4 Embarrassing Things That Happen To New RVers
Being a new RV owner comes with lots of good memories and some you would probably prefer to forget.
There are many new things to learn and firsts for new RVers. It can be overwhelming for the first few trips, and unfortunately, things can and will happen. Many of these mishaps are simply a result of being inexperienced and will happen to the best of us.
These beginner mistakes generally only damage our pride, with the exception of some dents and scratches. As long as nobody gets hurt and it doesn’t cause major damage, these embarrassing things are learning experiences and often humorous to look back on.
One thing all RV owners share in common is, that at one point, they were all first-timers. It’s easy to watch a situation unfold or see a picture and wonder how did this happen as an experienced RVer. However, for someone just beginning the RV journey and doing many things for the first time, these silly mistakes are a right of passage in a way.
Newbie mistake or avoidable situation?
Some situations can be caulked up to inexperience, while others are more serious and should never happen.
As a new RV owner, you have some large responsibilities, and they must be clear before any RVing happens. These responsibilities include knowing the legal requirements and highway traffic laws surrounding RVs and towing.
Weight ratings and towing capacities are your responsibilities and must be followed. You are legally responsible for ensuring your RV and tow vehicle are safe and within legal limits. Exceeding these limits and/or having an accident, as a result, are not mistakes.
Although there are no driving requirements for most RVs, hooking up a large truck to a 40-foot fifth wheel with no experience and hitting the highway is a large risk. New RV owners with no towing or large vehicle experience should first become comfortable with their setup. This may include a towing course or simply driving with an experienced friend and practicing some maneuvers.
Some other avoidable situations would be common sense things, even if they are unique to RVing. It would be common sense that you can’t dump a black tank anywhere you like, be loud and unruly until 1 a.m. at your campsite, or take up multiple campsites. Things like this won’t be looked at as embarrassing new RVer mistakes.
So, legal responsibilities, common sense, and campground etiquette aside, new RVers will make some embarrassing mistakes. We have all watched another RVer being embarrassed, and we have all been the embarrassed RVer.
1. Black tank hose issues
One thing all RVers will agree on is that they don’t like dealing with black tank and hose issues. It is, unfortunately, part of RV life. With time, you will have a smoother plan, and dealing with sewer hoses will become less daunting.
Arriving at the campsite and getting set up for newbies can be overwhelming. There is lots to do and easy-to-miss things. Hooking up sewer hoses is an easy task, but it must be done properly. Sewer leaks can be serious and costly for the camper.
Not locking in a sewer connection or securing the elbow to the campground’s sewer pipe can lead to a smelly mess that your neighbors won’t appreciate. Accidentally pulling your unsecured sewer hose from the campground pipe happens easily.
Another embarrassing thing is disconnecting your sewer hose from your RV before closing the black tank valve. Again, packing up and leaving can be rushed, and you can quickly have a mess on your hands… literally. The best practice is to always wear gloves when dealing with sewer hoses.
2. Backing into your site
This one really hits home for many. Backing up a trailer for newbies is without a doubt the number one thing they worry about. Watching experienced drivers smoothly slide their trailers into their site in one seamless maneuver is a thing of beauty.
It takes time to become confident in your backing skills. Each campsite you arrive at will be different in some way. What you did last time may not work so well this time. Only time and experience will sharpen these skills.
As you pull into a campground, there are lots of people sitting around campsites watching everything happening. The audience makes this situation so much worse. Added pressure from watching eyes often results in mistakes and a few extra tries.
When you finally do get your rig parked, getting out and facing the audience can be a very embarrassing thing. It is hard to consider at the time, but people feel your pain, as they have all been there before.
3. Losing your awning
The vast majority of RVs have awnings, and they are a very beneficial feature. Having a shaded place to relax in the afternoon or shield you from light rain is great.
RV awnings are pretty tough, and I’ve seen many of them flap and move around on windy days sure they were going to break. They are designed to deal with some wind and can move in and out to some degree under windy conditions without damage.
After arriving at the campsite and getting set up, out comes the awning and you forget about it until it’s time to leave. In most cases, this isn’t an issue, and perhaps that’s why newbies get caught with their awning out on the wrong day.
Coming back to see your awning ripped off or bent and mangled is both embarrassing and frustrating. Wind gusts can pick up quickly, and struggling to get your awning back in against the wind is like folding up your beach umbrella in the wind.
Weather forecasts should always be checked if you’re leaving your RV unattended. The reliability of weather forecasts is of course questionable, but it doesn’t hurt to look. If you are awakened at night from high winds, save yourself the morning embarrassment and close your awning.
4. Forgetting important connections
You’ve planned your trip, made the drive, backed into your spot, and are ready to set up. So far, so good. The final step, hook up the water… But where is the water hose?
Experienced RVers will have a collection of fittings and connections as backups or to combine to make a certain setup work. Campgrounds are all different and so will your setup. Different length hoses, as well as reducers and fittings, may be needed to make things work.
The campground only provides a pipe to run your sewer hose to, an electrical box to plug into, and a water spigot to connect to. How all these things get connected is up to you.
With all these possible connections, it can be easy to forget something at home. In the case of newbie RVers, you may have even forgotten to purchase a certain item like a water hose or electrical adapter. Over time, you will build your collection of fittings, and you will have an organized space for everything so you know it’s there.
Get tips from other RVers
Getting into RVing is an exciting venture that will bring tons of great memories. As with all new things, it will also bring some challenges and embarrassing things.
If you keep the mindset that there will be learning experiences and some frustrating situations, these moments will be easier. All new RVers make mistakes, and sometimes they can certainly be embarrassing.
In the end, these embarrassing situations will be learned from and often laughed about. Before you know it, you will be the one watching the next newbie being embarrassed by their inexperience.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.
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Kendall lives with his wife and their two cocker spaniels full-time in their RV currently in Mexico. He is one half of DashboardDrifters.com and the co-founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers.
Conrad peter Meyer says
I drove with a slide out extended. Thank God I didn’t get too close to a power pole. RV was brand new and that would have totaled it. Drove on busy street for about 10 miles before noticing. Lot of people walking on this beach street and no one said anything’
Eric Wuolle says
Our instructor prepared us for the mandatory road and knowledge test prior to being allowed to tow a large RV. As part of this training, our commercial truck driver instructor’s tips were invaluable, especially this one: when backing up a trailer, grip the bottom of the steering wheel, and move your hand to the same side as you want the rear of the trailer to move. His other memorable tip related to restaurants: trucks stop there because they can [not necessarily because of the food quality !].
I was told early in our RVing life by my brother-in-law (experienced RVer), “Never drain your black tank until it’s at least 2/3 full”, that way you get plenty of flow to empty the tank. You can hook up the hose when you first arrive, if you know you will need to dump before leaving the campground, don’t dump it and leave the gate valve open all the time. Doing that also keeps the sewer gases from escaping into your interior whenever the toilet is flushed.
Dr. Mike says
The back-up topic only became an issue when we arrived at the campground and was guided to our spot. It was a beautiful location except for one thing- it was designed for a 35-foot maximum vehicle, and we have a 44-foot Entegra.
I got out and said “nope- find us a pull thru spot.” It was not as nice but was perfect.
For something on the “embarrassing list”:
Trying to raise the nightshades……with the engine running.
John From MN says
Ummm, what does “Trying to raise the nightshades……with the engine running.” mean?
Mike M. says
Consequence of not staying hydrated: In the middle of the night my wife got a really bad leg and foot cramp, one of the worst that she has ever had. She let out a howl that could have awakened the dead and moaned and groaned for quite a while until that leg had finally settled back down. Without a doubt the lady in the RV next to ours heard the commotion based upon the wink and flirtatious smile I received the next morning as I left the RV to walk the dog.
Sven Yohnson says
40+ years of camping, and music festivals, we could (should) write a book on the silliness we’ve witnessed.
#1. tents, and pop-up campers are translucent (especially when backlit) , and not at all soundproof (neither are RVs when windows and roof vents are open). My all time favorite was when a couple in our music compound excused themselves for an afternoon “nap”. Shortly after someone noticed their camper flag waving back-n-forth. Upon exiting their camper after their hour long “nap”, they were met with cheers, and a standing ovation from the group (the women were envious, and the men in awe). Reminded me of the old bumper sticker; “If the van’s a rock’in, don’t bother knock’in”. 😉
If you’re planning on pulling a large trailer…check out truck driving schools. Once you learn how, backing is a breeze.