As spring and summer start to approach, many people start to think about camping. The truth is that RV camping is much different than tent camping. This means even if you are a seasoned hiker or tent camper, there are a few RV camping tips you should know!
With that being said, your RV camping trip can be ruined just as easily if you’re not well prepared. Whether you are going on vacation or a short weekend trip, or if you’re going to start RVing full-time, being prepared is critical.
It can save you time, money, and just make your trip around much better and stress-free. With that being said, let’s get started and talk about the best 10 RV camping tips for beginners!
1. Learn About RV Types
One of the most important things you can do as an RV beginner is learn about the different types of RVs. There are so many different types, brands, and models that it can be overwhelming. Once you know which type of RV you will be using, it will be much easier to book campsites, plan your trip, and drive your rig safely.
There are 4 main types of motorized RVs:
- Class A Motorhomes: These are shaped like a bus and about 30-45 feet long
- Class B & B+ Motorhomes: Campers with good amenities and around 18-28 long long
- Class C Motorhomes: These are larger than campers and range from 25-35 feet long
- Converted Camper Vans: These are like Class B but often have fewer amenities and can range from 10-30 feet long
On top of the motorized RVs, there are also towable options:
- 5th wheel campers
- Travel trailers
- Truck campers
- Pop up campers
- Toy haulers (for hauling your toys, such as ATVs, four-wheelers, etc.)
If you haven’t already bought your RV, it’s important to research each one of these to find out which one will best suit your needs. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. So you’ll need to weigh those depending on how you want to go RV camping.
Once you choose one or if you already own it, you should spend some time learning the ins and outs of it. Practice driving it in a big parking lot until you’re comfortable with it. Doing this will ensure that you don’t have any hiccups when trying to park and set up your RV once you get to your destination.
2. Perform a Walk Around
Regardless of what type of RV you are using, you should always perform a walk around before driving it. This tip is especially important if you own your RV because this will spot any issues that might break down or cause problems down the road.
As soon as you turn on your RV’s engine, start doing a walk around outside. Make sure everything is where it should be (such as axle caps and fenders). Then look for small issues like cracks in the walls, corrosion on metal surfaces, smoke coming from the tailpipe, etc.
Finally, check all of your tires to make sure they have enough air pressure and no slits or cracks along their sides. Simple RV maintenance and small tasks like this can save you from some major headaches and costly repairs. Think about doing a before and after checklist.
3. Confirm Your Towing Capabilities
Depending on the type of RV you have, your towing capabilities might vary. That means it’s important to know how much you’re allowed to tow. In some cases, a certain vehicle can’t even tow an RV at all.
If you don’t know where to find this information, then check your owner’s manual or look online under its specifications page. A quick Google search will bring up some information related to your RV and your vehicle’s towing capabilities.
Make sure that the vehicle in question is capable of pulling the weight you need it to pull. If not, get rid of your current rig and upgrade or trade it in for something better. You want to make sure everything will be safe while driving and especially while parked.
This is not something to take lightly. It can not only become a costly accident but also is very dangerous, as well as against the law.
4. Make a Checklist
As a new RV camper, it’s important to make a checklist of the essentials you’ll need for your trip. This way, you won’t forget anything and you can be better prepared.
Start by making a packing list of all the items you’ll need while on the road. This should include everything from clothes to food to camping gear. It’s also helpful to have a specific first-aid kit for any unexpected emergencies. You’ll also want to make a separate list for the RV needs!
Next, make a pre-trip checklist of all the things you need to do before hitting the road. This includes packing, checking fluid levels, topping off batteries, etc. All in all, you should have three prepared lists:
- Packing list
- RV List
- Things to Do
The last list will ensure that you don’t forget to turn off lights or water at your apartment or home. Something like that can cause higher bills or damage. With a simple list, you won’t miss anything and won’t have to stress about it while camping.
5. Research Your RV Parks
The next tip is to research your RV parks. This will ensure that you know the rules, amenities, and anything else essential for a pleasant stay.
Picking an RV park could be difficult when you don’t know what each one offers. But if you spend some time reading reviews, checking prices, and seeing if it’s a full hookup or basic site, then it’ll help a lot!
Once you pick a place to camp, be sure to double-check it has everything you want as well as its availability.
Whether you are looking for RV sites in Washington or anywhere else in the U.S., here are a few resources to take advantage of:
In Google maps, you can use the satellite view and street view. This will allow you to what it looks like from a bird’s view or street view. This can save you from going places that your RV wouldn’t fit or be capable of driving to.
For more information on the park’s amenities, safety and security, see Campendium.com for reviews from previous campers. You’ll get the lowdown on the park and its surroundings as well as the management and condition of the facilities. Google and Allstays can provide good reviews as well.
Research Parking and Surrounding Areas
Another thing to research is the surrounding areas. This includes what type of shopping is available, both near and far from the RV park.
You’ll also want to know if there are any spots near the park where you can safely and easily park your RV. More often than not, RV parks have designated spots for their guests, but the rest of town may not.
Finding parking can be one of the most difficult and stressful things when traveling in your RV. As always, it’s best to do your due diligence and research ahead of time so you’re not left stranded or frustrated while on vacation.
6. Go for a Practice Trip
Another RV camping tip is to go on a practice trip first. This will give you the freedom to test out all of your systems and check for any problems before you decide to camp with it.
We would suggest going somewhere where you can park overnight for free or cheap. Something like a Walmart parking lot is perfect because there are usually no issues staying overnight outside of their parking lots. If your new RV has everything you need, then this should be really close to how it’ll feel when camping in full swing!
Make sure to use your checklist on this too, as this can help you iron out anything you may not need or forget about.
7. Less Is More
This is an important tip when it comes to camping. The less you bring, the better. You’ll be amazed at how much space and weight you can save while packing your RV with things for your trip.
As mentioned before, make a list of what you need for your first trip and pack only the essentials. Then if you find out you need something else on the road, then that’s okay too; it’s easy to pick up little items here or there.
You won’t be tent camping out in the middle of nowhere, so a quick trip into town is fine for something small. RVs don’t have a ton of room, so you don’t want to bring everything from the house with you.
8. Setting Up Your RV Spot
Our next tip is about setting up your RV spot. To do this, you’ll need a level surface and enough distance from your neighbors for some breathing space, as well as a few other things.
Most campgrounds will have a map of their website which will show the specific dimensions of each site. This should include where utility hookups are located if there’s a paved pad or gravel area, and any trees or other obstacles that may affect your set-up.
This can help you decide how to get into and out of the campsite as well as where to put certain things. Here are a few things to keep in mind for beginners and veterans:
- Always make sure to arrive with at least 2 hours of daylight left. That way, you’re not setting up in the dark. This tip goes for breaking down the campsite as well.
- When you get there, make sure to disconnect your two vehicles, unless you’re staying for one night and won’t need it.
- Check for obstructions before backing in. It helps to have someone get out and watch for you if you have a partner camper.
- Think about any slideouts that your RV has for your outdoor seating. Make sure to leave enough room for these when parking.
- Use your blocks to level out your RV when you get there.
- If the weather is bad or going to be bad when you go to sleep, make sure to break down your outside stuff or strap it down.
Some of these may seem like simple RV camping tips for beginners, but even a seasoned camper can forget. Always keep these in mind!
9. Take Your Time
This can be hard for some, but you’ll enjoy the experience more if you slow down and take everything in! Whether you are going RV beach camping or just up the road to an RV park, take your time. RVing is not a race.
Take your time driving, especially in hilly or curvy areas. You should also keep your speed around 10 MPH slower than normal to make sure that your tires (and other drivers) are safe.
Your vehicle is much heavier and takes longer to stop, and you have a lot more belonging inside. You don’t want to take those curves or slopes fast.
Because of these, you should also try to stay in the far right lane. Only get over to make your turns or pass another vehicle on the road.
Make sure to stop at different places along the way, don’t drive straight through if you’re not in a rush. As mentioned before, aim to arrive at least two hours before sun-down so that you can get yourself set up and moved into your site without having to do it all in the dark.
Part of RV camping tips for beginners is knowing when to go, and when not to go. If the weather is bad, stay home rather than going out there and having a terrible time. You’ll always feel better about yourself if you make it another time as opposed to putting yourself or others in danger.
10. Make Reservations in Advance
We mentioned before to do your research on the RV parks as well as the availability, but you also need to ensure you book well in advance. People travel in the spring and summer the most. There are, of course, other popular times depending on locations, so if you see a place you want to stay at, don’t wait too long to go ahead and book it.
If it’s at a state park or national forest, call early in the morning when they open or reserve online well in advance. Many of your major state and national parks can be booked out over a year in advance. So the sooner you look, the better.
If you see one that only has a few left, make sure you book right then.
If there is no availability for your ideal time, don’t fret. With many parks having an overflow section as well as numerous choices for rentals, there is always something that will work for everyone.
Alternative Parking for RV
If you can’t find an RV park that suits your needs in a certain area, or if there just is no availability, don’t stress. You do have a couple more options.
There are several different apps and websites that can help you out and get you parked. Anywhere from a day to a few months, these resources can help you out:
Boondocker’s Welcome is a platform that provides its members with opportunities to stay for free at a variety of locations. These spots are often provided by the members themselves and are typically located on their private property. There are also designated areas for Boondocker’s Welcome that offer hookups for water and electricity.
The membership fee is $50 per year and provides access to a map of all the participating locations as well as the ability to join in on social media groups with other members. If you are ever in need of help while traveling, you can also reach out to other members for assistance.
Harvest Hosts is a membership program that is similar to Boondockers Welcome. It connects you to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and other interesting sites that encourage self-contained RVers to stop by and stay the night.
You can join the Harvest Hosts program for relatively cheap. The membership is right around $90 per year and members have access to a map of all participating locations.
Members can also join in on social media groups with other members for support while traveling.
If you are self-contained (don’t need hookups), then Harvest Hosts is a great way to find alternative parking for your RV.
Bonus Tip: What to Do When Your Not Camping
We’ve got a bonus tip for you since you may not always be camping in your RV. So, what do you do with it after your trip?
When you’re not using your RV, it’s important to properly store everything. This will help keep your RV in good condition and prevent any unnecessary damage.
Here are a few tips on how to properly store your RV:
1. Clean It Out
The first step is to clean out your RV. This includes sweeping, wiping down surfaces, and emptying all of the cabinets and drawers. This will help get rid of any pests or rodents that may be living inside.
2. Cover the Roof
If you live in a hot climate, then you’ll want to cover the roof of your RV. This will help prevent any sun damage or heat buildup in your RV. You can either purchase a special tarp made for roofs or use a large sheet.
3. Store Valuable Items
If you have any items that are highly valuable, then you’ll want to store them safely away when your RV is not in use. You can keep these items in storage containers or wrapped up securely somewhere else.
5. Turn Off All Appliances & Electronics
Make sure all appliances and electronics are turned off before storing them away. If they are on (because you’re using solar), they could cause power problems when being stored, which may result in damage.
6. Keep It Clean and Wash it Down
When you’re done camping, it’s important to wash the outside of your RV. This will help get rid of any grime build-up and prevent any damage.
You can use a hose and some soap to do this. Be sure to rinse off all the soap afterward.
Use an RV Storage Unit
If you’re not able to park your RV at your home, then you’ll need to use a storage unit. This is the best way to protect your RV from the weather and any other elements that may damage it.
Many RV storage facilities will offer both covered and uncovered spots. So if you’re not worried about sun damage and want to save, they’ll have an option for you.
When looking for a storage unit, be sure to find one that has good reviews!
RV Camping Tips For Beginners
RV camping can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to know what you’re doing before hitting the open road. In this article, we’ve provided some of the most important RV camping tips for beginners that will help make your trip flawless.
By implementing all of these tips, you’ll be sure to have an epic adventure! We hope you find these tips helpful and enjoy your next RV camping trip. If you need help finding storage for your RV or want to speak with one of our helpful staff, contact us today.