RV tips for first timer, pls.

Feb 12th, 2011, 06:41 AM
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RV tips for first timer, pls.

We're doing a northbound cruise to AK and a 9 day independent land tour on our own afterwards, in early June. We're picking up and returning the 21'/22' RV in Anchorage. We've been advised/read enough to know to stock up on provisions and gas in the major centers, but was wondering if there are any tips that you'd give to first time RVer's?

Also looking for inexpensive overnite options.

I will have a few days in Vancouver that I could stock up on things. Are the prices in AK so much higher that it would make buying things in advance worthwhile?

The itinerary is worked out so I'm really more interested in advice specific to RV'ing, rather than places to see. Any insights much appreciated!

klam_chowder is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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If I understand you correctly, you are asking about day-to-day supplies. If that is correct, there is no need to stock up in Vancouver. Fred Meyers, WalMart, and Safeway have large retail/grocery stores in Anchorage and in other "large" cities. Prices may be a bit higher but, for most items, not enough to make it worth while to lug all that from Vancouver or the extra hassle of passing it through US Customs.

If you are old enough to qualify for the USNP senior pass, that will allow you entry to USNP, USFS, and other federal facilities at no cost and will cut the cost of overnight camping spots in half. Other passes will allow entry but not the half-price camping.

Plan on spending big bucks for fuel for your RV. I don't know what it is now but when I was last there 2 summers ago, the price of gasoline was 25-35% higher than in the Seattle area.

Camping out is great and I've done it many times throught the Alaska road system but there are a few precautions it is smart to take. Get the brochures from USNP or USFS or the Alaska Tourism office on bear safety. There are a few things anyone camping in Alaska needs to know and observe to enhance their safety.
dwooddon is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 09:33 AM
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You need to go to "RV.net/foums-It has massive amounts of info that you are looking for.
Good Luck
traveler24 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 12:25 PM
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Make sure you pick up a copy of THE MILEPOST before you go. This book is invaluable for travel in Alaska. You an get it online or at any bookstore.

Here are some of the topics in it: http://milepost.com/features/driving...ka_highwayfaq/

A neighbor rented an RV in Alaska years ago. The company they chose did not include linens, dishes, etc. in the package. So they brought sleeping bags with them (got them on sale at home), used them on their trip and then donated them to a shelter before returning home.
The RV company we used years ago provided everything, right down to salt & pepper shakers. We had a wonderful experience in Alaska but we were there in August. I think June temperatures are cooler, so bring layers.

You should bring insect repellant, because I think that's the beginning of bug season.

Plan your meals for the time you're in the RV so you only have to shop once for the week.
GBelle is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 01:18 PM
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If your orientation is like ours was, they tell you everything that can go wrong. We almost decided to forget it and rent a car instead. But we decided that we could do it without any problems. We had none and are glad we did the RV. in fact we will be doing it again this year,

Eagle River is a park just outside Anchorage that we used for the first couple of days and the last day of our trip.

Get the Milepost.
bigtyke is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 01:29 PM
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Thx a mint for all the replies and specific info - much appreciated!

For those of you who rented, did you get windshield insurance?

It's our 1st trip to AK, so we're sticking to a fairly standard route: Seward, Anchorage, Denali NP, Matanuska Glacier and Fairbanks. The RV we rented does come with a kitchen & linen pkg, and unlimited miles.

klam_chowder is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 03:22 PM
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We did a similiar trip: only ours 1st was in New Zealand. At least you won't have to worry about driving from the right side of the RV and on the right side of the road!

I find that shipping or carrying in baggage(whichever is cheaper) spices, salt & pepper, paper plate, paper towels, laundry soap plastic spoon forks and some dry foods, tea, hot cocoa, dried soups,mac & cheese, instant oatmeal,foil pouches of tuna, salmon, individual packets of coffee, sugar, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, etc a good remedy.. these items will ALWAYS be higher in Alaska than home...shiping canned items adds to the weight whether shipping or baggage and does not seem to be beneficial these days unless you can get a bagage waiver.
1JAR is offline  
Feb 13th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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We rented a RV last summer and did get the windshield insurance. We didn't end up needing it but sounded like it happens a fair amount so we went with the safe option.

Actually thinking about it, the lady doing the walkthrough with us checked to see if there were any chips or cracks on it and if there were we wouldn't need to get the insurance and wouldn't be charged if there were any new ones. So check out your unit first before deciding.
henny16 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2011, 09:33 AM
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1JAR - I'll have time to shop in Vancouver before the cruise so won't need to ship anything as the cruiselines have no restrictions on luggage brought aboard. Glad you had a good trip - thx for your thoughts.

henny16 - thx for that useful tip. I'll be sure to ask to see the unit first.

traveler24, I posted on the forums at rv.net on other things too, and I am amazed at how friendly, welcoming and sharing they are over there...on-line communities are fab!

klam_chowder is offline  
Feb 13th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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That's great klamchowder.

Be sure & post back even a short trip report as DH and I are considering teh same trip..now that we are hooked on RVs
1JAR is offline  
Feb 13th, 2011, 01:34 PM
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Know how long you can be on battery power. If you don't have an electric hookup at a campground, you will not be able to operate things like a microwave or electric coffee maker so make sure your meals and coffee can be made with just propane stove (we keep an old fashioned percolator for those times).

Also keep check on your gray water tank. I prefer to use a campground shower because our camper trailer shower is so tiny. DH also prefers we use TP from the RV store.

We did not rent an RV for our AK trips but always carried picnic supplies and stayed in some places that had full kitchens. It's very handy to be able to have your meals anywhere you can park. The supermarkets in Anchorage, Wassila, Kenai and Soldotna are large. Seward is smaller. Talkeetna is tiny. (Didn't go to Fairbanks but expect large supermarkets.) I think between Wasilla and Denali you'll only find a few gas station convenience stores plus a very small market in Talkeetna.

I pack my absolute favorite kitchen knife and a couple of essential kitchen tools in my checked baggage plus a small cutting board. I did this even with a cottage rental. There are some things like salt and pepper, a few freezer bags, etc that you might want to bring from home so you don't have to buy a whole pkg in AK. But anything you have a good chance of using up on your trip is probably best purchased in AK. Our last trip was in mid-June and farmers markets had started. Check to see where they are held. We went to the one in Homer and enjoyed getting some great baked goods (oysters were also available). Picked up local jam at another market.

I would buy windshield insurance. I always check rental vehicles. One time because we checked a rental cargo van in the rain, I did not see a large chip in the windshield. The next day I immediately phone the agency to report the existence of a crack.
dfrostnh is offline  
Feb 15th, 2011, 05:56 AM
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dfrostnh, thx a mint for sharing your experiences. A great list to help me prepare.

klam_chowder is offline  
Feb 15th, 2011, 09:39 AM
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The RV we rented had a generator and we were not charged for the time we used it (which was very minimal anyway). I believe some of the other RV rental companies charged for the amount of time it was used. Which isn't a horrible thing - just one of those things that you want to know ahead of time.

The company we rented from (ABC) had a table in the lobby where you could leave things for other people. We were able to pick up a few supplies that way and in return left some things after our trip.
henny16 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2011, 12:18 PM
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henny16 - we're renting from ABC as well; found a good deal with them and so far they've been great in all my contact with them. Just phoned them today with my compiled list of questions and the fella was great in answering them thoroughly without making me feel rushed or stupid for asking them. Fab idea for them to have an exchange table, and not have to throw stuff out (I loathe waste) or lug it home, esp with the current air carrier luggage restrictions.

Do you recall if the blankets and linens were adequate to keep you warm? Was the TV a 13" one?

If you rented a small one (21/22'), do you remember what your gas mileage was like?

Our biggest concern is having to dump the black and gray water (yuck! Do you remember how often you had to do it? And do you mind saying how many were in your party?

I'm anticipating the pick up takes about 2 hours, is that about right?

Thx for any insights on this rental agency/their vehicles.

1JAR - with your request, I'll be sure to put up a TR

klam_chowder is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 09:03 AM
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At most you can expect 10mpg. Key is to fill up by Wasilla going north- similar to Anchorage prices, and in Fairbanks.

As for supplies- purchase twice the toilet paper you think you'll need. Foil, matches, dish soap, need to be purchased.

There are enough blankets, that are warm. You will be using your heater, in your timeframe.

I found the small RV to be a negative. The gas tank is smaller, and if using the overhead bed, it's cramped for the inside person. The lower beds are not confortable. Also ABC has some pretty low end RV's compared to the other major vendor. It was a significant difference in my experience. From a well made- everything worked RV to a cheap, poorly constructed, lacking unit. The price was my priority which was well worth it for me, at the 50% discount, I got.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 10:32 AM
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Thx a mint for your tips & thoughts, BudgetQueen.

Apart from the gas tank, hadn't heard poor reviews of the smaller RV's so it'll be interesting to see how we find it - at least now we won't have our expecations set too high. We like to camp so it'll be a least a lot more fun than pitching and striking camp every nite or two...LOL! ABC has told me that all units are 2009, 10 or 11. Hopefully we get a newer/well maintained one.

klam_chowder is offline  
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