Whether you are Full Timing, Long Tripping or just traveling on a family vacation in your RV, water becomes an important question and/or need. Should you bring your own potable water, fill up with water upon arrival at your destination, or just acquire water along the route? These are questions often thought about by the RVer during their travels, whether new to RVing or a long time RVer.

The capacity of one’s potable water tank/s and their receiving tanks often control where and when you receive potable water. Obviously, the larger potable water tank, and receiving tanks (Gray/Black), the more water you can carry or bring with you. This often facilitates in longer outings or supplying needs on your journey or destinations. Some RVs' construction does not allow water to be contained in these tanks while traveling.

water bucket WEBKnowing your RV and its capabilities is important as in yourself, family and friends need in water use. Doing your homework will provide you the answer to many of these questions. Consider how much certain water tasks will take is an easy exercise and often can be accomplished before leaving home. To do this exercise, begin with an empty gray water tank. Use a 5-gallon bucket or larger and set it under your gray water dump valve. Proceed to perform a task such as showering or washing dishes. This is a good way of demonstrating to young RVers or newbies how much water is being used for personal water tasks such as showers. Once the task is completed, observe or measure how much was captured in the bucket. Using this method, you will be able to determine how much water use is used in a day, which will be a great way to determine needs and planned capacity for lengthy boondocking in your RV!

The obvious locations to fill your potable water tanks are at your home before you leave or at your eventual destination. Due to the topography of your travels or eventual destination, a decision is often made due to the weight of your potable water in your tanks. This weight might exceed your towing capacity, increase your braking needs and/or impact the fuel mileage (MPG) of your motorhome or tow vehicle. As example, when I travel to Death Valley National Park, I am aware there will be potable water at the park so I will dump water that won’t be used for the journey to save on weight and the impact to my MPG.

Water is actually more plentiful than I had originally imagined when I started my Full Time RVing. Originally, I had planned and installed additional potable and gray water tanks for my perceived potable water needs for my extreme boondocking. But in reality, I found that water was actually more available than I had originally imagined, especially in the dry and remote portions of our country.

One only needs to learn where potable water can be found, beyond the locations already discussed. Many private homes can supply this requirement of potable water when visiting friends or relatives by just asking. Often when I am frequenting a business, whether a tire shop, RV servicing or a retail business, I will keep an eye out to see if there might be a spigot near a service door and just ask to get some potable water or a partial fill. Many rest areas and campgrounds will have these potable water filling areas. 

“O.K., what are my super secret means to acquiring potable water? Easy, just ask.” Many locations are there if one just looks for them, like this amazing potable water filling faucet in the parking lot, next to the sidewalk of the BLM Visitor Center just a couple of miles south of Lone Pine, California. Or just purchase a few blue water jugs from a big box retailer and fill them up when visiting these locations by “just asking!”.

potable tank WEBAnother opportunity is to transfer water into your potable water tanks from trusted locations such as a fellow RVer that is leaving and will just be emptying at a dump station. A number of ways this can be accomplished is simply using a potable water jug and filling it via a shower nozzle, ensuring that those unwanted bad things are kept from migrating to your potable tank.

water pump WEBOr transfer from portable potable water jugs that can be filled via your “toad” or tow vehicle when running errands, such as trips to town or grocery shopping, is another method. Many will have expandable water bladders set in their truck beds or rear trunk areas. With the use of an auxiliary water pump (which is a must need for back up if your house water pump fails) you can transfer this acquired potable water to your RV potable tanks.

By far the best way to acquire potable water is to just be conservative in your water usage. Learning ways to conserve water will enable you to make frequent trips and or lessen your effort to acquire potable water, as well as needed trips to an often far away dump station. This often results in longer stays at amazing locations that otherwise end up being missed due to your need and consumption of potable water.  Conserve!  That is one of the important lessons learned in improving your skills in RVing.

Bryan Appleby
Author: Bryan ApplebyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the very beginning, at the age of 13, when Bryan planned and left on a solo bicycle trip around the western half of his native state of Kansas, he has been traveling somewhere, often in remote locations. He is known for his extreme boondocking, often for periods up to 8 weeks away from civilization and any resupplies. Bryan has more than 4,000+ consecutive nights (12 years with only 64 of those nights in campgrounds) while full timing. The outdoors has been an emphasis on this father & grandfather, taking him to occupations as a State Trooper and a National Park Ranger. Now, as a retired State Trooper and again working as a seasonal National Park Ranger, Bryan has been exploring America with his RV, kayaks and motorcycles, recording all of these adventures with pen and his camera.

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