New RVer asks: Should I carry water in my tank when traveling?


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Should I carry water in my freshwater tank when traveling? If I do, is there anything special I should do?

water postIt’s a question that comes up a lot among new RVers. The “right” answer (and there isn’t really a “right” or “wrong” one here) depends on your RV lifestyle.

First, a bit about water: In the RV world you need to remember–it’s heavy. At eight pounds to the gallon, a typical 30 gallon freshwater tank will boost the weight of your tow (or drive of your motorhome) by almost 250 pounds. With the price of fuel these days, that’s no small consideration. If your rig is already near the “limit” of its gross vehicle weight, casting off a quarter ton of weight is a way to lighten up quickly.

But then there’s that lifestyle question. Are you headed out with your RV to boondock away from utilities? If you are, and there’s no water close to your boondocking location, you may have no choice but to travel with the water on board.

On the other hand, if you’re headed for an RV resort with full hookups, or a campground with a “known” good water supply, you can skate in and fill up (or hook up) on arrival. There are some RVers who disdain this idea. Many are the stories of RVers arriving at the campground only to find that water supply is “down” for a couple of days, or tastes so bad that it’s nearly unfit for consumption.

Perhaps a compromise is in order. No matter what our plans, we always try to see to it we have a few gallons in the tank. If we hit problems on the road and find ourselves stuck somewhere waiting for say, repairs, we have enough water on hand to keep us going for a few days if we’re very conservative with our consumption. If you call the campground before you arrive and determine the water is working then, take your few gallons and go; fill up on arrival even if you’ll have hookups, just in case the system goes “kaput” while you’re there.

Of course, the idea of “dumping” water on the ground to lighten your load seems like a pretty serious sin, especially to those of us who frequent desert country. So if you fill on arrival, plan and time your consumption so that much of that tanked water can be used while you’re in the campground so that little is wasted if you decide to jettison the excess on leaving.

photo: steve_lodefink on