As a First Time RVer: What to Know

Two summers ago, after an adventurous first camping trip, our family started to consider buying an RV trailer. On this particular camping trip everyone else in our group had an RV. And, we were the only ones who really scrambled when the winds and thunderstorm blew in. Earlier this month we finally took our maiden trip as an RVer family. We tested the waters by renting a RV from a friend. Here’s the advice we have to give!

RV stands for recreational vehicle. These come in many forms. Most of our Colorado friends own RV trailers. For anyone who is looking for weekend outdoor getaways and not traveling full time in an RV, this is the way to go. Forewarning, you may need a truck or larger vehicle to haul it depending on the trailer weight. And, you will need a hitch, which possibly the person you are renting from could provide.

First, don’t expect RV camping to be any less of an adventure than tent camping. Though you will be much more protected from the elements. A rain and wind storm kept us cooped up for a bit in a tight camper. But our small camper was exponentially bigger than a tent, as well as much warmer and more comfortable. During the rain storm we could just snuggle up on the big bed and nap, or play cards at the small dining table.

As first-time RVer, we were very happy to have the RV connected and set up at the campground, and with views of the Great Sand Dunes in the background.

Renting a RV

Second, when you are shown how everything works, take a video with your cell phone! I did this and our friend who was renting the RV to us was grateful. The previous person he rented to called him non-stop with questions.

Or, go RVing with friends who can help you make sure you hook up and connect everything correctly. We got a quick tour before departure. But upon arrival at our campground were very grateful for the help of friends. By departure time we felt like a pro RVer and packed everything up no problem.

Insider Tip: If you like to RV, you probably like the outdoors. Be sure to check out our gift guide for the outdoorsy woman.

First Time RVer Tips

We did run into an issue or two along the way. But they weren’t what you would expect. This was probably due to getting lots of advice from people who made the common mistakes.

  • Make sure that you have blocked the wheels and cranked down the stabilizers before running around in the RV. This is so you don’t topple it onto one end.
  • Have a slide out? Make sure there is plenty of space before pushing the button to extend it.
  • If it is windy, make sure to pull in any shades.
  • Before driving it anywhere, be sure that all windows are closed and everything is locked up tight.

Most Importantly, Close the Windows!

The one lesson that we learned the hard way was to be sure to close all windows before leaving your dog in the camper. Our dog is a shelter pup and quite the escape artist. Her escapes usually involve jumping up to push down door handles. Not this time.

We headed out for a morning at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where there is spotty cell service. A couple of hours in, I received two texts in a row. I suppose I had just held my phone at the right angle to get them both at once. We immediately grabbed our things and rushed back to the campground. Maybe a half hour after we left our dog broke out of a tiny window in the rear slide out to bust through the screen, and luckily not break any bones in her landing.

She proceeded to engage the campground employees, and any other nearby campers in a great game of catch the dog. She is a fast one. At some point, one person got her by the collar. She quickly slipped out of it, making the game that much more challenging. Eventually a very smart person collected some pizza toppings and lured her in with food.

dogs running at the Snow Mountain Ranch dog park
The culprit of the great RV escape!

Upon our return she was waiting for us in the camper. Apparently many camper keys are the same. A friendly neighbor camper unlocked and opened our door to put her back in for us.

The bedroom window screen was ripped open, as was the screen door. This left a fun job for my husband to return to. Fortunately he is in the window and door business and had a shop available to him with screens and a bit of knowledge on how to make the repairs.

Have you been RVing? Have any fun stories of mistakes you made along the way? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

As a First Time RVer: What to Know

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