Whether you’re a family of weekend campers or a retired couple looking to travel full-time, every RV beginner needs to know a few important things before making the maiden voyage.
Here are six tips to consider before you pile in and head out.
Tip 1: Take a Practice Drive
Whether you’re driving a motorhome or towable, an RV doesn’t feel like a regular car. It’s not just the size. The handling and sightlines are different. It takes some getting used to, so plan some driving practice time before you head out on your big trip.
Get in the driver’s seat and adjust the mirrors, seat belt height, lumbar support, and armrests so you’re comfortable, and make sure you can easily turn your head to see in all directions. Become familiar with all switches and controls.
Get to know all the switches and controls so you’re not fumbling for the headlights when it gets dark and you’re out on the road.
Consider the roads you plan to drive and take a practice drive on similar terrain. As an RV beginner you don’t yet know what will move around in the living area or how hard it will be to switch lanes, ascend hills, and park.
Tip 2: Know Your RV’s Height, Width, and Total/Combined Length
If you don’t know the height of your RV, trouble could be lurking around the bend. Low clearance dangers are common causes of RV accidents and property damage, especially in older areas east of the Mississippi River.
You can avoid this hard lesson by getting an accurate measurement of your RV’s height. Get a friend and a long tape measure. Go up on your RV roof and determine the highest point, typically the air conditioner unit. Hold one end of the tape measure and drop the other end down to your friend on the ground. There’s your measurement. Tape this information on the dash in numbers large enough to see clearly while driving.
Tip 3: Pack Tools and Spare Parts
Pack a well-stocked tool kit and store on the curb side of your RV. Include basic tools and items that may need to be replaced including LCD flashlights, spare fuses, LCD lights, jumper cables, nuts and bolts, WD-40, silicon spray, duct and gorilla tape, and cleaning supplies. Be sure to bring spare parts that are unique to your rig.
Tip 4: Plan Your Fuel Stops
Stopping for fuel at a regular gas station is generally a bad idea, as its tight to maneuver, especially for big rigs. As you plan your trip, try to find larger fueling stations or truck stops that can easily accommodate your RV. Some truck stops provide a special lane and fuel pumps for RVers.
Tip 5: Plan Your Route
A lot can be said for spontaneity, but it’s best to have a plan in place before setting out especially if this is your first RV trip. Make sure the roads you plan to travel are safe for your RV and underpasses are adequate for your height and width. Reserve camping sites at RV parks along your route. This is especially important if traveling during high season. With more people living and working out of their RV, many parks have few spaces available for overnight and short-term stays.
Tip 6: Use a Campground Setup Checklist
Pulling into your RV campground is just the start. A set-up checklist will help you keep everything in order and make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Your checklist should include:
- Walk your RV site before you pull in to ensure you have the adequate space and clearance for your vehicle
- Check the site for low hanging branches or obstacles on the ground.
- Locate the electrical, water, sewage, and cable TV hookups
- Level the RV if needed
- Test that the hookups are working properly
- Chock the wheels (towables)
- Connect to all available hookups using disposable plastic gloves for the sewer
You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.