Russ, Franklin, Hazel at gas station

Lessons Learned During Weekend RV Travel Season

December 21, 2020
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Weekend RV travel season is winding down for us again, and Axl Roads has been tucked safely away for the winter.

Now we have enough time and distance to reflect on the collective lessons we’ve learned this year – and to add them to the ones we’ve picked up in the past!

Despite COVID making our travels a little less social in 2020, we appreciated our time out of the house more than ever. 

We drove, hiked, adventured, and snacked all over Pennsylvania and into Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia.

As always, there are those experiences & situations we wish we would have handled a little better!  

Which is why we wanted to tack on a few more lessons to our original post, 5 Lessons We Learned This Weekend RV Travel Season – so we’ve edited, added, and re-upped it here.

Your favorite morning beverage presents a conundrum every year, so we’ve kept it as the bonus lesson. (Every year we run into a coffee sitch. Every year.)

Let’s review! 

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

We've had RV seasons where repairs totaled in the hundreds, and we've had those where they totaled into the thousands.

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

This past season, it was his shaky steering, rattling screen door, and holey awning.

As owners of a 23-year-old rig, we always expect surprises. We set aside extra money throughout the year to tackle things that come up in the summer without warning – and you definitely should, too!

Saving $100 a month during the year specifically for these situations can fund unexpected repairs and replacements during your RV travel season!

loggers path 2, poe valley

2. Understand Your Map and Ask Questions Before You Set Out

More than once while hiking, we have 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 could we have done? What can you do to make your day more navigable?

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 Park Office or look for a Ranger and share your plans. Ask if there is anything to look out for or any recent changes to the trails you plan to cover.

Also, spend some time getting familiar with the map and orient yourself – are you near cabins? A parking lot? Are you headed towards a road? Mark the map up with stars and lines and arrows if that’s helpful.

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 going – or should go.

hazel at ohiopyle state park

3. Always take water. ALWAYS.

Twice last 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.

For even more convenience, put large water reservoir/bladder and a travel water bowl in your daypack. 

forksville general store to stock up on supplies

4. 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! 

Once the new RV travel season rolls around, stash a complete necessities kit under your sink – just in case you ever forget anything, you’ll have at least a small size to tide you over. 

campfire burning

5. 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.

Then, 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. 

Also, buy your firewood as close to where you are camping as possible. Many states – like Pennsylvania with the spotted lanternfly – have different bugs, plant diseases, and fungi they are trying to prevent from spreading. 

Buy it where you burn it is a great line from Check them out for resources about firewood, including summaries for states- like this one for Pennsylvania.  

bedford coffee pot pour

6. 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

7. 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.

Coming home from a weekend hiking trip, we heard Hazel scrambling around in the back of the RV while we were driving. 

We turned around to 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 sloooowly out of the refrigerator. 

Lesson learned! 

We hope you can turn our RV travel season lessons into your handy tips for next year!

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy Safe Travels!

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