When you’re starting a new hobby or adopting a new lifestyle, there is inevitably going to be a learning curve involved. No matter how much research you do prior, there’s nothing quite like learning on the job. If you’ve recently bought a recreational vehicle (aka RV)—or are planning to purchase one—chances are you’re champing at the bit to go on your first trip. But you shouldn’t dive into the deep end before you’ve even had a swimming lesson. Every first-time RV’er may be prone to some rookie errors, even if they believe they’ve researched thoroughly. Here are five mistakes to avoid on your first RV trip.
Not Choosing The Right RV
If you’ve already purchased your RV, it may be too late for you. However, if you are yet to purchase your RV, ensure you’re not going in with your eyes half-closed (or even fully closed). There are many different types of RVs, and each one will suit different lifestyles and situations. For example, are you an indoor or outdoor person? If you enjoy getting back to nature and aren’t bothered by the lack of a heating or cooling system, then a camper trailer might be for you. If you prefer to have the creature comforts of home, then you might opt for a caravan. Whatever you decide, ensure that it will accommodate as many people as you plan to take on holiday now and in the future. Size considerations are also very important.
Not Factoring In Your Rv’s Size Limitations
If you’re yet to purchase your RV, be sure to consider how much weight you’re willing to lug around. For example, will your RV be compatible with your car’s tow capacity? You must take this into account, or else your RV will be immovable, and your trip will be over before it begins. Moreover, how much height are you willing to lug around? This will dictate which sort of route you can take on your adventure. If your RV is tall, then driving under low-clearance bridges and tunnels will be out of the question. Size limitations will come into how you plan your trip.
If you’re using a camper trailer, then height limitations shouldn’t be a problem. Image: Cub Campers
Not Planning Your Trip Thoroughly
The idea of a spontaneous road trip sounds romantic in theory. However, if you’re going on an adventure, planning will help squeeze every drop out of your experience—and also provide a contingency if things do go south (not talking about the navigational direction). Planning allows you to take the most pleasurable route and ensures that you don’t miss any roadside attractions along the way. Moreover, if you don’t have a plan, you may encounter many potholes and bumps that not even Siri could pull you out of (again—not talking about the physical road).
This is a great planning starter pack. You will probably want to bring more than one physical map, though (unless the remainder is downloaded to your phone)
Relying Entirely On Google Maps
It’s fine to rely on Google Maps if you’re going to a party in an unfamiliar location across town. However, an RV-based holiday is a whole other kettle of fish. As discussed earlier, Google Maps won’t tailor the trip to accommodate your RV’s physical limitations. It may take you down a narrow or windy road rather uncomfortable for an oversized vehicle. If you’re travelling to a rural location, there’s every chance you may lose your Wi-Fi connection, and then you will have no back-up plan if you get lost. RV-based holidays require a bit of extra work, and this includes the planning stage. Think of it as the perfect opportunity to reacquaint yourself with physical maps. (Failing that, you could download some maps that would be accessible in lieu of a Wi-Fi connection.)
Google Maps is still an essential tool for your RV trip, but think of it as more of a back-up plan.
Not Reserving Your Campground
This probably falls under the umbrella of planning. If you’re planning to stay at a campsite, ensure you make enquiries and book beforehand—especially if it’s a very popular campsite. After a long drive, the last thing you want is to turn up and find there is no space available for you! Besides space, there may be other reasons why a campsite can’t admit you.
Some campgrounds won’t accommodate trailer or motorhomes less than 10 years of age. Some campsites may not have capacity to host RVs exceeding specific size dimensions—which, again, ties back to the point about factoring size limitations. Some campsites may be exclusively for seniors, or may necessitate a ‘child tax’, if you’re travelling with kids. Similar to when you’re selecting an RV, do some research and find something that will accommodate you and your lifestyle factors. Once you find something that suits you, lock it in!
You probably wouldn’t be able to get in here, even in pre-pandemic conditions.