Friday, July 25, 2014

Smart RV Women Refuse to be Victims

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Don’t be a Crime RVictim

    Modern women know it’s no longer unusual, or even exceptionally risky,  to travel alone in an RV. Still, there are new and unique dangers out there. 

Personal Travel Plan: Before You Go

    * File a travel “flight plan”.  Privately let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, when you plan to arrive and how to contact you. Let them know when you arrive or if you deviate from the plan. This information should be private between you and a trusted homie, never shared on social media.
  * Have a big, bright,  distinctive number or symbol painted on the roof of your RV. If you call for help you can be spotted from the air.
     * Make your RV look lived-in no matter where you park. Close curtains so crooks don’t know if you’re inside or not. Lock all doors and windows. Run a light, TV or radio if you can do so without depleting the battery when you’re at the mall or on the hiking trail.  
     * Don’t give thieves a place to hide out.  In shopping centers park in well lighted areas away from  shrubs and other hiding places. Try to park among cars, not other tall vehicles that form dark canyons where crooks could lurk.   
     * Invest in  alarms. Keep them armed and powered. Even in a secure campground, don’t open the door to strangers. Speak through a window.

Driving: On the Road Again

    * Always lock all doors in the RV, tow car or dinghy including trunks and basement (except the propane compartment, which should not be locked.)  You may also want to add a locking gas cap to prevent fuel theft.  Keep valuables out of sight. It may take a few extra minutes to close cockpit curtains, but there are a lot of tempting goodies there for a smash-and-grab thief. 
    * Never pick up hitchhikers or stop for what appears to be a woman and baby in distress. Stay inside, leave the area and use your cell phone to call 911 on their behalf.
       * Park in well-lighted areas and close to the building or shop.
        * Unless you have no choice, don't stop alongside the road. If you are bumped from behind or if someone signals you to stop because there is something wrong with your vehicle, continue to a service station or a well-lighted, populated area.
    * Fill the fuel tank before dark. Lock all doors and close windows if you step away from the RV for any reason.

Travel Destination: Checking In

    * When checking into a campground, ask what security features are in place. You may need a code to get into the gate at night. Know where to find the campground host’s site and how to get help if you’re in a zone without cell phone reception.
   * Invest in a safe that can be bolted to the RV frame so it can’t be removed.
   * When away from the campground, be wary about telling strangers  your 'home address", i.e. the name of your campground and number of your campsite.

Personal Safety: On the Town

    *  Take only the cash you need in your purse or wallet. Bring only the necessary credit card(s) with you and carry money separately from credit cards. Women should keep purses closed and snuggled tightly against the body.
   * Know your route and stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Select ATM machines in visible, well-lighted locations.

Friday, July 18, 2014

RV Travel: the Ultimate Freedom

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 photo courtesy Shasta

RV Furniture
    * Are your dinette cushions looking grotty? Know the exact measurements, then check
the outdoor furniture departments at stores and catalogs where end-of-summer sales at this time mean big savings. Many colors and patterns are available in high quality cushions that are  UV resistant, water shedding and durable. Look for tough construction in fabrics such as Sunbrella and Bella-Dura. I just found 40% off cushions for less money than having the old cushions re-covered.
    * Never again will I order slip covers from a catalog. The covers for our matching
chairs looked great in the picture and they fit like a glove too. Then we sat down and found when we stood up again that the slipcovers had, well, slipped. Now I’ll either have to throw them out or yank, stretch and tuck them back into place every time someone sits in them. I'm totally bummed. 
RV Tools 
    * What tools come in handy when you’re a solo woman in an RV? Here are some to

    * A hatchet and small saw for wood for the campfire (where allowed) and fire pliers for
handling hot logs or coals.
    * A folding shovel is a must for many chores such as digging your wheels out of sand or
snow, digging a gopher hole where allowed and snuffing a campfire by shoveling dirt over it. Trust me, you’ll someday be glad to have a shovel on board. 
    * A clothesline and spring clothespins. Even though many campgrounds prohibit outdoor
clotheslines, rope comes in handy for many things indoors and out. Clothes pins do pinching tasks such as closing the potato chip bag.  Get the old-fashioned wood ones. Plastics break and some fancy designs don’t hold tight in high winds.
    * A manual tire pump or small compressor for bicycle tires and other inflatable items such as an
air mattress or inflatable boat. 
    * A sturdy broom is handy for sweeping the cement pad that comes with most campsites. A short-handle broom made for RV life takes up less room yet is a serious cleaning tool.
    *  If you have room for a metal garden rake  (not a flimsy leaf rake)  , it’s a nice tool for raking out the fire pit and cleaning up the campsite .

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Rainy Day or Sunny, Camping and RV for All Days

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Look at the size of this Spree RV!

RV Fun and Games
copyright Janet Groene 

  Companionable good times are the very essence of camping life. As a solo woman RV-er you value your privacy but there may also be times when you want to invite neighbors over for conversation, cookies, coffee and cards or a board game. 

    Games and toys, like everything else in the RV life, should be compact to stow, durable
for tough wear and fun for all ages. In the travel life one can’t always find bridge partners or someone who plays chess at your level so it’s best to have at least some games that almost anyone knows how to play.  

    Whether you’re a private person who wants the occasional game or an outgoing woman
who organizes all the events at the campground clubhouse, here are some ideas that can work for you indoors or out. 

    * Playing cards have been around for centuries and almost everyone knows at least one
card game.  Serious card players have at least two decks on hand, and spares available for when a deck gets smudged or dog-eared. It’s fun to put your personal stamp on the game by having designer cards. I like these classy metallic silver playing cards and they also make impressive gifts for any age, any gender. 

    * Games that have stood the test of time include chess, dominoes, checkers, Scrabble and Monopoly. Save space with this all-in-one game in its own carry case. 
This bag toss game folds and slides into a storage compartment. Anyone can play including the elderly and handicapped.

    * Bocce (pronounced bah-che)  is an outdoor grame that has thousands of international fans and it doesn’t take up a lot of room to carry or to play. Petanque  (pay TAHNK) is another ball game known more to Europeans than to North Americans. Unlike croquet, both bocce and petanque are easy to set up and put away and they don't require a large space.

    When you’re looking for a useful gift for yourself or other RV-ers, give games a chance. 

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Friday, July 4, 2014

The Cost of RV Life

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Run Away in an RV: The Costs

         Life was simpler when Great-Grandfather brought home his pay and Granny divided it into envelopes for the landlord, grocer, church and a dollar for the insurance collector. 
          Preparing a monthly budget is one of the toughest jobs for RV full-timers to face,
especially with food and fuel inflation eating deeper into our pockets each day. A couple who have a 28-foot gasoline motorhome live on $1,000 a month, at least for now. Another young couple, who travel in their RV and make a living with their videos and personal appearances, spent more than $10,000 in the first quarter of 2014 alone. 

    Here are ways to make  smart guesses.

    * Most expenses are monthly but others are seasonal (Christmas, seasonal campsite
rental) or annual (insurance,  dues, income tax).  Other costs, such as batteries, tires or engine repairs may occur years apart Add up known bills as close as you can,  then guess at others and divide by 12 to get an idea of what you have to lay aside each month. 
    * Income. Add up known income such as pay checks, pension, alimony, annuities, stock
dividends and year-end distributions from stocks or retirement plans. Then divide by 12. This gives you an idea of how much you can spend monthly and still have your head above water when big bills come due.
    Campsite costs can vary wildly over the year. What was your average last year? If your
habits don’t change, expect the same next year but allow 10% for inflation. If this is your first year, subtract 10% because next year you'll have a better idea of how to shave costs.
    Clothing, linens. What did you spend last year for new clothes, laundry, alterations and
dry cleaning? Here you may also want to list personal grooming outlays such as the hair salon. 
    Communications are personal. Depending on your own needs they can range from the rare long-distance phone call to a big monthly bill for satellite phone and Internet.
    Food costs include supermarkets, the liquor store, drive-through lattes,  produce from the farmer’s market,  fresh bread and milk from  high-priced campground store, restaurants and non-food supplies such as paper products and soap. Keep track, add it up and allow 10% for inflation.
    Fuel costs are easier if you figure them on a yearly basis, especially if you stay put for
long periods and then make long jumps in spring and fall. Don’t forget tolls and fuel for the tow car or boat, stove, furnace and  generator.
    Health costs are skyrocketing in every way from doctor visits to prescriptions. In addition to predictable bills such as everyday drugs, insurance, and regular treatments by the chiropractor or massage therapist, don’t forget irregular or annual visits (eye doctor, checkups),  hearing aid maintenance and new glasses.  In this column you might also list  gym membership or spa treatments. Put away something extra each month for unexpected ills.
    Hobbies, leisure. This category could cost  nothing (for walks at sunset) to many dollars
each month for concert seats or canvas and oil paints. Give yourself a budget for reading material, satellite TV and/or DVD rental, museum admissions, entertaining, and pets.
    Gifts are important to most women’s budgets.  Add up the annual need for birthdays and Christmas plus charity, church and add another 10% to 20% for unpredictable weddings, funeral flowers, graduations, etc.
    Insurances are usually billed once or twice yearly. Avoid surprises by breaking them
down by the month. Budget accordingly. If you have high deductibles, keep a reserve to cover them.
    Maintenance has many predictable costs such as oil changes every so-many miles and
radiator flushes every so-many months. It impossible to guess at other costs, so it’s wise to have a reserve fund. Know what your warranty covers and what co-pays and other costs will be yours. 

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