8 Tips for New RVers

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and nothing quite says AMERICA like an RV road trip. Memorial Day weekend kicks off the outdoor summer season and road warriors can expect to see more motorhomes than usual on the road over the weekend.

If you’re new to the RV game, you are no doubt excited over expanding your travel horizons. Taking to the open road, bringing all of your comforts of home into nature, and not having to travel through airport security are all just a few of the advantages of motorhome excursions. While RVing seem easy enough, there are a few things you should know about your temporary abode. We’ve made many rookie mistakes and learned a lot so you don’t have to. If you think we missed anything or have a question, please feel free to comment below!

1. Don’t use the RV commode without having water.

This may not be rocket science, but water serves a few key purposes in modern day plumbing. First, it lubricates and helps things not get…stuck. This mental image is graphic I know, but it’s MUCH worse if you do not heed these words of caution. Don’t get yourself in a sticky situation!

Water also begins waste break down and serves an odor blocking purpose. You can’t smell that much through water. Personally, I like to also use sachets that you can throw down into the tank to allegedly assist the breakdown process. Whether or not these actually work, it makes me happier thinking that the stuff that ends up down there is somehow clean. You can find these at an RV or marine store, or at Walmart, Meijer, etc.

2. Do use gloves when dumping.

I pride myself in being able to stomach a lot of disgusting things, including the idea of what comes out of the toilet tank, but touching it? No.

When it’s time to get rid of all the bathroom joys in the dump, be sure to use gloves to secure your hose before pulling the release handle. Black water (contaminated) first, gray water (wash water) second.

Worst nightmare. Photo:

3. Do know your numbers.

How long/tall/wide is your RV?
This will dictate the spaces you can fit into in campgrounds. Knowing your limits is also helpful when driving under an overpass.

How many axles do you have?
Many parks and tolls charge by the axle. Factor this into your budget and make sure you’re not getting overcharged.

What amp do you have?
You likely have 30 or 50. You’ll want to know this so your campground host can get you set up properly.

What is your license plate number?
Anytime you park at a campground or hotel, they’ll want this. Take a picture with your phone so you always have it on you.

So much easier to find room for these out of the box! Photo:

4. Do remove as many items from packaging as possible.

When opening a child’s toy recently, I felt as if I was invading a fortress. I slashed through cardboard, paper, tape, wire, and other plastic apparatuses using scissors and even pliers. My efforts created a mountain of waste, for a very small piece of plastic. While this is an extreme example, there are plenty of other items that you should remove from it’s packaging before you leave the house in order to create the most room in the RV, create less waste for you to carry, and prevent you from wielding sharp objects in a small space. Obvious items include toys, tags on clothes, and wrappers on sunscreen.  Less obvious includes many things that come in boxes – granola bars, cereal, popsicles, meat, soda cans, etc. Unpackaged items like these are more versatile with their placement which is great with the very limited cupboard, refrigerator and freezer space.

5. Do make sure your propane tank is full and that the line is open to use.

The first time we had our propane filled, we felt accomplished…until we tried to turn it on. The igniter wouldn’t work and we thought we would never be warm again. We didn’t realize that a propane tank in the RV runs similarly to a grill. On a grill, if the propane valve is tight, it won’t ignite. The RV is similar, when we loosened the valve the ignition switch functioned and all of our appliances run by propane worked, too.

Acquaint yourself with how your propane tank and system works. Generally, there is the line (that must be open to work), some kind of switch in the “home” area to supply it to your appliances, and then each individual appliance has it’s own method of usage (e.g. our refrigerator as a button to push).

National parks can be busy. We booked in advanced for Zion Canyon NP.

6. Do book your campground in advanced.

Sometimes I’m a big fan of “figuring it out” when we get there, but most of the time I feel much better when we’ve planned it. With many more people on the road in the summer and on huge RV weekends such as Memorial Day, I wouldn’t count on luck. Many places have a website you can book through. However, if you find yourself really strapped…

Many casinos let you park overnight.

7. Do learn other public places you are permitted to park overnight.

Rest areas and some parking lots will accommodate overnight vehicles, however it’s always best to check by calling the building owner. Most Walmarts are particularly accommodating, however, we always check Walmart Atlas and All Stays to make sure RVers are permitted. The best thing you can do when in doubt is to call the manager directly and ask!

8. Do make sure to bring some entertainment…but not your entertainment system!

Board games, cards, outdoor games, and campfires are the best way to enjoy the summer environment and bond with your family and friends. You will surely need music, so check out the special Memorial Day Weekend Playlist HERE and all of our state playlists HERE. Playlists are complete with links to Spotify!


(Content is for informational purposes only and does not render advice or professional services)

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