Lets not get ahead of ourselves. You really think the RV dealer would let us just roll on out of their lot with Megatron McMegaVan? I think not! We first had Travato-Training-Camp (TTC) as I like to call it, a 2-hour training session at the dealer where they teach you what every nob, button, and sensor does, and of course what’s on everyone’s mind: how to dump your black water tank. I took extensive notes and video and the Travato-Training-Camp Teacher was kind enough to answer all of my questions, in which I had many.…."How likely is it that I will have to touch poop”…or “Is there anything that I can screw up so badly that I accidentally blow up the van?” I was very concerned with the probability of my screwing up something with all the different power systems and propane and gas tanks. TTC teacher assured me I couldn't screw anything up that badly.
We may have done extensive research on van/RV living, but here are some things we learned exclusively from Travato Training Camp:
- Our van is 9’-4” tall. This becomes very important when you accidentally get on the Merritt Parkway and are barreling towards a bridge with a clearance of 9’-2”…(Thank you last minute exit.) The clearance off the ground is about 6”.
- Gas is regular unleaded and the tank is on the driver’s side. All tank outlets, ie: water, gas, propane, black and grey water are also on the driver’s side.
- All of the components inside our van work when the van is plugged into a 15 or 20 amp outlet (regular household 3-prong plug) except for the air conditioning and the microwave, which need to be run on 30 amp outlets (found at most campsites and RV parks). If we want to use our microwave or air conditioning while not plugged into a 30 amp outlet we must use the gas-powered generator, which is very loud, so we try not to use it.
- The best investment you can make on the van is a surge protector that will save every electrical component in the van if you have a bad connection or an electrical surge when you’re plugged in. We have the Surge Guard 34830 Portable Model with LCD Screen for 30 amp vehicles. Ours hasn't steered us wrong yet.
- Unless you’re plugged in or the van is on, none of the van outlets work. Our lights, tv, and radio run off solar power, just not our outlets or usb ports. We were shocked to find this out during training camp. Which leads me to our second best investment for the van: a Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Ion battery since we never want to be without power when we’re not plugged in or boondocking. It's pricey, but worth it, as it advertises 6-8 charges for our laptops!
If I've confused you with a bunch of confusing word nonsense about power and hookups, I have illustrated our power options, as follows.
- The fridge should be run on propane (or your house battery powered by the solar panel as a second option) when you’re not moving, and switched to run off the car battery while you’re driving. Wouldn’t want to risk a propane explosion while driving. You have to switch this on/off every time you’re in and out of transit.
- The toilet can only use “Septic-Safe” toilet paper such as Scott-1000, otherwise it will not break down properly and could cause blockages in our holding tank. This can be found at Walmart, camping stores, and we even found it at our local city CVS.
- Always dump black water first and then grey water; that way the grey water will clean your dumping hose. Don’t forget to wear gloves!