RV Tips 101: Education Guide for Beginner RVers

As full-time RVers, we have spent the past 3 years living, working, and traveling full-time in our fifth wheel.

We have traveled to over 30 states, visited 27 National Parks, dove head-first into the art of boondocking, and have made plenty of mistakes along the way.

Despite the obstacles and frustrations, the RV lifestyle has brought us so much joy and we are excited to continue our adventures in the years ahead!

We are sharing our best beginner RV tips in this RV 101 guide to help you have a successful start to RV ownership…hopefully saving you from some of the RV newbie mistakes we made along the way!

Beginner RV Tips 101: A Guide For All Things RVing

RVing can come with a significant learning curve and it can often feel tough to know where to start or how to figure out what you don’t know.

We started out as weekend warriors in a smaller RV, a 17-foot fiberglass trailer (our beloved Casita). All of our free time was spent going on RV vacations and we ended up loving RVing and camping so much we decided to make it our life.

When the time was right, we took our remote jobs on the road and purchased our 38-foot luxury fifth wheel to live in full-time. Based on our experience as both part-time RVers and full-time RVers, we are putting our knowledge together here in this RV Tips 101 guide to help you get on the road and out exploring! 

From selecting an RV to finding the right tow vehicle and traveling to the best campsites, this guide provides tips tailored for new RV owners to help them fulfill their RV travel dreams! (That’s you!)

Let’s start with a real RV newbie tip and talk about what exactly RVing is and the perks it has!

What is RVing?

RVing stands for recreational vehicle-ing, which refers to the activity of traveling (or in our case traveling and living) in a recreational vehicle (RV).

An RV can be a motorized or towable vehicle that combines transportation and living quarters, allowing individuals or families to travel and experience the freedom of the open road while having the comforts of home.

RVs come in various sizes and types, ranging from compact campervans to large motorhomes and fifth-wheel trailers. They typically include amenities such as sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a bathroom, and sometimes additional features like entertainment systems and outdoor living spaces.

RVing offers the flexibility to explore different destinations, campgrounds, and national parks while having the convenience of carrying everything you need with you. It allows you to enjoy outdoor activities, visit scenic locations, and connect with nature while having access to essential facilities and often saving on costs associated with lodging or flights.

RVers can choose to stay at established campgrounds or RV parks that offer amenities such as electrical hookups, water, and sewage connections. There are also options for boondocking or dry camping, where you stay in more remote areas without these amenities, often for free or little cost!

RVing is popular among retirees, families, and individuals seeking adventure, a change of scenery, or a more flexible and independent lifestyle.

The community we have met on the road is wonderful.

The purchase (or rental) of an RV provides opportunities for road trips, long-term travel, and the ability to explore different regions and cultures and we truly believe it is on the best ways to travel.

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or an extended journey across international borders, RVing offers the freedom to create your own itinerary, enjoy the comforts of home while on the road, and embrace a nomadic or vacation-oriented lifestyle.

The True Cost of RVing

White truck pulling a mobile suites fifth wheel beside a large grain storage silo at a Harvest Hosts location in Nebraska
We use our Harvest Hosts membership and boondocking to help cut down on camping costs

When you are in the RVing world you will hear it all…. that you have to be rich to enjoy an RV lifestyle, or that RVing is a cheap alternative for travel.

So what is the truth of the matter? How much does RVing cost?

The cost of RVing can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the type of RV you choose to buy, travel frequency, destinations, camping fees, fuel costs, and maintenance. RVing can range from relatively affordable to quite expensive.

Here are some factors to consider when assessing the cost of RVing:

  • RV Type: The cost of purchasing or renting an RV can vary significantly. Purchasing used RVs can be more affordable, but you will want to be careful about how well the RV has been cared for. Class A motorhomes and larger luxury RVs can be more expensive, while smaller travel trailers are typically the most affordable options. We paid $48,000 dollars for our used luxury fifth wheel, A DRV Mobile Suites

Read More: Best Luxury Fifth Wheels For Full-Time Living

  • Fuel Expenses: Driveable RVs typically have lower fuel efficiency compared to regular passenger vehicles (around 6 mpg). The size of the RV, type of engine, and driving conditions affect fuel consumption. Longer trips and frequent travel can contribute to higher fuel expenses while staying places longer and driving shorter distances between stops can help you save on fuel. In our first year of RVing, we saw diesel prices soar to over $5/gallon – with RVing, you have to be prepared for anything!
  • Campground Fees: Campground fees vary depending on the location, amenities, and time of year. Basic campsites without hookups are generally cheaper, while campgrounds with full hookups and additional amenities tend to be more expensive. Discount programs, such as campground memberships like Thousand Trails or Passport America, can help reduce camping costs if you prefer to stay at private campgrounds. Harvest Hosts is another great option for having safe and cost-effective overnight stays – with a fun twist!
  • Maintenance and Repairs: RV maintenance costs include those for your motorhome and/or RV, as well as your tow vehicle. This includes routine servicing, oil changes, tire replacements, and other necessary repairs. Keeping the RV in good condition is crucial for safety and longevity. Unexpected repairs can also arise, so it’s advisable to have an emergency fund for such situations. In our 2 years of RVing our major unexpected expenses have included $2600 for a truck turbo actuator and $1200 to repair a small leak.

For more information, check out our Ultimate Guide to RV Maintenance

  • Insurance: RV insurance premiums depend on factors like the RV’s value, type, usage, and the coverage options chosen. Comprehensive insurance coverage is recommended to protect against accidents, theft, and natural disasters. We have comprehensive insurance for full-time RV living that is equivalent to homeowners liability insurance through Progressive. Our premium is $1300 for the RV and around $1400 for the truck.
  • Storage: Renting a storage space can add to the overall cost if you are a part-time RVer or weekend warrior and don’t have space to store your RV at home. The cost of RV storage varies depending on the location and amenities provided. You may choose to rent an RV rather than purchase one if you do not plan to travel by RV often, but rental prices can be high as well.
  • Food and Supplies: Similar to regular travel, the cost of food and supplies on the road can vary depending on personal preferences and dining choices. Cooking meals in the RV can be cost-effective, while eating out frequently can add to the expenses. And it is absolutely tempting to try new restaurants as you travel to new places! In addition, the more remote the places you visit are, the more expensive you can expect groceries to be. We like to plan ahead and stock up at big box stores whenever possible!
  • Activities and Entertainment: The cost of activities and entertainment during your RV trips can also vary widely. Visiting national parks, museums, theme parks, or participating in outdoor recreational activities may involve additional fees or admission costs. As we RV full-time, it is important for us to remember that we are not on a permanent vacation and balance our costs. Most of the activities we choose to do are outdoors and free, and we use our America the Beautiful National Parks Pass to save on admission costs to parks and monuments. ($80/year)
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: Additional expenses can include vehicle registration, internet connectivity and cell plans, RV accessories, and other personal preferences. These costs will vary based on individual choices, but certainly add up. For example, as remote workers, we have 3 internet sources (including Starlink, T-mobile home internet and a Pepwave router with a Verizon plan) to ensure we always have solid connection and this alone costs around $150-$300/month.

It’s important to note that while RVing can be cost-effective compared to traditional travel methods like hotels and flights, the overall cost will depend on your specific circumstances and travel style.

Budgeting and planning ahead, considering cost-saving measures like boondocking (camping off-grid), and being mindful of expenses can help make RVing more affordable.

RV LIFE has a great planning tool, Trip Wizard, which can help you to track expenses as you plan out your RV travels!

Types of RVs

An large RV, brown dog, and white Ram truck, boondocking on the beach at Lone Rock Beach Dispersed Camping area in Big Water Utah
We chose a 5th wheel RV due to the “homey” feeling and separate spaces we needed while both working remotely

As RV enthusiasts, one of our favorite activities is to walk through a campground and admire all the different rig types. The RV industry is always innovating and there are plenty of options to help you find the right RV for you.

Some of the most popular types of RVs include:

  • Class A Motorhome: Class A motorhomes are the largest and most luxurious RVs. They resemble a bus or coach and are built on a specially designed motorhome chassis. They can offer a comfortable driving experience, spacious interiors, multiple slide-outs to increase living space when parked, and a wide range of amenities, including full kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas. Class A motorhomes often have high-end features and are suitable for long-term travel or full-time living.
  • Class B (Campervan): Class B motorhomes, also known as campervans, are more compact and built on a van chassis. They are easier to maneuver and can often fit into regular parking spaces. Class B motorhomes typically include a small kitchenette, sleeping area, and a compact bathroom. They are suitable for individuals or couples seeking a compact and versatile RV for road trips or shorter getaways, although many people also live in vans full-time! #vanlife
  • Class C Motorhome: Class C motorhomes are built on a cutaway chassis and often have a distinctive over-cab sleeping area, often referred to as a “cab-over.” They offer a good balance between space and maneuverability. Class C motorhomes feature a variety of floor plans, including sleeping areas, kitchens, bathrooms, and living spaces. They are suitable for small families or groups looking for comfort and convenience on their RV adventures.
  • Super C Motorhome: A Super C is a type of motorhome or RV that is built on a heavy-duty truck chassis. It combines the features of a Class C motorhome with the power and towing capacity of a larger truck. Super C motorhomes are known for their robust construction, spacious interiors, and excellent towing capabilities.
  • Travel Trailers: A travel trailer is a towable RVs that come in various sizes and configurations. They are hitched to a towing vehicle and offer flexibility as they can be unhitched, allowing you to use the towing vehicle separately. Travel trailers range from compact teardrop trailers with minimal amenities to larger models with multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, and spacious living areas. They are popular among RVers who prefer a lighter-weight option and the freedom to use their personal vehicle separately from their accommodations.
  • Fifth-Wheel Trailers: Fifth-wheel trailers are similar to travel trailers but are designed to be towed by a pickup truck with a specialized hitch called a fifth-wheel hitch that lives in the bed of the truck. They have a raised front section that extends over the bed of the truck, providing additional living space. Fifth-wheel trailers often have multiple levels, slide-outs, and spacious interiors. They offer a comfortable and stable towing experience and are suitable for long-term travel or full-time living.
  • Toy Haulers: Toy haulers are a type of RV that combines living quarters with a “garage” space to carry recreational vehicles or “toys” such as motorcycles, ATVs, or bicycles. Many digital nomad RVers also turn this garage space into a home office, workout room, or second bedroom. You can find toy haulers as travel trailers or fifth-wheel trailers. Toy haulers often have a rear ramp door that allows for easy loading and unloading of vehicles and can convert the garage area into additional living or sleeping space when not carrying toys, with the ramp becoming a patio in some models.

RV Features

Berkey water filter sitting on the kitchen island of an RV with beautiful sunset views of Lone Rock Beach in Utah
We love that our RV feels very much like a tiny home!

While there are different types of RVs, there are also different features that can be found in the different types of RVs depending on model, year, etc.

For example, some RVs will have full bathrooms, while some campervans may have no bathroom at all, while smaller RVs like fiberglass trailers are more likely to have a wet bath or even cassette toilets.

The same is true with other amenities as well, such as RV kitchens and appliances, storage space, or systems like heating and cooling or the water heater.

Some things to consider:

  • Want an experience similar to a home? Consider an RV with a full bathroom, tankless water heater, and amenities like a residential fridge, full stove, and convection oven (most often found in Class A motorhomes and fifth wheels)
  • Want to get off-grid in remote places? Consider an RV with solar capabilities, an RV fridge, or an upgraded suspension and larger holding tanks (we see all kinds of RVs off-grid)
  • Want a lightweight RV with lower maintenance meant for 4 season camping? Consider a fiberglass RV (we highly recommend a Scamp or Casita)

Concerned about what toilet amenities you will have while traveling by RV? You can learn more about RV water systems and bathrooms in our in-depth guide on camper showers and bathrooms!

Selecting The Right RV For You

A couple standing in front of their new black, brown and red fifth wheel
We did a lot of research and toured many RVs before driving all the way from NC to Texas to pick up “Rio”

When it comes to choosing your first RV, we recommend thinking about what you need to be comfortable and make the most of your purchase – you want to be excited to use it often!

This might mean:

  • Choosing something smaller that you can tow with your current vehicle
  • Choosing something larger that you can comfortably work in while traveling
  • Selecting a budget-friendly option that you can get in and out of storage easily

With both of our RV purchases, we selected used models that had the kinks worked out for us and that we could pay for in cash, avoiding the need for financing or taking on debt.

One great way to explore what kind of RV would be best for you is to try out a few different RV rentals. Sites like RV Share allow you to browse different types of RVs to rent, and can help you get a feel for what you like or don’t like and what you are looking for in a rig.

Once you have selected the right RV for you… below we will dive into the best of our new RV owner tips to make sure you are set up for success!

Selecting The Proper Tow Vehicle

A white Ram 3500 truck next to a DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel in a field of grass in front of an orange and blue sunset glowing sky

Selecting the proper tow vehicle for your RV is an important decision to ensure safe and comfortable towing. There will be a lot of opinions on the internet about this and the important thing to remember is that just because something can tow it, doesn’t mean it necessarily should. The most important thing is how easily can your tow vehicle stop your RV.

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a tow vehicle as an RV owner:

  • Towing Capacity: One of the most critical considerations is the vehicle’s towing capacity, which refers to the maximum weight the vehicle can safely tow. It is essential to match the towing capacity of the tow vehicle with the loaded weight of your RV. The towing capacity information can typically be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or specifications.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): The GVWR is the maximum weight limit that the tow vehicle can handle, including its own weight, passengers, cargo, and the tongue weight of the trailer. Ensure that the GVWR of the tow vehicle is sufficient to accommodate the combined weight of the RV and any additional cargo you may carry.
  • Engine Power and Torque: Consider the engine power and torque of the tow vehicle. A more powerful engine will provide better towing performance, especially when climbing hills or towing in challenging conditions. Look for a vehicle with adequate horsepower and torque for your towing needs. Our diesel engine has been a lifesaver towing in the mountains of Colorado, where RVers with gas two vehicles have struggled.
  • Wheelbase and Stability: A longer wheelbase on the tow vehicle improves stability while towing. A longer wheelbase helps minimize swaying or fishtailing and provides better control. Consider a tow vehicle with a wheelbase suitable for the size and weight of your RV.
  • Transmission and Cooling Systems: Look for a tow vehicle with a transmission designed for towing, such as an automatic transmission with towing modes or manual shifting capability. Additionally, a tow vehicle should have an efficient cooling system, including a transmission cooler, to help manage the increased heat generated while towing.
  • Braking System: Ensure that the tow vehicle has a robust braking system capable of safely stopping both the vehicle and the loaded RV. A tow vehicle may require additional braking systems, such as an electric brake controller or integrated braking system, to provide adequate braking power for the trailer.
  • Hitch and Tow Package: Check if the tow vehicle has a compatible hitch receiver and tow package. The hitch receiver should match the towing capacity and weight distribution requirements of your RV. Additionally, a tow package may include features like a pre-wired electrical connection for trailer lights and a trailer brake controller. We have a truck with a puck system for our fifth wheel hitch and a 7-pin connector.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Consider the fuel efficiency of the tow vehicle, as towing can impact fuel consumption. A more fuel-efficient vehicle can help reduce overall travel expenses. While towing, our Ram 3500 dually gets around 10 mpg
  • Suspension and Payload Capacity: The tow vehicle’s suspension and payload capacity are important factors to ensure it can handle the weight distribution and payload of the RV. A well-designed suspension and sufficient payload capacity contribute to a smoother and safer towing experience.
  • Safety Features: Look for safety features in the tow vehicle, such as electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system (ABS), trailer sway control, and integrated trailer brake controllers. These features can enhance safety and stability while towing. If you have a driveable RV like a motorhome, you may also want to consider RV safety features such as seatbelts, airbags, ABS systems, electronic stability control, backup cameras, lane departure and collision avoidance tools, and emergency exit windows.

Consider what you will be comfortable in as a daily driver. We chose a heavier and bigger fifth wheel, which means our daily driving vehicle when sightseeing is a Ram 3500 dually. This is not ideal, but was worth the trade-off for us. You will want to be comfortable in the vehicle you have for exploring!

If you are like us and choose a fifth wheel for your RV, read on about the best truck tires for fifth-wheel towing. The guide will help you compare truck tires and learn more about RV tires, based on how you plan to RV, including varying road conditions you might encounter when and where you plan to travel.

It is also important to remember that once you choose a proper tow vehicle, there are also laws and regulations to keep in mind when traveling with your RV. For example, some states might require certain size RVs to stop at weigh stations. Always be sure to keep an eye on signage as you move between states!

Towing Mistakes To Avoid

A fifth wheel in front of the free dispersed camping area at Lizard Head Pass in Colorado

Whether it is your first trip and you are one of the new RVers capitalizing on the amazing camping opportunities in the world, or a seasoned pro, one of the most important things you can do before your RV trip is to ensure you are ready for a safe towing or driving experience.

When towing an RV, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes and take steps to avoid them.

Here are some common RV and trailer towing mistakes to be mindful of:

  • Exceeding Towing Capacity: One of the most critical mistakes is exceeding the towing capacity of your tow vehicle. It’s essential to know and adhere to the manufacturer’s specified towing capacity. Exceeding this limit can strain the vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, and other components, compromising safety and potentially causing damage.
  • Improper Weight Distribution: Proper weight distribution is crucial for safe towing. Failing to distribute the weight properly can lead to issues such as poor steering control, instability, and excessive strain on the tow vehicle. Ensure that the weight is distributed evenly and that the trailer is properly loaded according to manufacturer guidelines.
  • Inadequate Trailer Brake Control: RVs often require a separate braking system, such as an electric brake controller. Failing to install or properly configure the trailer brake controller can compromise braking performance, making it more difficult to stop the RV safely. Ensure the trailer brake controller is set up correctly and regularly check its functionality. If you have a breakaway cable or safety chains, you will want to make sure those are properly installed and working as well.
  • Insufficient Sway Control: Trailer sway, or fishtailing, can occur when the RV sways from side to side, compromising stability. Insufficient sway control can lead to loss of control and accidents. Consider using sway control devices, such as sway bars or weight distribution hitches, to minimize sway and improve towing stability.
  • Neglecting Regular Maintenance: Proper maintenance is essential for both the tow vehicle and the RV. Neglecting regular maintenance, such as checking tire pressure, inspecting brakes, and servicing the engine and transmission, can increase the risk of breakdowns, accidents, and costly repairs. We use a TPMS to check out tire pressures before and during every travel day. Be sure to follow the maintenance schedule recommended by the vehicle and RV manufacturers.
  • Ignoring Height and Clearance: Many RVs are taller and longer than regular vehicles, so it’s crucial to be mindful of height restrictions, clearances, and low-hanging obstacles. Pay attention to signs, bridge heights, gas station canopies, and other potential obstacles to prevent damage to the RV and surrounding structures. We use the RV safe GPS by RV LIFE to help us avoid bridges or roads that are not suitable for our RV setup.

Read More: Why we believe RV LIFE is the best rv travel app for planning, camping, and GPS

  • Insufficient Pre-Trip Inspection: Before each trip, conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection of both the tow vehicle and the RV. Check tire conditions and pressures, ensure all lights are working properly, inspect the hitch and safety chains, and verify that all connections are secure. A comprehensive inspection helps identify potential issues before hitting the road. We recommend developing your own checklist to go through before departing!
  • Overloading or Improperly Securing Cargo: Overloading the RV or improperly securing cargo inside can lead to imbalanced weight distribution, reduced stability, and damage to both the RV and its contents. Follow weight limits, secure items properly, and use storage solutions designed for RVs to prevent shifting and damage during travel. We take extra measures using velcro straps and locks to secure our food storage and medicine cabinets, fridge, and shower, and closet doors.

Read More: 33+ Best Camper Hacks

  • Not Adjusting Driving Techniques: Towing an RV requires adjustments to your driving techniques. Avoid sudden maneuvers, allow for increased stopping distances, use your mirrors effectively, and be aware of blind spots. Practice safe and defensive driving, and adjust your speed to suit road and weather conditions.

RV Essentials

RVer inflating his truck tires using the Viair portable air compressor a must-have RV accessory

Based on our experiences as RV consumers ourselves, these are the products we believe RV owners need to set themselves up for success and have the best possible camping experiences:

For a complete list of things you need (or might want) for epic RVing adventures, see our guides to:

If you plan to spend a lot of time off-grid and want to take advantage of the great free camping opportunities available to RVers, some of your essentials may include things like solar components, a generator, and upgraded lithium batteries.

Learn more about RV inverters and other aspects of off-grid systems in our RV Power Guide!

RV Care & Preventative Maintenance Basics

RVer doing maintenance on his RV using the Little Giant ladder

One of the biggest blunders first-time RVers can make is to miss out on important RV care and maintenance. RVs will break and are prone to potentially disastrous things, like water damage ir tire blowouts.

So our best tip for new RV owners is to stay on top of regular maintenance!

This will help keep your RV in working order so you can limit the time spent fixing things and spend more time exploring and having fun while camping. Small problems are bound to happen, but being proactive can help.

Maintenance requirements will vary based on the type of RV you have and we recommend putting together a maintenance schedule to help you stay on top of regular needs for your RV and give you peace of mind before heading out on the road (RV LIFE has a tool in its ecosystem to help you with this as well!.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to RV maintenance and preventative care:

  • Regular Inspections: Perform regular inspections of your RV, both inside and out. Check for any signs of damage, leaks, or wear and tear. Pay attention to the roof, windows, seals, sidewalls, tires, brakes, and other components. Promptly address any issues or seek professional help if needed.
  • Roof Maintenance: Inspect and clean the roof regularly to prevent debris buildup, leaks, and damage. Depending on the type of roof (e.g., rubber, fiberglass, aluminum), use appropriate cleaning agents and techniques recommended by the RV manufacturer. Inspect and reseal roof seams and penetrations to maintain a watertight seal.
  • Tire Care: Check tire pressure regularly and ensure they are inflated to the recommended levels. Inspect the tires for signs of wear, cracks, or bulges. Rotate the tires as recommended by the manufacturer to promote even wear. Replace tires when necessary, considering their age and condition.
  • Fluids and Filters: Maintain proper fluid levels for engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, and brake fluid. Regularly change these fluids according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Replace filters, such as oil filters and air filters, as recommended to ensure optimal performance and engine longevity.
  • Battery Maintenance: Monitor and maintain the RV’s batteries. Check battery connections, clean terminals, and ensure proper charging. Follow the recommended maintenance procedures for your battery type (e.g., deep-cycle batteries). Consider using a battery maintenance device or solar charger to keep batteries charged when not in use.

Learn about using 6v or 12v batteries in your RV and which is better for you

  • Electrical System: Inspect and test the RV’s electrical system regularly. Check interior and exterior lights, power outlets, and appliances. Test the RV’s electrical hookups, such as the shore power connection, to ensure they are functioning correctly. Replace any faulty or burnt-out bulbs promptly.
  • Plumbing and Water Systems: Inspect and maintain the plumbing and water systems. Check for leaks, cracks, or loose connections in pipes, faucets, and water lines. Clean and sanitize the fresh water tank regularly. Keep your tank sensors clean and tanks free of sludge by using proper tank treatment, flushing, and cleaning methods. Drain and winterize the RV’s water system before winter storage to prevent freezing damage.

Not sure where to start when it comes to black tanks, gray tanks, dumping, and flushing? Learn more in our guide on maintaining RV tanks and sensors

  • HVAC System: Keep the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in good working order. Clean or replace air filters regularly to maintain air quality and system efficiency. Inspect ductwork and vents for any obstructions or damage. Consider having the HVAC system professionally serviced if needed.
  • Awning and Slide-Out Maintenance: If your RV has an awning or slide-outs, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for their maintenance and care. Keep the awning clean, inspect it for tears or damage, and retract it during inclement weather. Lubricate slide-out mechanisms as recommended to ensure smooth operation.
  • Propane Systems: Ensure your RV propane systems are in working order, including being leak-free and having working and up-to-date alarms leak detectors!
  • Proper Storage: When not in use, store your RV properly to protect it from the elements. If possible, park it in a covered or shaded area to minimize sun exposure. Use RV covers to protect the exterior from dirt, UV rays, and moisture. Follow winterization procedures if storing the RV in cold weather.

READ MORE: Your Year-Long RV Maintenance Guide

Travel Day Safety

Our tips for new camper owners would not be complete without talking about traveling!

Travel days can be stressful. To help you stay consistent and remember all of the steps to get your RV ready to roll, it can be a good idea to have a travel day checklist that you go through.

After a mishap that left our RV and truck in the shop, we have relied on a regimented departure checklist, as well as an arrival list for setting up at a new place.

Trust us, you don’t want to join the club of people who dropped their fifth wheels (like we did)…

You also don’t want to drive away with your slides or awning out or end up with a tire blowout by forgetting to check your pressures (some of the most common mistakes we have seen made by novice RVers).

It can be easy to overlook some of the basics on a travel day and a checklist can save you from some costly mistakes.

READ MORE: The Only RV Travel Day Checklist You Will Ever Need

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Types of Camping

Just like there are different types of RVs to suit different needs, there is also a spectrum when it comes to camping. Whether you want a no-frills camping experience where you can connect with nature or a luxury vacation with all the comforts of home and perks of a fancy resort, there is a camping destination for you out there!

Types of Campgrounds

RV campgrounds and campsites generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • National Park Campgrounds: Campgrounds run by the National Park Service that are perfect for staying close to the main attractions in the parks
  • State Park Campgrounds: State-run campgrounds that also bring you closer to nature and often offer hiking and outdoor activities right from the sites
  • Private Campgrounds, RV Parks, & RV Resorts: Privately owned campgrounds that often have additional amenities such as pools and hot tubs, play areas, dog parks, or concessions (typically the most expensive of any camping option)
  • Public Lands that offer free camping (boondocking): Areas on public lands designated for camping, many of which are free and most of which are first come first served.

Types of Campsites

RV Fifth Wheel Camper with tall pine trees overhead on a sunny day at Laura S Walker State Park
Back-in sites can take practice and patience to navigate into, especially with a larger RV!

In campgrounds you will typically find the following types of RV sites:

  • Pull-through site: A site you can pull directly into and out of with ease
  • Back-in site: A site you must back your RV into, and then pull out of when leaving
  • Full Hookup (FHU): A site with water, sewer, and electric hookup (often 30 or 50 amp). It is important to know if you have a 30 or 50-amp RV and have the necessary RV electric adapters depending on what you will have access to at campgrounds
  • Partial Hook-up: A site with only one or two hookups, such as only water, only electric, or electric and water, and no sewer.
  • Dry Camping / No Hookups: A site that may have a picnic table and fire ring, but no water, sewer, or electric hook-ups. If these spots are in campgrounds there will often be potable water and dump stations available on site, but not at each specific campsite.

When boondocking on public lands, there will typically be “designated” camping areas, often marked by stone fire rings.

Generally, the rule of thumb is to only camp where signage states it is allowed, following the posted guidelines and stay limitations, and only camp where it looks like others have camped before. If you are interested in camping with epic views for free and spending time off-grid, check out our complete guide to RV boondocking for beginners!

Throughout our RV travels, our favorite type of camping has been boondocking on public lands for free, or staying at State and National Park Campgrounds. We are drawn toward these types of camping experiences as they often provide more space, privacy, and freedom, and get us closer to nature. We love to spend our free time outside of work hiking and exploring, so the closer we can be to the beauty of the outdoors the better!

Interested in learning more about some of our favorite places we have stayed? Check out our favorite BLM and free campgrounds and some of the best state parks that are big rig friendly.

You can also read more about where we traveled in our first year of RVing in our 1 year RV Road trip itinerary or just browse all of our favorite RV Destinations!

RV Lifestyle 

A couple of RVers on their fifth wheel overlooking the mountains and Green River
Our home on wheels has brought us to some amazing places!

Taking the leap into a brand new and very alternative lifestyle might sound daunting. It certainly was for us! At the same time, it was the best thing we have done and we couldn’t be more thankful to live this traveling, nomadic life.

As full-time RVers embracing an RV lifestyle, we sold many of our belongings and do not own a “sticks and bricks” home. We have our RV and our truck and that’s it! Our domicile is Florida, where we spend time each year visiting family, and we use a mailing service to get important documents or packages while traveling.

Some of our favorite things about the RV lifestyle are:

  • The wonderful, inclusive, and friendly RVing community
  • Having the mobility and flexibility to spend more time with family and friends (we aren’t tied down anywhere)
  • We are able to live comfortably and see more than if we only traveled using our PTO), while maintaining a debt-free lifestyle
  • We have found great joy in living more minimally and downsizing. Simplifying has been amazing!
  • We spend more time outdoors and being active, which has been great for our physical and mental health
  • Constantly experiencing new places and new things has helped us broaden our perspectives and grow
  • Freedom! We love having the ability to follow our curiosity and live life on our own terms

Interested in learning more about how we sold everything and took our jobs on the road full-time? Read our story about transitioning to full-time RV life.

Spoiler alert…Yes, our family did think we were crazy at first!

RV life is not always easy and it takes a while to adapt to living and working in a small space and dealing with the challenges of continually having to find somewhere to call home. All of the stress is worth it to us and we have met many others who have found that full-time RVing has also improved their lives tremendously.

If you feel drawn to take a leap and make a change, we encourage you to do so! You can always undo it, if it doesn’t work out. And sometimes things turn out better than you could have imagined.

READ MORE: Full-Time RV Checklist

Helpful RV Videos & Resources

While we do not make YouTube videos ourselves, they can be a wealth of knowledge and many people in the RV community put out great resources!

Below are some great RV videos made by fellow RVers that we believe are the perfect place to supplement this guide as you learn more about RVing do’s and don’ts:

Choosing an RV:

RV Routine Maintenance:

RV Tanks & Systems:

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

As full-time RVers, we also rely on a variety of apps to help us make the most of our experience as digital nomads living out in nature, often off-grid. Read more to see our list of the best apps for RVing for any RV owner or RV traveler.

We hope this basic rundown of all things RVing in our RV Tips 101 guide helps you take your first steps toward the RV vacation or RV lifestyle of your dreams. As a new RV owner, there is plenty to learn and even more to explore and that is all part of the adventure!

We hope to see you out on the road one day!

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