Russ, Franklin, Hazel at gas station

Lessons Learned This Weekend RV Travel Season

November 6, 2019
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Now that weekend RV travel season is winding down for us and Axl Roads has been tucked safely away for the winter, we have time to reflect on the lessons we learned this year…

We had a fantastic time driving, hiking, adventuring, and snacking all over Pennsylvania and into Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia, but as always, there are those experiences & situations we wish we would have had a little more of a heads-up to handle better.  

Which is why we wanted to share the 5 Lessons We Learned This Weekend RV Travel Season!

We even threw in a bonus one regarding your favorite morning beverage. (Every year we run into a coffee sitch. Every year.)

1. Save a little all year to fund big RV repairs.

During the past three years, our RV repair bills were in the hundreds. This season, our RV repairs totaled in the thousands (!!!).

From a sort-of anticipated brake job to a not-at-all-thought-about alternator replacement, Axl Roads did his best to throw off our RV budget. 

As owners of a 22-year-old rig, we always expect surprises. We set extra money aside all year to tackle the things that come up in the summer without warning – and you should, too!

Setting aside $100 a month during the year can fund unexpected repairs during your RV travel season.

loggers path 2, poe valley

2. Understand Your Map, Ask Questions and Always Take Water

More than once this year while hiking, we found ourselves at trail breaks we didn't expect or signs that didn't correspond with what was on the map. Fortunately we found our way out, and it always ended well.

But what should we have done? What can you do to make your day easier?

State park maps are fairly accurate, but the people inside the Park Office are much more on point! Before you set out to hike for the day, stop in the State Park Office and share your plans. Ask if there is anything to look out for or any recent changes to the trails you plan to hike.

Also, spend time getting familiar with the map and orient yourself – are you near cabins? A parking lot? Are you headed towards a road? And don’t be afraid to carry a compass! It can at least tell you which direction is north, and you can match that to the map so you have a general idea where you’re headed.

On top of getting lost a few times, twice this year we didn’t have water on a hike where we wished we did – once because we didn’t think we’d need it and once because we ran out sharing it with the dogs. 

No excuses! Always take water on your hike, and always take a bottle large enough for you and your pets. 

forksville general store to stock up on supplies

3. Get New Supplies, Don't Hold Over From Last Year

Have you ever tried to use toothpaste or lotion that has been in a stored RV through the winter and spring, freezing & unfreezing, over & over?

It’s not pretty. Don’t do it. Your toothpaste will taste like runny glue and your lotion will be lumpy. 

When you close your RV up for the season, get the toiletries out of there. They are no friend of yours come spring. 

Plus, you’ll probably be on to a new favorite shampoo or lotion anyway. 

campfire burning

4. Know Your Firewood (or Pallets)

A manufacturing company near us stacks pallets outside for people to take for free- and we happily obliged. All summer long, we used our paper bags as kindling and pallets to feed the flames. Someone at work asked me if that was safe to do. I shrugged, and then ran for the Google.

Turns out, most pallets are safe to burn…but some are very unsafe to burn!

Some pallets are treated with an awful chemical used as a fumigant & pesticide called methyl bromide and are labeled with an “MB” stamp. It’s toxic and can cause lung & neurological damage- yikes!  

So if you plan to use pallets as firewood, check for the stamp first. 

bedford coffee pot pour

5. Research Local "Diamonds in the Rough"

Even though we visit & hike in state parks, the journey is always part of the destination.

From a failed dam and a half-built ark to fantastic coffee shops and giant coffee pots, the places you can see off the beaten path are amazing. And crazy.  

Take the time to map out your route and research what interesting things there are along the way. Every state has their own gems – we’ve definitely seen quite a few in Pennsylvania! 


road trip tails send coffee

6. Stock All Coffee Supplies. ALL.

So. Many. Coffee. Disasters. First trip, year one: no coffee maker. First trip, year two: used marshmallows as sugar. First trip, year three: used milk as creamer. First trip, year four: forgot coffee cups.

It’s a sad, sad morning when you wake up in an RV with no coffee. 

Or only parts of coffee. 

Don’t let this happen to you. The day before you set out adventuring for the season, make sure you are fully stocked with your coffee maker, coffee, sugar, creamer, and coffee cup

One last tip: if you use liquid coffee creamer, SCREW THAT CAP ON TIGHT. Real tight.

On a recent trip, we heard Hazel scrambling around in the back of the RV while we were driving, only to turn around and see her licking up, oh, about a pint of flavored creamer off the floor. We hadn’t put the cap back on tight enough and it had tipped while we were driving, spilling slowly out of the refrigerator. 

Hopefully, our RV travel season lessons learned are your handy tips for next year! Happy travels!

We scheduled our trips early last season. See all the places we planned to visit, and which made it to actual Trip Reports.
Last year, Axl Roads needed a few updates. See how we helped him stay on the road.