Friday, April 18, 2014

RV Women Balance the Budget

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. To ask about rates for placing an ad or sponsoring a post email

 photo copyright Gordon Groene

At right, RVer, sailor and travelwriter Janet Groene enjoys a morning on the beach.

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Yearn to Hit the RV Road ?
Start With a Money Makeover
copyright Janet Groene

    Could a financial overhaul get you out on the RV road earlier? If you’re already full-timing, could you live better or earn more? 
    Financial guru Steve Williams, who designed a four-disc audio course, “The Millionaire Mentorship Audio Series”, has advice for you. Here is his five-step program for regaining your fiscal equilibrium. 

     1. Make an honest assessment of your current finances. Know how much you’re spending each month. Don’t forget to include expenses such as medications, school lunches and dry cleaning, Williams says. Janet adds: this will change in full-timing but write it down anyway.
     2. Decide where you want to be,  financially speaking.  Setting goals will help you focus. Decide what expenses you can realistically cut (daily mocha lattes, takeout dinners, etc) . This helps  create your action plan, a  road map for reaching your goal. Janet adds: try to have a time frame in mind too, such as when you want to buy the RV, start full-timing or resign from your job. 
    3. Pay yourself first, Williams advises.  If you have direct deposit, set aside a certain percentage from each check to go directly to a savings account. If you don’t have the money in your hands first, you won’t miss it so much, he claims. You must be diligent about allowing your savings to grow.
     4. Explore your re-financing options.  If you’re mortgage poor (either in a house or the RV), re-financing could help ease your financial pain. Check out government programs and other re-fi programs that may be available to you. Make sure you truly understand the terms of ANY loan you sign.
     5. Money management is the most critical factor in building wealth, so learn to manage the money you have now regardless of the amount.

    Williams says, “Sit down, grab all of your bills and outline your road map. Simply taking that first step will instill a sense of relief. Once you pass up those first few temptations that would normally have you whipping out your credit cards, you’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll feel your resolve growing even stronger. You’ll reach a point where it feels good to stop spending senselessly.”

    Janet adds: no endorsement of his audio series is implied but we thank Williams for these opinions.  Also see Dave Ramsey’s money makeover book

An all-new (4th) edition of the Groenes’ book Living Aboard Your RV covers RV-ing from A to Z including making a living on the go.

    Janet Groene’s RV-ready recipes are posted weekly at Camp And RV Cook and are also available for your Kindle by subscription at


Friday, April 11, 2014

RV Women Travelers Love the Good Guys, Hate the Bad Guys

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to ask about rates for sponsoring a post or placing an ad email

No oven in your camper? No problem. The one shown at left is made by Intercon and may be found in camping stores. To order a Coleman stove-top oven click here.

See Janet Groene's RV-ready recipes at

RV Women Meet Good Guys and Bad Guys

 The Good Guys
    Whether you’re at home or away when you face the awful question of whether a loved one or a pet is in danger from a toxic substance, the National Capital Poison Control Center is there for you. Dial (800) 222-1222. 
    We learned firsthand about the group when we feared our dog had swallowed a tiny hearing aid.  We knew it contained a battery, and batteries can be toxic. Not only were we given expert advice, we received a call back the next day to see how our dog was faring.
    Gypsy is fine and we’ll never know what happened to the hearing aid,  but we do know that this non-government, donation-supported group deserves our thanks. To learn more go to
      A library essential for RV-ers with pets is this reference book. Poisonous 2 Pets lists the dangerous plants you'll find as you travel through every eco-system around the country. Click here

The Bad Guys

    RV-ers Joni and Chris, who blog at have a wise warning for RV travelers and for their friends and relatives back home. They tell everyone, “If you ever receive an email, snail mail, or phone call stating that one or both of us is in dire straits and needs financial aide, ignore/trash it and dump your trash. It means our email list has been hacked.” 

    I often receive such e-mail messages from people whom I know to be travelers. Most of the messages are simply laughable because someone is "stranded in London " or "broke in Bangkok."   Someone I barely know is begging me for a loan.
    Here’s how it works. A thief hacks your entire mail list and e-blasts a message that purports to be from you. The crook expects to hit pay dirt by reaching at least one close relative or friend who falls for the story. Usually the message states that "you can’t call  me back"  because “my cell phone was stolen” or “I’m in jail”.  Always check and double check before calling a number or sending money.
    A similar scam occurs by phone. The call to an older person goes like this,   “Grandma? I’m in trouble.” The hook is set when poor Grandma blurts, “Is this you, Kevin?” or
“Emily?” The perp then becomes Kevin or Emily and Grandma is instructed to send money. Between the rush and a “poor connection” Grandma buys the scam and is cut off before questions can be asked. 
   Thanks to modern communications, we are in touch no matter where we are. That  means that the bad guys can reach us too. Here's a guide to protecting yourself from social media scams. Here's another book that blows the whistle on telephone sales scams

Friday, April 4, 2014

RV Women Fight GVW

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to ask about rates for sponsoring a post or placing an ad, email

photo courtesy Coachmen

 Stay active, stay hydrated and enjoy RV life

Aunt Janet’s Sneaky Secrets
for RV Weight Control
    Staying slim in the wonderful world of RV life is a special challenge, filled with  sumptuous coffee hours and campground potlucks. You’re also a traveler, so visiting restaurants is part of the experience. Because you’re pressed for time you may also fall back on more convenience foods than you should.  
    In the RV world they call it GVW, or Gross Vehicle Weight. Are you hauling around more cargo  than you wish?  If it’s gross and you hate it, let’s lighten the load.

    * See yourself as a babe. If you want to lose weight splurge on the sexiest, most sensuous bra and panties you can find but order just one size too small. Nobody knows but you. Keep downsizing until you get the fit you want.

    * Don’t skip breakfast. Plan breakfast the night before and eat at least something before hitting the road. It’s tempting to get in an hour of two on the road before breakfast but by then  you’re ravenous enough for the Trucker’s Special (bacon, sausage, pancakes, toast, fried potatoes and eggs) instead of the egg white and spinach omelet. 

    * Don’t take it sitting down.  I call them walking desserts. Leave the table, grab an individually wrapped treat and set out at a brisk pace. As soon as you get back to the RV, brush and floss. You won't be so tempted to have another sweet.  

    * Watch that salt! If you use a lot of canned and packaged foods, as most of us do in RVing,  you’re probably piling sodium on sodium.

    * Read labels #1. “Health”  foods aren’t always healthy and they cost more. Almost all supermarket cereals contain sugar, salt or additives. Plain oatmeal is a good bet but watch those flavored “instant” hot cereals. How many grams of carbs in that fruited yogurt?  How much fat is in the “all natural” margarine ? What kinds of fats?  

    * Read labels #2. Know what constitutes one portion. One of my friends fell for a “100-calorie” cereal. When I measured one 100-calorie portion into her bowl (1/2 cup)  she was appalled at how small it was. She had been eating three “portions” at a time.
    * Read labels #3. Many so-called “healthy fruit and vegetable” drinks contain high fructose corn syrup.

    * Eat whole fruit, not juice.
    * Eat restaurant meals at lunch time instead of dinner. For less money you’re sampling the same cuisine and ambience as dinner and you have the rest of the day to work off the calories.
    * Portion control works. Dish it out, don’t go back for more.
    * Be your own personal trainer . Develop a workout you can use anywhere, even on rainy days inside the RV. 

See Janet Groene's shortcut recipes for camping and RV at

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Tempos and Traditionsof RV Travel and Life

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to ask about rates for sponsoring a post or placing an ad contact

 What's on your RV travel bucket list? For some it may be visiting lighthouses from Canada to Florida or Alaska to Baja. Start a scrapbook of your "collection". 

 This Class A motorhome has its own garage. I can dream, can't it?


Don't miss this week's Camp and RV Recipes at

RV Life Should Have Traditions Too
copyright janet groene 
    There’s comfort in habits, even in those habits we may think of as ruts.  Many of us go RV-ing to get away from some traditions but that doesn't mean you can't have new and very meaningful ones. As you travel, think about traditions you can start now to treasure as long as you live. 

For You Alone
    You might, for example, start every day with a prayer or meditation in the cockpit with its  view of the outside world. Or do  a tai chi workout at sunrise. Set aside time each day for a  soothing cup of green tea. Design a quilt with a new square for every special place you visit. Vow to learn a new French irregular verb each day, or a sonnet or Psalm. Start a diary devoted solely to the RV life. Join networks on the Internet or ham radio.

For the RV  

   Everyday habits bring sameness and sanity to life on the road. Food traditions are always good. Bean soup and cornbread every Saturday night? Celebrate the first Friday of the month with dinner and a movie? Set aside every other Tuesday for housecleaning and maintenance followed by a Chinese takeout dinner?  

    Some traditions are best when the coach is at rest; others are best on the road.  One very practical habit to adopt is to walk completely around the coach before every start-up, even if you’ve stopped only a few minutes for fuel. From the safety standpoint, it gives you a chance to make sure everything is in order. You also use the time to put your mind in highway mode for  the serious business of driving safety.  

    Old birthday and holiday traditions don’t always work in the RV lifestyle, so make new ones. Cupcakes instead of a big layer cake? Cornish game hens instead of a big Thanksgiving turkey? Get online to send roses to your sister on her anniversary. Make your mother’s recipe for Christmas pudding.

    Pinterest is fun but you can also start an on-board corkboard of photos and souvenirs. Start a Fun Fund where loose change goes at the end of each day. When the kitty is full, splurge on a special outing. 

    Commit to times when you will look back, take stock and set goals. These times might be weekly or on some special date but they work best when you're consistent. They are promises to yourself that you can change lifestyles when this one isn't right for you any longer. Instead of chafing  over everyday annoyances, save your wants and gripes for times when you take inventory, weigh the good and bad and decide on your next move.   

For the Campground

    Could you adopt a tradition that others will remember you for? You might find a place to mount a flag on your coach and raise the Stars and Stripes each morning, observing proper flag etiquette. Or, become known as the woman in the campsite who has tea daily at 3 p.m., everyone welcome to bring a cup and join in. 

    Everyone who has ever camped with him remembers the fellow I met at a campground where he played Taps at sunset every day. He was a really good bugler and the sound of those tones floating over the mountains always brought tears to my eyes. You might be remembered for your famous potluck dish or the homemade snack mix you take to the neighbors. 

    Memories. The best ones are waiting for you Out There.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What's New in RV Hook-Ups

blog copyright Janet Groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to ask about rates for sponsoring a post or placing an add email

Get Janet Groene’s book Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition in paperback or Kindle. Order by phone from the RV Book Store (800) 274-9738.

What's New in Hooking Up
(It’s Not What You Think)

    In RV travel,  hooking up means attaching your RV’s water, electric and sewer system to campground plugs and drains.  Even if you’re a seasoned RV traveler, you may not have the latest in hookup safety and convenience.

    It begins with parking. Before pulling into the campsite I get out of the rig and decide on a parking strategy in relation to the hookups.

    Get a top quality, weatherproof RV or marine extension cord. Simpler RV’s need a 30-amp cord; larger ones need 50 amps. The capacity of the electric cord depends on its diameter and length. Get one long enough to reach, heavy enough to carry the current, yet no heavier than you can handle and stow. 

    Power is lost with length, and too thin a power cord overheats and melts, so you want a fat cord in the shortest length that will do the job. I suggest one  25- or 30-foot cord plus a second one you can add in that rare campsite where you need added length.  

    You may also want to carry your own GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) tester, an inexpensive gadget that verifies that the campground plug is properly grounded.  GFI's are  often built in at campground stanchions but I’ve seen faulty ones. Having your own tester makes you doubly safe. 

     Stray currents can cause shocks and also damage delicate equipment. Our dog once got shocked on damp ground outside the RV even though we couldn’t feel it.  That's when I stopped trusting any GFI other than our own. The dog wasn’t injured but he balked at going near the RV for months afterwards. 

    Jo, the Plumber
    Lesson One: Hooking up to the sewer isn’t as bad as it sounds.
    Lesson Two: When dealing with sewage tanks, dump stations and sewer hookups, get it right the first time. Accidents are icky, usually illegal,  and are unlikely to bring volunteers who are eager to help.

    As for incoming water, get a drinking water hose for purity and taste. Most garden hoses impart a bad test and perhaps impurities. They're usually white to look better,  stay cooler.  If you travel in areas where there is any possibility of a freeze (even summer nights can be very cold in the mountains)  heated water hoses are available.

    Hook one end to the campsite faucet, run it for a minute to flush it and plug the other end into the RV.  You now have home-style running water. Your RV also has a tank for drinking water and a pump that delivers it to your faucets, but for now they get a rest. Just make sure water in the drinking water tank is refreshed often, especially in hot climates. If you’ve been on campground water for more than a few days, your tank water can get stale and perhaps even harmful.

    Consider adding two other items.  A quick-disconnect fitting   is an inexpensive convenience that allows you to snap the hose on and off the RV. You might also add a
pressure-control device that tames water pressure if the campground’s pressure surges. 
Your RV’s plumbing could be damaged if incoming water pressure is too high.

     Once hooked up to campground water,  keep in mind that incoming water has to go into your RV’s wastewater tanks or into the campground’s sewer.  It’s illegal in most places to let anything drain into the ground, not even clean water from the sink and shower.

    In an RV you learn conservation fast, and sometimes the hard way. Even if you have gauges that indicate when  gray and black water tanks are getting full,  sensors tend to get grotty and cannot be trusted. Use water sparingly. You’ll soon develop an inner radar that tells you it’s time to drain the tanks. 

    For obvious reasons, make sure the sewer hose runs downhill towards the sewer. A simple hose rack supports and protects the hose and also helps aim it correctly.
After hooking up, empty the black water tank ASAP (before solids have a change to settle down),  then close it again. Leave the gray water tank drain open, which keeps the hose flushed out. At the same time, closing the black water valve allows the tank to partially fill up before you empty it, assuring that it empties completely.  Don’t skimp on flushing the toilet. Liquids are needed to flush out the solids.

    Many RVs have a built-in flushing system that allows you to put clean water through the entire system including the black water tank and out the hose. If you have one, its operation is described in your owner’s manual.

    Find Janet Groene’s easy recipes for camping and RV here. The weekly blog is also available for Kindle readers by subscription at . Janet’s cookbook, Cooking Aboard Your RV, 2nd Edition, can be ordered from (800) 274-9738. Also available is her Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition.

    Recipes that use only shelf-stable ingredients are found new weekly at Boat Cook. They’re ideal for boondocking and emergencies.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Woman's Guide to Camping Quartzite

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to ask about rates for sponsoring a post or placing an ad contact 

Scroll down, down, down to make sure you haven't missed previous posts. For more from Janet Groene order her books Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition and Cooking Aboard Your RV, 2nd Edition from the RV Book store, (800) 274-9738

 Melanie Cullen is a Quartzite veteran and an expert in solar energy.  BLM lands there are a favorite winter hangout for in-the-know RVers. Below see Melanie's RV at another location.) 


A Solo Woman’s Guide to Camping Quartzite
copyright Janet Groene

    In the RV world, Quartzite is shorthand for the world capital of boondocking. Actually it’s a small town in Arizona where a huge Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  area is available for dirt-cheap dry camping as well as nine big gem and mineral swap meets a year. 

    Melanie Cullen, vice president of operations and marketing at Blue Sky Energy ( is an expert in solar energy technology, especially as it applies to RV’s. She is also a Quartzite veteran who first began camping there with her parents. Reporting on what’s there for the solo woman RVer she says, “That partly depends on how you like to camp. There are some RV type ‘parks’ that are mostly just RV’s next to each other nearer town with hookups. There are a few actual nice parks too with some amenities

    “Most of us just dry camp out on the BLM lands for a small fee. We stay at the area called Las Posas North, and it is a first-come,  first grab your little piece of desert. People are generally friendly, so if you (a woman alone)  walked by a few circle of rigs or lone ones too, you can strike up conversation and get invited to a campfire.

    “Many groups go as well, and I can imagine there is one for traveling females alone. If not in a park with attached sewer, but on the BLM or even some of the parks with electrical, you would need to drive to a dump station. They have them in the BLM area  free or for pay at the RV parks.

    “It is easy to ride a bike around the town if you're camped at Las Posas North or South or one of the local RV parks. There are many swap meets that don’t require a partner to shop with. Often, my husband and I split up as I want to linger ‘way longer than he does in my areas of interest and he lingers in all the tool places. I only linger in the tool places to buy my annual bag of gardening gloves. They are really cheap so I buy a bag of about 20 each year to get me by. I love all the rocks and minerals in the raw and always buy some for my yard each year. 

     "There is lots of inexpensive jewelry and also some nice stuff too. A number of places specialize in fossils, whether it is something for display or bowls, plates, sinks, etc made out of polished fossil rock. There are yard items, old junk yard items and I have always maintained that if you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!

    “We started camping in Quartzsite about 16 yrs ago, generally with my Mom and Dad’s group of friends. We have had a few of our friends from time to time join us as well.

    “ There are plenty of nice hiking areas. They’re still desert but pretty in their own way. I wouldn’t recommend a solo anyone going out unless they told someone where they were going. There is a lot of desert without a lot of people and you could get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. I think the single travel, is partly how a person likes to travel and how much they want to meet new people vs. enjoying their own time to themselves. It could certainly work out either way.” 

   See Janet Groene's easy recipes for campers and RV-ers at  
   The recipe blog is available available for Kindle by monthly subscription for only 99 cents. See

Thursday, March 6, 2014

RV Women Dress the Part

blog copyright janet groene, all rights reserved. For permissions or to inquire about rates for sponsoring a post email

From dress-up to casual, RV women can shop smart to  look smart. A sarong is an all-purpose garment that can be everything from an evening dress to a swim suit cover-up

 The RV Woman: Dress the Part
copyright janet groene

    The RV woman’s wardrobe should be versatile, easy care, flattering and durable. Space is always at a premium and, if you are an RV full-timer, you have to carry an entire, year-round wardrobe with you including perhaps both leisure and career outfits.
    Women’s tastes , budgets and activities differ, so there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. Here are thoughts on dressing smart for the travel life.    

    * To save space, stick with that one palette. That also helps you coordinate shoes and accessories. One  choice is to buy only black, white or black and white garments, then go wild with colored accessories such as scarves  , belts and shoes. Other one-color choices are denim, camo or khaki. Everything goes with them. 

    * Double-duty garments are always a plus: jackets with zip-out linings and/ or zip-off arms; slacks that zip apart to become shorts or pedal pushers; camisoles that double as a bra; reversible skirts  , vests, skirts and sleeveless shells. 

    * Get two looks from the same pair of dressy shoes. Clip-on bows, jewels and other trim  are found in shoe stores to turn plain pumps into party pumps.

    * Tilley, maker of the famous Tilley hat  , also offers socks, quick-drying underwear  and other travel clothing.  A leather Australian bush hat looks great on women too.

    * Love a lava-lava, also known as a sarong or pareo.  It can be tied as a shawl, sun dress, skirt or shawl. Readymade pareos can be found in a wide range of fabrics from imported Balinese batiks to African prints and ruffled silks.

      It’s easy to make your own. A pareo is simply a rectangle of cloth without slits, straps or buttons. Buy two yards of 36-, 45- or 48-inch-wide fabric (the width of the fabric determines the length of the sarong) and hem the raw edges.  If you don’t know how to sew, use iron-on fusing or hemming tape.   
    Choose a cotton or blend heavy enough to be used as a garment but light and supple for easy tying and draping. If the fabric is too heavy it gets too thick in spots where it’s folded or tied. If it’s too thin, your underwear shows. ( However, see-through sarongs make good swim suit cover-ups.)  For instructions on half a dozen or more ways to tie a pareo, go online and find many  video sites. You know you’re a real pro when it stays put all day without pins.

See Janet Groene's smart, shortcut camp and RV Recipes here.