By Lowell and Kaye Christie, F47246
Use the winter months to prepare your motorhome for the busy travel season ahead.
Although there are always interesting places to explore, in February we’re focused more on planning than actual travel. When spring arrives and the snow starts melting in the high country, we’ve got better things to do than to organize our home-away-from-home. Between short trips to our favorite winter places, we spend this time of year making sure the motorhome will always be ready when the weather turns warm. Here’s how we do it.
1. Want list
We start with a stenographer’s notebook, one of those 6-inch-by-9-inch spiral-bound books you can find in most office supply stores. As we organize our way through the motorhome, we write down items that need to be replaced, or that we wish we hadn’t forgotten on our last trip. If you’re like us, just asking each other to remember needed items doesn’t have the desired result. We need that reminder on paper.
2. Tickler file
While you’re in the office supply store, pick up an accordion file folder to use as a monthly reminder system. Accordion files fold flat when empty but expand to hold lots and lots of brochures, tickets, and just about anything printed on paper. As you work your way through the motorhome, you’ll find things that won’t be useful until that June trip to the shore or your October migration to see fall colors. By that time you’ll remember you had a brochure “” you just won’t remember where you put it. Mark off a section of the accordion folder for each month and do your filing as you run across each calendar-based event. These monthly files also are good for holding reminders about coach maintenance. Maybe you’d better buy two.
3. Large trash container
February is when we finally get rid of things, such as the turkey vulture feathers that have become tattered and torn from riding behind the passenger visor since we found them last spring, or the brochures from the tourist attraction that wasn’t worth a second visit. We’re firm believers that most of the items that don’t have their own place in the motorhome probably belong in the trash.
4. Outside storage compartments
We might as well get the worst job over first. When we bring something back to the motorhome and can’t figure out what to do with it, one of the outside compartments is usually its ultimate destination. Ultimate as in, “How many years have we been carrying THIS around?” Completely empty a compartment, vacuum the interior, and then make one of three decisions about each item. If you’ll really need it on your next trip, put it back. If you might use it later, store it at your stationary home, and place a reminder in your notebook to make the final decision about whether you need it just before your next trip. Otherwise, give it away or toss it in the trash. Move on to the next compartment.
5. Rainy-day storage
Now that you’ve made some room in the outside compartments, use a little of it to solve a real problem in motorhome travel. When it rains, there is no convenient place for storing wet items. Purchase a medium-size plastic tub that will fit in an outside compartment. When you come back after a rainy tramp through the woods, store your wet boots and clothing in the plastic container. Everything wet is out of the way until the sun returns. Just don’t forget the items are in there, as they will mildew if left too long.
6. Towed vehicle
If you tow a car behind your motorhome, it often turns into another storage area. You can use the same organizing methodology as for the outer compartments, but don’t forget to check the spare tire and the maintenance log (remember the tickler file), and double-check the towing equipment. It’s usually easy to get appointments for needed repairs at this time of year.
7. Driver’s compartment
It’s amazing how much can be stuffed into those pockets next to the driver’s seat, and how long it takes to find something when you really need it. Now is the time to go through the three-phase question exercise. Do you need it there now, later, or not at all? If this is where you keep maps, be sure they are up-to-date.
8. Inside storage
How much you carry in your motorhome depends on the length of time you spend on the road, but any RV is too small to carry things you don’t really need. This is the time to make decisions about what to take and where to keep it, when you’re not in a hurry to head down the highway. Once again, empty every compartment, use the vacuum, and put back only what belongs there. Use your notebook to record reminders of things that are missing.
9. Hobby center
If you’ve made a little more room on the inside, collect and organize the specialty items that make your trips more enjoyable. These are the things you will want to grab at the last minute, because they’re also used when you’re not traveling, such as cameras, binoculars, and nature field guides. Unless you have a special area set aside for these items, they will end up wherever you can find extra room. And that means they may be hard to find when you really want them. Decide where to store them, list them in your notebook so they’re not forgotten on the next trip, and then return them to their regular storage place.
10. Kitchen cupboards
Some travelers use their kitchens for every meal and others prefer to eat out. You need to decide whether you want to duplicate in the motorhome what you have in your kitchen at home, or prepare an organized list of what must be packed for every trip. Once again, use that steno notebook to be sure nothing important is left behind. Unless you’re a full-timer, create a specific list for refrigerator items to bring along.
When you get to the bathroom storage area, in addition to listing all the items that need to be replaced (in your steno notebook), check the expiration date on any medications you carry along. Remember, the bathroom has a higher moisture level than the rest of the motorhome, and that means items such as pills and powders will deteriorate faster. So, it’s best to find an alternative storage location for medications. And remember, if in doubt about something, throw it out.
12. Clothes closets
Many of your decisions about the “stuff” you keep inside your motorhome will be determined by the time of year and your destination. When we designed our coach as a full-time home, we built in lots of room for out-of-season clothes. Now we do much of our traveling in a smaller vehicle, so our wardrobe choices have changed. We try to stock our closets with clothing that will allow us to dress in layers. That takes care of both hot and cold extremes and takes up much less space.
13. Plan your trips
Of course, as most of us have discovered, much of our travel enjoyment takes place while planning. Use the accordion file to keep clippings of destinations that match your interests. And rather than cut up your Family Motor Coaching magazine for ideas, remember that as an FMCA member you can visit FMCA.com and print out articles that have appeared in previous issues.