new rv owner mistakes

We Screwed Up; How To Avoid These Common RV Mistakes

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Mistakes are a common occurrence in everyday life. And we all make them. When it comes to common RV mistakes, let’s face it, they are inevitable. Whether you are a new RV owner or have been RVing for decades, we all make mistakes when it comes to our rigs. That’s why they are called “common RV mistakes”, not “rare RV mistakes”. Kellie and I have made our fair share of them and I’m confident we will make more down the road. Heck, we might even overlook a major part of our checklist on our next adventure and be doomed before we leave the driveway. I wanted to write this post to share with you some of the common mistakes we have made as RVers and hopefully keep you from making the same ones.

Driving Too Far

We had our trip all planned out. We were going to drive the 5 to 6 hours to one of our favorite RV campgrounds, Barefoot RV and Campground. Check in time was around noon so I planned the whole day around leaving 6 a.m. We have made this trip several times in the past, so it was no big deal. Turns out, there was a detour on our route that we had not planned for and in the confusion of the traffic, safety cones, and concrete barricades, I missed the most important turn of the trip. Of course, we didn’t realize it until we were miles down the road.

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The next best thing to turning around was to hit up Google maps to redirect us. We had our new route and were steadily trucking right along. That is until the new route took us through a major city, at lunch time. Keep in mind that we should have already been to our destination by now, yet we still had a couple more hours to go.

Long story short, we finally made it to the campground around 4 that afternoon. The moral of this common RV mistake is don’t drive too far in one day. By the time you reach your destination, you will be so exhausted from the trip that you will make more mistakes setting up. This brings me to our next common RV mistake…

Not Researching The Route

As I stated above, we had taken that same route several times in the past. And things like road construction, detours, and major traffic events are going to happen. Not researching your route is a common RV mistake because these things are going to happen. Had we looked at something other than Google maps, which only works if you have cell service, we might have been more prepared to handle these hiccups. Garmin makes a GPS unit specifically for RVs. You enter your RV or travel trailer size and weight, and it gives your routes based on those dimensions. It also provides you with live traffic and weather updates.

Not Learning To Back In Your Travel Trailer

One of the most common newbie RV mistakes is not learning how to back in your travel trailer. I fought with this for what seemed like forever. It always seemed like every time I tried backing into an RV site, I was constantly needing to pull forward, back in, pull forward, back in, … You get the point. Practice makes perfect. Do you ever feel like the whole world is watching you as you back into your site? RVers just enjoy watching other RVers back in and set up. It’s nothing personal, we might learn a few tricks we didn’t know beforehand. Marc and Tricia from Keep Your Daydream made a fantastic YouTube video about backing a travel trailer. I have included it below. It is a great video, and it gives tons of insights and practical ways to practice.

If there is one piece of advice I can give, communication is key. When the driver and the spotter aren’t on the same page as far as signals, it can be a never-ending nightmare. If it looks like your spotter is back there doing the Macarena, a pair of hand-held radios are a great way to communicate with each other without screaming.

Leaving Your Awning Out

We haven’t encountered a problem with our canopy being out in high winds, yet. However, we have made the common RV mistake of leaving it extended during high rain. We had just bought our Kodiak and were on our first trip with it at Somerville Marina and Campground. We did know that it would be raining all weekend, we just forgot to lean the awning and during a spell of heavy downpour, we looked out and the canopy was holding tons of rainwater.

rv mistakes
leaving your RV awning out unattended can cause very costly damage

We were lucky enough to catch it in time, but it wasn’t far from tearing the whole thing off the camper. Keep your eye on the sky and pull in your canopy if you are leaving your camper or if bad weather is in the forecast. It only takes one good gust of wind to destroy your awning.

Resist The Temptation To Help Fellow RVers

I cover this common RV mistake in a recent post, Top 5 Unwritten Rules Of RVing And Camping. This RV mistake cost us dearly. Not in the matter of money, but in time, aggravation, and stress. We were getting ready to leave a campsite and a neighboring RVer decided he would lend a hand and help put our stabilizers up. Well, he had his power drill going in the wrong direction and he stripped out the threads on our stabilizer. Furthermore, when he saw what had happened, he walked off and bid us good luck.

Having a set of tools paid off on this mistake. I was able to remove the arm so we could pull out. Needless to say, this really ticked me off because he just left. I had no idea where he went and by the time, I finished unbolting the stabilizer, the park was nearly empty. SO, in order to avoid an RV mistake like this, it’s best not to help someone unless they ask you. Trust me, you’re not being rude by not helping. In fact, it’s preferred. However, there is nothing wrong with waiting until they finish their checklist to go say hello.

Not Having And Following Checklists

rv mistakes
you should have and follow checklists

You should have a checklist for loading your RV and a checklist for set-up and tear-down. Not following a checklist can lead to some costly RV mistakes. For example, we did not follow our loading checklist in the past, and it led to several trips back and forth to the nearest town to pick up supplies, food, ice, etc. After driving back and forth, your camping trip isn’t quite so relaxing anymore. The biggest newbie mistake we made was the first trip in our Hi-Lo. We had not researched anything about sewer hoses and attachments and when it was time to empty one of the holding tanks, we didn’t have all the right connectors to do it. Luckily, we were just trying to dump into our portable waste container, not the dreaded dump station.

You can find several checklists on Google for inspiration, or you can make your own.

Your departure checklist should have a few items like:

  • Check tire pressure
  • Raise stabilizers
  • Check Brake Lights, turn signals, etc.
  • Make sure windows, door, vents are closed
  • Bring in steps

On the other hand, your set-up checklist might include things like:

  • Making sure you are parked close enough to utilities
  • Making sure you aren’t too close to trees, obstructions, etc. for slides
  • Make sure RV is level
  • Chock wheels

Final RV Mistake

The final common RV mistake among seasoned RVers and newbies alike is making sure your blinds or curtains are closed at night. When the light is on inside your camper and it’s dark outside, everybody can see inside your rig. I’m sure I have flashed people in the past. (I hope I didn’t scar them for life)

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Conclusion On Common RV Mistakes

As you can see, most of these RV mistakes are completely avoidable. With a little bit of patience and attention to detail, we can minimize our mistakes so we can enjoy relaxing with our loved ones. I would much rather be sitting in the shade enjoying my weekend than driving back and forth to the store or repairing my RV at the campground.

Do you have any common RV mistakes that have happened to you? What about new RV owner mistakes? If so, leave us a comment below and tell us about it.

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