Nov 4 • 10M

9 Lessons Learned From Our 1,000-Mile Journey Towing Our Aliner Camper With Our Chevy Bolt EV

How to Prevent Virtual Raccoons From Making a Mess in Your RV

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Devin Thorpe
Gail Thorpe
Follow our journey as we buy a Rivian R1T electric truck to pull a travel trailer equipped to run exclusively on solar power!
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Last week, we reported that we’d completed a 1,000-mile trip up the Southeastern Seaboard towing our solar-powered Aliner Scout with our Chevy Bolt EV. This week, we will share the nine lessons we learned along the way.

Lesson #1: Don’t Drive Too Far in One Day

Our Chevy Bolt EV can go about 150 miles on a single charge towing our Aliner Scout, and leaving a bit of cushion allows us about 125 miles of practical range. Charging to about 80 percent for the second leg gives us a total one-charge range of about 220 miles. If we charge nearly to full again, we can reach close to 250 miles on a single stop to charge.

On the trip, we carelessly planned a 300-mile day. It was a challenge. Not only did we have to charge twice, both times required unhitching the trailer. Driving back roads, we averaged just 40 miles per hour when we were moving. The result was a ten-hour day that got us into our next campground at about 8:00 pm.

Lesson learned. Keep daily travel under 250 miles.

Lesson #2: Charge the Trailer Battery With Solar Before the Trip

To maximize the number of days we utilize solar power only in the trailer, it is essential to charge the battery by parking it in the sun to charge the battery before leaving.

We have a 2.4 kWh battery, enough to power the refrigerator and various other devices and lights for more than 24 hours. We can even run the A/C for a while. To get the full benefit of the battery, we need to start our trip with a full charge.

Lesson #3: EV Charging in RV Parks is Great Except When Prohibited

On this trip, we stayed in four campgrounds. In three, we charged our EV successfully each night. It is delightful to wake up to a fully charged vehicle right outside your camper door.

At the Savannah South KOA Holiday, managers told us immediately to unplug the EV. Well, they actually sent a teenage staffer to tell us. He said he was instructed to tell us that KOA national bans EV charging.

Gail and I will follow up with KOA to let you know what they say. We view it as our role, in part, to advocate for EV RVers to ensure that arbitrary rules like this are eliminated. We’ll follow up with KOA and report on what we learn.

Lesson #4: Choose Campground Sites Without Shade

For us, choosing campgrounds and sites within campgrounds without shade is essential. We loved our secluded campsite but didn’t get a watthour of solar power. Lesson learned!

Lesson #5: Put a Toddler Security Latch on the Fridge to Keep Raccoons Out

There are no raccoons in our trailer, but it sure looked like there were. On a couple of legs of our journey, we opened the trailer to find a mess that resembled raccoons rummaging through the trash.

What had happened was the food in the fridge popped the door open, escaped and made a mess.

We bought these baby-proofing refrigerator straps that seem to solve the problem. If you use something else, let us know in the comments.

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Obviously, ours was a newbie mistake.

Lesson #6: Charging the EV Is Easy With a Small Trailer (Most of the Time)

More than half the time, we could pull up to an EV charger to charge without unhitching the trailer. When that works, we figure it saves about ten minutes. Those are happy times.

Unhitching isn’t the end of the world, but it is a bit of pain, and we love it when we don’t have to do it!

Lesson #7: These Backrest Pillows Instantly Convert Beds to Recliners

We bought backrest pillows like this one at Walmart for half the price of the one on Amazon.

The pillows effectively convert the beds to comfy places to work with a laptop or to watch Netflix on an iPad. That eliminates the need to set up the table in the morning and convert it back to a bed in the evening. Five minutes twice daily over a week saves us more than an hour!

Lesson #8: Organize

As relatively new RVers, we’re learning the need to organize everything for camping. Everything needs an assigned place and should be in it all the time. We’re acquiring tubs and bins that fit strategically in tight spots to maximize the stuff we hold in cupboards and under beds.

Keeping the trailer tidy gives it a roomier, more comfortable feel. While that isn’t a big deal on a two-day camping trip, it starts to matter on a week-long journey.

Lesson #9: Electric Blankets

The Aliner Scout is lightweight and all-electric. There is no furnace. To keep warm on cool nights, we bought electric blankets. They use much less electricity than an electric space heater would.

They do a great job of keeping us warm on cool nights; they won’t do the trick in genuinely cold weather. With our Aliner living in Florida, we plan to avoid the cold for now.

There you have our nine lessons learned on this trip. Some of these, we learned the hard way—we’re looking at you, raccoons. We hope you learn them the easy way! Please share your experiences with us!

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