5 Things to Do Before Your First RV Trip

5 Things to Do Before Your First RV Trip

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.

  1. 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One final tip worth noting is that those signs indicating the bridge clearance may be old and out of date…When you see a clearance sign, don’t ignore them.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.

  1. 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.

  1. Make Reservations

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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Keystone Montana Fifth Wheels Compared to Grand Design Solitude Fifth Wheels

Keystone Montana Fifth Wheels Compared to Grand Design Solitude Fifth Wheels

An Overview of Key Differences to Help You Choose Between the Keystone Montana & Grand Design Solitude

Over the past three years customers have purchased 27,349 Montana and Grand Design Solitude fifth wheels.  Montana has been building fifth wheels for 21 years and is the most experienced luxury fifth wheel manufacturer in the industry with over 110,000 built.  In fact, over half of the production workers in the Montana plant have been building Montanas for over a decade making the Montana plant the most experienced RV work force in the industry.  This experience has resulted in Montana having the most repeat buyers, most full time RVers, and highest resell value of any fifth wheel on the market at this time.  Grand Design’s Solitude is a newer product with one tenth of the production history and a growing group of dealers offering their product.

 

In order to compare these two different fifth wheels, this article will outline some of the key differences in chassis, construction, exterior features, and available options.

Chassis Differences between Solitude & Montana:

  • Montana features patented Max-Turn Technology which allows for the best turning radius in the industry- Solitude lacks this feature
  • Montana’s Hitch Vision mirror on front cap with led light allows for easy hookup to the trailer day or night- the Solitude lacks this feature
  • Montana uses a 12 inch I beam chassis on all floor plans that is heavier duty, reduces the stress on the sidewalls, and supports more weight.  Solitude uses a 10 inch I beam chassis on some floor plans and a 12 inch I beam on other floor plans
  • Montana features a Road Armor suspension equalizer with 6 inches of axle travel, rubber shock absorbers on top and bottom, ½ inch shackle plates, and greaseable wet bolts. Solitude uses a suspension equalizer with 3 inch of axel travel, no rubber shock absorber at the top, ¼ inch shackle plates, and no wet bolts
  • Montana features the Road Armor hitch pin that reduces or eliminates chucking while towing and features a pivoting roto flex head. Solitude’s hitch pin does not have a pivoting head which does not keep it in contact with the hitch pin’s rubber shear shock absorbers when there are bumps in the road

Construction and Exterior Feature Differences between Solitude and Montana:

  • Montana uses one-piece roto cast holding tanks. Solitude has two piece holding tanks with a seam in the middle that can be more susceptible to leaks
  • Montana uses color coded and numbered electrical wiring. Solitude uses all white wires and does not use numbers.  (This makes electrical repairs significantly more difficult to trace on the Solitude and more costly to complete.)
  • Montana runs its water lines on the lower deck in the floor on top of spun fiberglass insulation. Solitude runs their water lines in the underbelly which could make water lines more susceptible to freezing up.
  • Montana uses an In-Line-High-Capacity heating system which means a 3-inch X 14-inch aluminum heat duct runs in the floor from the back wall to the staircase. In contrast, the Solitude splices 4-inch dryer vent hoses off the furnace to heat the lower deck.  (When heat ducts are spliced multiple times with bends and turns it is typical to have hot and cold spots, heat loss, and difficulty maintaining a consistent temperature.)
  • Montana comes standard with rain gutters over the slide boxes.  The rain gutters on Montanas also have a track in them for slide awnings so if a customer decides to add slide awnings it is a simple addition (add less costly).  Solitude does not use rain gutters.
  •  Montana has prep for solar to the roof. Solitude does not.
  • Montana has a power channel on its exterior awnings. Solitude does not.
  • Montana uses solid metal locking handles on exterior baggage doors. Solitude has plastic handles.
  • Montana’s auto leveling touch pad is located on the outside of the units for easy access and does not require bending over into the pass-through to get to the touch pad. Solitude places the leveling pad in the pass-through.
  • Montana has slide selector valves that allow the user to choose whether to have all the slides in or out. On Solitude there is no Slide Selector available.
  •  Montana has 2 attic vents to help manage moisture. Montana places one attic vent behind the main A/C and one attic vent in front of the second A/C to prevent mold and mildew.  Solitude has only one attic vent at the center point of the unit, which places the only vent extremely far from the air conditioning units which are a large source of moisture in the RV attic space.
  • Montana comes standard with a 16,500 BTU heat pump.  This electric heat source means that a Montana owner does not have to run the furnace and burn propane to heat their unit in temperatures a little above freezing.  Solitude does not offer a heat pump.
  • Montana has a double laminated rear wall.  In the event of an accident or a repair to the rear wall, the rear wall on the Montana can be removed without disrupting the side walls or electrical channels.  Solitude on has a single laminated rear wall.
  • Montana features two doors and compartments in the front bulkhead area.  One door for storage or a generator and another door to access the battery and hydraulic area.  Solitude has one compartment and door for these areas.
  • Montana’s optional full body paint includes painted baggage door handles, fender skirting, and bulkhead.  Solitude does not paint these items.

Power Options Available on Montana:

  • Montana offers an optional 265-watt solar panel with a 30-amp controller and a 2000-watt inverter.  In addition, this option includes inverting the living room TV outlet, refrigerator outlet, a kitchen outlet, and a bedroom outlet.  This allows a customer that pulls off into a rest stop to be able to run their lights, tv, make a pot of coffee, run the refrigerator, and use a CPAP or charge a cell phone the bedroom.  This option is not available on Solitude

Legacy package option on Montana fifth wheels offer additional features such as:

  • Disc Brakes (not available on Solitude)
  • Rear Cap (not available on Solitude)
  • Hard wood framing (not available on Solitude)
  • Power Cord reel (not available on Solitude)
  • Side view and rear backup cameras (not available on Solitude)
  • Surge Protector (not available on Solitude)
  • IN – Command (not available on Solitude)
  • Generator ready (optional on Solitude)

In addition to the many differences in the physical construction and features of the two units, Montana does offer a warranty for full time RVing.  For those considering full-time RVing this is important and some units (like the Solitude) do not have this type of warranty available.

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