|midnightcom on flickr.com|
Friends of ours were using FRS radios when traveling by RV through Portland, Oregon. One of the parties took a wrong freeway ramp, signal dropped out, and it was hours before they got back together.
Other RVers swear by CB (Citizens Band) radio. Years ago, there was a phase where it seemed like everyone wanted to have a CB in their car and talk like a trucker. That was before cell phones became a practical reality. But when cell phones hit, for most CB radios were relegated to the garage sale pile.
A CB will allow you to communicate a few miles with other equipped users. That beats the daylights out of the FRS short-distance fall off. But FRS does have an advantage. With a CB radio, you hear other users, and sometimes the language isn't pretty. FRS radios can be selectively set to allow you to hear the signals of another user set to the same "code." When your buddy with the same code "keys up" or begins to transmit, you'll hear them. Don't mistake this for privacy--other people can hear you, so watch what you talk about.
|andertoons on flickr.com|
If you have a CB radio in your rig and leave it on (or "monitor the frequency") you may find it helpful. Say you're RVing down the road and a basement storage door on your rig comes open. A passing driver equipped with CB sees your door flapping and warns you of the problem by radio. They can only do this if they know what channel you monitor; so if you choose to have your radio on, put a sign up in your rig's rear window with the channel number printed on it. Some pick an "off" channel (something other than 19) for their primary channel to monitor, then switch over to Channel 19 if they see a knot of traffic up ahead -- no doubt the truckers will be talking about it.
The "squelch" control on a CB radio allows you to selectively make your CB a little more hard of hearing. Turn the squelch down, you'll hear static noises and a garble of voices. Turn it up, you can tune out the static. Turn it up more, you can deaden the transmissions of all but drivers who are close to you -- like the one that might tell you that you forgot to lower your TV antenna.
CB radios are relatively inexpensive, but they do need a vehicle mounted antenna. If you're handy with tools and running wire, you can probably install an antenna yourself. Some are magnetically mounted and will stick to the roof of your pickup truck. Your motorhome may be a bit trickier to stick an antenna on, but check out Radio Shack stores, or visit the convenience store at a big truck stop and you'll find a huge array of both radios and antennas. You'll sometimes find a CB radio specialist's shop at some truck stops.
Other possibilities for radio communications? Ham (Amateur) radio is another possibility. There are many RV-Ham groups in existence. Ham radio requires licensing, and is a bit more expensive, but it's a whole new world and hobby.
Photos: CB radio--cubwolf (Dave Smith) FRS radio--midnightcomm. Both on flickr.com