RV Camping Tips for Beginners

RV life can be daunting, especially as a beginner. What should you pack? How do you determine needs versus wants? How can you save money on the road? With four years of experience full-time RVing, the Restless Russells know the leg work involved in having a successful trip. Read their guest post to find out their pro RV camping tips for beginners.

RV Camping Tips for Beginners

by Michelle Russell of Restless Russells

There is something special about being out in the great outdoors — the smell of campfires soaring through the campground and the sight of the night sky shining bright above you. Camping feeds the soul. It can provide the most epic views and countless adventures that lead to the most incredible memories made, especially when you are out there with some of your favorite people. 

Before we can experience those incredible adventures, there’s some leg work that is involved. After all, living like a homeless person out in the wilderness takes work! Luckily, we’re going to equip you with some of the must-have RV camping tips for beginners to help level up your RV camping experience. From apps that will help you find the perfect campsite to camping items that just make sense to have on board, we’ve got you covered!

1. Pre-Flight Check

Nothing can stop a fun RV camping trip faster than realizing you have issues that prevent you from hitting the road. Here’s some of our suggestions to help prep your RV:

  • Pull your RV out the week prior to your trip to inspect your RV components. This should include:
    • Tires (pressure, thread, etc.)
    • Pulling out your slides and awnings
    • Verifying that your water pump, batteries and, if applicable, solar are working properly
    • Inspect your tow vehicle as well

For a full list of things you should do before you hit the road, check out Lippert’s Ultimate RV Maintenance Checklist.

2. Know Your Limits

You’d be amazed at how fast your RV can become overweight and this is just something you don’t want to do — EVER. When your RV is overweight, it can cause unnecessary strain on your RV and your tow vehicle.

One way you can prevent your RV from exceeding its weight limit is to weigh your RV dry, allowing you to get a baseline, then load your RV up with your personal items and weigh it again. We know this can sound like an inconvenience but weighing down your RV can also be extremely unsafe for you and other drivers on the road.

Pro tip: When weighing your RV dry, be sure to leave extra wiggle room to account for items such as gas and water in tanks. 

3. RV Packing Tips for Beginners

I cannot tell you how many times we have been sitting outside our camper watching people pull the most random things out of their RV, just for a weekend camping experience. In some cases, less is more. A camping experience should not leave you exhausted from planning and packing/unpacking your RV. Make a list of must-have items and as you bring them on board, check them off. 

Restless Russells riding bikes with friendsRestless Russells riding bikes with friends

Our Packing List of Must-Have RV Camping Items 

I’ll be the first to admit, it does not matter if I’m camping off-grid or in a “boujee” campground, there’s just certain things I don’t want to go without, and you shouldn’t either. There are also items that you absolutely need. Here’s some of our must-have camping accessories:

4. Download Your Maps 

If you are camping in a national park or off-grid, chances are you will not have cell service. As a matter of fact, there’s a chance that at some point during your drive, you’re going to lose service. One of the best pieces of advice we were given was to download our route and hiking maps ahead of time.

Hiking off GridHiking off Grid

5. Camping Apps You Cannot Live Without 

Finding a place to park your RV can be intimidating and stressful. Luckily, the camping and RV community understands your struggles which is why they created apps that help you find the best site for your camping needs. These apps not only help you find a place to camp, but they list places where you can dump your grey and black tanks, fill your fresh water and more.

Our favorite camping app is hands down Campendium. Not only have we found the most epic places to park our motorhome, but this app also provides reviews with pictures, max rig size, if we are going to have cell service and so much more valuable information. Check out these other great camping apps:

If you’re interested in discovering more travel apps that make RV life easier, check out this blog post titled, “20 Best RV Apps Recommended by Real RVers.”

6. Money-Saving Camp Memberships 

Not everyone wants to camp off-grid. Having the amenities that campgrounds offer can bring on a wonderful experience, but campgrounds can get pricey. As full-time RVers, there is no way we could afford the RV lifestyle if we didn’t find budget-friendly campgrounds. Plus, the part-timers and full-timers that we have met within these campgrounds have really leveled up our camping experience.

Restless Russells camping with friendsRestless Russells camping with friends

These are the must-have camp memberships you need in your life: 

Other valuable camp memberships

These are available to everyone and provide great discounts for RV events, internet on the road and camping resources:

Other ways to save money when camping: 

7. Don't Overdo It

One of the biggest mistakes we see beginning RV campers make is pushing themselves and their RV too far. Limit your road trips to between two and four hours, and if you must go further, schedule frequent stops. Driving your RV for an extended period is not only stressful for your mind and body, but it’s hard on your RV.

Pro tip: When you make any stop with your RV, do a walk around to inspect your tires and connections. Do your best to look both inside and outside your RV and tow vehicle to ensure nothing looks out of place.

8. Have a Backup Plan

There are more RV campers out there than we realize, which makes it hectic to find a spot that accommodates our camping needs. Book reservations as soon as possible, and if the campground doesn’t take reservations, get to your planned site location early. When camping at locations that are first come, it is best practice to have a plan a, b and c because life happens, and the last thing you want to do is get stuck without a place to park your RV.

Busy RV ParkBusy RV Park

9. Soak Up the Views

We’ve covered some serious ground roaming through 44 states in the last four years; it’s no wonder that one of the most frequently asked questions we get is “Where is your favorite destination so far?”

The truth is, we don’t have just one favorite, but our go-to answers for this question remain: Alabama Hills, Fern Canyon, Island Park, Acadia NP, the Florida Keys, and the whole experience we had camping within Yellowstone National Park. We also can’t get enough of Yosemite, all things Utah, the Arizona desert, Gulf Shores and the forests all throughout the Pacific Northwest.

We live in a country enriched with so much beauty and camping opportunities. So, get out there — you would be amazed at how much is available just hours from your home. One of our favorite parts of RV camping is that we don’t just get to enjoy the destination, but everything in between. 

It’s time to camp more, worry less and soak up all the views. 

Enjoying the Roadside ViewEnjoying the Roadside View

Follow Our Adventures

Looking for more RV camping tips, and glimpses of what RV camping looks like for our family? Follow Restless Russells on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and feel free to reach out to connect or to ask any questions related to tiny living and RV camping. Safe travels!

Website: https://www.restlessrussells.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/restless.russells/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/restless_russells/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@restless_russells