It was a fun night around the campfire as we all shared our personal “newbie misadventures.” The great thing about RVing (and really about much that happens in life) is that the harsh sting of mistakes lessens with the passage of time. Often, even terrible troubles seem much less terrible once some time has elapsed. The ability to laugh at ourselves and humbly admit to our silly RV mistakes made this campfire session really enjoyable.
“We were all newbies once.” Perhaps by sharing our stories of misadventures we’ll help today’s newbies avoid our mistakes.
RV newbie mistakes
Not taking a “shake-down” trip
“How hard can it be?” Gloria remembers asking her husband, Glen. “You drive to the campground, set up, and relax.” Glen and Gloria are not the only RVers who have neglected to take a “shake-down” camping trip. Several others around the campfire nodded as they remembered their own version of this story.
“Not only did we overpack, but we also packed all the wrong things!” Glen admitted. “Remember the patio lights and extra pillows—but no towels? What were you thinking?”
“That’s on me,” Gloria acknowledged. “But who forgot the freshwater hose?”
“Yep, that was me,” Glen said with a smile. “I was trying to organize the RV basement before the trip and accidentally left the water hose behind. By the time we parked and unhitched the trailer, we were hot and sweaty and needed showers.”
Gloria continued, “But without towels and no way to access water, we gave up, packed up, and went home.”
My husband and I shared our own newbie “oops” next. Arriving at a work camp, other workers advised us to keep our tanks closed so that we’d have water to flush the black tank. We took this good advice but failed to keep an eye on our tank levels.
Yes, the gray tank overflowed, making a huge mess all over the RV bathroom. Thankfully, we realized what was happening and immediately opened the tank and cleaned up the mess.
Now, when we know we’re going to be parked for an extended length of time, we leave the gray tank open. When it nears the time to empty/flush the black tank, we close the gray tank for a day or two. This gives us enough water to fully rinse the black tank while preventing a repeat of our newbie mistake.
Turns out, tank troubles ranked high on the list of RV newbie mistakes. One guy was unable to tell if his black tank had emptied. He removed the sewer hose to check and, well … you can imagine the mess. He said he had to burn his shoes. His wife purchased a clear sewer hose elbow to prevent this mistake from ever, ever happening again. Ever!
Linda and Dale thought they had the whole RV parking/setup procedure mastered. Then on their third RV trip, they failed to check clearance before extending their slides. The kitchen slide bumped against a tree and caused quite a bit of damage.
“That’s nothing,” Joey commented. “Once I forgot to bring in the slides as I left the campground.” Everyone around the campfire cringed. He continued, “I was almost out to the road before someone finally got my attention.” We all visibly exhaled and relaxed.
Owners of a toy hauler chimed in, “We parked, set up, and the next morning discovered that there wasn’t enough room behind our toy hauler to open our garage door.” A synchronized groan sounded around the campfire.
Judy confessed, “We’ve had to replace two awnings. Two! The first time, we left for the day and the wind ripped the awning and bent the extender rods. The second time, I forgot to bring the awning in before going to bed. An unexpected storm in the night tore the replacement awning and we had to buy another one.” From the number of nods around the fire, other campers had experienced similar awning mishaps.
RV newbie mistakes go on and on and on…
More stories and good-natured laughter followed. The biggest newbie mistake RVers admitted to making? Not asking questions! A newbie needs to ask questions. (Don’t we all!) Ask a neighboring camper, an RV repair guy, the camp hosts, or an RVing buddy. Post your question on an RV blog, Facebook group, or here, on RVtravel.com!
Your own newbie misadventures
Do you have newbie stories to share? Come on, we want to hear them! Use the comments below to tell us.
More “Around the Campfire”:
- Would you change your RV’s flat tire yourself?
- RVers debate: Are RV warranties worth it?
- What’s a fifth wheel tug test and should we be doing it?