Owning an RV comes with a world of trial and error. Often, the excitement to get on the road, or to jump into tiny living can cause some important issues to be forgotten. We've narrowed down some of the most common mistakes new owners make to save you from unnecessary headaches. If you find yourself dealing with issues from some of these mistakes already, we are here to help!
1. Not Taking Time to Level Your RV
If you want to avoid costly repairs, whether it is auto leveling or manual, it is important to do before letting your slides out or turning on your refrigerator. An RV that is not level, be it parked or while traveling, can put strain on areas that are not meant to hold much weight, which can cause serious damage. Be sure to keep a standard level handy (like the one pictured below) and use it to make sure the unit is level from front to back, and side to side. To level from side to side, place the leveling tool on the center of the rear bumper of the RV. If the bubble is within the center lines, your RV is level. If it is not level, you'll need to add a leveling agent (like a wood block) under the tire in the width needed to get the unit level. Depending on where you are parked, you may need one or two pieces under one or both tires. This process can be tedious if you are parking somewhere without pavement, but you will be glad you took your time! To check your level from front to back, be sure to place the level somewhere in the mid section of the RV, like a window frame.
2. Not Doing a Walk-Through
Each time you move your RV, before you take off, you should do a walk-through. Make sure that your belongings are secure, your cabinets and drawers are fully closed, stairs are raised, jacks are up, and baggage doors are locked. Also, be certain your door is double locked and the hand rail is closed against the door (like pictured below). This hand rail acts as a third lock in the event that your door locks malfunction or if you forget to fully shut the door. Failure to do any of these things can result in severe damage to your unit and can incur costly repairs, not to mention cause some embarrassment among your fellow campers. Along these lines: be sure to secure your awning, not just when traveling, but also when you are not actively supervising it's use. Especially in Texas, the weather can change at a moment's notice and an unsecured awning can easily be damaged beyond repair by a sudden storm.
3. Not Reading Through Warranty Paperwork
Buying a warranty when purchasing an RV can be a great asset and provide a sense of security. However, failure to read through all of the fine print can leave you frustrated when presented with a costly repair bill. Be sure to read carefully to fully understand which types of repairs and parts are covered, paying close attention to deductibles and mileage restrictions. Many warranty companies have caps on the amount of labor they'll approve and which types of repairs they'll cover. So, get to know that warranty and be sure to have your repair facility check to see what is covered and what is not before starting the work!
4. Not Having a Used RV Inspected
Buying a used RV? Great! Just be sure to have that RV professionally inspected before you hand over that cash. Issues such as water leaks that have caused significant damage below the surface are often not easily detected and can be a costly problem when purchasing a used RV. This carries over to RVs purchased from dealerships as well, be sure to have any used RV inspected, no matter if it's from a private seller or a dealership.
5. Jumping Into Tiny Living
Tiny living is becoming increasingly popular. Bloggers and social media personalities make living with minimal square footage look like something to envy. However, the advice "don't buy it until you try it" carries some weight when considering if tiny living is for you. Many full time RV enthusiasts caution that if you're considering going full time, either via traveling or as a stationary camper, it's a good idea to try out a couple of extended trips in your RV before selling your brick and mortar home. While the adventure can be worth the cost, the time and effort that is necessary in order to maintain a home that is not manufactured with full time residency in mind can be more than many people are willing to invest. The only way to know is to test is out!
6. Not Measuring Your Unit After You Hook Up
It's very important to know the height and length of your RV once it's hooked up to your vehicle. Not accounting for those few extra inches can be disastrous as you travel roads with bridges, or try to navigate a crowded parking lot. Along with knowing your unit's height and length, you should also be cautious as you pack, paying special attention to your vehicle's towing weight limits. You'd be surprised how suitcases, outdoor camping gear and other necessities add up, causing your RV to be heavier than expected.
7. Not Having an Extra Power Extension Cord and Sewage Hose
There aren't many things more frustrating than pulling up to your destination after a long trip, ready to hook up and relax and figuring out that the power source to your site is a couple of feet out of reach. To add to the frustration, locating an extension for an RV can be quite difficult in some areas. Better to be prepared with an extra!
8. Running Out of Propane
An RV without heat when the temperature outside drops is comparable to sleeping in a refrigerator... no thanks! It's sort of a known law of nature that your propane will run out in the middle of the night. So, be sure to keep one tank open at a time so that when you wake up with your toes freezing, you can run out and open your second tank. Then, you can get your empty tank filled the next day! Opening both tanks leaves you guessing as to when you'll need a refill.
9. Not Understanding Your Unit's Power Capabilities
Be sure to familiarize yourself with your unit's power specifications. If you aren't aware of how much power you can expect to pull at one time, you'll be left frustrated as you pop breakers while trying to microwave your meal while the A/C is running. Be sure to investigate where your fuse box is as well as where each GFCI outlet is located within your RV. If you do not have a full understanding of these components, you may be left in the dark!
10. Being a Bad Neighbor
The RV community is like a special family, you'll find it's members to be welcoming and generous as well as eager to get to know new faces. You don't want to be labeled as a bad apple with poor RV living manners. Be sure to respect quiet times within your campsite, always pick up after pets, keep your space tidy and clutter free and make sure to be wise with common resources. Sharing a laundry room with other families can be extremely frustrating if someone doesn't remove their clothes from the washing machine and you are on your last pair of underwear! So, be sure to be courteous and aware of your surroundings and neighbors.
Following these simple guidelines can make RV camping a much more pleasant experience and save your wallet from taking a substantial hit. What would you add to this list? Anything you wish you would have known before you set out on your first adventure?