advantage so that the breeze can blow through the vehicle and give you more circulation
  • Install and use your awnings. This gives you the ability to extend your living area – it might not be as cool as your interior, but it beats baking in the heat!
  • Take cooking outside. If possible, use a butane stove, campfire or other source of heat outside the camper. Nothing heats up an enclosed area like your stove can. Be creative with your recipes and modify them accordingly so that you don’t have to cook indoors.
  • Prepare before you travel. Make sure that you have something in place so that you can cover your skylights when you park. Also, ensure that all of your filters are clean so when you do have to turn on your AC, it’s running efficiently.
  • Consider making your own “swamp cooler.” With a five-gallon bucket, some plastic hosing, a drill, a fan, and a fish tank generator, you too can beat the heat for pennies on the dollar. Just ask Dr. Google for the prescription. There’s plenty of information online that offer step-by-step instructions and videos.
  • While you are traveling to your final destination, start cooling about an hour before you get there to get a jump on beating the heat.
  • When all else fails, head to cooler environs. Remember, you are built to be mobile. Consider taking a detour to higher ground (the mountains, perhaps) or further north to give yourself a break.

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