After a couple years of scheming and saving, you finally bought your first RV. It has all the interior features you were looking for, and you had the exterior repainted at your auto body shop. You dream of all the places you will go, and you look forward to a brand new perspective on life as you travel outside of your comfort zone.
But you’re also a bit nervous. You’ve never driven anything that big before. How can you ensure that you and your passengers will be safe and comfortable throughout the trip? And how do you prepare and plan for a trip that doesn’t involve airfare and motels?
It’s natural to feel a little anxious before you start something new. In this blog post, we provide 10 steps that should get you ready for your first RV trip, no matter the destination.
Why make this your first step? Here are a couple reasons.
First, some of your necessary preparation will vary based on your destination. A longer trip requires more supplies and more thorough maintenance. Traveling to the Grand Canyon in the middle of summer involves different prep work than a trip to Yellowstone in the fall.
Second, you can use your chosen destination to keep yourself motivated. Getting ready for a trip isn’t necessarily fun. However, if you can focus on the concrete details of your upcoming trip, you’ll have a much easier and more enjoyable time prepping your RV, buying supplies, and planning your route.
Like any road trip, the success of your RV outing relies on a functioning vehicle. All the camping gear and gadgets in the world won’t help you if the guts of your RV don’t work right. Check all your fluids, and ensure the engine battery is charged. Consider bringing your vehicle to a mechanic or your RV retailer if you have concerns about brakes or any other mechanical issues with your RV.
First, figure out if you have a 50-amp or 30-amp rig. You will want to try and stay at RV parks that provide 50-amp power outlets if you have a 50-amp rig, otherwise you won’t be able to use all your RV’s features. Make sure power reaches all your systems because emergency electrical repairs can disrupt any trip.
Don’t forget to check your RV’s air conditioner and air filters. You might get away with simply rolling down the windows in a normal car, but that won’t work when you’re parked at a campground in the blistering hot Arizona sun. You also want to ensure you have a functioning fridge. Otherwise, your food choices will be limited to non-perishable snacks and eating out.
It’s easy to look past roof problems until your first thunderstorm leads to leaks and wet furniture. Most RVs utilize rubber roofing, which keeps your RV nice and dry as long as you keep the roof well maintained.
Clean your roof with a sturdy brush and a non-abrasive cleaner. Using the wrong cleaner could lead to a damaged and compromised roof. After cleaning, inspect the seams of your roof, and reseal any gaps if necessary.
If you have concerns about the roof cleaning and sealing process, an auto body shop with RV experience can help you out.
As you get closer to your trip, make sure that your gas appliances work well. Sometimes gas appliances struggle when not used frequently. The refrigerator, furnace, and water heater all rely on functioning gas, and you will rely on those appliances during your trip.
Additionally, you may need to sanitize your water system so that you can have clean water without any bad tastes or smells. You can use a bleach/water mixture to rinse the system, but don’t forget to drain your water tank and valves completely afterwards.
Tools are essential on any road trip. When something in your RV starts to rattle, you will breathe a sigh of relief once you see that you can fix the loose part yourself. Don’t forget any spare parts that might be unique for your particular vehicle because you can’t wait to order and ship a part while on your first camping trip.
Don’t make across-country trip the first time you drive a big rig. Consider taking a small, overnight trip first so that you can get a feel for driving and living in your vehicle.
With enough experience, you can try hopping in your RV for a long weekend and seeing where the road takes you. For your first trip, however, you should do as much planning as possible. Popular RV campgrounds can fill up quickly, so try and make your reservations as soon as possible.
As you start your trip, don’t forget to stop by a gas station and check the air pressure in your tires. RVs put a lot of weight on the tires, and you don’t want a tire to burst or wear out on your vacation. Make sure each tire is filled to your RV’s recommended pressure setting, and resist the urge to over-inflate.
Follow these 10 steps, and you’ll feel more comfortable about your upcoming trip. Whether you travel north, south, east, or west, your first RV trip will certainly be an adventure. To make sure you look good riding out of the garage and onto the open road, don’t forget to visit an auto body shop before your trip.