Dumb to Dumbest: 50 RV Camping Mistakes NOT TO DO!

Have you made a really dumb mistake while RVing? You’re not alone! Here are the dumbest RV camping mistakes.

RVers—even smart ones like you and me—do some really dumb things.

Here are 50 of the dumbest mistakes RVers make. The dumber mishaps are more traumatic and costly which is why you definitely don’t want to make them yourself. So, read on, learn from the mistakes of others and save yourself some serious grief and cash!

What are the dumbest RV camping mistakes you’ve seen? (I don’t want to be one of THOSE guys!)

Like I said, we have all made mistakes. 

Camping at Texas Lakeside Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The good news is that we can laugh about some of the dumb things we have done. The bad news is that some mistakes may cost you time or money, or both!

The following are some dumb mistakes that RV campers make. Read on so that you can be sure NOT to make the same mistakes!

1. Forgetting to close the black water tank valve

2. Bringing dogs that bark constantly. Try to teach your pet how to behave around the campsite. 

3. Walking through your neighbor’s campsite. Be respectful of their space.

4. Placing dog poop bags on the picnic table. 

5. Forgeting to bring bug spray on your trip.

Using a secure sewer hose connection to avoid spillage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Thinking that your vehicle is strong enough to pull your trailer when it is not. Make sure you account for extra weight, like water, fuel, propane, tool kit, clothing, and other items.)

7. Driving out of camp with the antenna up. An excellent way to ensure that you hit a tree and rip it right off of the RV!

8. Pulling out of the camsite without realizing the windows are still open. 

9. Forgetting to close or secure a storage hatch door. 

10. Forgetting to place the handrail in the travel position. 

11. Forgetting to unplug and stow the power cord. Dragging the cord is a hazard plus you’ll do considerable damage to the campground’s power pedestal.

12. Driving away without retracting your stabilizers. Your trailer may just tip and cause you to go flying! Great photo op, though!

Water connection with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

MORE dumbest RV camping mistakes

13. Forgetting to ensure that the trailer is level BEFORE unhooking. It is really annoying to have to rehook and reset your rig.

14.  Making noise early in the morning or late in the evening. Most campgrounds have designated quiet hours. These hours take effect typically around 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Be respectful of the other campers and turn down your music and keep noise at a minimum.

15. Taking turns too fast and too soon. If you turn too soon, the tail swing from your rig may come dangerously close to things you wish to avoid!

16. Not locking up your food appropriately. Even if you’re not camping in bear country, you might attract other unwanted visitors. 

17. Not double-checking your hitch and your jack or landing gear. 

18. Driving too fast! Being safe in your RV may just save a life and save you from getting caught in a speed trap.

19. Not retracting the entry steps.

Flushing back and gray water tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

20. Not setting a timer when flushing the black tank. Otherwise, you might forget and your toilet will morph into a geyser! It won’t be a pretty picture.

21. Forgetting camper walls are not soundproof. Be careful with your words and noises!

22. Window coverings are not always opaque. Be careful not to expose yourself to others. 

23. Forgetting to retract roof vents when prepping for travel. 

24. Not putting away any camping gear that you don’t want stolen.

25. Forgetting to check if your tailgate will hit the trailer hitch before opening it.

26. Forgetting to turn off the outdoor sink faucet when turning on the water inside the rig. Otherwise, you can have a flood!

27. Not retracting your awning at night or when leaving your campsite. Awnings are not made for inclement weather and rain or wind can damage them. They are expensive to replace if you’re not careful! Since weather can change quickly, always stow your awnings before retiring for the night or whenever you leave your RV for a prolonged period of time.

28. Not cleaning up after your dog.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

29. Not using an electric management system (often referred to as a surge protector) on the electric box. Otherwise, you may damage your RV electrical panel and sensitive electronics on board. To be in the know read Is Your RV Protected from Electrical Issues?

30. Not wearing gloves when draining the septic tank It’s best to use disposable vinyl gloves. 

31. Do not forget that you put your sewer hose in the back of the truck to dry before leaving your campsite. You will no longer have a black hose and other campers may not appreciate it. 

Use disposable vinyl gloves when dumping sewerage tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

32. Forgetting to remove the chocks before driving off. This does happens, Have you ever seen one of my favorite road trip movies, RV?!

33. Forgetting to turn off your outside lights when you retire for the night. 

34. Using the freshwater tap to clean your sewer hose. Yuck!

35. Not checking that your RV is shorter than the basketball hoop when backing into your driveway! (The same is true for going under overpasses!)

36. Not being courteous to other campers and staff.

Is your smoke alarm in working condition? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even MORE dumbest RV camping mistakes

37. Not understanding your RV’s tail swing! It can be an expensive and unsafe mistake!

38. Locking yourself out of the RV. Have several sets of keys and keeping one outside of the RV. If you lose one during hiking or another adventure, you don’t want to have to break into your rig. 

39. Not blocking your trailer’s wheels before unhitching. You really don’t want your trailer to roll down the hill.

40. Not making an RV checklist and following it every time. 

41. Listening to music or the television too loudly, especially outdoors.

42. Not packing enough water. People tend to drink more when camping than when in the comfort of their home.

How NOT to treat your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

43. Not keeping your batteries and tires in good condition!

44. Overflowing. Be respectful of each other’s space by not overflowing your own RV camping site and into your neighbors. If you bring a bunch of gear like bikes, chairs, and outdoor games, make sure it fits inside your site.

45. Putting your grill on the picnic table. Grills can leave stains, cause the table material to warp, and leave a residue. Instead, bring along an inexpensive portable table so you can leave the campsite clean for future campers. 

46. Speeding through the campground. A speed limit is just that—a limit. Don’t go over the posted number. Campgrounds are busy with campers walking their dogs, children chasing balls, bike riders, and RVs pulling in or out of their site. For the safety of you and those around you, slow down.

46. Forgetting to do a walk-around. Before you hit the road, walk around your RV and check to ensure everything is put away and in its proper place for highway driving. Now do it again. Two walk-arounds may seem excessive, but trust me, drive-off disasters do occur.

Damage from a fallen tree during major wind storm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

47. Not checking that your cupboards and fridge doors are secure.

48. Ignoring sounds and signs that something is wrong. RVs have a lot of moving parts. There’s nothing like driving down the highway listening to something beep or rattle behind you to realize you’ve got something terribly wrong. While on the road, be sure to listen to your rig and check your mirrors often to be certain you are secure and safe.

49. Overloading your RV. The best way to avoid RV accidents caused by overloaded RVs is to pay attention to your weight and respect the manufacturer’s weight ratings.

50. Trailer sway. Trailer sway is a side-to-side motion of the trailer you’re towing. Not only does that side-to-side motion make it difficult to stay on the road but it can build to the point where it becomes whipping, tossing the trailer back and forth violently. This can—and often does—result in very serious RV accidents.

While you want to avoid making as many mistakes as possible, just know that you are bound to make a few along the way. 

Yes, they may cost you some time and money but most will end up being funny campfire stories.

Be familiar with the operation of your fresh water and gray and black sewerage systems © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check this out to learn more:

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground