If you’ve just purchased a travel trailer, then the feeling of anticipation and excitement to get out there and go RVing is probably palpable. That’s great! You should be excited. You took a step towards making your dreams and goals of exploration a reality.
However, don’t let your excitement get you ahead of yourself. You’re still new to RVing, and over the course of your first few trips you’ll learn a lot of new lessons, and have experiences you could’ve never anticipated.
To help make your experience owning a travel trailer more enjoyable, here are some tips from RV Pros, Zack and Mary, as well as some of our own tried-and-true tips for new RVers.
1. Utilize Camping World as a Resource for Gaining RV Knowledge
The very first thing Zach and Mary mention as a resource for new RVers is Camping World. They said, our list of resources help make first-time ownership of an RV easier than ever before.
It’s true. If you don’t know how to do something then you can come into the store for help anytime–advice is always free. Or, refer to the Camping World YouTube channel for handy How-To’s and guides. No matter where you are, our staff is there to help you on your RV journey. Tell us what you need and we’ll help you figure it out.
2. Pay Attention to the Caution Labels on the Outside of the Camper
When you get your RV, you’ll notice that there are plenty of caution labels on the outside of your RV. These aren’t just for show. Read them all. They provide you with valuable information.
Nobody expects new RVers to know everything and these notices and warning labels on the exterior of the RV will keep you from connecting something up incorrectly or making a mistake.
Every RV purchased from Camping World comes with a full guided walk-thru. Don’t be afraid to film this full tutorial on your phone for easy reference later.
3. Put Everything Away Before You Get On the Road
Don’t just set out without cleaning up your RV and putting away everything that could bounce around or possibly break. As Mary notes in the video above, she’s had valuables break while they were on the road, and putting them away will help with this.
Also, it’s always smart to get dishes and other items that are a little more robust or non-breakable dishes. Camping World sells plenty of options in terms of dishes and cookware for you to choose from.
4. Before Buying, Look at Many Different RVs
Don’t just buy the first RV you see. There are so many designs and floorplans out there, including the popular Happier Camper, that you really need to do your due diligence and take a close look at all of the options out there. Imagine who will be living in the RV and walk through a full day of activity. Where will you hang out? How will you cook?
There’s also something to be said for choosing the right type of RV. Trailer or Motorhome? Then, there’s toy haulers which come in both motorhome and trailer variants. In the end, you should be able to go to your local Camping World dealer and have a representative help you find the RV that fits your lifestyle.
5. Get Outdoor Mats and Chairs
This can also be your space for campfires, small tables, outdoor eating, grilling, and so much more. Right outside your front door, you should have a space designed for comfort.
6. Utilize RV Storage Strategically
RV manufacturers build the units with tons of storage. They’re seeking to maximize every little bit of space to ensure you can bring along all of the things you need.
While the designers typically do a good job of giving you storage areas, you still need to utilize that space strategically. Don’t just cram things into spaces in your RV. Think critically about your RV and the things you need to bring along and then get some organizers for the storage space you do have.
7. Make Sure to Use Your RV Jacks and Wheel Chocks
Your RV’s jacks help to keep your RV stable once you have parked it and are ready to camp. The jacks will keep your RV from rocking about, and if you’ve every walked in an RV that doesn’t have its jacks down, you know that the rig will move around a little more than you might expect, especially if there’s some strong winds.
Wheel chocks are another thing you need to not overlook. Wheel chocks help keep your camper right where you want it. As Zach says, you don’t want to pull your truck away from the camper only to watch it roll away.
8. Have a Generator and Extra Propane on Hand
Having power on the go is what makes an RV so special. However, you need to make sure you have a way to either store fuel or generate power. That’s where generators and extra propane tanks come in.
Getting an additional propane tank is easy. You can buy one and just have it attached to your rig for those moments when you absolutely need some more propane. And a generator can truly save your bacon when you’re boondocking. A generator is a great way to get the electrical power you need.
9. Look Into Having a Backup Camera Installed
It doesn’t matter what anyone says, backing in a long travel trailer or fifth-wheel trailer is no joke. The same goes for motorhomes. Backing up a long motorhome can be a chore as well.
Backup cameras simply make life easier. Why spoil your trip at the start when you can swing your trailer in its spot with ease. While many motorhomes and some trailers will come with their own backup camera already installed, if your RV is lacking a camera consider having one installed. There are many aftermarket back-up cameras out there that you can add to your RV.
10: Store Pet Food in a Storage Container
Having a designated storage container for your pet food is an absolute must. You want to keep your pet’s food out of reach of wildlife.
Also, having a good place to store your pet’s food makes it easier to pack up fast. Whats more, it will stay fresher while you’re on the road and won’t go stale. Having a designated bowl for your pet’s food and water is also a good idea. Camping World sells everything you need to keep your pet happy on the road.
11. Wash Your Pet Using the Outdoor Hose
Another tip for pet owners is to bring along soap and try to wash your pets outdoors. Many RVs have a built-in outdoor hose. This is the best way to give your pet a bath. Keeping your dog out of the tub or shower inside your RV will help keep your living area clean and it will help keep your plumbing happy.
Dog hair can quickly clog up your RV’s shower or tub drain. If you must wash your dog inside your RV, make sure to try to collect as much dog hair as possible before it goes down the drain.
12. Bring a Leash for Your Dog
Having a leash for you dog is an absolute must. In almost all developed campgrounds you’ll need a leash for you dog. Even if you don’t think your dog needs a leash, you still have to have one at most campgrounds, so it’s smart to have at least one inside your camper.
Camping World carries plenty of leashes, and there are various styles of leashes out there that you can choose from. It doesn’t matter really what you choose as long as you have the leash with you.
13. Don’t Be Intimidated By the RV Life
Zach and Mary said that it’s fairly easy to get overwhelmed with all of the things you need and all of the things you’ll need to learn, but that RV life really isn’t that intimidating once you really get out there and start doing it.
Zach’s advice?: Don’t be intimidated by the RV Life and by all of the gear you need to get. The payoff is well worth it. “It is for everybody,” says Zach.
14. Practice Towing Your Travel Trailer Before You Leave
Towing a travel trailer isn’t extremely difficult, but it takes a little time to learn. Don’t let the first time you go camping also be the first or second time you’ve towed your RV. You don’t need to practice every day, but consider going out for a few drives, especially when you first buy the unit, to really get a feel for how it tows.
Try to challenge yourself to see if you can park it easily, take tight turns successfully, and just generally drive without stressing you, your passengers, or other drivers. If you know you have an area of towing that you’re not very good at—like backing up—then consider just practicing that.
15. Craft the Perfect Travel Trailer Packing and Camping List
It can be really easy to bring too much gear and supplies with you. When starting out you may have a tendency to overpack. That’s okay as long as you’re within the weight limits of your travel trailer and your tow vehicle, but you’ll often find the fewer things you bring along, the less there is to worry about.
Camping is supposed to be fun, so try to make it as worry-free as possible. For many, including myself, that means trimming down my list of gear and supplies to the minimum, so there’s not a bunch of extra stuff to worry about.
To do this, I’d start by compiling a list of everything you think you might need. Then take another look at the destination you’re going to, the weather during the time you’ll be there, and the people on your trip. Try to eliminate any unnecessary items. I had a friend who said to eliminate half of your original list. I don’t think you need to go that extreme but consider cutting down on your list significantly.
16. Research the Campground and Plan Ahead
Researching a destination is an absolute must when traveling with a travel trailer. You need to, first of all, make sure a place is somewhere you actually want to spend some time. Then you need to make sure your RV will be welcome in that area. What I mean by that is find a campground or place to park that can easily accommodate your rig.
Many campgrounds have limits on the overall length an RV can be. Also, most only have a limited number of spaces available. That means you should make reservations whenever possible and have a backup place to stay if your first option doesn’t work out.
17. Learn and Understand Your Travel Trailer’s Equipment
This is probably the most important thing for new owners of travel trailers. You need to learn how to properly use and maintain your RV’s different equipment. By design, RVs have many different appliances and electronics from your home. They’re not major changes, but you don’t want to be trying to figure these out while you’re supposed to be having fun camping.
Spend some time in your driveway testing out all your appliances and electronics on the RV. Consider doing a test run of your RV’s sewage system before you actually go camping so you know exactly how it all works. The more time you spend learning these things before you set off, the more time you’ll have to enjoy yourself and relax when you actually go camping.
18. Think Ahead of Time About Storing Your Travel Trailer
It’s spring as I write this, and I know you’re probably thinking I shouldn’t be discussing storage. Here’s the thing, winter will come again. I know it’s months down the road, but you need to have a plan for where and how you’re going to store your RV well ahead of time. If you wait until the weather starts to turn, it’ll be too late, and you could get stuck with an expensive option.
Also, unless you’re full-timing, you’re not going to be using your RV all of the time. That means you need a place to temporarily store it during camping season. Some people can park it in their driveway or backyard, but that’s not the case for everyone. Have a place to put your RV and one that’s preferably out of direct sunlight or exposed to all of the elements. I’m not saying it has to be parked inside a large garage, but try to mitigate the effects nature will have one it.
Do you have anything you think should be added? Leave a comment below!