Top 7 Tragic Rookie RV Mistakes To Avoid

Make sure to avoid the following rookie mistakes

You’re out on the road in your new recreation vehicle for the first time and you commit that huge mistake that tells the world you’re a newcomer to the world of RVing. It’s embarrassing and there may be a mess to clean up, but it wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t witnesses to see your mistake.

Before departure ensure all cords and hoses have been securely stored © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the first couple of years of RVing it seemed I learned something new every time I pulled into a campground. Sometimes, it was not the most enjoyable experience but a learning experience. 

Everyone makes rookie RV mistakes, but you can avoid the worst ones if you do your homework ahead of time. Here are the most common mistakes new RVers make—and how to avoid them.

Back-in campsites are more challenging than pull-through sites and require considerable practice © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive-off Disasters

The most horrifying mistake a new RVer can make is driving off while you’re still connected to water, sewer, and/or power. The damage is expensive, and it’s extremely embarrassing.

Forgetting to lower the TV antenna is common mistake of even much traveled RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Also make sure you lower the satellite dish and TV antenna, retract the awnings and slides, and pick up and stow any jack pads, leveling boards, or wheel chocks prior to departure.

And don’t forget to check head lights, tail lights, and signal lights, front and rear.

Camping at White Tank Mountains, a Maricopa County Park in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Using Your RV before Learning How

It’s Sunday morning and you’ve had your first awesome camping experience in your newly purchased RV. Before leaving the campground, you make a pit stop at the dump station only to realize you have no idea what to do. As you search through the manual, you realize you have a line of vehicles behind you waiting to dump. 

Ensure you know how to use a dump station correctly and have adequate heavy duty hoses © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are many new procedures you need to learn—from simple things to more complex items. Before leaving home on your first camping trip, read through your operator’s manual and conduct a practice run of the major procedures, including hooking up utilities, leveling the RV, extending and retracting the slideouts, and dumping gray and black water. 

Driving a large Class A motorhome can be challenging especially on narrow roads with limited shoulder © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not Knowing the Size of Your RV

First time RVers often have a difficult time managing the large size of their RV. Usually, cornering and parking are the toughest tasks. Also, ensure know your height and width.

Know and post on dash height of you RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No Plan No Prep

Many new RVers make their first mistakes before they even hit the road. The key to success is in the planning. For a smooth, worry-free trip, make sure you consider all of these things:

  • Your budget. Set aside more money than you think you’ll need—especially for food, fuel, and camping fees. Also, be sure to set aside enough money specifically for an emergency.
  • Your route. Avoid narrow roads with sharp turns, and highways with low bridges or tunnels. There are apps for this.
  • Your reservations. Many an RVer has been denied entrance to a campground because they didn’t have a reservation. Popular camps fill up quickly and RV sites are limited.
  • Your necessities. RVs are tiny places, making it easy to overpack. Make sure you only bring what you need.
Be prepared for all kinds of weather…and an amazing sky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not Using a Checklist!

These newbie RV mistakes can be avoided by using a checklist before, during, and after your trip. Update your checklist with every trip—you’re bound to learn a lesson or two as time goes on.

We love pull-through RV sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not Doing a Walk Around?

There are many things that must be done when breaking camp with your RV. Often, a checklist is followed to assure that each item has been readied and checked before hitting the road.

The larger the RV the greater the challenge! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Generally, the last item to be completed is a full walk around. This involves the driver walking entirely around the vehicle and checking everything, verifying that all slides and awnings are fully retracted and locked, jacks are up, all appendages are disconnected from the services and stored, the hitch is secure, tires are fully inflated and not damaged, windows and vents are closed, antennas are down, and no kids, items, or other obstructions lie under the vehicle. The ground should be checked to make sure no fluids are leaking.

Now relax and enjoy the sunset… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remember—everyone’s an RV newbie at some point, and we’ve all made some of these newbie mistakes. You’re in good company, so keep your sense of humor, a toolbox, first aid kit, and consider yourself officially a veteran RVer.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey