Last Updated on November 10, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
What happens when you purchase your first RV? Learning RV tips for new owners can help you avoid many terrible mistakes that can cost you money and time.
This blog post will cover all of the must-know tips for new RV owners. Continue reading so you can become an informed RV owner and avoid unnecessary problems.
1. Customize Your RV to Make It Feel Like Home
Customizing your RV can help you feel more at home in your new home away from home.
The first thing you’ll need to do is take inventory of the space where you will be cooking, sleeping, and living. Next, take measurements and start doing research to find the best deals on furniture and decoration items for these spaces.
Keep the things you want to buy small and lightweight. The furniture you would put in a house is likely heavier than furniture that you’d put in an RV. Most of the time, your RV already has plenty of furniture, and you just need a few decorations to spice it up.
2. Learn RV Etiquette
Before you head out on your first RV trip, it’s important to learn how to be a good neighbor. If you don’t know the unspoken rules of the campground, you could become everyone’s least favorite camper.
Things like picking up your trash and not walking through campsites go a long way toward making people glad you are the one parked next to them while camping.
3. Pack Camping Essentials
When you’re ready to go out on your first trip, you might forget a few things. Your goal on the first camping trip is to forget as little as you can so you can have a comfortable RV trip.
Here are some things you shouldn’t arrive at your RV spot without:
- First aid kit
- Extra clothing
- Insect repellent
- Battery operated flashlight or lantern
- Camping cooking supplies
- Plates, silverware, and cups
- Sewer hose
- Freshwater hose
- Water regulator
- Water filter
- Leveling blocks
- Wheel chocks
- Cleaning essentials
You’ll probably find your own list of things you want to bring with you after the first few trips out in the RV. It’s common for first timers to feel a little frustration and not have the perfect RV trip, so don’t throw in the towel too soon.
4. Use an RV Specific GPS
One of the essentials for RV ownership is an RV GPS that can help you avoid unsafe situations.
Depending on the type of RV GPS you get, you can get some pretty awesome advice from it. Many of them help you avoid steep roads that could cause you to have unsafe driving conditions. You’ll also be able to avoid low bridges and roads that don’t allow big RVs to go down them because of weight limits.
I put together a list of RV GPS apps you can look through, and many of them you can just download on your smartphone.
These can really help you plan ahead, so your trip doesn’t get derailed.
5. Pack Food in Airtight Containers
Not only do you want to avoid spoiling your favorite foods for your RV trip, but as new RV owners, you want to steer clear of attracting ants and other bugs into your new camper.
There are different airtight containers and bags that keep out air, so find the ones that work best for you and fit into your RV storage spaces nicely.
6. Change Out the RV Mattress
If you want to have a miserable night’s sleep, the best way to do that is to sleep on the stock mattress in your new RV. I’ve never heard a single person say their new RV mattress was comfortable.
Keep in mind that they’re made very light, so they don’t weigh down your RV, but the extra weight you’ll put in there to make your RV more comfortable will be worth it in the long run.
Before you get a new mattress for your fifth wheel, pop up camper, or other RV, keep in mind that you should give it time to air out if it’s coming out of a bag. As a new RV owner, you don’t want to be stuck with an underinflated RV mattress.
Keep a set of bed sheets, pillows, and comforters if you want to make it feel more like home. It’s pretty inexpensive to keep nice bedding in your RV, and it makes a big difference.
7. Create a Pre-Trip & Post-Trip Checklist
Even after you’ve made a trip a hundred times, it will make you feel more at ease knowing you completed your checklists and everything is in proper order. There are enough unexpected things that will happen when you’re living the RV life, you don’t want to make things unnecessarily difficult.
Many new RV owners think they will remember everything important, but when you forget to put the chock blocks down, and your RV rolls into the lake—you might think twice.
If you aren’t sure what to put on your checklists, ask some of your camping neighbors. Campers are notoriously friendly, and most are more than happy to help you figure out how to make your trip a safe and fun one with a proper checklist.
Some things you should put on your list:
- Make sure you picked up everything around the campsite
- Put RV steps in
- Disconnect water hose
- Remove chock blocks
- Put jacks up
- Close roof fans
- Put antenna down
- Put the slides in
- Take loose items off the counters
This is a good starter checklist, but make sure you add to it as necessary for your RV.
8. Reserve a Pull-Thru Site for Your First Trip
A pull-thru site will make your first RV trip a lot easier. You can reserve a back-in site, but it’s a running joke that these sites will cause divorces, and no one wants that.
When you book a pull-thru site, it’s simple to get your RV in there for the first time, and when you go to leave, it’s just as simple.
9. Don’t Drive at Night When You’re New
Driving at night when you’re new to RVing can be a recipe for disaster. It’s bad enough when you can see everything, but when you try to drive at night, it’s more likely you’ll run over curbs or hit cones in construction zones.
You want to give your travel trailer the best opportunity to get to your camping spot in one piece. Pay attention and double-check your mirrors since you might not be used to how things look when you’re pulling your rig.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If it’s your first time at an RV park, it’s likely people are going to know. And those people that know are often very friendly and ready to help if they can do anything for you.
Yes, it can be frustrating to try to pull your RV in and have people staring at you as you’re trying to get your RV in there for the first time, but that’s the price of admission. Everyone watches the newbies, and it’s a great source of entertainment.
The good news is that people are glad to help new RV owners get their rigs in the spots safely and without issue. You can even ask people to borrow their tools, and most people will be more than happy to lend them and help you do the job.
11. Time Yourself on Setup & Breakdown
When we first started RVing, it took us forever to get our RV site set up and broken down. It was very frustrating, and I didn’t think we would ever get good at it.
Thankfully, we did get good at it, and it doesn’t take us a long time to get things put together because we know what we’re doing.
Give yourself a little test and see how long it takes you when you get started and how long it takes you when you’re four or five times in, and you might feel surprised at just how much faster you’re getting things done.
12. Join RVer Facebook Groups
There are many helpful Facebook groups that are more than happy to welcome new RV owners. You might get a few people that laugh at your beginner questions, but most of the time, you’ll find an RV enthusiast or two that will have the perfect answer to your question.
I won’t send you to any specific groups since it’s likely to change by the time you’re reading this. Just look for one that has plenty of members and enough activity.
13. Check Info on Your Tires
You’ve just bought your shining new rig, and you don’t think there is anything to worry about because everything is new, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Before you roll out of the RV dealership, see how good your tires are and when they were made. If your tires are too old, you might want to upgrade right there to avoid a nightmare on the road.
14. Know Key Measurements
Before you hit the road, you need to know some key measurements. Those measurements are:
- RV height
- RV length
- Distance between your axles
If your RV is too tall for certain places, you’ll have to avoid them. Your RV length is important to know because every site you go to will be able to fit a specific length of RV.
As far as your axles, you need to know the distance between your tires in case that starts to change. That distance should not change, and if it does, then you need to get to an RV shop right away.
15. Know Your Tanks
Before heading out, ask someone that knows about your tanks. Keep in mind that I did not say to ask your salesperson because most of them don’t have a clue.
Instead, you can ask to talk to a tech or someone at the RV park that knows what they’re talking about.
You need to know how much your fresh water holding tank, grey water, and black water tank can hold. This is important to know because those sensors often fail—especially the black tank—trust me.
Make sure you clean your tanks out regularly so you don’t have any build-up. That’s especially true with your fresh water tank. You don’t want to drink anything gross.
Wrapping Up My RV Tips for New Owners
Now you have some good ideas for your recently purchased RV, and you can hit the road without worrying. Keep in mind that these are some quick tips, and you’ll likely find other things you do need to know, so make sure to poke around the site for more.
For instance, you should check out our article about RV roof leaks.