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Advice For The New RVer

Advice For The New RVer

There's an old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, meaning that a seemingly insurmountable task is easily accomplished by taking smaller steps towards the goal. While this advice applies to many of life's challenges, it is also perfectly appropriate to adopt when it comes to RV ownership and embarking on the RV lifestyle experience.

There are many new things to learn after you've made your purchase and taken your RV home. Even those with travel experience or camping know-how can be considered novices when it comes to piloting an RV, motorhome, or camper down that stretch of highway. Even the most organized person at home will have a lot to learn about packing the RV with the essentials and deciding what should be left at home and what is absolutely necessary for their first RV adventure.

To begin this journey towards becoming seasoned RVers, here are a few tips and some advice:

  • Driving an RV is not the same as driving a car. Whether you've had your driver's license for 5 years or 50 years, take time to learn how to navigate turns, how to stop safely, how to judge your rig's clearance and how to safely and efficiently back up. Bigger vehicles handle differently than the family SUV. Take your new RV out for a spin on local roads before you pack it up and head out down the highway.

Along with this is to know how your RV works and what all the gauges, buttons, and instruments do. Knowing what the normal operating procedure is for all systems in your RV and what signals a potential problem can save you time, money, and aggravation.

  • Gather the supplies you need for the road before you drive off into the distance. The must-haves for your rig include water and sewer hoses, leveling blocks and wheel chocks, a water pressure regulator, and a 15M/30F power adapter. You also need to have septic-safe toilet paper in your RV and products and supplies for cleaning it, including buckets, sponges, and a ladder in addition to the wash and shine stuff.

Once you have the essentials, think about the accessories you want to add on. Do you want solar panels or a satellite antenna? What storage solutions do you need to store your recreation equipment or daily living supplies? How will you power your electronics? Running through these wants and determining what is needed to successfully integrate these accessories into your RV can avoid frustration when you realize you don't have the right power cord for your laptop, for example.

  • Do your research before leaving home in your motor home or camper. Plan your route ahead of time, taking note of bridges and underpasses along your route and making sure your RV has clearance. Leave your route of travel, trip itinerary, including addresses and phone numbers of the campgrounds you will be staying at with someone at your home base. If traveling with your pets, make a note of medical and veterinary clinics along the way, just in case you, a family member, or a travel companion or your pets need medical attention.

Just in case, make sure there are provisions in case you are stranded somewhere. Stock food and water for two or three days for these unexpected scenarios.

  • Run through the camp set-up procedures before you leave home. Create a checklist as you do this, so you can duplicate the efforts each time and designate each family member's responsibilities. More hands make it quicker and more equitable for everyone. After all, this is supposed to be fun for the entire family.

Create a second list of things to do when you are packing up and preparing to leave the campsite. Simple steps like lowering the antenna, securing the loose items, and retracting the slide-outs may be common sense, but a checklist provides a little less stress and worry.

  • For your first adventure in your RV, a cross-country trip may not be the best decision. Jumping into the deep end may be a quick way to learn how to swim, but when you are talking about a road trip in your motorhome or camper, there is a better option. Plan a trip closer to home, perhaps to a state or national park a few hours away. That way, if something happens, you are close to people and places you know and can summon help. Being closer to home also lessens the driver's fatigue and ensures that the first trip is filled with positive experiences instead of troublesome ones.

Avoid driving at night, if possible. A first-time trip is not the time to hone your RV driving skills. Situations that can occur in the light of day can be even more dangerous at night, especially in rural or heavily forested areas.

Make reservations ahead of your trip at campgrounds. Keep your activity and sight-seeing schedule less structured to allow for flexibility if problems come up. Coordinate and identify the best places to stop for food or fuel while traveling. A little planning keeps everyone happy.

  • Finally, invest in a GPS device designed for RVs. Common GPS applications are not designed for large vehicles like motorhomes and campers. Simply typing in an address won't give you important information, such as bridge clearance heights, tunnels, and roads with weight restrictions. You'll want to know if there are hairpin turns or steep grades on the way to the campground.

Everything comes with a learning curve, even driving an RV. We learn to crawl before we run, so get familiar with the basics before tackling longer trips and terrains that require a little more know-how. The goal is to embrace the RV lifestyle and gather positive memories as you go. Don't put yourself in situations that can dampen your future enthusiasm for your RV by taking too big a first step. Take it slow and savor the experience.

Jan 31st 2022 Lois Tomaszewski

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