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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 2374  
Subject: FAQ attack Date: 6/30/2002 2:49 PM
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I thought I would spend a few minutes putting together a FAQ for the board, since there is not already one here. If you have additions, alterations, corrections, deletions, or whatever, please post them - or e-mail them to me and I'll do a final version before asking the Fool to link it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Welcome to the FAQ for RVing Fools. In it we will attempt to answer every single question that has ever been asked about RVing. On the off chance that we miss one, there are a bunch of links below which will lead you to some strange and interesting places.

There are some dumb questions along the way, which is OK, because that's where we all started.

What are RV's?

They are Recreational Vehicles, and they come in many flavors. There are :

Pick-up truck Inserts which slide into the bed of the pickup, but which can be jacked up on legs and the truck driven out from underneath. (You enter up some stairs in the back.) [include price?]

Pop-ups are flat boxes on wheels about 3 feet high which are towed behind your car, pick-up, or SUV, and as the name implies "pop up" to full size when parked. The roof is raised, the sides expand, and they sleep as many as six. Some come with full amenities from refrigerator ro stove, some even have shower and toilet. Most, but not all, are "soft-sided" (like a tent), but have a hard top and solid floor. Price range: $7,000 to $20,000.

Trailers, which you pull along behind your SUV, truck or car come in sizes as huge as 40 feet. Most are 20-30 feet, but there are some teensy ones just big enough for a bed and some are gigantic with two bedrooms and a full home entertainment center including giant-screen TV. The "all-silver" AirStream with rounded corners is a well known brand of "trailer". Price: $15k to $50k or more.

Fifth wheels are the two-level trailers you see hooked into the bed of a pick-up truck, and which actually hang over the back of the truck. These also come in sizes from 20-35 feet, and feature elevated ceilings (some with ceiling fans!) and all other amenities. The bathroom and bedroom are in the "upper level" because you don't spend as much time there and don't need as much headroom when you're lying down. Got it? Expect to pay from $20k to $75k, depending on your level of comfort.

The "bus" type, called motorhomes or motorcoaches, are like a rolling apartment on wheels. These are known as "Class A" vehicles. They range from 24 to 40 feet or so, are built on a truck or bus chassis, and range in price from $70k to over a million bucks. Most gas models are between $70k and $150k, while diesel models go from $120k to $300k. Luxury models, like country and rock stars tour in can go $600k to a million or more. They have Italian marble floors and granite countertops, and no, they're not worth it <grin>

Class "B" RVs are conversion vans, and run from $25K to $80K and up. They have most everything their big brothers have, just a lot smaller and tighter. (Some would say "cramped.") Still, you can park them easily, including in your garage, and pulling off the road into a quaint antique shop is a lot easier than with a 40 foot bus.

Class "C" RV's are the "driver's cab in front with box behind" models like the ones Hertz uses to pick you up at the airport. They are a coach on a van frame. They are easier to drive and park, but aren't as large as Class "A" vehicles. Still, they offer mostly all the same amenities, just in a smaller package.

Why are the biggest ones called "Class A", the smallest "Class B" and the middle size "Class C"?

No one knows.

Are there other kinds?

The list is endless. You can get a trailer where the back lowers down and which contains storage for 4 motorcycles or 2 ATV's, you can get a diesel motorcoach on a truck bed with the engine in front or a "diesel pusher" with tne engine in the rear. You can find a small trailer on two wheels which pulls behind a motorcycle, and which converts to a tent complete with airconditioning, storage, and sleeping quarters for up to four. There are others; look around, it's amazing!

Are some brands better than others?

Absolutely! Ask around on chat boards, newsgroups, and check out product evaluations from magazines and websites (some listed below.) This is real money you're thinking about spending, and rolling a house down the road at 60mph means things can shake, rattle, and go wrong. Some brands go more wrong than others.

How do I find out what a used RV is worth?

Dealers, of course, some of whom take RV's in trade, and some who let their lots be used by private owners on consignment. Buying directly from a private owner can be cheaper, but there isn't usually a guarantee (unless that owner has a warrantee he can pass along; which some do). Some dealers don't offer any kind of warantee on used vehicles either, but sometimes they'll make good a small problem at no or minimal cost, at least at first.

This website has a good list of Used RV prices (click on the RV link): http://www.nadaguides.com/

How do you know where campgrounds are if you don't live there?

There are several directories which list tens-of-thousands of campgrounds all over the country, and none of them lists them all! At most RV dealers you can find a Good Sam's Directory (Trailer Life), a Woodalls, or others [insert other names]. You can find a Woodall's at Barnes & Noble or Borders, too. Trailer Life gives a general, if subjective "rating" in several categories, including "completeness of services", "quality of amenities" "cleanliness of bathrooms", and so on. Woodall's is more thorough in listing "what's there", but less in "what that means", so if they say "This campground has groceries" you don't know if that means they have two shelves with week-old bread or has a full convenience store on the property.

Why aren't all campgrounds listed?

There are just too many. Some are too small. The Trailer Life Directory won't list a campground if it has fewer than 20 spaces, which eliminates a lot of lovely but small areas, particularly "Mom & Pop" campgrounds but also some small civic campgrounds run by small towns for the convenience of people visiting relatives. You find some of the best by watching for signs on the road!

The directories also don't list any they don't consider "attractive enough", which is usually lower than a "5" on their "10" point rating scale (assuming they use one). Chances are if this is the reason, you don't want to stay there anyway. Some are really gritty, and include junked school buses where people live.

What about pets?

Most campgrounds allow pets. Nearly all have a "pet walk" area, and all require that you scoop the poop.

How may websites are there to help me find information?

Thousands. Start here: The Good Sam Club and Woodall's are good on-line resources to poke around: www.goodsamclub.com and www.woodalls.com. Trailer Life magazine (run by Good Sam's) is for RVers, not for people who want to appear on the Jerry Springer show. www.trailerlife.com

Another comprehensive source is www.goRVing.com, and
www.rvia.org is one which includes a manufacturer's directory, RV retail show calendar and industry news.
The RV Dealer's Association runs a website at www.rvda.org, and
the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds can be found at www.gocampingamerica.com.

There are more websites listed below.

Can I just rent an RV to see if I like it?

Sure. You might start with www.cruiseamerica.com, or an independent referral service at www.rvrent.com
Many dealers will rent late model Class C or Class A motorhomes as well. Call a few and see if they do. If you don't want to drive all the way across the country, find a dealer near where you want to visit (like Yellowstone, for instance), fly there and then rent from them. Some will even arrange pickup at an airport so you don't have to rent a car and leave it sitting for a week.

What about insurance, breakdowns, and stuff like that?

If it exists for a car, it exists for RV's. Some car insurance companies won't insure RV's, so you may have to go somewhere other than your regular agent. Prices, of course, are commensurate with the value of the vehicle, even though you may drive an RV a lot less.

Good Sam's offers a "roadside assistance" package similar to what AAA sells for cars; it includes "towing" for about $80/yr. AAA also offers an RV package in most areas.

How do I get TV? How do I get e-mail? How do I get the internet?

Satellite TV is available from www.dishnet.com or www.directv.com. Some coaches come with a "one button" solution which automatically makes the dish "find" the satellite at each stop. It also costs $1000. Doing it manually takes about 2-5 minutes for a rooftop set-up, 5-15 minutes for a tripod on the ground outside your rig. If you park under a tree you get shade but not TV.

A good number (maybe 50%) of campgrounds offer cable-tv at the campsite, sometimes for extra cost ($1-$2 per day.) It seems to be a higher percentage west of the Mississippi and lower in the East.

Many campgrounds (also around 50%) offer "modem service", a euphemism for a phone line you can use to hook up a laptop computer. There is often a line at peak times, but you can log-on, get your e-mail and log back off. You can't usually sit there and compose a reply. A few campgrounds charge extra for this, and a fair number don't offer the amenity at all. A very few offer a dedicated phone line at your campsite, which you can use to surf the web to your heart's content. You need to be able to reprogram your computer's access software to dial local numbers where you travel, or to pay your provider's 800-number surcharge, which is usually about 10¢ a minute.

Other e-mail solutions include Blackberry, a wireless handheld system which has good coverage in metropolitan areas and which works in real-time, or PocketMail, which uses a small hand-held device to access e-mail from any payphone (or any telephone at all, really) anywhere in the country by calling their 800 number. The transmission rate is very slow, so it is not satisfactory if you get a high-volume of messages, but it works well and the device is simple to use. Unlike Blackberry, you only get your e-mail when you dial-in. PocketMail can "consolidate" mail from your AOL, cable modem, corporate, or other accounts, even if they don't offer "mail forwarding." www.pocketmail.com It's around $15/mo, plus $50 for the "unit."

AOL offers a hand-held e-mail device, but it only "receives" and you can't "send" back. It's $24/mo.

"Internet by satellite" is a promise that's been made for the past several years, but it still isn't ready for prime time.

What about cell phone service

It exists almost everywhere. Check with your provider, you can get killed on "roaming charges", which can hit you for $3 per day for some carriers whether you make a call or not! Verizon and some others offer "nationwide plans" for as little as 10¢ per minute.

Are there ways to get discounts at campgrounds?

Yes. Good Sam's Club offers a 10% discount at participating campgrounds, of which there are thousands. KOA often has promotions for its members offering "Stay 5 nights get 1 free" or similar discounting plans, as well as a discount structure similar to Good Sam's.

You can get a year-long Season Pass to National Parks for the cost of going to a couple of them, so that might be worthwhile. There are "time share" and "camping clubs" which sell "lifetime memberships" in participating clubs, but usually for a high fee, and they are not generally thought to be a good investment. Still, if you are only going to go to one or two places (the lake/mountain near your home) and they are a member, it might be worth thinking about.

You can also stay in many Wal-Mart parking lots, so long as you park far from the store and local zoning laws permit it (some don't.) That's free, which is a good price, but then you are looking at a Wal-Mart, not exactly a breathtaking view of natural scenery. Please be considerate and don't dump trash out the door, and possibly even patronize the store if you need something. If you need it, they probably sell it, including specialized RV supplies.

Are there other chat boards besides this one?

All over the place, including some of those URLs listed above. Others are www.rvclub.com, www.fmca.com (Family Motor Coach Association), and more. There is a Usenet discussion group at rec.outdoors.RV-travel You need to know how to access "Newsgroups" (Usenet) through your internet connection to get there.

You can do useful Usenet searches through Google's Usenet Search facility (formerly DejaVu) at http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search
Be sure to put the "rec.outdoors.RV-travel" slug in the "return only messages from newsgroup:" line. There are 50,000 newsgroups, you're only interested in this one.

How about some more URL's?

OK.
www.campnetamerica.com gives locators for campgrounds, parks, clubs.
www.funoutdoors.com has news, information, links and statistics on outdoor activities
www.funroads.com offers personalized RV trip planning and maps, fun stops en route, and locators for RV service, parts and products
www.gorp.com/gorp/activity/rv.htm lists scenic drives, links, driving resources
www.koa.com lists KOA campgrounds, offers online reservations, tips, and a newsletter
www.motorhome.com has articles about test drives,technical advice, free classified ads
www.rvhome.com has links to rv dealers and manufacturers and rental outfits
www.rvusa.com has a newcomer's guide, tips and more
www.campingworld.com is an online catalog for a company with a real good paper catalog of parts, accessories and products. They also have a bunch of retail locations across the country.
www.trailerlife.com has vehicle tests, tow ratings, rv tech tips, etc.
www.walden.mvp.net/~vdrex~ is a site run by an experienced RV couple who give advice about RVing in the midwest
www.towingworld.com has a full line of towbars for cars, 5th wheel hitches, trailer hitches, etc.
www.mapquest.com is a terrific place to get driving instructions from one place to another. Their directions are "shortest possible" unless you fake them out with a "Road Trip Planner" and purposely tell them to take you off the beaten path.

Are there even more?

Yes. Thousands of them. Often you can find them with a Google search (www.google.com) or other search engine.

To find out how to winterize your RV, for instance, you would merely go to Google, type in "RV winterize" and you would come up with 5,430 choices of some flavor of "How To Winterize Your RV" many complete with pictures and step by step instructions.

If your refrigerator goes on the blink, go to a search engine and type "RV refrigerator". Google lists around 53,200 hits, including dealers, parts dealers, and general interest stuff. That might be a few too many, so you can narrow it with "RV refrigerator caught on fire" and narrow it down to only 800 sites<grin>

and of course you can post a message right here and someone will probably come back and help you with a specific answer to a specific problem. Not always, but usually.

You'll find that RVers are unusually friendly, both on chat boards (well, except a few) and in person. There's something about the carefree lifestyle that makes people more helpful and nicer in just about everything.

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