Friday, May 22, 2015

RV Women are Smarter Starters


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Check Your Bags
    After living full-time in an RV for so long, I almost forgot how to pack a suitcase. One of the best features of RV travel is that you unpack once, yet can wake up to a new scene every week, even every day if you wish. Your closet, dresser drawers and medicine cabinet travel with you. 


    So why am I so excited about the new designs at this year’s Travel Goods Show, a luggage trade show held in Las Vegas? These folks play to people who travel by air or cruise ship. Yet many innovative new travel products introduced this year are just right for the RV woman who needs to store or organize her wardrobe, craft supplies or a traveling office. 


    The first thing you’ll notice in new luggage lines is lighter, stronger materials. Suitcases are easier to handle, move, store.  It’s always smart to carry a piece of real luggage in the RV in case you have to fly somewhere in a family emergency or move out of the motorhome temporarily because it needs major repairs or renovation. New luggage that weighs less, does more.


    In your RV,  luggage makes a sturdy storage container and it's so easy to handle. A roll-on suitcase with self-storing handle slides easily in and out of awkward spaces such as an RV basement or a deep, narrow closet. Many bags are also waterproof and hard-size luggage is  almost indestructible.

       
    Lastly, many RV travelers use campground showers, at least some of the time.  Even if you have a shower on board, you may prefer to  use “their” hot water and spacious shower stalls to save on propane and to keep the steam and mess out of your own rig.  

  
You’ll need a pretty, practical toiletries bag that holds everything  from soap and shampoo to makeup, and has a hook to form a hanging medicine carbinet.

 Links take you to what’s new:

    * Backpacks with extra features such as a solar charging panel. They’re ideal day packs for RV travelers who take day hikes or shopping trips.

    * Inflatable booster seat. Kids on board? Just deflate this sturdy seat for easy storage.   

    * Rollasole Shoes are truly smart looking flats that roll into a small ball. Carry twice the shoes in half the space. They are real shoes, available in a variety of styles and colors. Here’s a good shoe in basic black.   


    Shelfpack by McKaba is an amazing, roll-aboard suitcase that expands into shelves. Pack it layer by layer, zip it closed and shove it into an RV closet or storage space. When you expand it again, it’s a free-standing dressing table with four shelves and three handy storage pockets.  It’s very new, not yet in all markets.   Email info@shelfpack.com. 


    Sports bags are newer, smarter looking and better compartmented for carrying your gear to the campground fitness room , pool or tennis court.


    Stainless steel wallets keep others from scanning the private information on the chips in your credit cards.


    If you haven’t shopped for luggage lately, see what’s new for the RV woman. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Clever Camping with Duck Tape

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Don't risk tripping on shoelaces during a difficult hike. Tape over the ties. 

If It Quacks like a Duck
Invented during WWII, duck tape is a must for camping. Today it’s used for everything from making prom dresses to removing warts (or so they say).  I always have it with me, even when backpacking with the lightest possible pack. It’s that versatile.
For flyweight travel,  don’t take the entire roll.  Make up a smaller supply by winding it around an old plastic credit card or thin piece of wood.  It comes in colors including camouflage, but the basic stuff is my mainstay. Make sure it’s real duck/duct tape that is waterproof, sticks like glue and tears without scissors.
Please share your comments. Here are some ways I used it:

* Lint picker and dandruff catcher.  Wrap a length of  tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat lint or dandruff off your clothes. 


* Make a sticky picker-upper for something you dropped in a space you can’t reach, such as behind the bolted-down RV sofabed or in the sink drain.  Take a yardstick or other long pole. Fold duck tape over the end, sticky side out, and tape it in place with more tape. Go fishing  gently so you don’t push the lost item farther out of reach. 


* Temporarily repair a seam, hem or shoe.


* Repair tears in  heavy duty fabrics such as a backpack, sail, tarp,  tent or RV awning. It should last long enough to get you home. 


* Broken prop such as an awning support or tent pole? Use duct tape and a sturdy stick to make a secure splint. 


* To keep zip-shut bags stay tightly closed,  tape them, especially for food and the dry bag you keep in the canoe or kayak. 


* With duct tape and heavy duty plastic bags you can waterproof large items or create a makeshift garment or shelter. (When working with plastic bags, take all precautions against cutting off air supply.) 


* When you need a short length of rope or twine in a pinch, fold or twist duct tape.   


* In a survival situation, tightly tape your knife to a suitable stick to make a fishing spear. 


* Tape over a zipper that leaks or is broken. 


* Make a temporary repair to RV hoses. However, get new hoses ASAP to make sure you aren’t contaminating drinking water or allowing seepage from the sewer hose. 


* Trap ants, flies, roaches or small mice. (Think flypaper or Roach Motel). 


* Duct tape is shiny, so it can help mark a trail. You can also write on it. 


* Tape a flashlight to something so you’ll have hands-free lighting. Lights out on your ATV, bicycle, snowmobile? Tape flashlights to the handle bars.

See Janet Groene’s camping and RV travel recipes at http://www.campandrvcook.blogspot.com

Friday, May 8, 2015

Security Plus for the Solo RV Woman

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Security Plus : Get a
VPN for  Online Privacy

by Janet Groene


Bruce Miller is a technology and web site consultant and the author of an e-book, MobileWriter, found at http://amzn.to/1P4e9YT   As you know, I lived ten years on the go by RV and sailboat while working as a travel writer. Miller’s tips on writing on the go in the Internet era are solid gold. 

 
Whether you want to be a writer, Etsy seller, family  newsletter publisher or just a leisure traveler on the yellow brick road, add Miller’s e-book to your reading list.

When you signed up online for the first time you gave your personal information to an Internet Service Provider. Your IP number, which you probably don’t even know and never see,  is a fingerprint left on everything you do or say online. What is a Virtual Privacy Network  and why do you need one?


The difference between VPN connection and your other other security measures is that a VPN is encrypted. When you go on the Internet via a VPN, your personal IP (Internet Service Provider) is not revealed.

Let’s say you’re in an Internet cafĂ© or at a truck stop using free wi-fi.  Even if you enter their local password and agree to their terms of service, your personal IP number (Internet Service Provider)  is exposed. At best it invites spam. At worst it could be your digital Achilles heel.  A VPN  is one more, and very effective, layer of privacy.

To create a VPN connection you need two things: a VPN client and a VPN server.  The client is a program that runs on your computer and connects to the VPN server.  You need a VPN service that provides both client and server and for this a fee is charged.  One VPN that serves Windows, Mac and Android is Hide My IP.  There's a modest annual fee for your personal license plus a reasonable monthly fee.

In addition to privacy,   Miller says there are many other good  reasons to have a VPN, but that’s the thumbnail version. 
 One downside, says Miller, is the additional overhead of the connection in
two ways. First, because the VPN connection is encrypted, more data is coming an
going out of your computer. Second, encryption always requires more processing,
which in turn requires more power. So, when you’re on battery power with your tablet, laptop or iPhone, your battery won't last as long compared to using your non-VPN connection.

Janet Groene's easy recipes for camping and RV travel are new each week at http://www.campandrvcook.blogspot.com




  

Friday, May 1, 2015

RV Housekeeping 411

It all begins with a good wash jobIt all begins with a good wash job. Use products formulated for use on RV surfaces. They're better for the RV, better for the environment


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Bikini Wax for your RV
    Think of it as skin treatment for your RV, a coating that makes it look better and last longer. How do you choose from the confusing array of waxes out there?

 
    First, check your owner’s manual for the best advice about caring for your RV’s surface. All surfaces (paint, gelcoat,  different types of aluminum, rubber)  have their own needs and no-no’s. Different places on your RV may have different skin, and the roof is different too.

    Wash-Wax combinations sound like a great way to clean and wax at the same time, but there is always the chance you’re grinding in old dirt and sealing it in with the new wax coat. Surfaces should be clean before you start. 


    A Cleaner Wax label refers to protectants that have a mild abrasive cleaner plus protection against moisture and also perhaps to damaging UV rays from the sun. The word “abrasive” in any cleaning product should be a red flag. Use any abrasive only as a last resort as infrequently as possible and only in the area where it’s needed. Most stubborn soil, such as sap or hard water spots, can be removed with milder cleaners. I like nylon netting, the stuff sold by the yard to make tutus, for scrubbing bugs off the RV nose. It won't scratch but it scrubs. I also use it as a dish cloth, but that's another story.



    Straight Paste Wax requires plenty of elbow grease but it’s easier to use if you have a  mechanical buffer. High quality waxes are traditional and time honored but they arequire more work than new formulas and don’t always supply high-tech UV protection.

       Polymer Wax is the latest category of protectants. Most brands are fully synthetic and contain no natural wax. Usually sold as a liquid cream, a polymer bonds with the surface and it should have UV inhibitors. Apply it once–there is no advantage in two coats now–then give it another coat later in the season. In cold climates, two coats a year are good, according to the folks at Shurhold. In the South, use it three or four times annually.

    Bottom line: read labels and apply any products according to directions. Too much, too little, too soon, too late, too warm or cold-–all could be deal breakers. It’s always best to shop for automotive or RV-specific products rather than household cleaners. They may cost more, but they deliver more of what keeps your RV's skin glowing over the long haul.  

PS. Working on your RV out in the open is a great way to meet people, but note that most campgrounds do not allow RV washing at campsites.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Personal Rescue, the RV Woman's Plan B

blog copyright Janet Groene. For permissions or to ask about advertising 
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Not much larger than a phone, a PLB transmits a distress signal, long and strong, anywhere on earth. 

The Ulitmate Security Device
copyright Janet Groene

    As a traveler you need extra security measures. As a woman RV traveler you need the very best search and rescue aids available. Some phone apps can call for help or report your location. Most cell phones broadcast a GPS location. But wait! There’s more.

 
    Smart phones, cell phones and other devices are limited by signal coverage, signal strength and battery power. A Personal Locator Beacon, by contrast, does just one thing. It sends a strong, clear message from anywhere on earth to whatever rescue service is needed for your plight. Best of all, it operates without a monthly subscription.
    Think of the device that sends out a ping after an airplane crashes. Once used primarily on ships and planes, these locator beacons are now being used by skiers, archaeologists, hikers, climbers, parachute jumpers, rafters, paddlers and anyone else who might ever need rescue. And that could be any of us.
     A PLB isn’t a two-way communication device. It is activated only when you’re in grave and imminent danger.

Which PLB is For You?
    First, look at your basic needs. Size and weight are a consideration for easy carrying at all times. If you want it to work on the water, you need a PLB that is waterproof and buoyant.  (Some activate automatically when they hit water).  Some units have a strobe light. Cost is also a factor. There are basic models and others with fancier features. 


    By government standards a PLB operates at a special frequency used only for search and rescue,  and it must undergo rigorous testing.  One manufacturer, ACR, has units that can put out 6.4 watts for more than 30 hours at minus 20 degrees C. You’ll probably pay more than $250 for a PLB but that’s all. There are no more costs until you have to replace the battery, usually about every five years. There is no monthly fee. 


How It Works
    When you need rescue, press a button on the PLB, which you might wear on an armband or carry in a pocket.  Your unique signal code is sent to satellites that serve just this purpose.  In seconds the signal is routed to a ground station (Local User Terminal or LUT) and transferred to the Mission Control Center (MCC). A Rescue Coordination Center passes the information to Search and Rescue (SAR) forces in your location.
    To date, more than 30,000 lives have been saved by these beacons. Once you own a PLB, whether you buy it new or used, register it with NOAA. As soon as you’re registered, SAR forces worldwide have your back forever and ever. Amen. 

See Janet Groene’s easy recipes for camping and RV at http://www.campandrvcook.blogspot.com


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Emergency Cash on RV Trips

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Do you use your RV to travel to games, concerts, events? Goldstar members get tickets at half price. Join free, then enter the name of the city and type of events you like. Tickets not available for all events, all dates but it’s worth a look.

 





When You’re on the RV Road
And  Need Cash NOW

    Emergencies happen, even when you who think you have all the bases covered. Did you ever find yourself out of money  while traveling in your RV? Maybe it’s a repair shop that demands cash, or your credit cards are maxed out,  or your bank makes a mistake or your identify is stolen. Here are ways to raise cash today or tomorrow,  no matter where you are.
Pawn Shops
    Pawn valuables for cash and reclaim them later when you have the money to repay the loan with interest. If not, the pawn shop makes its money by selling your stuff. 
    Pro: you leave the shop with cash in your pocket.
    Con: you get far less than goods are worth. Pawnbrokers assume risk  and deserve a profit.
    411: Interest rates, time limits and other terms of the loan are set by state law and vary according to where you are. Understand your rights and risks. Get it in writing.
Yard Sales
    This is the easiest way to raise cash by unloading things in the RV that you can do without. Most campgrounds don't allow selling but there are many places where you can your wares. 
    Pro: cash in your pocket today.
    Con: it’s hard work to assemble, price and display goods.   
    411:. Yard sale thieves are on the prowl. Don’t let anyone inside your RV.  Be suspicious of personal checks. Have one or two trusted helpers . Never leave your goods or cash box  unguarded.  Most yard sale amateurs price items too high or too low. Check prices online to get a ball park idea of what things are worth. Be prepared to haggle. 

Craigslist.com
    Ads are by city so you find people nearby who want your goods. You  decide how, where and when to meet with buyers. You and the buyer make the deal between yourselves. Craigslist doesn’t take part in the transaction.  
    Pro: it’s instant, local and most ads are free.
    Con: it’s anonymous, so be cautious. Meet in public places. It’s city-specific so it’s difficult to sell if you’re not near one of the listed cities.
    411:  You must have e-mail and create a Craigslist account.
Cash Transfers
  Get physical cash from far-away friends or family in the form of a postal money order,  cash sent by registered mail or via Western Union.  Transfers can be purchased online at WesternUnion.com, on the phone using a credit card,  or in person at a Western Union location. 

    Pro: Both the postal service and Western Union are tried and true.
    Con: Post offices aren't always open. Registered mail can be slow because signatures are required at every step.  
Sell Your Phone, Payday Loans
    Some malls now have kiosks that swallow your old phone and spit out cash  Payday loan storefronts are found everywhere.
    Pro: It’s cash in hand.
    Con: States attorneys general find that these two sources of cash account for an overwhelming majority of their consumer complaints.


See Janet Groene's RV recipes at http://www.campandrvcook.blogspot.com

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