Plenty of Web sites and blogs already tout commercially-available products invented to make our lives as RVers (especially full-time RVers) easier, and we won’t repeat those here. And we all know that the evolution of things like the Internet — enabling e-mail and online banking, to cite just two examples — has made full-timing much easier in lots of respects.
But there are a few other things we’ve discovered and have come to rely on — maybe they’ll work for you too. If we missed something you’ve found you can’t live without while on the road, leave a comment and clue us in!
So far (with the exception of some remote spots in Alaska), when we haven’t had a cable TV connection and reception with our antenna sucked (no, we don’t pay a bunch of money for a satellite link), we’ve been grateful to be near a Red Box. If you’re not familiar with them, take a look. It’s Netflix brought to your neighborhood, making movie rentals easier than ever for us RVers. If you haven’t seen one, they’re pretty easy to spot: just look for a big red vending machine. The touchable screens show you what’s available, give a description of the movies, and with a swipe of your credit card, you pay and receive your movie. Return the movie the next day at any Red Box machine. Though we haven’t tried renting a movie in one city or state and returning it in another, this is supposed to work. Oh, and games? Rent those, too. How cool is that? (I love being a full-time RVer in this day and age!)
And if you spend much time in an RV, much less live in one, you’ve probably noticed that the sound for the TV/entertainment system is usually awful. In our Class C, the TV is mounted over the passenger seat, up high, where not only is the tiny lettering on the screen hard to make out (! Producers of TV shows these days must think *everyone* has a huge screen, I guess), but it’s hard to hear. Add the rumble of the air conditioner or furnace, or the rattle of the ceiling fan, and turning the sound all the way up sometimes isn’t even enough. Enter the Visio speaker box, a sleek unit we found at Walmart for under $150. Connects through a earphone jack on the phone and tah-dah! Sound!!
If you don’t have a two-sided micro-fiber cloth in your cleaning bucket, get one. The ones I use are designed with two sides: one side for cleaning spots off mirrors and the other for wiping down counters, dusting, etc. Being able to keep the bathroom mirrors and faucets shiny when boondocking keeps us from feeling as far from civilization as we might be at the time. We’ve found the best ones in the car detailing section of department stores. Oh, and they work great for cleaning screens — just swipe a dry micro-fiber cloth across a screen (best to be inside so the dust flies out of your rig) and voila! You can see through it again 🙂
We’re starting to see them in more places, so you might be able to find one someplace other than online or in high-end specialty kitchen stores: collapsible strainers. Made of silicon, we keep two sizes handy — a colander and a strainer. Great for making salads and rinsing produce on the road where storage is — well, you know.
Before we even hit the road, Bob found a neat haircutting tool. I went into the office one morning after he cut my hair the night before and when a co-worker complimented me on my hair style I said, “Thanks! Bob did it with the vacuum cleaner!” Yep. If you haven’t seen the RoboCut, take a look. You connect it to your vacuum and it sucks your hair to the spinning blades, which trim your hair. How cool is that? Set the attachments to the length you want and voila! Bob uses a couple of different settings for my hair — adjust it in all kinds of ways to make it work for you. Quick and painless, we can get a great haircut anytime, anywhere.
We’ve found the best way to keep the outside water filter from tipping over is to put it in an oval blue bucket from Walmart. We keep it in there during transit and when set up — we just move the bucket, making for easy set-up and take-down, and if the filter happens to leak during transit, the bucket keeps water from running all over the storage bin.
RVers who frequently boondock in places like parking lots and rest areas know that the bright lights are a double-edged sword: they make for great security, but they also make it harder to fall asleep. I’ve written about this before, but I’m so happy with this, I’m mentioning it again: black towels. I stitched two together and we drape them over the valences over the side windows in the bedroom. It darkens the room just enough that we can get a good night’s sleep (unless a refrigerator truck parks next to us… haven’t found a solution for that yet….!)
Keeping It Handy
Whenever we travel north into metric territory, I keep a couple of index cards tucked in a storage slot near the dashboard with a small calculator. Quick math in my head isn’t my strong suit, so figuring out what 35 kph is in mph is no easy conversion for me. One card has KPH = MPH conversions, so when we see a speed limit sign, a quick check tells us whether we’re in ticket territory or not. Another card has our RV dimensions in US and metric conversion as well — no wondering if we can fit under that 3 meter-high underpass!
Best Way to Carry Spare Glasses: Ellen’s hand-made glasses holders, with long ties so they can be worn around the neck. Stuff your sunglasses into them while shopping or tote your reading glasses in them…. They can also be used for stowing your laptop mouse, flash/thumb drives, pens, and other items when heading into a free wifi spot. (For basic sewing instructions, send Ellen an e-mail)
This isn’t specific to RVers, but to anyone who wants a very comfortable sock. We love to hike (as you know), but when Ellen suffered chafing from regular socks after a long hike in Acadia National Park some years ago, we’ve been on the lookout for the best hiking socks. Liners work, but the extra layer can sometimes cause its own challenges. After trying a lot of different brands, we now swear by Teko socks. Ellen’s modeling a pair in the photo below — notice how they’re made to hug the foot right where the laces tie? That makes all the difference. We’ve since seen a few other types of socks made this way, but always buy Tekos when we find them. (Or we order them online!) If they seem pricey to you, remember that the wrong socks on a long walk or hike can mean you end up losing time you could be out there, enjoying nature. Always worth it to us!