These are common RV travel and RV trip mistakes. Making these mistakes could put an early end to your RV trip or make it a lot less fun. And let’s face it, your friends and family are looking forward to this trip and counting on you for it to be perfect. So, let’s make it a great RV trip by avoiding these mistakes!
Learn from the mistakes that Cheri and I have made and many others. We’ve got RV travel newbie mistakes all the way up to mistakes that some of us experienced RVers still make. How many of these RV travel mistakes have you made? Let us know in the video comments.
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BEFORE YOU LEAVE ON YOUR RV TRIP
- Not doing a full shakedown. If you are new to camping in an RV or just got a new or used RV to you, plan a “shakedown” trip. Do this before you plan to have a nice, relaxing camping trip with family, friends, kids, etc. This can be a short RV trip, maybe 100 miles or so for a weekend that you and your significant other can figure everything out without the pressure of kids, family members, visitors, etc. You will likely find problems that need to be fixed, yes, even in a brand-new RV! If you must, you can set up your RV in your driveway or on your own property to do this, but we still think you should put a few miles on the RV and your tow vehicle in case any issues come up. You can then contact your RV dealer or an RV service technician to fix any issues you find. Didn’t find any problems? Consider yourself lucky!
- Not practicing parking your RV. If you are new to RVing or you purchased a different RV, you should practice parking it before your first RV trip. You can do this in your driveway or a large parking lot by setting up cones. The better you are at parking your RV the less entertainment you will be to your fellow campers when you pull into your campsite.
- Not making camping reservations in advance during busy season or in a busy tourist area. You could take a chance at finding a last-minute cancellation at an RV park or campground, but you might end up parking in a Walmart parking lot.
- Not having the right RV apps on your phone. The 2 RV apps on my phone that I use the most are:
- RV Life/RV trip Wizard. I love this app! I enter all of our camping reservation locations and dates on my laptop. Then I can easily pull them up on the app on my phone and get RV safe directions. In the early days of RVing, Google maps would send me down roads with low bridges. Not anymore! I entered the height of our RV into the app and now I don’t worry about the route I’m taking. Save 25% off RV Life/RV Trip Wizard with coupon code: ENJOY25
- The Dyrt Pro app. We have found all of our AWESOME free camping spots this season using The Dyrt pro app. The Dyrt Pro app also features over one million pictures, videos, and written reviews of campgrounds and all 3 layers of U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, & National Park Service areas for free camping. Get a 90-day free trial to check it out!
- Not knowing the height of your RV. Don’t have a ‘low-bridge’ accident, measure the height of your RV! Plus, measure the height of your RV when it’s hitched up (if you have a trailer or 5th wheel). Add a couple extra inches to that measurement for new pavement or road construction changes. Then make a note of your height and stick it to your windshield for quick reference while you are traveling.
- Not using a TPMS (Tire Pressure Management System) or checking your tire pressure frequently. I RVed for years before adding a TPMS. That was a big mistake and I had multiple tire failures that damaged our previous RV. What’s worse is that a tire failure is dangerous. A TPMS is not cheap, but well worth the investment. This is the one that we use.
- Not getting your RV inspected by a certified RV inspector. I recommend a safety inspection by a certified RV tech twice a year if you are full time and once a year before you head out on your first trip for the season if you are part time. You can find certified RV techs here.
- Not adding water and sewer additive to your black tank before traveling. This is the one that we use and recommend.
- Not turning your RV refrigerator on until you start putting food in it. It can take 4 – 6 hours or longer for your RV refrigerator to get to temperature. We recommend turning your RV refrigerator on the night before you plan to load it with food.
- Not having a first aid kit! RVs are dangerous! RVs can have sharp corners and will cut you! Plus adventuring can lead to accidents so be prepared! Here is a basic first aid kit.
- Having too small of a tow vehicle for your RV. We see this all of the time. Small trucks trying to pull huge RVs down the road. This is unsafe and can damage your tow vehicle.
- Not bringing the right tools with you. Pack a basic set of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, plyers, socket set) plus:
- Extra fuses for all of your fuses (not having the right fuse when you are out in the middle of nowhere can be a real drag on your trip!)
- Electrical and duct tape
- Miscellaneous screws and glue (things get loose and need to be repaired)
- Air compressor powered by a 12 volt socket (Big enough to fill your RV and truck tires, here is the one that is on our wish list!)
- Head lamp (even though we never plan to arrive and setup camp at night, sometimes travel delays happen and this is a must for setting up at night)
- A basic level (Even with our Lippert automatic leveling system we like to manually check our level)
- Bungee cords and/or rope (Things can break free or need to be strapped down temporarily, these will get the job done!)
- Tire pressure gauge
ON THE ROAD IN YOUR RV!
- Being in a BIG hurry (even for weekend trips)! We know you want to enjoy as much of your RV trip as you can, but slow down and think through each step traveling, not just on the road, but pulling into your campsite. That’s when mistakes and accidents happen. Some RV tires are also not rated for fast highway speeds. Plus if you missed it, I crushed my truck! Think this was just a dumb mistake that only I could make? Well 100’s if not 1000’s of others have made the same mistake.
- On a similar note, taking curves too fast in your RV. You could flip your trailer if you don’t take curves slow enough.
- Not doing a quick inspection of the RV at fuel and rest stops. At almost every stop in the RV I will do a quick walk around to check critical RV components: Tires, shackles, leaf springs, kayaks, doors, awnings, hitch (brake and safety cords). You can catch small things before they become big problems by doing this.
- Not using a fuel discount card. With fuel prices so much higher this year, why pay more than you have too? Here is the card we use to save up to $.30 per gallon or more off diesel. (Please mention Thomas Kenemore referred you)
- Also related, not stopping frequently for fill ups. I add more diesel to our truck when the tank is a quarter to a half tank full. There are fuel deserts as they are called. Vast sections of highways where there are little to no gas/diesel stations. Or the stations available might be small and hard to maneuver a big RV through.
- This seems like a no-brainer, but not planning for stops to use the restroom. I have had several uncomfortable travel days through construction, narrow highways, long stretches between exits/rest areas, etc. where there were no places to pull off and use the restroom.
- Not knowing your RV’s tail swing! Think your RV just follows exactly behind you? Think again! Tail swing is real and it can cause problems with other lanes of traffic. This is when your RV moves in the opposite direction of your turn and it can swing by 30 inches or more. The solution is to avoid turning too sharply and make sure other lanes are clear of traffic in case you do swing a little. This always scares Cheri because she is following behind me in our Jeep.
- Not planning for groceries in advance. You may want to stock up on groceries before your RV trip. Many destinations are in touristy areas that can have smaller grocery stores, less choices, higher prices and be a lot busier. Plus if you are dispersed camping, you could be hours away from the nearest grocery store.
- Being overweight. This is prevalent because most of us bring a lot of stuff on our RV trips. Water, supplies, even yourselves add up to be added weight and many RV’s don’t have the capacity. Do you know your RV’s cargo capacity? Your tow vehicle? Being overweight is a safety issue.
- Driving too long or being tired. If you are on your 3rd Starbucks and you still feel tired, you better stop and get some rest.
- Driving at night. We have a rule, we never plan to drive at night. Why? When you are traveling in a big rig like we have, you can’t see all of the obstacles clearly anymore. You also can’t see if there are any issues with the RV, something loose, etc. Tight campgrounds, trees, etc. become so much harder to navigate trying to park at night.
ARRIVING AT YOUR CAMPSITE
- Not checking your campsite in advance. If you have a big rig like we do, you really need to take another vehicle, bike or walk to the campsite first. That way you can figure out the best way to navigate to your campsite. Note any sharp turns, trees and low branches that could be an issue on the way to your site. Check the campsite for trees and especially low branches. How level is the campsite? Are there potholes?
- Also check for other RVs or vehicles that may be in the way of getting to your campsite. We see this all the time. Other campers will park their truck or car and leave them hanging out on the campground road making it hard or impossible to get by. Let the camp host or campground management know if you see an issue that way you don’t get stuck on the way to your campsite.
- Make a plan of attack for pulling in or backing into your campsite and positioning your RV. Look for the most level area on the campsite to park your RV.
- Not checking your hookups in advance. Make note of the location of all the RV hookups. Turn on the water and check for the location of your sewer connection if your campsite has one. Bring your RV surge protector with you and check the power beforehand for electrical flaws. We have found many issues like this in advance.
- If you notice any problems with your assigned campsite, you can always ask the camp host or campground management for a new site. If it is a busy weekend or busy time of the year, they may not be able to change your site, but it is worth asking.
So now it’s time to setup your campsite! Want our complete RV setup and tear down checklists for free? Just subscribe to our email list!
Also check out: Sneak into ‘sold-out’ campgrounds!
Did we miss any RV trip mistakes that you’ve made or you’ve heard of, let us know in the comments on YouTube. That way we and others can learn from you. Please share this post with your RV friends! Thanks for subscribing to our blog and on YouTube!
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