Exp. RVers: Suggestions for House rules for renting an RV

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.

Exp. RVers: Suggestions for House rules for renting an RV

Postby mrwphx » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:26 pm

Although I have been to BM (this with be my 4th), I never rented an RV. This time I am. Err...we are....

The 6 others I am going with have never even been to BM at all. For those who have rented an RV with a group, please help me out with some tips and tricks to avoid a nightmare on the playa.

As the "experienced" burner in the group (ha whatever that means) i sorta feel obligated to throw in some "how tos."

I am talking about the stuff i can't find in the Burner guides: the house rules.

Shower times are obvious for example, but without experience in the matter, i turn to you lovely folks to kick down some sense to help me help make everyone's burn more enjoyable.

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Postby Gage » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:32 pm

My question would be: Have you already tried to reserve one? Most places within 200 miles have been booked out for months. Where are you coming from?
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Postby gidget » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:33 pm

I would highly recommend bringing a few tents, extra bedding and shade just in case you all want to kill each other after a couple of days in that small space. You may need an escape in case someone snores, or starts gettin' busy, or turns out to be a coke-addled sociopath...
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Postby Dr. Pyro » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:36 pm

This sounds like my cup of tea. First off, with 6 of you, figure out a way to shower outside using extra water. You absolutely positively do not want to run out of fresh running water in your RV. Use a pallet or something else to stand on to shower.

Have a community pool for drinks/drugs/ice money, etc. Someone will try and be a slacker so have everything pooled as best you can. Trust me on this one, people "forget" a lot on the playa.

DO NOT use the RV's toilet to take a shit in. Always (and there are no exceptions to this rule) crap in the JOTS. Otherwise your RV will smell like a huge toilet come Tuesday and nobody who you want to visit you in your RV will be able to stand the smell. Piss is OK. If someone has to vomit, send them over to Gigsville. That's what we do.

Cover every seat, chair, bed, etc. with a cloth (bed sheet, for example) to keep the dust off. Then cover each square inch of the floor with a cover, and then duct tape it down! Get everyone to commit at least 6 hours the day you get back to clean the RV. Unless you like doing it yourself.

If you have to pay for generator use, get a seperate pool for that. You will run (or they will run) the generator much more often than you can possibly imagine. Last year in my RV we were "conservative" and ran it for 87 hours. At $3/hour, you do the math.

Have everybody contribute at least one case of beer, a bottle of absinthe, maybe Bloody Mary mix and vodka to the general fund. It will be consumed.

Anything else you would like to know?
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Postby Eric » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:42 pm

I've only camped in RV's (I've stayed in tents out there, but that's a different story...), and, except for one year we haven't had many problems.

The one year was with newbies who got so excited about the event they treated the RV like a dumping ground for their stuff. Floors, other peoples beds, by the door..... *aaargh* Somehow we're still friends.

Make expectations clear, and stick to them. Assign cabinets/ storage areas to people, and make sure they know to keep their stuff in them. If someone wants to cover their own bed with costumes that's fine, but don't plan on covering anyone else's with it.

Showers? For 6 people? In the RV? ........*oi*..... All that grey water to deal with, not fun.

If people must shower inside I'd limit to once during the week- water on for a minute or two, turn it off & lather up, another minute or two of water to rinse. Done. Best bet is to get a sun shower & evap pound for outside. Personally I bring No Rinse shampoo & body wash. You just need a clean towel, no water at all. Give my face, hands & "bits" a daily wash & don't shower until I'm off playa.

I'd only recommend using the RV to sleep in- we leave the beds down at all times to discourage gathering inside. Build a shade structure & use that as your livingroom.

You'll have to base your specific house rules on your group- everyone's will vary. Dr. Pyro's suggestions are a good start.
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Postby kman » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:17 pm

The above is good advice. I'll add this:

RV's are shelter from the storm, a place to sleep, and a place to cook your meals. Plus there's a fridge! :D And on the hot afternoons it can be blissful to fire up the AC for an hour or so.

But I agree, the toilet should be for emergencies and sleepy-time use only. With 6 people, I would simply put the shower off limits. We allowed shower use once, and the girl managed to "forget" about the time and filled our grey water tanks in one shower, so no one else got to use it.

Yes, there is a truck that drives around to service the tanks (drain the grey/black water tanks, and perhaps top off fresh? can't recall that last for sure), but it's not cheap, and you can't count on them driving by daily. In fact, I've heard more than one tale of people who had too much stuff between their RV and the road, and the truck literally couldn't reach them, so they never got serviced. We've generally only managed to get our RV serviced once throughout the run. So don't count on just paying a lot... if you depend on that, you may end up screwed.

Unless you plan on paying a fortune (take Dr. Pyro's warning to heart) for generator use, don't count on using the AC all the time. And even if you do, be sure to account for the extra fuel consumption, or you'll be sorry burners when you run out of gas, or don't have enough left to make it to Gerlach. A couple hours at most in the afternoon of the hottest days is what you should plan for, unless you need to use it more for health reasons and budget money and fuel to accommodate it.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:12 pm

6 people in an RV, who aren't familiar with RVs, is a recipe for disaster that I absolutely would not do in the first place, but since you're gonna...
First main thing is you must become a Water Nazi. People don't get it about water consumption. They will say they do, but do NOT trust them because they DON'T get it.
They will try to be nice and wash the dishes - with the water running the whole time - and other things that are normal at home.
I too have been victim of the dreaded girl-taking-one-shower-and-filling-the-grey-tank thing. Do not allow unsupervised showers. Showers need to be like Eric said; get wet, water off and soap up, then rinse. Rinse means efficiently, not standing under the water for 5 minutes.
I carry a LOT of extra water and have several separate containers for fresh and grey so no one can completely screw me up in a singe incident, but in a rented rig you're not gonna have that option.

Water is the Big Issue. Next is cleanliness like the others have said.

Having people bring tents anyway is a very good idea.

Extra fuel is also wise, the built-in generator will use quite a bit over a week's time. Running the A/C for an hour isn't realistic, that's barely enough time for it to get the place chilled. Mine stays on all day. Doc Pyro is spot-on about being ready for the extra charges - most rental places do charge $3/hour for generator running time and it REALLY adds up!
You can't run the RV out of gas with the generator, they're dummy-proofed. It will be plumbed so that the gen. will only draw fuel until you get down to about 1/4 tank. You'll want plenty of fuel.

Cook with the microwave. It won't heat up the whole interior of the RV like the oven and stove will!

I'll also agree with the no-shitting-in-the-rig rule.
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Postby Token » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:58 am

Whatever the rental place says for the "sleeps #" cut it in half. Count the number of queen size full time beds, multiply by two. The camper will sleep that many adults plus four midgets. The fold out couch cushions and the table/bench conversions all have topography, creeses, canyons, lumps and other unsavory features that make sleeping in them an exercise in pain.

Make water use a mandatory buddy system i.e. washing hands; one person washes hands, second person operates water. Make a game of it. Same for showers. Saves a lot of water.

Put rug under enterance. No shoes policy is good but also a pain if you store stuff inside.

Have a mandatory dust off policy before entering RV. Provide a soft flogger at door and make it fun.

Bring four 1' x 1' plywood squares for under the stabilizer pads.

Run the generator periodically to recharge the house battery.

Bring a solar shower and use it. One - it limits water use per shower. Two - you can get hot water for free.

Park so that your pumping port is less than 25 feet from the street.

Bring all potable water separately. Do not drink or cook with the RV water.

Put up seperate sex tents. Don't be a buzz-killington by walking into an orgy. Bad for moral.

Read the generator manual, find the high altitude lever. You may need it.
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Postby some seeing eye » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:47 am

Excellent suggestions all. Shoes outside, carpet the steps, put a carpet inside the door and if you want to be fancy, a bench for changing shoes outside and a bunch of slippers that won't gather dust kept in a closed box outside. They are very inexpensive at Asian stores.
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Postby CapSmashy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:15 am

Financial issues are usually the big issue when it comes to group rentals/trip situations.

No matter how good of friends they are, etc, you as the person signing the dotted line have committed to bearing the brunt of the full financial responsibility for the rental and the deposit fee.

Calculate your per day rental and mileage fees. Use Google or something similar for the mileage estimate, add at least 50 miles. This gives you figure one.

Your deposit is figure 2.

A fully loaded (quite probably overloaded) coach will give you maybe 8mpg. Factor your fuel costs at 6mpg and at 10 to 15 cents over the average fuel costs. Figure 3.

Budget for 5 hours a day on the genset. Figure 4.

Most gensets consume 1 to 1.5 gallons of fuel per hour under full load. Running the A/C will put it under full load. You will need good gas cans, etc. to haul the necessary extra fuel. And a good funnel for refilling the main tank. Figure 5.

These represent your base expenses. Add them together, divide by 7, add 10% and collect that fee from everyone before they load item 1 onto the rig. If someone has not paid by the departure date, leave them behind.


7 people on the playa equals a lot of water. You will want to wait until you hit some where like Fernly to purchase the bulk of your water. Your rig will be grossly overloaded once you load in just the minimum 1.5 gallons per day per person in you are planning a full week's stay. Since you are talking showers for for 7 people, you are looking at being dangerously overloaded once that much water is loaded onto the coach.

Keep your speed down on the way in and who ever is driving the last leg needs to be well rested and have some experience behind the wheel of a large vehicle with an over weight load. The dynamics of a large profile vehicle running in spec are difficult enough with no wheel experience, one that is running super heavy is a whole different world.
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Postby Isotopia » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:53 am

Doc Pyro's suggestions are spot on.

I'd add the following:

1) come up with ground rules for the number of guests that any number of your crew can bring at one time that might end up inside the RV.

2) NEVER make the RV available to others outside of the group to eat/cook/shower or sleep in. That's a fast track to festering resentments among the others who have split the cost.

3) Designate roles for everyone to perform. Rotate them fairly. Strict time schedules for collective meal times. If meals are cooked and then missed make it understood to the tardy camp mates that no cooking is allowed for their single needs.

4) Be prepared to say 'no' to proposed mid-week rule changes just because someone in your group met this FANTASTIC person.

5) Pretend the toilet and the shower aren't part of the RV.

6) Respect your neighbors. Running a generator all night in a densely populated area can be (and has been) an ignition point of contentious acrimony and animosity.

7) Insure EVERYONE is paid up on the costs of rental BEFORE ever leaving the rental lot. Do NOT fall for the old I'll-pay-you-when-we-get-back-to-the-default-world bullshit. Remember: friends are friends except when they're not.

Try to arrange periods of time where everyone gets a chunk of time - 2 plus hrs) to themselves in the RV to do whatever they need to do.

9) Minimize the amount of time you use the RV to party inside. Doing so keeps you separate from others at the event and slowly breaks down the cleanliness and order.

10) Everyone picks up after themselves and everyone contributes to keeping the RV as clean and orderly as possible. Period. No excuses and no exceptions.
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Postby dragonpilot » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:59 am

Mrwphx, Sent you a PM with my house rules...looong read...things I've learned over 6 years of RV'ing to the playa with strangers.
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Postby dragonpilot » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:09 pm

You might also consider having everyone sign a general trip waiver. Of course everyone in the RV loves each other and would never dream of suing anyone...but that might not be true of their respective families...just give it some thought.
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Postby MistressSybs » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:58 pm

dragonpilot wrote:Mrwphx, Sent you a PM with my house rules...looong read...things I've learned over 6 years of RV'ing to the playa with strangers.

please send to me too!
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Postby AntiM » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:00 pm

some seeing eye wrote:Excellent suggestions all. Shoes outside, carpet the steps, put a carpet inside the door and if you want to be fancy, a bench for changing shoes outside and a bunch of slippers that won't gather dust kept in a closed box outside. They are very inexpensive at Asian stores.


I'm laughing because that's how I did it for my little Japanese house, except I had a basket of slippers just inside the door.
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Postby Savannah » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:14 pm

Yeah, even with an RV it may be easier to shower outside if you're not confident about getting your grey water taken away. (I wouldn't count on it.) Here's a link for how to build a 15 gallon evap pond that you will need if your people shower outdoors (no shower water should touch the playa!):

http://www.burningman.com/preparation/e ... water.html

We had a PVC pipe shower structure w/ shower curtains, a solar shower hanging from it, and put a wood pallet on it for standing (made to fit around and over the pallet) right on top of the evaporation pond's thick plastic. (It is best to pull the curtains aside and tie them down and stake down the shower structure when not in use, or pull it apart, as the windstorms can kill it.)

I have experience with the pond linked above only as a two-person pond. It worked extremely well. Two people could shower (conservatively; 1-2 gallons) in the same day and it would evap in a few hours, no doubt a third or fourth person could have showered the same day--if the showers were not too close together. As your stay draws to a close, be careful not to shower at a time where the water will not evaporate, or you will have to pack the dirty water out.

(The evap pond was much, much better than a kiddie pool. Kiddie pools are way too narrow and deep for proper evaporation, in my experience.)
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Postby some seeing eye » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:15 pm

In dust storms, RV's and other enclosed spaces are precious and can and should gather widely. Think of some diversions good for an hour or two. Everyone on the RV team should know how to activate them. Cards, art supplies, writing materials, games, inexpensive digital cameras, playa audio/video story recording gear.

Also has been said, RV built-in canopies cannot not be left out unattended or they will be destroyed in any windstorm.
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Postby ZenoBoy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:03 pm

Amazing info. Thanks to everyone for the info dump. I am wondering. How much extra fuel do people bring for running the genny for the week?

Thanks!
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Postby dragonpilot » Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:37 pm

ZenoBoy wrote:Amazing info. Thanks to everyone for the info dump. I am wondering. How much extra fuel do people bring for running the genny for the week?Thanks!


Under load, i.e. with the AC running, your gennie will burn 1 - 1.5 gal per hour. Generators have an "idiot proof" feature in that they shut down when there's 1/4 tank of fuel remaining. Will that be enough for you to get to the last place you filled up...Gerlach, probably...Cedarville, risky.

Calculate your fuel consumption based on about 8 mpg, plus fuel burned waiting in lines to get in and leave, and the amount of time you're going to run the gennie. You don't need to run the gennie at night, AAMOF, don't! It's rude to your neighbors. You'll have to run it 1-2 hours daily to recharge your house batteries...do that midday. Also get about 10' of dryer vent hose and place it over the gennie exhaust pipe and zip-tie the end up high to better disburse the exhaust. Do the same with your engine exhaust if your crank up the main engine.

For me that works out to about 15-20 gals of extra fuel in approved gas containers. Carry the extra fuel securely away from the passenger area. When we get to BRC, I usually pour the gas in the tank right away so it's not sitting around subject to loss, spillage, etc.
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Postby Token » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:07 pm

And the most important and bestest advice ever:



Nobody boards the RV on the way to the burn without showing you their ticket.
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Postby EspressoDude » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:38 pm

cpt_smashy is spot on about the handling characteristics of a fully/overloaded RV. They wallow and wag the ass end, and the driver is ALWAYS correcting the steering, keep weight as far forward as possible. Otherwise you will run it off the road and roll it over. NEVER avoid a rabbit or deer!! You WILL crash.

When the rig is set up to sleep 6, there is no table, no places to set stuff, and snoring/smells/ etc. will drive everyone past the limits of humanity. Tents are a must for people that keep different hours than the rest of the group. Re-use water as much as possible. today's rinse water is tomorrow's wash water. pour grey water back into the water bottles you brought for drinking. conserve tankage. keep it locked when not in use, get extra keys for each person/couple. If not occupied, close the windows and vents.

be sure and buy the rental companies insurance and have everyone pony up their share of the deductible + deposit + 2x cleaning fee

add any possible driver to the contract.
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Postby Popobumm » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:37 am

So on the topic of not using our RV shower, I guess it would be very prudent to bring/build our own shower with evaporating pool.
A campmate has one of these
http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp;jsessionid=CJMNI4TCL2PD1LAQBBICCO3MCAEFCIWE?id=0031110516873a&type=product&cmCat=perf&rid=0987654321&cm_mmc=Performics-_-CSE-_-Amazon-_-0031110516873a&mr:trackingCode=B188C444-1982-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA&_requestid=6398&_requestid=86354&_requestid=59397
Will it be able to survive the winds out there? I'm not sure how we'd support it's structure since it seems not very aerodynamic...
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Postby kman » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:43 am

Popobumm wrote:So on the topic of not using our RV shower, I guess it would be very prudent to bring/build our own shower with evaporating pool.
A campmate has one of these
http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp;jsessionid=CJMNI4TCL2PD1LAQBBICCO3MCAEFCIWE?id=0031110516873a&type=product&cmCat=perf&rid=0987654321&cm_mmc=Performics-_-CSE-_-Amazon-_-0031110516873a&mr:trackingCode=B188C444-1982-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA&_requestid=6398&_requestid=86354&_requestid=59397
Will it be able to survive the winds out there? I'm not sure how we'd support it's structure since it seems not very aerodynamic...


Winds? Not a chance. It would be fine when there's no storms, of course, but if the winds pick up, that's going to end up in Reno, or plastered to someone's art project. Best case in a real wind storm, it'll get flattened and probably snap the poles. Those storms have flattened geodomes before.

See the photos here: http://www.burningman.com/preparation/e ... water.html

A BM-tested design is just some 2x4s, and sheets (which need to be removable when not in use).

YMMV ... there's no guarantee that there will be ANY wind storms this year. (Nor is there any guarantee there won't be several) I tend to want to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best, though, and not simply pray for good luck with the weather gods, at the possible cost of a destroyed shower (and resulting moop). Unless you're planning to put it up and and take it down for every shower?
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Postby Token » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:01 pm

Showering out in the open has always been a highlite experience for me over the years. Especially on a hot afternoon with a bit of a breeze.

It's not for everyone, but I didn't know the joy of it until I tried.

YMMV.
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Postby dragonpilot » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:13 pm

Token wrote:Showering out in the open has always been a highlite experience for me over the years


Yes, but has your showering outside been the highlight of those around you? JUST KIDDING!

My favorite past time is watching all the ladies shower outside...JUST KIDDING...I hate it!

Solution to not offending anyone (assuming you're RV'ing): Put a 3 gallon garden sprayer in the RV shower stall. One can get reasonably clean and refreshed with a combination of baby wipes and about 2 cups of water! Train your riders on how to operate a simple garden sprayer...duh...I couldn't believe those who didn't have a clue...
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Postby slvrnmph » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:46 pm

I've got to add another vote for no crapping and no showering. First year I had a campmate that couldn't make it back before the sun went down to shower so he ended up using the RV shower instead of the camp shower we had set up a few times. Combine that with people crapping in the RV and tossing gray water in the sink and by the end of the week the the shower had overflowed with backed up shit and gray water. It made for a really disgusting trip home and a nasty cleaning experience. Additionally the 6 people we had would not have all been able to sleep comfortably in the RV despite it "sleeping 6." Luckily one person brought a tent and stayed in that and another thought she may have to leave early and ended up driving out behind us and sleeping in her car.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:54 pm

Bumping for the post-ticket sales influx.
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Postby Mojojita » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:12 pm

Set up as much "outdoor" infrastructure as you can - including as much of an outdoor kitchen as packing space will allow. If you have an outdoor dish wash and hand wash station, you will use FAR less water. Keep ice chests, etc outside and pack your supplies in plastic bins so those can go ourside or in a storage tent. A tent for storage or changing is really helpful. Keep beer, closed packages, etc in an ice chest and your fresh produce (and anything that would be icky if swimming in cooler water) in the fridg.

Switch the RV water pump OFF and use dish water to flush the toilet (otherwise you will waste fresh water automatically every time the toilet handle is pushed). Better yet, don't use the toilet - especially with that many people.
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Postby peachandpapa » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:11 pm

Six people in one RV...and five of them are newbies. Very scary. I wonder how it turned out? My advice would have been don't do it. The policy in our camp is that newbies have their own transportation so they can leave the playa any time if they don't like it.

Also, people in any sized RV is a cluster fuck. Plenty of shade structure and extra tents are in order!
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Postby mdmf007 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:25 pm

Mojojita wrote:...
Switch the RV water pump OFF and use dish water to flush the toilet (otherwise you will waste fresh water automatically every time the toilet handle is pushed). Better yet, don't use the toilet - especially with that many people.


Funny, I showered in a buddies RV when drunk, and used every drop of water he had...To make it better, I left the toilet full from both ends of my digestive system. When I realized the mess, I used a pony keg of beer to fill a bucket and used that to flush the toilet.

I filled his RV tank with 20 two gallon jugs of water and called it even.
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