TOP 10 TIPS FOR NEW RV OWNERS TRAVELING WITH A PET

Pets and RVs just seem to go together for many people. A primary reason for buying and traveling in an RV is so you can take your pets with you. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Go RVing, 68% of RV owners bring a pet with them. Most are dog people 92%, and 14% bring cats along on RV trips. If you are a pet owner new to RVing, or an RVer with a new pet, there are many things to research, learn and consider to help make traveling with your pet a pleasant experience for both of you.

 

Several years ago, we traveled with two dogs who have since passed. Gracie, our West Highland White Terrier lived until she was 17, and Buck our Australian Terrier was 12 years old when he died from cancer. They were completely opposite of each other. One good (Gracie), one bad (guess who). One shy (Gracie), and one rambunctious (guess who). The only thing they had in common was, they both liked to travel in the RV. We learned a few things about traveling with pets the hard way when we first got them.

 

You know your pets better than anybody else, but when you travel in your RV with pets there are some things you should be aware of.  Our furry family members, just like kids, feel calmer when their routine is adhered to as much as possible. With that said, here are some things we learned about traveling in our RV with pets.

 

  1. Take your pet’s favorite bed with you

There is just something familiar with the smells of home. Our dogs always know when their beds are carried out of the house and into the motorhome, some kind of adventure is around the corner.  Having their own beds in the RV makes them more comfortable. Fur Baby Tip: When you are traveling to your destination, stop frequently so your pets can stretch and relieve themselves. We try to stop every few hours, at a minimum.

 

  1. Crate Your Pet While your RV is on the Road

RVs don’t have seat belts for our fur babies. To keep your pet safe when driving down the road, whether you are in a motorhome or a tow vehicle, keep them safely tucked away in a pet carrier with a comfy blanket or two. There are many unforeseen dangers for an unsecured pet.

 

  1. Water and Food

Take the food they are used to and a couple large water jugs of the water your pets are accustomed to from home, so they can drink water they are used to. Water sources can vary from place to place and just like a change in food can upset their digestive system, water variations can too. Fur Baby Tip: If we use all the water from home during our trip, we substitute it with bottled water.

 

  1. Vet Checks

Have your vet check your pet before you hit the road so all vaccines are up to date, and you can inquire about any other health precautions you should take. Did you know your dog can catch canine influenza? Dogs are susceptible to the virus at any given time, but dogs that go to dog parks or are in contact with areas where many dogs gather are at a much higher risk of contracting it. A flu vaccine is advisable when you are traveling. Bring your pet’s records with you to include proof of rabies vaccination and a current health certificate. Make sure you have a current picture of your pet in case they get lost, and having them micro-chipped is a necessary precaution. Fur Baby Tip: Make sure you register the chip number in the National Pet Microchip Registration Database, your veterinarian can assist you.

 

  1. Ask About Pet Policies

When you make campground reservations, always ask if the campground is pet friendly, and what their pet policies are. You can usually find this information online too. Some campgrounds, and/or destinations you travel to have Breed Specific Legislation or BSL laws or insurance guidelines that prohibit dogs they consider as bully breeds. Ask or research the campgrounds you plan to stay at about BSL laws.

 

  1. Local Emergency Information

When we arrive at the campground, one of the first things we do is look up the number of a local vet and/or pet hospital in the area in case of an emergency. This is easily accomplished with a “veterinarian near me” search from your phone or computer. Keep the info handy in case there is an emergency. Fur Baby Tip: This is when a pet portal comes in handy if your veterinarian at home offers this service. A pet portal lets you log in to your local vet, and access all of your pet’s records. Look into it before your trip. You can log in from your phone or a computer, and it makes getting information to an emergency vet much easier.

           

  1. Protective Items

Bring paw booties!  Healerspetcare.com or Ruffwear.com are great options. You want to protect their paws from the hot tarmac, or sand as well as any rugged terrain you might take them on. We also take a raincoat in the correct size for our dogs. You would not believe how yucky a wet pet is in an RV. The raincoat keeps them nice and dry. Fur Baby Tip: I also keep a towel next to the entry door so I can wipe their paws off as they go in.

 

  1. Day Excursions

An RV can get extremely hot or cold inside. Always make sure there is some type of ventilation and/or heat and air. Always have fresh water available for your pet. If your travel plans include day trips or extended travel away from the campsite, please keep this in mind. If we are only going to be away for a short time, we turn on some calming music or we put the TV on a channel that won’t have loud sounds. This helps distract them from outside activity. If you plan to be away from the RV and your pet for an extended period of time, it is advisable to look into a nearby pet boarding facility or doggie daycare for the day. Some campgrounds do offer kennels and boarding services for pets. Another concern is, you never know if the power will go out. There are pet monitoring systems you can purchase, that allow you to monitor the temperature, and offer video and/or audio capabilities. If you go this route, make sure you are close enough to the campground or RV to get back in the event something happens. Fur Baby Tip: If you are just going out for lunch or dinner, call and check; some restaurants with outdoor seating allow your dog to go with you.

 

  1. Pet Etiquette & Tips

Make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules of the campground and any other area you take your pet. If you use a tie-out anchor (never leave your pet unattended). Give your pet plenty of room to move, but be cautious of traffic and obstacles that they can get hung or caught on. Make sure they are always leashed when you walk them or have them outside with you. Campground pet etiquette is a must. Be considerate of other campers where your pet is concerned. Always pick up behind your pet.

  

  1. Creative Pet Containment

Some pet owners get creative with pet containment systems so their pets can enjoy and share time outside with them. It is important they have shade and clean water. Make sure you are always in attendance when your pets are outside with you.

 

I know I said this is my top 10 pet tips, but it is important to share this tip too. Perform a daily health check on your pet. When your pet is away from home, and off their regular schedule, it can affect their health. Watch for any signs that are out of the ordinary. If you prepare before your trip, you should have a wonderful adventure along with your pets!

 

Dawn Polk, along with her husband Mark Polk, started RV Education 101 in 1999. Dawn, Mark and their two elderly rescue dogs Roxie and MoMo enjoy traveling in their RV together finding new adventures. For information on using, enjoying, and maintaining your RV visit RV Education 101. Be sure to check out their RV Online Training Site too!

RV REFRIGERATOR TIPS & TRICKS

For the most part RV refrigerators are efficient, but sometimes RV owners do things that result in the refrigerator being less efficient. Today I want to discuss some tips and tricks that will help your RV refrigerator operate at maximum efficiency.

Refrigerator pic#1 level RV

1) First and foremost the RV must be fairly level for the refrigerator to operate properly. Older RV refrigerators required more precise leveling, but even newer models need to be close to level for optimum performance. Over time a cooling unit operated out of level can be permanently damaged. When you set up at the campground you can use a carpenter’s level to ensure the RV is close to level front-to-rear and side-to-side. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but close.

Refrigerator pic 2 Dawn loading food

2) The initial cool down process can take four to six hours. I recommend turning the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave for a trip, and before you put any food in it. When you do put food in the refrigerator it should already be cold, and food put in the freezer should already be frozen. Adding already cold food, rather than warm food, lets the refrigerator work more efficiently. One common mistake people make is to over-pack the refrigerator. There needs to be space between the foods for air to circulate throughout the refrigerator compartment. In most situations you will have access to a store where you can buy food, so a two to three day supply should be enough.

Refrigerator pic#3 fan & batteries

3) To assist with air circulation you can purchase an inexpensive battery operated refrigerator fan. Install the batteries in the fan and place the fan in the front refrigerator compartment blowing upwards. The fan will improve the refrigerator’s efficiency by circulating the air and it helps reduce the initial cool down time by 50 percent.

refrigerator pic 4 inspect vent

4) The heat created by the cooling process is vented behind the refrigerator. Air enters through the outside refrigerator vent and helps draft the hot air up and out through the roof vent. Periodically inspect the back of the refrigerator and the roof vent for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves or other debris that might prevent the excess heat from escaping.

5) Another good idea is to install a 12-volt, thermostatically controlled refrigerator vent fan at the back of the refrigerator, or at the top of the roof vent. The fan will assist in drafting the hot air away from the refrigerator. If you are mechanically inclined, these fans are fairly simple to install, or you can have your RV dealer install one for you. Either way it’s worth it. The fan removes the heat from behind the refrigerator, improving the refrigerators performance by up to 40 percent. Note: Some new RVs come with a fan already installed.

Refrigerator pic#5 parked in shade

6) The outside temperature also affects the operation and efficiency of your RV refrigerator. When it’s cold outside you might need to lower the temperature setting and when it’s hot outside you might need to raise the setting. Extremely hot weather will directly affect the refrigerator’s efficiency. When it’s really hot outside try parking the RV in the shade, especially the side the refrigerator is on. Note: Some RV refrigerators are preset by the manufacturer and you cannot manually adjust the temperature.

refrigerator pic 6 thermometer

7) Last but certainly not least you should always keep a thermometer in the food compartment. Food can begin to spoil at temperatures above 40 degrees. A small thermometer will let you know at a glance if your RV is operating efficiently.

RV refrigerators will operate very efficiently if we apply these simple tips & tricks to help make the refrigerator’s job easier and less demanding.

Happy Camping,

Mark J. Polk
RV Education 101

TOP CONSUMABLE ITEMS TO KEEP ON HAND IN YOUR RV

When you Go RVing there are essential items like a drinking water hose and RV sewer hoses, there are nice-to-have items like a GPS and a portable BBQ grill and there are consumable items that get used and need to be replaced. In no particular order here are the top 7 consumable items we keep in the RV at all times.

 

 

1) For starters you need holding tank treatments to treat the black water holding tank after you empty it. There are dry and liquid type treatments available. I suggest products that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It’s a good idea to treat the gray water holding tank too. After you empty the gray water holding tank you can add some liquid dish soap or a gray water tank treatment down the sink and shower drains. Run the water long enough to get the dish soap or tank treatment past the P-traps and into the tank. The dish soap and water will help control gray water odors and assist in cleaning the tank.

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RV WATER FILTRATION – IS IT IMPORTANT AND HOW DO I DO IT?

Today I want to discuss water filtration in your RV. I receive lots of questions about RV water filtration and drinking water quality. A lot of these questions are directed at the importance of filtering the water in your RV and how to go about doing it. There are many reasons to be concerned about the water we drink, cook with and wash with, especially when it comes to RVs. Let’s take a look at why and how you should filter the water in your RV.

 

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RV LIVING ON 30 AMPS

Today I want to discuss a topic I think is important for all RV owners to understand – RV living on 30 amps.

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