Monday, July 19, 2010

Toilet Tissue Issue

Dear Joe and Vicki: What kind of toilet paper should we use in our RV?

Joe: When we were RVing novices we never gave a thought to the toilet tissue issue. Then we heard someone say they disposed of their used toilet paper in a plastic trash bag rather than flush it down their RV's commode. Seems they were concerned the toilet paper would clog their holding tank. I haven't gone dumpster diving in a campground ever since.

When campfire conversation gets around to toilet paper (as it occasionally does), someone is bound to mention the "toilet paper test". You re not considered a "real" RVer until you have conducted , or at least witnessed, a toilet paper test. The test is conducted by placing a couple of squares of toilet paper in a container of water to see how long it takes for them to dissolve. Generally, two or more brands or types of toilet tissue are placed in separate containers and submitted to the same treatment at the same time. One of the brands in the comparison test is usually one that is advertised as "RV safe" and has been purchased at an RV accessory store. A lot of "RV safe" toilet paper gets sold just for comparison test purposes.

There are no scientific controls or guidelines for conducting the toilet tissue test. You just put the squares in a container of water and see how long it takes them to dissolve, if ever.

Some folks will try to simulate actual RVing conditions. They put the toilet tissue in secure containers and shake them for a minute or so. These folks apparently drive over a lot of rough roads (I-10 across Louisiana, for example). Others will just let the containers sit for a given amount of time. Their RVs, I suppose, have a tendency not to go anywhere. Our RV lifestyle keeps us on the go. We placed our test containers on the shower floor of our RV and drove from one campground to another. That was as close as I wanted to come to simulating actual holding tank conditions.

The results of our toilet tissue tests (yes, we've done more than one) indicated that the relatively inexpensive toilet tissue we normally use dissolves just as quickly as the one advertised as "RV safe". So, you can imagine our joy when, some time ago, Scott Toilet Tissue (our single-ply tissue of choice) not only advertised itself as acceptable for RV use but put money-saving coupons in the RV magazines. Now, we take a lot of RV magazines and Vicki is an avid coupon clipper; it didn't take long before our supply of toilet tissue far exceeded the demand.

We have never had a problem with toilet paper (or anything else) clogging the outlet of our RV's holding tank. After flushing the toilet our habit is to fill the bowl with water and flush again. The valve of our black-water holding tank remains closed until the tank is at least half full. After dumping the black-water holding tank and closing the valve, we add a few gallons of water to the tank. My guess is that all that liquid combined with the agitation of our frequent travels has a tendency to liquify the contents of our holding tank and prevent clogs from occurring. Or maybe we have just been lucky.

In any case, we will continue to flush our toilet tissue down the commode and if the "right" toilet paper is not available, we'll use whatever is handy. But that's us.

How you handle the toilet tissue issue in your RV is a judgment call. And if you choose to dispose of your used toilet paper in the campground dumpster – well, I don't want to go there.

Vicki: Please notice that I did not contribute one word to this answer.


Best Dogs For RVing

Dear Joe and Vicki: We travel in our RV for two to three months at a time. Our last dog just happened to love RVing as much as we do. It's time to get another and I was wondering what size or type dog might be best for RVing.

Joe: There must be an unwritten rule that states the size of the dog should be inversely proportionate to the size of the RV. Next time you are in a campground, see if the St. Bernard doesn't belong to the owner of the van camper. And notice the size of the dog sitting in the pocket of the person that just got out of the 40-foot fifth-wheeler. Go figure!

It only make sense for RVers to consider the size of the dog that will share their traveling home. A pet, its bed, food and water bowls, leash, scooper, toys, grooming equipment, food and other paraphernalia is going to take up precious space.

An RVing dog is going to spend the majority of its time inside. It is going to have to sleep, eat and just "hang out" somewhere. So, yes, size of the dog is an important consideration.

But don't let size be the only factor. There are some high-energy breeds of small dogs whose activity level takes up considerably more space than their larger more laid-back cousins.

An animal's energy level is also going to dictate the amount of daily exercise it will require. And you know who is going to be on the other end of that leash.

Vicki: While you are walking that dog, how is it going to react when approached by strange dogs, people and children? Some breeds simply do not do well here.

Pay attention to the temperament and especially the reputation of the breed of dog you choose. Rotweilers and Pit Bulls, deservedly or not, are specifically prohibited from some otherwise pet-friendly RV parks.

Some breeds have a reputation for being sweet and lovable as long as you are present. When you leave without them, however, they become the dogs from Hades. They bark incessantly, tear up the furniture and forget all the pleasant hours you spent house breaking them.

Joe: Speaking of hot places, how will the dog tolerate temperature extremes? Many short haired varieties really suffer in cold weather.

What reaction will they have to going into strange places? We once had a dog that refused to go potty anywhere but her own back yard. One time she held back for a week before we finally broke down and returned home. I thought her eyes would never uncross.

Do they train easily? Golden Retrievers can't please you fast enough. Dachshunds believe that it is you who needs training. (We've had both.)

And then there are dogs with a constant puddle under their jaws, oily hair, bad breath, body odor, and who shed enough hair to stuff a pillow.

Vicki: The point is, some breeds of dogs will do better than others in an RVing environment. If you are about to add a dog to your family, research the different breeds at the library or on the internet ( is a good start). You want to choose a dog that will enjoy RVing as much as you do.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beat The Heat

It’s summer. It’s hot outside. Here are some thoughts that will help you maintain a comfortable temperature inside your RV.

The interior of an RV can become an oven when it is parked in full sunlight on a hot day. So shading as much of the RV for as long as possible should be a prime objective when selecting a place to camp. Try to find a campground with lots of trees and grass. It will be cooler than an RV park that resembles an asphalt parking lot. With any luck, you will find a tree-shaded campsite. Try to avoid parking on or next to a hot surface. A grassy or dirt campsite will radiate less ground heat than a paved site. A concrete patio outside your entry door is nice but it will reflect the heat of the sun against the wall of your RV.

If possible, try to locate a campsite that points the front of your RV in a direction between north-east and south-east (directly east would be perfect). Your large street-side wall will then be on the naturally shady side of your RV during the hotter times of the day; your patio awning will shade the curb-side wall; and one end of the RV will be shaded at least part of the day. By the way, you can increase the shade of your patio awning by adding mesh patio shades that hang from your patio awning.

Keep the sun from shining on or through your windows and skylights. Install window awnings on all your windows and use them. Close the blinds or, better yet, place solar window covers or reflective foil on the interior of the windows on the sunny side of the RV. Do the same for windshields exposed to the sun. Poster board, cut so its dimensions are just a little larger than the skylight, can be stuffed into the skylight opening to block the sun.

Give your air-conditioner a head start. Turn it on early in the day and let it pre-cool the interior of the RV. Understand that RV air-conditioners are designed to reduce the air temperature by 20 degrees. That means your air conditioner is working okay if the air on the outlet side is 20 degrees cooler than the air on the inlet side. Your air conditioner is probably doing about as good as can be expected when the outside air temperature is 100 degrees and the interior temperature of your RV is 80 degrees.

Keep the cool air inside and the hot air outside. Close all the windows and doors. Minimize the number of times the entry door is opened.

Use a fan to circulate the cool air. Direct the fan so it blows from under the air-conditioner towards the area you want cooled the most. Fantastic Vent’s Endless Breeze 12-volt fan does a dynamite job for us.

Decrease the air-space the air-conditioner has to cool. Shut the bedroom door and close its air-conditioning vents. If you do close the bedroom door, be sure to open a bedroom window on the shady side of the RV so the bedroom doesn’t get much warmer than the outside temperature. On really hot days, we have seen RVers retract their slide-outs to minimize the air space their air-conditioners had to cool.

Avoid cooking with the stove top and oven. Use the microwave (but not the convection) oven. Use the outside grill. Use electric cooking appliances outside. Better yet, and our favorite, eat dinner in an air-conditioned restaurant.

Keep in mind that RV absorption-type refrigerators have to work harder as the temperatures increase. Try to shade the exterior of the refrigerator. Encourage airflow over the coils on the back of the refrigerator by propping open the outside access door or installing a refrigerator vent fan.

When all else fails… hitch up and move to a cooler climate.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010 Issue

In this Issue: What’s New With Us

We’re still here. Unfortunately, we don’t have much RV related stuff to report. Our last RV trip was in March. In May we took a Mediterranean cruise. Since then we have been dealing with the medical issues of Vicki and her dad. Vicki’s right hip has restricted her ability to walk for any length of time or distance for some time now. Visits to doctors, labs and so on have kept us pretty much home-bound. She is scheduled for hip replacement surgery at the end of this month. Hopefully the results will set us free to travel again in the fall.

We have made use of our time at home to revise and update our RV books and convert them to e-books. “Why not keep publishing them as paperbacks?” you ask. The reason is economics. Our books were originally designed to complement and be sold in conjunction with our RV classes and seminars. Now that we are no longer presenting classes and seminars, we are not selling a sufficient quantity of books to cover the expense of publishing them in paperback form. When our current inventory of paperbacks are gone we will be strictly in the e-book writing and publishing business.

Check out the $pecial Deal on the RV Book Page. 3 paperbacks for only $34.95!

A bit of history… Vicki and I got into this business in 1989 when we taught a “How to Choose an RV” class at a local community college. The response and feedback eventually led to six different classes at eleven community colleges and then to seminars and classes being presented at up to twenty RV shows, rallies and educational events a year. Folks kept asking if we had written a book about RVing. So we wrote a book, “RVing Made Easy”. Next came “Extended RV Travel” then “RVing Tips, Tricks and Techniques” and, last but not least, “My RV Kitchen and Favorite Recipes”.

The go-go years between 1990 and 2005 were very good for the RV industry. A lot of folks bought a lot of RVs. Our niche was the new RVer. We presented a lot of seminars. A lot of new RVers attended our classes and seminars and we sold a lot of books. As the economy slowed, however, fewer new people were buying RVs. Our seminar and class attendance began to drop off and, as a result, we were selling fewer books. Last year we “retired” from the seminar business (See the October 7, 2009 post). Book sales since then have been through our RV Know How website.

So, where do we go from here? We are convinced the economy will eventually turn around; just as it has in the past. E-books are our way of hunkering down, minimizing expenses, and waiting for things to improve. E-books will enable us to continue sharing the benefits of our 45-plus years of RV lifestyle experience with our readers… for less than a paperback book would cost them. When things turn around maybe we will come out of “retirement” and start over with new classes and seminars. And, if the demand presents itself, our e-books can be easily published as paperbacks. In the meantime we intend to practice what we have been preaching… traveling and camping in an RV.

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