Sunday, February 6, 2022

Storing and Protecting your data:  pCloud is the answer

I've been using Dropbox for as long as I can remember.  I bought a 2TB plan that provided ample room to store ALL of my travel (and other) photos and videos.  And it also has room to spare for my documents.  For $200/year, I had Dropbox's Family Plan, so that I could share some of that space with my daughter in college.

I scan everything:  medical papers, tax and legal documents, auto service records, and more.  By having a fast scanner (like this one:, I'm able to quickly scan things and get rid of the paper.

Over the years, I've loved having a place to store all of my documents - and quickly be able to look at them from anywhere with my phone.  But there was a concern for how secure they were, not to mention the download speeds and lack of some important features.

I began scouring every site I could find looking for the best alternative to Dropbox and found a clear-cut winner:  pCloud.

pCloud is, in my opinion, leaps and bounds above Dropbox for several reasons:

  1. Cost:  pCloud's 2TB Premium service is cheaper.  And pCloud offers a 2TB Lifetime Plan.  By purchasing this plan, you'll spend as much as Dropbox Plus for about three years, then it'll be "free" for the rest of your life.
  2. Sharing:  pCloud's sharing features are easy to use, and shared files can be put on a "web page" where you can show a photo banner and some text.  Classy, and ANYONE can set it up through their prompts.
  3. Encryption:  unlike Dropbox, pCloud has a Crypto Option that has uses something called "zero-knowledge" encryption.  This means that files are automatically encrypted on my computer BEFORE they are sent to the pCloud servers.  No one between me and the servers can ever read my encrypted files - and even the people working for pCloud can't read them.  Dropbox maintains their key so, technically, their employees have access to my encrypted files.  And it's simple:  all I have to do is enter a separate password to access my encrypted file folders.
  4. Interface:  Dropbox allows you to synchronize files.  This means that you can select which folders you want duplicated on your computer and they'll keep them in sync.  When you call up a Dropbox file stored on your local computer and make changes, it automatically copies (syncs) the files to the copy stored on their server.  pCloud can also synchronize files.  BUT....they have a program that downloads to your computer that creates a virtual drive where you can access ALL two terabytes of your stored files.  What's a virtual drive?  It's where they add an entire "drive" to your computer that seemingly contains all of your pCloud files.  You already may have drive C: and maybe drive D:, but they add a drive P:.  The cool thing is that none of the drive P files are actually on your computer!  They're all on their servers (in the "cloud").  You can drag and drop them, view them, and anything else that you can do with any other files on your computer - as long as you have an Internet connection.
  5. Public folder.  The pCloud public folder isn't just a place to drop files that you can share with the public.  You can also put images and files there and link to them from other places - like web pages or this blog.  AND you can even put in an HTML file that has its own URL!  This means that you can host a basic web page on the Internet right from the public folder.
  6. Automatic backups.  pCloud has an easy system to automatically backup files on your PC, MAC or phone.  Set up is amazingly simple.
  7. Photo viewing.  On Dropbox, it was slow to look at a folder of photos.  Not only that, the photos were small and difficult to see.  With pCloud, looking at photos is like looking at your photo gallery.  They are quick to display and the images are much larger.
  8. Music streaming.  pCloud lets you create music playlists and stream them right from your device.
And so on and so on.

If you get a chance, go to the pCloud site and check it out.  You can even get a free account with up to 10GB of storage.  I personally recommend the Lifetime 2TB plan.

Here's my affiliate link:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Planning a Trip with RV Trip Wizard

UPDATE:  Be sure to checkout my video walkthrough of RV Trip Wizard!

Until recently, we have taken shorter trips and it's been easy to plan them.  But next year we'll be heading out on a long cross-country trip.  During the first part of the trip, we'll be traveling with four other RVs and will have 14 stops between North Carolina and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

When I started planning the trip, it quickly became apparent how difficult it would be to line up all of the places we wanted to stay, fill in the days between our larger camping spots with short stays (or overnighters), and estimate our costs.  Planning a trip like this isn't that easy, so I chose to use a Reserve and Fill-in method (see my post Trip Planning: Getting Started) where we would reserve all of the "main" places we wanted to visit and then fill-in the intermediate stops as we saw fit.

One of the things I often see people request on various Internet groups and forums is an app that will allow them to find places to stop at specified intervals.  For example, let's suppose that you're at Yellowstone and want to go to Albuquerque, but don't want to drive more than 300 miles each day.  You need a way to 1) see the route between the two, 2) be able to divide the route into 300-mile intervals and 3) find campgrounds and places to stay along the way.  I looked high and low for a tool that would do this sort of trip planning, and was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered.

RV Trip Wizard Setup

RV Trip Wizard is a web-based application.  That is, there's nothing to load on your phone or computer.  Whenever you want to use it, you just log in (and your computer can remember all of the login details, so it's easy) and start planning.  It costs about $45 per year, but it seems like it'll be worth it if you travel a lot.

When you first get into RV Trip Wizard, you enter your personal preferences and parameters.  These include RV dimensions, average speed, average daily amount you might spend for food and miscellaneous expenses, and more.  These become defaults for your selections, so they are multiplied by the number of nights at a given campground to help determine the cost for the entire stay.

A second preference screen allows you to select the things you want displayed on your maps:  campgrounds (many different types: Good Sam's, Passport, etc.), fuel stops, national and state parks, etc.  You assign a number to each one and they are prioritized so that the higher priority icons appear before others.

When you select Trip Planner, you're taken to the place where you'll spend almost all of your time.  The screen is divided into four sections.  Across the top are menus.  On the left is your itinerary. The right side has the map and, beneath it, information about anything you've selected on the screen.

Creating a Trip:  A sample walk-through

Let's say I want to go to three "main" places:  Nashville, TN then Yellowstone National Park and, finally, Cheyenne, MO.  Although I'm sure that there are a lot of ways to go about planning a trip with RV Trip Wizard, here's what I do:

1 - Select "Start a New Trip" from menu to the left of the Itinerary box.

2 - Fill in the name of my trip (I'll call it "Nashville->Cheyenne) and put in the start date.  After selecting "Create", it asks if I want to use my current location as the Starting Point.  I answer "no" because I want to start in Nashville, not where I am now.

3 - Type Nashville, TN into the search box and select Find.  This puts Nashville on the map with a "1" balloon.

4 - Underneath the map, select "Set as Start" to select Nashville "1" as the start of the trip.  After clicking this, Nashville, TN appears as the first place on the itinerary.

5 - Type "Yellowstone National Park" in the search box (it uses auto-complete to fill in the entire phrase and its location).  Select Find and the map moves to show Yellowstone in its center with the number "2".

6 - Beneath the map, show that this (Yellowstone) will follow our first stop #1 (Nashville) in the itinerary and then select Add to Trip.

7 - Now notice how the map shows the route coming in (blue) from Nashville and Yellowstone has been added as the second stop on the itinerary.

8 - Repeat steps 5 and 6 to enter "Cheyenne, WY" as the third stop.
9 - Now the itinerary shows all three of the main stops.  Notice how the Wizard has computed the distance in miles to travel to each stop (the totals are on the bottom but not in my screen capture).  It also shows the estimated cost to stay in each location.

10 - The entire map (you can zoom out) now shows your route with three stops in those cities.

11 - Select Nashville, the first stop, in the itinerary.  Notice how the map shows all of the campgrounds in the area.  

12 - Select the KOA in Nashville and a green box pops up showing you their address and a link to their web site and user reviews.

13 - When the green box comes up, a lot of information about the campground appears below the map.  Since I want to stay there, I'm going to enter 4 nights to stay, put this after stop #1 (Nashville) and select Add to Trip.

14 - Since the KOA was added as Stop #2 after the generic city "Nashville" (I know where I'm going to stay in Nashville now!), I can delete the generic stop #1 by checking the box beside it and choosing Delete.

15 - Now the trip is taking shape.  Notice that we begin at the KOA and our entire trip is shown on the map.

16 - Repeat steps 11 through 14 by finding and selecting campgrounds in Yellowstone and Cheyenne.  NOTE that when you look for campgrounds, you can move the map around to find one your want and explore to your heart's content!  When you select your campground and delete the "generic" location (yellow bubbles), your route will be adjusted accordingly.  I've gone ahead and selected my other two "main stop" campgrounds.  Here's what it looks like now: 

17 - Notice that it's 1744 miles between my campground in Nashville and the one I chose at Yellowstone (Wagon Wheel).  That's a lot of driving to do between those places, and I prefer to not drive more than about 300 miles every day. So...we select the KOA Nashville (first stop) on the map and the green box appears. [Nashville 18]

18 - Notice the little icon next to the X in the top right corner of the green box?  Select that and the map is instantly annotated with radiuses around the KOA of 100, 200 and 300 miles.  I specified those intervals in the setup.

19 - Since the radius marks are "as the crow flies" but our route isn't, I may want to stick closer to 200 miles as the crow flies (because I'll likely be travelling closer to 300 miles on the roads).  I'll double-click on the map to zoom near the point where the 200-mile radius intersects with the route.  Notice how many places to stay now appear on the zoomed map!! You can turn POI's (like bridge clearances, Walmarts, etc. on or off using the POI menu item at the top of the screen.

20 - Now I can explore all of the campgrounds by clicking on them.  When I find one I like, I select it and add it to the itinerary as before, putting it after my last location (in this case, the Nashville KOA). 

21 - Next, just select the campground just added and repeat 18-20 above to keep adding places (be sure to indicate how many nights you're staying at each one!) until you're finished with the trip!
As you add items, RV Trip Wizard will automatically update the dates and costs on your itinerary.  When you're finished, you can print everything to a PDF - very, very handy!!

This is an extremely handy tool that is the best trip planner I've seen for RVers.  It shows everything along the way and allows thorough planning of your routes, including stops along the way at intervals you specify.  There are several videos on YouTube that provide even more information if you want it.  Enjoy!

Related posts:  Trip Planning: Getting Started and  Apps to use when Planning a Trip

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Portable fire! Advantages of a gas fire bowl

Almost every great picture of families gathered around a campfire show a wood fire pit with everyone roasting marshmallows.  But when you actually start traveling around the country, it's quite surprising how many campgrounds don't allow wood fires.  Of those that do allow them, there are some that won't allow you to pick up dead or fallen wood on the ground; you must buy the firewood.

As we have traveled, it seems that most campgrounds prohibit wood fires or simply don't support them because they haven't installed fire rings.  We wanted a solution that would allow us to have a campfire almost everywhere we go, and that solution was to buy a propane gas fire bowl.

While wood campfires crackle, pop, and can smell good, they are actually a bit of a pain to use.  You have to buy the wood, get it to your campsite, open it, stack it, get stuff to light it, stoke it, add more wood, and finally douse it with water to put it out.   Fire pit cleanup can be a real pain for campground owners, and (technically) it actually may be illegal to carry firewood into some states from other states.

A propane gas fire bowl eliminates a lot of the hassle.  The flames look great, they are quiet, provide really good heat, have adjustable flames, and are clean, clean, clean.  Setting one up is a breeze:  get it out of your rig, remove the cover, connect it to an LP source, and turn it on.  When you're finished, turn it off, let it cool down, disconnect and put it away.

Although we've found that many campgrounds we have visited in the past year don't allow wood fires, every campground we've been in has had no problem whatsoever with a gas fire bowl - except Fort Wilderness at Disney World.  One of the big arguments against wood fires are the embers it creates and potentially spreads to nearby leaves and trees.  For the past few years, fires have raged across the country, and government and private campgrounds have greatly curtailed wood fires in campgrounds.  Gas fire bowls don't create embers and are much safer.  Fort Wilderness has an extra requirement:  you may use a fire pit or bowl as long as it is completely enclosed and has a top on it (the idea being that embers can't escape).  However, they have made no exception for open-topped gas fire bowls.  Here are the detailed rules at Fort Wilderness:

I asked around on Facebook and then searched the Internet for a fire bowl that could easily be used at the campsite, would be easy to carry, and could be used repeatedly without any issues.  A lot of campers told me to look at one of the fire bowls made by Outland.  The one we chose, pictured at the top of this article, is Outland's Firebowl Premium Portable Propane Fire Pit.  It sells on Amazon for around $150.  When you consider that you can have a camp fire quickly and just about anywhere, with little mess and no expense other than the initial cost and the gas, it really is a good deal.

The "size" of the flame can be adjusted with a knob on the side.  We have found that the lowest setting is all we need for a great camp fire.  The bowl comes with an attached 10-foot rubber (plastic?) gas tube with a regulator on the end for a quick connection to a propane source.  I went to Walmart and bought a 20-pound propane tank that can be refilled at many RV parks.  Although I haven't really made an accurate measurement, I'll guess that we can get 12 hours or so of fire from a full tank.

You can get a nice carrying case to keep the fire bowl covered while traveling.  The basic unit comes with a metal cover over the fake (but real-looking and reusable) rocks.  The unit comes with extra rocks.

When you unpack the Outland Firebowl, you simply open the rock bags and put them in the container (they tell you which ones go on bottom, middle and top).  Then you screw the regulator onto your propane source, turn on the gas at the source, then slowly turn the knob on the bowl clockwise.  As you do this, the gas enters the bowl and as you keep turning the igniter clicks and lights the flame.  Once the fire is going, you can turn the flame up by continuing to move the knob clockwise.  When you're finished, turn off the gas at the source, wait a little bit for the gas to leave the hose through the fire bowl (the flame will go out) and then turn the knob all the way counter-clockwise to be ready for the next use.  It usually takes mine about an hour to cool down enough for me to feel comfortable enough to put it back into my coach.

If you're interested here are the direct links to Amazon where you can check out the Firebowl and it's optional cover.  If you get one, leave some feedback here or recommend it on Facebook (and maybe post a link to this article!).  And remember, I don't get anything from Outland or Amazon or anyone else - so I have no reason to push anyone into a sale.

Amazon link 1:  Outland Firebowl Premium Portable Propane Fire Pit

Amazon link 2:  Outland Firebowl Carry Bag

Take care...and safe travels!

Tyron Bands

If you're always concerned about safety in your RV, and I'm a bit obsessed with it, you probably pay a lot of attention to your tires.   It's important to check your tire pressures, have a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), keep an eye on the age of your tires, and maybe even take steps to cover them when you're parked for a while to protect them from the sun.

Right after buying our coach in the fall of 2015, we met another camper who suggested that we take a look at Tyron Bands (See the article titled Upcoming plans:  a new rim, a tow bar, the Tampa Show, and a bit of Fort Wilderness).  He told us that the military used them in some of their tires and that they helped prevent tire shredding in the event of a blowout.  They also provide something of a "run flat" capability when your tire blows.

I was intrigued by the concept because of the stories I had read on Facebook and some videos on YouTube about front tire blowouts on motorhomes.  When a tire blows, the rims shred the tire.  This results in increased loss of control and can potentially cause sparking which can start a fire.  These things have happened quite a few times.  When I'm driving my very heavy coach around turns on an Interstate while going 63 miles per hour, I'm always aware that a blowout can happen unexpectedly.  It's important to know what to do if that happens.  Here's a great video from Michelin about handling the RV if you have a blowout.

It seemed to me that instead of riding a shredded tire in a blowout incident, I'd rather have more control and possibly be able to drive slowly to the next exit and pull off.  So we had our dealer install Tyron Bands on our front tires.  It wasn't cheap:  about $1100 per tire.   But I just had to treat it as another kind of insurance policy, and this one would give me a lot of peace of mind while driving.

This video is from Tyron's web site about front tire blowouts and their product:

A lot of tire installers are either not familiar with the bands or are not experienced in installing them. Getting the bands on when you need to change rims can be a bit of a challenge (or so we've been told) for the uninitiated.  Tyron also has a tool kit (with instructions) that you can carry with you so that installers will have what they need to make changes.  We made sure that we got one of those, too.

Since we've had them on our front tires for two years, we're thankful that we've never had to experience their benefits.  But I've kept my eyes on social media for discussions about them.  When the subject comes up, many simply don't think they'd make much difference.  Others don't want to spend the money.  I can understand the reluctance, but I want every edge I can get.

On Facebook, I found that people that bought them generally did so for the same reasons I did.  And there were also a few testimonials from people (none listed here are affiliated in any way with Tyron) who had heard firsthand the experiences of others or unfortunately had to put them to the test:

  • "I have a set on mine! Last summer while traveling through Knoxville Tn in the middle lane of traffic, I had a front right blow out. Because of the bands, I was able to negotiate across 2 lanes of traffic to the shoulder safely. No damage to my rim or rig. Considering a replacement rim can easily go for $1000 I think it's money well spent." -- Bob Hemphill
  • "We have them on our front tires. Had our first blowout, after RVing for 30 years, and feel that our Tyron saved us from losing control, and only damage was to our generator tailpipe.
  • "Today at 12:45 on I 75 sixty miles north of Atlanta. Blow out on our front right tire. Sounded like a bomb. My hubbie handled the wheel well. Thank God for the Tyron band. All is well. Good Sam took care of roadside assistance."
  • "Had them put on my steer tires. I've talk with several people who have had blowouts with them on. All have been able to maintain control. I figured it was good insurance to get them. Hopefully I never need them" -- JoAnn Smith
  • "I have them on our Monaco Dynasty. I have talked to people who have had front blowouts and it can get hairy real quick. Tyron bands keep the tire on the rim, allowing you to maintain steering control. The likelihood of rolling is minimized if you have a front blowout."
  • "We bought our Class C from Lazy Days in Tampa back in August 2016 and purchased these bands. At the end of last month we headed out on a trip to Pittsburgh and ended up having a blow out on both front tires within 24 hours of each other. The tires did not shred and stayed on and we were able to drive safely to the side of the road. They worked great and did what they were designed to do. With that being said, Good luck finding someone who knows how to use the tool and replace the tire. When I did find someone the toolkit they provided didn't work with my rim. They had to take the tire/rim back to the tire shop to replace." -- Jennie Walker
There were others who said that they wouldn't "waste" the money.  But it's up to you.  For me, it was a no-brainer.  If you're interested, check out their web site:  Tyron USA.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Answers to some common RV questions on Facebook

After many years of reading posts from more than 20 different RV Facebook groups, reading and contributing to IRV2, attending 12+ RV super shows and talking to hundreds of experienced and inexperienced Rvers, I'd like to offer this list of tips.  In my opinion, these are the most popular answers to questions on Facebook.

1. What type of toilet paper should we use?  Septic safe is good, the fewer ply the better.

2. Should I get a surge protector and, if so, which one? Hands down, yes.  Get a Progressive Industries EMS.  Not cheap, but the best protection and a lifetime warranty.  By far the most recommended.

3. Should I get a tire pressure monitoring system and, if so, which one?  Responses are slightly in favor of "Yes", with motorhome owners answering Yes more often.  EEZTire and Tireminder are the most often recommended.

4. Should I get a RV GPS and, if so, which one?  By a wide margin, yes.  Most people say Garmin (the 760 or the newer 770).  In second place is the Rand McNally.  For apps, most recommend CoPilot.

5. What apps can I use to find campgrounds?  Allstays is the most popular answer.

6. What can I use to plan a trip?  A slight majority say google maps and a (paper) road atlas.  RVTripWizard is the most mentioned online option.

7. Should we turn off our propane when refueling?  Most folks say "no", it's unnecessary.

8. What are the best RV manufacturers?   In the $150K-$400K range, Newmar and Tiffin motorhomes are most frequently recommended. After that, Winnebago and Fleetwood.  For fifth wheels there are many, although Grand Design and DRV are often favorably mentioned.

9. What should I avoid?   Service at Camping World or anything Thor.

10. What do we do about loud neighbors, barking dogs or people cutting through our campsite?  Talk to management.  If they don't do anything, leave.

11. What are recommended campgrounds in SomeCity USA?  Go look at

12. "This questions may have already been asked, but….".  Search for an answer on Google, or search in your favorite Facebook group (see for some extra tips).

13. For a motorhome, should I get gas or diesel?  By overwhelming majority (and if you can afford it), diesel.

14. Where can I get RV insurance?  Most frequent answers are Good Sam's, Progressive and AAA.

15. What RV air compressor do you recommend?   Most popular brand mentioned is Viair.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Roadside Assistance: Comparing FMCA, AAA, Good Sam and Coach-Net

I recently had Good Sam's Roadside Assistance, but wanted to make a change.  Naturally, I went online to Facebook and posted a question about it asking what people preferred.  As usual, the most positive responses came from people who have used Coach-Net.  I had originally planned to get Coach-Net, but decided against it because it was more expensive.

It's important to note that a lot of insurance companies and extended warranty policies offer roadside assistance.  If you're shopping, be sure to check to see if you're covered elsewhere.

After reading various the various comments and experiences of other RVers, I decided to do a little bit of research and compare the four services that are most commonly mentioned:  FMCA Roadside Assistance, AAA Plus RV, Good Sam Auto+RV Standard, and the Coach-Net Motorized RV Plan.

Here's what I did:

1.  Created a spreadsheet listing features/benefits in column A and the four company's most popular plans across the top.

2.  For each feature/benefit, I filled in the corresponding cell for each company's plan based on the information presented on their web sites.  If a benefit wasn't mentioned on a company's site, I left that cell blank and highlighted it yellow.

3.  After all cells were completed (or incomplete and marked yellow), I called each company and asked for the missing details.

Disclaimer:  Calling FMCA resulted in getting asked to leave a message on a voice mail system.  So, missing data for FMCA wasn't recorded.  I'm not going to do business with any Roadside Assistance customer service operation that doesn't answer the phone at mid-day on a Friday.  Regardless, most other available FMCA data was considered.

Benefit-by-benefit comparison (just the major stuff)


Cost was evaluated considering first year cost and the year-to-year cost after the first year.  FMCA was the least expensive at $109 per year [Update:  on 11/4/2017 I read that FMCA had decreased their rates to $69/year]. AAA was the most expensive, as it was $101 to join + $80 for my motorhome + $24 for my wife + $39 for each additional person (I would have added my daughter).  That's $244/year, and it doesn't change.  Good Sam's was only $69 for the first year, but it goes up to $118 per year after that.  Coach-Net is $249 the first year (they do have discounts), but it drops to $149/year after that.  So, in order from least to most expensive:  FMCA, Good Sam's, Coach-Net and then AAA.

Coverage for other people in your family

Good Sam and Coach-Net cover your spouse and dependent children under 25 without additional cost.  AAA will cover anyone in your family, regardless of age, as long as you pay them (see above).  FMCA did not provide data.

Other vehicles you may own

Good Sam's covers cars, boat trailers and motorcycles.   Coach-Net and AAA basically cover whatever you're driving, although AAA mentions that motorcycle coverage is available separately.  FMCA did not provide data [Update 11/18/17:  FMCA's new web site states they also cover family members and their vehicles.  This includes spouse and children under 25 who live with you or are away attending school].


Good Sam's and Coach-Net will tow your vehicle (RV or cars) to the nearest professional or qualified repair center.  Both offer unlimited towing miles and no charges.   AAA will only tow up to 100 miles (although there is an upgraded package that will take this to 200 miles for additional cost.).  FMCA says only that they will tow to the nearest qualified repair center (no clarification on distance or cost).


All of the services will get you in your locked vehicle.  Keys and the cost for making them are extra charges.

Delivery of fuel and other fluids

Good Sam and AAA don't mention this in their information, although I know that AAA will deliver fuel.  FMCA will bring gas, oil or coolant.  Coach-Net will bring gas, oil, water, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid.

Tire changes

They'll all send someone to replace a tire if you have the spare.  If you don't have a tire, the policies are different.  Good Sam's and Coach-Net will try to find you a tire and bring it out, paying only for delivery (Coach-Net has a separate policy that totally covers tire expense and replacement if the tire is damaged by road hazards).   AAA won't find a tire for you - at least they don't say they will.  FMCA will dispatch a "mobile tire service", but it will be towed if a mobile tire service isn't available.  And they specifically state that "mobile tire service is not available in all areas".

Technical Assistance

Good Sam's and Coach-Net offer a service where a qualified RV Tech will talk to you and answer questions on the phone.  Neither AAA or FMCA offer this service. [Update 11/18/17:  FMCA offers technical assistance on the telephone.]

Battery Boosts (Jumping)

They'll all do this.

Services per year

No information from Good Sam's or FMCA [Update 11/18/17:  FMCA's new web site says that use is "unlimited", but that "if it becomes apparent you are not maintaining your vehicles you could be subject to a rate increase"]  AAA says that they'll do four service calls per year, and then charge extra after that.  Coach-Net says that their service calls are "unlimited".

Dispatches a mechanic

All but AAA will do this, although FMCA will only do it if you're more than 50 miles from home.  You'll have to pay for the mechanic, but they'll find one and dispatch one.

Winch out/extraction

Good Sam's doesn't offer this.  Coach-Net will bring winch you out if you're within 100 feet of a roadway.  AAA says they'll do it if you're in a ditch or snow and if they can do it safely.  They'll also bring in a second unit to help, but will only pay for an hour of their time.  FMCA will only winch you  out if you're within 50 feet of a roadway and they'll only pay up to $500.  FMCA also won't do it if it's the result of an accident or if it's down a hillside or an embankment.

Trip Interruption

If you're sidelined because your vehicle is damaged, they all will cover some of your expenses (like lodging, food, and car rental).  Good Sam's will pay you $150 a day up to $1200.  You must be more than 100 miles from home, and one per year is allowed.  Coach-Net will reimburse up to $2000 and you must be more than 100 miles from your home.  AAA will give you only one day of a car rental (if a non-collision tow is needed).  AAA will pay up to $1000 if your travel (in your car, NOT your RV) is interrupted because of a breakdown.  FMCA will pay $300 per day up to $1200 if you're more than 100 miles from home, and you're limited to one reimbursement in a 12-month period.


There are some benefits, like discounts and concierge services, that aren't shown here.  Given all of this information I made the following conclusions.  These are obviously my personal conclusions and preferences - you may feel entirely different.

1. FMCA's coverage lacks in several areas.  And I got a voice mail when I called them.  I'm sure the voice mail was a customer service line; probably not a line you'd call if you were on the side of the road and needed help.  Still, I want better coverage.

Web site:
Phone:  877-581-8581

2.  Good Sam's has good coverages and a decent price.  But I've heard a lot of stories on Facebook about them raising prices unexpectedly during renewals (not verified).  And I have other issues with the whole Good Sam/Camping World business in general. They also don't offer technical assistance and, based on my experience with the company in general and what other people have told me, are likely to be more difficult to reach and work with than other companies.

Web site:
Phone:  800-601-2850

3.   AAA is simply too expensive.  They also don't offer a couple of the services.  Based on price alone, I have to rule them out.

Web site:
Phone:  855-652-2245

4.  Coach-Net is the second most expensive, at $149 per year after the first year.  However, their Facebook recommendations are numerous, their coverages are complete and, for the most part, unlimited, and they will cover just about anything you or your family are driving.  Late note:  Someone mentioned on Facebook that Coach-Net may not service all areas of the country, mentioning Maryland in particular.  I would imagine that if they can't service that area, then other companies also have some restrictions.  I couldn't call them today (they're closed), but will follow up and post here when I get an answer.

Web site:
Phone:  877-801-0333

The winner?  Coach-Net.  Great services and often mentioned and recommended by users.

I hope this helps you make your choice for Roadside Assistance.  Safe travels!!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Facebook tips for members of Groups

If you belong to a Facebook group, there are some basic things that you should know how to do.  Here are a few tips to help you navigate in your Group.

Search for your answer (before posting your question!) 

Before you post a question (i.e. "What RV toilet paper should I use?"), take advantage of the Group Search feature.

1.  Find any place on the screen with the name of the group and click on it.  You can also go to your Shortcuts on the left side of your screen, find the group you want, and click its name.  In either case,  you'll be taken to the top of the group and will see the group photo.

2.  Find the box on the left-hand side of the page that has the words "Search this group" in it.  Type in the keywords for your search, like "toilet paper". NOTE: if you are using the Facebook app, the search bar is at the top of your screen.

3.  You'll see all posts that have words matching your search terms - and will likely be surprised at how many people have previously answered the question.

Follow a post

Interested in a particular post and want to get a notification when people respond?  You don't have to type "following" (which isn't really a response to the original poster).  Instead:

1.  Click on the caret (the "down arrow") in the top right corner of the original post.

2.  Select "Turn on notifications for this post"

Don't let people continue responding to your post

If you've posted a question and responses are getting out of hand or are moving away from your original topic, you may disable people's ability to comment.

1.  On your own original post, click on the caret (the "down arrow") in the top right corner of the post (see above).

2.  If you don't see an option to "Turn off commenting", then there's nothing you can do except contact an administrator and ask them to turn off comments for the post (see below).

3.  If you see the option, you may want  to make a final reply before you select the option to turn off commenting.  Perhaps something like "Thanks for all of your help everyone.  I have my answer and will go ahead and use 10-ply Charmin".  THEN go back and turn off commenting.

Reporting a Post (abuse, something "bad" or not appropriate for the Group)

1.  Click on the caret (the "down arrow") in the top right corner of the original post (see above)

2.  Select "Report Post"

3.  A screen will appear giving you some options.  Choose one and then select "Continue".

4.  On the next screen, you'll be presented with several other options to help deal with the problem.  Choose an item for more help or to take an action.

Find out who the Group Administrators are

1.  Go to the top of the page for your group by selecting the group's name anywhere you see it.
2.  In a column to the right of the messages, find the section that says "Add members"

3.  Select the link that shows the number of members.  It'll take you to a list of the members.

4.  At the top of the member list, it shows the total number of members and the total number of admins.  Select the number beside "Admins".

5.  You'll see the list of Group Administrators.