The first thing you are going to learn as a new RV owner is that RVing isn’t just a different way to go on vacation. It’s a lifestyle. That lifestyle comes with more work, but the reward is getting to go on adventures and see the world in the way you want.
Before you hit the road, familiarize yourself with your new RV. Make sure you understand how each system works and where everything is. Yes, the dealer will conduct a walk-through to show you how everything works. Record in on your smartphone because you are bound to forget something. Create a checklist that you will run through every time. Check the fluid levels to make sure they are full and fresh. Check your gauges and lights. Go through the whole list.
You also have to learn how to do new things, such as filling up the freshwater tank (the water that comes out of your taps), dumping the gray tank (dirty water from your RV shower and the kitchen sink) and the black tank (wastewater from the toilet). If not maintained properly, any of these tanks can cause problems). You also have to learn to run the generator and how to hook up electricity to your rig.
Driving a 45-foot motorhome is different than driving a car
You are now ready to hit the road. But only for a test run. Driving a 45-foot Class A motorhome is a lot different than driving a car. Go to a large, empty parking lot and get used to driving your RV. Practice making left and right turns to see how much space you need. Practice backing up, especially if you are going to be towing something.
You are now almost ready to hit the road. But there’s still some work to do. Instead of hopping on an airplane to get to your destination, you must plan how you are going to get to your destination, plan for the fuel stops along the way (there are some gas stations that can’t accommodate your RV) and figure out which campgrounds you will stay at while en route.
Watch for low-clearance bridges and roads with weight restrictions
And you had better know your route. Because there are low-clearance bridges and tunnels throughout the country and too many roads with weight restrictions. You are going to learn those numbers quickly. You should invest in an RV-specific GPS that will keep you from having to make some harrowing turnarounds because of a low bridge.
Before leaving you have to go through the checklist of making sure the tires have enough air, that you’ve packed enough food and you have everything else you need. Be sure you have emergency gear, such as flares, hazard triangles, flashlights and rain ponchos.
Now there’s another checklist to run through before you leave. You have to lower the antenna, pull the steps in, turn off and close fans on the roof, turn off the water heater and water pump, secure any loose items and retract the jacks.
Stay closer on your first trip until you gain confidence
Don’t try to go too far on your first trip. It’s better to stay somewhat closer to home until you gain confidence and just in case you run into an unexpected problem. Make a reservation. You don’t want to be scrambling because there’s no space at the campground where you planned to stay. Make a reservation at a campground with a pull-through site. There’s nothing worse than thinking the worst is over and suddenly realizing you need to back into a tight spot
Check the weather before leaving. Safe road conditions are essential to a successful trip.
Don’t try to drive too far in one day. Aim for no more than six hours a day. It takes time to pack up, make the necessary stops and to set up at the end of the drive. You also have to allow for traffic and other problems. Avoid driving at night, when it is harder to find help.
If traveling with dogs, you need time to make stops for them. You also need to make sure the campgrounds you plan to stay allows pets and whether there are any policies against certain breeds.
You are now ready to begin your exciting new journey. It’s time to begin enjoying your new lifestyle.