Some very useful tips including how not to burn out your RV’s air conditioning at campsites
Editor’s Note: Here’s a column of useful information for RV owners from Delta Optimist editor Pierre Pelletier that originally ran in the Prince George Citizen last summer. Before joining Optimist last year, Pierre had lived and traveled across North America with his wife Kerry and their 12-year-old Labrador Kodi in their 32-foot fifth wheel – mostly off-grid and using solar power.
In this column we are talking about camping at a campsite that offers both partial connections (usually water and electricity) and full connections (water, electricity and sewage).
So when you call a campsite to book your first pitch, ask for the full hookup – much easier for your first foray. If you book by phone, ask for an email confirmation of the date, full connection and price.
You’d be surprised how often we check into a campsite only to find that the price has changed or our ‘verbal’ booking isn’t there. If they refuse to send you the email confirmation – big red flag – book elsewhere.
If you’re comfortable with backup, you can save a few bucks and book a back-in site. (If you don’t want to reset your RV, go to an empty lot and practice, practice, practice.)
Otherwise drive through – you drive in when you arrive and drive right out of your campsite when you leave. Unfortunately, most campgrounds have limited pull-thrus capabilities. So the sooner you learn to ride backwards, the better.
You’ll also quickly learn that not all campsites are the same – or logically so.
For example, the services offered. The vast majority of motorhomes have the connections (electricity, water and sewage) on the back of the motorhome on the driver’s side.
So you would think that all your campsite services would logically be located at the back of your campsite on the driver’s side.
Au contraire, mon ami.
In Yorktown, Sask., the faucet was at the front of the campground, so far away that our 25-foot water hose wasn’t long enough to reach it. (We ended up having to buy a 50ft stand. We also have an 8ft stand – very handy if the campground tap is near your RV’s water intake hole.)
In New Brunswick, just outside Sussex, all the connections were on the passenger side of our campsite. We had to swing all the plumbing (water, sewage and electricity) under our fifth wheel just to reach the services. (There we had to buy an extension for our sewer hose to make it reach the sewer hole.)
Let’s look at a few items that are very inexpensive but extremely important to a smooth motorhome experience.
The first thing I would suggest buying is a water filter that attaches to your water hose – individually they cost about $35 and last for three months.
Do not assume that the water on the campsite is safe drinking water. Also, get a water pressure regulator that will control the flow of water coming out of the faucet into your RV plumbing.
We’ve heard horror stories of campgrounds having too much pressure in their water lines and the water pressure damaging the RV’s water lines.
This little device plugs into the faucet and costs about $20.
Helpful tip: buy a so-called water bandit. Sometimes the thread on the campsite tap is worn out (stripped) and you cannot connect your hose.
The Water Bandit wraps tightly around any faucet like a sock, allowing you to connect any faucet to your water hose. Costs around $10.
Another item we’ve found invaluable – and my favorite – is a voltage tester.
Never assume that your outlets are always 120 volts.
If everyone at the campsite has their AC running, you’d be shocked to know that often it’s only 106 or less.
Older campgrounds that haven’t upgraded their electrical systems are also dangerous. We always check our voltage meter before turning on any device that uses a fair amount of electricity, like the microwave or the air conditioner.
A simple $30 voltmeter plugged into your RV’s outlet can save you thousands on repairs.
Finally, for your sewage needs, purchase a clear end nozzle that attaches to your sewage hose and plugs into the sewage hole.
It’s a lot easier to tell when your black and gray tanks are empty when you can see the water flowing through the hole than having to guess because your end nozzle isn’t see-through.
Now that you’ve added a few common sense things, it’s time to get on your way.