Friday, December 10, 2010

Stocking Stuffers

Dear Joe and Vicki: Do you have any suggestions for RV- related holiday "stocking stuffers"? My husband and I use the holidays as an opportunity to buy the things we ordinarily would not spend the money on.

Joe: You didn't say what price range you had in mind but here are some practical, useful items under the $50.00 mark that we think most RVers would appreciate. Just about all of them can be found in RV accessory stores like Camping World.

Digital Tire-Pressure Gauge - The air pressure in your tires should be checked before taking your RV out of storage and every few days while traveling. Since the tires should be cold when checking their pressure, I check our tires in the morning before getting on the road. I prefer a digital air-pressure gauge. It seems more accurate. There is one with a backlit display that makes it easy to see the pressure reading.

Voltage Meter – In the best of worlds an RV park or campground's electric hookup would provide 115 volts. We feel good when we see a consistent 110 volts. Most experts advise that an appliance's electric motor (like in an air conditioner or washing machine) should not be operated on less than 103 to 105 volts of power. Below that point the motor is straining to do the job and can either cause a breaker to open or, worse yet, damage the motor. A voltage meter plugged into the RV's electrical outlet allows you to keep tabs on the voltage available to your rig.

Bubble Levels – We have two bubble levels mounted inside the driving compartment of our motorhome; one on the dash, and the other on the wall next to the driver's seat. They are calibrated (with little lines) so I can determine how level the RV is front-to-rear and side-to-side. Watching the levels as I enter a campsite helps me locate the most level spot. The levels also tell me when my levelers have finished the job of leveling the RV. When we had a trailer I had the same type of levels attached on the outside of the trailer's front wall and to the side of the trailer tongue. The one on the wall helped me level side-to-side; the one on the tongue, front-to-rear.

Compass – "Turn north at the first intersection" That's what the directions to the campground say. Trouble is… you don't know which way is north. A compass can help solve the problem. If nothing else, it gives you something to blame (other than your co-pilot) for getting you lost.

Hitch Lock - It just makes sense to replace the heavy pin that secures your hitch to the hitch receiver with one of these key-operated locks. Doing so will discourage anyone from borrowing, and then forgetting to return, your hitch (or worse yet, your trailer).

Ball-type Bungee Cords – These are handy and easy to use for securing coiled hoses and electrical cords.

Vicki: My wish-list leans towards things like a clothes washer/dryer. But here are some neat stocking stuffers:

Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer – Outside temperatures can affect the efficiency of an RV's refrigerator and freezer operation. Sometimes, depending upon outside temperatures, it is necessary to adjust the refrigerator's temperature selector up or down. Two refrigerator thermometers, one located inside the refrigerator compartment and the other inside the freezer, can help you keep your food within the correct temperature range. They even make one that sounds an alarm when the temperature exceeds your settings.

Icicles Ice Tray - Instead of making ice cubes, this tray makes ice sticks that will fit into water or pop bottles. Pretty ingenious.

Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer - This device lets us know at a glance the temperatures both inside and outside of our RV. We have one that also lets us see what the highest and lowest temperatures of the day have been (inside and outside).

Weather Alert Radio – When the weather looks ominous a weather alert radio will provide up-to-the-minute weather reports. National Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast weather reports 24 hours a day. The messages are repeated every five minutes and updated every two hours. The NWR usually requires a special radio to pick up its broadcasts. These radios, available at electronic stores such as Radio Shack, are typically battery operated or AC powered with a battery backup. Most NWR radios are also equipped with an alarm that sounds when a severe weather alert is issued. We especially appreciate ours when we are in tornado country.

Hand-held Radio Set – We have a hand-held CB radio that I use to communicate with Joe when we are backing our RV. We have seen other RVers using small hand-held "Walkie-Talkies" to do the same thing. Mostly, though, I see couples using their radios to find each other in the Wal-Mart Super Centers.

Wheeltopper - One of those things that converts a motorhome's steering wheel into a table top. Folks add an attractive tablecloth, a lamp and some family pictures to create an attractive piece of furniture.

Mesh Laundry Hamper – I like the one that has three sections. It gives me the option of separating the dirty clothes. It is also just the right size to fit in our shower. That's where we keep our laundry. The hamper is easily moved (I just ask Joe) to a place next to our bed when we want to take a shower. (Okay, you can't stuff it into a stocking. But you can stuff a stocking into it.)

Happy Holidays!

Joe and Vicki Kieva are the authors of a number of how-to books and e-books about RVs, RVers and RVing.

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