So, you’ve just bought your first RV and you are ready to test it out on a camping trip? Hold your horses! There are a few things that you need to know first. For your trip to be safe and successful, you need to take the proper preparations and precautions. Otherwise, this may end up being your first and only camping trip!
To start off with, check out this guide designed for first time RV owners to give you a better idea of how to prepare for your adventure. We have mixed together some practical ideas about your vehicle with some general thoughts on how to have an enjoyable camping expedition. Ready? Then let’s get started!
Learn to Drive Your RV Properly
It may seem obvious, but you want to be fully comfortable driving your RV before you take it out on a long camping trip. While the principals of proper road conduct remain the same, operating a vehicle of this size requires different road positioning, plenty of mirror work, and you also need to conduct any manoeuvres more cautiously. You should practice the full array of driving requirements including reversing to make sure that you are fully comfortable with the task in hand. There will be a lot more pressure if you attempt to reverse the RV when you arrive at the campsite and you start to attract a crowd of people!
Get Familiar with Your Gear
The time to get familiar with your camping gear and RV is before you head out on the trip, not when you are already on it. Otherwise, you could find yourself fumbling around into the night-time hours trying to find out how everything works. Practice makes perfect, after all! This familiarization session also provides you with a good opportunity to make sure that everything is functioning properly. If you need to have anything repaired or replaced, now is the time to do so.
There are a lot of things that you need to remember to take with you on your RV camping trip, and one of the best ways of making sure that you have everything is by making a checklist or two. You will want one for all your camping equipment such as clothes, bags, tent, cooking stove etc, and another for all your RV equipment including tires, tanks, awnings etc. When you have a list, you don’t feel like everything is getting jumbled up in your mind so much. When you have packed an item or done a job, you can tick it off the list. This certainly provides a great sense of satisfaction!
Book Your Campsite in Advance
If you plan on taking your holiday at a particularly busy time of the year, it is a good idea to book your campsite in advance. This way, you have the peace of mind of having somewhere to sleep, and you don’t have to worry about driving around looking for a place once you arrive. Bear in mind that the more popular campsites tend to fill up weeks or even months in advance, and you don’t want to risk missing out.
Check Your Electrical Load
One of the main advantages of having your RV on a camping trip is that you can operate all sorts of electronics and appliances. However, you need to bear in mind that RVs are not properly wired to run them all at once. Generally, RVs are set up for 30 to 50 amps, so you should take this into account when you are deciding which electronics to bring with you and which are not so important. While most RVs come with a power generator, you may decide that the better option is to bring a portable generator with you to plug in your electronics.
Get the Weight Distribution Right
When you are driving larger vehicles around, you need to ensure that you distribute the weight evenly. A lot of this comes down to how much water and fuel you carry around with you, while still staying under the legal weight limits of your RV. If you think that you are on the edge, you should take your RV to a weigh station to get a better idea of how you are getting on. And if you plan on dry-camping, you always have the option of filling up your water tank closer to your destination as it is safer to drive without water splashing around.
Check Weather and Road Conditions
Knowing the weather forecast in advance can help to avoid problems in the future. Not only can adverse weather conditions negatively impact your camping trip, but they can also make driving more dangerous. Keep up with your favorite weather channel to get a better idea what is going on. You should also plan out your route in advance, checking for any construction work or road closures along the way. Even if you plan on using a GPS system, it is still a good idea to plan out your route in advance, so you have a rough idea where you need to go. If you need to download some extra maps onto your phone or GPS system, now is the opportunity to do so.
Pre-Prepare Your WiFi and Mobile Internet
We live in a highly connected world these days, and if you need to have internet access, it is important that you plan for this in advance. Otherwise, you may want to update your cell phone plan to get more data, look into WiFi hotspots, and make other similar preparations. Alternatively, you may treat your camping adventure as a chance to detox from the world of the internet for a couple of days!
Charge Up Your RV Battery
Many people install their battery and ignore it until it fails, before buying a new one. As a rule of thumb, you should never let your battery dip below 50% charge. If it falls below 20%, it is unlikely that the battery will ever function properly again. RV batteries have different lifespans, but most come with a 12-volt battery. To protect your RV batteries, you can buy a device such as a 3-stage charger. The last thing that you need is for your battery to run out of charge, so make sure that it is properly juiced up before taking it out on your first camping trip.
Check the Heating and Ventilation Units
Depending on the camping conditions, your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) features of your RV can make a big difference. Most modern RVs have a combined heating and AC unit, which do not take up too much space in the vehicle. If you have an older vehicle and need to buy the RV air conditioner or RV heater separately, you are better off doing this sooner rather than later. And it is a good idea that you get a better understanding of how everything works before setting off. You don’t want to find yourself struggling with the heating on a cold winter’s night on the campsite!
Look at Additional RV Products
As well as all the basics which your RV already comes equipped with, you may decide that you need to buy one or two extras as well. One possibility is an RV power inverter, which is especially useful for those who like to be self-contained. Alternatively, you may be in a place which does not provide electrical hook-ups. You could use one of these in conjunction with an RV solar panel or two. Ultimately, an inverter allows you to run a whole range of devices including TVs, computers, microwaves, and anything else that you need to enjoy a comfortable camping trip.
Another possible addition to your RV is a dehumidifier. A lot of moisture can get into the air from all the cooking and showering which takes place in there. A dehumidifier will help to cut back on the build up of condensation, as well as helping to prevent mold. This is especially useful if you plan on traveling during the winter months when cracking a window to dispel the moisture simply isn’t an option.
Practice Your Barbecuing Skills
Having a barbecue is one of the most enjoyable parts of heading out on an RV adventure, so make sure that you stock up on all the appropriate equipment and hone up your skills. If you have never done one before, it may be a good idea to have a practice session in the back garden. This way, your skills will be sharp, and you are at less risk of ruining your holiday because of food poisoning! Also, if you are booking your campsite in advance, it is a good idea to check the barbecuing rules and regulations, so you don’t end up disappointed. While we are on the subject of food, why not plan out your meals in advance? If you do your grocery shopping beforehand, this is one less thing that you will have to worry about when you get there.
Plan Your Entertainment in Advance
This is an especially important tip if you plan on traveling with kids! As well as toys and games, you should also plan out some different activities. After all, a camping trip provides you with the ideal opportunity to bond as a family. Bring some maps along with you so that you can go out hiking. You may only need to have a ball which you can kick around. A bit of planning helps out significantly when it comes to turning your trip into a success. Even if you are going on a solitary expedition, you should still make sure to bring along some books, download a few podcasts or sort out any other type of entertainment that you will enjoy.
Make Sure Your Campsite is Level
When you are choosing a place to camp for the night, you need to do so carefully. First of all, you want to make sure that your RV is level. You can either use an app or a leveler to make sure that you are not parked on a rock or similar obstruction. You may need to shift your RV around a little bit to ensure that you are level before making camp for the night. Essentially, this is a matter of convenience. Otherwise, your water may not drain away properly, things may roll away inside your RV etc.
Camp Close to Home
Since this is your first camping trip in your RV, you probably don’t want to venture too far away from home. Even if you think that you are fully prepared, there are all sorts of things which can go wrong along the way, and if your home base is nearby, you always have the option of retreating back there if you need to. Perhaps the weather isn’t being as kind as you thought, or you somehow forgot some important pieces of equipment. You may decide that you just need a short trip back home or it is time to abandon the trip and you can try again on a different occasion. Another useful piece of advice is to arrive at your campsite early. And if you are close to home, it is much easier to be an early bird. If you have never been camping at all before, you are bound to be unfamiliar with the amenities and rules. As well as learning the layout of the site, it is also much easier to set up your camp during the daylight hours.
So, there you have a few useful tips and tricks that you can put into practice for your first camping trip in your RV. Don’t worry if everything doesn’t go quite according to plan on your first expedition. There are bound to be a few teething troubles, but you should always bear in mind that practice makes perfect. It won’t be long before you are an RV camping expert!