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If you are a first-time RVer, or have been camping for a while and are willing to learn a new trick or two, we’ll cover eight insanely useful RV tips and hacks here. World events over the past couple of years led to an influx of new RV owners forcing people to share camping spaces like never before. Getting the most enjoyment out of your time outdoors means exhibiting some expected etiquette, avoiding embarrassing RV mistakes, and enjoying your camping adventure.

1. Avoid late arrival and early departure when possible

One of the most common mistakes new RVers make is arriving at their destination after dark. While most campgrounds’ official “Quiet Hours” don’t begin until 10 PM, most campers settle in around campfires by dark and often have at least some of their party asleep soon after. So, a basic rule of campground etiquette is if you’re doing something in the dark, do it as quietly as possible. 

2. Check your valves

A USA Today article cautions, “Don’t get poop on yourself.” We’d consider this sound advice during any activity, but as it pertains to RV travel, it involves checking your waste tank valves before heading to the dump station. Closing the RV’s waste-water valves before removing the cap from the waste-water outlet is an excellent first step, but sometimes these valves leak, so prepare to evade any “spewage.” 

3. Bring the essentials

A Volkswagen Transporter T3 Westfalia RV camper van seen in Warnitz, Germany
A Volkswagen RV camper | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you are traveling any significant distance away from your home, don’t forget to pack essential items like a toolkit, cookware, medications, and seasonally appropriate clothing. Also, bring some games, books, or movies and a way to watch them because internet access isn’t guaranteed. 

4. Change your schedule

Our daily lives tend to revolve around corporate schedules. Wake up in time for work or school, eat lunch at the same time every day, and go to bed after the news or our favorite television program. When camping, take the opportunity to set a more natural rhythm, watch the sunrise, take an afternoon nap in a hammock, and sit around the fire at night until you’re sleepy. 

5. Plan your RV trip

Planning an RV trip depends on a variety of factors. First, RV Life recommends knowing your RV’s height, length, and weight. Your RV is taller than most passenger vehicles and, in some cases, too tall to pass under some overpasses safely. Some campsites cannot accept RVs over a specified length, and it’s up to you to provide the correct RV length during the reservation process. If your RV is a trailer, its weight is an essential factor when choosing a tow vehicle, and in any case, your total weight may limit some bridge crossings. 

6. Use a pizza stone in your RV oven

Biscuits and pizza are everyday staples of a camping menu. Your RV likely has a small oven that cooks hottest in the center part of the baking sheet’s bottom. Unfortunately, centrally located heating overcooks in the middle with undercooked edges and tops. A pizza stone placed strategically inside your oven helps distribute the heat more evenly and makes cooking biscuits and pizza a snap.

7. Extinguish campfires and obey fire restrictions

There is usually an information board at the campground entrance that lists current fire conditions and restrictions. Performing a quick internet search for fire restrictions in your area is helpful if your campground doesn’t have this information. If you are unsure about local regulations, do not light a fire. 

If you have a campfire, it is critical that you fully extinguish it before leaving it for any length of time. The tiniest glowing ember can rekindle in a slight breeze, blow a spark into the surrounding leaf litter, and result in a massive wildfire. 

8. Start where you can and slow down

If you want to start living the RV life, don’t be afraid to start small. Sure, a luxury Class A model with all the options is a great way to see the country, but you may not have the funds for such a vehicle. Many people begin their RV journey in small pop-up campers or travel trailers. Other advice from KOA is to slow down and take time to enjoy your travels. Often people get caught up in the destination and don’t leave enough time to enjoy the trip. 

What do first-time RVers need to know?

As a first-time RVer, it’s essential to know what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or even ask for help when needed. Backing a large trailer into a campsite or using leveling blocks for the first time requires learning the skill to be proficient. There is a wealth of information online, from videos to social media groups, to help you get started. 


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