RV camping is one of the most fun, rewarding and relaxing things you’ll ever do in your life – once you get the hang of it. Since getting yourself and your RV ready for your first adventures may feel a little overwhelming, we’ve put together this post just for you!
Whether you’re planning your first ever RV camping trip and you don’t know where to start, or you’re an RV veteran who is just looking for some nuggets you weren’t aware of, this article is chock full of the best RV camping trip tips, tricks, and hacks, for beginners and experts alike.
1 . Checklists
As a newbie RV camper, checklists can be a lifesaver! It is a good idea to make a few checklists and keep them with you for reference until you really get the hang of things.
To make sure you don’t miss any essential items, make a packing checklist. This checklist will change as you take more trips and learn what you need and didn’t bring and what you brought that you never touched.
Create a pre-trip checklist to help you remember all the things you need to do prior to taking off… this could include packing, making sure your home or apartment is vacation-ready and all appliances are off and other things such as:
- Checking the RV tires
- Making sure the awning is pulled in (you’d be surprised how many people miss this and lose their awning)
- Making sure the RV Jacks are pulled up
- Everything is latched and secured
- All passengers are accounted for, etc.
Once you’ve arrived at camp, a setup checklist will help you avoid things like a shower drain backup because you forgot to connect the sewer hose… That’s a mistake I made after RVing full-time for a year! A camp setup checklist should include:
- Leveling the RV
- Securing Wheels
- Hooking up Water
- Hooking up Sewer
- Setting up Pop-Ups or Opening Slides
- Setting up lawn chairs/outside area
2. Choosing Campsites
First and foremost, if you’re going to a popular location… Make a reservation! This cannot be stressed enough. Popular destinations can be booked up for up to a year in advance, so call before you go. There are few things more stressful than driving all day and arriving at your campground only to find out it’s full.
In addition to making reservations, here are a few helpful tips to finding a good campground:
- Check reviews. Use Google, Allstays.com and Campendium.com to check reviews from previous campers. You’ll get the inside scoop on the park and location, the management and the condition of the facilities.
- Use Google Maps Satellite View. Using satellite view of your chosen destination will help you get a feel for what navigating in the campground will be like, where to turn in at, the spacing between the campsites and more. I like to use satellite view to choose which campsite I want before making my reservation.
- Most campgrounds charge a lot more for nightly than they do for weekly or monthly reservations. If you have time and are looking to save some money, be sure to check their weekly or monthly rates before making your reservation.
3. Protect Your RV
An RV is an investment – one that you’ll want to protect and enjoy for years to come. In addition to insurance and preventative maintenance, there are a few devices most serious RVers use to give themselves added protection and peace of mind.
- Surge Protector: A surge protector is plugged in between your rig and an external power source. It monitors the quality of the power source, protects your rig from ungrounded connections and will protect your rigs electrical system from getting fried in the event of a power surge from lightning or bad campground wiring. It is a small investment that can save your entire electrical system! You can even purchase a lock to ensure it doesn’t get stolen.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System: A tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, can alert you to potential tire hazards that you would otherwise be unaware of. They can be used for RVs and travel trailers alike and alert you to changes in tire pressure or temperature. This can be helpful in preventing blowouts and rig damage.
4. Don’t hibernate (even if it’s cold)
“A campground or an RV park is like a temporary community”, Wulfman says, “so everyone should make an effort to be friendly to their neighbors” – even if you’re RVing in winter. Friendly company can be just as cozy as your warm trailer.
“Say hello to your neighbors and learn a little about them,” he says. “You don’t have to spend your vacation with them, but being friendly goes a long way to make everyone feel more at home at a campground.”
This way, if a problem arises both people feel comfortable talking about it.
5. Respect campsite boundaries
“There aren’t any walls or fences that maintain a physical boundary for each RV party, but one does exist”, Wulfman says.
“It’s important to respect everyone’s space,” he says. “In other words, don’t cut through someone’s outdoor living room to go to the bathroom. If you’re traveling with children, remind them of this rule, too.”
6. Mind your garbage
From paper plates to empty plastic bottles, garbage will collect. While it’s tempting to toss garbage into the nightly campfire, it breaks RV etiquette.
Burning garbage creates an awful smell that neighbors have to endure. Plastic in particular gives off a foul odor, and can be unhealthy for anyone who inhales it.
Rather than burning garbage, bag it and move it to approved receptacles.
“RV owners should also make sure wastewater is handled properly”, Wulfman says. Check tanks and hoses to make sure nothing leaks on the ground and gives off a bad odor.
7. Tips for Traveling with Dogs
Let’s face it, dogs are called man’s best friend for a reason. It’s hard to imagine leaving them for even one day, let alone for weeks, or even months at a time while you’re on the road. You want to bring them along, but it can be a real challenge. Here are some things you can do to make it easier:
- First, make a list of everything your pet will need while you’re on the road. That includes bowls, food, a leash, wipes, toys, etc. This will help you to get organized right from the beginning and will save you lot’s of stress later when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
- Get them on food that is easily found everywhere. You tend to magically run out of things while you’re on the road and dog food is one of them. Being able to make a pit stop anywhere to pick up food will be a real help.
- Make sure it’s vaccinated and treated for fleas, ticks, heartworms, etc. Keep their medical information handy in case you need to visit a different vet.
- Call any campgrounds you’re planning on staying at and make sure pets are allowed and under what kind of condition they are. The last thing you need is to have to change campgrounds last minute.
- Make sure to leave plenty of food and water in the RV if you’re going to leave your dog in there for a while. Also, read up on the law of whatever state you’re in to find out about leaving animals in a vehicle. Rules are usually different for RVs, but it’s good to be in the know.
- Dogs should always ride in the same vehicle as you. Never in a vehicle, you’re pulling. It’s best to keep them harnessed to avoid any injuries in the event of an accident.
8. Tips for Traveling with Kids
When you’re on the road, you definitely want to make sure your kids are having fun and making amazing memories, but you also want to make sure they’re safe and maybe even learning a thing or two. Here are some tips to help your kids get the most out of the experience:
- Make a list of everything you’re anticipating they’ll need. From multiple changes of clothes for different weather conditions to books and games to keep them entertained.
- Keep glow sticks and other glow and the dark items with you. The kids will love them, plus you’ll be able to see them from far away.
- Bring handy cleaning supplies such as Swiffer wipes, Clorox wipes, etc. Kids can be messy.
- Get a mat for the bathroom to avoid getting the floors wet after showers. Do the same thing for the main door to avoid tracking sand and dirt. Kids have a tendency of leaving traces on their feet. Plus, it’ll help with the cleaning.
- Don’t just go to theme parks and beaches. Go to some museums, science centers and other places where kids can have fun and learn at the same time.
- Bring educational games along with you like math or alphabet flashcards.
9. Tips for Traveling with Seniors
Traveling as or with seniors can be challenging because although wise and experienced, it’s an age that may require a little more attention. To make sure seniors get the most out of the RV trip, try a few of these tips out:
- If you’re a senior and are going to be driving, consider the distance. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and don’t be afraid to take plenty of rest stops.
- Make sure you get the green light from the doctor to go on any camping trip, whether for a few weeks or months.
- Is anyone taking any medication? If so, make sure you’ve got everything you need for the entire trip.
- Maybe avoid the most rural areas in case there need to be any emergency stops.
10. Tips if you’re thinking about Dry Camping
Dry camping can a be fun and epic experience, but it can also be a dangerous one. Remember, going dry camping doesn’t mean that you need to go unprepared:
- First, assess your RV. Know exactly what you’re RV is good for and what it’s not good for. Can your RV maneuver through certain terrain?It’s important to figure all that out before attempting to dry camp.
- Bring important essentials, like flashlights, plenty of water, a lighter, cell phone signal booster, maybe even some solar equipment, like a solar stove.
- Empty all tanks before you go and fill up on fuel as you won’t be able to access any of that.