‘I love embarrassing myself!’ said no-one ever. The only benefit of making a mistake is learning from it. Instead of making an RVing mistake that COULD cost you a bundle and possibly damage your ego, read on and learn.
Know Your Height Clearance
Your RV has a height. But did you consider the addition of your air conditioner and other things up top? Here are plenty of people who didn’t:
If you RV in the east, you likely will have to be aware of your true height. If you are in the west only, you will encounter major height restrictions less often. You still must know it!
If you can’t remember it, write it down and tape it in your odometer area.
Learn The Basics About Battery Care
Your RV batteries- there’s a little bit of a learning curve to understand them.
If you have the common lead-acid batteries, you cannot let them go below a 50% charge. (Somewhere around 12.0. 12.8 is fully charged.) Sounds unreasonable, but that’s how it is. Going below 50% charge even once starts to kill the life of your batteries.
If you are lucky enough to have very expensive lithium (fairly rare, especially in an RV sold at a dealership), this rule does not apply. You can let lithium drain much lower before recharging.
When you aren’t plugged in, you need to keep an eye on your batteries state of charge using a multimeter. If you have a battery monitor, you don’t need the multimeter. If you’re always plugged into shore power, then your batteries will be fine. They get charged while plugged in.
If you are planning on dry camping with no generator for a few days, plan ahead. You need to know if your batteries will last x number of days without using a generator. And without going below 50%.
If you DO have a generator, keep an eye on your batteries. Don’t let them get below 50% before charging them back up.
Know Your Length Restrictions
Many campgrounds and parks have restrictions on RV length. Even some roads have restrictions, such as the Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park. You can’t drive it if you are over 21 feet.
What a buzzkill to find out that you can’t go to where you wanted because you have too long of a motorhome. Check lengths in the places you want to go to BEFORE deciding on an RV to buy or rent.
Don’t Leave Your ‘X’ Out
Well, we all are capable of doing any of these pretty much any time. But these are a tell-tale sign of a newbie in a campground:
- Leaving your antenna up
- Leaving steps out
- Leaving windows/bays open
- Forgetting to unplug power/water/cable from the power portal
- Leaving surge protector at the pedestal
- Forgetting to chock the RV before disconnecting
- Forgetting to close the sewer valve
It might help to have a checklist. There are some good RV checklist phone apps out there.
Know Your Weight Ratings
This can spell a lot of trouble for you. It is VITAL to make sure you stay under the GVWR of your RV, and to stay under the towing capacity of your tow vehicle.
Watch for these numbers and stay well under them for best results. Also, if you buy a used tow vehicle, make SURE you know the rating of the receiver. If it was an aftermarket receiver, it could be low.
My Ford Raptor has a tow rating of 6-8,000 lbs. After I purchased the truck, I was in for a surprise.
My aftermarket receiver is only rated for 5,000 lbs. Luckily my trailer only weighs 4,400 lbs. Eeek!
You can weigh your trailer at a truck stop scale. If you have a trailer, here’s a guide on how to weigh your trailer, tow vehicle, and find out your tongue weight.
Buy An RV You Can Handle
The bigger your RV is, the more work it’s going to take to maintain everything. There’s more to clean, more that can break, you are more restricted where you can go, and more.
You might start as small as you think you can handle and go from there. You likely can live with much less than you think you can.
Don’t Bring Too Much
This especially holds true for full-time RVers. I sure as heck brought along way, WAY too much. I only have about 20% of what I brought remaining.
I even have a photo of my mess of an RV the day I moved everything into it.
I look at it now, and I only still have maybe 10 things in that photo. Everything else has been donated.
If you’re a weekend warrior, chill. Bring the necessities. A few changes of clothing, food, games and such. You will soon figure out what you do and don’t need!
Wait To Buy Camping Memberships
I didn’t know about this one. Not knowing ‘how’ I was going to camp, I got myself a Passport America membership (which I never used, not even once.) Someone gifted me an RV Club Membership but I rarely used it due to my camping style.
Start by camping some first. THEN decide if you really do need ‘X’ membership. There are quite a few to choose from.
Get a Surge Protector/EMS
Oh boy. This is a very hot topic, though it shouldn’t be. If you will be plugged into power, and 90% of RVs are, you need protection. One brownout could cost you ALL the electronics in your RV.
This is not something to fool with. There are tons of stories out there of people who regret not having one. There are also people who say that they have camped for 10 or so years without one, and they have never had a problem. Great. You don’t have a problem until you have a problem.
Don’t roll the dice. Get an EMS (Electrical Management System) or at the very least, a good surge protector before you EVER plug in.
Have Roadside Assistance For Your Setup
Once again, it only takes one incident for you to regret not planning ahead. Getting roadside assistance ahead of time is vital to saving the big bucks if you have a breakdown.
Typically, your first incident will pay for itself. Whether it’s a tire change, a lockout, or you need towing to the nearest shop, it will cost you big bucks without protection.
Hey, we all make mistakes. Making some of these mistakes will cost you more than others. We hope at the very least you protect yourself with an EMS, as having electrical damage will cost you the most.
You are now fitted with the knowledge you need to look like a seasoned vet when you pull into the campground. Get out there and enjoy!
Do you have a recommendation for newbies that is not listed here? Shout it out below!
About the Author: Kelly Beasley
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly’s playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.
Melissa A. ~ “The whole experience was so much better than expected. The young lady that help me was sweet and professional. The driver arrived well before they said he would. Thank you Coach-Net!”