RV Advice
Top Mistakes New RV Owners Make & How to Avoid Them
February 9, 2022

Top RV Mistakes to Avoid

If you live for the RV life, you look forward to the fun adventures you can experience. You can explore new states, see magnificent views and enjoy life on the road in your RV. If you are new to the world of RVing, though, it is beneficial to learn all of the tips and tricks to having successful trips in your vehicle.

Adventuring in an RV as a beginner can be easy when you know what RV mistakes to avoid. Start traveling like a pro with these first-time RV camping tips.

1. Traveling too far in one day

This is an easy mistake to relate to for most RVers. For you to know what your daily driving limit is, you may need to have a few rough days where you overdo it and learn the hard way. A good rule of thumb is the 3 or 3 rule —arrive at your destination by 3 pm, or drive 300 miles in one day, whichever happens first.

2. Buying the first RV you look at

This might seem obvious for some, but many people don’t know how many different RV floor plans exist and how customizable some RVs actually are. If you “sort of” like the model but you wish there were more kitchen space, or a larger bathroom, then speak up! If you’re willing to wait a little longer or travel outside your immediate area, you can likely find the PERFECT model for how you plan to use your RV. If you still feel overwhelmed, check out our recent blog, RV Buying Tips.

3. Packing too much

Part of being an RVer is learning how to be resourceful. That means being able to do a lot with limited resources. Packing too much is an easy mistake to make until you learn how to minimize. This should include cooking, cleaning, and even clothing. If you will never be cooking for more than 2 or 4 people, there is no need to bring along every pot, pan, and dish from your sticks-and-bricks kitchen.

The same goes with your clothes (depending on your laundry machine situation, this may be easier for you) and other camping equipment. It is better on your fuel economy, easier to pack and unpack things, and the mental clarity of having less clutter will be very beneficial.

4. Winging it without a checklist

A well-crafted checklist can make your campsite setup or tear-down process run smoothly and consistently each time, which can be handy for those of you who are moving around between campgrounds a lot. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, FMCA has an app that is available for iPhone and Android where you can download premade checklists or create your own customized checklists.

5. Not seeking proper RV training

Owning an RV is a learning process, but you don’t want to jump into it without any knowledge at all. You’ll want to start reading up on RVing ahead of time. There are hundreds of online forums and Facebook groups that you can join to discuss various things with other RVers. If you’re serious about improving your RV knowledge, check out the quizzes, lessons, and educational articles at FMCA University.

6. Not planning an RV-friendly route

If you’re new to RVing, you might not realize that there are certain routes that you simply cannot take due to size and height restrictions. There may be narrow roads, small tunnels, or low bridges along your route, and if you aren’t expecting them, you may end up spending multiple hours being rerouted to a safer alternative. There are special GPS devices and trip planning tools that allow you to program in your RV’s size and height; that way you can ensure that your route will be safe for you to navigate!

7. Neglecting RV maintenance

You should expect to have regular upkeep and maintenance expenses that come along with RV ownership. If you remember simple maintenance tasks such as checking tire pressure before driving, you can prevent larger, more costly issues from occurring and leaving your RV out of commission for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

8. Forgetting to secure your belongings when driving down the road

You will eventually develop a routine for this one, but it is worth mentioning. Make sure that you place all loose items into drawers, bags, closets, or other secure locations since things tend to shift and move around during travel. This includes all of your toiletries and refrigerated items as well.

9. Start RVing without an FMCA membership

This is the biggest mistake any RVer can make: hitting the road without an FMCA membership! A membership to FMCA can save you hundreds of dollars on RV necessities like batteries, tires, and windshield replacement, while connecting you to a plethora of educational resources to ensure your RV experience is easy and smooth. Click here.

10. Leaving the Antenna up or the Steps out When You Are on the Road

You want to keep your RV in one piece while driving, and the best way to keep your RV safe is to ensure all of your accessories are in place before you start driving. One of the most important aspects of your RV to check before hitting the road is your steps. A common mistake that beginner RVers might make is not putting the steps back in and securing them before taking off. Another feature to check is the antenna. You should lower your antenna before driving so it doesn’t get damaged on the trip.

11. Not Knowing the Height of Your RV

It is important to know the height of your RV before starting your trip so you can prevent any damage to the top of your vehicle. You may encounter some situations that have a clearance limit for taller vehicles, and you will need to know immediately if your RV will be able to enter that area.

Your RV has soft and hard clearances. Hard clearances include features that cannot be moved, like an air conditioning unit. A soft clearance can be adjusted or moved to create more clearance room, like antennas.

12. Backing up Without a Spotter

When you are backing your RV into a parking spot or a camp spot, it is beneficial to have a spotter assist you. Establish hand signals and keep the spotter in a clear view so you can back up safely. The spotter should watch out for people, debris, rocks and low-hanging tree branches to ensure the RV does not get damaged. If you want to be extra careful, get out and check behind your RV yourself as well before you begin backing up.

13. Not Using the Proper Tow Vehicle

If you are towing a trailer or camper with a car, you will need to ensure the vehicle meets all of the towing requirements before starting your adventure. Learn about the weight rating of your vehicle and how much it can tow. It is helpful to consider the fully-loaded weight of your trailer when considering the vehicle you will use for towing.

14. Neglecting the Battery

You want to have all of the RV batteries working while you are on your trip. That means you will need to use the disconnect switches to control the battery power, regularly test your RV batteries and look at the water levels in the lead-acid batteries.

Find the Perfect Destinations for the Best RV Trip

Are you ready to hit the road and explore? Enjoy a stay at any KOA Campground on your upcoming RV adventure.

The Family Motor Coach Association shares nine tips to ensure first-time RVers don't make simple mistakes as they take on their first trips.


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