By Gail Marsh
I’m not a long-time RVer. In fact, my hubby and I have only been RVing for the past 5 years. In that time, we’ve learned a lot, but some things hold more importance than others. Here’s what I’ve learned about RVing, including full-time RVing, in those short five years:
Ask questions when you begin RVing
- Ask questions when you purchase your RV (either from an individual or a dealer). We’ve called our dealership numerous times. They’ve always been knowledgeable and patient. We also kept the phone number of the private owner who sold us our latest rig. He, too, has been extremely helpful!
- You can ask neighboring campers for advice. They’ll often guide you to products they’ve used and many times their hints can help you avoid costly mistakes.
- Ask camp hosts/owners your questions. They most likely know great local places to eat and out-of-the-way places to see in the area.
- Ask friends who go RVing for their tips and tricks. No one knows everything, but everyone knows something if they’re RVing. If the advice doesn’t sound quite right, you can check it out with your dealership, look online (check several sources), or refer to your owner’s manual.
- You might need to humble yourself to admit you need help. But you’ll save yourself from bigger embarrassment or potentially expensive repairs if you just go ahead and ask! You can even ask RVTravel! (Hint, hint.)
- We did this when we first began RVing, but then, I’ll admit, we got a bit overconfident. We relied on our memory. Big mistake! There are so many procedures where lists can help. Now we have packing lists for the RV interior as well as the basement. We use a “Before the Trip” list (stop mail, arrange for lawn care, turn off water, etc.) and an “After the Trip” list (basically the “Before the Trip” list in reverse.)
- We have a list of “Personal Items to Pack” (medical prescriptions, shoes, etc.) and a “Kitchen List” (appliances, food, etc.). That’s already six lists and I’ve not even mentioned the lists for setting up the RV properly (hook up electricity, extend slides, etc.) and getting ready to leave the campground.
- Whew! That’s a lot of lists! After a while, your muscle memory may take over and some tasks (leveling the rig, emptying tanks, etc.) will become second nature. But we still scan our lists – just to make sure.
Take your time when RVing
- When we first started out, we RVed like it was a high-stakes competition. We got started early, drove long hours, and tried to “make good time” as we raced toward our destination. What happened is that by the time we finally arrived, we were both exhausted from driving too long and sleeping too little.
- I understand that your calendar may dictate how long you travel each day, but hubby and I are both retired. It didn’t take us long to realize that racing to a particular destination meant we missed lots of great places along the way – not to mention needing to rest once we arrived at our destination. Now we try to slow down a bit and enjoy the journey like more experienced RVers do.
Don’t be afraid of RVing
- My hubby was excited to begin the RV lifestyle. It seems a little silly to me now, but I was afraid. I’m talking scared! Neither of us had experience driving a big truck, let alone pulling a behemoth behind it! Looking back, it seems I held my breath just waiting for us to run off the road, have a flat tire, or hit something.
- Practicing helped. We took our first RV to an empty parking lot and practiced turning, backing up, etc. It really helped. We perfected our “hand signals” for communicating when checking lights pre-trip and backing into a parking spot at our destination. We learned how to operate the many parts of our RV, from using the convection oven to properly caring for the rig’s tires. It’s taken a little while, but now I can really relax when RVing!
How about you?
What are the most important things you learned when first RVing? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Here are some great books about RVing on Amazon.