I’ve already shared the 5 things we immediately purchased when we got home from our first camping trip in our new RV. But there were also several valuable learning moments in our first two camping trips with our travel trailer.
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1. Always bring off season clothing.
It’s such a no-brainer, but when you’re taking a short weekend RV trip, it’s not always something you think about. It’s easy to forget that you’ll be outside in the early morning or late evening when you might want a sweatshirt to keep warm (or to protect from bugs!). My new clothing motto is to be prepared for anything! From now on, I’ll be sure to have bathing suits and tank tops in February and long pants and jackets in July.
2. Have some sort of jug to fill water tanks.
We’ve purchased a Front Runner Footwell Water Tank now, but we knew our first two campgrounds would have available water, so we weren’t worried about having easy access to water at the time. But being RV newbies, we were fully focused on getting backed into our (electric only) site and we completely forgot that we needed to fill our water tank first. We were already mostly unhitched by the time we remembered. Oops!
We’ve also been to campgrounds where the water fill is in a super inconvenient spot and we’d be blocked the road while we filled up, so now we really like having our truck’s water tank so we can get water and bring it back to the RV. It’s also really helpful while boondocking when you might need to drive into town to get water. We also keep a couple of empty 1 gallon jugs tucked in our pantry for those times when the easiest water to get your hands on comes from a water bottle refill station.
3. Have snacks with you at all times.
On trip #1, our mistake was having the food in the RV and limited snacks in the truck. On trip #2, we learned from that mistake and had a whole bag of snacks in the truck. But then we didn’t take any food with us on our hike. Lesson learned: all the snacks, all the time. (But of course, make sure not to leave behind any wrappers or pieces of food when hiking.)
4. Junky kitchen stuff will make you miserable.
I really wanted to stock our RV kitchen with stuff we already owned as much as I could. And other stuff I picked up at the Dollar Store. That’s just fine for certain things, but camp cooking (either inside the RV or outside via grill, fire, or campstove) is inherently less convenient than cooking at home. Combine that with a terrible kitchen knife, flimsy plates, or a weak can-opener and you might find yourself driving to the nearest fast food restaurant for your next meal! After our first couple RV trips, I added a few nicer kitchen items to my shopping list.
5. Set yourself up for the correct angle to back in.
Our site at the first campground was at a diagonal to the road, so it was a great first backing in experience. Our second site was a right angle and directly across from another trailer, so we didn’t have as much room for straightening out. And being inexperienced, we took a very sharp angle as we backed in. We made it, but it was not ideal. If we had pulled farther past our campsite before starting to back up, we would have been lined up much better to back in more gently.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the further you go forward, the easier it is to back up because you don’t have to turn as sharply. It’s just one of those things that comes with experience, and as we continue to camp, we’ll get better and better at parking the rig.
So there you have it! Five things we learned on our first RV trips with our new travel trailer. If you want to see more about RV Life, we have a whole blog series you’ll love!