RV Camping: RV Living for Beginners – The Joys and the Hassles

Traveling and Living in an RV

In many ways, traveling and living in an RV isn’t all that different from living in a house, even though you may have less space. The first thing is to learn everyone’s decluttering tips. You’ll need to follow every one of them in order to keep things tidy. Living together in a small space can be challenging. So. making a point of finding things to do on your own can be great for your mindset.

The most challenging part when we first started was simply learning everything there is to know about RV living. That alone can feel overwhelming. From learning how to best use your battery bank, to dumping tanks, planning where to stay, and so on. Most RV manufacturers recommend that you start with short trips until you get the hang of it, and they are right!

RVing - Image text: "RV Camping for Beginners".

Full-time RV Camping has real potential nowadays. There are so many jobs available today that make living in an RV before retirement very doable. Most of the people you will meet while RV Camping (RVing) still work, and many even earn a great income doing so.

Once you arrive somewhere, it’s nice to stay for a while and just sit still. That’s why many people recommend that full-time RVers park their RV every once in a while (such as for winter), or move a little slower. Take your time and you can discover the best RV parks in every state.

These days technology has made it possible for people to easily stay in touch with one another, but they can only do so with affordable and convenient equipment.

Thankfully with RV travel, cooking from scratch is relatively easy. Instead of falling back on takeout and comfort food, pick up some fresh produce – it’s better for you and more cost-effective.

From snacks to salads, creating tasty meals without blowing your daily calorie allotment just takes a little imagination wherever you are.

Holiday RV Camping on the Open Road

The joys of the open road and going at your own pace without the stress of arriving at pre-booked campgrounds may sound wonderful! To anyone with a regular job the idea of escaping clock-watching and the daily trudge to get to work on time is what they crave the most from holiday RVing. However, the need to arrive at a pre-booked campground at a known time does at least provide the assurance that on arrival there will be a space available.

Many beginner RV Campers who set out believing their freedom will be undiluted and carefree, may soon fall prone to concerns about not being able to get a reservation when they arrive! Whether this is a possibility will depend on many factors, but the most common are:

  • where you wish to stay that night, and
  • when – for example, in the high and low seasons.

Logically the most popular campgrounds will fill up sooner and availability will depend on location and how big and popular the park is.

So, before you decide to throw caution to the wind and leave home with no bookings, consider the season, and how likely it will be that campgrounds will fill up, or be closed. But, if you are a worrier we’d suggest that you do pre-book your campsite stops, but to a very sedate schedule.

Beginner RVers are often concerned that overnight parking will get them into trouble if they cannot get into a campsite. Who decides where an RVer may or may not park overnight during a journey to a distant adventure? The answer should be clear. It’s the owner or manager of the property where the RVer wants to park unless there are local by-laws to the contrary.

As a beginner RVer, you might be saying to yourself that if you just had a free place to park overnight it would be wonderful. Why not do that rather than paying $40 or $50 bucks at a campground just to spend the night and then get up and leave in the morning?

Well, you often can stay overnight in a variety of locations. Some RV clubs hold lists of the free overnight RV parking locations. But, this is the internet age! Using an app to find each of the specific locations for businesses that allow free overnight RV parking can be the best answer. OvernightRVParking .com provides an app to do just this and many RV people highly recommend it.

It is a search database with over 14,000 free overnight RV parking locations across the US and Canada and it is updated on a regular basis by RVers like you and me so that you get the latest most accurate information about every RV parking location.

Full-Time RV Camping

One of the benefits of full-time RV Camping is having the freedom and mobility to follow the call to faraway places. Another benefit is that when you do find a place you love, you can usually stay as long as you like. One way to ensure a lengthy (and low cost) stay in a place you love is to volunteer to be a campground host.

Many people look to RV Camping as a frugal form of travel. And the growing community of full-time RVers are often drawn to the lifestyle as a way to minimize their expenses and get debt-free. But once you start shopping around, you may notice that RV prices aren’t exactly minimal. In fact, depending on the type of RV you’re interested in, you could easily spend more than you would for a regular sticks-and-bricks house!

Of course, the big thing about full-time RVing is that for those people that wish to travel and experience this great nation to the fullest, they can do just that for a whole lifetime if they so wish!

Pros and Cons of Full-Time RVing

Are you considering a full-time RV lifestyle? Many people dream of having the freedom to do what they want, when they want, by leaving their jobs and home and start traveling full time in an RV. This dream sounds idyllic, but what is the reality of full-time RV Camping? Find out by reading the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages in this section:

Pros

You can live by the beach, mountains, desert, near/in national parks, and anywhere else. Living in an RV means that you can live wherever you want to live. The United States has so many beautiful places to see and live, and because it would be hard to just pick one place, RV life allows us to live in as many as we want. And, you can RV in many other countries and continents as well! RV Camping is great for adventure lovers.

RVers love being able to park their home right next to amazing hiking and biking trails. They are also able to jog, run, hike, ski, and rock climb, to name just a few amongst many other outdoor activities. Plus they do it in new and glorious scenery day in and day out. RVers can follow the weather north in spring and back south in the autumn. It is even possible to move north or south so that you stay in temperatures that are just perfect, say somewhere around 70 degrees year-round.

RVs are easy to finance and if you have a spot to park one, you can pay it off while living cheaply and then sell it and use the money for a down payment on a home. People enjoy the simplicity. RV living forces you to not accumulate crap.

It’s quite wonderful to wake up surrounded by peaceful and stunning scenery, sometimes even with waterfront views, for a daily rate much cheaper than that of any of the small urban apartments which for many people have been all that they can afford.

You will not have to pay taxes for your RV. You will have to pay for electric, telephone and internet services. There will be no water or sewer bills unless you were to tie into the closest town’s water and sewer systems.

Cons

People who have never traveled in a recreational vehicle before rarely understand how complicated and difficult doing so can be. RV Camping is more than putting some things into a vehicle and driving off for a happy vacation. These vehicles must be maintained and repaired even during trips. Their tanks must be emptied and sanitized regularly and driving them is not easy.

Regardless of technology, regular mail is an ongoing issue for all who live and travel in RVs. How to access your snail mail when traveling provides some good ideas that can help with this issue.

Disabled Living in an RV

If you are disabled and want to get involved in the recreational vehicle lifestyle, it’s important for you to purchase a vehicle with the types of amenities that will make travel possible and also guarantee your comfort and safety while you’re using your camper, travel trailer or motor home.

RV travel is possible for many disabled people. However, before choosing this lifestyle, the disabled need to do a good deal of research because there is much to learn about this issue.

Will I be able to hook my RV up to water, electric and sewer connections? How difficult will it be for me to enter and leave the vehicle? Will I be able to attach a tow vehicle to my travel unit? What will I do about taking showers? Will I be able to drive for long periods of time? Will I be able to maneuver myself around comfortably when I’m in my coach? Do I have the ability to load and unload my belongings? All these are concerns of the disabled which need to be resolved.

The average camper, travel trailer or motor home is designed for use by individuals who do not have physical limitations. Therefore, to be able to RV, those with disabilities need to buy travel units that meet their specific needs in order to make sure that what they buy will work for their particular situation.

There are plenty of people living with disabilities who are out on the road, living their dream lifestyle in an RV. There’s even a group called the Handicapped Travel Club, where RVers with disabilities connect and swap resources.

Motorhomes can be equipped with special hand controls for drivers with disabilities. The freedom of being out on the open road, exploring the back roads of this beautiful country, is more accessible than ever. Almost every new RV model, whether it’s a truck camper or a 40-foot diesel pusher, is now coming equipped with an entry assist handle to help you step in and out. If you or your travel partner use a wheelchair, you can have an electric lift installed.

It is more a case of finding the cash for the necessary campervan disability conversions, these days rather than a technical issue.

Who Will Like RV Travel?

It’s very easy to assume you will not like RV travel if you let the lack of living space cloud your judgement about RV Camping. But when they try it, the majority do like RVing. When you give yourself some breathing space, you find that you are living better when you travel and enjoying your vacations more.

When people say the word “RV” they can mean a trailer or an actual vehicle with living space inside. It’s often called “camping”, but the reality of RV Camping is that whether in a vehicle or trailer it is worlds apart from the hardships of the original style of camping in a tent with a hard groundsheet and rickety and uncomfortable beds. The point is that while sleeping in a tent can be fun, you really can’t even compare it to a nice and warm RV. If you want to maintain your creature comforts on holiday don’t dismiss RVing, just buy or hire a luxury RV trailer or motorhome.

Happy RV Camping

With RVing, there are no flights to catch. No long lines or lost luggage. No hauling heavy bags in or out of costly hotel rooms. No expensive, unhealthy food. No strange bedrooms, bathrooms or kitchens.

When you first hit the road, you’re going to want to see it all. You might log thousands of miles the first year in a race to see the Rockies, the Florida Islands, and everything in between. The constant go-go-go of new full-timers is a common trap. Of course, it’s a trap that once fallen into can be put right. But, by reading this beginner’s RV Camping guide you should be able to stay happy and avoid this particular error in the first place.

Now, you might ask, isn’t seeing the country the whole point of full-time RV Camping? Yes, it is, but before long you will begin to appreciate that it’s not all about clocking every attraction. Cramming in experiences is wonderful, but ultimately it is so much more rewarding to slow down and stop a while in the places you really like.

RV owners surveyed by Harris Interactive cited escaping the routine of the everyday world, enjoying nature and resting, and relaxing and recharging their batteries as the main reasons for taking RV trips.

Joining an RV Club

Campgrounds are expensive, but you can reduce fees significantly by joining a national camping club.

The number of RV clubs out there is huge. The amount of variety you want in campgrounds is all open to you. Where you’ll be traveling to, and how far, is all your choice as an RVer club member.  Choose the club you join for the amenities and benefits that are most important to you. Some RV clubs are better for beginners by keeping things simple. Others assume a preference for aspects such as on-site entertainment and high-quality catering, or certain sports such as skiing. Do your research and join the RV clubs which suit your aspirations the most.

Within just a few years, the number of RVers in the united states has exploded. To meet demand, new RV clubs and organizations have blossomed, and older organizations have expanded their benefits.

Reviews of the most popular RV camping clubs will help you to decide which one works best for you. Read about each via their websites to learn about the best RV clubs and organizations, and consider joining the ones that are best for you!

Essential RV Accessories

Once you own an RV you will still need to buy many essential accessories. Before we talk fancy camper accessories that make life better, let’s quickly talk about the essentials – like an RV sewer hose to drain your holding tanks and drinking water hoses without chemicals that can harm your body.

For example, you will need to buy things like toilet chemicals, RV toilet paper, leveling blocks, a fire extinguisher, and the list goes on. For a detailed list check out the lists of must-have RV accessories online for a new camper or travel trailer where they list everything you will need to outfit your RV.

A fridge fan makes a huge difference to maintain a steady temperature in the fridge. It uses less energy to keep things cool while preventing frost buildup. No more emptying all the contents and defrosting! Food stays fresher longer too.

Reflectix is a reflective insulant you can put in all your RV windows to reflect sunlight away from your camper. It keeps the inside temperature lower on those brutally hot summer days. You can use velcro strips to easily place it on the window.

An RV GPS comes in handy. You can input your specific RV’s dimensions, and the GPS will route you away from any roads that would be hazardous.

Best RV Activities

RV camping! What a great way to leave your worries behind and enjoy the great outdoors. Each state page has a unique set of RV camping activity information sources. RV parks, free camping locations, maps, and research tools to help you find the best RV campsites and the activities you can enjoy while there.

Want to spend some time doing quality activities? Want a camp conducive for doing artworks? Or one where the residents enjoy playing card and board games with each other, against a backdrop of nature? Search them out and indulge yourself!

The TV and aerial in your RV are mostly responsible for the quality of TV viewing activities. A large portable folding bamboo table and folding camping stools to set up outdoors are also convenient for you and the kids’ TV viewing activities.

If you are interested in hiking, off-road driving, river activities, scenic byways, dark sky observing, mountain biking, e-biking, rock art tours, camping, dinosaur trails, or traveling with pets, this guide will set you on the right path.

Buying an RV

I have had a great deal of experience both buying and selling RVs and think people should understand the mechanics of doing these things. People tend to assume that when they purchase a new recreational vehicle it will be in top condition, and they’ll be able to start using it immediately for their vacations. The truth is that RVers spend a lot of time, money, and energy just to get a new RV as they want it.

Perhaps you have encountered many times the word RV or “recreational vehicle”. You may be considering buying such vehicle for your family. You may be considering changing your current motor home to something more extravagant and more satisfactory for your growing family or lifestyle. Whatever reasons you may have, it is important that you understand the RV basics first. That’s so that you know what motor home or camping vehicle to choose and how to choose it.

Which RV for You?

The phenomenon of rv slide rooms began in the late 1990s with manufacturers adding one small unit to the basic structure. Soon, it morphed into something called a “super slide”, which was considerably longer. The manufacturers saw that these amenities were here to stay and were going to bring in big money for them, so they started to get serious about feeding the public’s appetite for them.

This is one of my favorite places to go “hiking”. I say hike because, even though this preserve is not located in the mountains, it sure does feel like you are in the mountains when you take to these trails. There is a lot of elevation and winding trails. Some trails are very narrow and if you turn your head and look down there is a 30-foot drop.

New or Used RV

Should you buy a new RV, or a used one?

As it turns out, there are a lot of good reasons on either side! And in this post, we’re going to explore them — and give you the information you need to find the best buy, no matter which direction you decide to go with.

So, what’s the main benefit of purchasing a new RV?

It’s brand new! Which means no one else has ever lived in it and you get to drive it off the lot without any miles on the odometer. All its systems and features are — hopefully — in perfect working order, and the rig is still filled with that delicious new-RV smell.

Buying a new RV also often means your rig and its systems will be under a manufacturer warranty for a certain period of time.

The reason many RVers purchase new is that every used RV they see has issues. These issues include things like bad smells, water damage, peeling paint and a variety of other things. Some people do find a used RV in good condition, but they don’t like the layout or some other feature(s).

Considering used RVs that are 5 to 10 years old or more may be a good choice because you can save a LOT over buying new. When we look at used RVs, you may need to factor in the cost of stripping out much of the inside and replacing a lot of it. First to go is usually the bed. There is also often a need for repairs and additions such as battery upgrades and solar.

Buying a new RV is like buying a new car; it smells good, everything looks nice, it’s clean, and no one has used it. You can’t really beat that “new coach” scent. But, you are going to lose money on buying a new RV. I hate to sound so negative. Honestly, you’re going to pay top dollar for that new RV. Then it’s going to depreciate the minute you drive it off the lot!

Conversely, when buying a secondhand RV there may be hidden problems which end up costing a lot and possibly spoiling a holiday waiting for unexpected repairs to be done. A way around that is to get an inspection. If the seller is serious, he or she may even be willing to pay for that inspection.

RV Insurance

Rv or motorhome insurance covers common risks that include fire, storms, theft, and collision. The property covered can vary, but the policy will usually cover the following:
bodily injury to someone else or property damage that you accidentally caused while driving your rv or motorhome. Damage to your rv or motorhome caused by an accident.

Do you really need insurance for your RV?

Yes. In most states, you must carry liability insurance if you’re driving an RV on the road. The state minimum requirements are usually the same as a car. But, it’s a common myth that your RV and other vehicles are adequately covered by the same insurance that insures your auto or home. Your RV’s are special and require specialized RV insurance. In some cases, you’ll need additional insurance coverage.

As a specialty vehicle, you may need additional coverages to protect you and your investment.

Common questions about RV Insurance include how much does it cost to insure an RV?

Your specific cost for RV insurance can depend on your:

  • Age
  • Driving record
  • Policy details, such as types of coverage, limits and deductibles.

Does insurance cover water damage on an RV? Be sure to check if your RV insurance covers water damage. If it doesn’t, you may need to get more coverage to help protect it for these kinds of claims.

The best RV insurance coverage protects your unique needs. You can get a quote for your RV insurance online and, often do this in as little as three minutes. Your insurance can cover your:

  • tow vehicle,
  • boat,
  • ATV – even your clothes, computer and jewelry!

Make sure your RV is covered with the right RV insurance policy during weekend road trips and long family vacations.  Optional coverage can help you with:

  • flat tires,
  • jump starts or towing.

Insurance can be incredibly specific. If you have vehicles that fall under different category types, chances are your insurance provider has a separate policy for it.

Most policies include liability, comprehensive and collision, and under/uninsured motorist coverage.

RV Camping with Pets

Hitting the road and sharing the outdoor adventure with our pets is unquestionably fun, but it also presents its own set of challenges. With a little planning and research, you and your pets can have a great experience! RVing, traveling, and camping with pets is part of life. For full-time RVers who live in their recreational vehicles, the RV is the pet’s home. Dogs routinely join campers and vacationers on trips. Others travel because of their pets, to attend dog shows and competitions.

It’s essential to have pets microchipped and properly tagged on the off chance you become separated. Depending on where you go or stay, or if you plan on crossing the border, some places will ask to see proof of vaccination (especially rabies). Not only are the vet records good to have on hand, but it can also help you out in times of emergencies.

Once you’ve decided on a location, view pet-friendly RV parks and campgrounds, restaurants, hotels, and attractions in the area. Focusing your research on pet-friendly options helps avoid the disappointment you’ll feel when choosing places only to discover pets aren’t welcome.

When RV Camping with dogs, you’ll need to stop more during your trip. This can be a disadvantage because it adds time and complexity to your trip.  However, it can also be an advantage as well because most people don’t stop and rest as often as they should.

When you’re at a state park or campground, you won’t be able to just let your dog or cat out the door and you’ll be required to pick up the dog’s waste as soon as it hits the ground.  This might not be what you see as the best way to spend your vacation! Our dogs liked to be near us at night, so we knew we needed an RV with enough floor space in the bedroom for both large dog beds when the slides were out. Cleaning up after dogs is much easier on hard surface floors than on carpet.

Dogs are happy when life stays pretty much the same. Your dog will love the security of knowing that even though he is in a different location, he is still at home with his people in the camper.

Decorating Your RV

Most people don’t live 24/7 in their rv, and yet they still want it to feel like home whenever they jump into a cruise around the country or spend a long weekend at a campground. Fortunately, that’s fairly easy to do if you bring your own items and spend just a little time decorating and planning ahead.

There are tons of RV redecorating ideas that allow you to show your style and provide a welcoming haven to return to at the end of a busy day. The manufacturers of motorhomes and travel trailers alike tend to stick to beige, brown, and gray. They do this to avoid offending anyone as bolder decor choices tend to do.

Your décor speaks tons of things about your feelings for your mini-abode. It is essential to have decent interiors for your RV as it may have an impact on your overall temperament.

If you’re into sports, Hollywood glam, cowboys, whatever. Show it off in your home away from home and add some elements that demonstrate who you are. It’s an easy fix to dress up your windows with some curtains in a print or solid that works with your trailer or RV decor.

Paint the walls and cabinets of your home on wheels to brighten it up. Feel free to use the color of your choice! The current RV decorating trend is white cabinets and it does look very clean and modern. But there are other options that look great too, like stunning forest green cabinets.

If you prefer a modern aesthetic, try this mantra when renovating your RV interior: simplify, simplify, simplify. Ruthlessly edit color and finish choices down to two or three picks.  Find solutions to keep pretty daily necessities accessible and secure, such as magnetic strips for colorful spices. And while open flames on the road aren’t illegal, they also aren’t advisable. Replace the lights, add small windows or even invest in a AC ventilation system or a practical power fan any touch of detail is welcomed.

A picnic table, portable chairs, potted plants, flag holders and even maybe a kiddie pool will surely make your camping experience a lot more enjoyable.

Best RV Events

Across the board, trade shows are continuing their annual convention traditions via virtual alternatives.

RV shows are a great place to take short seminars from industry experts on everything from travel destinations to full-time living to picking the right truck to pull a trailer and more. Some seminars are free, some have an additional charge. Check the show’s website or Facebook page for information before arriving, as often seminars can only hold a small number of people and fill quickly on the weekends.

These shows are great for manufacturers and other RV lovers. I am planning to bring My kids in these shows as they are kid-friendly and let you know what RV rides are best for you and what they can be used (family, towing or for different purposes).

Some of the bargains are real, others are simply prices an RV dealer would likely accept back at the dealership from an RV buyer with sharp negotiation skills.

Most RV shows are held January through March, then again September through November. Those held in the late spring and summer are typically part of large national and regional rallies.

RV Internet

The handy combo of a WiFi booster (also called an extender) and repeater means that we can park further away from a WiFi tower and still pick up a signal. This is great at RV parks, where the best sites are often at the edges or the back of the park, far away from the WiFi tower. It’s also useful if you’re traveling through town and want to use the WiFi at the local cafe to do some work.

We always recommend supporting these businesses by buying something if you use their WiFi, but it’s often nicer (and quieter) to get your food to go and work inside your own rig.

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