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RVers Share Their Best Tips From Firsthand Experience

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RVs at dealer lot - feature image for firsthand experience stories

Buying a new RV is an exciting experience. However, for a new RVer, there is an awful lot to learn and practice (because practice makes perfect, right?). 

Just like learning about anything else, the best way to learn about RVing is by doing it. But when you are new to the RV lifestyle, owning an RV can be a little nerve-wracking. When it comes to RVing, most of us are never as nervous as we are on that first trip, bringing the RV home from the RV dealer. Aside from the nail-biting first journey home, we’ve wondered what other experiences RVers had as new RVers. 

So, we reached out to the RVing community and asked seasoned RVers to share the best firsthand experience they had as a new RVer. The response from our fellow RVers was enthusiastic, and we have eight wonderful anecdotes to share with you.  

Here are eight firsthand experiences that people had as new RVers. For privacy reasons, I am only sharing the first names of our respondents.

1. Learn how to back up your trailer. 

“I travel in a 20-foot Forest River R-pod 180 travel trailer. When I first brought it home from the dealer, I had enough experience backing a trailer to know that I was incredibly bad at it. Now 4 years later and I’m still no pro at backing a trailer. However, lots of practice and patience have made me good enough to get the trailer backed into most campsites. Here are a few things that I Iearned about backing up a trailer from my own experiences.  

Make time to practice backing up in an empty parking lot. Plan to be at your campsite in daylight hours—backing a trailer into a campsite after dark can a nightmare for newbies. Backing a trailer when you are not tired from driving is much easier than backing a trailer when you are tired. Having excited and vocal dogs in the vehicle can make backing a trailer more difficult than it has to be. Briefly walking my dogs around the campsite before backing the trailer into it calms them down. I also get a chance to scope out the location of obstacles (picnic tables, low branches, ditches, etc.) in the campsite before I back the trailer into it. This technique may also work with children, but I don’t have any firsthand experience with that. Don’t put blind faith into the directions from strangers who will appear to help you when you are backing the trailer. They may or may not know what they are doing, and you can wind up with a damaged RV while they saunter back to their campsite. This hasn’t happened to me, but I came close this summer. Luckily, I always get out and look.   Always get out and look. There is no shame in taking a pull-through campsite!” – Lynne F.

2. Be fully aware of your surroundings when you drive.

“On our first trip out with our brand new 19’ travel trailer, we were on the road for a few hours when we decided to get lunch. Found a Wendy’s that had a nice wide drive and easy access drive-through. What we didn’t notice was the sun shade over the drive-through! We bent it up a bit and ripped a little plastic trim but no major damage. Lesson learned: look left, right, ahead, behind, and UP!” – David W.

“I had a pop-up, went to hook up to my van, and didn’t realize I had driven over the fire pit ’til I saw the side of my van on fire.  All was well; I kept that melted fender ’til I got rid of the van 12 years later.” – Joyce L.

3. Before you dump your black tank, check your connections.

“Always test your stinky slinky hookup with a bit of gray water before pulling the black handle. Don’t ask me how I know this!” – Maryanne H.

4.  Don’t find out about the local mosquito population the hard way.

“Our very first purchase was a fifth wheel; we went to the coast, pull thru spot…very nice resort. But the mosquitoes were also there…hundreds, millions. We couldn’t go outside. Nothing could have prepared us for this situation except to know ahead that the mosquitoes would be there. We got eaten alive just to hook up and leave.” – Donna S.

5. Check your tire pressure before you go.

 “Always check your tire pressure before you get on the road. Just because they look fine doesn’t mean they are. One blowout cost me $6,000 in repairs. Including a new axle.”  – Mark W.

6.  Keep a spare key handy.

“Have had a motorhome for about 10 years. On one of our trips, hubby and I were sitting outside fairly early in the morn (in our housecoats) having coffee and went to open the door to go back inside, and oops—it had locked. Thank goodness I left a window slightly open and we pushed the picnic bench under the window and he crawled through. Nobody was up in the park yet or they would of got a eyeful. We now keep a spare key outside hidden in a cubby.” – Kathy G.

7. Find what works for you.

“Practice backing up before you need to do it in a campground. We learned that we are much happier if my husband gets out and gives directions to back up with me in the driver’s seat.” – Pam K.

8. Create memories when you are camping in your RV.

“I keep a journal of events in my camper, something special every trip. I first started camping in my e-pod after health issues, and the first big sky with hundreds of stars made me cry with joy! Or the time I was mountain biking down this long hill and a hawk came down from the treetops and flew 5 to 10 feet above my handlebars, all the way down—how majestic. Aengus my sidekick (black lab mix) loves the water, creeks, lakes, or just tall wet grass, acting like a puppy and having a blast.” – Kelly C.


All RVers started out as new RVers at one time. Even seasoned RVers make mistakes from time to time. There is just so much to learn when we are new to RVing.

Keeping checklists can help you keep track of what you need to pack and with setup and tear-down tasks. Planning an RV-safe route on RV LIFE Trip Wizard can help take the uncertainty out of planning a trip and ensure you are taking routes that are safe for your particular RV. Plus, you can easily find campgrounds, rest areas, fuel stations, and other points of interest along the way.

Learn more about RVing

Forums such as and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

Related articles:

The 14 Worst RV Mistakes You Can Make As A Beginner10 Things You Should Know If You’re New To RVing


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The post RVers Share Their Best Tips From Firsthand Experience appeared first on RV LIFE.

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