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If Only I Knew

As Published In Airstream Live Riveted
If Only I Knew

When you first take off RVing, you’ll probably ask for advice from veteran Airstreamers, wanting to know what to expect on the road. Yet no matter how much you prepare, it’s inevitable — you’re guaranteed to run into problems you never expected. So today, our resident full-timer and plan-ahead-organizer Ramona Creel is going to share some of her favorite why-the-heck-didn’t-someone-tell-me-this-before-I-hit-the-road tips related to RV parks, camping, and travel.

What documentation did you never expect to have to produce?

All the junk they ask for in a lease application! Getting an RV park spot used to be easy — you signed a piece of paper, paid your money and that was it. As the economy tanked, more and more of these fine establishments started requiring full leasing applications before they’ll approve even a short-term stay. If you don’t want to re-create the wheel every time you land in a new location keep a file on your computer with copies of the following:

  • pictures of your rig
  • proof of vehicle insurance / registration
  • pictures of your pets (if you have them)
  • most recent animal licensing / vaccination records
  • proof of income (and possibly bank statements)
  • letters of recommendation from previous parks

Then when you’re asked to produce documentation, you won’t have to waste hours hunting, searching and copying — you just hit “print.”

What one maneuvering lesson have you learned?

Backing into a space is harder than you think.I can’t even tell you how terrible I was at backing up the first time I tried it (actually, the first 23 times I tried it) — the whole process is counter-intuitive. If you stick to your mirrors, everything looks backward. If you poke your head out of the window, you can only see what’s happening on one side of the vehicle. You have to remember to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction from what would otherwise seem to make sense.

Invest a minute learning how to back up properly before you head out on that first jaunt. Go to a big parking lot (like the kind at a shopping mall) early in the morning before any cars show up and practice. Practice backing into spaces, practice backing in a controlled circle around a lamp post and practice backing through a self-made obstacle course. I’ll also share the two most important tricks I’ve learned to make backing up go more smoothly. First — put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction you want the back-end of your trailer to go rather than putting it at the top of the wheel and having to remember which way you need it to turn. And second — never cut the wheel as hard as you think you’re going to need to. You’ll be surprised how much more your trailer turns than you expect, once you get going on that curved trajectory.

What surprising change-of-mind have you been forced to make?

I’ve learned to never write off an RV park. You may have an absolutely terrible experience at a particular location and swear to NEVER return there again — but sometimes you’ve gotta say, “never say never.” If you have had a bad experience, don’t write off the park completely. Try to be as zen as you can about it — things change and the center does not hold. Problems with a jerk in the front office? You may be dealing with someone completely different the next time around. Park getting too run down for your tastes? It could have a fresh coat of paint and brand new landscaping when you return. Rough neighborhood? Gentrification is your best friend. You have to remember that management turnover is high in this industry, parks are always being taken over by different owners, and even the ugliest patch of asphalt can be renovated into a lovely living environment.

Great information — a few less issues that will have you saying, “Well that would have been nice to know!” If you need Ramona’s advice on other “I wish someone would have told me” topics, contact her!

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Copyright 2001 RamonaCreel.com

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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