by Paul and Kerri Elders

There’s no time like SUMMERTIME for getting out and seeing the world in your RV.  Kids and grandkids are free to roam along with you, and summer’s longer days offer more time for grand adventures in the Great Outdoors. Whether you love to hike, bike, float, boat, golf, roam, tour, or shop till you drop, a few simple tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your fun in the sun without breaking a sweat.  Let’s get going!

First, let’s get physical: it’s a winning summertime strategy to keep cooler by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Believe it or not, that old favorite black or navy blue t-shirt can be a real heat collector in the dog days of summer.  Lightweight cottons are more “breathable” than synthetic fibers like polyester, which can trap a surprising amount of body heat; check your labels.  Just like Grandpa said, a simple hat makes a great “sun shade” in the middle of summer.  And don’t forget to pack your sunglasses!

Great Outdoors Rule #1:  Keep Hydrated.  Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially good, old-fashioned water.  Coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas are delightful drinks, but they’re also diuretics and can cause you to actually lose some of the moisture your body so desperately needs in the heat of summer.  So if you simply adore tea, coffee, or iced frappuccino, just counterbalance these favorite indulgences with more water later in the day.  Keep in mind that some over-the-counter and prescription medications (such as some blood pressure medicines) can make you more susceptible to the negative effects of heat and sun. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure.

Food strategies can also keep you cooler.  Cook meals in the early morning or later in the evening, or use the microwave.  Better yet,  grill outdoors on hot days, or eat “cool” meals like sandwiches or salads, or throw caution to the wind and treat yourselves to dinner out. “Heavy” foods, large meals, and high-protein foods can actually slow you down and increase metabolic heat.  Opt for lighter fare like cooling salads, melons, and fruits.

If you do happen to overexert yourself while out and about and feel overheated, don’t be shy: it’s time to take a quick break.  Move to a comfortable chair in a cool, shady location and re-hydrate.  Drink some cool water.  You can speed the cooling process by applying a cold washcloth or even holding some cold bottled water against your skin.  Concentrate on the major arterial areas (jugular area of your neck, behind your knees, the inner part of your elbow, the inside of your wrist, and your temples).  A surprisingly large amount of blood flows through these areas every minute.  By exposing these areas to the coolness of the washcloth or water bottle, you’ll quickly begin to “cool your blood” and you’ll be back to fun time in no time flat.

Keeping your RV cooler in summer is also easier than you think!  You can get a head start just by picking a campsite with ample shade trees.  If the shadiest spots are already taken, just park your RV pointed in an East-West direction; this helps limit the surface area exposed to the direct rays of the sun during the day, as the sun glides through the sky.  It’s also a good idea to keep your window blinds closed during the heat of the day.

Extending your awning not only gives you a nice shady place to sit, it also works as a “sun shade” for the side of your RV, keeping it cooler.  Have window awnings or slide-out awnings?  Use them!  You’ll be surprised at how much this can help.  If you travel in a motorhome, either close the sun shades for the windshield area or use one or two of those inexpensive portable, “silver” automotive sunshades to help block the sun’s rays.

Air movement leaves you feeling cooler, and good airflow increases moisture evaporation, which cools the body.  By opening a few windows and turning on your roof vent fan, you can feel significantly cooler.  If it’s a super-hot day, use your roof vent fan to “pre-cool” the rig for the RV air conditioner.  Just remember to close the roof vent and all windows once you turn the air conditioner on.

Another trick for reducing the heat load inside your rig is a no-brainer: don’t take long, hot showers, bake a cake in the oven, or wash and dry clothes in the middle of the day:  you’re creating heat.  Open and close outside doors as little as possible; each time you open a door, hot outside air replaces the cool air-conditioned air you allow to escape through that open door.  Another helpful tip is to section off living areas so that your RV’s air conditioner can work to cool smaller spaces, especially if you have more than one rooftop A/C unit.  If your RV’s equipped with interior doors, summertime’s the time to use them.

Have fun, keep your cool, and blaze a trail!

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