New RVers: How To Start RVing

Chelsea Day holding up a map and a phone in front of her travel trailer RV

Congratulations on buying a new RV! Now that you have your dream rig, there are some critical things to know before you get started. Here are some tips for RV beginners to help them learn all about their new RV and plan for their first RV trip.

  1. Ask A Fellow RVer

    Anyone who has been RVing for a while can be an excellent resource to help show you how to set-up and take down your new RV. Fellow RVers can also advise on what items to pack and what to leave at home. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, and even consider filming any complicated processes so you have an easy reference. Your RV dealer is great for getting an initial walk-through of your new rig, and there are plenty of online communities and forums that can help answer any questions you may have along the way.

  2. Start Small

    Your first trip in your new RV doesn’t have to be an epic cross-country adventure. We recommend starting small and going somewhere within 20 miles of your homebase. If possible, try to stay at an accessible, established campground. These places are usually located near major towns and cities, so you can run out and grab something if you forgot it. You’ll also be able to test your hook-up equipment and there will likely be other people around to help if you have any questions.

  3. Consider Extra Weight

    If you’re towing an RV, a really important number to know is your tow vehicle’s GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This number is the total weight of your tow vehicle, RV, passengers, and any added cargo. Things like extra furniture, sports equipment, even luggage can add a lot of weight to your RV, so it’s critical that you know your GVWR and stay below this number. A general rule of thumb is to never exceed 80 percent of your tow vehicle's gross GVWR. If you’re unsure about your total weight, you can always weigh everything at a truck stop. Just make sure you have a back-up plan in case your weight is over the limit.

  4. Plan Your Meals

    Planning your meals ahead of time can relieve a lot of stress. This not only includes what meals to cook and the ingredients needed but when you’ll want to eat out at a restaurant. We typically like to eat breakfast and lunch at our RV and then try a local restaurant for dinner. This helps us stick to a budget, while also getting to experience some local places.

  5. Get Your Family Involved

    If you plan to travel with family or other passengers, assign them various set-up and take down tasks so you don’t have to do it all yourself. Assigning these tasks before you leave allows everyone an opportunity to practice their respective tasks and makes it clear on who will be doing what once you arrive. It helps to have a detailed checklist that everyone can reference so no steps are forgotten. 

  6. Pack Essentials

    To help prioritize what you’ll pack in your RV, start with the essentials. Food, water and clothing are usually at the top of the list, but also consider things like toilet paper, kitchen equipment and a first aid kit. Think through your daily routine and set aside the items that you know you’ll use every day. Then think about the activities you’ll be doing on your trip and slowly start to add those items. Whenever possible, try to pack collapsible, multi-purpose items to save space.

RVing may seem overwhelming or intimidating at first, but with some time and practice, you’ll soon become an RV pro and know everything about your new rig. No matter where you are in your RV journey—if you just picked up your RV from the dealer or are in the midst of planning your first trip—we’re here to help.

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