Tips for First Time RV Campers

If you’re getting ready to head out on your first camping trip in your new RV, here are few tips to help make sure your trip is memorable for all the right reasons:

Find a site

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You probably won’t have any trouble finding a list of RV parks in your destination area.  Many campers prefer such parks because of the utility hookups and other accommodations offered (like community pools, rec rooms, or eateries, for instance).  If you plan to frequent RV parks regularly, look into membership in a camping club.  These clubs can mean discounts on stays in member parks.

If you prefer a less organized campsite, look for state parks and other public lands that allow RV camping.  Public RV parks will still usually offer utility hookups, but other amenities may be lacking.

For the ultimate on-your-own adventure, you can go “boondocking,” which is pretty much the same as tent camping, but in an RV.  In other words, no hookups and no amenities.  While boondocking does most closely resemble wilderness camping, you’ll have to be extra careful with supplies because there won’t be a way to refuel or dump waste.

Make a list

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Having a pre-travel checklist can save you a lot of frustration along the way.  Making sure roof vents are closed and TV antennas are secured are things lots of campers, even seasoned ones, frequently forget.  It’s also important to check your tires before every departure.  Think getting a flat on your car is bad?  How much worse do you think it is in an RV?

Another thing to keep on a permanent list is your RV’s height.  At some point, you’re bound to come across some sort of canopy, overhang, or other overhead obstruction that’s lower than the top of your RV.  Finding that one out the hard way can be disastrous.  And very expensive.

One of the most important items on your list should be to weigh your RV properly.  If your load doesn’t change from one trip to the next, you shouldn’t have to do this every time, but if you don’t have a properly balanced load, you could do some damage to your RV’s framework.  If your RV is a pull-behind, too much weight on your trailer can be deadly.

If you’ll be driving your RV and towing a vehicle, don’t forget to double check that connection at every departure.  Also make sure you always compensate for the extra length a trailer and vehicle add.

Be prepared

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Having a couple of good surge protectors (or a more expensive power conditioner) can help protect your RV from the power fluctuations you’ll find at many RV camp sites.

If you’re not comfortable changing a flat or blown-out RV tire, consider joining some sort of roadside assistance club or adding that coverage to your insurance policy.  

Having a set of handheld radios can be the best way for you and a traveling companion to coordinate parking and also come in handy if you get separated along the way.

Check for leaks before you embark on a trip.  If you find one, no matter how small, don’t put off fixing it.  A small leak can become an RV’s worst nightmare in a heartbeat.  After the money you’ve laid out for the RV, the last thing you want is to spend more money on expensive repairs.

While these tips are a good way to ensure you’ll enjoy your new RV, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual for other important safety information.