New to RV Camping? You Need these Camping Tips For Beginners
So, you’ve purchased an RV and are ready to take it out on its maiden voyage. After driving home in your new rig, hopefully you feel confident that it’s time to check out a destination you’ve been looking into.
Still, there are a lot of things to consider other than just the purchase. If you are a new RV owner, take into consideration a few of these RV camping tips for beginners.
1. Make reservations well in advance.
The number of people who want to RV is hitting an all-time high and is growing every day. Popular parks are often full a year or more in advance.
If you are adventurous and don’t mind stepping out of your comfort zone, you may want to consider boondocking. There are also organizations such as Boondocker’s Welcome, that, for a small membership fee, provide you with opportunities to stay at a spot for free. With one of these, you may have the opportunity to enjoy a winery, farm or other unique spot for camping. Some have hookups and some don’t so you definitely want to take that into consideration.
2. Less is more when packing.
Whether you are taking that first inaugural trip a few hours away or are heading out to tour the country, you need to realize that packing a lot is not necessary.
Your first trip will give you a good idea of what you need or don’t need to bring with you. Make a list before you leave of things to pack. When you return, take out anything that you didn’t use. This is a good rule for full-timers as well. If you haven’t used it in six months, get rid of it.
3. Watch your load weight and know how much you can pull.
Confirm your vehicle’s towing capacity from the manufacturer. Learn terms such as Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), cargo weight, tong/hitch weight, pin weight, maximum towing capacity, and payload capacity.
You can calculate your towing capacity with a few trips to a Cat Scale. We did this on our way home from the dealership. Weigh the camper empty, then weigh it again when it’s full.
4. Have a checklist for departure.
This can help in two ways. First, you will have gone through your packing list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. The second is you won’t forget important tasks like securing shower doors or padding breakables in cabinets.
An outside checklist is essential as well and your list might depend on what type of rig you have. Tasks such as pulling in slides, gathering up hoses, and unplugging electricity should be on that list.
5. Do your research
As a new RVer, do you know how long it takes for your refrigerator to get cool? It usually takes up to 24 hours for it to reach cooling temperature. Leaving your refrigerator on propane while driving will help but most don’t recommend doing this for safety reasons.
6. Take time to get where you are going.
Remember, traveling with your RV is a marathon, not a sprint. If you drive at acceptable speeds for your tires and take time to stop and smell the roses, you will arrive at your destination safely.
Know the arrival time for the park where you are staying. Some may not allow late check-ins and you definitely don’t want to arrive after dark. Your GPS may indicate an arrival time but it’s good to add in time for a slower pace, stops for meals and gas. It may take more time to get in and out of gas stations as well.
7. Scope everything out in advance when you arrive.
One of the most important camping tips for newbies is to scope out your campsite when you arrive. Backing up your big rig or travel trailer will be intimidating at first. Staying at a park that has workers who assist with that will get you started on the right foot on that first trip. You can also ask someone nearby to help. Someone will be glad to assist while everyone else takes a seat to watch the show.
Get out and look (GOAL) is an important term to remember. Consider obstructions in the site, such as a picnic table, electricity post, or trees.
You might want to find an empty parking lot before you take off and practice backing up. You’ll want to get comfortable with the correct way to turn the steering wheel that will put the trailer in the correct direction.
“No worries means no worries. Whether you are a ‘newby’ or a seasoned traveler, take time to get out of your vehicle and examine your site. Once you have a plan for parking and are on the same page with your spotters (highly recommended), calmly and slowly proceed to park. This will help to prevent any damage or misunderstanding. A stress-free (you can do this) set up for your rig will be a great start for your stay, even if it is for just one night.” Aaron Harris, full time RVer, work camper, seasoned veteran.
8. Ask for help and get to know other RVers.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. RVers are some of the nicest people and will be more than willing to share their camping tips – probably more than you want. It’s also a great way to share a coffee at your picnic table, gather around a fire pit, and make lifetime friends.
Find more beginning camping tips
Before you hit the road, make sure you have the RV LIFE Pro tools to get RV-safe GPS directions and to find other points of interest along the way.
For more camping tips, check out this article from Do It Yourself RV on New To RVing: Top 7 Things You Need To Know Today.
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.