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RV Camping For Beginners

by John Stewart
RV Camping for beginners

RVs bring convenience to camping in that they allow you to carry the comforts of home with you every time you want to camp.

This explains why RVs are so popular and their popularity is still on the rise. With this popularity, you might have found interest in an RV as your chosen mode of camping.

But a lot can be discussed within the RV topic and a newbie here might find all that stressing. So allow me to break down the top tips for RV beginners.

What is an RV?

RV stands for recreational vehicle and means a camping vehicle that is used for living in while on the move. Most RVs are very utilitarian and have a lot of home comforts on board. They are well put as homes on wheels. RVs exist in many forms and sizes in a bid to cater for the various needs a camper might need.

Types of RVs;

RVs are mainly divided into two with motorized RVs and towable types. As a beginner, you should decide on what works for you only after research and weighing the pros and cons. First type of RVs we are going to discuss is the motorized type of RV. Motorized RVs are further divided into three;

Class A motorhomes

Class A motorhomes

Class A motorhomes are vehicles that resemble a coach that you can live in. These motorhomes are divided even further into gas and diesel class A motorhomes. This classification as the name suggests is done on the basis of fuel type.

Diesel motorhomes are powered by a diesel engine often located at the back of the coach. Diesel motorhomes are usually larger than gasoline motorhomes as a diesel engine can deliver more torque to haul the large weight around.

They are often more luxurious as they are more spacious than their gasoline counterparts and for this, they might get a little expensive. Class A gasoline motorhomes are on the other end of the class A RVs. They have gas chosen as their type of fuel. They are similar to the diesel ones but are smaller and less expensive.

Their petrol engines have smaller outputs; a factor you might look at when choosing you RV. They offer all the amenities you would expect. There is little to separate gas and diesel motorhomes but there is always something for everyone. If you know what kind of class A RV you want, you should find one that suits you just right.

Class B motorhomes

Class B motorhomes

These types of RVs are vans; camper vans. These kinds of RVs are the best to blend in. They look like ordinary vans on the outside but offer most comforts of home inside. They also have both diesel and gas engine offerings.

Apart from looking like ordinary vans, they drive like vans and so are not as challenging to drive as class A motorhomes. They are also considerably cheaper than class A motorhomes.

Class B motorhomes can be bought ready from the factory with all the kit you need or can be bought as a van which can then be customized and tailored to meet your exact needs in a camper van later.

You can buy a van and DIY it to a camper van and it is not expensive because you choose your budget. Another great advantage of a camper van is that you can buy a used van and then convert it to a camper van. And yes, I do know that you can buy any other kind of motorhome used but the installations will also be aged.

A van on the other hand will have new installations even if it is a used vehicle. This type of RV is popular among solo campers and couples. It is also very convenient for full time RVing.

Class C motorhomes

Class C Motorhomes

Class C motorhomes are based on already existing trucks. These motorhomes are instantly recognized from their familiar cabs. They are considerably smaller.

They are very easy to customize and favor those who want to invest in a long-term RV. Their smaller size also means that they are easier to drive around. Because they are based on trucks, they are perfect for off-roading.

Other types of RVs include;

Towable RVs

Towable RVs

These types of RVs do not have a motor of their own to carry them around but have to be pulled around. That is a huge factor to consider when buying one of these because you need to have a vehicle to pull your RV around.

If you already own a pick-up truck or any four by four, a towable RV might fit right in to your lifestyle. If you do not already have a vehicle you can use to tow, it does not also mean this type of RV will not work for you. Towable RVs also exist in various types.

Toy hauler

Toy Hauler

These are built to carry your toys around. Some toy haulers may include a living space but focus is usually mainly on the garage aspects.

They can carry vehicles ranging from motorcycles and bicycles to snowboards and quad bikes. They are best suited for the active camper who likes exploring using these kinds of vehicles.

Pop-up Campers

These are the most common types of towable RVs owing to their affordability. As you can tell from their name, they have canvas sides that popup when necessary to widen the space.

They are also lightweight and therefore are not challenging to tow. Being canvas sides, they feel closer to tents and some people may like that true camping feel about them.

Teardrop camper

Teardrop Camper

These type of RV gets its name from its unique teardrop shape. Teardrop campers are simple and light and are therefore also very popular. They suit the occasional camper best.

Most teardrop campers only feature sleeping space due to their compact size. However, some teardrop campers may feature a small kitchen with some camper essentials.

Travel trailers/convectional trailers

Travel Trailers

This type of towable RV is large and very customizable. They feature slide outs like class A motorhomes which can help you expand your space and are also fairly popular.

They are easy to attach and detach and their size is not bad for maneuverability. Also,they come in different weights which is a nice touch allowing you to choose your trailer based on your tow vehicle capacity.

Fifth wheel campers

Fifth wheel campers

These are the largest types of towable RVs. They are always towed by a pick-up truck due to their tow hitch which has to be attached on the bed of the truck.

These RVs are very spacious and ideal for large families or camping groups. They also feature multiple slide outs and carry a lot more gear because they are large enough.

Buying vs renting an RV

With the above information you will have to decide to buy or rent your chosen RV. If you are looking at long term RVing, then buy an RV. If you are just getting started, it is best that you rent out an RV.

While renting, evaluate the benefits of the RV and if satisfactory, go right ahead and purchase one for yourself. Again, an RV is not a cheap item and if you only camp once in a while, you would rather rent.

Beginner RV camping

After you decide on what RV to buy or rent, the purpose of the RV has to be realized by getting out to camp. As a beginner, there are a few tips to help you do just that.

An RV is a huge step towards stress free camping but it does not guarantee it. The following tips however might help out big time out there;

1. Make a plan

Plan on where you want to go. A plan will prevent a lot from going wrong. It also gives you an idea of what to expect while on your camping trip in your RV. And as a beginner, a plan is more than important. Always plan ahead.

2. Do not set out alone

On your first camping trip, bring a partner or travel in a group. Your travel party should be preferably more experienced than you. Experienced people will guide you on your trip.

They know the dos and don’ts as well as the best RVing spots. They also know the best routes as well what to carry and will give you a guide to follow the next time you decide to go it alone.

3. Carry all the essentials

Make sure you have all you need for your RVing trip. Food, cookware and clothing are on the top of the essentials list. Carry what you need in order to pack light. You might carry non essentials that you might end up not using.

4. Avail a toolbox

An RV is a vehicle and with any other vehicle, a toolbox is a great necessity for dealing with the small mechanical upsets that may arise. A toolbox can be overlooked but it is right at the core of RVing.

Some tools you need for small activities such as hooking your trailer to your tow vehicle are contained in a tool box. Make sure the toolbox is functional and well stocked before heading out.

5. Prep your RV

Look after your RV and always keep it in working condition. Make sure the engine is good to go. Prepare your RV as you would your car for a road trip. Look into other features unique to RVs as well such as water levels in your reservoir and cooking fuel levels.

6. Prep your tow car(s)

Unique to those who have a towable RV, a tow car is the basis of this type of RVs. If you are travelling as a group but with a towable RV, you might consider more than one tow car be it a pick-up truck or four by four.

These vehicles should also be prepared and checks done prior to the trip. Make sure they can tow the RV. As a beginner, you should have this information to aid your decision making and planning processes.

7. Preplan your route

Always preplan your chosen route. Factor in traffic volumes as well as road condition. Avoid routes that may have you off-roading and especially if your RV is not built to be taken off road.

Look at weather patterns so as to know what to expect as you travel along. A good route should have you arrive on time and without any hustle.

8. Get to your destination on time

Getting to your destination on your time in this case means arriving during the day. Remember as a beginner, you do not have a lot of experience.

Arriving early means that you can get a lot of help parking and settling on your spot in the campsite from the campsite employees. You can also get to know around the campsite better under the cover of daylight.

9. Create a checklist

A checklist is very essential so that nothing is forgotten. Checklists should be created for essentials, food supplies, RV mechanical essentials and tools. Basically, create a checklist for every single item you wish to carry.

You cannot have excess checklists. If you get confused on what to carry, ask from help from an expert or from a person who has been out RVing before.

10. Research

Research will ease all the stresses of planning. We can say it is the mother of all planning processes. Avoid guesswork while planning. Make sure all the data sources are credible while doing your research. Research does not have to be huge but can be as simple as a few calls or checks on a website.

Lastly, remember no one was born an expert and soon enough, you too will be on the list of experienced RV campers. Always take one step at a time, ask your way around and always trust the process.