RV for Dummies: Are you an RV Newbie? Top 10 things a new RVer should know when owning an RV!
What do you need to know to jump in your new RV and start having fun? Want to know some of the need-to-know RV basics? Marc and Tricia from, Keep Your Daydream, use their lessons learned from over 25,000 miles in the US, Canada and Mexico. Skip the speed bumps and head strait for the fun by following these 10 tips.
1. You don’t need as much as you think.
If you wait until you are 100% ready…you’ll never go. In today’s day of gadgets and gismos you could start to feel overwhelmed and call the whole thing off. But don’t! Get your rig, some fuel and a good attitude because any RVer will tell you…your about to make memories of a lifetime! You won’t be a RV Newbie for long, so enjoy the feeling of anticipation.
2. What tools are essential?
Most likely your trailer will not come with a proper lug nut wrench. I know, crazy. You may already know this…but your lug nuts on your rig are not the same size as your truck. The best tool to have is a 4-way wrench and you’ll be covered.
Wrench Set: You will want a wrench for every bolt on your rig. Make sure you check under your rig for all bolts. Check the screw faces in your rig and be sure you have the correct bit. Our rig has all Robertson’s in other words a square face. Making it a challenge to tighten any loose doors or screens along the way.
Knowing how your tires are doing on your journey is essential! There are several ways to do this. You can get a digital tire gauge, Laser Infrared Thermometer or a TPMS system to monitor directly from your cab! Pretty cool!
Here are some extra tools that you might find helpful!
If you’re buying a new RV (particularly a travel trailer or 5th wheel), it’s a good idea to check the date on your tires. Just because your rig is new doesn’t mean your tires are. Crazy right! There is usually a 4 digit number on the back of your tires to check when they were made. Have a peek.
It’s also a good idea to lookup the weight of your RV and match on the tires load capacity PSI chart. Then you can find the proper PSI to ensure safety and a smooth ride.
You may even consider upgrading before you leave. We took our last “bad” tire and made it a spare to our spare. You heard that right. We have one “upgraded” tire and one of the “old/bad” ones that came with the trailer and have it as a spare to the spare.
4. Avoid Mistakes and Accidents
This might seem obvious, but it’s not in the moment. Slow down…and not just driving, in everything. Mistakes are more likely to happen when you are feeling rushed. There will be times when you feel like you need to be doing something faster or better but its just a feeling so let it sit in timeout. Enjoy the process. Slow down. The party started when you left the house so no worries…one day you will be the expert and just smile at the new guy trying to figure out his sewer system…and because you are a seasoned RVer…you’ll be the first to pitch in and help…because that’s just the way RVers are…helpful!
Different situations call for different communication. Before you get to your site have a talk about who is going to do what. That might mean that the driver says in the car. Navigator gets out to check the site and direct the driver. “Extras” being kids, friends, or family stay in the car or leave the immediate area to explore the park. This simple format releases stress for the driver and expectations are clear.
Its easy to get frustrated with your spouse and family when under pressure. It’s also easy not too. We all have different communication styles. However, in RVing there are many moving parts so communication must be clear and free from fighting words like; you should have, why didn’t you, you did that wrong. Instead create a positive way to express what you need and have a plan so expectations are clear. And…like your mom would say…remember your manners…they really do go a long way. Simply telling your family thank you or please really does help.
6. Know your measurements
Know how HEIGHT
There may be bridges etc. that are too short for you…I’m looking at you East Coast! Until you have that number engrained in your memory bank it’s not a bad idea to post it in your cab somewhere
Know your LENGTH
The sticker next to the door of your RV only tells you the length of your rig. It is not a true measurement because it doesn’t consider anything added to the back (bikes) the front (tongue and hitch) or if you are in a 5er or TT your Truck. You will need to know this overall length.
Know the DISTANCE between your tires.
You will want to know and keep an eye on the distance between your tires. In other words…your axils. If the space is getting bigger or smaller you may have a bigger issue that needs to be addressed immediately. The distance is often not exact because of the flex in the leaf springs, but if you have a big problem, you’ll notice. If the distance isn’t the same, it mean you have a broken center pin or a bent axle. You could be one massive bump or pot hole away from a real problem, so it’s good to keep an eye on this.
I’m sleeping in a parking lot??!! Boondocking comes in many different forms. The traditional sense of the term is to use rural land to camp without hookups. A very cool way to do this is by using BLM land (Bureau of Land Management.
The other is using the overflow parking at places like Wal-Mart and Cabela’s. This concept is usually CRAZY to a new RVer. However is it a fantastic way to get from A to B. Might seem a little strange as an RV Newbie, but after a couple nights, you’ll be an expert.
8. Know your tanks
How much can you hold?
How much can your fresh, gray, and black tanks hold is something every RVer figures out. Here is an insider tip…most likely your black and grey indicators will fail you at some point. Sorry. So after a few trips you should get a feel for how much your rig can hold and do some anticipatory math if you are going to Boondock for any length of time. Especially for your fresh water…more on that later.
Do your best to prevent water from going in your grey tank. You might be surprised how fast your grey tank can fill. Little tricks like putting a small container in your sink for washing dishes can help you prevent water from ever getting in your tank. You can take what is in the container and discard outside. That is, if you are not using chemicals that are harmful to the environment around you. Especially if you are camping by a lake or stream.
Fresh Water – Tank and Potable
Your RV will have a fresh water holding tank but remember to bring gallon size in your rig and if you are out for an extended amount of time it may be wise to bring large 5 gallon potable water as well. This way you will have plenty of water for drinking and household needs.
Is your Fresh water really…Fresh? Cleaning out your fresh water tanks on a regular basis is not a bad idea. Find a system you like to clean them. We use a ratio of bleach to water and then drive to “swish” the water then dump the water…refill and dump again to be sure all chemicals are gone. Find something that works for you so you can depend on the tank to deliver you the fresh water you are expecting.
9. Plan your route
This is a fantastic app (for your smartphone) that can help you locate RV Resorts, camping locations, or BLM areas. This is our “go to” app while on the road.
You will look back on these trips with fond memories. That is if you document them. Like Marc says, “If I don’t record it…it didn’t happen” ☺ Make sure your precious memories are time capsules by film, recording or journal.
Write down what you liked, didn’t, what when wrong, and what you loved. This way you have a point of reference for what to do next time. This way you are always getting better at this RVing thing.
OR don’t read at all and watch the video!