You’ve finally made the decision. You’re ready to rev up your RV engines and hit the road. There’s no denying you want a taste of off-the-grid adventure and camping lifestyle all other RVers brag about.

You do your packing, plan a route, load up on supplies, fuel your RV— everything is going alright.

Is there anything left?

Even after all the preparations, there are a million things that could go wrong. And the worst of it all is there’s no turning back. Sure, everyone makes mistakes on their first RV trip, but some mistakes may prove to be a little more expensive than others.

Below we have compiled a list of 10 RV mistakes which when put together, generate the perfect formula for ruining your RV trip. Hopefully, we can save you some trouble!

Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong RV

Selecting the right RV for your trip can be a challenge. In fact most of the full-time RVers will confess about owning at least 2 or 3 RVs before they find the best one.

Unless you’re willing to spend over a million dollars, there’s no perfect RV out there but that’s out of reach for the most of us. What’s the best way out?

It takes a few important steps to rent the perfect RV that will give you the best bang for your bucks.

RV on a road trip
RV on a road trip

When it comes to RV scouting, the common mistakes you must avoid are:

  • Size: This is the first and foremost factor that can go wrong. You don’t want to end up with a mammoth RV that is so big you can’t park it at any campground. Neither do you want an RV so small that not all of your family of four can sit comfortably. The correct size depends on the duration of your trip and the number of people that will travel with you. Both these cases will require ample space for storage and items for packing and moving. We have more on this very subject – how to choose the correct RV!
  • Mileage: While planning for your trip, you don’t want to overlook mileage. You have to keep in mind the distance to be covered and kind of route you’d want to venture into. If you don’t properly examine the mileage details and fuel capacity of an RV you might end up having to shell out hundreds of dollars unexpectedly. Surprises at the gas pump are the last thing you want! More on RV gas mileage here.
  • For traveling or living: Do you want to travel cross-country with your RV? Or do you want to park at an RV resort and stay for a few months? If you need it mainly as a living space or movable home for a long period of time, choose an RV that has plenty of space and comes with a few residential features. Otherwise, you will find yourself cramming all your family’s belongings into one little trailer that will hardly leave any more space for you to fit comfortably. On the other hand, if you want to use your RV solely for traveling, you can save up on those extra dollars and get yourself an RV that provides comfort and luxury, without being too big to handle.
RV campsite with the awning pulled out
RV with the awning pulled out

Mistake #2: Forgetting About the Awning!

Imagine this scenario: you are sitting outside your trailer, basking in the sun without a worry in the world. Slowly, the rays get hotter and hotter, piercing into your skin and leaving you with a nasty sunburn. This is where an awning comes in. The awning keeps you protected from the overbearing rays of the sun and the rain. It ensures you have privacy when you are outside your RV in crowded parks and you can thoroughly enjoy nature. But, totally forgetting about your awning can be a huge issue.

A common mistake made by most RV newbies is to leave their awnings unattended, without securing them in place. The awning is a fragile and delicate accessory. A blow of heavy wind and storm and your awning can collapse into a heap of shredded fabric and twisted metal. Avoid making this mistake by securing your awning firmly in place or taking it down when you sense impending bad weather.

Mistake #3: Packing Too Much or Not Enough

Going off-the-grid for a few months? Sure, then cram your RV with as many things as your storage areas will fit. After all, there’s plenty of space left still. Who wants to stop at every truck stop or convenience store for more supplies? Moreover, you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on the main perk of traveling in an RV – the fact that it should be a home away from home. However, there are limits to that!

So, pack a few chairs, that large toolbox kit (just in case) and even that barbecue grill for some yummy goodness while on the road. But here’s the bad news – your RV has certain weight limits which can lead to it becoming dangerously overloaded. Not to mention the fact that the more “stuff” you have, the worse your fuel efficiency is.

If you don’t want to deal with a broken-down RV in the middle of nowhere, pack what you need and only some of your wants.

But, having said that, don’t go overboard in reducing your load. You want to have the essentials, but you want to be comfortable too. Jot down a proper list of all the must-have items and pack them accordingly. In fact, pack enough to keep your stomach full and heart happy.

Mistake #4: Not Learning How to Drive an RV Properly

An RV is a motor vehicle or trailer that is more commonly used as a vehicle for camping and boondocking. It is noticeably long, tall and heavy in appearance.

If you think driving an RV will be the same experience as your Mini Cooper or sports car, you are in for a huge wake-up call. With that said, taking a motorhome out on the highway roads can seem daunting and challenging.

This is why it’s important you first learn to drive an RV before you set out on your RV adventure.

Techniques such as slowing down when the winds rush in, learning to turn correctly and backing up and parking properly will take some time and a lot of practice to master. However, it is better to invest time and energy in learning to drive an RV correctly than to hit the road and face unpleasant consequences. If you are renting an RV, ask for some tips from the rental company or the owner. After all, they’ll know their rig inside and out!

Mistake #5: Not Leveling the RV

You might wake up one fine morning to find your refrigerator system malfunctioning, as a result of which, all your food is spoiled. This often happens as a consequence of keeping your RV at a slanted position for long, without realizing the need to level it at some point.

Another sign of uneven RV is if you find yourself sleeping at a slanted position at night, with pillows falling at every screech and halt. If you don’t want the RV to wiggle every time you move around in it, then leveling up your RV unit using leveling jacks will help you a lot. Admittedly, not all terrains your RV treads on will be leveled, especially campgrounds. It is always better to take precautionary measure than to have to regrets later when the coffee spills all over the trailer and your shirt.

A family enjoying an RV campsite
A family enjoying an RV campsite

Mistake #6: And the Award for the “Most Annoying RV Neighbor Goes To…”

So this is your first RV trip and you want to celebrate every moment of your life on the road. You park your RV at a stop, pull out your guitar, and start strumming those strings in the middle of nowhere, with the campfire as your only audience.

This sounds idyllic if you are truly in a remote area with not a single soul around.

However, if you try this stunt at a campground filled with other weary RVers, exhausted after a long journey, you will soon gain the infamous title of that ‘annoying’ RVer everyone wants to avoid.

The same goes for blaring out loud music late into the night or not picking up your dog’s business, or making a mess while filling your tanks. It usually takes just one such bad camping ground neighbor to ruin everybody else’s RV trip experience. Don’t be that neighbor!

Mistake #7: Forgetting to Defrost the Freezer

So here’s the thing – RV freezers are not like your regular residential freezers. Most RV refrigerators in the market are powered by propane. They need consistent and regular defrosting, every few weeks or months. You might wonder why. This happens when you are traveling through a hot and humid environment. The side of your RV housing the refrigerator is directly exposed to the scorching heat of the sun.

You will soon find that ice builds up along the back of your freezer until what you’re left with is an icy block, restricting all the functions and taking up all the space in your refrigerator.

Sure, leaving the fridge door open from time to time does help, but barely makes up any difference. The leftover can of beans or tub of ice cream in the refrigerator overnight can surely be a source of concern.

To avoid such a gross mistake, take the word of the wise and defrost your freezer at regular intervals. It just takes a few minutes and goes a long way in ensuring that your freezer is in a proper working condition.

Mistake #8: Not Making RV Campsite Reservations

While there are many campgrounds and boondocking sites across the country that are available to one and all at no cost, it is best to be aware of all those sites that do charge for camping. Just to be on the safe side, do your research on all popular and not-so-popular campgrounds to look for any hidden costs or reservations.

You don’t want to pull up at your destination only to have to leave because there are no more RV parking spots left.

There are thousands of campgrounds across the US. All it takes is a little research for you to reserve that perfect spot with the best view for yourself as well as your family. Allstays happens to provide an awesome set of apps to help with just that. Passport America also offers 50% off the nightly rate at participating RV parks with a membership. It’s a great deal if you’re a frequent traveler!

By the way, if you’re really into using smartphone apps to set you up for an awesome RV trip, check out our article!

Some park spots are on a first come first serve basis, which means if you get there before the gates open, you can select the spot of your choice.

However, there are a few camping sites that may charge you for arriving late. To avoid all of this, you can reserve your RV parking in advance by either calling or booking online through their official website.

Just make sure that you don’t have to turn around after making a long journey to the RV parking spot you had your eye on.

Family RV out on road
Be sure to perform an RV check before departing to your next location

Mistake #9: Not Doing Proper RV Check

Your packing is done and you’re all set to leave. You check if everything inside is in its place and go sit in the driver’s seat, ready to ride off into the sunset. But you’ve only just gone halfway when you realize that your awning is tagging along half-open or your indicators have been left on for hours.

These are just minor instances of what can go wrong when you set off without doing a proper check of your RV trailer. For this reason, all experienced RVers always stress on the RV ritual of ‘walking around’ to prevent any ‘drive-off disasters’.

During your walk-around, don’t forget to check your brakes, signals, and headlights. Make sure everything in your checklist is marked off and all the doors, cupboards and shelves are secured. This will not only save you a lot of time and unnecessary hassle on the road but also fend off any potential disasters.

Mistake #10: Driving Too Fast for Too Long

So you have mapped out a full route spanning from New York to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, all within a week. Sounds great! But to achieve this, you will have to push your engine to speeds that your RV is not built for.

Yes, RVs are powerful beasts on the road. They are loaded with qualities and features a normal vehicle will fail to provide. However, when it comes to speed, they are not the best option. Making them cover long distances in a short time will create way more stress on the RV than they can bear. Most expert RVers will tell you that 55-60mph is the optimal speed, not only to keep your RV running as it should but to also maintain its fuel efficiency.

Keeping this in mind – it is best to plan short and realistic tours with your RV over a long period than jamming in different destinations in a short span.

Finishing Up

Take heed to these 10 RV mistakes! If you avoid them, chances are you’ll have an excellent camping and/or boondocking adventure to and in your favorite destinations. Do your homework and rent an RV that best matches with all of your trip requirements.  That done, get ready for the journey of a lifetime!