Have you considered hitting the road in a motorhome or travel trailer, but you’re just too intimidated by going it alone? There are thousands of “solo travelers” that have thrown their inhibitions aside and jumped into RVing with both feet and we want you to become one! That’s why Camping World has put together a series of articles to encourage those who want to travel but haven’t quite figured out how to do it alone.
Today we’ll take on the very real fears those of us who travel alone have regarding our RVs breaking down while we’re traveling. Join us and Handle Maintenance on the Road, where we’ll learn how to wrestle with these unforeseen circumstances.
My father refused to take me to get my driver’s license at the age of 16 until I could show him I knew how to change a tire, perform an oil change and tune up my car. I realized (begrudgingly) that was sound advice, as I learned to take good care of a vehicle I depended upon.
Today as a motorhome owner I’m not suggesting that you become an RV mechanic, but implementing regular maintenance on your rig will help you avoid costly repairs and breakdowns on the road. And because you are a solo traveler, you cannot pass off this responsibility to anyone else. You don’t have to do the maintenance yourself, but you should be aware of the systems in your recreational vehicle that needs consistent care. Here’s a generic checklist to give you an idea (feel free to add your own specific items):
- Oil change on vehicle engine (for motorhomes every 3,000 to 4,000 miles)
- Oil change on generator (about every 100 to 150 hours of usage)
- Top off water in lead-acid batteries (both chassis and house batteries)
- Run generator monthly with a partial load
- Check tire pressure and sidewalls
- Maintain good roof surface and seams
- Check slide-out seals
- Check fresh, gray and black water tanks for leaks and use of proper chemicals
- Winterize water system before freezing temps, de-winterize for spring thaw
- Check water pump
- Maintain awning
- Change air and any hydraulic filters
- Check brakes
- Check electrical connections with trailers and tow vehicles
If you decide you can do some of these common maintenance requirements yourself, that’s great. If not, take your list to your RV mechanic so that you can be assured they’ve gone over everything before you hit the road. That will definitely give you more peace of mind.
It’s inevitable that breakdowns and system failures occur, sometimes at the most inconvenient times. As a solo traveler, it may feel even more overwhelming, because you have no one else to share the load of worry and decision-making responsibilities. Many times being prepared for the unforeseen can make the uncertainty more bearable.
For instance, Good Sam offers roadside assistance plans to help with tire changes, towing and repairs with many discounts. Family Motor Coach Association has a tire replacement policy, roadside assistance, medical emergency, and travel planning, and Coach-net provides roadside assistance and hazard protection. Just having any one of these policies can give you well-placed security and help when you really need it.
I have also found that mobile RV repair services come in handy, and their existence is growing along with the RV community. Many are even willing to help you learn some of the repairs they make on your vehicle so that you increase your maintenance skills. These repair services come to you and are well-versed in a variety of system repairs to help you stay on the road safely.
One question many RVers have regarding repairs has to do with where they will stay while their motorhome or travel trailer is in the shop. Many services that specialize in RV repair allow campers to stay in their units at night in the shop parking lot or in an on-site campground. It’s just less worry that you will have to concern yourself with.
Making yourself aware of maintenance and repair issues that may arise in the future will give you a sense of security, knowing that you are as prepared as you can be when traveling. Go through your rig’s manual and familiarize yourself with how your refrigerator and hot water heater work.
Learn how to check the water in your batteries so that you can enjoy boondocking without worry. Carry extra fuses, coolant and distilled water with you, and learn how your electrical and water systems work so that you can trace back a problem to its source.
Watch several YouTube videos on the same subject matter regarding your RV to learn from others who have dealt with repairs in the past, and don’t be too proud to ask for assistance when you need it. I still have a bit of a problem putting too much pressure on myself to “handle” it all alone. When something needs to be fixed, I’ve found so many people that step forward to offer assistance that it is humbling.
Traveling in an RV alone is no more daunting than living in a house alone. There will always be things that need fixing or attending to in both, so learn what you can about your new recreational vehicle and get help for the things that are out of your wheelhouse. Then take on the open road with abandon and enjoy seeing the country from the camping vantage point.
What do you think about traveling solo? Did you find this advice helpful? Leave a comment below.