New RVers are either adorably awkward or the most annoying persons at camp. We all have stories of the newbie who filled the tank with non-potable water, got blasted with sewer water, or almost set the whole camp on fire. The truth is, sometimes, we were those RVers. No one starts as an expert, but you can at least kick things off with a strong foundation. These are my top 10 tips for new RVers.
1. Do Your Research
Congratulations! You’ve come to the right place to get your research started. But, this is only the tip of the iceberg. After reading this article, I recommend checking out these additional resources:
- Creativity RV on YouTube
- Bob Wells or CheapRVliving on YouTube
- The Drivin’ and Vibin’ Blog
- Alexis Chateau | FREE RAMEN Newsletter
You can also shoot me a DM on Instagram. I get dozens of messages each week from people who need advice on how to get started and would be happy to help.
2. Set a Budget
Set a budget for your travels before you hit the road. Even without the current gas prices, you’d be surprised how quickly just driving can blow through your budget. Be sure to factor in every possible cost and travel within those means.
The great news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to camp and enjoy the great outdoors. Check out my article on How to Find Epic Boondocking Spots in America. You can also find lakes to kayak and trails to hike or bike for free.
3. Check Your Insurance
Before you hit the road, check with your insurance agent to ensure you have the proper coverage. If you don’t have RV insurance, get it. Even if you only travel a few times per year, it’s worth the peace of mind knowing that you and your investment are adequately covered.
If you finance your RV, your lender will likely require you to insure the RV. However, if you buy the RV outright, your liability insurance might extend from your tow vehicle. The only way to confirm this is to check your policy and confirm with the insurance company.
4. Get to Know Your RV
I spent my first night in my RV, 600 miles from home. Before leaving Atlanta for good, I spent a lot of days working on my trailer. Twice per week, I practiced hitching up and unhitching. I towed it to the local Walmart and back and even practiced backing it up.
By the time I left Atlanta, I had a sound understanding of the RV and how it worked. Still, when the neighbors rushed to help the new girl, I took all the help I could get, and so should you. I spent my first 30 days soaking up every tip my neighbors would share. I was never afraid to ask questions or ask for help.
5. Plan Your Trips
Spontaneity can add a whole new level of excitement to your first few trips in the RV. However, you have your fair share of uncertainties with towing and understanding how to set up your RV at camp. Give yourself one less thing to think—or worry—about by planning your trip. You can get spontaneous later.
When you pick your camping spot, try to get all the information about the area. Here are some common mistakes I have seen newbie RVers make:
- Arriving at a 50-amp site with a 30-amp or 15-amp camper and no adapters
- Arriving at camp and having no idea where to get water or dump their tanks
- Not knowing how to back up, straighten or level their trailers
- Trying to sleep extra people in a ground tent when the campground rules forbid tent camping due to underground infrastructure that stakes could damage
6. Treat Campsites Like Personal Property
I often run into no trespassing signs when driving across America. Some simply say no trespassing, while others threaten to re-introduce you to your Creator. What I find interesting is that people from these areas often go camping and walk through other people’s campsites.
Please don’t do this. For whatever time someone rents a campsite, that is their home. This is especially true for those of us who RV full-time. We do not want to look outside the window and see someone casually walking past our front door because they couldn’t be bothered to take a longer route.
7. Keep the Noise Down
If you have noisy children and dogs that bark incessantly, you will have a tough time making friends at campgrounds. No one wants to listen to the constant yapping of a dog or be woken up by children shooting BB guns at 7 a.m. on a Sunday in Red Rock Canyon.
Making friends might not be at the top of your list, but social isolation isn’t the only consequence. I have seen people booted from campgrounds because they couldn’t keep the noise down. More often than not, the complaint was a dog that wouldn’t stop barking.
9. Pay Attention to Fire Restrictions
If you camp in the west, you will likely encounter campgrounds that don’t allow fires. Some others might only allow fires in certain areas, and others will restrict fires when fire warnings reach high levels. Pay attention to these fire restrictions. They exist for a reason.
While camping in Lake Mead, a family almost set their camper on fire because they didn’t read the no-fire signs, and we had high winds. One of the workers told them to put the fire out and gave them a strong talking to for disobeying safety guidelines.
10. Respect the Wildlife
I don’t like snakes: never have, never will. But, when I’m out in the wild, I respect that I’m the one trespassing in their homes. The same is true of bears, which I happen to like even less. Established campgrounds often have wildlife rules you should follow, such as not feeding the animals or remembering to look under your vehicle before pulling out.
Respecting the wildlife also extends to taking care of your campground. These animals live where we vacation. Trashing their homes is disrespectful. It can also lead to temporary shutdowns of camping areas, even in boondocking spots, when it gets out of hand. Follow the leave no trace behind principles and remember to keep our wild animals wild.
Final Thoughts on Tips for New RVers
There is so much to learn when you first go RVing but hopefully, these tips will give you a good starting point. Your most important takeaways are prioritizing your safety, respecting your neighbors, and following the rules.
When you do make mistakes, fix them. But, also learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy the journey. Camping is supposed to be fun, after all!
Remember, we all started as newbies.