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First-Time RV Trip Tips for Smooth Adventures: Driving, Planning, and Campsite Set-Up

Published on August 4th, 2022 by Ray & Tammy Roman
This post was updated on March 19th, 2024

When you’re new to this lifestyle, RV living can feel overwhelming. If that’s you, don’t panic. These RV trip tips for first-time RVers can help you with driving tips, RV trip planning, campsite set-up and more. Keep reading and set your worry aside.

Basic First-time RV Trip Tips for Smooth Adventures

Traveling in an RV comes with countless benefits. For one, RV travel is cheaper because you don’t have to pay for airfares and hotels and can decide where to eat.

RV travel also gives you total flexibility. Owning a camper allows you to carry everything you need with you. Campers also enable you to connect with nature.

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To enjoy what an RV trip offers, you must be prepared before going on one. Yes, RV travel can be a lot of fun, but it can also become a disaster if you’re not properly prepared and equipped for the trip. You don’t want that to happen, right? Follow our first-time RV trip tips to make sure everything goes right.

man woman first-time RV trip tips
Don’t let RV trip planning overwhelm you.

Take Time to Learn the RV

Before planning a route and packing your valuables, it’s crucial to learn the RV first. It means you should exert time and effort to learn everything about the vehicle — from its towing capacity and tongue limit to lights and indicators.

It’ll be challenging to drive or maintain the vehicle’s safety if you’re unaware of these things.

Being well-equipped with this information can become your key to maximizing the features of the RV and minimizing mechanical issues during the trip.

Ensure you Have Proper Vehicle Registration

When going on an RV trip for the first time, you need to pay attention to the most minor details as this can impact your safety. Aside from ensuring that your RV runs properly, you must also ensure your camper is properly registered.

RV registration rules by state can vary. Each state has different registration requirements for an RV. Check with your State’s motor vehicle department for the requirement to properly register and insure your campers.

Allow Extra Time to Get There

Towing a travel trailer stresses your vehicle, causing it to slow down. This, along with the aerodynamic drag of the trailer itself, will require you to slow down and even stop for fuel frequently. Driving an RV in the city also takes time and mental energy.

With this in mind, allow extra time to get to your destination. For instance, if you usually travel two hours from home to your destination using your vehicle, allow at least an hour more when using an RV. This will help you stay on schedule as you don’t have to rush on the road.

young RV camping family
Keep your first RV trips close to home and easy to set up.

Camp Close to Home

When choosing a destination for your first RV trip, pick one close to your home. Camping close to your home will give you the experience you’ll need to prepare you to travel long distances.

Most importantly, choosing to camp close to your home for your first RV trip allows you to gain the confidence to learn how to operate the RV.

Book Your Campsite at a Private Campground

National parks and public campgrounds are accessible almost anywhere. Regardless of where you live, you’ll probably find one a few miles away from your home.

And while it can be tempting to “go with the flow” and camp anywhere, it’s not the best option when going on an RV trip for the first time.

It’s better to reserve a private campground for your first RV trip, as public campgrounds are often packed, especially if you plan to go on a trip during a weekend or a holiday.

Private campgrounds are full of hook-ups, giving you access to water, sewer, and electricity on site. Private campgrounds also have staff members who can accommodate your needs during your first RV trip.

See what RVers think about campgrounds near you, and look for one that matches your needs.

Don’t Bring Too Much Food

One of first-time RV travelers’ biggest mistakes is to pack too much ready-to-eat food. Yes, RV travel allows you to bring a lot of things but bringing food that’ll last you the entire trip will prevent you from cooking.

Instead of filling your RV with these kinds of food, choose to cook. Cooking is also a better option than eating at restaurants along the way because it’s cheaper and healthier.

Plus, cooking in an RV allows you to personalize your meals based on your dietary restrictions or preferences.

Avoid RV Driving at Night

Avoid RV driving at night even if you’re already familiar with the destination. Opt to plan your trips during the daytime so you can arrive at your destination before the sun sets.

Aside from being risky, driving at night will make it very challenging to find help if you experience a breakdown.

Garages, auto parts stores, and RV dealerships are closed during nighttime, which means you’ll have to wait until the next day to get your vehicle repaired. This can significantly impact your schedule when traveling.

Get a Great RV Trip Planning App

Finding a place to sleep at night is probably one of the most challenging parts of RV travel, especially if you’re a newbie. You should address this before the trip, or else you’ll spend the night in an unsecured location.

RV apps are a godsend when taking an RV trip for the first time. Many apps now can provide detailed information on the best spots to boondock or pay to camp near your location. In addition, the best RV trip planning apps show how to avoid potential hazards like low bridges and unsuitable roads.

Final Thoughts About First-time RV Trips

Having an RV isn’t the only requirement before going on an RV trip. You need to complete a long list of camping to-dos before your trip. Following all of the first-time RV trip tips here is the first step to ensure that your first RV trip will be safe and fun!

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