Author and FMCA member Bernice Beard offers a collection of hints and advice gathered from RVers across the country, mixed with her own favorite ways for ensuring smooth travels, in her book 301 Ways to Make RV Travel Safer, Easier, and More Fun.
Reviewed by K. Stephen Busick, F45180
Bernice Beard, F93208, and her husband, Paul, have been RVing for more than 14 years. During that time she’s accumulated a wealth of useful information through conversations with other RVers, reading motorhome- and RV-related magazines and books, and trial and error, resulting in a treasure trove of ideas that help to make the RV lifestyle more enjoyable. In her fourth book, 301 Ways to Make RV Travel Safer, Easier, and More Fun ($16.65), released by Arbor House Publishing in 2001, Bernice has compiled and organized a list of tips and techniques that can be used by new and veteran RVers to make life on the road more carefree.
The 258-page book chronicles a cross-country trip that the Beards took to reunite with couples they had met on an RV caravan to Alaska in 1993. The caravan trip became the basis of her second book, Alaska at Your Own Pace; Traveling by RV Caravan.
301 Ways is divided into 17 chapters with titles such as “Getting on the Road,” “Navigating,” and “Traveling with Children and Pets.” Other topics include organization, entertaining, safety, and renting or buying an RV. Each chapter begins with an assortment of tips from the Beards, other RV owners, and those in the RV industry. The chapter then tells of the Beards’ journey.
I found this arrangement both enjoyable and informative. I started reading this book while my wife and I were on a trip in our own motorhome, and finished reading it after we had returned home. And although we’ve been motorhoming since 1977 and had other RVs before that, I found tips that I could use both on the road and at home.
Fittingly, the second chapter, “Maintaining Your RV before a Trip and on the Road,” begins with a number of useful tips and then quickly details a baffling mechanical problem the author and her husband encountered with their new motorhome early during their trip. Initially it was believed to be a fuel system problem, but a loose nut on the ground cable from the chassis battery was found to be the culprit. The poor connection caused the electronic control module (ECM) to lose power at times.
Although I’m sure the situation was not humorous at the time, the story describes how the couple found a diesel service technician who would make a “house call” to the campground they had stopped at the day the “fuel problem” began. Bernice said she felt a wave of relief when she saw the mobile service truck pull in. “Then almost before I knew it, he drove out again, dust billowing behind his truck. Paul shouted a loud ‘Hey’ to him. I ran to the road waving my arms. I couldn’t believe he was leaving without working on our engine.” As it turns out, a disagreement between the technician and the campground owner had caused him to turn around and leave. Luckily, that afternoon the Beards located a service center that correctly diagnosed and repaired the problem, and they continued on their way.
Perhaps the most memorable section of the book for me was from the fifth chapter, “Getting Along: Relationships on the Road.” Bernice suggests that if you want to remain friends, overlook your companions’ habits that bother you. Good advice, indeed, but she goes further. “One trick is to tell yourself that no one except you is perfect; therefore, as a perfect person you can be gracious toward your imperfect fellow travelers.” This lighthearted, good-natured type of advice is found throughout the text.
A comprehensive appendix includes names, addresses, phone numbers, and information about restaurants, campgrounds, and places of interest that the Beards enjoyed. It also includes six easy-to-prepare recipes that look tempting, and a series of basic travel checklists. Following the appendix is a glossary of familiar RV terms that are listed primarily for new motorhomers or for those who do not own and use an RV. It would be a great place for the uninitiated to start. At the end of the book is an index that I found to be a real time-saver when looking for a particular subject. An index is often missing in books of this type.
As I looked over the notes I took while reading the book, two words seemed to jump out at me: freedom and memories. These two words sum up the RV experience very well for me. As Bernice wisely points out, “Freedom is basic to camping “” freedom to relax, or to shop, or to cook, or to read, or to eat in your own vehicle, or to stay inside when others sit at a group campfire, or to sleep late, or to sightsee.”
While events that have taken place during the past two years make us appreciate our freedom even more than before, she reminds us that it’s important to enjoy life. After describing a particularly pleasant evening, Bernice borrowed a quote from a friend by saying, “We made a memory.” In my opinion, that sums up those special times in our lives.
Bernice Beard’s first book, At Your Own Pace: Traveling Your Way in Your Motorhome, which was first published in 1997, gave new or inexperienced RVers the chance to virtually experience the motorhoming lifestyle without leaving home. In May 2003 Arbor House Publishing printed a second edition of the book with an expanded appendix to help readers find RV-related resources. The new edition ($16.95) includes the same insights as the earlier version, but has been updated and revised. Bernice Beard’s books are available in bookstores, from online booksellers, or by calling Arbor House Publishing at (800) 966-4146.