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Pickering Newbie

by David Cartwright
(Pickering Ont Canada)

As you mention above you and Randy had no experience in being together or RVing. I currently have nothing to add to assist anyone as we are in the same boat, I have resigned my job, am selling my house and putting everything in storage. My girlfriend has just moved in with me (almost full time)and we bought a truck and trailer and are leaving for at least one year on the road. I know there will be many challenges and reading your article some we have not thought a lot about or discussed. I expect we shall learn a lot and hope to get through the anxiety of having no home and just each other for a while.

Like you, we plan to do a couple of local trips and then set off west, north, south, east and north again. currently quite vague and hopefully will be refined a little.

We will read, ask. Google, and ask some more I'm sure as we learn everything from where to dump the toilet to where we can park.

Comments for Pickering Newbie

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Jan 08, 2015
Some tips
by: Susan & Peter

Dear David,

We're not (yet) full-timers, but we've traveled as much as 4 months in our tiny pickup-truck camper. Here are some tips:

1) Learn to conserve water in every way you can. I've written about this at some length in another post. By the use of pre-wiping your dishes, you can wash them in an amazingly small amount of water (you use up more paper towels this way, but it's a trade-off). Use the littlest drop of dish detergent, to minimize rinse water; if it's not enough you can always add a drop more. We generally clean our hands with alcohol gel, but when I wash with soap & water, I use a tiny drop of liquid soap, lather up, then wipe off the soap with a paper towel before I rinse (I save the soapy paper towel to wipe the floor or toilet). When we are finished rinsing dishes, we scoop up the used water into a big plastic bottle and use it to flush the toilet (I recently found that a silicone egg poacher is an ideal scoop, as it forms its own funnel).

2) Keeping your chemical toilet from being stinky is a challenge, as you won't want to flush it with water every time. We pour in some water from our wastewater bottle before we poop. Every day or so we slip on a disposable rubber glove and swab out the bowl with Simple Green.

3) We never shower in the camper; we use a truckstop or campground. The WC is a closet: rain gear on hooks above the floor drain, toiletries in the sink, laundry & recycling bags on hooks above the toilet, etc. Feels kind of funny to be sitting on the john amidst a closet, but you get used to it.

4) A bungee cord around the base of the toilet will allow you to store large bottles all around it. Works for us.

5) To minimize the number of times you need to dump your black-water tank, don't put any toilet paper into it. We just wrap it up and throw it in the trash.

6) The state of your camper battery will become an obsession. To begin with, invest in an excellent deep-cycle battery (the one we just bought cost about $300). Replace all incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. NEVER use your refrigerator on battery! It's very efficient on propane, when you're not plugged in to "shore power." Peter installed a solar panel on our camper roof, and it chugs away faithfully, topping up our battery.

7) The state of your propane tank will be a daily preoccupation as well. Don't rely on the indicator gauge; we've found them to be unreliable. Carry a small, refillable extra tank that will get you thru the night until you can get to the next propane dealer. We used to have our standard-sized tank refilled, but now we just use the exchanges that are outside of Home Depots, Lowe's & many grocery stores.

8) Speaking of propane: we immediately disconnected our hot-water heater, because why expend propane to keep water hot? When we need hot water, we just heat it on the stove.

9) Management of condensation due to high indoor humidity (and indoor air quality) is always a challenge. This is what we did: Peter cut a hole in the back wall, next to the door, fitted it with a short length of PVC pipe, and installed inside it a small, silent computer fan, with a switch on the wall below it; it runs all the time, uses just a trickle of electricity, and helps a lot with keeping the camper comfortable. We have a screw-in plug for the outside, but we only put it in when we're storing the camper; even in a strong rain it hasn't leaked a bit. We rarely have to run the big exhaust fan, usually only when I'm cooking a lot of steamy things.

10) We worry about leaving valuables in the camper when we go away from it, so Peter bolted a little safe to the floor & wall, then constructed a wooden cover for it, so it looks like part of the wall.

11) A fruit & bread hammock is constantly useful. I crocheted one from nylon cord. When we're moving, I secure it by a little bungee, to prevent it from bonking on the wall.

12) Our camper came with a queen-sized bed in the cab-over compartment. We agreed that we could do well with a full-sized mattress, to make more room on the sides for our clothes, so we cut it down.

13) An electric bed pad (under the bottom sheet) is a very, very nice thing to have, when you're either hooked up to shore power or using your generator!

14) Check under your mattress often, as moisture & mold can develop. As soon as you detect the slightest whiff of mold, go to the nearest Home Depot and buy a bottle of Concrobium. It sprays as a liquid, so to use it you'll have to have warm, dry weather and time to prop the mattress up until it dries; as it dries it deposits crystals that kill mold cells and inhibit further growth. It's worked well for us.

15) A 12" clothing hook over the back door is very useful, especially when we're someplace that's brightly lighted at night; we hang a jacket on a hanger in front of the door. We also cut up a nice red blackout curtain to cover our windows when needed, but you may have built-in blackouts.

16) And last but not least: customize, customize, customize! Our most recent innovation was to hang the hatch covers on the WC wall, behind the laundry bag, so they don't have to be stashed under the mattress when they're not in use. Peter installed snaps on the wall to match the snaps on the covers, but you could figure out a different way to hang them.

Have a glorious time gypsying around in your home on wheels!
Be well in peace,

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