So, you’ve found the RV of your dreams after many months, or even years, of researching, shopping, and visiting RV shows and dealers. Congratulations! It’s such a feeling of elation when you’ve picked out “the one.”
Now onto the nitty gritty of storing your RV and purchasing those extras needed to keep her up and running efficiently. There are more ways than one to save money when it comes to storing your RV. Financially savvy RVers know that money spent wisely maintaining recreational vehicles, means those extra saved funds can be spent exploring on the road.
Potential Locations for Storing A Recreational Vehicle
At Home: Logically, the best alternative is having the ability to park your RV at home. We see many RVs up-close and cozy at someone’s home and think, “ah, if only I could do that.” If you have that setup, lucky you! Many RV owners even opt to erect a carport or canopy to cover their baby.
Many neighborhoods with an HOA discount this option right off the bat. I understand it because, well, it’s an HOA, and their job is to keep the neighborhood in-tact and appearing pristine. There are neighborhoods, be it a single-family or manufactured home community for the 55+ seniors, that have a separate parking area to house RVs or boats for those residents—that is a great opportunity for storing your RV.
If you don’t have an HOA, you will need to check with your local municipality to ensure the codes allow for parking an RV. Generally, if you are able to park the RV in your backyard and have a 6’ fence, many locales will allow this type of storage since it cannot be seen from the street.
Parking in your driveway or side yard may need a permit or acceptance from your county or city officials. There are times the municipality’s legislation is not enforced until a neighbor complains. Sometimes there is a length restriction for leaving a vehicle in your side yard or driveway. To be on the safe side, check your county/city codes for any vehicular restrictions.
Outside Storage Facilities: My guess would be that a vast majority of RV owners must turn to an outside storage facility to house their home on wheels. My husband and I were fortunate to store our small travel trailer in our driveway but needed to turn to an outside storage facility when we upgraded to a fifth wheel.
We did our homework and started calling any outside storage facility within a 25-mile radius of our home that had capacity to store RVs. Keep a list of the facility’s name, address, phone number, website and rates for the particular length spot you’ll need. Considering you will be traveling with your RV, a facility located close to a major interstate can turn out to be a perfectly viable decision that allows you to get out of town and on the road faster.
Searching for a facility located in a rural area and away from the city, may also offer a better rate. We found that to be true in our search and choose a facility 20-miles from our home. The facility has a video surveillance camera, is fenced and has a code activated security gate. In our case, we pay $2.50/foot (times the length of our RV) for uncovered parking. The RV is available to us 24/7, and often times the owner of the facility is on-site.
Another money-saving idea is to inquire as to whether you can receive a discounted rate if you sign up for automatic payment from your bank or credit card.
Some outside storage facilities will offer covered as well as uncovered parking. Covered parking will naturally come at a price but depending on the type RV you’ll be storing, you may decide that is a better choice.
Security is one of those things that will most likely be on your mind. We all want to keep our RVs right where we left them and undamaged. Security can come in the form of video surveillance cameras, type of fencing, security gates, motion lights or a manager on-site. Be sure to ask these questions when checking prices and keep track of pertinent information on your checklist.
Snowbird Storage: Living in Florida, we are familiar with the snowbirds that love our winter climate. The option of storing your RV in a temperate climate may sound appealing. Many northerners choose to be home during the warmer months, pursue other activities and head south for the winter. It may make sense to leave your RV stored in a safe, secure location rather than spending time and fuel to tow it back and forth each year and winterizing it in the north. Most storage facilities do not require a contract, thereby, allowing you to change locations when you’re ready to head back home or return to your previous location if room is still available.
There are many parks that rent spaces long-term if your choice is to stay in one place and explore from there. Many snowbirds love that solution and look forward to their annual Florida trip.
Friends: We all may know friends who live on an acre or more. Depending on how good these friends are, you might have the advantage of asking to store your RV on their property. As a nicety, you could even offer them some moolah each month for the luxury of storing your RV at a home where you feel comfortable it will be looked after.
Other Money-Saving Ideas While Storing An RV
RV monthly check: If at all possible, when not in use, check on your RV monthly. You’ll want to assure that everything is in-tact, rodents have not chewed through wiring or the underbelly and no water has found its way inside your RV through any small cracks or crevices.
Ensure entry doors, roof vents and all windows are closed and fully locked. Double check that exterior storage doors are secured and locked. Pull down interior shades as this not only keeps others from looking in but will prevent sun damage to your furniture and belongings.
Exterior vent covers: Purchase RV approved exterior vent covers for your hot water, furnace and refrigerator exhausts. This helps prevent insects, such as spiders, from building nests in these areas which can damage wiring, plumbing or other components. Keep in mind vent covers must maintain the ability to ventilate so do not cover with anything such as a fine mesh or heavy material.
You could, however, place a removable type tape over these exhausts while the RV is not in use. As a reminder, place a note inside your RV to remove the tape prior to hooking up at your campsite. Warning: Do not use spray repellents, such as wasp spray, in the ventilation vents due to the possibility that the sprays may be flammable when propane is in use.
There are several ideas floated on the internet regarding electronic devices to keep away rodents, use of flea collars, or other natural products to deter pests. Ant traps can also be placed inside the RV as a precaution. But, whatever you may chose, the key is to prevent insects and rodents from damaging your RV.
Inspecting the Underbelly: Inspect the underside of your RV for any gaps or openings. When it’s dark, open interior closets and cabinets, turn on all interior lights and check the underside of the RV for any places where light might be coming through. You can then seal with silicone or steel wool being sure to tape the steel wool in place with duct tape. This prevents mice, squirrels or other rodents from burrowing into your RV to keep warm or build nests.
Waterproof spray foam is another option to fill gaps, but remember it expands. Do not spray to excess or you may find yourself cutting the foam, once dry, down to size.
Tire Safety: Ensure your tires are properly inflated and purchase good quality wheel covers. Wheel covers will protect deterioration of your tires from the UV rays of the sun. It’s a quick and easy way to extend the life of your tires.
Locking Your RV: Buy a kingpin or cable style lock for your fifth wheel. A travel trailer will need a trailer hitch lock. This type lock clamps onto the coupler and stops the hitch from going over any ball, regardless of size. There’s a variety of each on the market. Whether your storage facility has security or not, it’s an added layer of protection and peace of mind to ensure your RV is as secure as you can make it.
I’ve even read of people using these locks while in a campground as added assurance when they are off exploring for the day. Thieves have been known to drive through campgrounds – throw them some stumbling blocks and keep them moving away from your possessions.
Many RV manufacturers use the same type key for all outside storage compartments. Take a look at your key. Does it have CH751 shown on the key? This saves the RV manufacturer a lot of money and the salesman time by using a standard key to open exterior storage doors.
If this concerns you because your grill or expensive camp chairs may go missing, you can change out the locks yourself (search Industrial Lock and Hardware online). For another option, remove each lock, take it to a local locksmith and have them rekeyed to a new one-of-a-kind key.
Again, peace of mind is often worth a price and can save you money and worry in the long run.
Battery and LP Supply: As one of the steps you go through in returning from your camp trip and getting your RV into storage, add “killing” the battery and LPG supply to your list. To save on the life of your battery, many RVs have a battery switch that totally shuts the battery off, thereby avoiding it to continually drain.
If yours does not have a switch, you can remove the fuse to the battery and keep in a handy, safe place (perhaps inside the RV or tow vehicle) for your next trip. Be sure the LPG supply valve is in the OFF position.
RV Covers, Tarps and Moisture: If you chose to cover your RV with a custom-made cover or tarp, be sure the cover is breathable. Moisture can allow mold to grow which can literally take over your exterior, awning, gaps in the underbelly or interior. Setting a container or two of Damp Rid or an equivalent inside your RV can help eliminate humidity buildup.
Saving on Perishables: If your RV is being stored in hot weather or longer than a month, a suggestion is to remove any food items from your kitchen cabinets. Spices and cooking oils or sprays can be damaged from excessive heat. Boxed foods could retain moisture from heat and humidity in an unused RV. Even toothpaste, deodorant, shampoos, sunblock and the like can be damaged from excessive heat.
In cooler weather, leaving food items inside for any length of time might encourage ants or rodents. Keeping your RV clean from the inside out will help prevent these pests from searching for a spot to get inside.
Washing/Waxing Your RV: It’s important to clean your RV to get rid of dirt accumulated during your travels. Left to sit on the RV, accumulated dirt and residue can cause damage to the paint and design and stains or discoloration may set in. Start with the roof and make a special effort to get as much grime off the roof as possible so it doesn’t wash down the sides of your RV while being storage.
Waxing the exterior will help protect your paint from harmful UV rays and keep dirt build-up to a minimum. Washing the underbelly of the RV removes chemicals, oils and mineral deposits that can cause corrosion.
There are many products out there from cleaners, brushes, rubber seal treatments, protectants and waxes. Do a quick google search and find out which ones you’ll want to use for your RV. Cleaning and protecting your RV, especially if it’s on the road full time or sitting in outside storage, will go a long way in saving you money on your paint job and overall RV appearance.
Insurance: It’s perfectly understandable to maintain an insurance policy with your vehicles and RV all on the same policy. I mean, who doesn’t want the multi-vehicle discount? It might be a good idea, however, to be sure your insurance company has the exact coverage you need for an RV. There are many insurers that specialize in RV coverage if you discover that is needed.
When storing an RV, you may receive a discount if you discuss the type of security provided at the storage facility, whether your RV is covered or uncovered or depending upon any personal security you’ve added to the RV, for example, locks, camera, motion lights, etc.
Storing a camper isn’t always the money-efficient route we’d like to take, but it’s also a necessity for many RVers that want their dream of life on the road to be a reality. As a friend of ours said, “it’s not about every nickel and dime you spend RVing, it’s about the lifestyle.”
Thinking with logic when it comes to storing an RV, or owning one for that matter, will lead you to definite ways to save for your lifestyle. Remember, do your due diligence on storage locations and keep in mind the other key things needed for keeping an RV efficiently maintained while it’s being stored. A penny saved is a penny earned, as the saying goes, coined by Benjamin Franklin.
How you store your RV and what you can do along the way in making your RVing lifestyle the dream you’ve always had, will make it all worthwhile. Let’s hit the road!