Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just a part of life.
But when you’re talking about RV camping, even small errors can cause big problems.
After all, RVs are big vehicles with lots of complex systems. If you forget to regularly measure your tire pressure or keep up with checking for water damage, you could be facing some serious expenses — not to mention possible threats to your safety and that of those around you.
If you’re an RV rookie hoping to read up on every possible error so you can avoid making any, I have bad news: you can’t prepare yourself for everything. Travel is unpredictable by its nature, and you’re definitely going to run into unexpected circumstances.
You’re going to mess up.
But by learning about common RV camping mistakes, you can minimize the number of times you find yourself saying, “Uh-oh” — and also downgrade how serious that “uh-oh” moment is.
Here are the top RV camping mistakes and bad habits to watch out for and avoid.
RV Rookie Mistakes
Just getting started in the RV lifestyle? There are a few things you definitely want to know ahead of time.
1. Buying too big, small, or fast.
Listen, we get it. Purchasing your first RV is an incredibly exciting time. It can be tempting to jump on the first rig that looks like a great deal!
but when you’re buying an RV for the first time, you need to slow way down and think carefully about what you really need out of a rig. Otherwise, you may end up spending a lot of money on a vehicle you’ll want to trade in or upgrade in less than a year — and since RVs are a depreciating asset, that’s an expensive mistake.
Tour as many RVs as possible, and spend more time and energy than just taking a cursory glance. Sit on the couch and imagine what it would be like with several people in the rig. Can you see the TV alright? Is the kitchen sink big enough to wash your biggest pot? Although a “deal” might be tempting, it’s a much better idea to take your time and get the right vehicle.
2. Not thinking carefully about the best type of RV for you.
Another common mistake similar to number one: Not considering all the different options when it comes to purchasing an RV.
Specifically, you need to think very carefully about whether a motorcoach or a travel trailer is the best model for you. They have many similarities, of course, but they also have some important differences. And depending on what you want out of your camping experience, purchasing the wrong type might leave you in a lurch.
Although we don’t have time to go into all the ins and outs of the pros and cons of motorhomes versus travel trailers here, you can find lots advice, buying guides, and checklists both here on RVshare and across the internet. Just make sure you do your research before you sign the papers!
3. Thinking full-time RVing will automatically be an inexpensive lifestyle.
If you’re thinking about diving into the full timer lifestyle, be careful! Many first time RVers think it’s as simple as selling your house, ditching your mortgage, and hitting the wide-open road totally debt free.
That’s not actually the case. RVing also comes with many costs associated, from the price of the vehicle itself to the money you’ll need to spend on fuel, registration, and campground fees. Not to mention the cost of regular maintenance — and repairs when things inevitably go wrong. That’s just a part of RVing, whether part time or full time, so be sure you’re prepared for it!
Common RV Mistakes
It doesn’t have to be your first time camping to make these common RV mistakes.
4. Not carefully checking for water damage on a regular basis.
RVs have lots of seams and moving parts, which unfortunately means they’re very vulnerable to water damage. In fact, that’s what eventually claims most RVs in their old age.
Get ahead of this damp danger by regularly checking your RV for early signs of water damage, which will allow you to make repairs before it’s too late.
5. Not keeping up with routine maintenance.
This is one of the biggest RV mistakes we encounter, and one of the deadliest.
Whether you full time in your rig or just use it once every blue moon for a weekend away, you need to make sure you keep up with regular maintenance just like you would your day-to-day car — including oil changes, tire rotations, and also RV-specific chores like cleaning out your wastewater tanks and checking your air conditioning filters.
RVs are expensive, and by keeping up with regular maintenance, you’ll ensure your vehicle lives a long, healthy life with as few repair costs as possible.
Worst Camping Mistakes
Here are a few more RV errors to avoid.
6. Not performing a walkaround before moving your rig.
Whether it’s accidentally leaving your antenna extended or forgetting to remove your leveling blocks, not performing a thorough walkaround before you leave camp can have disastrous consequences.
Trust me: You do not want to be dragging your sewer hose down the highway. So always make sure to check and double check every last inch of your rig, inside and out, before you get behind the steering wheel!
7. Not covering your rig when it’s not in use.
Tree sap, bird droppings, twigs and debris… it’s hard out there for your RV’s roof. (And you want to keep that roof intact and leak-free as long as possible!)
An easy way to significantly extend your RV’s life and minimize its upkeep is simply to keep it covered when it’s in storage — whether that means parking in a garage or investing in a canvas RV cover. It might cost a couple of hundred dollars now, but it’ll easily save you more than that much in the future!
So, which of these common RV mistakes and bad habits have you fallen victim to? Which ones have we missed?