RV/Camping Tips & Tricks.

RV tricks

Over the years of traveling in our RV Lynda and I have met many fellow travelers either in the desert of the southwest or some other north America destination.

Many of the RVers we have met have shared their own ideas of tips and tricks with us. Most of what I am going to mention we have tried and they work. The bonus in all of this is some will save you money.

Cleaning Holding Tanks

RV dump

These tanks often become an issue especially if you have been parked for a while and the honey pots do not smell like honey anymore (they probably never did…. lol).

It is not necessary to spend money on expensive tank treatments. If you think about your tanks they do not function like a septic/sewer system, they are what their name suggests, HOLDING TANKS. Expensive tank treatments claim that the solution breaks down the solids, but unless your tanks are kept full for long periods of time I cannot see how this stuff would work. The solids will only build up if you are parked for long periods of time.

 

A good hint to help your tanks drain completely is to never leave your dump valves open even when the sewer line is attached to a drain. Wait until the tanks are full before dumping. If you leave your valves open that allows the liquid to drain and your tanks will dry out causing the solids to stick.

If you are curious and would like to determine if your tanks are not totally empty and have unwanted deposits clinging to them,  check your owners manual for the capacity of your tanks and then fill your tank or tanks with water while keeping track of the volume you are adding, this will help you determine how much residual residue is trapped in your tanks.

ice cubes

A trick we use to get the solids moving is to fill the black tank with several gallons of water, then flush a bag of ice cubes down the toilet just before you’re heading out. These little darlings will bang around the black tank knocking off much of the deposits. You may also add some dishwasher detergent for a fresher smell. Don’t use regular detergent, your tanks will become bubble machines. The dishwasher detergent will not foam up. Of course you cannot put ice cubes in the grey water, but dishwasher detergent works well.

Just as a side note when I mentioned ice cubes it reminded me that we carry a portable ice cube maker with us  Click here to check out ice cube makers.

Dish washer

 

Once you have dumped add a cup of dishwasher detergent, a cup of water softener, a few tablespoons of cooking oil will also help to keep stuff from sticking to the sides, then add a couple of gallons of water to cover the bottom of the tank (Lynda says the cheapest you can buy). You should always avoid letting your tanks become completely dry, this will enable the solids to stick to the tank, especially in hot weather. A clear attachment like the one below can help with flushing with the hose attachment also you can see if your tanks are clean or not .

Sewer dump attachments

Click here to check out a helpful attachment for flushing your tanks.

An easy way to clean your sewer hose when you are dumping is to drain the black water first and then the grey water. This method will help rinse the black honey from the sewer hose. Rubber gloves are a good idea. Most RVers probably know this already but maybe some newbies don’t. One last hint that we learned while visiting Mexico where there sanitation system is not up to our standards. In many small towns toilet tissue is not flushed it is put in a waste basket beside the toilet. This will not only help keep your senors clean but also your black tank will not fill up as fast.

Awning Tie Downs

It has been my experience that most of the stakes you can buy for awning tie down anchors either break or bend when hammering them into the ground.

bending re-bar

One solution I came across is using re-bar for concrete. A length of re-bar is inexpensive and easily cut with a hack saw or some other metal cutting blade. Before cutting it to length insert or wedge one end of the re-bar into a stable opening like your receiver hitch or a concrete crevice and bend a hook at the end of the re-bar to attach your tie down, or use 2 pipes as in the picture.  Cut the re-bar to the desired length, probably 6″ or more. Pound the re-bar into the ground with the re-bar only protruding enough to attach your tie down (so it doesn’t become a tripping hazard).

Sewer Pipe Storage and other things

Sewer hose storage

Storing your sewer hose is always a painful smelly chore and if you have had the experience that I have had of losing your hose because the cover on the back bumper fell out and the sewer hose was close behind.

I have had this happen several times. The hoses are inexpensive but continually replacing it starts to mount up not to mention the inconvenience of maneuvering a large rig into a store parking lot to shop for a silly hose.

I have found a couple of solutions as you can see in the picture.  Its a large diameter PVC pipe or you can use square PVC fence post cover. It can be attached to the underside of your RV with plumbers pipe hanger. Wrap the pipe hanger around something and use nuts and bolts to secure the plumbers hanger, also use several self tapping screws to secure the PVC pipe.

If you want it to look a little more attractive you can buy the threaded cap and threaded insert for the ends of the pipe. The fence post cover also has end caps available.

sewer pipe storage
attach to the bumper with “U” bolts, or plumbers pipe hanger.

This system could be used to store other things as well, such as, RV mat, fishing rods, awning screen etc. If you are not into building one yourself, click here to check the manufactured ones on Amazon.

Charge your Batteries Faster

One of the issues Rvers and campers are always facing is keeping your batteries charged or recharging them. Unless you have an array of solar panels to keep your batteries up and even then the sun must shine. Unfortunately your battery bank should not be drawn down regularly more that 20% in order to get maximum life from them. Click here to read my article on batteries.

The generator is most RVers solution, however if your RV power cord is plugged directly into the generator this may not be the most effective way to charge your batteries. Most RV’s have a trickle charger that probably only produce a couple of amps of battery charging power. Click here to check out battery chargers.

battery tender

A more effective way to charge your battery bank is to wire them directly to the generator (most modern RV generators have a special plug for battery charging). If your generator does not have this accessory use a battery charger and set it to quick charge mode. If you need a generator a small one 1000 watts or more will charge your batteries and run your lights. Click here to check them out.

The quickest way to recharge your battery bank would be to plug your RV power cord into the generator and wire your batteries directly to the generator as well. For an even quicker charge plug your 7 prong RV plug into your tow vehicle and let it idle.

You should carry a voltage meter to check your battery charge level. Click here to check out my article on RV batteries to get all the info. you need.

Re-filling Fresh Water

This seems to be an issue for most RVers and campers, the fresh water never seems to last as long as you would like. This is something I learned while boondocking in the southwest desert. I carry a small submersible pump and also a spare 12 volt RV pump to pump water into the fresh water tank of our RV. Click here to check out 12 volt RV water pumps.

I haul water from whatever source I can find, a creek, a river, or the campground supply. If you have a submersible pump water can be transported in anything, I use a large rubbermaid bin, place it in the back of your vehicle, fill it half to three quarters full and strap the lid on. Some of the water will probably splash out on the way back to your RV. The only issue is you will need an inverter to run the electric pump. Click here to check out submersible pumps.

submersible water pump

The 12 volt RV pump may be better suited if you need to pump the water into a container or directly from a creek or river into your RV. All you need is the pump, a spare battery or an extension cord with both ends removed so you can attach the ends to your vehicle or RV batteries. Also enough hose lengths to do the trick.

NOTE- If you are not sure about the quality of your water source don’t take a chance and use bottled water for drinking.

Let’s Do Laundry

Laundry

One final amazing trick is doing the laundry on the road, no need to stop and spend a couple of hours at a laundramat.

Buy a 5 gallon pail with a lid, put you dirties in the bucket, add some water and laundry soap, seal the lid and place the pail in the sink or shower in case it leaks, or in your tow vehicle.

Set off on your journey, the rocking and rolling of your RV will act like the agitator in your clothes washer at home. When your arrive you will need to hang your clothes to dry.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and that you find the information useful. If you have any little RV/camping tricks I would love to publish them for you, I will mention your name.

I have created a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV/camping travels, click here to check out my list.

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Thanks for visiting.

Gord B.

Lake Louiese Banff
Lake Louise, Banff Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “RV/Camping Tips & Tricks.”

  1. Camping has always been a love of mine, I love the outdoors and that “off the grid” feeling that comes with being outside. I have never thought of using that laundry trick! A bucket for dirty laundry will be on my purchase list for the next trip! Thanks for the tips!

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