So if you’re a first-time RVer and looking for some advice, I made a list of 17 tips to help you get started. Obviously, this won’t cover everything, but it is a beginning.
Being a newbie can be overwhelming, take it slow and relax. Something that helped us with newbie jitters was taking a few practice runs before hitting the road.
- You Don’t Need as Much Stuff as You Think
Honestly, as a new RVer, all you need is a rig, some fuel, and your willingness to have some fun. One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is that they buy their RV, and head to Camping World and buy one of everything. I must admit, that is what we did (it was fun).
Well, when you do this, you’re going to spend a lot of cash on some unnecessary stuff, not to mention it’s going to take up a lot of space in your RV. As time goes on, you’ll know what you need and what you don’t need. Of course, there are exceptions, you do need the essentials.
When starting out, just purchase the necessities you have to have for setting up your camp, kitchen appliances, emergency kit, etc…
With that said, you need to be prepared and I have some suggestions for you. So, let’s talk about the second point, which is tools. What tools do you need?
- Essential Tools You Will Need
- Wrenches for just about every bolt
- An Infrared Temperature Gun and a Digital PSI reader
- Wheel Chocks and Leveling Blocks – for leveling your RV
- A Number 2 square head and bit
- Dicor Sealant and a Cock Gun for cracks on your rubber roof.(Always refer to your Owners Manual)
- A Surge Protector
- Water Pressure Regulator
- Water Hose and Water Filters
- Air compressor
- Let’s Talk About Tires
This is very important because I’m sure that you’ve heard that most people say factory trailer tires are ” China Bombs”, and honestly, they are definitely low-quality tires, but that makes it more important for you to pay necessary attention to them.
So, the first thing you need to do is to check the date on your tires. If you’re buying a new RV, it doesn’t mean your tires are new, in most cases they’re not. It wouldn’t hurt to check the dates on your tires so you know if they are new or not.
Also, remember that heat causes tires to wear. And the two things that will generate more heat while you’re rolling down the road on your tires is if your tires are under pressure, or your trailer is overloaded.
So before every trip make sure to use your PSI reader to check the pressure of your tires. It is also important that you go to a CAT scale and have your RV weighed once you’ve loaded up your trailer with all your stuff and you have your fresh water tanks full.
Whenever your RV is stationary for a lengthy stay, is to keep your tires covered. This shields them from the sun which causes your tire to dry rot.
- Never Be in a Hurry When Traveling
Never be in a hurry, because not only does driving slowly increase your tire life, but it’s also less stressful and fewer mistakes will be made!
Rushing can be very stressful and can be actually dangerous when towing. These rigs are heavy so you cannot stop as fast as you can as you would with a passenger vehicle, and if you’re speeding on a highway, it’s going to increase the potential of your trailer swaying off the road.
And not only that but assuming you have a blowout at 75 mph or 80 mph, you have a less chance of keeping your rig under control than if you’re going 60 or 55. So once again, take your time and smell the roses!
Finding ways, you can communicate with your travel partner or friends when backing into a new spot when you’re getting set up in a new site. And also, try to avoid the blame game when something goes wrong. A lot of people get excited when traveling for the first time, but most times, things do not turn out the way we expect.
Let’s say when you need to hook up your rig and something goes wrong, so it’s really easy to snap at your family. It also helps to limit your travel day to no more than 4 hours.
Packing healthy snacks and water help to keep moods happy. Having a checklist in the beginning for setting up and tearing down camp will keep you both on the on the same page.
- Flexibility Is a Must
It is so essential to be flexible because your travel plans are going to change. This could range from extreme weather, road closure, RV repair, etc…
So many things can upset your plans, and it can be frustrating. But all you have to do is to roll with it, and always have in mind that your plans could change at anytime. That’s what RVing is all about!
The best thing you can do in this situation is always to have a plan B when traveling.
- Know Your Measurements
This means to know how high and how long your trailer is. Because when you’re on the east coast and you’re driving towards a tunnel and you look up and that tunnel says 9’2 and your rig is 10’4, all you can do is to close your eyes and grit your teeth.
This is something you will want to avoid. We put a post-it note on our sun visor with our fifth wheels measurements in case we forget.
It is important to conduct research about where you’re going to and the maximum rig height and length tunnels there can take. Especially Zion national park, Mount Rushmore, and the west coast where the rails are so windy so the limit the length of the rigs.
- Tips for Keeping the Inside of Your RV comfortable
One of the biggest things with RVs are they just collect humidity so fast, especially when you close all the windows and all the doors. To avoid this, make sure you leave one window preferably the center window slightly open just a little bit, and trust me, it will do wonders for moisture control.
And it will keep your windows from fogging up. We also keep a small fan running when humidity is high.
Know ahead of time that when you cook with propane, it’s going to put so much humidity out in the air.
And if you don’t begin to vent, your windows are going to get super foggy, and super humid inside. This is because the two byproducts of burning fossil fuel are, carbon dioxide and water vapor. So literally, burning propane spews water vapor into the air. We have a Fantastic Ceiling Fan that we use a lot!
My last tip for this section is to keep the inside of your RV cool on a sunny day. If you open all your windows up, and you’ve got your exhaust fan running and it’s still too hot in the trailer, a good idea to help keep your rig warm is to orient the side of your rig with the awning on it towards south, because this is the side the sun beats down to shade your trailer from your sun.
This is if you can’t run your AC since its quite expensive. If a all possible try keeping you refrigerator side in the shade, to keep your refrigerator cool.
If you’re new to this idea, you’re going to be moving from one place to the next, and you will definitely need to spend a night at some convenient location like Walmart or Cabela. It might be weird for the first time, but this is what boondocking is and you need to be prepared to sleep at a parking lot from time to time.
- Know Your Tanks
Talking about boondocking, tank management is the next essential thing. One way to manage your grey tank is to place a bucket in your sink to collect water used for washing dishes, washing hands and things that accumulate sink water and pour that into the bush, so it doesn’t go to the grey tank. This prevents your grey tank from filling up fast.
You can get some bacteria and corrosion in your freshwater tank, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put just a couple to teaspoons of Clorox in your fresh water tank and wash it out. So, every once in a while, try to clean your fresh water tank.
- Your Rig Will Break Down
It doesn’t matter what brand you’ve got, whether it’s a fifth wheel, travel trailer or an RV will break down. Something will eventually fail on it. So it is important that you have some sort of plan should one of the systems on your RV break.
For instance, if you’re fridge fails and its full of food, what will you do? Or even if your AC fails and you’re out on a sunny ground that is 90 degrees and above what will you do? And worst of them all if your furnace stops working and it’s the middle of winter, what are you going to do?
However, if you’ve have a backup plan in order, and you’ve already thought ahead, then you can avoid have these situations and you wouldn’t have to worry about anything going wrong. Lets just say, you will worry less.
- How to Plan Your Routes
For your route planning, I will suggest you figure out the bigger destinations first, and then you leave in spaces and fill them out. What this does for you is that, if there is some place that you have to see, you make sure you get reservations. If you’re going to somewhere on the west coast, you might need to get on it.
However, if you leave a little wiggle room, what you’re going to do is to learn along the way. Because you will learn about the immediate area and you’re also going to learn about really great trips, and you wouldn’t be locked into every single step on the way. So this leaves flexibility for you to have a bit of fun and figure out something new.
- Document All Your Adventure
This is kind of important because you are making these experiences, which are going to be one of the best memories you will want to look back on. So, however you will like to do it whether it being a picture, video, blog or even YouTube, whatever way you will like to keep these memories alive try and do it.
Also, after you go for a trip, make sure you document the things that you liked and the things you didn’t like, this will help you know what to go in for when going for the same trip anytime in the future.
Also, make sure to keep notes of the little things that go wrong cause trust me those are the funniest ones.
- Prepare for Inclimate Weather.
This includes in the desert where you think might be hot all the time, trust me it’s not. It could go from warm one day to freezing cold and snowy the next day, and you have to be prepared for that. Something that includes that is to make sure that you are prepared to always roll your awning again.
Also, do not leave your awning rolled out at night because you don’t know whether the strong wind is picking up at night, and there are cases where people left their awn rolled at night and the next day realized that there is clamped in place because it is broken.
Another thing is freezing temperatures, if you check the forecast and it is going to freeze at night and it wasn’t supposed to, one thing you will want to do you is to empty out your low point drain tubes so you’re water lines drain out so you don’t have any water in your water lines.
Because if there is no water, they can’t freeze. We have also let our kitchen water run when it was close to freezing (just a thin stream).
Be sure to check the roof of your trailer regularly to prevent any leaking during the rain.
- Finding Campsites
There are many ways to find campsites but I will share some of the top tools I use to find campsites. These are:
- AllStays RV
- Harvest Host (paid membership)
- RV Park Review
- Passport America (discount program)
- Reserve America (State Parks)
- Boondockers Welcome (membership)
- Roadtrippers – Route Planner
However, occasionally you can go to a national park or forest service website for more information.
Also, check out the people leaving reviews. If those leaving reviews own vehicles much smaller than what you have such as a van, then maybe you might not be able to use that site.
Also, ensure that you have signals if not you should bring a signal booster with you. Do not be scared to skip many campsites to get the perfect one.
- Gas Up the Night Before Your Trip
It can be annoying to bring your huge rig through a normal gas station filled with cars and people. I made this mistake once and I don’t think I will ever do it again.
So, make it easy on yourself and gas up the night before and avoid the hassle. If you do need to gas up while towing or if you drive a class A, I recommend you stop at truck stops. They have a higher clearance for Truckers and RV’s.
Most truck stops are diesel, so if you need gas, search out RV gas pumps. They are normally located on the side away from the crowded gas pumps.
- Have Fun!!
Traveling can be kind of stressful, and in those stressful and tiring times, you just got to enjoy it anyways and roll with the punches, because your rig is going to break down, the weather isn’t going to cooperate, things are going to happen that upset you but do not let that prevent you from having fun and enjoying those little happy moments.
Overall just stay confident and get out there because you’re going to have a lot of fun and learn a lot of new stuff.
These were the 17 most important things I could think of for anyone that is new to RVing, and new to traveling, or even thinking of going into full-time RVing. So hopefully this was helpful to you, and if it was, make sure to like this post and share it with your friends.
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