Hue Light Vornado Fan? 5 Things We Should Have Brought for Full Time RV!

Now that we've been on the road awhile ( we went full time RV in late 2020), we realized that some things just should have made the trip with us instead of being gifted to the big Goodwill or sold on Craigslist. We tried to make the best guesses on what we really needed, but sometimes you just have to get on the road to figure it out!

Top 5 things we should have kept for full time RV

Extension Cords

The first item on our list is extension cords. We did a good job balancing the amount of outdoor extension cords, but we really underestimated the amount we needed for the inside of our coach! Mainly power strips and those 3-way prong things.

extension cords

Keurig Coffee Maker

Christy just LOVES her coffee - we make a big pot every morning. But sometimes we liked to have a single cup and loved our Keurig Coffee Maker for just that. The downside of it (and the reason we didn't bring it along) is it takes a fair amount of counter space, and that is limited (even in our 45 foot coach!).

Keurig Coffee Maker
Keurig Coffee Maker

Hue Light Bulbs for Full Time RV

We LOVED our home automation when we were in a sticks and bricks - having all the lights voice-controlled was super handy and we quickly became dependent on it. Most our our automated lights came from Hue - while hue bulbs are the  most expensive, they are also clearly the best. Unfortunately we sold ALL of them (except for a strip and one lucky color bulb I missed!).

 

Hue Light Bulbs

Now we realize using AC lights in a big coach is not a big deal! While we don't have a ton of fixtures, we did add one additional color strip in the master bedroom and

Full Time RV Silverware

Silverware you say? You didn't bring silverware? Well of course we did silly! BUT we got rid of a lot more sets than we should have. Christy was in "camping mode" when she downsized what we had, and it turns out we are not really camping, but essentially living in a small apartment! We ended up buying 4 more settings of silverware to fill up the drawer. Part of the reason for this is that we love our dishwasher, and we wanted enough silverware to not run out before the dishwasher was completely filled up. If you wash your dishes immediately after a meal, this won't be a problem for you!

Don't forget silverware!

Vornado Fan - Keeping Cool While Full Time RV

We had a lot of fans throughout the house, and really liked having them as a supplement to the air conditioning (or on their own when it wasn't as hot) - but we figured in the coach we wouldn't need that many. So we ditched everything except one old box fan (which gets a ton of use by the front door in the coach). We also purposely bought a Dewalt Jobsite fan:

dewalt fan

The theory was that a fan with a battery would be great to use inside or outside (although the bright yellow industrial look of the Dewalt is hilarious in our coach! As it turns out, this fan sits in the window sill of the master bedroom (and is controlled by an Alexa-enabled plug)

So at this point we had a box fan for the front, and the Dewalt in the back bedroom. What was missing was a small fan that could pull air in from the side window - not as obnoxious as having the big box fan in the front that we trip over, but enough to get some airflow in the coach. Unfortunately we had the perfect fan for this and got rid of it when we sold the house -  Vornado fan:

 

These fans are quiet and move a lot of air for their size. So we had to buy a new one. Since we had good luck with our old Vornado, we went with a small tabletop version for the coach:

Vornado tabletop - best fan for full time RV

This fan has been great! We also have it on an Alexa plug (we went with Kasa, and they have been super reliable). So now, all we have to do is say "Alexa, turn on front fan" and we get a nice air flow through the coach. And this Vornado fits the decor of our coach well, and doesn't stick out at all.


Clear Kayak Tour and Fort Desoto

Clear Kayak Tour and Fort Desoto

We have never done a clear kayak tour until now! We started our day at Fort Desoto, which is south of Saint Petersburg. After spending the day running around Mullet key, we grabbed dinner at Billy's Stone Crab. Then we did a clear kayak tour at night see-thru glow kayaks - they had multi-color LED's that lit up the water - Come join the adventure! The clear kayak tour at sunset is highly recommended also. And Fort Desoto Camping is a must-do if you are in the area!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KRZw4DW1C8

 

Fort Desoto

We started our day at Fort Desoto - not a bad drive from Bay Bayou RV Resort. After paying a couple tolls to get onto the key ($1.75 in total), we then had to pay $5 to enter the park, which is actually a long key with a nice road that gets you from end to end:

Fort Desoto Map

The Fort was built to protect the entrance of Tampa Bay Harbor during the Spanish-American war, but I don't think it ever had to fire it's guns in anger, which consisted of eight 12 inch mortars and two 6 inch Armstrong guns. The main area of the fort that houses the mortar batteries is still well-preserved, and a few of the other buildings still stand. Of special note is the museum, which has a ton of interesting artifacts from the era. This brochure has a bunch of facts if you are planning to visit.

 

Fort Desoto Fishing Pier

We also made it to the Fort Desoto fishing pier - a very large t-shape pier perfect for doing some bay fishing. It is very long and wide, and when we were there the crowds weren't bad at all. Off to the right is even a beach area that you can hang out in.

 

Fort Desoto Beaches

Fort Desoto is rightly known for insanely beautiful beaches - the sand goes for miles and the beach is one of the widest we have seen. Kayaks and SUP's are definitely the way to go to explore the area if you have one (or rent one). The sand is clean and smooth and the breeze coming off the gulf is perfect.
Fort Desoto Beach

Camping at Fort Desoto

The county maintains a pretty large RV camping area, with 236 sites. Full water and hookup are available. The cost is pretty reasonable (for Florida) and can accommodate large rigs. They allow you to stay up to 14 days in any 30 day period. We would highly recommend staying in this area if you can, especially if you like the beach! 

Billy's Stone Crab

We had dinner over at Shell Key, at a place called Billy's Stone Crab - and the food was great! We think we met Billy himself, and had a great time. The restaurant is kind of funky - one side is more outdoorsy, and the other has the main dining room. On top of the main dining room is an open long bar with seating facing the water. They had live music up there and that was fun. The only challenge was the late-day sun coming in off the gulf - tough problems to have!

Clear Kayak Tour

Christy found us a tour to take - a night clear kayak tour! This tour group has see-through kayaks with LED lights mounted in them, so they light up the underneath area of the boat. Get up and Go Kayaking is the company, and they have tours set up all over Florida. The kayaks were fun, but seemed a little less stable than the standard 2-man kayaks we have used in the past. 

clear kayak tour

The tour guide was great and we got to see a horseshoe crab up close! Our only complaint was the tour was only 90 minutes, but advertised as 2 hours. She must have had a date, because she hauled ass back to the launch area - we were kayaking full-speed for the last half of the tour. That wasn't cool!


Top 5 Accessories For Your RV

These are the top 5 accessories for your RV that can make your travels easier. Because sometimes it just takes a few accessories to make your life either. During our travels we have found a few must-haves to make our travels easier.

 

Top 5 Accessories For Your RV

Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System

We wanted to find something that would clean our floors without having to get on our hands and knees and do a great job. After some research, we bought the Genius Steam Pocket Mop.

 

Steamer in action

 

This steamer isn't the cheapest, but it's pretty reasonable around $120. It came with 2 mops which is really nice, and it's easy to buy more if you need them, like this six-pack for $30. What we love about this steamer is you can just throw the pad in with your wash once it gets dirty, keeping cleanup to a minimum. It also has 3 levels of steam, depending on how bad your floor is. If you have some really bad spots on your floor, just flip the mop and hit it with steam directly. Pretty cool!

shark genius steam mop

Water Pressure Regulator

We thought a water pressure regulator was kind of a nice-to-have, but we took ours off for a few days to test an issue with our icemaker. What a mistake! The PEX connection in our master bath started leaking, causing water to get all over the floor (and even worse, under the tiles). The cold hard truth is you NEVER know what kind of pressure you are going to get at a RV park, and your RV is not equipped to handle high pressures (even worse than a house for sure). You can get a decent one here.  Check out our in-depth article for more information!

 

 

 

 

 


Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets for RV Living

Our kitchen gadgets for RV living aren't too much different than the ones we had in our house. But there are some nuances - the smaller kitchen means that we have less of everything. Gadgets that can do multiple tasks are high on the list. Big bulky appliances are a harder sell - if they don't make the cut they get quickly dispatched (We're looking at you, air fryer). Here are a few of the things we just love in our RV!

Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets for RV Living

Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener Kitchen Gadget

We just recently bought this hands-free can opener and really loved it! You can open your cans with a simple push of a button. No more sharp edges and it's battery operated. When finished, it removes the top for easy disposal with no mess! When you have 7 cans to open for our Instant Pot chili, this device is killer!

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

For us, we just LOVE our instant pot to make some of our favorite meals. There are so many things you can cook in an instant pot. Garrett makes the best Instant Pot chili and I like to cook our oatmeal groats for breakfast. You can also boil the perfect eggs and steam veggies very quickly.  Perfect tiny living appliance.

 

 

The Original Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper

You would not believe how good the popcorn is from something so simple. This Hotpop Microwave Popcorn Popper is simply a silicone bowl with a silicone lid. And we find it super easy to use. Here's the steps we do:

  • Add popcorn - We usuallyput anywhere between 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of kernels in the bottom. We really like Orville Redenbacher popcorn in the 8 pound container. It is cheap and tasty!
  • Add Oil - We usually spray a little bit of no-calorie olive oil, or pour in some real olive oil (adds calories, but the corn is even juicier!)
  • Add salt - Grind some salt on top of the kernels
  • Shake the Kernels up!
  • Microwave on High - We found that 2:30 was the sweet spot in our old house microwave, but it takes 5 full minutes in our crappy Samsung microwave in the RV. It also wastes almost half the kernels for us in the Samsun (that did not happen with the Whirlpool we used to have). Still tasty either way!
  • Add more salt - We throw in a bowl then put a bit more salt on the top. We like salt!

 

Brita Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, Large 10 Cup

We decided to buy this Brita Water Pitcher with filter for an extra water filtration system even though we have water filters in our coach. This BPA-free Grand water pitcher with filter holds 10 cups of water. Love my Brita!!

 

 

Command Traditional Plastic Hooks

We bought these command hooks to hang our kitchen towels so they would be out of the way. They are easy to install and are damage free hanging on the wall. They come in a variety of different sizes and colors. We purchased the brass nickel one.


Jeep Wrangler JL Bike Transport - 5 Best Options

Jeep Wrangler JL bike transport options can be tricky - you definitely have a couple challenges when you want to transport a bike or two.

 

The main disadvantage compared to older jeeps is the placement of the backup camera - it sits right in the middle of the spare tire! Older jeeps didn't have the camera, so bike racks could screw onto the spare tire bolt pretty easily.

The other challenge with a jeep is the tail gate - because it swings outward, any sort of rack that uses the hitch will make it impossible to open the back, which is super inconvenient. There are only a couple options that can swing away and avoid this problem.

So in our quest for our Wrangler rack, we put together a simple list of requirements:

  • Handle two mountain bikes
  • Allow the gate to be easily used with the bikes on or off
  • The backup camera should be still useable when the bikes aren't mounted
  • Not stick super far beyond the back of the Jeep

 

What We Chose

For us, it came down to the Hollywood Racks SR1 spare tire rack. This Jeep bike rack ended up being a pretty inexpensive solution and working out really well. We wish it could have been a bolt-on solution, but the straps turned out fine (although a bit messy, we could probably clean that up).

After two months of use, we just leave the rack attached to our Jeep and throw the bikes on the back anytime we want to take them to the beach. If we are going somewhere we can't watch the bikes, we throw on our Vulcan 9 foot chain with Viro lock on the bikes. Ironically, the lock cost even more than the rack itself - but it's a serious lock.

Best Wrangler JL Bike Transport for your tailgate

There is a little bit of rust on the bolts after a couple months, but nothing too serious. Honestly, we can't beat this for the price. If we wanted to move to E-bikes, we will also have to get a new rack, as the Hollywood Rack (like any other tire rack) just isn't strong enough to handle the weight.

Don't Want a Spare Tire Rack - Use a Hitch Rack

Hitch racks are more pricey, because they require more parts and have to be stronger since they stick further out the back of your jeep. It is definitely a downside to have the bikes stick further back - when we are set up to tow the Jeep with our 45 foot motorhome, any added length is not welcome! The . Obviously, you need to have a hitch on your Jeep for these to work. Most are adaptable to either 1.25" or 2" hitches.

The big challenge on the Wrangler is that spare tire. You have 3 options here:

  • Get rid of your spare
  • Use a hitch extender
  • Use a swing-away

Getting Rid of Your Spare

This is certainly an option, and many Wranglers with 37's or bigger don't run with a spare anyway. But you need to have a way to deal with flats - fix a flat or some other option. And you will still need a swing-away or swing-down if you want to be able to

Hitch Extender

A hitch extender lets your bike rack sit further back on the back of your Wrangler. Make sure it has the weight capacity rating to handle both your rack and bikes.

Swing-aways

A swing-away also extends your bike rack out from the back of your Wrangler, and has the added benefit of allowing the rack to swing away from the back of the Jeep, allowing you to open the back fully.

RackAttach

The RackAttach from 1up is a solid option for a swing-away. It is pricey - the cost was $400 with tax and shipping to our location.

 

 

Hitch Racks

Hitch racks are a better option for heavier bikes. They are typically built far sturdier because they are hanging off the back of your hitch. The downsides pretty big also:

  • Cost - usually much higher, some even approaching $1,000 or more by the time you are fully set up.
  • Length - they put your bikes much further behind your jeep, especially with an extension or swingaway.
  • Weight - Because they need to be more sturdy, the hitch itself weights much more than a spare-mount rack. If you have to remove it often, better hit the gym!

 

Rockymount Backstage

The Rockymount Backstage has a built-in 180 degree swingaway. Pretty heavy duty, and can handle up to 120lbs. This is enough to handle all but the largest e-bikes. They sell an 8" hitch extension will probably be necessary to clear your spare tire. One cool feature is it can swing down or swing away.

 

 

Quadratec 2-bike Platform Rack

The Quadratec 2-bike rack  can be used on a stock Wrangler JL without an extender or a swingaway. It lets the back gate open by swinging down. If you have a bike in the inner position, it will seriously limit the amount you can open your gate.

 

Thule

Thule is pretty much the king of bike racks. They are also some of the most expensive racks made. They have a ton of different, models and the Thule Pro XT2 is a great choice for a Wrangler. It also drops down, but if you want it to move out of the way of your gate (especially loaded), you will need a swingaway.

 

Kuat

Kuat makes very nice a very nice swingaway rack in the NV 2.0. It does come in pretty expensive at $789, but it already has the swing-away built in which is really nice.

 

 


10 Things We Love For Our Motorhome

Living in our motorhome is very different than our house in many ways. Some things that make no sense in a house are critical (or at least super useful!) in a motorhome. Here are a few of these things.

Surge Suppressor

When we move from camp to camp, the quality of provided utilities can vary widely. Since we have a really nice solar system with upgraded inverters, we want to make sure we do everything we can to protect them from fluctuations in the local quality of electricity. Low-quality wiring to the power post, bad connectors, or many other issues can cause brownouts, spikes, and other transients that could damage our equipment. We have a Southwire surge suppressor to meet this need. It is expensive but we feel it's worth it!

Lippert Waste Master

In our opinion, not all sewer hoses are created equal. The Lippert Waste Master is definitely more expensive than most (like $125 vs. typical hoses). But it has some nice features that we really appreciate. For one thing, it has a cam-lock for an attaching to the tank connector, instead of the traditional bayonet lock. This arrangement is SUPER easy to deal with and seems cleaner to me. On the other end is a gate valve and clear window to see the progress of your black/gray dump. The materials used for the hose seem noticeably better quality than most, and easily expand or contract as needed. They also have an extension kit (which also uses the cam locks, and for some reason is even more expensive) if you need to reach extra far to get to your sewer connection.

 

Tire Pressure Monitor System - TST 507 Color

Lets clear this up right away - We LOVE our TST 507 TPMS. We have a 50,000lb motorhome, with 8 wheels. And we drag a Jeep Wrangler with 4 more. So we have 12 tires rolling down the road anytime we move. Any one of these blows out and we could have anything between an inconvenience and a complete disaster. Our TPMS doesn't guarantee that we won't have a catastrophic failure of a tire, but it certainly gives us a fighting chance to know a tire has abnormally low/high pressure or a temperature extreme. Even a 30 second warning could make the difference between pulling over smoothly and this:

Our TPMS has worked flawlessly so far - a nice bright color display, sensitive alarms and a good quality case and mount system.

 

 

Outdoor Rug

Seems like a simple thing, but having an outdoor rug like this one really makes the outside of our motorhome a bit nicer. Recommended! Our reversible mat is 9x18, it is also available in a smaller size.

We also got stakes to make sure the rug didn't blow away in the wind - these Prest-O-Fit ones worked well for us.

Brita Water Filter

A lot of people love their Berkey water purifiers - but we decided to go a different route. Brita makes a water filter that is pretty cheap, and gets the job done. The water we are getting in Tampa has a noticeably bad smell/taste, and the Brita fixes that.

 

 


Water Regulation - Definitely!

When we lived in our house, we didn't think much about water. You call the water department, get your service on and thats about it. But the world is a bit different for travelers. The quality and quantity of water you get from any RV park or random water source can vary significantly. Because of this you will want to get a water regulator - The PEX and plastic pipes in your RV cannot withstand high pressures and you can end up with a serious leak and expensive damage to your home. And no one wants that! We went with a pretty cheap option - Around $22 when we bought it on Amazon:  For our motorhome, we use the Kohree RV water pressure valve.

 

The reality is that most of the cheap regulators on Amazon are getting pumped out of a couple Chinese factories and are just that - cheap. This one seems to work fine, although our pressure has dropped at the tap (maybe we need to set the pressure higher, but it could be flow restriction issue with this valve). You could try to adapt a household regulator like this Zurn Wilkins - but that seems like wasted effort for something that is effectively a consumable at $22!


RV Toilet Paper - The Dirty Truth

Why is toilet paper a big deal in an RV? One very simple reason - if you clog up your black tank, you are going to have a very big mess on your hands. Unlike a house, every RV has a holding tank for your solids and liquids. When you clog a toilet in a house, you can usually fix it with a plunger, or an auger if it is especially bad. But in most cases, the issue won't be too bad because toilet paper flows through the smooth pipes in the house and out to the local sewer system (unless you have septic).

Contrast that to an RV, which essentially has a big plastic box that lets all that goodness sit and gum up together until you get around to emptying the tank. If your paper won't break down sufficiently, it will make a huge wad that will never make it out the tank drain. So it matters very much what you actually put down the toilet - wipes and paper towels are definite no-no's. And you need to be very careful with what kind of toilet paper you use. We considered quite a few options, weighing cost vs. ability to break down.

What we found was Cottonelle septic-safe toilet paper works perfectly fine (at least for us!).

It's only 1-ply but very soft and strong. We have a macerator in our master bathroom which helps break down the paper, but in the half bathroom we don't have a macerator and it's never been a problem at all.

 

Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare Septic-Safe

 

 

Thetford AquaSoft

Another septic-safe RV toilet tissue is Thetford AquaSoft but we found the cost is much more than Cottonelle and not as soft. We are sure its a great option, but unless we start having issues we are not going there!  Thetford Aquasoft is marketed for RV's - designed to break down very easily. If you find that the Cottenelle isn't working, this could be a good option.

 

 

Scott Rapid-Dissolving

Scott Rapid-Dissolving is another popular choice for RV's. They claim it breaks down faster than the leading brand toilet paper. Scott Rapid-Dissolving is made for RV's but the rolls are smaller than regular toilet paper. We found you get much more paper with Cottonelle family mega rolls and it cost much less than Scotts.

 

 

 

 

 


Temperature Monitoring - Vital for Your RV

We knew that moving from a house to an RV would require some changes - one of the biggest is being more diligent about your environment. Moving constantly and living in essentially a big black box guarantees that we will have wide swings in temperature throughout the year! Most of your things don't really care about these swings, but a few things do:

Pets

  • Musical Instruments
  • The Refrigerator
  • Lithium Batteries

We have everything except pets, and wanted to be able to keep an eye on the coach as well as the basement (where the lithium batteries live). We wanted at least 3 sensors, and a display that we could set on the counter. In the end we looked at three different units:

AcuRite 02082M Home Temperature & Humidity Station

 

The AcuRite 02082M Home Temperature & Humidity Station is a really nice looking unit - full color, comes with 3 sensors and cost around $50 at the time of this writing.

Ambient Weather WS-3000-X5 

The Ambient Weather WS-3000-X5 is a powerhouse - comes with 3 sensors (around $85), or 5 sensors (around $100) and does temperature logging via an optional micro-SD card.  The main unit can handle up to 8 sensors.

Keekit Outdoor Thermometer

The Keekit outdoor thermometer is pretty basic, lacking any sort of alarms. But it did have one advantage - when we bought it the unit only cost $31 with 3 sensors. It currently sits on our kitchen counter and monitors the freezer, the refrigerator, and the basement compartment where our batteries live. Although it isn't as fancy as the others, the price was right and so far has met our needs!


Grilling on the Road? Heck Yeah!

One thing we loved to do in our sticks and bricks was grilling - at least once a week we would fire up the Weber and make chicken and/or steak. Since we try to eat healthy and aren't exactly world-class chefs, we tend to cook a lot of chicken and use it for our dinners throughout the week. As you can see, we were used to a BIG grill for this task:

 

The Weber Genesis is a beast of a grill. Ours lasted 15 years - we replaced the flavor bars twice and maybe cleaned it a handful of times (probably should have been more). The only complaint was the rusting of the lower parts behind those doors. Because of that, we had to sell it for parts for $40 instead of getting at least $200 on Craigslist (these are $1,000 grills!).

Being in a large 45 ft coach gives us some flexibility in the size of grill we can take - while we looked at smaller options, we really wanted to be able to cook at least 6-8 chicken breasts if possible. Either for meal prep or if we have a party and want to get a lot of meat done was a priority!

We did have our sights set on another Weber - our last stood the test of time, and that is rare in the world of junk grills that fall apart. We narrowed our choices down to two contenders:

 

Weber Q2200 Portable Grill

The Weber Q2200 definitely fit the bill. It has 280 square inches of cooking space and 12K BTU of cooking power. We also liked the side shelves, especially if we didn't have a great location to put the grill at our campsite.  We would expect to get good service from this grill. Unfortunately the grill had a couple downsides for us:

  • It is set up for using small canisters, and we prefer to use a standard LP tank (far cheaper! You have to buy a LP tank adapter to use the bigger tank, at additional cost.
  • There is only one larger burner on this grill - if you want to control the temperature of each side you are out of luck. We do this on a regular basis - running one side at the highest setting for the steak and the other side around 350 for the chicken. We loved the ability to do this with our Genesis. At the end of the day, this swayed us to getting one of these:

Napoleon TravelQ Pro 285 Gas Grill

 

After doing a lot of research, we found a worthy competitor to Weber - the Napoleon TravelQ Pro 285. Similar in size and capability as the Weber, with one critical difference - two burners and more control over the temperature. Although made in China (as is most of Weber now), they clearly use higher quality components than a lot of the other manufacturers. Another bonus - the Napoleon Pro 285 is already set up for a big LP tank right out of the box, so no extra hose to buy. Of course, we will have to buy a different adapter if we do choose to use small tanks (if we took it tent camping for example). The only bummer so far is the lack of side tables - Not sure if that will matter, as they are pretty small (at least compared to the Genesis we were used to). 

How Do we Clean It?

One thing we noticed, once we read the directions for the Napoleon (that's a first!) was a need for a brass grill cleaning brush. We believe that is because of the ceramic coating. If you go to the average Walmart, every brush is pretty much stainless steel. So we found a good option on Amazon in the Rubbermaid brass grill brush.

 

What Other Accessories Can We Not Do Without?

For us, grilling would be impossible without a decent thermometer. We have been through a few, and have settled on this one from Amazon - the Habor 022 meat thermometer. It finds the temp quickly, the reading stays stable, and it seems pretty accurate.