Some new RV owners are lucky enough to have RV storage at their home or office. However the majority of people do not have this luxury. How to decide where to store your RV when it is not in use depends on several variables.
There are so many factors that go into owning an RV. It is much more exciting to dream of which RV you want to purchase and where you want to travel in it. Planning road trips and camping menus is much more fun than worrying about the more boring details.
But part of enjoying travel experiences is good planning. One of the most important considerations of RV travel is to decide where and how to store your RV. Finding the right spot to store your RV can be difficult.
What are the Primary Considerations to Decide Where and How to Store Your RV?
The first considerations to find the right spot to store your RV are identifying environmental factors of the area in which you would like to park it.
Indoor or Outdoor RV Storage
There are advantages to indoor RV storage, but this is not an always easy option to find. Since an RV is an outdoor vehicle, you may wonder why this matters.
Outdoor Rv Storage
Outdoor storage is more common for RVs and is usually more readily available. There are few height limitations when you park outside. Spaces to accommodate larger vehicles are easier to locate. If you plan on cleaning the inside of your RV while in storage, outdoor space tends to allow for the pop out and awning to be extended.
Outdoor storage may be paved and level, but also could be uneven and in grass or gravel. A level spot may be important to you. I have seen people park their Rvs without leveling them, but most people do not. Therefore, if your space is not level, you will need to deal with chalks and leveling every time you return from a trip. It is not that big of a deal, but it is an extra step in the storage process. If you are storing for long periods without usage, this may not be a factor for you.
Depending on the environmental factors of your location, paved, gravel or grass may be a deal breaker. Parking in grass may attract more critters or insects. Grass and gravel have a higher likelihood of becoming muddy. This is annoying and messy if you have the bad luck of pulling in or out in the rain.
Other negative environmental factors that I will discuss more below can sometimes be avoided depending on the amenities offered at your facility, such as concrete slabs or electricity.
If you are lucky enough to have the space to store your RV yourself, be sure that the code allows you to do so. Home owners associations, city codes, fire codes, etc. may prohibit RV storage.
Indoor RV Storage
The main disadvantages of storing your Rv inside are cost, availability, and capacity limitations. Obviously storing your RV inside helps to protect it from the elements. Indoor storage is generally in high demand and low supply. Therefore it usually goes for a premium cost.
Even when an indoor facility has space, it can be difficult to find the right size unit where your recreational vehicle will fit. If you plan on using 30 or 50 amp power while your vehicle is stored, be sure the location offers that ability. Just because there is power, does not mean there is that functionality.
Climate and How to Decide Where to Store Your RV
Climate may not affect your decisions as much, if you plan on storing your RV in an indoor facility. If the indoor storage is climate controlled, temperature factors will be more important only if the heat or air conditioning malfunctions. Exposing anything to the elements for long periods of time can have some negative effects.
If the sun is beating down constantly on your RV, this may eventually cause fading, deteriorating of rubber and foam molding, and expansion and contraction. These items eventually cause environmental wear and tear.
Still, many people park their RVs outdoors successfully. It is important to do what you can to offset the negative conditions. Examples are keeping your RV waxed and lubed, treating the foam and leather with uv protectants, and covering the tires. Close your blinds and leave the air at 80 degrees fahrenheit when possible. It is debatable if it is a good idea to leave hatches slightly ajar to allow air.
Consider how strong the sun is where you are storing. For example, in New Jersey in the Summer, temperatures can reach into the nineties, just like Florida. However, Florida is much further South and the sun is much stronger. You may be more concerned in Florida than in Jersey.
Humidity and Dryness
The sun and air combined with a sealed up, stored vehicle, may trap humidity, causing mold and moisture issues to your RV. On the flip side, extremely dry air may cause cracking, loss of moisture, and rapid water loss.
This is dependent on your location. For example, Arizona is fairly arid, while Florida is extremely humid. Again, the ability to leave air on at a protective temperature, filling water levels more adequately, or opening hatches may help to solve these issues.
If you are near an ocean, you will be dealing with salt air which can literally eat things and cause discoloration and rust. If you are dealing with this, you need to take precautionary protection measures.
Snow, Ice, and Freezing Temperatures
RVs must be “winterized” in order to store them in snow, ice, or freezing temperatures. “Winterizing” is fairly costly, and the RV cannot be used until the process is reversed. Therefore, if you plan on using your RV in the Winter, you may want to store it in a controlled environment or move its location.
Seasonal RV Storage
Will you be moving your trailer seasonally? By doing so, you may be able to avoid many of the extreme conditions that can affect your RV negatively while stored. An example of seasonal storage is what I am trying out this year. From May through October, I avoid the extreme heat be storing my RV in the Northeast US when I am not out camping. From October through May, I skip extreme Winter conditions by moving it to the Southeast US. Another possibility is storing your RV in a usable spot in some seasons and locations.
Combination Storage and Camping
There are advantages and disadvantages to each RV storage situation.
Advantages to Storing and Camping Facilities
While more costly than basic storage, the obvious advantage is that you can actually enjoy the place you are storing your vehicle, like a vacation house. Your Rv will likely have power, air or heat, running water and a dump station while stored. You can use it as a getaway. On the plus side, it is not just sitting, for periods of time, in a non-used state.
Many longterm RV rental places are destinations in and of themselves. Some even offer private waterfronts, gazebos, site sublet abilities, and community activities. You may feel you are getting more bang for your buck than just paying a basic storage fee.
Disadvantages to Combination Facilities
While storing your RV in a usable site sounds like a great idea, there are some negatives. Many pure storage facilities tend to be on ground known to be less impacted by inclement weather. For example, if you secure a spot in Key West, where you leave your RV, but can visit it to camp as you please, a hurricane could be a risk.
The difference between camping and storing in this instance is that you may store you RV inland, where storm damage is less likely. If you see weather brewing, you likely would not travel, leaving your RV safely in storage.
Storing your RV far from where you generally are, can be risky, as you may not be able to get to it rapidly if an urgent situation pops up. Also, I find that when Im in close proximity to where I am storing my RV, I tend to check on it more frequently.
Leaving your RV for extended periods at a campsite with everything running constantly, may cause faster wear and tear on items such as air, heat, and refrigerators.
Lastly, you may not be motivated to travel to diverse locations during the months you are stored at a campsite. Firstly, you would be paying rent on the site and likely also putting out money for the sites you visit simultaneously. Longterm campsites can be costly. Also, you may be comfortable and set up once you are there, and why move if you do not have to? It is easy to become complacent when you are settled. The latter is not necessarily a bad thing, it just depends on your travel goals.
Additional Considerations to Decide Where and How to Store Your RV
- Is the facility clean and well kept? Unkempt grounds or other RVs could indicate issues with insects, critters, and safety.
- Does the facility offer a dump station or fresh water? This is very convenient before you take off on a trip and upon returning.
- Is the facility also a repair shop or rental place? This is helpful if you need service. They can usually just pull your RV, work on it, and return it to your spot. Also, it means people will be on premises often which is more secure.
- Does your space have electricity or other amenities? Amenities such as electricity help with climate control.
- Is the site level? A level site may put less strain on your RV when parked for long periods of time.
- Is the site paved, gravel, grass, or dirt? These are factors for ease and cleanliness.
- What is the monthly cost of rental? Does it fit your budget?
- Does the facility operate 24 hours, 7 days a week? In case you spontaneously would like to access your RV or are taking off early or getting in late.
- Is the contract month to month or yearly? This can be important in case you encounter a better space or decide to take off on a long adventure.
- Is there security or cameras? Does the storage feel safe?
- Does the facility allow people to store things outside and around their RV?
Obstacles to RV Storage
Many RV storage facilities fill up months, if not years, in advance. Sometimes it is difficult to locate a spot, especially one that meets your needs and budget. Convenience is also important.
Location and How to Decide Where to Store Your RV
The last thing you want to do is drive hours out of your way each time you start a road trip. Finding a storage space you like, in a strategic location can be a challenge. Narrow down your search by considering the following:
- Is the storage facility local to your primary location?
- Is the facility nearby somewhere you enjoy camping?
- Is the facility on the way to camping locations where you will be frequenting?
- Is the facility a combination camping place where you would enjoy spending a period of time?
- Is the facility easily accessible via a highway?
- Are the roads to the storage well maintained and adequate for long vehicles?
- Is the RV storage in a safe neighborhood?
As you can see, properly and safely storing an RV requires a great deal of thought. But do not worry if this looks like a great deal of work. Just like all travel, once you make your plan, it is so much fun!
See also Jenny In Wanderland article, 5 Most Important Things to Do After Buying an RV.
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