Running out of gas in the middle of the wilderness is literally something out of a horror movie. It’s so important to get acquainted with your vehicle’s capabilities, and pay attention to the proximity of the nearest gas station. This is especially important if you’re hauling a camper with your regular vehicle. You may be used to getting a lot more mileage from a tank of gas, but your load could drop efficiency to less than 10 miles a gallon. One other tip here, with an RV you might be driving through more remote places than you are used to and the next gas station might be much farther away than you think.
Mistake #3: Forgetting paper maps
Our smartphones sure make navigation easy … that is, until you find yourself without service and in the middle of nowhere. (Also see “Not watching the gas gauge”). It’s important to have a good old fashioned paper map at the ready.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to do a walk-around before leaving an RV site
We’re all anxious to get on the road, but before you do, walk around the RV. Check the tire pressure. Make sure all the slide-outs are back in. Ensure the outside storage cabinets are closed and locked. Double-check that you didn’t leave your empty luggage next to the RV—you know, that kind of thing.
There are also things you need to do inside, like place the coffee maker and toaster in the sink so they don’t slide around. The one thing my husband and I just COULD NOT remember was making sure the refrigerator door was shut tight. We’d make a turn and, to our children’s total delight, the door would fling open and 10 apples would come flying out. If you are renting an RV, ask for a checklist.
Mistake #5: Over-packing
It’s so enticing to over-pack when you have all this space! However, an RV starts feeling pretty cramped when things aren’t neatly stored away. You really don’t need every kitchen gadget in the world. One set of plates, bowls and silverware will do. Remember, you have a sink and can wash things! Though it may not feel like it, you are camping. Even if it is fancy camping.
Mistake #6: Not making reservations
Part of the fun of RV travel is spontaneity. However, if you’re touring in the states, Memorial Day through Labor Day is busy, busy, busy—especially on holidays and weekends. Many great sites fill up early, and if they’re first-come, first-served, you best be at the campground when it opens. It’s always a good idea to book ahead of time or call and find out the best way to ensure your spot in the RV park you want.
Mistake #7: Not being level
Not only does this mean you’ll be uncomfortable as you sleep, a wonky RV set up means the fridge doesn’t work properly and you run the risk of your food going bad. Most RVs have some sort of leveling system, so find out where it is and how it works. Also, a small level is a handy-dandy item to have in your tool box.
Mistake #8: Forgetting Tetris-able storage
Organization and storage are important elements of RV travel. Square containers will just about always fit better than round ones. Ziplock bags pack small and have myriad uses.
Mistake #9: Skimping on essential tools
You don’t need every tool known to man, but a few items will make your trip so much easier.
- Duct tape is a must—this is true in almost every life situation!
- A small level is helpful for ensuring you’re not parked at a slope
- A multi-bit ratcheting screwdriver set
- 1/2-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/4-inch socket set including adapters and extensions
- A Leatherman multi-tool
- Bungee cords with hooks
- Hatchet/hammer combo
- Headlamp with extra batteries
- Tire pressure gauge
- Rubber gloves
- First aid kit
* Go RVing is a proud sponsor of my show but all opinions are my own.
AAA Travel has teamed up with Samantha Brown and is a sponsor of Season 3 of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love on PBS. The series takes viewers on a discovery of the emotional heart of travel by highlighting the people who are changing, challenging and strengthening a destination to deliver a decidedly refreshing and enriching travel experience. Learn more at AAA.com/SamanthaBrown.