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40+ Things That Have Gone Wrong on RV Trips

    Traveling in an RV is always an adventure. Things will go wrong. Stuff will break. Your most carefully made plans will go awry. When you travel in an RV, you learn to roll with the punches and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I thought it would be fun to share all the things that have gone wrong for us in just one year of part-time RV travel: some personal, weather-related, stuff we might have know if we were more experienced, stuff that broke, times when someone else let us down or gave us faulty information, and stuff that just happens.

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    Weather

    When you RV, the weather affects your day to day life and your trip experience exponentially more than it would if you were staying in an Airbnb or a hotel. Here are some weather related frustrations we’ve experienced so far.

    Unexpected ice storm in Texas in a city that usually has very mild winter weather.

    Five inches of snow the day before we wanted to leave home. And we live in one of those states where everything shuts down and it sometimes takes days to get the main roads cleared.

    Condensation from cold temps got our clothes wet.

    Our RV’s water pump froze overnight even though we were dripping the faucets.

    A heat wave when we were boondocking.

    Hitching up in a downpour.

    Fog that completely obscured the mountain range we had traveled thousands of miles to see.

    Pulling into a wooded national park campsite with no hookups after 3 days of cloudy weather and our solar had no chance.

    Personal

    Traveling as a family of 4 in 143 square feet of space is a much different dynamic than living at home with all of our usual creature comforts. It’s difficult to find a space to be alone. And each week we’re in a new campsite in a new town at a new grocery store. You don’t realize how comforting that sense of familiarity with your own town is until you’re shopping at a different grocery store every week. That general discomfort is something to get used to all on its own, but we’ve had a few other personal problems while on the road.

    Ryan lost a filling and had to find a dentist in the middle of a trip.

    Left for a trip when we were all congested and coughing all night.

    Many, many kiddo tantrums. And naturally, they’re at an age when we have no choice to leave them in the RV unattended. It’s usually better for our crew to explore & hike in the morning or at lunchtime unless we’re doing something very low-key like taking a picnic dinner somewhere beautiful. Big evening plans are a recipe for tired, hungry, cranky children.

    I got horribly sick one evening and I feel so bad for my family members who had nowhere to go while I was nauseous and vomiting for hours.

    When you have young kids, bed wetting happens from time to time. It’s a bigger problem in an RV when you have limited access to laundry.

    I lost (and happily found) the middle diamond in my engagement ring.

    Stuff breaking

    Driving your RV down the road is like putting your home through an earthquake. So it’s natural that things will come loose or break. It’s just part of the RV lifestyle.

    Inverter switch stopped working.

    Broken air compressor after off-roading so we couldn’t air up our tires. Maybe we should start carrying this portable air compressor too!

    Outdoor garden hose for the RV sprang dozens of pinhole leaks.

    Truck broke down and had to be towed. Fortunately we were able to tow our trailer to a hotel parking lot, so we had access to all our stuff over the weekend while we waited for the mechanic to open on Monday.

    A bouncy drive shook some screws loose. This one happens frequently!

    Screen door handle broke and sorta locked us in briefly. We are still working on a better fix for this one, because it sticks occasionally.

    Dinette table mounting failed mid-trip.

    Stabilizer jacks only last for so long. We also bent one on a curb while driving around a city.

    The hot water supply line in our faucet came loose, leaking water all over our kitchen.

    USB ports stopped charging and needed to be replaced.

    We broke two teeth off of our truck’s ring gear. This was a trip-derailing 10 day problem where we were stuck in our campsite, continually displacing other campers who had booked our site. Since it was rural Montana, there were no rental cars, and it became a larger problem when the truck part we had shipped was misdelivered and lost for 48 hours, further adding to our delay.

    If we had known better

    Quite a few of our RV related frustrations can be chalked up to our inexperience with our trailer and RVing in general. Here are some mistakes that we’ve made in the past year.

    We waited until departure day to dewinterize (because it was still freezing outside) and it took a lot longer than we expected.

    We ran out of propane in the middle of the night before we had a gauge. (Again, below freezing, but we did have a spare tank in the truck.)

    We slept at a Cracker Barrel right next to the highway and couldn’t even drown out the road noise with our sound machines. Now we look specifically for stops that have a little more buffer space.

    Did a 5,000 mile trip before checking our new RV wheels for grease. (They notoriously ship dry.)

    Didn’t fit in the campsite because we counted trailer length and not total vehicle length in a pretty small campground. I am sure this will happen to us more than once as we continue to travel, but hopefully this experience will help me remember to read campsite details more carefully before booking.

    Not fully filling the water tank when leaving a campground when we were planning to boondock the next few nights. Now we have a water meter to make sure we know how full it is.

    We accidentally took a ‘passenger vehicle only’ road because we were blindly following the GPS. Fortunately our trailer is pretty short and we didn’t run into any really low bridges before we realized and got off the road.

    Stuff happens

    Weird stuff happens. You get forgetful. These sorts of things can’t necessarily be avoided, so you just figure it out, shrug it off, and move on.

    Our trash can dumped on the floor while driving, because I forgot to move it to the bathroom where it can’t tip over.

    We parked on a slant in a way that the RV jack couldn’t raise the trailer over the hitch ball and we had to take air out of the tires when trying to hitch back up.

    We’ve lost the lid on the propane tank cover twice. At this point, I’m thinking… do we really even need a lid?

    Animal Encounters

    We spend most of our RV trips in state or national park campgrounds or boondocking in nature, so animal sightings are to be expected. Keeping them out of our RV is another thing altogether.

    We’ve had both a skunk and a family of racoons try to take over our campsite. The skunk encounter was particularly unnerving because we had to chase it away with our water hose. Needless to say, I did not sit outside in the evenings again at either campsite.

    Over the course of about a week, we found well over 30 moths in our RV. Every time we thought they were all gone, we’d find another one flying around. We can only guess that some caterpillars made a nest somewhere under our rig, but this one still puzzles us.

    Not our fault

    Sometimes, you plan a trip down to the tiniest detail and things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to. You’re given inaccurate information, there’s a big detour or construction, the only day you’re in town is the day the business or restaurant happens to be closed. It’s just part of the journey. Here are some of the frustrations we’ve had when things just didn’t work out like we hoped.

    Boondocking spot didn’t have cell signal even though Campendium reviews said it did.

    Harvest Host had a festival the night we were supposed to stay over and there was nowhere for us to park.

    Campground laundry didn’t have a quarter machine and the office wouldn’t make change. (Ok, maybe this one was my fault, but it was only the 3rd or 4th time I’d done laundry at a campground and all the others that didn’t have a change machine expected to make change for you at the office. They are collecting mounds and mounds of quarters in those machines after all.)

    Construction blocked off a cute spot I was hoping to stop for a few photos.

    Campground didn’t have a dump station even though it was listed as an amenity online. And then the campground they sent us to didn’t have a dump station anymore either. (Also it was raining. And dinner time. It was a whole thing.)

    I’d like to say that I hope this list doesn’t get much longer as we continue to travel, but I know that’s just not realistic. More stuff is going to break. We’re going to experience more bad weather and more kiddo meltdowns. Hopefully we can limit the animal encounters. But we’ll certainly have many, many more ‘make it work’ moments as we travel the country in our RV.

    Check out more behind the scenes of our part-time RV life here.

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    1 thought on “40+ Things That Have Gone Wrong on RV Trips”

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