There’s nothing more exhilarating than hitting the open road for the first time in a brand-new RV.
But, if you want to make sure your first trip is a good one, there are a few things you’ll need to do to prepare ahead of time.
Planning your first RV trip, but aren’t sure where to start? We’re here to help!
Here are five things you need to do before setting out on your first big RV trip.
Know Your RV Trip Route
What happens if you’re driving down a narrow, two-lane road, and you come to a bridge or tunnel that is too low for your RV?
Well, unless you want to scrape the ceiling off your ride, you’re in for a very awkward U-turn. This type of scenario is why it’s essential to know your route before you hit the road.
One of the most important things for you is to know how tall your RV is. Don’t rely on manufacturer’s numbers or the owner’s manual. Instead, get up there on the roof and measure it yourself. Make sure that you find the highest point to measure from – not the roof of the RV, but rather the top of the AC or satellite dish. Or any other tall thing you have up there on the roof. Only trust the measurements you take.
Also print out a label and put it on your windshield (like those service and oil change reminder stickers) or on your dash. This way you are not relying on memory when you come across a clearance sign. You’ll know whether you can fit or not for sure.
For fifth wheelers, remember to measure when your RV is hooked up to your truck. You want to know what the RV clearance height is when you are driving, not when you are parked. For more info on how to measure your RV height check out Mark Polk’s video.
And while most GPS software and RV apps do their best to note low clearances, if you plan to take several trips a year, it is worth checking out LowClearances.com which maintains a database of over 4,000 low clearances that you can download and use in conjunction with many trip planning apps or install into your own GPS unit.
One final tip worth noting is that those signs indicating the bridge clearance may be old and out of date…When you see a clearance sign, don’t ignore them. They are there for a reason and that is to protect you and your vehicle from harm. And because those signs may not have been updated after the last repaving job, take six inches off the clearance level. That’s SIX INCHES LOWER than what the sign declares. This will help account for variances that can come from re-paving, lower entrances than exits, or even ceiling debris.
By studying the route you’re going to take, you’ll be able to plan for detours and make sure your path is clear for RV travel.
On top of that, knowing your route inside and out ahead of time will help you avoid missing a turn should you lose your GPS signal.
Create an RV Trip Packing Checklist
Where are you planning on going, and what exactly are you going to need once you get there?
Nothing puts a damper on an RV trip like not packing enough supplies or forgetting something important. So, before you set out on the road, take some time to write out a checklist to help you navigate the planning and packing processes a little easier.
Plan out meals, personal needs, and make a note of any extra supplies you’ll need during your trip — like fishing rods or rock climbing gear. Some RVers even keep separate lists so they can re-use the most often needed ones and modify them as they travel more. Why? Because a beach trip will often include beach towels but tailgating at your favorite stadium will often include fan-gear. You can save yourself future time by creating different lists like “beach list” and “tailgate list” for reuse.
While on the open road, the unexpected can happen. So, you’ll also want to make a note to stock up on emergency supplies like first aid gear or road flares.
Are you planning on making a stop at an RV campground during your trip?
You might want to make sure you have a reservation before you show up to a full park.
Before you leave your house, take some time to put together a complete schedule of your trip, then make sure you stick to it!
Creating a schedule will help you set reservations so you can ensure you’ll have a great place to park your home away from home.
Check Your RV
When getting ready to set out on a long car trip, you usually take your car to get checked out before hitting the road.
This same rule goes for your RV.
Before you start your adventure, get your RV checked out to ensure everything is in working order, so you don’t experience unexpected delays or load/weight related issues. This means doing things such as checking tire pressure, tightening bolts and screws that may have come loose, and/or checking your slides.
Understand Your RV’s Electrical Load
Your RV isn’t like your house — there’s a limit to how much electricity you can use.
Before you head out, make sure you take some time to figure out what your RV’s electrical load is, and how many appliances you can run at any given time.
If you’re not sure how to do this, you can use a surge protector like Southwire Surge Guard that has an amp monitoring feature. (You can contact Mike in Parts at Bankston if you want more info on the surge protector.) The simplest DIY option is to take some time while your RV is hooked up, with your surge guard in place and have everything turned off. Then turn on one device at a time and note how much power is being used for each item/appliance. For example, turn on your AC first and watch the gauge, and then after you’re sure the reading is steady, write down that amount on you chart/piece of paper. Then after you turn off the AC, turn on the microwave and write down the amount used for that appliance. If you do this for every piece of electrical equipment in your RV, you will have a handy chart that will let you know what devices you can have running at the same time. Many seasoned RV owners post this list inside a cabinet or keep it with their other lists so they can check it whenever they want to.
There’s no electrical overage available- so once your RV is at maximum capacity it will not run any more devices. Be sure to measure how many amps you are using when you are charging your phones from outlets, or your tablets, or even running your TVs.
You can also calculate the maximum load each appliance will draw if you would rather do that. A good example of how to run those calculations as well as a chart with some standard power amounts can be found at AxelAddict.com
Understanding your electrical load will help you avoid any accidental energy issues while out on the road.
Make the Most of Your RV Trip
Now that you know how to prepare for your first RV trip, it’s time to get packing!
Are you looking for more advice, tips, or tricks to help you make the most of your RV adventures?
We’ve got you covered.
Check out the rest of our blog for more helpful articles or visit one of our locations today to find the RV of your dreams.