Having a longer rig with a gas truck means I can't always drive in and out of gas stations with ease. Gas stations with RV Islands quickly became favorites because of their stress free nature. This site is meant to be a collection of stress free stops that can accommodate longish rigs with gas engines.

Map

Know of any good stops? Next time you're on a trip take a picture and email the details so I can add it to the site. rvislands@gmail.com or leave me a comment in the box to the right hand side.


Please, tell everyone you know with a RV about this site.The more users we have adding locations the better the site will be for everyone.

What are major things to learn before buying a RV?



Recently, I was asked this question and here are my top things to know before you buy a RV.



Things to check before you sign on the dotted line:

Google the RV dealer you plan to buy from before you do to find out their reputation before you buy. Some are well know in the RV circles for being places people (once they were treated a certain way post sale) would never buy at again.

Make sure you can both tow your rig’s weight (there are charts) but also that you can stop it with your brakes. Sometimes a RV’s brakes can fail and you want to have the power needed to be able to stop should that happen. Don’t trust the RV dealership to know or tell you the truth in such matters. The sales people are often just that and not necessarily experts and have an incentive (their commission) to tell you it will be alright.

Your insurance most likely will not pay if you are in accident with an under powered tow vehicle (probably an exclusion for that) So, knowing can both save your liability, but most importantly possibly save a life. Here's a video link to explain how to figure it out

There are RV inspectors you can hire to inspect them and see if there are any glaring problems that you can avoid by knowing before you buy.

Go up and check the roof. If they won't let you, don't buy it. Roofs are a major source of leaks and you should know that it in general looks okay before you buy. A leak in a RV can ruin the walls and lead to mold making the RV all but unsaleable later.
 
Check your tires (brand etc) and battery before you accept delivery. Know if you have good ones while you can still bicker with the dealership. They’ve been known to put dangerous tires on (meaning the brand) or not great batteries in as a way to save money.

Check the frig for recalls. There’s been a rash of frig fires and frig recalls lately. Do a quick search of the RV you want to buy and it’s frig make model serial number before you buy that RV. A fire in a RV spreads quickly (So quickly by the time firefighters comes its often too late to save it) and often means a loss of the whole RV. So, this is a big deal to check on.


Things to know before you take it on the road:

Know how tall your rig is. Pay attention to bridge signs. Many a truck and camper has had their ACs or roof ripped off on low bridges. There are RV GPS that you can put your height, length and weight into so as never to end up somewhere you can’t safely be. See my Bad Bridges page for videos of what can happen and a few of the locations I know about. 

If you are towing something like a trailer with chains, know that the chains MUST be crossed, you must have two chains and the safety pin must be in. If they are not crossed the whole thing can come off if you hit a bump. There are laws about it and you can get a ticket but more importantly you can loose your trailer down the road and/or kill someone if you don’t. Watch this video if you need convincing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCDt4tjxp-E





Good to know these exist:

I wrote a long blog post on all the must haves for a new RV, check it out here to see the list and my reasoning behind each item.

There is no regular gas at truck stops back where the truckers go. This is exactly why I started documenting the gas stations we went to that were easy to get in and out of. We don't leave on a trip without first plotting out which gas stations we plan on stopping a.

You can save on gas by using the app GetUpside It offers up to .25 cents back per gallon. My code Olivia8775 will get you an extra .15 cents back. For us were averaging about $5 back per fill up.



Knowing you are not alone:

There are FaceBook groups for newbie RVers that can booth answer your questions on the fly and offer assistance if you get into trouble. Being on them and reading what others are posting can be an education in itself.

We are a friendly bunch in general. If you have a question most people at any RV park will be happy to chat with you about how they do this or that. Many people do things differently but finding out the ins and outs of why they do this or that can arm you for a better journey.
  


Happy Trails and Safe Journey


How to make the most of those online purchases


Traveling around Amazon's Prime 2 day shipping sure does come in handy and I think we've used it much more than we would have in our old sticks and bricks (AKA house.)

So, finding out how to get the best bang for my buck at online retailers like Amazon got my attention. Thus far this is my strategy. If you know of any others, please do drop me a line at RVIslands@gmail.com.

1. Install an add on to my browser called Keepa. This is FREE! It tracks the price of things in my Amazon wish list and when they go on sale it tells me. It also provides a graph of their price over time so I can see what the price has done lately. By having this I tend to put things in my wish list (which prevents an impulse buy) but also by the time it goes on sale sometimes I don't even want it anymore, which prevents me buying some of what I don't need.

2. I installed an extension called Honey. This one automatically tells you if there are any promo codes for the item(s) and helps you apply them. (Works even when you're just ordering pizza online and it's Free!)

3. I use Ebates (now called Rakuten) extension to get cash back on my purchases. If you use my link  you get $10 in your account and I get something too :). This is FREE too!

4. I linked my Amazon and email account to Paribus.co (notice it’s .co not .com) it tracks your purchases and if the price goes down automatically asks for a price adjustment for you! And it's FREE!

5. Amazon’s Smile program which give a percentage of my sale to the charity of my choice. This is FREE and donated .05% percentage of my purchase on Amazon to my favorite charity.

6. Use a credit card with cash back for online purchases like 5% from Amazon’s Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. I wish this was an affiliate link, but not sure how to do that with this (Please, drop me a line if you do!) 

Or alternatively to the credit card, if you have a charity you'd like to support, ask if they are participating in Shop with Scrip's e-gift card program.

In writing this post I thought to see if there were any more I might want to try out and came across these. Just install them yesterday, so I'm not sure about them yet but thought to include them in case you want to look into them too.

7. I'm just now looking into the extension Amazon Assistant that compares prices from different sellers on the Amazon site itself. 

8. GumDrop by Goodshop gives you more promo codes.

9. The Camelizer a price tracking extension.


Well, that's all but if you know of any others, please do drop me a line at RVIslands@gmail.com.

How to Save Money on Gasoline


If you’re asking how can you save gas money while driving, then there are two ways to go about it. 

1. Look at reducing consumption via various techniques. 
                             OR....
2. Look at how to get a better deal on the gas you do buy. Everyone knows they can shop around for the best price but there are a couple other things you can try.
  1. Get Upside app (which is free on the Google Play Store) gives you cash back on the gas you buy up to .25 cents per gallon. You get a certain number of cents per gallon back into an account that you can then cash out. You get more the more people you refer and they get more for using your referral code. Here’s mine Olivia8775
  2. There are mystery shop programs that will pay part of your bill (if you shop gas stations.)
  3. There are cash back credit cards that will pay you a percentage back on gas purchases.

How to get started decluttering to downsize to a RV

When we first decided to go to a RV we had to downsize. If you're thinking about doing so as well here are a few tips and a handy list to help you in the process.

Tip #1 -- Do sentimental things last, after everything else. And if you claim it’s sentimental ask yourself “Is it really?” Not everything from the past is sentimental. Choosing an amount of space, like a certain size tote(s) that all sentimental must fit into will be helpful in making choices between what stays and what goes.

Tip #2 -- Start with the low hanging fruit, that is with the easy stuff. Get your container of choice, start some upbeat music, and go around right now, collect any of the following.

You don’t have to trash it, but collect it all to at least go out your door in some way shape or form TODAY. If it doesn’t at least make it to your car or the curb it will linger…

trash
plastic wear/condiments etc that you've collected from free sources that you won't really use soon
broken things that are basically trash
half started projects that aren’t worth donating, and ones that are
expired things in your pantry
expired things in your frig
stuff so old in your freezer you would never eat it
food in your pantry, frig and freezer that aren’t on your current diet

broken kitchen appliances
kitchen appliances you know you'll never actually use again
big kitchen items like soup pots, cake stands, mixing bowls that you know you won't use again
your collection of plastic bags from the grocery store (pair it down to a reasonable level)
same as above with the reusable ones
old phones that you aren’t going to fix
broken old pcs and other electronics you are never going to fix
torn or stained clothes that realistically you know you are not going to salvage
any clothes you hate wearing
any clothes that don't reasonably fit you (or within a size or two) -- if you lose weight you'll want
   new clothes
if you'll be left with a reasonable amount all the torn, stained, uncomfortable or non-matching socks, and underwear
any socks with no matches
torn or stained sheets that you’d never want to use again
torn or stained towels that you wouldn’t use again, considering how many others you have
expired prescription medications and over the counter medications
toiletries that are so old you won't risk using them
toiletries you just didn't like and won't use again

VHS tapes if you no longer have the player
cassette tapes if you no longer have a player
CDs if you don’t have a player
books you know you’ll never read again
dried out pens, markers, highlighters
paper records that are older than 7 years old that you can’t foresee legally needing
baby items (if you’re no longer having anymore kids)
kids clothes that they’ve grown out of, if you’re not planning more kids
extra hangers, especially the kind you don’t like
anything that you absolutely hate and can afford to replace or do without

Tip #3 -- After this 1st purge. Wait a few days and see how it feels. Now you can go through and do another sweep, now just focusing on things you are ready to let go of. Rinse and repeat a few times.

By going in rounds you’ll find it a gentler way of getting down to right amount of things and you should know when you get there.


What are some "must have" items to get that make RV living so much better?




Things that come to mind are:

Extra propane tank(s) - this way if you run out in the middle of the night and/or it’s just not convenient to run to the store to have it refilled you have a backup or two to use until you can get to the store (pro-tip Tractor Supply often has the cheapest propane prices)

Furnace mesh protectors and all the other mesh protectors you can find - I wrote a blog post on this one and how not having one on our furnace nearly cost us a new furnace…at $5000! 

Command hooks - Having a place for everything (including your towel) that’s not on the floor is a wonderful thing

Stick on motion detector lights - coming home to a RV door in the complete dark (because you forgot to turn on the porch light) is not fun.

Autoformer, surge protector - A surge protector will protect your unit from too high electric but an autoformer from too low. With too low it’s miserable as your AC etc will keep cutting off. An autoformer is expensive (over $500) but well worth it when you consider the damage that can be done by the constant disruption that too low can cause. Here's the company's website that had a lot of information about how they work (but Amazon is sometimes cheaper...) The Original Low-Voltage Boosting Solution

Chalk board or white board to put your current address on every time you move. Having your address in the same place every time is comforting in itself, but knowing in an emergency where to look for it could save minutes, which could save a life. Bonus - you can then take a picture of it and text to your family, so someone always knows where you are.

LoJack - On your vehicle or on the RV itself. Give your relatives the information on it. If suddenly you stop returning phone calls it’s nice to know, they will know how to find you. If you come home and your rig is missing it’s comforting to know how quickly things with LoJack are found. (The quicker things are found the less damage they typically have done to them). Here's a DIY version I found on Amazon.

A lock - don’t make it easy for someone to back up and tow away your RV. They sell locks for 5th wheel as well as trailers and yes, every once and a while we get a message to be on the look out for this or that rig because someone stole it.

Washer/Dryer - going to the laundry mat does get old after a while. Just be sure to not only measure the space where you'll put it, but also all the door ways to get to that space...We ended up having to take the trim off our bedroom door to get the thing in there... (not a nice surprise to have on the day we went to install it.)

RV GPS - These allow you to enter your height and weight so (hopefully) they never take you on a road that can’t handle your weight or under a bridge that’s too low for your height (Google “the can opener bridge”)

Warm shoes/socks - even with good heaters the floors always seem cold in the winter. Keeping your 
feet warm makes all the difference in feeling comfortable

Black out curtains (or the fabric for them) - There are often a lot of windows and the amount of light and heat they let in can be unwanted at times. Being able to close black out curtains for complete privacy and heat/light protection is game changing.

Facebook - There are a few groups you can join for RV newbies where you can ask questions and get several answers within seconds. It’s been a back up support to us whenever we couldn’t quite figure things out on our own and an invaluable tool. Facebook even has RV brand specific groups too.

Those flexible thin plastic cutting boards. I lined my freezer walls with them. Now when it’s time to defrost I just pull them down, clean up the ice they pulled out with them and done in 5 minutes or so. I also put a few at the bottom of the freezer to catch the ice.

I mention it in my about section (but of course) some of these links are affiliate links and I will get a percentage of the sale if you purchase via my link (thank you!) but I wrote this article before I became an affiliate and do really have all these items myself.

“How do you get your mail?”



Of all the things that people ask me about full-time RVing the one that tickles me the most is, “How do you get your mail?” 

The reason it tickles me is that most of the time they’ve asked several other questions and I know eventually they will ask this particular question.

If you’re new to traveling you may be wondering the exact same thing. So, here’s the answer.

I use a mail forwarding service.

They receive my mail for me. I had to fill out paperwork giving them legal permission.

They scan the envelopes and email me the scan.

I then decide to have it forwarded to where I am currently, ask them to open, scan the contents and email it to me, or shred it. If I chose for them to scan the contents, I can then choose to have it forwarded to me or shredded.

If I have it forwarded to me the RV park offices will receive it for me. I often use Amazon Prime to order things and have never had a problem getting the items. Either the office ends up with them or sometimes UPS comes right to my RV and knocks on the front door.

It costs anywhere from $10–30 a month depending on the bells and whistle you add to your account.
It’s been the best thing to reduce paper clutter and because they scan things in I have virtual copies of everything I need.

The specific one I use is www.mailboxforwarding.com 

If you use my referral code you will get your first month of service free and I get my next month of service free. Thanks in advance:)

           Just enter your box number, "30162", in the promo code box during checkout.

Sometime people I explain this to say, they don’t trust others with their mail and shredding. I can understand this and started off slowly myself. I’ve been using them for years now and the fact they had me sign certain documents actually put me at ease that they are trying to do everything on the up and up.

The other thing I remember that soothe these kinds of fears is that a lot of businesses already have my information. So, it’s now free to freeze your credit and I do as a precaution, knowing the whole time that when I fill out forms at my doctors office, my bank etc that they often use third party services to shred those documents later as well.

Knowing this during our downsizing to fit into the RV to begin with I took advantage of the office supply stores paid shredding. (Think Office Depot, Office Max, and Staples) This saved me hours of work, during a stressful time, and cost about $1 a pound. The office supply store I went with then outsourced the shredding to Iron Mountain, the same place that shreds for many doctors and hospitals. That office supply store even offer to have to watch them shred it in store, for a little extra per pound. 

I would say that was some of the best spent $13 of my life and made downsizing that much more bearable, (cough) I mean pleasant.