We often receive questions from our readers about camping with a recreational vehicle and thought a guide on it is worth publishing on this blog. That is why if you’re looking for RV camping tips for beginners, you have come to the right post highlighting the RVer things to remember that will make your journey worthwhile, fun and memorable.
Planning for the trip
What do you need to consider when planning for the trip? At the very basics of first time RV camping tips, you should consider certain thing closely. Here are some questions to answer.
- How much would you be willing to spend and allocate for fun, food and activities?
- Should you eat out or buy food?
- What is the route for the RV camping? Are there alternative routes? Where in the route do you want to stop for the night? What places can you stop and sightsee along the way?
- Do you need to make a reservation for the campground? Not having a reservation is one of the most common mistakes to avoid or else you might be denied to enter the camping ground. Remember that the most popular grounds can fill up quickly, so they should be reserved weeks or months in advance.
- What should I pack? It is all too easy to do excessive packing. Only bring what you need to save on space.
These are only some questions to address when planning for the outdoor adventure, but you may have to consider other things you deemed useful according to your specific situation.
Getting to know your recreational vehicle
You need a little road experience traveling with your RV the first time. Know how a motorhome works – whether it’s yours or rented.
For example, you need to know how to assess any problem you’ll meet along the way with the vehicle to save both money and time on hiring a mechanic.
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Knowing how a motorhome works, you can prevent operational errors that many beginners make. For example, you will prevent blowing the main breaker if you know how many amps it can handle.
Get to know your rig and avoid this problem.
Part of getting to know your RV, you should consider the terrains and roads you will be taking. For example, you might even want to go on a shorter and smaller trip on a terrain with the same characteristics.
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If you’ve just started RVing, you should be familiar about switching lanes, parking and on ascending hills on the roads you plan of taking your RV on.
Becoming familiar with the motorhome, you can make changes as you proceed. For example, you will be able to find a way to shut the cabinet drawers and doors if they often pop open.
You must also anticipate how big you are to help you in getting yourself familiar on the proper way of parking your RV, one of the toughest tasks to do.
So whether you’re driving or parking your vehicle, recognize your size. It might also help to have a spotter when parking.
It might also help to read and understand the motorhome’s manual for the leveling extending slide-outs and dumping – a few of the major procedures to know when operating the large vehicle.
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Just like for other outdoor trips and excursions with your family, plan ahead, and make sure to pack early – everything that you need for the camping.
- Add items as you can think of them to prevent wasting time to remember all at the same time. You must also have a checklist ready so that you can recall things easily the next time you go on RVing again.
- Get your items ready in storage containers and bins, organizing your things and making it easy to load and unload later. Have an additional storage by having plastic drawers to fit in your vehicle.
- Think of the weather when packing your items. Consider the essentials you will need based on the outdoor temperature and weather conditions. For example, you don’t need to pack a swimsuit if you’re camping in the winter. Just pack things you’ll need according to the activities you plan of doing, as you know based on the weather.
- Do not pack heavy items in the upper cabinets of your RV but down low. These items might shift, fly around and damage some items in the RV. Bungee cords might also save the day if your cabinet drawers and doors closed.
- Carrying cases in the form of PVC pipes might help if you’re taking fishing poles. They can be stored in the bed of your truck or be mounted to the vehicle’s ladder.
Bringing spare parts and tools
A complete tool kit can save your day! That is why you should add in necessary items on it before camping.
A few of these things include light bulbs, nuts, extra fuses, bolts and connectors. You must also bring some spare parts to the rig.
“Have a solid plan for your maiden journey.”
Creating a campground routine or setup checklist
What should you include in your checklist? You might not have an established routine for your first camping trip with the motorhome, so it pays off to have a checklist before it. Here are the basic camping ground setup tips and tricks.
- Inspect and determine any low hanging tree branches. Also, check for any ground obstacles. You should also look for the hookups for sewages, water and electrical.
- Be able to pull up the RV close to the hookups for your convenience. You must also level the motorhome with the stabilizing jacks and blocks if needed.
- Connect your RV to the electrical hookup and then turn on your appliances to get power from it, not from a battery. For the drain hookup, you can connect your sewer hose. Before doing it, wear gloves.
- Set up the campsite by putting out the awning.
- Chock the wheels to secure the RV.
As a beginner, you might commit RV newbie mistakes, but fret not. There are many things to look forward to for the trip. After all, taking the road with it is a fun way of discovering the outdoors and traveling with your loved ones.
But in order to make your trip hassle-free and smooth, getting things organized and having a solid plan in place can make the big difference for everyone in the adventure.
Using the water system
While on your trip, you’ll be using the motorhome’s water system, which is composed of three tanks – namely, fresh water tank, black water tank and gray water tank.
- The fresh water tank is for the fresh water from your home.
- The gray one is water from the kitchen sink and shower that will be stored before you’re ready to dump it.
- The black one is for the toilet deposits.
You must run water a couple of times to the water system of your new RV to prevent it from tasting like ‘plastic.’ After winterizing though, you will need to run water through the motorhome’s water system to remove the antifreeze elements out of the lines.
If you don’t like how fresh water from the RV taste, you must bring drinking water instead. You can reduce water consumption by having a hand sanitizer.
Avoid traveling with full tanks – black, gray and fresh water tanks can reach thousands of pounds to put on too much weight on the tow vehicle and RV.
Video: How to Empty the Black & Grey Tanks in an RV/Camper
Operating the fridge
Prevent ref failure. As you may know, it is one of the most important appliances in the RV. Do not let its failure ruin your entire trip. A few things to take note of include
It can be fried, so your RV has to be leveled. If not, your fridge’s chemical coolants are not going to circulate. Otherwise, your food will be spoiled and the appliance might catch fire.
Between trips, you must clean the fridge thoroughly. Do not commit the same mistake of campers not being able to check on every corner of the appliance and later find out that there is something left inside it.
To prevent mold and mildew from building up, you should prop its door open once you cleaned it out.
Have enough food packed before hitting the roads. Do not underestimate the supply you’ll need for the camping trip.
Getting to your destination safely
Part of a RV camping checklist is a checklist on how to get to your camping destination safely.
Before every trip, be sure to inspect and check for the tire pressure
You might also want to get a monitoring system for it. Or else, a wrong pressure can lead to a drop in fuel mileage. And by knowing the problem prior to travel, you will be able to prevent a blowout that might cost much repair money.
The tires must be replaced if they are old as dry rot might cause the tires to fall even their treads disappear. At the very least, you should replace the tires every at least five years.
Keep your fuel supply enough
Do not let it go below just one-fourth of the fuel tank. Or else, you might put yourself under too much stress if you’re running on fumes when stuck in traffic or when driving during rush hours with the gas stations still out of reach and located long stretches from where you are.
Is your hitch and tow vehicle rated for the trailer’s weight?
This is another important consideration before going for an RV trip. Check out towing guides online and look up information on your motorhome’s limits.
You might have to use a weight-distributing hitch if your vehicle is at least 5000 lbs. Such a device also has a sway control, allowing you to keep driving straight down when you were passed by a semi as well as when hit by a strong wind.
What are the functions and features of the hitch?
Make sure you know how the hitch works – either a weight-distributing one or a 5th wheel hitch. In addition, check that the hitch is locked if you’re towing a fifth wheel. See to it that it is your last check before going aboard the truck.
Check and measure your motorhome’s height
Jot it down and store it in your tow vehicle. Now, you will have an idea whether you’re RV is going to fit that low bridge clearance or not.
When on the road, ensure enough space between your RV and the next car. Keep yourself and your family safe by minding the 6-second rule before crossing or taking the same point.
Ensure that your tow vehicle has its brake controller if your RV has brakes
If none, the brakes of the tow vehicle will perform all the stopping without a brake controller. What the brake controller does is activating the brakes of the trailer, keeping the load lighter on the tow vehicle.
Make sure that you’re loading your motorhome evenly
The vehicle’s tongue weight must be up to 15% of its total weight. Do not load the gear up in the back or front of the vehicle, or else, you might end up having too little or too much tongue weight.
When you’re hooked up and almost ready to go, walk around and check the following things.
- Lights are working.
- Secured and latched hitch
- Brakes are working.
- Wheel chocks are removed
- On your RV, the vents, windows and doors are closed.
- The license plate of your RV is on with the latest tags.
- Roof vents and TV antenna are down.
Instead of propane, switch on your electric water heater, but turn it off before leaving. Avoid frying elements – do not plug your RV with an empty tank with an open electric heater. For a faster recovery time, you should turn on the electric and propane if you need hot water fast.
Learning about the basic RV camping tips for beginners, you’ll be guided accordingly on how to operate an RV, pack and organize your items, conserve fuel, and get to your destination safely, among other tips and tricks we’ve shared above. Be safe and have a smooth journey!
Hope you picked up important pointers in the above guide! Finally, share this post among RVer friends on social media today!