This guest article was written By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
In three years of traveling around the country in our RV, we’ve learned the truth of the phrase “better safe than sorry.”
It’s a good idea to be prepared when you’re going on an extended road trip in a car, but you need to be even more diligent before going out on the road in your RV. If you don’t stay on top of maintenance, you could be in for some repairs — and RV repairs aren’t cheap. You can expect to pay $1,700 to fix an inverter, and as much as $3,500 for air conditioning, two of the five most common RV repairs.
Obviously, that would set you back quite a bit. It could even drain the savings you’d set aside for the trip itself, so it’s better to head off problems at the proverbial pass before they happen. Here are some ideas to help you do so.
Get your RV serviced regularly.
Keeping your ride in top shape is even more important for an RV than for a car. For one thing, it’s not just your vehicle; it’s also your home. If you break down, your entire domicile comes to a screeching halt. Literally.
For another, an RV is significantly bigger and heavier than an automobile, so if something goes wrong, the repercussions can be more difficult to navigate — and more dangerous.
It’s a given that you should do all the standard maintenance before you head out: oil change, filter check, tuneup if necessary, brake check, and of course, tires. If your RV sits for a long time between uses, you should change your oil after three or four months even if you haven’t racked up a lot of miles. And you should check your tires for deflation or flat spots.
In addition, check and tighten the lug nuts on your wheels, and be sure the tires don’t show any worrisome wear, such as bulging sidewalls, shallow treads, or cracks. Tire blowouts are dangerous in a car, but they can be catastrophic in an RV, which is more difficult to control.
Keep the weather forecast in mind
Traveling in an RV for an extended period is bound to bring you face to face with some rough weather sooner or later. By knowing what’s out there ahead of time — an app with an extended forecast and multiple destination settings is helpful — and having a solid navigation app that includes possible trouble spots, you can avoid foul weather much of the time.
Be prepared by ensuring that your roof is properly sealed before you head out and possibly hit heavy rain. If water gets in, that’s another costly repair. Check all your seals for soft spots and look for discoloration around vents, air conditioners, and other openings in the roof. More telltale signs include rust or mold, damp carpets, loose moldings, and spongy areas on the roof.
But the rain won’t be your only nemesis. Because an RV has a higher center of gravity than a car, high winds can be especially dangerous. They can make your vehicle swerve as you fight to keep it on the road — or, in extreme cases, cause it to tip onto its side.
The best advice in high winds is to pull over until the storm passes, preferably in an area where there’s some kind of windbreak.
For icy conditions, take along an ice scraper and snow brush. And beware of black ice on the road that could cause you to skid and slide.
Back yourself up and stay in touch
A portable generator can be a lifesaver if you lose power, especially if you’re working remotely and on deadline. You don’t want your laptop to drain down to zero when you’re in the middle of a work project.
Another way to be prepared for any disconnect is by taking an extra phone charger and investing in a cell signal booster, solar charger, and/or CB radio. The more ways you have to stay in touch, the less likely you’ll find yourself stranded with no way to call for help.
It’s also a good idea to invest in roadside assistance that can offer you emergency fuel delivery if you run out of gas or a way to charge your battery if there’s no one nearby with jumper cables. (You should keep those on board, anyway.) Roadside services can also include lockout assistance, and, if all else fails, towing services.
Pack an emergency kit
You’ll need all the same supplies you’d take if you were traveling by car: jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, flares or reflective triangles, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a toolset that includes Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, a ratchet, sockets, regular wrenches, pliers, etc.
Add a Swiss Army knife and duct tape to that list. Pack extra coolant/antifreeze and a can of fix-a-flat, and don’t forget the first-aid kit, either.
If you were in a car, you’d probably be fine with a traditional jack, but you might consider getting wheel ramps for a larger vehicle like an RV. And pick up some tow straps, too, for getting unstuck if you’re mired in mud.
Chances are, you’ll be traveling in cold weather at some point, so also keep extra blankets, an ice scraper, and tire chains on board for when you do.
Being prepared for an emergency when you’re traveling by RV is a combination of keeping your ride protected to prevent problems and having the right tools and resources available if they occur. It’s all about freeing yourself from the potential hassle and worry, so you can do what you bought your RV to do: Go out exploring and have a good time.
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