With a little planning and some common courtesy, you and overnight motorhome guests can get along.
By Janet Groene, F47166
May 2008 FMC magazine
If your coach is like ours, finding room for sleepover guests can be a tricky experience. Unlike part-timers who can pack only what’s needed for each trip, full-timers carry everything they own. You have to find room for a four-season wardrobe plus your library; financial records; tools; spares; collections of whatever you collect; and a well-stocked pantry for the long haul.
How can you squeeze in an extra bed plus space for a guest’s luggage, wardrobe, and gear? Not all of the ideas listed below will work for every full-timer, but here are several ways to think outside the box.
- Many campgrounds, including most KOAs, have cabins or cottages for rent by the night. Some camping resorts also have on-site RVs or condos for rent. Could you billet your guests in a cabin or RV next to your campsite? In a tent on your own campsite? On a cot in your all-weather awning enclosure?
- Consider renting a storage unit where you can temporarily off-load some of your clothing and gear for a while. Many storage units allow users to drive right up to the door for easy loading and unloading. Units are available in small sizes starting with 5-foot bays or an 8-foot-by-10-foot space with a garage-type door. While cleaning out the closets and basement, you’ll probably discover things you can live without forever. If the storage company permits, and many do, you can have a rip-roaring yard sale before moving items back into your coach. You might make more than the cost of the storage bill, and you’ll lose some unwanted cargo pounds in the bargain.
- If you’ll be making up the sofa bed each night, you’ll need space to stow bulky bedding during the day. Buy large vacuum-evacuation storage bags for approximately $5 each. It takes only minutes each morning to stuff, seal, and evacuate them with a vacuum cleaner hose. Bedding, extra pillows, and puffy mattress pads stow in mere inches. I’ve also crammed extra bedding into a large plastic container with a snap-on lid. These buckets are ideal for basement storage. Sheets and blankets don’t compress much, but pillows and duvets can be reduced by about a third.
- If you and your guests will be touring rather than staying in one campground throughout the visit, consider renting a small trailer or rooftop pod to carry extra gear.
- Sharing one bathroom can be a big problem when additional people are on board. Decide how to prioritize its use. In some families, everyone uses campground showers. In others, the guys use public facilities and leave the onboard bathroom to the girls and kids. In any case, this is a time to find campgrounds with the cleanest, classiest public rest rooms possible.
- If you’ll all be using the bathroom in your coach, make room for guests’ toiletries and towels. Add as many hooks and towel racks as you can find room for. Catalogs and variety stores carry temporary towel racks that don’t involve drilling holes or leaving glue scars. Add “S” hooks on the shower rod for additional drying room.
- Consider adding a second spring-loaded shower curtain rod where beach towels or bath mats can hang to dry. A spring-loaded rod also can be used to temporarily expand closet space with no drilling needed.
- A retractable drying line is a great addition to the shower stall for extra towels, swimsuits, or other lightweight items.
- Shop for compact games, decks of cards, and other rainy-day fun. If you think the coach is crowded now, wait until you are shut in with extra people on board!
Manners For Hosts
- Avoid hard feelings by letting guests know well in advance that they can’t bring the dog, little Johnny’s best friend, Joe’s golf clubs, or Myrtle’s bushel-basket-size hot rollers. Describe what kind of sleeping and storage space you can and cannot offer (one queen-size bed, two bunk-size beds, a loft over the cab, closets for hanging up clothes, drawers for folded clothes, dead space for empty suitcases, etc.).
- Even if they have been with you before and even if they are RVers themselves, brief guests on the use of the toilet, plumbing, emergency exits, and lights. If they’re completely new to the RV life, they may need a tutorial on conserving water and managing electrical power.
- If your coach has a one-person galley, as mine does, find a gentle way to let guests know they can help best by staying out of the way. Some guests just won’t take no for an answer when it comes to setting the table or cleaning up.
- If your guests are sharing your travel expenses, be clear about what is included (fuel, oil, propane, campground fees, RV wash, food, repairs based on damage caused by the guest, etc. ). Things could get sticky if an injury or accident occurs. If money has changed hands, the insurance company could claim you’re using your coach commercially.
Manners For Guests
- Know that your host’s RV is a private home, but it’s also a licensed vehicle. (Buckle up, everyone!) As tenants in a campground, you’re all subject to rules about noise, pets, pool hours, use of rest rooms, litter, and much more. Keep your children under tight watch. Campgrounds have their own dangers, dos, and don’ts.
- Come bearing gifts if you like, but check ahead with hosts to make sure they can accommodate them. Few full-timers have room in the freezer for an unexpected ice cream cake, a place in the basement for a croquet set, or space in the refrigerator for a 20-pound watermelon.
- Bring travel toiletries in a hang-up kit that goes to the bath with you and stows in your personal space afterward. If you shower in the coach, always use the exhaust fan and keep the shower very short. Steam builds very quickly under low ceilings, burdens the air conditioning, and creates mildew problems.
- It’s thoughtful to offer to bring your own sleeping bag or other bed and bath linens in case your host needs extras. If they aren’t needed, leave them at home so you don’t add to the space squeeze.
- Campgrounds have coin laundries. Wash your own clothes, bedding, and towels.
- Pack more lightly than you have ever packed in your life.
- Be extra sensitive about privacy. Motorhomes have thin walls. Personal electronics with earphones allow you to have your music, electronic games, and DVDs without disturbing others. Bring snore clips if you need them and a clip-on book light for bedtime reading.
- If any of the children still wet the bed, outfit them with protective undergarments, but also give hosts a quiet warning so they can be prepared to handle accidents with delicacy.
- Check with your hosts before using high-amperage appliances such as a hair dryer. The motorhome may be on generator power or an inverter that can’t handle the extra load.