The search to find the best campsites is always a source of great frustration for the RVer. But by using an online tool called AllStays, that quest can be greatly simplified.
We've used the tool for over a decade now and it just gets easier and easier. So when we heard that the founder retired and there's a new CEO, we thought it would be good to get him on the podcast to update us on how this easy-to-use resource can be put to good use. Our conversation with Allstays CEO Phil Rogers is our Interview of the Week with this episode.
Also this week:
- Social Media Buzz talks about finding the best toilet paper for RVers.
- The RV Tip of the Week uncovers the defects most RVers miss when taking possession of a new rig.
- The App of the Week shares a digital journal aimed at photographers that is perfect for RVers who take lots of photos on camping trips.
- The RV News of the Week shares the National Parks that visitors are most pleased by.
- The RV Question of the Week reveals just how much it can cost to develop an RV property.
To see the video version of the Podcast – shot this week on location at our RV property in mid-Tennessee – click the player below:
For an audio version, the RV Podcast can be heard on your favorite podcast app or through the player below:
Social Media Buzz – The best TP for RVing, bad roads reports, and a DIY shoe rack for the RV
Wendy Bowyer, who helps moderate our 171,000-member RV Lifestyle Facebook Group shares the hot topics this week:
A first time RV owner asked What RV toilet paper is best to use?
Alex and many others said any septic-safe toilet paper
- Loraine said a good number of folks said any 1-ply brand
- Jessica and a good number said to put the toilet paper in a diaper genie, like that used for baby diapers, and never put it down the toilet.
- and then Timothy – and many others said that was completely disgusting…
And so it went for 420 comments!
The Major Take Away: There are options to the expensive RV toilet paper and remember, whatever you choose, use lots of water.
James and his wife are taking that classic RVer RV dream trip down Route 66. James is traveling from California to Texas and asked: What should we stop to see?
So many good suggestions!
- Rhonda recommended the ice cave in NM.
- Theresa mentioned donkeys roaming the streets of a ghost town in Oatman, AZ.
- Jacques recommended Earl’s Diner in Gallup, New Mexico. The Native Americans set up booths outside and sell their dolls, jewelry, etc, there. Food is good.
There were also some cautions:
Philip said do not try to drive the RV on the road between Oatman and Kingman because it is very narrow and has multiple switchbacks.
There were so many tips – they made me want to go!!!
The final item I'd like to share is a tip from Jason about what to do with shoes.
Jason posted a picture of a shoe rack he built against the wall that was genius.
He took a plank of wood, attached it at an angle, and hung it horizontally against his wall, and bingo- an instant shoe rack that takes no floor space and keeps everything neat and tidy.
Many liked the design so much they said they were going to steal it for their rigs!
That's it from me this week. I'm Wendy Bowyer reminding you to check out the RVLifestyle Facebook group – for more tips and helpful suggestions.
RV Interview of the Week: Find the Best Campsites with Allstays
Nothing can put a damper on a camping trip quite like a bad campsite. Whether it's a lack of amenities, noisy neighbors, or an unappealing location, a bad campsite can quickly turn a relaxing getaway into a stressful experience.
This powerful tool can help you find the best campsites in your area and beyond, so you can enjoy a hassle-free camping experience every time.
In our interview of the week, we explore how AllStays works, why it's one of the best options for finding great campsites, and how you can use it to plan your next outdoor adventure.
Our guest is Phil Rogers, the new CEO of AllStays and we asked him to give us a step-by-step guide on how to find the best campsites with Allstays.
Here's a transcript of the interview:
Phil Rogers joins us right now and Phil, it's a pleasure to have you on the podcast. This is the first time I think we've had you on, although we've known about AllStays for a long time. Why don't you enlighten our audience a little bit about what is AllStays and how Phil Rogers came to become the CEO?
Yeah, sure thing. So first off, Mike, I want to thank you for having Allstays on here and for having me on. Very excited to be talking about AllStays and I am a follower on the Facebook group as well.
For those who do not know what AllStays is, it is one of the original RV and camping apps on the App Store.
We are both a mobile and web tool database where we have not only campsites, but we maintain coverage on nearly 400,000 points of interest across the US that keeps you safe from road clearances, road hazards, as well as keeping you supplied and stocked with information on propane, supply stores, overnight parking stops in addition to campgrounds all over the US and Canada.
Adam Longfellow was the founder of AllStays, which really even began in the early 2000s, late 90s, that he came to launch AllStays Camping and RV and the whole suite of products to help provide travelers with more information.
And in the last year, as he was looking towards retirement, I was able to come on and help. And I was a user of AllStays myself. As during the pandemic, I was previously running a pickle business in DC but took some time off to travel the country in a little teardrop trailer and using AllStays and other camping apps.
That really helped power my trip and I found it such an exciting experience to come into contact with Adam, learn about the business more and find the opportunity to help continue the legacy of AllStays itself. So that's a little bit of background on AllStays.
I can't let you get away without asking you more. You said you were in the Pickle Business? You better explain that a little bit.
That's correct. I worked with my wife and her brother running a fermentation business, farmers markets in DC, and ran that for several years through the first year of the pandemic, helping out both local farmers and ourselves.
So really had a great time, but wanted to take a little bit of time, a year into the pandemic to get out into the rest of the country and during that really pivotal time, taking a step back, what was the crazy time for food businesses, but yeah, had a really great, great experience being able to really connect with customers and that's what I love too about working with AllStays is getting to work with the customers, answer questions and emails that users have to really help them with their travels.
You are an RVer yourself, is that correct?
Yeah, that if we want to call a teardrop trailer an RV, I know they come in all shapes and sizes, but I've got a nine by five teardrop trailer. Spent about 10 months in it with my wife. I think our next big trip we might upgrade, but I still use it to this day.
All right, so let's talk a little bit about AllStays. We know Adam and we met Adam early on as we began this and it's a whole suite of great software programs. Have you updated AllStays or have you done any changes in it since you took over? Have you added more features, more platforms?
Yeah, we've got some big plans for AllStays, and we are working to add in more features. You'll first off, the information is the greatest thing. We are adding in more points and maintaining that coverage and updated information that is really the life and blood of the product. You would love to start sharing the roadmap there.
Things just like saving locations, that is really great. But we're starting to look into new technologies that we can leverage and just how do we help make this a more accessible and easy tool for people to use but with the lifeblood being that accurate up-to-date information that everyone loves it for and really ease of use.
I would like to go into the main ways we can use AllStays. And I thought that if you could sort of walk us through a typical scenario, or maybe a park, or the campground's full, how AllStays can help an RVer find a place to stay and get away.
Yeah, that's a great place to start. So really the easy thing of using AllStays, that one of the reasons that I loved it, was really having extremely descriptive pin icons that you are able to see very clearly what is National Park, what is a Forest Service, what's an independent RV park, so that you can really visually see so that if you come across a situation where you can't get around and you've got to find something.
You can go into your map. You can zoom out from where you are. You can easily use the locate the button if you've enabled location sharing with the application so that you can have that center right in on you. You're also able to use the search bar to search for a town that you might want to look at.
I think to myself of when in December of 2020 I was trying to find a campground in Northern Florida, because St. George Island I think was all booked up. So I was using AllStays to look around. I was able to find sites in the state forest and in the national forest that I could go to with that.
As well as also there are a number of filters and advanced filters that you can, there are a lot of points of interest on the map so you can help clear out some of the noise to only what you want, whether it is a forest service campground or if you're looking for some other club or membership. I know a lot of people might use like Elk's Lodges. So you can use a filter easily to get to those kinds of sites that you want, or if you just need an overnight parking spot, you can look up and see which Walmart is there.
I can see parking reports from individuals reporting on the willingness of that manager to let people park overnight. But then I love returning back to that. They're very descriptive pin icons. So when you're looking at a map of tons of pins, you're easily able to zero in.
You can select on that point, then easily click into our information page where we have just one tap away, a website if they've got it. We've got one touch phone call. So for what we can get, we've got phone numbers for most places that at least have a phone, as well as any reviews that users have left.
And lastly, we've got all the amenity information that you might want in terms of how many spots, what kinds of hookups, how many or whether there are any restrictions on the size of RV. Those are also reflected in our filters that you can help zero in on the right campground for you.
So, they're just a really multitude of ways within AllStays through filtering, search, using your eyes and reading our information and reviews.
Let's talk about the different platforms that AllStays works on and give our audience kind of a rough idea on how they would get AllStays and the costs involved and maybe which apps and platforms that they may want to work with to start off with if they haven't had it before.
Yeah, so we've got a mobile application that is only on Apple phones right now. I know that we hear a lot from Android users and I invite Android users to message us. Hearing from you guys helps make it known just how many of you guys are out there that want this. So very happy to hear from you. There had been an AllStays app on Android until about 2017 when there are some issues and Adam pulled that off the store.
But we also have a web application so that you can access this on any device. It works best on your laptop, desktop, works in any browser. So we are able to reach all platforms there. And I will announce that we previously, the mobile app had been. Single-time download, paid download from the App Store, whereas the Web App had been subscription based.
And we are unifying that product so that you just subscribe to AllStays and you're able to access that on both mobile and Web with one seamless subscription there. And our subscription price is $35 a year.
Now, is there a free version available anymore of Allstays? There used to be, there was a kind of an Allstays light that you could get.
Right now with the mobile app, you can experience for free some very basic features of the app. You're able to download it, you're able to browse, look at the pins and find the campsite, to read reviews, to filter for them, that will be part of the subscription as we're constantly working and updating that information for campgrounds.
You can also find a lot of campground information state by state for free online. So a lot of our resources are available, but for the best ease of use and the best user experience, that does come with subscription.
Just the last question, again, the size of your database, because you have just about everything covered, is how many pieces of data and information do you have? Did you say you set it right at the top?
Yeah, around 400,000 points of interest across the US and Canada. And so there are tens and thousands of campgrounds, thousands of RV parks. But then really, there's so much more as well in the supply stores, the truck stops, propane fill ups, road hazards, like bridge clearances and road grades, so that we've really got a comprehensive suite of information that we're really happy that users can find actionable and help keep them on the road and keep them safe.
I'm applauding you guys taking it over and continuing the legacy that Adam started. It was probably the original RV camping and information site for finding spots and I'm glad to see that you have plans to continue that.
Would you wrap it up by telling our audience how they can access and find AllStays? What's their best address to go to? We'll put it in the description below
So the best way to find us is go to allstays.com. We've got all the information there about both our mobile and our web app. You can find out information for campgrounds for free on there. And you can go in the iTunes app store, mobile app store, and search for Allstays Camping and RV. And you'll find us there.
Jennifer and I have used it for over a decade now. And in fact, it's usually our first thing, even before we leave, we'll pull up on the laptop or the computer and we can get that big view on the screen, which really helps. It's a very simple app to use. We can attest to that and we will continue to send people to AllStays. Philip Rogers has been our guest. Phil, thank you.
Alright, thank you, Mike. This was super exciting to be on.
The RV News of the Week
Each week, it seems, there is a new story out about the best campgrounds or parks in the country, but we saw a story last week that we found worth sharing.
A group analyzed actual visitor survey data from the National Parks Service to determine which national parks were the best to visit. It looked at things like visitors calling their experience “very good,” taking into account the qualify of facilities, services and recreational opportunities, then ranked them.
The top four spots were West Virginia's new national park, New River Gorge NP, followed by Carlsbad Caverns NP, Lewis & Clark National Historic Park, and Acadia NP.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America's most visited national park and it ranked ninth in the list. The Grand Canyon National Park, another popular location for RVers, ranked 38th.
Heavy winds tipped over a couple's RV in east Texas last week – WHILE THEY WERE DRIVING IT! The couple was driving their motor home near Lufkin, Texas, when a wind gust literally pushed their RV off the road, and knocked it into some trees and a pole just off the highway.
Officials said if those trees were not there, the RV would have been knocked on its side and likely fallen into a nearby creek.
The Fire Department was called out, and rescued the couple who were not hurt. (See article here.) But we wanted to share this article with you as a warning to slow down, and even stay put, on days of strong winds.
To see our story with 10 tips for driving in strong winds, click here.
Bush's Beans is offering a contest for a free, all expense paid camping trip to either Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Texas' Big Bend National Park or Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.
The winner and one guest will get to camp in a camper that looks like a can of Beans, and will receive free flights, ground transportation and a $200 travel stipend to the chosen national park. The winner also has meals prepared with a bean-theme by a chef and a guided tour of the park.
The article noted that when a person pays the $2 fee for a vehicle pass for Montana’s Glacier National Park, a large chunk of that money goes to Booz Allen, which runs the recreation.gov site all people must use to make reservations on federal property.
The article estimates Booz Allen made $87 million during the first five years of its contract to run the site, and will make about $182 million over 10 years.
The company makes money every time someone uses the service to make a reservation to visit a park or go camping. The contract has become quite profitable, and is part of a lawsuit that accused the site of collecting “junk fees” that should instead go to maintaining public lands.
Some national park officials, however, have said Booz Allen made significant improvements to the site since winning the contract in 2016 that helps them do their job better.
We want to share this story with you, and will keep sharing updates as the lawsuit proceeds.
RV Tip of the Week from Brenda of Queen Bee RV
RV Tip of the Week – What to inspect before taking possession of a new RV
Time now for the RV Tip of the week from certified RV Inspector Brenda of Queen Bee RV.
Brenda’s focus is on educating RVers on how to care for their RVs – especially women RVers – and she is a regular contributor to the podcast, sharing her expertise with our entire audience.
Here’s Brenda.. The RV Queen Bee… with this week’s RV Tip on what to inspect and test BEFORE you take delivery of an RV.
Aggravating items that RV owners discovered “after” the purchase and how you can avoid them
I conducted a survey recently to ask what were some frustrating things that RV buyers wished they had known about before they made their purchase? And, as you can imagine, there were plenty of surprising responses like:
- They forgot to test the awning and it tore the first time they opened it.
- Construction materials from the factory were left behind and completely prevented the black tank from dumping.
- That the doors were installed upside down at the factory and leaked during the first rain.
- That the refrigerator was not turned on until minutes before their arrival on pick up day, so the dealership missed the fact that it was completely inoperative during the walk through.
- They forgot to test the water heater and had to replace it after the first trip.
- That they purchased a brand new rig at auction and discovered the black and gray tanks were completely missing once they got it home.
- Not understanding how expensive oil changes and engine work would be on their new diesel pusher.
- And that even after thorough research, they underestimated the towing capabilities of their truck and did not feel safe or confident with it once they got the RV out on the road.
So, what can you do to try to avoid some of these costly, aggravating, and sometimes scary discoveries when purchasing an RV?
- Ask the owner to have all utilities available to test before you agree to purchase. This is standard practice, so insist upon it! Water, electric, and sewer.
- Operate all of the mechanical items like the awnings and slides.
- Operate all of the appliances like those in the kitchen, the AC, furnace, water heater and generator.
- Check the electrical panel connections and water/plumbing systems.
- Take a test drive or a test tow – preferably with your own tow vehicle.
- Look at manufacture dates, tread and sidewall condition of all tires.
- Check all of the life safety systems like detectors, LP tanks, and running gear condition, etc.
- Request and observe the maintenance records from the seller or dealership.
- If all of this sounds overwhelming, you know I will suggest to hire a third party Certified RV Inspector!
The RV App of the Week – a photo journaling app
Time now for the RV App of the Week segment, taken from the pages of NewTravelTech.com – our sister blog that celebrates the many ways technology enhances the travel experience.
This week, we have a photo journaling app to tell you about called Journi Blog that helps you record and describe your favorite travel memories. You can then share these, print them as photo books, or keep them private for your personal enjoyment.
The app is available on iOS, Android, and the web.
You have full privacy control over who sees your stories. You can keep it private, share with select friends and family, or make it public. It’s a popular option for beginners to professional travel bloggers.
The RV Question of the Week: How much does it cost to make an RV campsite?
QUESTION: I’ve followed how you guys have turned your property in Tennesee into a private RV retreat. I see this as something we’d like to do but before I know whether that is a realistic goal for us at this stage in our lives, we need to know how much it costs to get in water and electricity and sewers. Can you give us a ballpark figure? – Alex
ANSWER: Based on our experience and those of our neighbors, you should budget about half what you spend in buying the raw land as the cost of installing, drilling a well, clearing trees, hooking up electricity, and then getting all the permits. Every governmental area is different as to what you can and can't do and how you must do it, and every piece of land is different and has its own unique challenges. But figure 50% of the land costs will be the development costs and you should know whether it makes sense for you or not.
RV Lifestyle recommends the RV Tech Course
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