Owning an RV for the first time can be both exciting and overwhelming! From knowing how much you can tow, to simply remembering to pick up your chocks, the life of an RV owner is not as simple as some might think. For that reason, we reached out to our members, both seasoned and new RV owners, and we asked what their biggest piece of advice would be for first-time RV owners. Based on our member responses, we’ve compiled a list of the top five things new RV owners should keep in mind before and after buying their RV! Check it out!
KNOW WHAT SIZE RV YOU NEED!
No two families are the same! Before buying that 45-foot-long RV, ask yourself “Is this really necessary for my family?” Conversely, if your family is growing, will that tent or pop-up get much use in the years to come? Investing in an RV is no small feat, so be sure you pick the right size for you and your family!
For Outdoor Adventures Member, Dale. R., a bigger RV was the better option. Dale advises those in search of an RV to buy big. “Our first RV was a 24 ft. Not too comfortable. We traded it in and got a 32 ft. Much better.”
Collen S.G.’s sentiments were a little different. “Just assume your first camper is like a starter home,” Collen mentioned. “Try it for a couple of years and learn where or if you need more room, etc. Ours is 21 feet. We love how easy it is to tow, and really it’s all we need, but I do wish it was a little bigger sometimes.”
Other than length, knowing how tall your RV is will be helpful also! You may come across bridges or overpasses on your drive to the campground so definitely be mindful of the height of your camper before hitting the road!
Whether you decide to purchase a bigger or smaller RV, Angla M. thinks that you should just enjoy the ride! “We started in a tent 20 years ago, then a pop-up, a 24’ TT with no slide,” Angela writes. “Then a 32’ BH that we absolutely hated! Now we have a 40’ 5th wheel. We are contemplating selling everything and living in our RV full time, but it’s a huge decision!”
If you’re still wondering what size camper is best for you and your family, take Samantha C.’s advice and consider the kids!
“If you have kids, get a camper where their room doors can shut!”
EDUCATE YOURSELF ON EVERYTHING — EVEN PARKING!
One of the best parts of becoming an RV owner is the joy of becoming part of a camping community. If you are not only a new RV owner, but new to camping as well, be sure you familiarize yourself with the “standard” rules and etiquette to camping. Check out our blog about camping best practices in your new home away from home.
Just like owning a home, owning an RV comes with many seen and unforeseen challenges. Colleen S.G. advises, “Until you’re completely familiar with hooking up and breaking down, watch YouTube videos, make a written step-by-step list, and follow it as you go. It’s easy to forget a step that could cause issues on the road. Don’t let anyone distract you while you’re working. Be as prepared as possible for small issues and repairs that will come up and practice backing up in an empty parking lot.”
Cynthia B. and Rob R. both shared Colleen’s sentiments when it comes to parking. Cynthia B. advises RV owners to use Walkie-Talkies or cellphones while backing up.” While one person maneuvers the RV, the other stands outside and guides them via Walkie-Talkie or cellphone. Rob. R. adds, “practice backing in with travel trailers. I’ve seen a few people forget to retract their slide-outs. Always bring in your slide-outs, and I always check everything three times!”
Speaking of “check,” that brings us to our #3 item on our list…
CHECKLIST, CHECKLIST, CHECKLIST!
Organization is key, and our members swear by a checklist. Gary S. writes, “Make a checklist of everything that has to be done when setting up the RV. On the back of the checklist, write down everything that must be done when packing up the RV. Then use this list every time you camp.
You can never be too organized when it comes to RV usage. Roxanna C. added, “I have checklists on my phone: Pack lists, set up lists, and take down lists. These have saved so much time and aggravation.”
Wondering what to include in your checklist? Here are some helpful items from our members:
- “Tire pressure is a good thing to check!” –Heather Toth
- “Make sure you have a good quality weight distribution hitch.” –Wyatt D.
- “Don’t forget to check if you’re TV antenna is up before moving. Always make sure steps are in travel position and awning is securely locked closed!” –Cheyanne S.N.
- “When we’re ready to leave the campground, I stay back and check that the backlights are working (one time we didn’t push in the cable all the way and they weren’t working, so it was good that we checked). When our RV is off our site, I do a last check to make sure we didn’t leave anything anywhere, including under the camper.” –Colleen S.G.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t go at it alone! Roxanna C. says, “Train your kids to help, increasing their tasks every year! My daughter learned from me, and now my grandkids are pretty proficient too.”
STORAGE & FOOD!
Storage (especially pertaining to food) was a common piece of advice brought up by our members! Storing food in an RV can be very different from how you would normally store food at home, and for that reason, many members spoke of things they’d wish they’d known before buying their RV.
“Buy food once you get to your location,” said Cynthia B. “I always take too much.”
A benefit of buying food once you get to your location is seeing and supporting the local community, “ added Cynthia. Every Outdoor Adventures location has something truly unique to it, and by bringing less food, you are able to get out and see local grocery stores and meet local people!
Kristene R. suggests making a menu when it comes to food. “Make a menu and a checklist!” Kristen said. “There is always something we forget!” If you do meal plan, check out this easy recipe for charcuterie board nachos!
Colleen S.G. agrees! “I make a menu, pack everything we need for all the meals, plus snacks and drinks. We sometimes still have to pick something up while we’re camping.”
So how should you store your food? Collen S.G. suggest cushioning everything! “Put gallons of water on the bottom shelf during travel. We’ve broken a couple of shelves from the weight and jostling. Remember, it’s like a small tornado in the camper as you’re going down the road. Cushion everything!”
Many RVs are equipped with cabinet locks that prevent your cabinet doors from flying open during travel, but to be on the safe side, store your food items and eating utensils in such a way that won’t allow for much movement while traveling.
ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
Last, but certainly not least, one thing our members wished they knew before setting out on the road with their new RV is to simply enjoy the journey!
“Just relax and enjoy the adventures!” mentioned Sherrie S.L. “A journal is nice.”
Sandra M. shares the same sentiments! “Keep a travel diary! You will love it! Keep notes of the best restaurants to revisit! (Or not!) Write down people’s addresses for later contact. Also, write down sightseeing places!”
Denise C. who has been a full-time Rv’er for the last seven years also agrees with keeping a journal. “Keep a journal. Make a plan B. Always be flexible. We lost our first RV in a storm on our maiden voyage. Remember the journey is part of your adventure.”
There you have it, folks! These are the top five things our members wish they knew before embarking on RV ownership. Whether you just purchased a new RV, you’re almost ready to purchase, or still browsing, we hope this list will help you along your camping journey. If you’re interested in joining a camping community and network of premier resort campgrounds to camp as much as possible in your new rig, stay for free for 7 nights at Outdoor Adventures!
Until next time! Happy Camping! 🙂