Just getting started with RVing?
Whether you’re renting or buying your rig, preparing to hit the road is a super-exciting time — but also one rife with opportunity for error. While you’re all caught up in fantasizing about your next destination (don’t worry, we all do it!), you can easily forget about some surprisingly basic stuff. Like, um, not driving away while still hooked up to the sewer connection.
The thing is, no matter how well you prepare, RVing mistakes are going to happen. But just in case you’d like to minimize the level of “Oh, no” in your vacation, we put together a few of our own errors from experience, so you can hopefully avoid running into them.
Here are seven super-easy-to-make travel mistakes that the majority of RV owners have made… usually more than once. 😅
1. Not taking the time to get familiar with your RV first.
RVing isn’t very much like dating at all, except in this one way: You need to take the time to get familiar before you go too far.
By which I mean, it’s best to learn the ins and outs of your RV before you’re stranded at dusk on some highway somewhere trying to figure out how to turn the lights on.
Of course, in your eagerness to hit the road, it can be tempting to throw that owner’s manual in the glove compartment and just go ahead and get started. But take it from us: you’ll be thanking yourself later when you don’t have to take an hour out of your trip to investigate something that ends up being crazy simple.
2. Overplanning… or not planning well enough.
Maybe you’re naturally the type who makes color-coded to-do lists and schedules days down to the millisecond. Or maybe you’re more comfortable waking up each morning not sure exactly where the day will take you.
But no matter which way you approach your day-to-day life, it can be disastrous to apply the same principles to your RV trip — or any kind of travel. Sure, you want to make sure you get the most out of your destination, so it’s good to make some plans… but if you schedule out every part of every day, you may soon find yourself too exhausted and burnt out to even enjoy what you’re doing in the first place.
Try to find a good middle ground between obsessive Type-A tendencies and total listlessness. Make note of a few things you definitely don’t want to miss, and maybe even buy tickets ahead of time for some of them, but also give yourself lots of flexible time. That way, you can still be spontaneous. Or lazy!
3. Going too far.
The freedom of the open road can be overwhelmingly exciting, and you might feel yourself develop the urge to GO SEE EVERYTHING, RIGHT NOW. (This is especially common for the above-mentioned overplanning type.)
But whether you’re taking a week, a month, or getting ready to become a full-time RVer, traveling too far at once is a sure way to wear yourself down and make yourself totally miserable.
Days where you have to move your RV will be pretty hectic. You have to pack up camp, drive to your destination, and get everything set back up again. You might not have the time or energy to do very much exploring once you get there.
Give yourself at least a day (that is, two nights of camping) at each major stop on your trip, and consider limiting your driving to 300 miles or less. You’ll get to see more of each place you stop in, and you’ll be much more relaxed while you do so!
4. Spending too much.
On its surface, camping can look incredibly affordable, especially if you’re used to air travel and hotel expenses.
But camping fees, restaurant meals, and entertainment costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful. Don’t fall victim to sticker shock. Make sure you think realistically about your budget ahead of time, and add in an ample cushion for unexpected expenses.
5. Bringing too much stuff.
Oh, overpacking. Every traveler’s nemesis.
When you’re getting ready to hit the road, so many items seem vitally important. I mean, what happens if you get there and you don’t have your print encyclopedia or best set of heels? You might need them!
This tendency is even further amplified in an RV, which seems to have such capacious storage compared to a car or a suitcase. But take it from someone who’s somehow never broken the overpacking habit even after years of almost-constant travel: if you don’t use it every single day, you’re unlikely to miss it at your destination. And you might find that even some of the things you do use all the time are extraneous.
When you pack too much stuff into your RV, you’ll soon find your once-spacious rig claustrophobic and cluttered — not to mention the risk of going over its weight rating.
Bring sensible clothing and shoes, sunscreen, and a towel, and you’ll probably be alright no matter where you’re going.
Besides, if you really run into an emergency, you can more than likely buy what you need at your destination.
6. Forgetting about the external stairs (or the antenna, or the sewer hose, or…)
If there’s only one item on this list you remember when you set off on your camping trip, make it this: Whenever you’re about to move your RV, do a walk-around.
Setting up camp involves lots of things that can be disastrous to forget about before moving, from extended satellite antennas to leveling blocks. And you definitely don’t want to drag your sewer line down the highway.
So before you crank that engine, go ahead and give everything one last look, just to be sure. If you’re really forgetful, you might even consider these handy RVminders.
7. Not figuring out the fridge
Your RV refrigerator is different from the one in your kitchen at home, and not just because it’s in motion. (Although that part matters, too — you’ll want to pack foods in such a way that they won’t spill while you’re driving!)
An RV refrigerator has different mechanics than the household version, and that means it can only work effectively when your rig is level. In fact, running it tilted might even damage the unit, resulting in a costly repair bill… not to mention a heap of spoiled food!
Obviously, this list could go on; even the most seasoned RVers constantly meet new challenges and learn new lessons on the road.
RV mistakes happen to everyone, but it’s all part of the adventure. That said, if you’ve got any sage advice from your own travels… let us know! We don’t need to learn the hard way.