People who don’t full-time or use their RV for extended periods of time often decide to multi-purpose it to justify their investment. They may turn their trailer or RV into a guest room for visiting family and friends, or into an office or get-away when escaping to a bed-and-breakfast or nearby hotel isn’t an option. Those are wonderful ways to extend the use of your RV and keep it functional and operational.
But there are 10 things you should not use your RV for if you want to preserve it for years of camping.
Some people think of RVs as big storage boxes on wheels. They’re not. Even though you may not be rolling down the road with all that weight, RVs were never intended to be storage units. Not only will weights in excess of the stated maximum load damage your tires and the frame of the RV over time, but boxes of stuff stacked in the RV will lead to less air circulation, mold, insect infestation and condensation-all of which can damage or ruin your investment faster than you would believe. Rent a storage unit. Don’t make your RV do double duty for something it was never intended to be used for.
- Don’t use your RV as a hunting lodge for all the guys unless you bought it expressly for that purpose.
Wet clothing, boots and gear from one person are bad enough, but when you have several sweaty, muddy, dirty hunters enclosed in an RV for any length of time you also have condensation issues, mold, smells.
- Canning cabbage or cooking fish.
There’s just something about sleeping in an RV that reeks of boiled cabbage or fish that can ruin that whole fresh mountain air experience. RVs are equipped with kitchens so you can cook, but use common sense. Whatever you cook in an RV tends to linger on the walls, floors, fabric and furniture for months. Cook the stronger smelling meals outside, or grill as much as possible when possible. Open windows, use your exhaust fan and wipe down surfaces after every meal to help dissipate cooking odors.
- Playhouse for kids.
This is tough because children love RVs as much as they love forts, tree houses and caves made of blankets. RVs have a lot of things that can kill children, like propane, parking brakes that can be released, refrigerators for playing hide-and-seek in and the same sort of things that you have in your house. The temptation to play “camping” can be strong, even for older children, and lead to dangerous consequences. Not only can children be hurt playing unsupervised in an RV, they can also break things, leave gas on, or do things that can harm the integrity and safety of the RV. Buy them a tent or build them a tree house. It’s less expensive and much safer.
- Gasoline and chemical storage. If you don’t have a garage, don’t make your RV your garage on wheels. Never store cans of gasoline, chemicals or pesticides and other toxic products in your RV. Not only will the smell permeate the vehicle, the build up of heat or the cold of long winters can make the chemicals unstable, make them spontaneously combust, or even melt, discolor or soften certain plastics in the RV. Even when storing your RV for extended lengths of time (a month or more), remove all chemicals, cleaners, food and items from the vehicle.
- Dog Kennel.
RVers travel with their animals all the time and that’s not a problem. Kenneling your animals in your RV when you’re home isn’t a good idea. Not only do you risk flea infestations, your dog will leave an odor in the RV that’s hard to remove when you go to sell it. Dog and cat food can attract rodents, mice, and bugs, even when stored in airtight containers. The increased incidents of “accidents,” such as vomiting, urine and spraying only add to the problem of odor in the unit, making you feel like you’re camping in a kennel, not an RV.
- Pantry. I know. It’s enticing to think of all that extra cabinet space going unused. Lots of folks like to consider their RV a pantry away from their kitchen when the RV is parked. Don’t. Not only will you attract pests like mice, rats and squirrels, but your RV will also become the go-to destination for ants, maggots, flies and anything with six legs and wings. Airtight containers, even the metal ones, can’t keep out hungry critters. And critters being what they are, they’ll eat your food and relieve themselves all over the RV. Remove all foodstuffs if you plan to let your RV sit for more than a week or more.
- Library and reading room. There’s a lot to be said for escaping to the RV with a good book, your favorite snack and drink and plans for an afternoon of reading and relaxing. But don’t turn your RV into a library with all your books, newspapers and reading materials stacked away on shelves and in nooks and crannies. Books, like food, attract critters, mold and moisture. Because the paper in magazines, books and newspapers is absorbent and RVs have condensation issues anyway, the paper tends to attract and hold moisture. Over time this can result in mold. The adhesives, the glue, sizing and starches in paper and books also attract creatures like silverfish, cockroaches and lice, and ruin your books.
- Plant Nursery or cold-frame garden. The temptation to grow herbs and flowers or start your vegetable garden in an RV, particularly in cold regions where homeowners like to get a start on their gardens, is a bad idea. Plants throw off enormous amounts of water into the air and will create moisture issues within days. Buy or build a cold-frame garden and set it up outside your RV if you have a green thumb.
- Illegal activities. This should be a no-brainer, but every year RV owners use their vehicles for meth labs, to grow pot, to host prostitutes, do drugs, gamble and a wide variety of illegal activities. Parents with teen-agers should realize that teens often consider an RV in storage as a great place to experiment with everything from alcohol to sex or drugs. If you have an RV, park it close, lock it up and control your keys. Go through the RV at least once a week, and daily when it rains or snows, to make sure you don’t smell anything suspicious – like mold, or mildew and to ensure nothing is leaking.