RV Tips and Tricks for Beginners
Posted: December 17, 2021
RV Tips and Tricks for Beginners
Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the world of 5th wheels, travel trailers and motorhomes or you’re prepping for the umpteenth trip of the season, these RV tips and tricks are guaranteed to have a little something for everybody. Our team has compiled some of the top RV tips and suggestions that you should follow before hitting the road. From RV and camping lingo to campground etiquette, these helpful hints can serve as your guide to RV basics.
Let’s kick things off with some advice for all of you RV beginners out there!
- Research RVs before you buy
- Buy a bigger RV
- Know how you're going to use your RV
- Practice driving your RV before your trip
- Remember to make wider turns
- Arrive at your campsite before nightfall
- Create an RV trip checklist
- Download must-have apps for RV beginners
- Be courteous to fellow RV campers
- Quiet down at the campsite after hours
- Clean your campsite
- Check your RV seals
- Camp prepared
- Keep your eye on the sky
- Plan your RV repairs
Buying an RV for the First Time?
We asked seasoned RV owners what they wished they knew before buying their first rig, and here are a few tips they had for all of you just getting started on your RV journey.
1. Research RVs before you buy.
Don’t simply rely on the RV dealership or salesperson to tell you everything you need to know about the campers you’re inquiring about. Be sure to do your own RV research upfront and go to the dealership prepared. From the floorplan layout to the type of leveling system installed, you’ll want to know what you’re looking for ahead of time, so you can be sure to check out all the RV models that meet your needs. You might also consider renting an RV before any kind of purchase as this will give you some real-world experience.
2. Buy a bigger RV.
If money allows, buy bigger than you think you need. Even though you might be able to “fit” four people in a camper, it doesn’t always necessarily mean the living quarters will be comfortable for that amount of people. With a little extra room, you can be sure to have the space you need to travel comfortably. Plus, this will help prevent you from wanting to immediately size up a year or two after you purchase your rig. We recommend reading through an RV buying guide as part of your purchasing decision.
3. Know how you're going to use your RV.
Think about how, and how much, you’re intending to use your RV before you purchase, as this can influence the type of rig you buy. If you’re looking for something to travel the country in for the next ten years, maybe invest in a motorhome instead of a towable 5th wheel or travel trailer. Or, if you just need something to cruise to the campground on the weekends, having an RV you can haul and park, might be the better solution. Think about your usage plan before you decide to buy.
What You Should Know Before Your First RV Trip
Okay, so you’ve committed to buying, or maybe renting, an RV and now it’s time to take it on your first adventure. Before you load up your camper and hit the road, here are a few helpful RV camping tips and tricks to keep in mind.
4. Practice driving your RV before your trip.
Whether you’re towing a trailer or driving a Class A motorhome, if you’re a first-time RV owner, be sure to get some practice in before you’re on the road and in traffic. Find an empty parking lot or space you can drive around in to get comfortable with your rig, and make sure anybody on the trip that could be driving has the opportunity to do so, too. The more at ease and confident you feel with driving your RV, the more relaxing your trip will be.
5. Remember to make wider turns.
For RV newbies towing a rig for the first time, remembering to adjust your driving, specifically turning, to accommodate for the trailer behind you can be difficult, or uncomfortable at the least. Our team of experienced RV owners suggest that you make your turns wider than you think to get started. That way, you can get familiar with how much or how little your trailer’s tail swings on each turn. This will help you know how to handle every roadway with ease.
6. Arrive at your campsight before nightfall.
This RV tip goes out to new RV owners especially. When you’re planning your first trip, be sure to give yourself time to get to your destination before dark. Setting up your campsite for the first time can be cumbersome enough for an RV maiden voyage. Cut yourself some slack by arriving with plenty of light left to get your RV set up and ready to camp.
7. Create an RV trip checklist.
Before, during and after your trip, it’s important to remember to check vital components of your RV and RV equipment. Below is a list of items you should check, no matter if you’re at the campground or just pulling out of your driveway. For a comprehensive list, check out our first-time RV owner checklist.
- RV and tow vehicle tires - You can never check your tires enough. Having low, hot or damaged tires can potentially cause major accidents and injury. Be sure to keep an eye on your RV tires before you take off and throughout your trip. We’d even recommend investing in a tire pressure management system, so you can keep an eye on your tire status all the time.
- LP Tanks - Check your propane tanks often and don’t necessarily rely on the tank’s original sensor to be accurate. And if it looks or feels like your tank is running low, be sure to get it filled before dark. Many campsites won’t offer this service after hours. We recommend a propane sensor that connects right to your smart device so that you can get notifications when your levels are low.
- RV Awning - At your campsite, it’s always a good idea to close your RV awning if you’re going to be away from your area for an extended period of time. This will help prevent any unwanted damage to your awning that can be caused by wind, rain or even falling branches. Nobody wants to come back from a long hike to find a torn awning. So, play it safe and close up shop while you’re gone. You can even add wind-sensing devices to your power awning that will automatically retract your canopy during inclement weather.
- Check it again - And last but not least, don’t be afraid to double and triple check your RV before heading home from the campsite or leaving the house. You can never be too careful or too prepared when traveling with an RV. Safety should always come first, so give yourself adequate time to make the proper checks, every trip.
8. Download must-have apps for RV beginners.
Looking for a few apps to download before your trip? We asked our Lippert Scouts what apps they use the most when traveling in their RVs. The top three RV apps they recommended were:
- Good Sam Camping by Waterfield Technologies - The perfect navigation app that provides directions to your destination, detailed search results, discounts on your campground stays and more
- KOA | RV, Cabin & Tent Camping by Kampgrounds of America - Your go-to mobile app for finding and booking sites at KOA campgrounds throughout the U.S.
- RV Life - RV GPS & Campgrounds by Social Knowledge - An excellent app for finding routes that are completely safe and convenient to navigate with your RV
If you're looking for more, check out our top-20 list of best RV apps recommended by real RVers.
RV Basics on Campground Etiquette
While you’re at your campsite, there are a few things you should know and keep in mind in order to be a good campground neighbor and visitor. While these are pretty easy rules to follow, it never hurts to have a refresher before your next trip.
9. Be courteous to fellow RV campers.
Just like a residential neighborhood, most of the time you’re going to have neighbors at your campground. Common courtesy and kindness can go a long way in helping make their camping experience, and yours, better and more enjoyable. RVing is a great way to meet new people from all over, so don’t be afraid to smile, wave and say hi to the family camping next to you.
10. Quiet down at the campsite after hours.
When the sun goes down, try to keep loud music and noise levels to a minimum, so you’re not disturbing other campers who might be trying to get some sleep. Also, be cognizant of your rig’s outdoor LED lights shining in other RV windows. If possible, dim your lights when your neighbors turn in for the night.
11. Clean your campsite.
Don’t leave a mess behind. Before saying goodbye to your campsite, always make sure you clean up after yourself and your guests, so the next camper that comes in can have a fresh, clean area to set up their RV. You wouldn’t want to pull into a dirty campsite riddled with trash, and neither does any other RVer. A clean campsite makes for a happier camper.
RV Maintenance and Repairs
Whether you like it or not, you’ll eventually have to do some maintenance and repairs on your RV. While there are preventative measures you can take to help alleviate the possibility of major fixes, repairing old, worn or broken equipment on your RV is inevitable. Below are some of the most important maintenance steps. For a comprehensive list, be sure to check out our spring maintenance checklist and top maintenance mistakes.
12. Check your RV seals.
One way to help prevent leaks, air intrusion and water damage is by checking and maintaining any seals on your rig. From your rooftop vents and structures to your windows and doors, it’s important to regularly check these areas to catch any damaged or broken seals before they become a bigger issue. If you find any leaking or cracked areas, you can easily fix your seals with the Alpha Systems family of products.
13. Camp prepared.
Packing extra bearings, water hoses, power cables and sewer connections can help you be prepared for broken gear, if and when that happens. Having a few items ready for backup can save you time and money in the long run, not to mention it can prevent a lot of frustration while you’re camping.
14. Keep your eye on the sky.
Look up! Tree limbs are a major cause of RV damage. From minor scrapes to costly encounters, tree limbs can put a major hiccup in your travel plans. Always keep an eye out, and if you’re not sure your rig can make it under that low-hanging branch, play it safe and find another route.
15. Plan your RV repairs.
Not only can RV repairs be pricey at times, but they can also be time-consuming. Don’t take your camper into the shop the day before you need to hit the road. Prepare for your rig to be off the road and out of commission for a few days (at least). While this can be an inconvenience, knowing beforehand that it might take longer than expected will save you from being caught off guard and frustrated with your service shop.