Basics of RV Travel Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The history of Recreational Vehicles (RV) is terrific, but RV travel safety has a new meaning in 2020.

People began converting cars, vans, and trucks into camping vehicles almost as soon as the invention of automobiles. The first official RV was made in 1910, making RVs 110 years old.

When the Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau rolled off the assembly line, it had almost modern amenities. The back seat became a bed. A phone system connected the chauffer to the passenger compartment.

Also hidden behind the driver’s seat was a small sink. Outhouses weren’t prevalent then, so Pierce-Arrow even thought to include a chamber pot (ewwwww).

It wasn’t long before pull-behind trailers began to roll off the assembly line. Camping has been a popular family activity ever since. But how do you enjoy camping in the middle of a pandemic?

This year, RV travel safety changed from checking tire air pressures to packing extra masks and disinfectant wipes. But you can still camp and keep your family safe.

What RV Travel Safety Means

RV travel safety previously meant performing mechanical and equipment checks on gear, but 2020 has brought about a change in definition.

COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, has swept around the world, creating a shift in lifestyle for everyone.

Since the virus will be around for a bit, we must adapt to continue living our lives while also trying to safeguard ourselves and our families. The best method of staying safe is by staying at home and not traveling.

Unfortunately, after six months of modified “lock-down,” we are all experiencing a bit of cabin fever. As we re-evaluate the meaning of safe travel, our packing list will also change.

There are several things that you can do to remain safe while traveling. The chances of coming into contact with a contagious person greatly increase while you are traveling.

We mentioned face masks and disinfectant wipes earlier. You may also need hand sanitizer, disinfectant soap, extra clothing, extra food supplies, a thermometer, and additional tissues.

Another factor not many people consider is a change in the itinerary to decrease person-to-person contact.

Skip that tourist attraction that everyone else is visiting. Opt for a quiet hike on an almost deserted trail for a safer adventure.

The new definition of RV travel safety means rethinking how we pack and how we plan. Keeping a mind on where we go, who we will meet along the way, and what we will pack to keep ourselves as safe as possible.

Don’t skip checking the air in the tires though — you still need to do that too.

What the Government Says About COVID-19

When we say the “government,” we are referring to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While you may hear differing versions and recommendations elsewhere, the CDC is still the authority on infectious diseases.

The most general recommendation from the CDC is to stay home. Most of us have been doing that, but the desire to travel is rearing its head. Therefore, if you must travel, the CDC recommends:

  • Find out the level of COVID-19 at your intended destination
  • Check numbers for each state you will be passing through
  • Determine if you or a family member are at an increased risk
  • Find out restrictions/requirements at your destination

Although that is a fundamental list, it should put you on a path to retooling your thoughts as you pack and prepare. Keep a mind to safety and exercise common sense.

Being aware of local requirements for masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE) is a good start.

How to Find Out State Safety Requirements

While traveling around within the United States, each state has its own set of rules and restrictions regarding COVID-19. Checking each state is where your research skills will come in handy.

Start at the CDC listing for State & Territorial Health Department Websites. You will find a list of links to every state and territory health department website.

If you are visiting any tribal lands during your journey, you can find rules for those areas on the CDC’s Tribal Health website.

Regardless of the individual state requirements, at a minimum, you should follow the basic travel guidelines of the CDC for safer travel:

  • Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth in any public space
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all persons not in your household
  • Wash your hands often or use a good quality hand sanitizer
  • Avoid contact with anyone that is visibly sick
  • Don’t touch your face — nose, mouth, and eyes

These necessary steps limit your potential exposure to COVID-19. But they will not offer you 100 percent safety.

If you or a family member is in the high-risk category, the CDC recommends not traveling.

Additional resources:

Avoid travel to and through areas where the infection levels are high. Once you are at your destination camping site, stay there rather than touring the local venues. Safety measures won’t protect you if you act recklessly while traveling.

Be courteous in your travels. Remember that everyone is a potential victim of this virus. CDC guidelines are the bare minimum to keep your family and others safe.

Planning RV Travel Safety into Your Itinerary

One of the advantages of RV travel is that you can travel more and stop less. By carrying travel food and using the restroom in your RV, you can avoid many public areas.

But you still park in RV parks during the night, and you will need gasoline.

Although you won’t be 100 percent protected, there are a few things you can do at fuel stops to lessen your exposure:

  • Pay at the pump to avoid contacting other people directly
  • Use disinfecting wipes on the pump handle and keypad before use
  • Apply hand sanitizer after fueling or wash with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Take the extra time to wash again when you arrive at your destination

If you make food stops, use curbside pickup options where available (because most drive-thru lanes can’t accommodate your RV’s height). Eat your meals in your RV or outside settings away from other people.

In packing, remember to include enough of any medications for the trip (add two extra days for emergencies and dropsies).

Pack food, water, pet food, and other amenities to allow you to avoid unnecessary shopping excursions. Masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting soap were already mentioned, but it never hurts to double up.

When planning activities during your RV vacation, keep safety in mind. Be aware of any hot spots for COVID-19 along your travel route.

Avoid large social gatherings or areas where many people are congregating. Save that boat tour for next summer, or a later time when the risk factors are lower.

If you have been exposed to a person who has or had COVID-19, please stay home. Be aware of the symptoms and seek medical attention if you experience any of them.

Keeping the Kids Safe While Traveling

Traveling with children can present challenges without the added risks of COVID-19.

Younger children may not understand the importance of keeping a face mask on. Little Johnny sneezes, and your 4-year-old instinctively says, “bless you” as you cringe and reach for the hand sanitizer.

Believe it or not, children are more adaptable than adults. Don’t shame or try to scare them into compliance. Be honest and tell them the truth.

Yes, COVID-19 is bad and can make us very sick, but wearing our masks can keep us safer.

While on the road, select less populated areas to allow your children to stretch their legs and run and play a bit. With GPS readily available on cell phones, don’t be afraid to explore some lesser-known roads along the way.

Although more challenging, traveling with children can be an excellent adventure for the entire family. Keep the disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer close and have fun!

Pack It Up and Move It Out

As people venture out, RVs are taking a front seat over air travel. The advantages are many, and RV parks are stepping up to ensure safety in their parks.

Among the advantages of RV travel:

  • Using pay-at-the-pump means no personal interaction
  • There are off-grid camping areas throughout the country
  • Self-contained restroom facilities
  • Food storage and prep is in your control
  • No worries about contamination in hotel rooms
  • No worries about canceled flights or recirculated airplane air

Even if you don’t own an RV, there are plenty available for rental at reasonable prices. While you should sterilize a rental RV, once you do that, you can enjoy the other benefits.

After your trip, you should plan on staying home in at least semi-quarantine for 10 to 14 days. No matter how safe you were during your trip, there is still a possibility that you encountered COVID-19.

Keep an eye out for any symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if you start to feel ill.

RV travel can be safe and enjoyable for the entire family. With a few safety precautions, planning, and exercising common sense, you can have a great vacation.

Enjoy your trip!


AC/DC Stick Welder: Reviewing the Top 8 Units

Do you need that AC/DC stick welder? Well, yes, of course. More tools equal better, right? We must have ALL the tools.

However, a few things might allow you to live without the latest and greatest in the stick welding world.

For instance, if you are a woodworker that never touches metal? Yeah, you can skip this purchase.

But then, your workbench has metal legs and shelf supports. If they break, you can’t work with wood. Maybe you should stick (ha – see what I did there?) around anyway.

Stick Welding is Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW). Widely used, it employs an electrode (the “stick”) and current to create welded joints in metals. It is simple, easy to learn, versatile, and useful.

The most common use is in the maintenance trades and construction to weld iron and steel. Many home mechanics also use it for repairs around the house, fixing that old trailer frame, and making steampunk regalia.

AC/DC – Whosee- Whatsee

Even people that have worked with SMAW for years don’t understand how it works — they know that an AC/DC stick welder gets the job done.

We’ll be introducing some standard terms in this section that will appear in bold type. You will see these terms used, and no one ever seems to define them, so we will do that first.

Stick welders work either with alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). Current creates an electric arc (this is where the name comes from) between the stick (electrode) and the metals you are fusing. The area where the arc is formed is called the weld pool.

AC/DC Stick Welders
Diagram of stick welding area, with terms
Image from US Army via Wikipedia under Public Domain

The electrode provides filler metal for the joint and bead. The joint is the seam where the two metals join. The bead is the material left behind by the electrode that forms the bond.

While MIG, TIG, and Arc welding are in the “stick welding” basket, there are differences.

The four basic types of welding

MIG Welding is Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). They use a continuously feeding electrode through the handle or “gun.”

MIG welding fuses metal using the melting electrode, rather than melting the metal you are fusing. A gas bubble protects the weld from the air and other contaminants. Both the gas and the electrode wire are consumable.

TIG Welding, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), uses a tungsten electrode, which is non-consumable.

TIG Welding melts and fuses the metals. Separate rods can create filler or fuse two different metals. The gas also protects from contaminants and requires tank refills.

Stick Welding, as mentioned earlier, is Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW). The single electrode (stick) is heated and melts. The process creates intense heat that also melts the workpiece, making the seam.

This process uses flux-coated electrodes to produce a shield around the joint to keep contaminants out. The rods melt, so you’ll want to keep a steady supply of them on-hand.

Arc Welding, also known as Flux Core Welding, uses a continuous-feed wire (like MIG welding). The wire has a flux core that generates the protective gas shield around the weld.

In dual-shielded welding, a secondary gas is externally added for more protection against contaminants.

DC Stick Welding Explained

In DC welding, the electrons flow in one direction, delivering constant polarity, which may be positive or negative.

Although most electric welding machines allow the user to switch from AC to DC manually, knowing a bit about each will help you decide which is better for your garage.

Many welders use DC polarity for most welding jobs. There are always advantages and disadvantages. One of the benefits is that DC polarity can weld delicate items such as remote controls and cell phone batteries.

With the stable arc and smoother output come greater versatility.

Advantages of DC Stick Welding

We’ve already discussed a couple of advantages of DC stick welding. There are many more:

  • More stable and easier to learn
  • Easier starts (better-looking beads)
  • Works well even during inclement weather (wind and rain)
  • Produces less splatter/slag
  • Equipment is relatively inexpensive and cost-effective
  • Rod changes are quick and easy to shift to different metals
  • The ground clamp can attach farther from the welding area
  • Better on thinner metals than TIG

The most significant advantage of DC stick welding is the ease of learning. With a small amount of practice, a novice welder can learn to lay a sweet bead. That opens the door to doing new projects or fixing that old cast iron patio set.

Disadvantages of DC Stick Welding

There is always the obligatory list of disadvantages with anything, and that includes DC stick welding.

  • An internal transformer is required, making a DC welder more costly
  • Don’t produce enough high-intensity heat to weld aluminum
  • No fix for arc blow

Although a considerably shorter list, if you plan to make an aluminum table, they may be a deal-killer.

AC Stick Welding Explained

With AC welding, the electron flow constantly switches directions, which results in polarity changes at a rate of 120 times per second.

When the polarity shifts, this results in a period of zero amperage output. With an inexperienced welder, this can cause an uneven bead.

There are special electrodes for AC stick welding that keep them from extinguishing during the zero-output phase. Welders will still have more flutter and fluctuation than they experience using DC polarity.

Advantages of AC Stick Welding

There are some applications where AC stick welding offers extreme advantages over DC. Some of them include:

  • Can use in higher voltage applications
  • Fixes arc blow problems experienced with DC
  • Works better when welding magnetized parts
  • Supports welding at a higher temperature
  • Offers deep penetration of plate metals

Even though AC is often a secondary choice for welding, it does offer some unique advantages over DC welding. It may be the only power supply available, so learning a bit about it may save your project.

Disadvantages of AC Stick Welding

This list is pretty small.

  • Creates more splatter
  • Bead is not as smooth due to changing polarity and zero-output phases
  • More challenging to learn and master
  • Not as reliable as DC welding

Short and sweet. If you are buying a welder and finance are short, don’t be afraid to opt for the AC-only machine.

It will serve you well for most home-use applications. You will have a more significant learning curve due to the difficulty of using AC over DC.

8 Best AC/DC Stick Welder Picks

When shopping for any new tool, it helps to know all the particulars. When you spend your hard-earned money, you want the best of the best.

1. Lincoln Electric AC225S Arc/Stick Welder

The Lincoln Electric AC225S Arc/Stick Welder includes many features only seen on larger welders. The user-friendly operator interface is easy-to-use.

This AC-only machine can deliver 40 to 225 Amps but does need an input source of 220V.

This unit will provide a smooth AC arc on various metals, including cast iron, steel, and stainless steel. Cables are hard-wired to the unit for ease of setup and long for versatility.

2. Amico ARC-160D Stick ARC IGBT Inverter DC Welder 

The AMICO ARC-160D is a professional-grade model that is small at only 16 pounds but delivers a robust payload of welding capabilities.

Although designed to work from a 230V power source, it ships with a converter that uses 115V household current.

The design of the power source provides a stable arc. As the electrode becomes shorter, the response speeds up, making this a highly effective welder.

Fully adjustable for a harder or softer arc, this machine offers professional ability in a household package.

Additional features include an 8-foot power cord, an input power adapter, and a 10-foot cable on the 200 Amp Electrode Holder.

Automatic selection detects input voltage allows easy shifting between 100~250V/50~60Hz input power. Adaptable for many custom welding needs.

Advanced safety features include over- and under-voltage protection, over-load, and over-current protection.

3. CANAWELD Stickwelder 161 D Arc Welder

The CANAWELD Stickwelder 161 D is an AC/DC stick welder or TIG welder. This efficient, medium-duty welder uses low power consumption and is perfect for working in any weather.

Dual power capability allows operation on 240V or 120V, and no power loss experienced with portable generator use. The leads can be up to 165 feet long without any power loss.

Safety features include thermal protection against overloading and a fan cooling system. This lightweight machine is easy to transport to job locations.

4. Simder Stick/Arc Welder 160Amp

The Simder 160Amp Stick/Arc Welder is an easy-to-use little dual voltage welder excellent for beginners.

It is lightweight and perfect for jobs around the house and garden but may bog down a bit on heavier applications. With an LCD, it is easy to set up and, at just under 12 pounds, is one of the lightest welders available.

Safety features include thermal overload and anti-stick protection. The machine has anti-skid feet to keep it from sliding during use or transport.

This unit ships with welder’s gloves, which generally must be purchased separately.

5. Amico MMA-200 Dual-Amp AC/DC Inverter Welder

The Amico MMA-200 Dual-Amp AC/DC Stick Welder is a sportier version of their ARC-160D with many of the same base features.

The power source offers a stable arc, which gets more responsive as the electrode gets shorter. Adjustment allows for making the arc harder or softer.

The operation uses 230V, but a pigtail to switch to 120V is included. This unit will perform equally well on generator power.

Safety features include voltage fluctuation compensation for over- and under-voltage protection and overload protection. A fan cools components and materials during welding to reduce contaminants entering the weld plane.

The ease of operation, easy-to-read LED display, and one year warranty combine to make this a good machine for the novice or professional welders.

6. Amico DC-160A DC Inverter Stick Welder

The Amico DC-160 DC Inverter Stick Welder is a DC-only unit. It is best for home and lighter work. Ease-of-use and the steady arc supplied by the DC inverter make it a great beginning machine. 

This unit is the equivalent of plug-and-play. When you open the box, you have everything you need to start welding except electrodes and safety gear.

The digital LED display makes setup easy. This welder has a high duty cycle, which allows for longer operation without needing cool-down breaks.

The welder runs on 115V household current but also includes a pigtail adapter to operate on 230V current. Like other Amico welders, this machine is lightweight at just 18 pounds, making it easily transportable.

The one drawback of this unit (aside from the DC-only operation) seems to be the electrode holder, which isn’t as high quality as other Amico products.

7. Lincoln Electric K1297 Dual-Phase AC/DC Stick Welder

Lincoln Electric offers the K1297 AC/DC Stick Welder as one of the most versatile in the market.

This professional-level welder includes dual-phase operation and broad output ranges. If you need top-tier performance, this machine can deliver it.

The output ranges in AC vary from 40 to 225 Amps, and from 30 to 125 Amps for DC operations. This welder runs with 230V input power, so consider that if your garage only has standard 100/115V household current.

8. Lotos LTPD2000D Stick Welder

Lotos Technology offers a multi-purpose machine with its LTPDC2000D. This machine is a TIG or Stick Welder and a plasma cutter. It has a weld depth that allows welding of material up to a half-inch thick.

When cutting, the tip doesn’t touch the surface, which translates to efficient cuts and minimum slag. It can run on 220V or 110V (pigtail sold separately) and a 10-200 amp range for welding with dual voltage.

The unit is capable of hands-free on/off, but the foot pedal sells separately. The machine is lightweight and portable and has a three-year warranty.

While Lotos did include many great features, the accessories for those are missing. The pigtail to convert from 220V to 110V and the foot pedal is available separately.

Don’t Forget Your Safety Gear

Welding produces high-heat, high-noise, and high-intensity bright light. Please be sure to use rated safety gear, including hearing protection, a rated welding helmet or shield, and rated welding gloves.

Read all materials that come with your welding equipment, including safety advisories and all the boring stuff.

This video, while long (23 minutes), explains in great detail everything about stick welding. If you are new to AC/DC stick welding, it may benefit you to set aside the time.



Grill Gazebo: How To Set Up a Backyard Cooking Heaven

You just got a brand new grill for your yard, and the first day you planned to use it, you got soaked by a gentle rain shower. Enter the grill gazebo — an invention that allows you to grill in any weather. Not only does a gazebo protect you from inclement weather while grilling, but it also serves to protect your grill when it is not in use.

Gazebos have been in use since the time of the Egyptians about 5,000 years ago. The term itself first appeared in England around 1752 and combined the word gaze with the Latin suffix “ebo,” which means “I shall.” In simple terms, gazebo means “I shall gaze.” Gazebos gained popularity in the United States during the 1800s.

Gazebo, Gazibo, Gazowie

Grill gazebos have grown in popularity during the last 20 to 30 years. Before that, gazebos were larger-scale Pavillion-type structures designed to shelter large groups of people. Common in public parks, near swimming pools, and in other public and private areas, gazebos went mainstream when they became portable.

The original pavilion was a full-scale structure, adding beauty and permanence to parks and gardens. Towns used them for public gatherings, private garden parties, and as a bandstand for holiday celebrations in the town center. Many towns worldwide still have a gazebo as a central focal point in town squares and public parks.

The first portable gazebos were commercial tents used for outdoor events, festivals, and weddings. Gradually, these massive structures became smaller with increased portability. People began using the smaller gazebos in yards for added shade and protection from the rain. They are a must-have item for most people who camp. The transition to even smaller gazebo structures was a natural shift when the popularity of outdoor grilling increased.

Soft Top or Hard Top: Choosing Your Grill Gazebo

Most grill gazebos measure in the 5-foot by 8-foot range and stand at least 6-feet tall. They have a singular purpose — to protect your cooking area from weather, falling acorns, bird droppings, and sun. There are two main types of portable grill gazebo — soft-top and hardtop.

The hardtop grill gazebo is usually a metal frame with a plastic or metal top. This style gazebo adds more permanence than a soft top. If you have a designated spot on your patio, a hardtop grill gazebo may be a great addition to your yard. The hardtop is generally more expensive but is also sturdier.

The soft top grill gazebo has a canvas, duck cloth, or synthetic material roof. While less expensive, they are also lighter weight and should have extra anchoring. Soft top gazebos are easier to move around within your yard, especially if you don’t have a permanent placement for your grill.

Free-Standing or Permanent Mounting

The difference between a free-standing and a permanently mounted grill gazebo is exactly what you think it is. One is always anchored, using dirt or concrete, and the other is not, although it may be staked down or bolted to a concrete patio.

If you are building a grill area and want to go all-out and install a permanent gazebo, you can find plans easily. We found several with a 30-second search:

From this point forward, we will be discussing only the portable hardtop and soft top style grill gazebos.

Size Does Matter

We only mention size because there are several things to consider when shopping for the perfect grill set-up.

  • What size space do you have?
  • What size grill do you have?
  • How tall are you?
  • Will more than one person be operating the grill at any time?

There are probably more things that will come into play, but those are the main areas. If you have a super huge commercial-grade grill that is nine feet wide, it won’t fit well under an eight-foot-wide roof. Likewise, if you only have a 24-inch wide hibachi-style grill on a small table, do you need the 12-foot-wide enclosure?

Head-height is a significant consideration. If you are over six-feet tall, you want a gazebo at least seven feet tall. Nobody would be comfortable grilling with a crick in their neck from bending down.

With that said, take a few minutes to figure out the best size for your needs before you start shopping.

No, These Soft Tops Aren’t Convertibles

While most people think of convertible automobiles when they hear the phrase soft top, that isn’t what we’re talking about here. A soft-top gazebo has a cloth top instead of metal, corrugated plastic, or other rigid material. The soft top makes them more portable, and they should be taken down and stored during winter months.

We found a variety of soft-top gazebos. As we stated earlier, the most common size is five feet by eight-foot. Some of these models do have size choices for larger units. Due to the popularity of these gazebos, they may be out-of-stock temporarily in some areas. Usually this is a brief interruption of availability, possibly seasonal. Most retailers have email notification systems that will notify when the item is in stock.

CASAINC 5 ft. x 8 ft. Grill Gazebo

The CASAINC 5 ft. x 8 ft. Grill Gazebo is functional and great looking. The canopy is gray and will match any outdoor decor. The top allows excellent ventilation, so that heat from the grill dissipates nicely.

The canopy is constructed with durable 220g polyester fabric with a polyurethane coating (PU) to make it water-resistent. The PU coating also adds to Ultraviolet (UV) protection. That means that both you and your grill will be safe from the damaging rays of the sun.

The frame is sturdy and easy-to-assemble. Although the assembly time will vary and is much easier with two people, one person can assemble this gazebo quickly.

Heathermoore Patio Grill Gazebo

The Heathermoore by Hampton Bay is very popular. Its black, steel frame assembles with no tools. The frame structure includes two work-area shelves for staging, prepping food, or serving guests efficiently. Measuring in at the standard 5-feet by 8-feet, There is plenty of room under the generous tan canopy for you and your grill.

This canopy structure weighs in at just under 42 pounds, so you will want to anchor it on breezy days for safety. Anchors are provided, but there are mixed reviews on the level of security they provide. This item does carry a two-year manufacturer warranty while others in this class average only 90-day warranties.

Sunjoy 8 ft. x 5 ft. Grill Gazebo

This Sunjoy grill gazebo is spot on for grill enthusiasts. The dark brown, powder-coated finish on the steel frame will last years. The matching red canopy top is great looking, vented, two-tiered, and provides outstanding UV protection.

With two side shelves, this unit adds the convenience of utility hooks for your cooking utensils, serving utensils, and potholders. As one of the most sought-after models, you will want to order this early as it is difficult to find later in the grilling season. Ground anchors are provided for soft surfaces, but you should use other means on a hard patio or wooden deck. This item carries a six-month limited manufacturer’s warranty.

Sunjoy Deering 5 ft. x 8 ft. Brown Steel 2-Tier Grill Gazebo

Another entry from Sunjoy, the Deering, includes the same great features. Two shelves for serving and handy utensil hooks. The two-toned weather-resistent canopy has a two-tier design for ventilation and protection from the weather.

The assembly is easy, and replacement parts are available to extend the life of your investment. This item carries a six-month manufacturer’s warranty. Although anchors are provided, you may need additional anchoring or weights.

Costway 8’ x 5’ Barbecue Grill Gazebo

This Costway structure is sturdy and beautiful to add to any outdoor patio area. Two shelves provide serving and staging areas to help any chef make fantastic meals. The sturdy steel frame supports a two-tiered, ventilated canopy top. The khaki-colored top blends well with any patio furniture or decor. An included LED light allows for barbequing under lower light conditions.

No Waxing Needed for These Hardtops

If you have a permanent outdoor grill setup, investing in a hardtop grill gazebo is a good choice. Many of the hardtop models offer additional aesthetic value with curves and angles. Increased durability, stability, and weight all contribute to these gorgeous backyard structures.

Sojag 6′ x 8′ Messina Hardtop Grill Gazebo

The powder-coated finish on the Messina Hardtop Grill Gazebo will last for years. Designed to protect against UV rays, rust, and corrosion, the galvanized steel is super durable. Made to blend well with any decor, the roof is light grey. The two-tiered design aids in ventilation, allows smoke to escape quickly and protects you and your grill from inclement weather.

Two shelves provide space for serving, food preparation, or just leaning against for a chat. This unit meets CPAI-84 International safety standards for flame resistance. Although assembly is required, this unit will go together smoothly and last a lifetime.

Sunjoy Seagate 5 ft. x 8 ft. Grill Gazebo

To join their family of soft-top gazebos, Sunjoy offers the Seagate Hardtop. Using a two-tiered and vented roof design allows for excellent ventilation while providing great cover from the weather. The brown frame is constructed with strong, powder-coated steel and includes shelves on both sides. The addition of utensil hooks on the shelves is like gravy on the biscuits.

Assembly instructions are illustrated and easy-to-follow. Sunjoy also has a knowledgeable team of customer service reps ready to help if you hit assembly snags. The inverted chevron design of the roof will protect you and your grill from the sun and weather.

Corsica 6.7 ft. x 4 ft. Hard Top Grill Gazebo

The Corsica Hardtop offered by Hampton Bay is slightly smaller at 6.7 feet by 4 feet and less expensive. If you have a limited area or budget, this may be a perfect fit. The Corsica includes all the same features as its larger brethren in a more compact and portable frame. Two shelves on the sides provide serving and prep areas. The roof is an inverted rocker-style design that provides adequate protection from the elements.

While consumer reviews are lower on this unit, many of the complaints center on missing screws. Be sure to verify all your materials before beginning assembly.

Penguin BBQ Grill Gazebo 5′ x 8′

The Penguin BBQ Grill Gazebo offered by Sears is a 5-feet by 8-feet structure with a two-tiered inverted rocker-style roof. Made with an aluminum frame and a polycarbonate roof, this structure may be lighter than others in the same class.

It includes solid glass shelves, plus racks and hooks for spices and utensils. With a chocolate brown powder-coated finish, this structure will blend well on your patio. The Penguin is durable enough to leave assembled even in wintry climates.

Walker 8 ft. x 5 ft. Steel Grill Gazebo

Durable steel construction tops the list of ingredients for the Walker offered by Hampton Bay. Leaves, falling acorns, rain, snow, and bird droppings are no match for this sturdy gazebo. With attractive natural slate shelves and under-shelf storage areas, you can use this setup all year. Built-in utensil hooks and wine glass hangers round out the amenities.

The frame has a powder-coated finish and heavy-duty steel construction. The double-tiered roof allows plenty of ventilation while providing excellent protection from the elements. This gazebo is an investment in your outdoor adventure.

The Right Grill Gazebo for Your Backyard Cooking Heaven

Just a quick recap before you head out to shop. Determine your needs and wants before shopping. Measure your available space as this needs to be greater than the listed outside dimensions of your structure. If your patio is only 5-feet by 7-feet, a 5-feet by 8-feet gazebo won’t fit without hanging over the edge.

Other things to consider are whether you want a permanent structure or a temporary, portable unit. Both have advantages and disadvantages based on your available space.

If you own your home, adding a permanent structure will add to your resale value. If you rent, the portable form can move with you to a new home.

Enjoy your slice of heaven on earth!


RV Halloween Ideas: Decorating, Food, and Fun Ideas on the Road

If you are an avid RV camper, then Halloween camping is something you need in your calendar. It is a tradition in many camping areas. Campgrounds hold competitions for the best decorations, best spooky food, costumes, and much more. Some families return year after year to try to win top honors. Take your RV Halloween decorating ideas to the next level.

Have you got kids? Even better. With Halloween activities, your children will stay safe, busy, and have a ghoulishly good time haunting the campground. There is no shortage of family-friendly activities (even socially distanced ones!): family haunted hayrides,  scavenger hunts, a night hike through haunted trails. Halloween camping in an RV is a secret that needs to escape. Put on your zombie make-up, and let’s go fall camping!

RV Halloween Ideas — Yep, It’s a Thing

Camping and decking out your RV for the holidays are two things that meld surprisingly well. Not only can you enjoy the great outdoors, but you can scare kids, and that is always fun!

But what do you pack for a Halloween camping trip? Generally, you would pack everything you pack for a typical camping trip, and then you add the Halloween decorations.

Depending on your location, you might need cold-weather clothing: warmer sleeping bags, boots, rain gear, and snowshoes. October can undoubtedly be a mixed bag in the weather department. So how do you plan for every contingency and still manage the Halloween decorations?

Basic Necessities to Bring

Start by evaluating your bare necessities. These are the items you need to haul along on any camping trip such as food, water, and clothing. Make yourself a checklist:

  • Food for the number of days/number of people in your party
  • Clothing for the number of days (plus spares just in case)
  • Warmer clothing — sweatshirts/light jackets for evenings
  • Firewood (please check local laws regarding firewood)
  • Food prep equipment/grill
  • Portable heater

That is a very basic list. Yours will probably need more equipment and provide more detail. Please don’t forget the sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kit. If you are like many RV owners, much of your day-to-day camping supplies, stay packed in your RV year-round.

Because fall camping can be unpredictable, you should pack an array of clothing for warmer days and cooler nights. This should include items that can be layered if needed for extra warmth, but you probably won’t need parkas, scarves, and woolly mittens.

NOTE: A quick word on firewood. Due to invasive bugs such as the Emerald Ash Borer, many states prohibit transporting firewood from one location to another. Check local and state ordinances before your trip. Some states even restrict transporting wood from your home within the same state to a wilderness area.

Do You Need the Witch Automaton?

Whether you are a full-out Halloween fanatic or just enjoy camping, you can have fun decorating your RV for Halloween. Ideas begin with the RV itself. You can use spooky lights around the awning or in the windows. Grab some of that sticky, stringy spider web stuff and wrap it around the outside of your rig.

You can also set up decorations around your campsite. Fake tombstones, bones, and plastic garbage bag spiders are all easy to set up and remove when you leave.

Be mindful of the weather predictions when deciding on your decorations. If it rains the whole time you’re camping, you’ll be living with that electronic witch automaton inside the RV with you.

Decking Out Your Campsite

Start with lights. One of the quickest ways to add lights is inflatable solar lights. If you have an awning, you have multiple light-style choices from simple rope lights to ornate pumpkin globes. If your budget is tight, these inexpensive lights are mostly battery operated, shorter than electric strands, but equally eerie:

The market is full of inexpensive ways to light up your holiday. These Holiday Ghost Lights have different modes so you can “redecorate” every night just by changing the mode. The basic idea is that it shouldn’t cost a fortune to decorate your RV for the season. A string of simple lights can offer the holiday spirit (ha — see what I did there?) to get you in the mood.

What would RV Halloween ideas be without pumpkins? This can also double as a camp activity for the family. Once you scoop the guts out of your pumpkin, you can carry them to a woody area and give the local critters a treat. Just make sure that you deliver your treat far away from all camping areas. Check with the park personnel for a safe spot to treat the birds and animals.

If you can’t feed the critters, wrap the pumpkin seeds in three layers of aluminum foil, keeping the package mostly flat. Toss the packet onto the coals of your campfire for a great human treat. Always use proper safety precautions with sharp carving tools, knives, and hot roast pumpkin seeds.

With so many decorating options, we can’t possibly cover them all, but perhaps we have spurred your creativity. You are only limited by your imagination. It’s Halloween — let your creepy side out.

Ghoulish Snacks to Pack

During Halloween, we all seem to stock up on pre-packaged candy and snacks to hand out to trick and treaters. We eat plenty of them ourselves, too. Since we can’t live on candy alone, if you are looking for RV Halloween ideas for healthy and ghoulish snacks, there are plenty of available options.

With a simple search, you can find recipes and instructions for simple cupcake desserts like Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes to elaborately decorated Skeleton Cookie Cupcakes. If you have a more sophisticated guest, you could opt for these simple Boo-Scotti Dippers, or perhaps some Ghoulishly Green Popcorn. If you are a baker, you can make snacks before your trip, like these scary-looking Broken Finger Cookies.

While cupcakes and cookies may not fit the healthy diet ideas you want for your kids, there are plenty of ideas for the healthier side of things also. Adding red pepper “nail’ to pizza “fingers” turns a cheesy snack into a portion of witchy finger food.

Arrange colorful vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, and yellow peppers) on a platter to make a candy corn-inspired dish. These Frozen Yogurt Drops blend the concept of candy dots with a healthy alternative. Pretzel sticks and cheese make these cute little Witches’ Brooms.

As with our RV Halloween decorations, our food suggestions are only the tip of the broom handle. Rather than getting swept up in pointing out all the great holiday camping ideas for food and fun, we’ll leave that to your imagination.

Costumes, Kids, and Safety

Costumes are a Halloween must-have. While most commercially produced costumes carry flame-retardant properties, you still need to be cautious. Flame-retardant does not mean fireproof. (Scare alert!) They will still catch fire but will burn slower. Polyester and nylon will even melt and fuse with skin. With that in mind, use caution when selecting costumes.

Things to avoid when buying Halloween costumes for holiday camping:

  • Long, flowing costumes
  • Any costume with a cape
  • Synthetic wigs and wings
  • Costume gloves that limit the use of hands in any way
  • Costumes with larger carry-along props

We are sure you can probably add a few items to our list. If you are in the mood to make your kid’s costumes, there are some adorable and inexpensive ways to keep them safer in a camping environment. First and foremost is to keep them away from campfires, but you knew that, right?

Making a Halloween costume out of everyday clothing is relatively straightforward. With a pair of ordinary blue jeans and a flannel shirt, you can add a little “dirt” to your child’s face and make a lumberjack. With a white outfit and some white face paint, you can make a non-flowy ghost. Keeping your children safe and comfortable while exploring different options is fun and simple. Those blue jeans with the blown knees, and old ripped shirt, and some battered tennis shoes and you have a hobo.

Clothing to avoid is those items made with synthetic materials. Good, flame retardant natural materials such as cotton and wool are great options. They will keep your children safer, warmer, and can be used to create some cool costumes. Zombies are always a favorite and a perfect use for those short jeans your kid is now too tall to wear.

Have a Hauntingly Spooktacular Time

If you are planning on decorating your RV for Halloween, there is no limit to the number of RV Halloween ideas, decorations, and costumes to put a perfect spook on the holiday. While we couldn’t cover everything here, hopefully, we helped to get some great ideas churning.

Holiday camping is a fun and enjoyable way to get family time, say good-bye to the summer, and take a break from daily life. In some families, the Halloween trip has been a long-standing tradition. If you’re new to the concept, make the most of the weekend. If nothing else, you will have a short, fall camping excursion with your family. Pack up your pumpkins and enjoy the waning summer.

Whether you live in the north, south, east, or west, call around to your local campgrounds. Many have a whole list of program options and fall activities planned for Halloween. Some facilities have haunted hayrides, corn mazes, haunted RVs, night hikes, and many other season-specific activities to offer your entire family a great trip. Just remember that October weather can be fickle, so pack for a variety of different temperature ranges.