Nowadays, the number of RVers who pack up their RVs and hit the road has grown, and everyone loves a great hack that will make life more simple as well as fun. Getting started with your new rig can be daunting, and just like anything else, it gets easier with experience. Whether you are new to the life on the road or the pro camper, I’m sure the tips and tricks that I have for you will help you enjoy your RV camping adventure much better.
1. Decide Whether You Want to Buy or Rent An RV
Now, this isn’t always an easy decision. Whether you are buying or renting, it comes with its own pros and cons. However, when you consider a few factors, you will get a clearer answer.
If you plan to leave your regular home and go RV camping full-time, it is best to buy your own rig. When you are planning to buy an RV, here’s an article that will help you choose the best companies to go to.
If you are planning to go on a single trip or maybe just want to test the waters before making a huge purchase, renting is the best way to go. When you want to rent an RV, here is an article for you to check with the best rental companies that you can go to.
When you want to know the pros and cons of owning an RV, here’s an article for you to read.
2. Make Sure You Have an RV Camping Checklist
Whether you are a newbie or a pro RV camper, checklists can be a lifesaver. It is best to make a few checklists and keep them close to you as a reference until you get the hang of RV camping. Make sure that you don’t miss any essential items while you are packing for your RV trip.
Now, this checklist may change as you take more trips as you will learn some lessons along the way. You may have some things that you didn’t bring along with you, or you brought some things that you never touched during your first adventure.
Your checklist should help you remember all the things you need to do prior to hitting the road. This could include packing where you need to make sure your home or apartment is vacation-ready, like all appliances, are off if you will have a short RV camping trip.
There are also other things that you need to add to your checklist, such as checking your RV tires, ensuring the awning is pulled in, making sure that the RV jacks are pulled up, everything is latched as well as secured and all passengers are accounted for. You’d be surprised how many people forget to do these things.
Arriving at Your Camp. Now, you should also have a checklist set up when you arrive at your camp. It will help you avoid things like a shower drain backup since you forgot to connect the sewer hose. This is a mistake that even a pro RVer can make.
So, when you arrive at your camp, ensure to include on your checklist leveling your rig, wheels secured, hooking up water, hooking up sewer, setting up pop-ups or openings slides, and setting up lawn chairs or outside area.
3. Do a Dry Run on Your Driveway Before Heading to Your RV Camping Trip
This tip is focused more on the beginner RV camper, but this is easily some of the RVers favorite camping tips and tricks. Here, you would test your process, packing, and patience. If you fail to pack something, it is best to find out early rather than finding out while in the middle of your road trip.
At this point, you are going to pretend that you are like free camping in the middle of a desolated campsite. When you pack and test your process and equipment while camping on your driveway, you don’t need to go far to remedy any failures.
Every time you need to go into your home or garage to get something, this means that you have ‘failed’ at packing or prepping something. You can easily identify any adjustments that you need to make before going on your real RV camping trip.
When you are comfortable that your rig is properly packed and operating, you are ready to take your first road trip. You can head out to the campground or RV park first, and then eventually boondocking at a free campsite where you can enjoy views for miles. Aside from that, your money will stay in your wallet.
4. Packing Tips for Your RV Camping Adventure
As we all know, RVs come in different sizes, from the small teardrop to the diesel pusher motorhomes which are usually bigger than a New York City apartment. When it comes to packing your first rig, it is easy to over-pack since you have new storage spaces to fill and cool gadgets that you might think you need.
Now, this is not a good idea. The main key to RVing is not to feel like you outgrew your rig on your first adventure. Make sure to resist the temptation to buy every RV accessory at first which can lead to over-packing. You can start with a minimal camping list and only pack what you need.
Keep your things organized since clutter builds up fast when it comes to small spaces. You can avoid this by proper planning and ensuring that your things are well organized. Once you advance beyond the basic RV camper, you can add the RV accessories that you want. All you need to do is ensure that they are useful to your camping style and worth the expense.
If you want to RV full-time, this is really important since you don’t want your rig to be too cluttered
5. Take the Time to Walkaround Your RV: Inspection is the Key
Whatever age or condition your RV or travel trailer is in, it is best to get into the habit of a walkaround whenever you make a stop. In every gas station, grocery store, and campground, make sure to walk around your rig looking for anything that may rattle or anything that’s loose.
Look for any obvious issues that can hinder you from enjoying your adventure on the road. Traveling down the road can cause plenty of vibration and will result in making things lose. Take a look at your tires as well and see if they look okay. The storage bins are latched, and that there are no obvious signs of trouble.
A quick walk around your rig is an easy and quick preventative measure that could save you plenty of headaches down the road. Aside from that, you can also save money from any repairs that you might encounter.
6. Choose the Best Campsite for Your RV Camping
RVers are attracted to popular locations, and the best thing that you should do is make a reservation in advance. Popular destinations are usually booked for up to a year in advance, so make sure that you call before you go. It can get stressful driving all day and arriving at your campground only to find that there’s no space for you.
Additional to making a reservation, there are things that you should also take note of in finding a good campground.
Check Reviews of the Campground. You can check the reviews of previous campers via Google, Allstays, and Campendium. On these websites, you will get the inside scoop on the park and location, the management, and the condition of their facilities.
Take Note of Campsite Prices. Campgrounds mostly charge a lot more nightly than they do for weekly or monthly reservations. When you have the time and are looking to save some money, you need to ensure to check the campground’s or park’s weekly or monthly rates before making your reservation.
Use the Google Maps Satellite View. The satellite view will help you get a feel for what navigating in the campground will be like. It will show you the space between the campsites and so much more. Using this feature can help you choose the right campsite before you book one.
7. Setting Up Your RV Campsite for the Full RV Camping Experience
Most RVers think that setting up a campsite is easy and quick since everything is already there. However, it takes longer to set up a rig than to set up a camping tent. There are a couple of tips that you can follow for the seamless setup that you want while you’re at the campsite.
First, you need to make sure that you allow at least two hours of daylight to set up your rig comfortably. If you are towing your rig, ensure to disconnect them. Second, you need to check for anything that will obstruct you from back in the campsite. These obstructions would be trees, rocks, etc.
Third, when you’re parking, you need to ensure that you have enough space for your outdoor seating area or slide-outs if you have them. Be sure to have wheel chocks to keep your rig secure and leveling blocks to keep it level when needed. For leveling tips, you can check out this article I wrote.
Fourth, be sure you have enough time to set up your awning, outdoor rug, and seating area or table outside your rig. Lastly, do not leave any awnings out while away for long periods of time or during windy days. To know some tips and tricks on how to take care of your awning, you can check this article.
8. Make Sure You Have a Realistic RV Camping Budget
Though RVing may cut the cost of hotel and flight expenses, it will also add new expenses to the mix. The average RVer spends about $1,000 to $3,000 a month on RV expenses. However, if you love eating out or shopping or don’t want to stay long periods of time at campsites, you will see yourself spending about $4,000 to $8,000 monthly.
On the bright side, it is still considered to be big savings considering most people spend about $2,000 to $5,000 on a one to a two-week vacation. Now, your budget should also be listed and well-planned. You also need to stick to it if you want to have maximum savings during your RV camping trip.
Make sure to consider decreased gas mileage and increased fuel costs. The reason for this is there may be a possibility that you may need diesel depending on the vehicle that you are driving. Also, be ready for increased highway toll costs for trailers or motorhomes.
Other things that you need to consider are leasing or rental fees for the vehicle (this is if you don’t own an RV), auto insurance, RV repairs or maintenance, and amenities costs such as Wi-Fi, cable, and supplies. You also need to add campsite, hookup, and dump station costs.
Lastly, you also have to consider the standard expenses such as health insurance, food, phone bill, student loans, and so much more. Listing your expenses is important so that you can be ready with any expenses that you might face while you have your adventure on the road.
9. Know RV Campsite Rules and Etiquette
This is probably the most important part when it comes to RV camping. You need to take note that RV camping is a lot different than regular tent camping. Now, if tents are allowed on the campground, they will be in a different section of the park. Abiding by the different RV park rules and showing RV manners will help you have a better stay.
Aside from a better stay, it will also allow you to make friends and provide a better experience for the people around you. There are different etiquette that you need to take note of while you are on a campsite.
First, plenty of RV campsites are ‘back in’ only, which means you would need to back up to your site. If you are uncomfortable with this, make sure to look for campgrounds that offer ‘pull through’ sites. However, these are not always guaranteed.
Second, most campgrounds have a noise curfew which means your generator should be shut off between 10 pm to 7 am. Again, the time would vary on the campsite that you will go to. It is also nice to turn off any bright lights that you may have since it can bother your neighbor at the campsite.
Third, make sure not to walk through other people’s campsites. If there are many campsites open, be sure to give your neighbors some space.
Fourth, if you are welcoming guests, make sure to observe guest rules, parking regulations, and curfews. When using the dump stations, make sure that you spray them after you use them.
Lastly, and probably the most important part, do not leave your trash behind.
10. Always Dump the Right Way When You’re RV Camping
When you have a rig with a kitchen, bathroom, or shower, it is best to learn about holding tanks and dumping processes. For all of the things that you need to know about dumping stations, you can read this article. However, here are some things that you need to know about dumping your rig.
Dumping Stations. These stations are where you can dump your waste sewage which is perfect for RVers who don’t have to hook up at their campsite.
Black Tank. This is the tank where your waste goes when you use the bathroom on your rig.
Gray Tank. This is where your shower and dishwater go whenever it is used in your RV.
Hookups. Plenty of RV parks usually have hookups at each campsite; this way, you don’t have to go to a dumping station. These hookups offer gray and black tank dump stations as well as freshwater.
Now, once you get to a campsite with full hookups, you will be able to connect hoses to your tank valves. When that’s done, you can empty them into the campground’s septic system.
If you think that you are going to stay on the campsite for a while, make sure to keep the black tank’s valve open. This way, you can prevent your waste from smelling and dripping on your site.
Never use your freshwater hose for your black and gray tanks; make sure that you only use it for freshwater. Plenty RVers choose to use a completely different colored hose so that they will not mix up the hose with their gray and black tanks, which can be nasty.
When emptying your black tank, you need to make sure it is half full so that it can empty easily.
11. Make Sure That You Protect Your Rig While Camping
Your RV is a huge investment, so you want to protect and enjoy it for years to come. Aside from the insurance and preventative maintenance, there are some devices that most serious RVers will use to give themselves added protection as well as peace of mind.
Surge Protector. A surge protector is a device that’s plugged in between your RV and a type of external power source. This can monitor the quality of the power source, protects your rig from ungrounded connections, and will protect your rigs from any electrical system getting fried in the event of a power surge from any lighting or bad campground wiring.
A surge protector is a great investment that can save your entire electrical system and save your valued investment. You can even purchase a surge protector that has a lock so that it doesn’t get stolen. Here’s an article that you can read to know more about the best surge protector for your RV.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This is also known as TPMS that can alert you to potential tire hazards that you might be unaware of. The tire pressure monitoring system can be used for RVs and travel trailers that will alert you to any changes in pressure or temperature. It can help prevent blowouts and rig damages.
12. Bring Important Tools and Spare Parts to Your RV Camping Trip
It’s never a bad thing to be too ready, so make sure that you pack a well-stocked tool kit as well as add in the things that your RV might need. Examples of these things are extra fuses, light bulbs, jumper cables, nuts, bolts, and connectors. Having these things with you can come in handy if you experience any trouble along the road.
Also, make sure to bring parts that are unique to your RV. If you are not ready with these parts, you might have to wait for the parts to be ordered and shipped. Always better to be ready.
13. Never Wing It: Always Have a Plan
When it comes to RV camping, winging it shouldn’t be a thing. You may have the urge to be spontaneous since you want to experience the adventure to its fullest. However, as I’ve mentioned above, you should have a checklist and a plan. Your plan should include different things, such as your budget. The budget should include how much you will allocate for food, fun, and overnight stays.
You should also include a plan for your food supply, which will include if you are going to eat out or buy your groceries. Another thing that you should plan is your route which includes the one you plan to take as well as any alternate options. Plan any places that you want to see along the way.
14. Save Money By Saving Your Gas During Your RV Camping Trip
The very first thing that you will notice when driving an RV is how much gas you’re going through. Driving your rig or pulling a trailer is much more expensive, but there are some ways to save money on the gas you are using.
When driving, make sure that you drive slow. Now, you may already be driving slow for other reasons, but driving slowly can help you save a lot of gas. Gas mileage starts to drop significantly after speeds of 60 miles per hour or more, which applies to larger vehicles. Though it may take you longer to get to your destination, you’ll see the money you will be saving.
Your holding tanks should be empty. Make sure your tanks are empty since you can fill your fresh water when you get to your camping location; aside from having enough water for your toilet or water needs while on the road, you need to keep the tank as empty as possible.
One gallon of water weighs more than eight pounds, and the weight has a huge impact on your gas consumption. Always keep this in mind to save money on gas!
Avoid overpacking. I’ve mentioned this above since aside from saving space, you can also save gas when you don’t pack as much. Only bring what is needed and keep your loaded weight down to save money on your gas expenses.
Make sure to avoid windy days when you are driving. Driving on windy days with an RV or travel trailer can be terrifying. With a high-profile vehicle and gusts of wind, it can make driving quite exhausting. If you hate driving in the wind, you have another reason to avoid doing it: saving gas.
All the extra resistance can cause your engine to work harder, which will guzzle gallons of fuel. It would be great if you could avoid it!
You Are Now Ready to Go to Your RV Camping Adventure
Following these tips and tricks will make sure that you will have the time of your life during your RV camping adventure. With the proper planning and preparation, your first RV camping trip can go without a hitch. Make the most out of your RV camping adventure with your friends and family by having peace of mind with these tips I’ve provided! Happy RV camping, RVers!