We are all new at something at some point in our lives. These things can be simple tasks such as learning to ride a bike or skateboard. At other times it may be a bigger life event like learning to drive and enjoy your new RV. Classes and training are often available from your RV dealer or some of your RVing clubs but there is a definite learning curve involved. Even with a “crash” course, it is still possible to mess up — BIG! Fortunately for you, we are here to help you avoid 5 common RV rookie mistakes.
You have probably seen the films of people racing away from a gas station with the handle and hose from the pump still attached to the car. The photos and videos range from amusing to horrifying when everything catches fire. It’s not funny at that point and is extremely dangerous and deadly. Did you know that a similar thing can easily happen with your RV?
Pulling out of the campsite with all of your hookups still in place is a big no-no. Whether it is your electrical, sewer, water or all of them, you’re in for some major damage. The damage to your wallet will be even harder to deal with. Refer to the handy pre-trip checklist that we mention below and you won’t be likely to forget these important steps in breaking down your camp. Even if you follow a regular routine every time, you could get interrupted and miss a step. Use that checklist!
Being Too “Free And Breezy”
It sounds fun, doesn’t it? “We’ll just go where the wind takes us.” “We won’t keep to a set schedule or plan, we’ll let the road guide us.” It does seem like that would be a romantic way to break in your new rig but let’s get real. So, what could possibly be wrong with your plan/lack of a plan?
First of all, reservations are your friend. The deeper into the busy season you get, the less likely you will find a suitable spot in your chosen destination. Yes, you can just dry camp along the road or in a truck stop parking lot. That doesn’t seem as appealing as a campground with a roaring fire for roasting marshmallows though.
The other issue you’ll come across with your go-with-the-flow plan is road conditions and routes. Cruising the “off the beaten path” roadways can be a lot of fun. But when you’re driving a 28’ motorhome and pulling a large boat, you might regret the off-roading on a one-way, one lane road you’re now stuck on.
Not Doing A Trial Run
Would you jump into an airplane and just take off without a test run or prior training? Hopefully not. In that same vein, it is not a good idea to just jump into your new RV and head to destinations unknown. Making a trial run in your new rig (or rented RV) is the best way to prepare yourself and your family for your first trip.
It is fairly easy to do a trial run with your RV. Plan a weekend getaway somewhere close, even in your own town if possible. You don’t want to go far and plan anything longer than a few days in case of problems. Learn how to use and set up everything in your rig and become acquainted with all of its equipment and functions. Once you have this maiden trip under your belt, you’ll be better prepared for when trouble does crop up.
Forgetting That Size Really Does Matter
Probably the number 1, most common RV rookie mistake is forgetting just how big this monstrous rig is that you’re cruising around in. A common scenario is the new RVer getting off work early on Friday, jumping into the shiny new rig and sailing off into the sunset. To get to that sunset our intrepid RVer must go under a bridge with a 10’ clearance. The travel trailer is 12’ high. Hmmm, “Houston, we have a problem.”
Learn the height, length, width and weight of your motorhome or travel trailer. Learn it and commit it to memory. Write it on your checklist and remind yourself every time you pre-trip. Make sure the other members of your family and crew know these numbers. Size does matter and if you forget it, that wallet will take yet another major hit. It’s also a good idea to check out the roads you’ll be traveling for any of those low-clearance bridges or hairpin turns that your rig might not like.
Skipping The Pre-Trip(s)
Even the most experienced pilots do a pre-trip inspection of their airplane – every time they fly. You should be doing the same with your RV in order to avoid these common rookie mistakes or even those the pros could make. Have a thorough checklist that you keep by the driver’s seat – those pilots use a checklist every day. Use it every time you’re preparing for a trip and make sure that each item is taken care of before you ever leave the driveway.
Leaving your campsite is also the time for a pre-trip inspection. Walk around your rig to make sure all of your hookups have been disconnected. (See our first tip above!) Ensure the cords and hoses are all properly stowed away. Make sure you remember to pull in or put down your TV antenna before pulling out as well. Wheel chocks and any leveling devices should also be checked.
Skip The Rookie Mistakes
So now you’ve got a better idea of what common mistakes other RV rookies have made. Do you do the same thing or do you take our advice and skip ‘em? It’s up to you but we sincerely hope you learn from the rookie mistakes of others and are off to a bright and sunny relationship with your new rig!