The road ahead is paved with gold, at least that’s what we all thought. Here are “19 Things You Wish You Knew Before You Started RVing”
Of course, I mean *”I Knew” or better yet, “We knew” but the title is in respect to the people who ask us the question.
There is a lot of stuff one must prepare for before you hit the road. When we started we failed to do the research you are probably doing, but the good thing is we all get to benefit from what each other has learned along the way.
Let’s begin with the list of 19 things we wish we knew before we started RVing, which is what new RVers should know, and then we’ll jump into a few items you will need on your trip.
What Are Things You Wish You Knew Before You Started RVing?
1. Rent Different RVs Before Buying One
RVs are not an appreciating asset. Do hardcore research ahead of time, the less likely you will be to make a big or expensive mistake.
2 . Stay Afraid, but Do It Anyway.
This quote is from Carrie Fisher, but reused for RV living by Sarah Hubbart at The Wandering Road:
It’s okay not to know what you are doing. It’s okay to be intimidated. It’s okay to be worried, or even scared. But the best way to learn about RV life is… to live it. You will figure it out as you go.Carrie Fisher
3. Know Your Measurements
Know how high your trailer is until it’s ingrained in your head and written somewhere in plan view. Also, know the entire length of your RV.
The fact is size matters. Your RV is longer and taller than you might think. Know the difference between your two tires on a TT or Fifth Wheeling.
Large RVs can be restrictive. Smaller RVs give travelers more options in general (for driving, highways, parking, etc.)
This is especially important for people staying in state and national parks where there can be restrictions on RVs.
4 . Campground Memberships Can Save Money
You may have heard conflicting arguments about RV clubs or Campground memberships.
The fact is: Campground Memberships are useful to people who use them. Oftentimes people don’t take full advantage of the campground perks.
Still, there are a few I hear that suck (I won’t spread bad news here). I will share a couple that I know are worth it to whoever uses them, no matter what part of the country you’re traveling: Passport America and Harvest Hosts.
5. Don’t Wait to Plan for an Emergency
When you stop at a truck stop or rest stop, jot down the address.
In case you need to call 911 for an emergency responder, your location is the most vital information the operator needs to send you assistance.
If you are camping out for a while, jot down the nearest hospital or emergency care facility.
Note: Have An Emergency Fund
6. Avoid Getting Poop On Yourself
Know Your Water Tanks.
You need to know how the plumbing works in your RV. lt may not be the RV Park, It can be your water filter.
Freshwater tanks, Blackwater tanks, and gray water tanks. You can learn more about them here.
Emptying the tanks is no big deal but someone has to do it! You need to know when to clean the freshwater tanks and how to keep them clean.
Related: Top RV Portable Waste Tanks
7. Expect to Perform Some Maintenance
Things Will Break. People often underestimate how much maintenance needs to be done on an RV, don’t be these people.
Newbies do not budget enough to cover maintenance costs. This goes back to having an Emergency Fund.
There is plenty you’ll need to learn along the way, nothing beats experience. Simply prepare for minor issues and upkeep- we can’t foresee the big things.
8. They Require Plenty of Maintenance
Learn as much as you can about RV maintenance. You will spend some cash on paying others to fix your RV but eventually, you will learn enough to fix things on your own.
Mobile repair techs are available, warranty and insurance, but sometimes those things can be inconvenient for smaller problems.
9. Wifi and Cell Phone Reception!
We live in a tech-driven world, and you will be traveling in dead spots, woods, RV Parks, etc. RV Parks that offer decent WiFi are slim, which is a bummer if you work on the road.
You need to ensure you have the best Wifi for your RV possible. If you plan on streaming with Youtube, Netflix, Disney+, or HBO you’ll need more than RV parks provide (around 5MBPS on average).
While Netflix recommends a minimum of 20MBPS for reliable streaming.
Depending on how long you’ll be on the road, you probably miss friends and family members. So, check with your cell phone provider for the best cell service package.
Lots of people end up getting a second cell phone plan.
10. The RV Community Is Welcoming
Even if you are just renting an RV for the weekend or you travel full-time, lean on the RV community. There are Facebook groups, membership programs, IG pages, and forums full of individuals who enjoy sharing what they know.
Some RV brands have their own forums you can join to get a better feel of that RV brand or how to maintain your Rig once you get it.
Use the community to discover the best boondocking locations or how to keep your fridge cold in your RV.
11. Avoid RV Accidents
Go Slow and Create a Systems for Everything. Everything.
Who is in charge of packing up, emptying, and cleaning tanks (and when), who’s driving, etc. So when something goes wrong there is no need to panic.
Related: How Does a Trailer Sway Bar Work?
12. Homes Appreciate and RVs Do Not
You lose about 25% due to depreciation in the first 2 years of owning your RV. You can rent the RV you want to purchase before buying by using a peer-to-peer company like RVshare.
13. Plan For The Weather
The weather can make things really difficult – the wind is no joke, your RV isn’t as aerodynamic as you think. You are in moving home and you are exposed to the elements.
Track the weather and know where to seek shelter if needed- there are plenty of free and subscription-based weather apps. Temperature changes happen more dramatically in an RV.
14. Insurance Can Get Pricey
You can request to downgrade your RV insurance and save significant costs if you store for a month or more throughout the year.
We are usually talking a few hundred dollars savings, assuming you pay bi-annual or annual premiums.
If you are renting you can join the owner’s plan or when renting with Outdoorsy you be under a $1million insurance policy automatically.
15. Bring Cash
“Cash Back” is your friend. You just never know when it will come in handy.
Plus, some parks across the country only accept cash for stays. Thus, it’s important to carry enough cash with you to cover 1-2 nights at an RV park.
Also, if you are traveling with an RV washer and Dryer then you’d have to use one in a park or on some random exit and you’ll need quarters and dollar bills.
16. Download Camping Apps
There are fantastic apps that can help you locate RV Resorts, camping locations, RV Parks, or BLM areas.
17. You Don’t Have to Go Far
A classic mistake made by newbie RVers is only looking for destinations that require thousands of miles to be covered on the freeway.
Owning an RV gives you a great sense of freedom, but you don’t have to traverse the country.
This is another reason renting an RV before buying can be beneficial.
18. Check The Date On Your Tires
When buying a new RV, it’s a good idea to check the date on your tires. A new Rig doesn’t mean your tires are.
There is usually a 4 digit number on the back of your tires to check when they were made.
Another reason measurements are important- It’s a good idea to look up the weight of your RV and match it on the tire’s load capacity PSI chart. Then you can find the proper PSI to ensure safety and a smooth ride.
19. Document Your Experience
Take pictures, jot down lessons learned and record great moments.
This is for your personal pleasure but also to teach others. At the end of the day, it’s a journey, it’s an adventure you’ll want to share.
What Do First Time RVers Need?
What Tools Are Essential?
- 4 way wrench
- Wrenches (for every bolt)
- Tire Temperature Gun
- Digital PSI Reader
- Tire Minder TPMS TM-77 (tire pressure and Temp.)
- Leveling Blocks
- Collapsible Wagon (for transporting stuff)
- Robinson Screwdriver
Plan Your Route: Figure out big destinations and then fill in the blanks. Use camping and RVing apps.
Overall: Enjoy Your Experience!
If you were asking “What do I need to know about RVing?” we hope we hit a few you didn’t already know so you are better prepared for the road, RVing, and simply getting where you’re going.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we plan, we’ll probably discover things that we wish we would have known before we rented, bought, or financed an RV.