As work has more and more remote opportunities we have increasing opportunities to travel. We are traveling all year, not just during vacation season. This makes sense, Our world has gotten more accessible and RV travel is easier than ever before. Whether renting or if you own an RV these tips will help you make the most of your trip.
- Loading and checklists: Being organized prevents you needing to make the choice to run to the store or do without. A camping trip should be spent with friends and family enjoying your destinations, not in a grocery store, that is for when you are at home!
Before you pack sit down and think through each activity and generate a checklist with all the things you will need, especially the obvious things like your toothbrush. As you travel more you will learn what things you don’t actually need on future trips but if space allows its best to have that extra float for the kids.
You depend on your RV to work when you arrive. There are a number of functions you should check before leaving to prevent possible failure and inconvenience.
- Create a comprehensive before you roll out list.
Here is what ours looks like.
Empty waste tanks (if possible)
Fill fresh tank (if possible)
Secure all cabinet contents especially refrigerator
Prep kids entertainment for drive
Scoop cat litter
Stow outside stuff (chairs, rug, hammock etc)
Plan rout (check roads for low over passes or steep mountain passes
Check tire tread and pressure
Slides in, jacks up, awning in
AC and water heater off, generator off
Sewer, water and power lines in and stowed
Double check hitch and lights
Final walk around check lights, turn signals and possible trouble spots
We have an opposite list for when we arrive at camp!
- The Walkaround
This is a super important safety check. No matter the age or type of rig things go wrong. When you are rolling down the road at highway speeds in a gigantic heavy box either towing or being towed all the details matter. If you are not well versed download a DOT checklist to help you define your protocol to prevent possible headaches and damage. Walk around with a keen eye on all possible weak points every time you stop.
- When you are new or get a new rig a short close to home, not far from services trip is in order. RVing is a ton of fun but lots can go wrong. It’s a lot easier to learn the ropes and fix your squacks on home turf than half way across the country.
- Whether you’re driving a motorhome or towing a trailer, driving is going to be a lot different than when you’re just in your normal vehicle.
An RV is long and wide and so is a trailer – your mirrors are going to be your best friend. Learn how to use your mirrors and ensure they’re in the proper position for driving. Typically, one mirror helps you see traffic behind you, and the other helps you see where your RV or trailer tires are and a bit of your blind spots. Knowing where your RV or trailer tires are in relation to you as the driver and in relation to curbs is going to help you make turns properly. These mirrors will also help you ensure that you are staying within your lane – your rig is much wider than a regular vehicle.
Drive slowly and remember that you need to start braking earlier than you would in a car – an RV or travel trailer weighs more and requires more stopping distance. Protect your brakes while going downhill by downshifting and letting your engine do most of the work, never ride the brakes. Tap the brakes for a few seconds at a time on downgrades to keep them from overheating.
When RVing… Don’t trust Google Maps! Unless you’re using an RV or Semi-Truck specific GPS, be vigilant when planning your route. Google Maps will always take you the fastest way, and the fastest route isn’t always going to be RV friendly. In particular, you will need to know the height of your RV or trailer to make sure you avoid low bridges and overpasses. In addition to knowing your height, it’s also good to know your weight because some bridges have weight limits. Awareness is key! Keep your rig height in mind for gas stations, too.
- If you are going to a popular destination reserve a spot before you finalize your other plans. Popular places get booked up. Driving a giant box in circles without an absolute destination can be very stressful.
Before choosing a place, check google or compendium for reviews. Sometimes marketing is deceptive.
Before you launch, use google maps satellite view of your destination and have your entry plan. Some places let you choose your site too which can be nice if there is an attraction on site you want to be close to.
Personally, we don’t always have a plan, but we also have a lot of nights boon docking under our belt. Thats why we fill our water before we launch. That way we can boondock if we get a wild hair and go somewhere unplanned.
- Not all power and water are the same and your RV can incur damage from too much flow of either. Have an RV surge protector and water pressure regulator on hand when you hook up. Don’t forget the teflon tape to be sure your water connections don’t leak!
- Pack like a pro. It’s important to consider when and how you will use things and the weight of your stuff when packing. Of course put what you use most in the most accessible spot but more than that make sure the layers of gear are accessible and placed in a way with bungees to keep them securely in place.
8.In addition to using a TPMS to monitor your tire pressure and temperature while you are driving, there are a few other things to be sure that your tires are safe and cared for. As your contact with the road, you want to be vigilant about keeping your tires in good condition.
RV’s don’t tend to pack on the miles so tires last a long time. The rubber still breaks down, because of that most RVers consider 5 years to be the lifespan of a set of tires regardless of the amount of tread left. UV damage and dry rot are much bigger factors in RV tire safety than tread use.
To determine the age of your tires, look for a code on the sidewall that starts with “DOT” followed by 10-14 characters. Typically, your tire’s age will be the last 4 numbers. Of these last 4 numbers, the first 2 will be the week and the last 2 will be the year. For example, if your tire has a code 5214, your tires were made in the last week of the year 2014.
Check your tire pressure often and regularly. Remember a cold tire will have lower pressure than a hot. after you have been on the road. Temperature and altitude also effect pressure. If you have access keeping an air compressor to your packing list that is rated for up to 120 PSI on hand is a good idea. It’s hard to find air compressors that are suited for RV tires! Most gas station air pumps are also hard to maneuver an RV into.
So to summarize tire safety: check the age, monitor the pressure, keep them inflated to proper pressure to avoid blowouts or other tire damage, and keep them covered from the sun.
- RV’s guzzle gas, its one of the costs of the joy of RVing. You can do things to control the cost some.
No need to hurry, a moderate speed will improve your MPG and keep you safe.
Empty waste tanks. Fresh too if you know you will not need it. Extra weight equals extra gas
Don’t over pack. Well this is one of the typical old timers advice. However you would have to really over pack by a lot to have a measurable effect on gas milage. Don’t over pack because shuffling around stuff you don’t need to get to stuff you do need is a bother!
Avoid windy day driving. When you are driving and the wind is fighting you it costs more in gas, it can also be unsafe and is is just plain exhausting.
- Off grid dumping. If you love boon docking as much as we do you will need to seek out places to dump and fill. Allstays RV Dump Stations App is a big help. In Texas Free Camping app has a lot of free and cheap municipal RV parks. Many are not the best to stay in but are great for a late night stop or a quick dump and go.