Don't Fall Short On Preparedness!
Blog Written By @offthegridwithakid
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It wasn’t until a year after we left to travel full-time in our 1989 Class B Campervan for the first time in September of 2017 that we realized departing in the fall was genius and if done right, you won’t get stuck in the mud! Please learn from our mistakes and be prepared for the unexpected. Here are some tips from our experience to help RVing this fall be a safe journey for your family.
Travel South Before October
Crossing over the Northern routes in the fall comes with a lot of surprises that most people aren’t prepared for. In October, parts of Montana and Wyoming for example can look clear from a distance and then be covered in a few feet of snow within 2 hours. We experienced this situation while gradually driving around a mountain and our camper slid off the road like an ice cube and ended up in a ditch. It happened so slowly that we didn’t even have time to panic. Within an hour of being there, our snow-covered camper became what looked like a buried hot wheel for a tow truck driver to pull out of the snow.
We were stranded and without a signal for several hours on what we later learned was a very dangerous road. Thankfully, we were only stuck in the ditch for about 30 minutes until an officer showed up and used a radio to contact a tow truck company. By the time the tow truck arrived, we had already cooked dinner and completed homework. Times like this make me grateful to travel in an Rv because although we were stuck, we had comfort on board!
From this experience, our preparedness was tested and measured and we learned how valuable finding weather information prior to driving through a state can help us know when to travel and when to park at a campground and wait the storm out. Something important that we also found out was having the tires according to the season is a huge deal. We highly recommend that campers check their tires ongoingly and esp during a long-distance trip. Look for any visible signs of wear and also consider swapping tires out according to the weather and terrains that will most likely travel through.
2. Pay Close Attention To Trees
Watch Out For Widowmakers! In forestry, a widowmaker or fool killer is a detached or broken limb or tree top. RV families can lose their homes over one tree limb. Big branches and standing dead trees eventually fall so please look up and make sure you don’t see any dead tree limbs nestled in between branches. Make sure the whole tree is alive or don’t park under it.
While I thought my camper was parked in a beautiful and safe spot, a tree fell on it and my heart got crushed along with it. We had to use a chainsaw to remove the tree and then I used the firewood 🪵 to make campfires. I guess that’s like making lemonade. 😅😂
We ended up using a fiberglass repair kit as a quick fix to avoid leaks or critters getting into the van.
One way to tell if the tree is dead or alive easily is by closely observing the difference between the leaves on a tree branch compared to the others. Are they green or brown? Do you see what appears to be shavings near the bottom of the trunk of the tree? This could be a sign of a termite infestation.
3. Know Your Firewood or Regret It Later
Don’t buy any firewood to burn just because it’s firewood.
Don’t travel with firewood
Don’t leave firewood under your RV
Know when and where you cannot start a fire legally
Never leave any fire unattended and know how to fully put out a fire in the best way
4. Have the right gear for numerous weather occasions
From trial and error, we found out that if we were in the Midwest, and wait too long to depart we would easily get stuck in the mud because of the rain and leaves that make the ground soft and slick. This is NOT the type of weather condition you want to park a camper in unless you’re on concrete or have a leveling block and a strategic plan to get pulled out with a tow truck. We got stuck very easily and it took us days to get out.
Do not underestimate fall weather conditions. We were stunned to find out that it starts snowing in some states as early as October and snow storms aren’t rare. You could be traveling and all of a sudden be headed towards one and be completely off guard if you’re not familiar with the state's climate year round and this can be dangerous. Less than a week after we were freed from the mud in the Midwest, we made it to Montana for the first time, slid off the highway like an ice cube, and went into the ditch moments after a snowstorm appeared almost out of nowhere! The roads had been gradually freezing up while we were driving on an incline and we didn’t have a cell signal.
Layers of clothing that can easily be removed and put back on throughout the day
Non-Perishable and Freeze-Dried Food
5. Follow 75-degree weather
Camping in a variety of climates is not for everyone. Although our family has been camping full-time for almost 5 years in all the seasons, it took us 3 years before we noticed that the retired Rv folks are always ahead of the game and have a year-round plan. They go North for the summer and South during the winter for 3 main reasons.
lower electric bill
Following mild temperatures is one way to avoid getting trapped in weather conditions that can be dangerous. We hope that sharing our mistakes that it encourages another year-round traveling family to always be stocked with essentials and have an emergency plan for numerous occasions. Please let us know if you have any questions and travel safe!
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