Love road trips and travel? Not a great fan of staying in hotels while traveling? Miss your own belongings and cooking while traveling? Thinking of trying RV travel? It’s a great way to see the country, say those who participate in an AARP’s online community. Seasoned RVers advise using the many websites devoted to RV travel for resources, group and forum discussions, and parks and boondocking ideas. AARP Facebook followers offered more than 500 tips to new RVers. Certainly these tips apply to ALL new-to-RV travelers, young and older alike. Among them the top 10:
1. Find The Right RV
With so many different campers, both towable and fifth wheels (which hook up over the bed of a pickup truck) it can be hard to choose. Ask the dealer if you can stay overnight in a camper before you buy it. See if you’re happy with the size of the kitchen , the beds and the storage. See if the RV will work with your travel needs and expectations.
2. Rent First
Take a rental out and hook it up. Have everyone stay inside as if it were raining. Is there enough room for everyone? It’s no fun if it doesn’t work for you when you’re indoors. Experience it as if you needed to be inside for a while, to get a reality check on roominess. Make sure you can handle that rig’s plumbing and electrical requirements. Do you feel comfortable repeating this hookup every time you park for the night? Is it cumbersome or manageable? How about leveling; do you know how to level when necessary? Do a little research before you take an RV out, and ask questions! Talk to seasoned RVers.
3. Buy Used
You can save half the cost or more. Yes, it’s likely for the RV to have some issues, but after reading online RV forums, and joining RV groups, new ones have issues too. Many are minor and fixable. Find out the ones that most problematic and those the least. This is where joining RV communities is a huge help. Most have very willing followers happy to answer questions and give advice, including yours truly. The RV community is a wonderful resource for new and seasoned RVers.
4. Drive Someone Else’s RV
Companies are always looking for someone to transport their vehicle. RVs can’t be transported on car carriers. Most of the RV companies are in Indiana. So check out an RV by attaching your personal vehicle to the rear and experience the test drive in real time.
5. Practice Parking
If you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel, practice backing into small spaces. It can be quite a challenge if you are not good at this task, not to mention time-consuming and frustrating. If you are completely unfamiliar with the campground you have chosen, and are worried about maneuverability, try reserving a pull-through site. You’ll save time and probably your sanity.
6. Be Ready
Nothing like being excited to take a trip and then not be ready. Keep your rig stocked with towels, soap, linens, canned goods, spices, dish ware and everything you need for traveling, including special RV toilet paper. All you need to do then, is add fresh food and clothes. Make sure to always have other-season clothing. When traveling, it’s handy to have all-weather clothes in case you hit unexpected weather and temperature.
7. Be Organized
Keeping a binder with checklist, travel logs, coupons, current maps (GPS may not work in some remote areas), and notebook paper for quick reference. Even listing what is in each cabinet can save time searching. Having lists for what to take and do just before going as well as what is needed to remove when you’re heading home really helps to remember the important things.
8. Take A Maiden Voyage
For a first trip, use a checklist and stay close to home. You can go get things you need or bring home things you don’t (you don’t want extras filling up needed space). You can practice any setting up you will need, you know where to find shops and buy the things you need. If the initial outing is a total fail, you can go home, sleep in your bed, and start again in your rig feeling refreshed and with a positive energy.
9. Stay Safe
Having at least two people who can drive the RV keeps one driver from driving weary. And stopping driving early enough to park with daylight aids in a happy ending to a traveling day. Don’t look for RV parks after dark; parking will be more difficult and hookups can be tricky.
Remembering that the ‘center of gravity’ for your storage and keeping your heavy stuff down low will help with driving and unloading. Wind and road conditions can cause kitchen ware breakage and mess. Make sure things are stored well and restrained. Also service your rig regularly and check lighting, plumbing, drain tanks, etc. Well prepared will give you a great travel experience.
10. Stay Off Major Thoroughfares
One last good tip is to travel off the freeways and highways. Keep off the interstates where the working big rigs travel. Drive country roads for wonderful scenery and people. Catch yard sales, art and food shows, local galleries, and eating establishments to get the local feel. Enjoy your adventures!
*Redacted and modified from a published piece by AARP Travel, by AARP | August 2, 2016|