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Episode 103: Protecting your house while away on RV trips

| Updated Aug 31, 2016

This week we offer tips and suggestions on what do about your sticks and bricks house when you are off traveling in your RV. We share the ways Jennifer and Mike make sure things are safe and secure back home while they’re out traveling.

We also offer a very detailed report about going to and coming back from Canada -what you need to know, what you can and cannot bring into each country and what to expect when you travel between the two countries.

Plus info on the best way to level and stabilize your RV at the campground, tech tips, RV news and lots of audience questions and comments.

Click the player to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details and resources and click the player below to start listening. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.


Complete shownotes for Episode 103:

We talk at length at our experiences of going back and forth between the U.S. in Canada all the time. [spp-timestamp time=”4:25″] Among other things, we cover:

  • Why you need to remove your sunglasses at the border check point
  • What questions to expect
  • Will they search or enter your RV?
  • What food can you bring in?
  • Can you take pets?

Resources mentioned:

Traveling into Canada from the U.S. in your RV

Coming back to the U.S. from Canada When returning to the U.S. from Canada, all travelers are required to declare at customs any items purchased or acquired during their stay.

Food that can be brought into the U.S. from Canada – Detailed info

This part of the podcast brought to you by RadPower Bikes (www.RadPowerBikes.com_… an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes.


Entering Canada and the US in your RV

Most RVers are not fulltimers and thus, when you hit the road, you have a sticks and bricks home to worry about. Mike and I travel about half the year, often for weeks at a time, so we’ve learned by experience how to make sure everything will be just fine at home when we return. [spp-timestamp time=”26:35″] So here’s a list of the things we do:

simplysafeFirst, we have a home alarm system. The one we use is SimpliSafe. It’s a do-it-yourself system, You buy the various sensors, attach them to the walls and it’s done. There are no holes to drill and the system is all wireless. It is extremely reliable and for $14.95 a month, we have 24 x 7 monitoring with it. Mike installed the system himself and we couldn’t be happier. We have an app that lets us control the whole system from wherever we are. But whatever system you do choose, we do recommend you have an alarm system and monitoring.

Okay, here’s what we do before leaving?

Stop mail delivery – You can do it online or stop by the post office and get a supply of their yellow hold mail cards. They need three days notice but we fill out ours with the date we’re going to be away and they hold it until our return. On the day we return, they deliver it to our door.

Alert neighbors or a friend that you will be gone – We have friends who periodically stop by to check the house. The friend water my plants, makes sure everything is okay inside and does a check of the property. We deactivate the alarm by our app for the time they visit and then remotely reactivate it after they leave.

Have the lawn cut – We use a lawn service and they cut our lawn weekly. In the winter we use a snow removal company. Nothing indicates a home is empty more than unkempt landscaping or snow covered driveways.

There are lots of other things you can do. Some experts recommend unplugging television sets, major appliances, turning off water and that sort of stuff. We have an automatic whole house generator so we don’t worry about power interruptions but in cold climates you want to make sure your furnace is always working so if travel is going to take you away a lot in the winter, the idea of an automatic generator may be worth the investment.

The tip of the week is brought to you by Good Sam, the world's most popular RV organization, now celebrating its 50th year.


Catrien asks about a list of RV dump sites. Mike refers him to the website and app. It’s the best, most detailed list of dump sites available anywhere. [spp-timestamp time=”31:09″]

James asks about how to find a replacement parts for the Fantastic Vent on his RV. [spp-timestamp time=”33:45″] We send him to the company itself at or call them at 800-521-0298. They welcome calls.

Pamela inherited a 2000 190 Roadtrek Popular and has questions. [spp-timestamp time=”33:25″]We refer her to the Facebook Roadtreking group and someone near her will surely help. We suggest she talk to

Bill is planning an RV trip to Florida next winter. He wants to know how to handle fresh water needs when traveling in sub freezing weather. [spp-timestamp time=”38:47″]

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV in St. Louis, and their Partner Dealerships Creston RV in Kalispell, Montana, and Wagon Trail RV in Las Vegas. Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’s from three locations.


This week we talk about How to Level your RV and have some suggestions. [spp-timestamp time=”43:07″]

The big Class A RVs most all have automatic levelers and stabilizers.

So this is directed more towards towables and small motorhomes.

First thing is to get a level. I have one on my smartphone. Just search for levels in the app store. Or you can buy one of those little circle or bullseye levels at just about any hardware store. They cost just a couple of bucks.

lynx leveling blocksThe cheapest way to get your RV level is to make your own…place a stack of 2x10s under as many tires as it takes to get the bubble on the level centered.I’m not a big fan of bringing and using wood. They take up a lot of storage room.  And more importantly, will the stack hold together as you try to run up on it with your tires?  This method is not only an inconvenience, but also a possible safety hazard

The best way to get your RV level is to use a set of RV leveling blocks. (Lynx Levelers are my favorite.) They cost less than $30. These interlocking plastic blocks are designed to handle the weight of the largest motorhome around.  You just snap them together and form a ramp that will stay stable while you drive or pull your RV onto them.  When your ready to leave, they unsnap and can be easily stored in a handy carrying case.

They not only configure to fit any leveling function, but they also withstand tremendous weight

To use: simply set them into a pyramid shape to the desired height that the RV needs to be raised and drive onto the stack

The levelers can also be used as a support base for other stabilizing equipment

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 15 locations on the East Coast 


Three stories for you this week: [spp-timestamp time=”45:23″]

This portion of the podcast is brought to you by Alde  the only name in heat that you need to know for your RV

TRAVELING TECH TIP: Health apps and tech gear

Verizon's Steve Van Dinter reports: [spp-timestamp time=”46:35″]

Staying well while on the go can be a bit of a challenge. But that’s no reason to make your health and well-being less of a priority.

Fortunately there are gadgets that can help us stay well…and today I’ve got three such ideas you’ll definitely want to keep in mind.

blood pressure cuffFirst off…high blood pressure. It is often called the silent killer and affects millions of Americans. The best way to control it is with diet and exercise and also to make sure you’re regularly checking those numbers. Thankfully the folks at Withings have made that easy with their portable Bluetooth blood pressure cuff. Slip it on anywhere – at the beach, in the passenger seat of your RV or at your office and it’ll take an FDA-certified reading of your blood pressure. It then sends the info directly to your phone for tracking. Should you notice a trend or wonder if it’s something you should be concerned about, sharing it with your physician is just a few taps away. Again that’s called the Withings Blood Pressure Cuff.

Next…carrying around a thermometer isn’t always something we think about when running out the door. But this latest gadget, Thermo, makes it easy. The pill container shaped device slips easily into luggage or a purse and is just as easy to use. To take a reading, simply hold within ½ inch of the middle of your forehead and move it left or right toward your hair. It’ll take 4,000 infrared temperature readings and send it – you guessed it – wirelessly to your phone where it will keep track of your readings and also any symptoms you’d like to log with it. How great would this be especially for those with little ones?! That one again is Thermo.

And finally, fitness trackers are all the rage…but sometimes we don’t need all the bells and whistles. With the Withings Go, you attach the coin-shaped device to your belt or where as a watch and it’ll keep track of when and how you’re moving. Graphically it displays how many steps you’ve taken and all that info is fed wirelessly to your phone. In addition to running and walking, it’s waterproof and can keep track of your swims. Wear it to bed and you’ll get a good idea of how well you’ve slept. Also…the best part – with the Withings go you get up to 8 months of use on one battery!

All of these great gadgets can be found at your local Verizon store or at

This podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.


America’s Largest RV Show Sept. 14-18 in Hershey , PA – This is the big one! [spp-timestamp time=”59:05″]

Mike and Jennifer will be hanging out at the Roadtrek Motorhomes and Erwin Hymer of North America booths. We will also be posting reports on the blog and live video on our Facebook Roadtreking Group.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT –  The world’s largest wind chime and other small town wonders [spp-timestamp time=”1:00:55″]

By Tom Burkett

When I was growing up, we made a lot of trips from the eastern US to Colorado.  Camping was an adventure, but I can imagine what a job it must have been to set up our old canvas tent and wrangle two meals and a bedtime for four young children for one night, so we almost always did it straight through—Ohio to Kansas City where we overnighted with family, then another long day to Denver, where other relatives were waiting.

As an adult, I’ve repeated the same trip many times, often taking my grandmother to a family cabin in the Rockies.  The big difference was that she was willing to stop anywhere, any time.  We often drove the smaller state highways north and south of the interstate and passed through the towns that grew up to serve local farms and ranches and, later, travelers as they made their way west.

wind chimeA surprising number of these little towns had (and have) quirky museums that highlight local history.  Over the years we visited the steamboat museum, the post rock museum, the barbed wire museum, the forgotten fossil museum, and many others.  Some of these are still around to enjoy, and now some of these bypassed towns are making an effort to lure us off the big road with something unusual.  High marks go to Casey, Ill.

As you ride Interstate 70 you may see a billboard inviting you to visit the world’s largest wind chime.  With its longest tube a whopping 42 feet , it sets up a low lonesome ringing when the wind begins to blow.  Looking like a modern sculpture, it towers over the town and dwarfs the tiny park in which it’s set.  The sunshine shimmers off it and on a gray day it looks ready step off down the road to better weather.

If you listen to Prairie Home Companion, or if you grew up here, you know Midwesterners are given to overachievement.  What surprise then, to look across the street and see the world’s largest rocking chair.  You can wander down the street and climb up to stand in the world’s largest mailbox.  Largest knitting needles? Check.  Largest golf tee? Check.  Pitchfork?  Wooden shoes?  Check and check.  You never know what’ll be next, so stop in.  Have a meal at the wind chime cafe.  Shoot an entire roll of film in one small town block.

Then leave Casey if you like, but keep your eyes open.  Little towns aren’t so little in their own eyes.  I’ll let you discover for yourself which tiny Midwest museum will hand crank ice cream to order while you look at the exhibits.  And which one will allow you to design your own cattle brand and burn it into a wall plaque.  And where you can eat homemade kolaches in the shadow of a giant psankey egg.  Or where you can wake the neighborhood by making a fifty foot dragon breathe real fire in the middle of the night.  They’re all out there.  Happy travels

For more info:

This part of the podcast is brought to you by AllStays – the Internets #1 RV and camping app since 2010

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Here’s how:

How to subscribe, rate and review a podcast

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts up on the top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in Mike Wendland or Roadtreking RV Podcast.
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Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. That got us noticed by Apple/iTunes as “New and Noteworthy.” I appreciate every review!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments about RV topics by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your words.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2016-08-31

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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