Top 17 RV Rookie mistakes to avoid

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Last updated on June 29 2021

Buying or hiring the wrong RV for your trip

There is so much that can be unplanned when going on an RV trip, but the selection of your RV is not one of them.  Buying an RV is a significant financial decision so unless you have money to burn, you will want to make a very considered decision.  If you are buying an RV, it is very important to do your research properly.  Visit RV shows and expos.

Don’t just look at them online.  You need to get inside them; sit in the driver’s seat, lie in the bed, pretend to have dinner at the dining table.  Look at the bathroom.  Do you think you will be happy with it?  Is there enough storage?  How much will it cost to register and insure it?  How many people are going to be travelling in the RV?

Find online forums, there are many of them on Facebook these days.  These are just a few examples.

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If you are planning on buying an RV, especially if you haven’t driven or hired one before, we strongly recommend hiring one, even if only for a short period.  Living in an RV either fulltime or for longer periods is totally different to just visiting them in a yard or at a show.

Equally, hiring an RV still costs money and if you are hiring for a longer period, can cost quite a bit of money.  You need to make sure you hire for the purpose you require.  Much of the information above still holds for hiring.  If you have a large number of people going on a trip, don’t hire a small RV.  If you want a proper shower and separate toilet, be sure to check this out.  How long are you hiring for?  Can you get a better deal for long term hire?  Is it fully self-contained or do you need to take everything into the RV yourself?

If you love RV’ing there is a vehicle for everyone, but do your research first.  This article discusses the kinds of hiring questions in great detail.

Forgetting to disconnect everything when you leave

This might sound so basic but we’ve lost count of how many times we have seen people drive away whilst still connected to services.  Even if you don’t like being involved in the services process, be a good RV traveler and get out with whoever is filling up with water or emptying waste and be that second set of eyes to check that everything is disconnected.

Read more>> How to empty your waste correctly 

Leaving equipment behind at service points

Whilst driving off connected might be one issue, driving away and leaving some of your important equipment at the service point is also annoying.  It can also get expensive if you keep leaving things behind and downright painful if you need water and have no connector for the tap.  Again, a second set of eyes and another check before leaving is a good idea.

Parking without using leveling blocks or initiating the inbuilt levelers is just lazy.

Leaving rubbish behind

Wherever you stay, when you leave all that should remain is a tire track at most.  Don’t be that person who dumps waste where it is not meant to be dumped and don’t leave your trash lying around.  As that old saying goes “take only photographs, leave only footprints”

Driving too far

A basic RV rookie mistake is trying to drive too far. RV travel is meant to be slow travel.  Slow down, plan to see more of a smaller number of locations.  You’ll be thankful if you are the driver that you actually get to enjoy some of the trip too.

Driving when tired

This is a big no-no.  Not only is it dangerous to drive any vehicle whilst tired but driving a big rig when you are tired is a recipe for disaster.  Having to park it at the end of a long day when you are tired is also not advised.

Not practising how to drive an RV

If you are new to driving an RV, don’t head off on your first expedition without having given it some short trial runs.  Practice parking it in tight locations, practice reversing and turning tight corners.  Practice stopping too.  These vehicles are big and heavy and stopping fast is not something they are really capable of.  Put it this way, I’d hate to rely on it pulling up quickly if you are traveling at topo speed.

Bring all your equipment in during bad weather

If a storm is about, don’t leave chairs and tables outside.  Batten down your awnings and secure anything that is on top of the RV.  This should also apply when you are leaving the site for long periods of time.

Don’t leave your RV unlocked

Security is really important if you want it to be there when you get back and still be in possession of all of your belonging.  Lock up your RV.

Don’t park in non-secure locations

Always be mindful of where you are parked for the night.  If you aren’t staying in a motorhome park and are boondocking, for example, trust your instincts.  Get out and check the area.  Do you see evidence of any strange activity?  Is there a lot of rubbish around indicating that people might be frequenting this area at night?  Are there others around you or are you completely on your own?

Do regular maintenance checks

Check your oil, your tires and everything else that needs to be checked regularly.

Read more>> Winter portable toilet maintenance

Not joining an automobile association

If you are spending a lot of time on the road, joining the AAA is common sense.

Not checking everything prior to moving

Before you drive off you need to check, check and check again.  Are the stairs up?  Is the awning down?  Are the satellite dishes and solar panels down?  Have you put the vents down?  Check that all the drawers and closets secured.  What about the windows, are they closed?  Are there any loose items left on benches, beds or tables?  We use a list that we put at the front of the vehicle to run through every time we move.

Understanding how the batteries work

It is essential to know what runs off the house battery and how much energy your applications use, particularly if you don’t have access to solar or electricity.  Know how to read the panel showing power usage.

Understand how the tanks work

On a similar subject, learn how to read the panel so you know when you are running out of freshwater or your grey water tank needs emptying.  You don’t want to leave this one to the last minute.

Always have a spotter

If you are new to driving an RV, not comfortable parking or reversing or you are hiring an RV, always get a spotter.  It’s not always easy to see things behind like low banks, large rocks etc so having a spotter can save you a lot of frustration and money.

Know your size

We always have a note at the front of the vehicle reminding us of how high and wide we are.  It only takes a moment to glance at it when we are in tight spots and even though we might remember, it’s a good secondary check.

You might also like to read: Park RVs – the latest in park living

About the Author
Carrie has loved camping and being outdoors since she was a small child. After travelling extensively throughout the world, Carrie and her husband Chad really found their love of exploring by RV. Even though this is their preferred mode of travel these days, you can still find them in a tent too. Wherever they are, you can be sure they are also enjoying good food and wine.

Author: Carrie