You learn as much as you can before buying an RV, but some things you can only learn by experience. Or, by reading this article…
There was a question posed recently about what our RV Lifestyle members wish they had known about RVing before hitting the road!
And, guess what? There was a LOT RVers wish they had known. The post received nearly 300 comments sharing the wisdom RVers gained from the road.
We took a lot of their insight and have added plenty of our own in this article. Because after over a decade of RVing, we learned plenty of things the hard way. Hopefully, we can spare you from some of those hard lessons!
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What RVers Wish They Had Known
The following are all the things our RV Lifestyle members wish they had known about RVing before getting on the road. Their mistakes and discoveries can help you be prepared if RVing is new to you!
We've added some of our own as well as resources to help you avoid or minimize these pitfalls.
1. The Importance of RV Tires
Tires, tires, tires. This is one of the most important yet often overlooked part of RVing, especially among newbies. Tires are the only thing separating your rig from the road you are traveling on.
Many of our members mentioned tires as an important thing to understand before becoming an RVer.
John L. commented simply, “Chinese tire bombs.” He later explained this to mean that cheap tires made in China can burst on you and to be careful with what you purchase.
Another member agreed since he had experienced a major tire blowout himself.
Be sure that you always have solid tires on your rig, but be prepared for the cost. Getting good tires is not cheap in the short run but can save you money (and a lot of hassle) in the long run.
Having good tires also falls under the Preventative Maintenance Every RVer Should Do.
Helpful Resources on RV Tires
- How to Survive an RV Tire Blowout
- When to Replace RV Tires (Advice from Real RVers)
- The danger of underinflated RV Tires
- Should You Use RV Tire Covers While Camping?
2. How to Save on Fuel
Of course, it's no surprise that fuel costs are one of the biggest challenges RVers face. Many RVers wished they had known How to Get Better Gas Mileage in Your RV and how to save on fuel.
Our RV Lifestyle member, Kari, was the first to comment on the thread. It was not that she mentioned fluctuating gas prices that stood out, but the large red exclamation point at the end.
Gas is one of the largest ongoing RVing expenses you can incur depending on how far you are traveling and the type of rig you own.
It can absolutely influence your travel plans because what once was an affordable destination for you may not be any longer. Many people will end up staying closer to home.
Consider the size and gas mileage of any rig that you are looking to purchase.
Another RVer, Connie, also shared how she learned that fuel treatment can help battle this challenge. She said it’s “getting me 7 more miles to the gallon.”
Helpful Resources on RV Fuel & Gas Mileage
- SAVE on Gas & Diesel! (RV Fuel Discount Cards & More)
- Gas vs Diesel: Seven Important Truths About RV Fuels
- How to Get Better Gas Mileage in Your RV (13 Tips)
- How to Find RV Friendly Gas Stations (5 Apps & More)
3. How to Account for Inflation & Demand
The RV community experienced a big shift since the pandemic. Higher inflation plus an influx of new RVers has resulted in increased costs across the board.
What used to be gradual increases has jumped (& kept jumping) over the past few years.
Just like all of us, RV park owners are experiencing the pinch of inflation. That means they are passing on those costs to you. Plus, they have higher demand, which means they can charge more.
Carolyn said that they became full-time RVers to be able to save one-third of their income. They found that rising RV park costs prevented them from saving what they wanted to.
In addition, she said that the places she stayed in Florida cost about $1,200 per month last year, but that’s jumping to $2,000 per month next year. That is a roughly 66% increase in pricing over the course of one year. Ouch!
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4. How to Not Overpack
Hank commented, “Leave all that STUFF at home!!” He was not alone in this sentiment.
Susan M. went further to say, “Take half of what you think you will use (stuff wise).”
Both of our members make a great point. Most of us overpack our RVs. Yes, there is good reason to have some items you may need but won’t always use.
But pack carefully. Ask yourself if you think you will truly use something. And don't forget these Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your Big RV Trip
If you discover that you do not use an item after several trips, consider taking it out of your RV. That can free up valuable room in the rig.
It can also make the vehicle lighter overall, which can save you gas money in the long run!
Helpful Resources on Packing for Your RV Trip
- What NOT to Bring on Your RV Trip (An Anti Packing List)
- FREE RV Packing List (PLUS 3 Best RV Checklist Apps)
- RV Pantry Staples: Beginner’s Guide to Stocking an RV Kitchen
- Stressed Out By RV Meal Planning? (10 Helpful Tips)
5. How the Fresh Water System Works
Another important item mentioned by Julia is to understand how your valve system works. She said that understanding the grey and black tanks is valuable info, and she is right!
It is a good idea to go through a trial run of these systems before your first trip. That way, you don’t get to your destination and waste valuable water or damage your delicate system.
Helpful Resources on RV Water Systems
- How Does an RV Fresh Water System Work? (Tips from a Pro)
- Answers to Top 10 RV Water Pressure Regulator Questions
- Best Drinking Water Hose for Your RV (5 Options & FAQ)
- The 7 Best Water Filters According to RVers
- How to Sanitize Camper Water Tank Systems (6 Easy Steps)
- How to Refill Fresh Water Tank During Camping? 3 Easy Ways
- How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water System (Safe and Super Easy)
Mike and Jennifer's NEW RV Lifestyle Merch!
6. When and Where to Purchase Liquor
This was mentioned more often then you might think, so it might be important for some of you.
Not all states sell liquor in regular grocery stores. Some states sell beer and wine at the grocery store, but not hard liquor.
Furthermore, many states do not allow liquor sales on Sundays, and sometimes it’s on a county-by-county basis.
If you plan on picking up any alcohol on the road, pay attention to the state and county laws around liquor.
7. Pros & Cons of Renting Out Your RV
Another idea that popped up in the comment thread is the idea to make money when not using your RV by renting it out!
Renting out your RV may not be for everyone. It takes work to clean and deliver it between rentals. In the long run, it can also cost you money for repairs and wear and tear. So, you may want to read 5 Things to Know Before Renting Out Your RV first.
But some people love renting their rigs out and make good money doing it!
RV Lifestyle member, Kelly, says that they “are using ours as a rental so we always have a fallback and we stay diversified in our investments.”
Helpful Resources for Renting Out Your RV
- 5 Things to Know Before Renting Out Your RV
- How to Make Big Money Renting your RV
- Top RV Rental Companies
- RV Renting School: Your RV can pay for itself
- Top Locations for Renting Out RVs
- 4 Pitfalls of Renting Your RV Out
8. The Value of Airtight Containers
I don't think I've ever met an RVer that doesn't use multiple plastic storage containers. From small items in cabinets to big items in the RV basement storage, airtight containers really come in handy.
One RVer mentioned a specific purpose for these that is worth repeating. He said that he recommends using airtight storage containers for trash and dirty clothes. Otherwise, he says, the smell can become overwhelming.
Putting your dirty clothes in them also makes transporting them to the laundry room that much easier. Speaking of which, check out the 10 Best Campground Laundry Etiquette Tips & Tricks.
9. The Miracle of Happy Camper Tank Treatment
Another RVer said she wished someone had told her about Happy Camper Holding Tank Treatment. It would have saved her months of battling the lingering smell that comes with RV toilets.
Jennifer and I highly recommend Happy Camper, too. We've tried other options, including a homemade RV holding tank treatment, and Happy Camper always comes out ahead.
But recently, we've been impressed with The Thank Tank – worth a look.
Helpful Resources for Your Black Tank
- RV Black Tank Accessories: 7 Must-Haves for Dumping & Odors
- #1 Best Homemade RV Holding Tank Treatment?
- How to Unclog an RV Toilet (7 Easy Methods & Tips)
- 10 RV Deodorizing Tips to Keep Your RV Smelling Clean
10. The Many Benefits of Tinted Windows
Plus, this tint blocks the heat while still letting in natural sunlight. It's a win-win for privacy and functionality!
11. Auto Levelers Are Worth the Investment
A couple of RV members mentioned that auto levelers are well worth the investment. We agree!
Leveling seems like an easy enough task until all your tires on a different elevation, however slight.
An unlevel RV presents more problems than you'd expect, too. Just ask anyone who's woken up with a headache from sleeping at a bad angle.
“This Camco T Level 25543 is fantastic!! I use it on our 5th wheel. You just need to know where the center of your camper is. I put it on the floor and turned it on, and it will let you know which side is not level.
It’s compact and can be installed anywhere, and it allows for front-to-back and side-to-side leveling systems in one unit. Another incredible thing about this product is its price tag. I didn’t even need to allot a special budget just to have this RV level in my possession.”
Helpful Resources for Leveling Your RV
- Choosing an RV Leveling System or RV Stabilizers
- How to Level a Pop-Up Camper
- Should we level first and then put out the slides, or vice versa?
12. The 330 Rule
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This is a tip that Jennifer and I always give new RVers. We call it the “330 Rule” and it's our guaranteed formula for arriving at your destination fresh and ready to explore, instead of being of fatigued and worn out from a long, overly-hard drive.
It means going no further than 330 miles in a day or stopping by 3:30 PM local time, wherever you happen to be. We admit, for those of us eager to just “get there,” this rule can be hard to follow.
You can watch the above video to see how it works out on a real trip. To learn more, read What is the RV 330 Rule? (& Why You Need It).
13. RVing with Pets is Grrrreat!
When people consider the RV lifestyle, they often wonder if they should bring their pet along for the ride. Is it worth the trouble? Is it safe for their pet? How do you keep your RV clean?
Well, the resounding answer from the RV community is that bringing your pet along on your camping trips is well worth any hassle they might present.
Jennifer and I wholeheartedly agree and take our big, hairy dog everywhere we go. We even have an article on the 5 Best Perks of Traveling with a Dog.
Helpful Resources for RVing with Pets
We also have an Ultimate Guide for RVing with Dogs and LOTS of articles for RVers wanting to travel with pets. Here are just a few:
- 10 Best Pet Accessories for Camping with Your Dog
- 10 Purrfect Cat Travel Accessories for your RV Lifestyle
- How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs & Out of Your RV
- How to Keep Your RV Clean with Dogs (5 Tips)
14. Don't Think Emergencies Won't Happen to You
It's easy to adopt the “it won't happen to me” mentality when traveling. After all, you're escaping the daily grind and headed to your “happy place.”
Unfortunately, that mentality can leave you stranded and even in mortal danger. You must be prepared for an emergency BEFORE you leave on any camping trip.
Helpful Resources for RV Emergencies
- LIFE-SAVING RV Emergency Preparedness: Don’t Become a Statistic!
- 5 Emergency Roadside Kit & Products for Your RV
- 5 Best Fire Extinguishers for Your RV (2022)
- What to Know: RV Fire Safety
- RV Pro Tip: The Best RV Roadside Assistance
15. RVing Will Test Your Relationship
The RV lifestyle is a big adjustment for couples. I usually share the wisdom that RVing will expand on whatever relationship you currently have (good or bad).
If you have a good relationship, it can get even better. If you have a bad relationship, RVing can bring the worst out of it.
Traveling around the country with your significant other is a romantic notion. Parking beneath the stars every night. Viewing God’s wonders every day. Spending more time together than ever before.
But that last benefit is a double-edged sword. The sheer quantity of time together in a small space can lead to small frustrations building up into big fights. Or perhaps worse, being together all the time makes you numb to each other.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are several ways to keep the romance alive while RVing.
16. People Will Try to Stop You
When we excitedly started sharing our plans to join the RV lifestyle, we were surprised at home many naysayers there were. This included many of our closest family and friends!
Instead of shared excitement that we expected, we often got negative responses. It felt like they were raining on our parade.
Looking back, we realized it mostly came from a place of love. They were either worried about our personal safety, our finances, or even losing our close relationships.
Their negativity did help us step back and evaluate if this really was right for us, but in the end, we knew it was right for us. Or, at the very least, that it was worth the risk.
Helpful Resources to Protect Your Dream
- Becoming Full-Time RVers? How to Tell Family & Friends in 5 Steps
- 11 Insightful Ways to Embrace Being a Senior RVer
- 10 Biggest FEARS of RV Travel (& Tips to Overcome Them)
17. Wildlife Safety Is Serious
Many newbie RVers know they need to respect wildlife, but many don't know how to avoid or respond to a dangerous encounter.
Bears, snakes, ticks, and man more creatures pose a real threat to RVers. It's a threat that shouldn't deter you from the lifestyle, but it's something to prepare for.
Helpful Resources for Wildlife Safety
- Bear Attack! (5 Bear Safety Resources for RVers)
- Careful Camping in Bear Country: What You Need to Know
- 5 Basic Snake Safety Tips Every RVers Needs to Know
- 45 Dos and Don’ts of Snake Safety While Camping
- How to Keep Ticks Off Dogs & Out of Your RV
18. How to Keep Pets Safe
We already mentioned how traveling with pets is wonderful. But traveling pets comes with the added challenge of keeping them safe!
Far too many dogs get lost while camping, and many pets suffer from heat-related illnesses. Plus, how do you safely leave them in your RV when they can't go somewhere with you?
These are all valid problems you need to be prepared for. Thankfully, we have lots of resources to help you…
Helpful Resources for Keeping Your Pets Safe
- How NOT to lose your pet on a camping trip
- How to SAFELY Leave Your Dog Alone in Your RV (Cats, too!)
- Laws About Leaving Pets Unattended in an RV
- How to Keep Your Dog Cool While Camping (10 Great Products)
- Top 7 Pet-Sitting Apps for RVers (& Bonus Monitor)
- A Pet Detective’s Advice for RVers
19. The Proper Camping Etiquette
Newbie RVers usually don't know the unwritten rules and proper etiquette of the camping world. These rules go far beyond those that are posted at the campground.
From noise and light pollution to respecting campsite boundaries and truckers at truck stops, it's important to know the proper etiquette. After all, we are a community and we want everyone to enjoy themselves unimpeded by others' rudeness (however unintentional).
That's why we've written several articles on these unwritten rules every camper should know.
Helpful Resources on Camping Etiquette
- 15 UNWRITTEN Rules of a Good Camping Neighbor
- Campground Etiquette for Campers (DON’T be THIS Camper!)
- 7 UNWRITTEN Rules of Camping with a Dog
- 10 Best Campground Laundry Etiquette Tips & Tricks
- UNWRITTEN RULES of Boondocking in Nature
- Hiking Etiquette? 7 Unwritten Rules of the Trail
- 7 Unwritten Rules for RV Parking Overnight at Truck Stops
- 7 Unwritten Rules for Parking Overnight at Cracker Barrel
- 7 Unwritten Rules for RVers Parking Overnight at Walmart
20. How to Make an RV More Comfortable
Many RVers wish they'd known what comfort features to look for, and how to remedy those that aren't cutting it. This is especially challenging for big and tall people.
There are many things you need to pay close attention to when buying an RV. For instance, walk-around bed access, too cramped dinettes, tiny showers, uncomfortable mattresses, etc.
You can avoid a lot of these issues when choosing an RV, but you can also remedy many of them…
Helpful Resources for Camping Comfort
- Top 10 Tips for Buying the Best RV for Tall People
- How to Take a GOOD Shower in an RV
- How to Replace the Mattress in Your RV or Camper
- 5 Tricks to Take Your RV Dinette Bed from Lumpy to Comfy
- How To SURVIVE a Long Road Trip in Your RV
- How to Stay Comfortable on a Road Trip (10 Accessories)
- 7 Best Camping Chairs for Big Guys and Gals
More Things RVers Wish They Had Known…
You can read even more responses from the Facebook post. Trust me, there are plenty of things RVers wish they had known and I bet the FB thread is still growing. You can share your wisdom, too!
Next to your home, an RV is most likely the 2nd most expensive thing you'll ever purchase.
We get questions every day of other RVers wondering. “How do you buy a new or used RV?”
So we created a 75+-page downloadable digital guide to help you understand the nuances that come with purchasing an RV, where you can save thousands of dollars in the buying process, what the right questions are to ask dealers, what things to look out for, how to select the right unit, amenities, warranties, and so much more!
We created this guide to help you understand the nuances that come with purchasing an RV including:
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This ebook is designed to help make your purchase process as smooth as possible. And to teach you step-by-step exactly what to do so you can start your RV Lifestyle today!
RV Lifestyle recommends the RV Tech Course
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Every time you move your RV it's like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.
Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?
On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created a special page that links to them. We update this all the time. CLICK HERE to go to it directly.