Posts Tagged ‘tips’

4 Tips to Keeping Your RV Cleaner

You know I’m in love with my new-to-me tent trailer Skippy. Skippy is a 1998 Coleman Taos that had been used a grand total of three times before I bought it. Because of the low usage, the interior AND the exterior are in pristine condition.

And I want to keep it that way!

One of the things that I do is the second I open up the trailer, before I put ANYTHING on the beds, I put a sheet over the mattresses. On both beds — not just the one I sleep on! It’s nothing special, just a cheap flat sheet from a twin bed. But then, I know that the dust that blows in the open windows all day won’t get into the mattresses as quickly. And when I toss my dirty duffle bag and shoes onto the bed, the mattress won’t get torn, snagged, or damaged.

Sheet on bed

Once the sheet is on the bed and tucked in, I feel free to pile all my gear on top.

When I get home, all I have to do is throw the sheets in the wash and they’re ready to go for the next trip. And if they DO become worn beyond repair — Hey! They were like $3 a piece.

Then, get a bunch of little non-slip rugs to lay down inside. Basically, the goal is to put down wall-to-wall carpet in the trailer. But by using small no-slip rugs, it’s easy to take them outside and shake them out.

If at all possible, I don’t wear my shoes into the trailer. In stead, I keep a plastic tub (with a lid) just outside the trailer door. I slip off my shoes, tuck them in the tub, and then put the lid on. I know that no critters can get in there and if it rains (or the dew falls) my shoes will still be dry.

I was really lucky with Skippy because I don’t have to climb OVER the seats at the dinette to get to the back bed. But in the tent trailers my family has owned in the past, we haven’t always been that lucky. In that case, I’m always super careful to NEVER put my shoe on the dinette seat cushion. Either use your knee as a booster or take off your shoe.

Dinette

I bring the table, but leave it folded flat and put it on the bed. You can see it under my duffle bag. Next to my dirty boots and green Crocs.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What tips do you have to keep your RV clean? (Or cleaner?)

Ground Cloths

When ESP Boss was doing research for our new back-packing tent, he read a lot of online reviews. On of the things that the reviewers said that made a huge impact on him was to buy the matching footprint (or ground cloth) for our tent.

And boy was I ever glad he did!

Now, when you’re buying a tent, you want to get a tent that has a waterproof floor. But even WITH a waterproof floor, you should use a ground cloth beneath your tent. (You should always use a ground cloth beneath the tent, no matter when or where you go camping!)

The ground cloth serves two purposes: it protects the floor of your tent from getting torn by rocks and debris below the tent, and the second purpose is to keep moisture from seeping up from the ground into your tent.

Ground Cloth Tips

If you DON’T have a waterproof tent floor:

  • Get a ground cloth that is the same size or a few inches smaller than your tent floor. That way, rain water won’t get between the two layers as easily.
  • Purchase a ground cloth that’s made for your tent’s size. If you can’t cut one to size from an old tarp.
  • It the ground cloth is too large, fold the edges UNDER to make it smaller. You want to fold the edges under or else rain will puddle under the tent floor.
Backpacking Tent

You can't SEE the ground cloth, but trust me: It's there!

The ground cloth for our backpacking tent is exactly the same size as the tent. Both the tent floor and the ground cloth are waterproof.

If you DO have a waterproof tent floor:

  • Consider using a tarp that extends out in front of the tent door a few feet. That makes it a perfect “porch” for your tent where you can take off your shoes.
  • Use a ground cloth that will allow water to pass through it. That way, the water won’t puddle under the tent!
Ground Cloth Car Camping Tent

See my shoes in the corner? There's plenty of room for me to take them off outside so I don't bring extra dirt into the tent!

But, for my car-camping tent, I personally prefer a larger, non-waterproof ground cloth. I like it because it traps the cushions the tent floor from pokey things, it allows water to run through and away, and because I have about three feet of ground cloth extending out from the main zippered door.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What’s your take on ground cloths? Do you like them the same size as the tent or larger than the tent?
  • Have you ever been camping without a ground cloth and wished you had one?

Camp Setup Order of Priorities

Remember how last week I said that we weren’t expecting rain for our Black Canyon kayaking trip until Monday afternoon? Yeah, well the rain showed up early!

But, thankfully, ESP Boss is a super-duper camp-setter-upper. And, he doesn’t listen to his daughter when she’s saying (over and over)

“Pops! I’m SOOOOO hungry. You never feed me!”

When we finally found a reasonable beach, the very first thing we did was to set up the tent. As you can see, the beach was far from level and that was the ONLY spot that we felt was far enough away from the river AND was big enough to pitch the tent.

Camp Composite

Our tent is a back-packing tent and the rain fly is optional; you don’t have to put it on the tent to keep the bugs out. It was hot and muggy so I didn’t really WANT to put it on, but the clouds kept building and I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance.

Did I mention ESP Boss is an EXTRA super-duper camp-setter-upper?

By the time the tent was fully set up WITH the rain fly secured, and loaded with all our stuff, it was drizzling. By the time we were done with dinner. It was raining. By the time the dishes were put away and the kayaks unloaded it was POURING.

I don’t have any photos of the storm but let’s just say the rain was coming down in sheets. We developed a waterfall on the west side of camp and the gully we were camped next to started running.

We sat out as long as we could with a rain poncho over our knees and wearing our rain gear. But watching the rain when the rain is also dripping off your nose just isn’t as much fun as watching it through a window!

But us? We were able to crawl into a warm, dry tent!

Moral of the story?

Set up the tent FIRST! Load it with your sleeping stuff, even if you don’t roll out the sleeping bags. Then have dinner.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you have any tips for setting up camp?
  • What do you always do first?

Water Ditches

In looking at the weather forecast for next weekend, it looks like we MIGHT catch some rain on Monday, towards the end of the kayaking trip. The weather isn’t enough to make us cancel the trip, but there are some precautions that we’ll be taking to make sure rain doesn’t ruin the trip!

water ditches tent

This tent CLEARLY has an uphill side!

We’ll be taking a small shovel along for, ahem, waste removal purposes. But, it will do double duty if we feel we need to dig a water ditch. Digging a small ditch for the water to run away from the tent is a good idea, but heed this story!

My good friend Resa told me this story about the first camping trip she and her husband, John, took just after they were married. They knew that they should dig around their tent so moisture (in this case, a light drizzle) would run away from the tent. So, they dug around their tent and then left for a day of hiking and fishing. When they returned, they realized that they had made a moat around their tent and had flooded the bottom of the tent!

Moral of the story: if you’re pitching your tent on a slope and are going to alter the way water will flow, make sure that you start UPHILL and dig channels to send the water DOWNHILL and away from the tent. DO NOT create a ditch around the tent! If you’ll be pitching your tent on level ground, note that it isn’t usually 100% level. Use that as the “uphill” for your ditch. When you leave the area, you need to fill in your ditches! Not only do you want to leave a neat tent pad (in a campground) for other campers, but it’s also of the Leave No Trace principles.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your tips for camping in less than sunny weather?
  • Do you have any funny (or not so funny) stories to share about camping in the rain?

Camping Trip Planning From The Ground Up

I’ve published several articles about checking your gear after you get home from a camping trip. But ESP Boss & I have a trip planned for October 16-17 that made me realize there’s a whole OTHER dimension to planning a trip:

Pre-Planning!

For our trip, ESP Boss & I will be kayaking the Colorado River from Hoover Dam to Willow beach. Now, that can be done as a day trip, but we’ll be doing it as an overnighter. Packing for an overnight kayaking trip is a lot like packing for a backpacking trip. Since I’ve never been backpacking (it’s on my list of things to do!) I’m pretty much a newbie to it all.

Hoover Dam

We'll be going south of the river towards Willow Beach.

I figure I’ve been camping all my life but I’ve never backpacked or done an overnight kayaking trip. This means that YOU get a really interesting experience where I can write some articles from the window of a beginner:

ME

Here is what I’ve learned so far: (and I think most of this will apply to all beginners going on a first camping trip)

Do Research About Where To Go.

ESP Boss knew that we could kayak the Colorado River but he did some serious research about which stretches of the river are the best. We were looking for something really specific: steady current, not too rapid, not too much boat traffic but not too remote either. Turns out, the section that we’ll be doing is motor-prohibited on Sundays and Mondays. Perfect for our trip!

In case you didn’t realize it, my website EatStayPlay.com has GREAT information about public camping areas. It covers all the western states and is free.

Find Out If You Need Any Special Permits or Permissions.

There are actually a lot of areas across the USA that require a special access permit. Often times if you’re going to a Wilderness area you’ll need to get a permit to be there. When the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family attended a big geocaching event/campout last March there was a special permit we needed to get.

The Outdoor Princess & ESP Boss at Blue Ridge Reservoir

We'll need a special permit to kayak the river.

Most of the time, special permits aren’t expensive or hard to get. But what IS expensive is getting fined for NOT having a permit. Call the governing body of where you’re planning on going and ask if am access or use permit is required. I recommend CALLING as opposed to looking on line since sometimes the permit requirements aren’t clearly published.

Decide If You Need Special Gear.

If you’re camping in a campground, chances are good that you can make your gear list as easy as falling off a log. Place to stay? Check! Way to cook? Check! Sleeping bag? Check! Food? Check!

But for this trip, we needed some gear for above and beyond: a water filtration system.

The need for specialized gear can be really daunting for a lot of beginners. But don’t let anything get in the way of having a great outdoor adventure! I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about this topic in this post; it needs more than a paragraph or two. Just keep it in mind and then check back next week for my thoughts on it.

Create A Budget.

Yes, camping can be a “cheap” vacation. But sometimes I think that’s only in comparison to, say, a week at Disneyland! You’ll need to have a budget for gear, fees, gas, and food. Once you know where you’re going and if you need a permit or gear, then a budget will help you decide if you can actually take THIS trip or if you need to re-think your plans.

Trust me, it’s better to think about the money-side of adventures before you’re committed to a trip that gets more expensive by the minute.

Buy The Gear. Test It Out.

You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, right? Or a pair of shoes without trying them on and walking around the store either. So why people go straight from the store to the campsite is beyond me!

Before you head to the woods (or in this case, the river) test out the stove. Make sure all the parts work and you know how to use it. Open the sleeping bag and lay it out. Does the zipper work? Are all the seams intact?

Tent

For the geocaching event in March, we broke a cardinal rule! We didn't set the tent up until we got to camp. We were really lucky and all the tent pieces were in the box!

And the big one: Set up the tent! Partly so you know how to do it, but also because if you’re missing a part, if the tent wall is torn, or if a pole is broken, etc, you can fix it BEFORE you head out.

I wish I had a picture, but last week, I set up our backpacking tent INSIDE the house! It was crammed into the spare room at my folk’s and looked completely ridiculous. But, I figured out how everything went together AND I made sure that it all worked. ESP Boss will be testing our new backpacking stove this weekend.

Make Some Lists.

Anybody who regularly reads my articles knows I’m really big on checklists. Just because you might not have a ready-to-print checklist doesn’t mean you can’t make lists of your own!

Good list topics are:

  • Food
  • General “big” gear (stove, tent, sleeping bags)
  • Specific “little” gear (camera, GPS, flashlight)
  • Clothing (be specific!)
  • Medicines/Toiletries
  • Maps and manuals

When I’m making lists, I start with generalities to brainstorm what I’m thinking of (like the list above) and then I make a specific list for each topic. Trust me, after one packing list that said “Toiletries” and then a trip where I didn’t bring my allergy medicine, toothbrush, or bug spray I go ahead and get specific!

Readers Weigh In:

  • If you were giving advice to a person who was planning their very first camping trip, what would you tell them?
  • What pre-planning steps do YOU do?
  • What are your must-do steps to get ready for a camping trip?
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