Wednesday, March 22, 2023


The good, the bad, and the funny… Surprises are part of the RV lifestyle

If you’ve been RVing for a while, you’re probably like me—used to surprises! On our first trip out, the “trailer disconnect” warning light came on. Talk about panic! We pulled our 42-foot fifth-wheel as far off the road as we dared. Yes, it was still connected to our truck, but the connection was loose. I hadn’t pushed the electric plug completely into the truck’s outlet. Each time we’d hit a bump, the connection would jiggle itself a little bit further out of the plug, causing the warning light to come on. Now I make sure the electrical cord is tightly engaged—before we take off.

On that same first trip, we were surprised when, upon opening up the slides, we found seven assorted screws scattered over the RV interior floors. Some were in the bathroom. Some screws were in the bedroom. A few were in the galley area. After an extensive (and panicked) search for possible places of origin, we finally gave up. We still have those screws, plus a few more in a plastic bag. It’s a good reminder when I open the tool drawer, that sometimes surprises happen—mysterious RV surprises that cannot be explained.

Electrical panel surprises

And then there’s the surprise when lifting that metal electrical panel that houses 30 or 50 amps of power. We’ve been surprised by toads hiding under that flap several times during our travels. We’ve discovered many wasp’s nests there over the years, too. And ants that have extended their colony into the cozy electric panel box, as well. The worst was finding a snake, all coiled up in a corner of the warm box. He wasn’t dangerous. I only yelped because I wasn’t expecting to find him there!

Bad surprises

Most RV surprises are short-lived and non-consequential. You can laugh about them soon after they occur. But then there are the other kind. Like the time we pulled into a campground to find that they’d somehow overbooked, and there wasn’t a place for us to park. Or the time when the site we’d reserved was too small to accommodate our RV. (We kept the slides in for our short, overnight stay.)

We’ve learned valuable lessons from our RV surprises. Book ahead but check a couple of days before you plan to arrive at your campground. Confirm your reservation and make sure everything’s all set before you pull in. And always let the campground know if you’re going to arrive late.

Good ones

Not all RV surprises are bad ones, though. We’ve had great surprises throughout our RV journeys, too. Like the surprise in meeting folks whose brix-n-stix home was only a short drive from our own home. (We’re still good friends, but may never have met if not camping at the same time in the same park.)

Another good surprise is the helpful nature of many RVers we’ve met along the way. Most everyone is willing to help you if you ask. When our RV fridge stopped working, fellow campers lent us their coolers so that we could preserve our food.

Other campers have recommended excellent service shops and RV supply stores when we’ve needed parts or service. Others have actually helped us fix our RV problems—for free! Because that’s just how most camping folks are: kind and helpful.

We’ve happily discovered many, many RV gadgets that we purchased for ourselves once we saw how they worked. We’ve learned new games (like pickleball and canasta) and we’ve even taken up new hobbies because fellow RVers passionately shared with us information about their favorite pastimes.

Learning from surprises

Whenever you embark on a new adventure, there will undoubtedly be surprises—both good and bad. But as I look back on all of our adventures, I’d have to say that every surprise was ultimately good—in the long run. We have so many memories! We’ve learned all along the way as each surprise taught us something. And, in my opinion, our RV education was much more fun than simply reading an instruction book or travel magazine.

How about you? Have you had surprises while RVing? Let’s hear about them—both good and bad. Join me over in my forum to chat.



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Mark W
1 year ago

OMG 😱, I love this article because it’s so true…. every trip is an adventure and there’s always “more drama” in the RV…..the occasional “failures” are a fantastic punctuation mark on these trips and my wife and I always say “remember when this or that failed” and we wound up in the Mercedes Benz dealership lounge.

We’ve learned that low generator hours are not good, propane refrigerators can’t fire up the jets to work properly at high elevations and a whole lot more.

You really have to kinda expect that something might happen on the road. These things are “rolling apartments” and the vibrations cause problems….I keep extra door latches on board; they are plastic and tend to break easily. They get used a lot… it’s good to keep extras, never know when it will fail and the last thing you want is a vibrating cabinet door squeaking all the way down the road.

If you want less maintenance and expensive parts get a gasoline coach.

Mark K
1 year ago

One trip we were on, the warning light and beeper went off for the stabilizers. I stopped and checked them and they were all up. We had to drive for about three hours with that beeping. When we got to our destination, I found the fluid level was low in the reservoir. Another time, the guages for the air brakes went to zero, I immediately pulled over and looked underneath but the hoses all looked fine. We waited for an hour for a tow when I decided to try starting the RV again and the guages read sufficient air, canceled the tow and went on our way. Never happened again and not sure why it did that day. Like you said, learning things along the way!

1 year ago

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get, until you bite into it.” Forrest Gump

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