Helpful Advice for Your First RV Trip

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Welcome, Future Happy Campers! The idea of traveling around the U.S., cruising the open roads without a care in the world, is exhilarating. Most of us have dreamed of doing this. The desire to visit sites you read about as a kid, follow your favorite band, try new restaurants, local cuisine, and pubs, attend festivals, experience great fishing or hunting locations, is shared by many. If you just bought an RV or are contemplating buying one, congratulations, you’re one step closer to living your dream. Wherever you decide to go, before you venture out the first time, consider some of the following suggestions to make the experience enjoyable for the whole family.

  • Bring along a journal or make one on your smartphone so you can record important notes for future trips, keep track of gas, mileage, etc.
  • Sticky notepad comes in handy to leave notes for family members, reminders, etc.
  • Don’t drive more than 2-4 hours at a time. Make frequent stops to stretch your legs, get something to eat or visit a place of interest.
  • Find trucker/RV friendly rest stops, don’t rush the trip.
  • Drive-through restaurants can’t always, accommodate the height/width of your RV, it’s just not worth taking any chances. Park and go in to eat or takeout.
  • Pull far into intersections before making a turn.
  • Leave lots of room for braking.
  • Always use a spotter when you back up.
  • Turn off the propane tank before refueling at the gas station, it can be dangerous.
  • Run the engine for a few minutes each day to recharge the battery If you’re staying parked in one spot for a while.
  • If your campsite is on a slant, level out the rig with a pair of two-by-four boards. You may need to inch your RV around to make sure you are leveled before settling down. If not, then, for example, the shower may not drain properly. Use an app or leveler to make sure you’re not parked on a bump or rock.
  • Look up potential campsite websites, before you leave, to stay at as opposed to motels. RV campsites have a social atmosphere, it’s easy to make friends and you already have something in common. There are usually more kid-friendly amenities such as a playground, miniature golf, go-karts, pool, etc.
  • Bring electronic chargers for your laptop, phones, iPads, cameras, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.
  • Arrange for Wi-Fi hotspots. In most public locations Wi-Fi that is shared can be temperamental and may not be secure. Many campsites have only 1 router so you could be out of range if you’re parked far from the office.
  • Bring along a board game or two and a deck of cards for rainy days and nighttime fun.
  • Load your phone or tablet with RV friendly apps such as:
    • Allstays Camp & RVapp, “Everything a camper or RV needs on the road“.
    • Allstays Overnight Parking app for locations such as Walmart.
    • It may not always be easy to find RV dump stations; many campgrounds offer the service for around $10. AllStays Waste Dump app can help you find one.
    • Use a GPS system that has an RV-specific route planner, because it will factor in overhead clearance and other restrictions. Non-RV specific GPS systems do not provide the
    • info you need, such as which roads, bridges, and tunnels won’t allow propane tanks through.
  • Waste dumping is not as bad as you might expect, you just hook up the tube to the spout on the RV, make sure to screw it on tight, point the other end into the drain, pull the black water lever to release, wait, then the grey water lever and wait, then close the valves, rinse, close, then you’re all done!
  • Consider using toilet/restroom facilities whenever available. This cuts down on cleaning, dumping and odor issues.
  • Bring along latex gloves and zip lock bags, you’ll be surprised when they come in handy!
  • Take a few trial spins around the neighborhood or parking lot before heading out on the road with your companion. If you hear any rattling tighten up anything loose or moving around.
  • Pack a basic tool kit, hopefully, you won’t need it, but keep it simple. Leatherman or knife/tools are really handy.
  • Bring items that will make your children and/or pets comfy, like their favorite blanket, doll, or toy.
  • When packing, use a critical eye and pack only things you and your traveling companions will actually wear, don’t require ironing or special care. Pack underwear, sneakers, shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits, etc. Leave the heels at home unless you plan on a big night out. Whatever you pack limit the choices, it makes life easier. There will be stores on the road, you can always pick up souvenir t-shirts or sweatshirts.

Most importantly, bring your best attitude with you; be open to new adventures and creating memories. Just relax and enjoy! Don’t strive for perfection. Don’t try to replicate your home. This is your first RV outing, if you remember to bring your sense of humor and inner child, the whole family will look forward to many more!

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