Contributed by: Michael Bourke
Whether the temperature is still warm and bright or the leaves are turning, giving way to crisp, cool air, there is never a bad time for a road trip. If you are looking for a great way to get in some family bonding time and escape from the hustle and bustle of life, an RV camping trip might just be the ticket.
Prepare Your Set of Wheels
Your RV will be your home on wheels for the next several days, so the biggest piece of travel preparation will be to make sure your RV is in good shape. Make sure to get your RV serviced before heading out to make sure the tires are the right psi, bump-free, and have plenty of tread left in them. The inspection should also include a brake and engine check, as well as an inspection of the air conditioner and coils. Make a checklist of any other areas of the RV you need to inspect or turn on before setting off such as the refrigerator, stove, toilet, and water. While you are getting organized, create a packing list too and determine what is best left behind.
If this will be your first time driving an RV or it has been a few years, spend some time practicing to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. Driving an RV is similar to driving a commercial big-rig truck, so there are several extra factors you will need to consider such as keeping the RV between the lines, accelerating, braking, turning, passing, and using only your mirrors to see what is behind you. You may also want to practice backing up to avoid an awkward pile-up at the campsite as fellow campers honk impatiently as you struggle to back the RV into place.
Find the Perfect Spot
No matter if you call it a campground, RV park, or resort, you need to know what to look for in order to find the perfect campsite. You must first decide on your camping style. For campers that prefer all the luxuries of home, you should look for a site with full hookups, campfire rings/BBQ grill, clubhouse, and a location that is near restaurants, stores, and other local attractions. If you enjoy roughing it in nature, you might forgo all the hookups and opt for a campsite complete with an area to pitch a tent, build a fire, and easy access to hiking trails and other outdoor activities. If small children will be joining in on the fun, look for a site with a playground and swimming area to keep them occupied and away from the electronics.
Aside from your camping style, all campsites should have the following three characteristics: space, cleanliness, and an easy parking space. You will want space to move around, as well as a safe area for the kids with room to run and play. Upon arrival, the campsite should be free of litter, garbage, and other debris, showing a dedication to cleanliness and setting the expectation that it should be kept that way. Remember earlier when we talked about backing in your RV? Some sites offer pull-through spaces, while some are back-in only. If the idea of reversing a huge RV cripples you with fear, you might look for a site that is easier to maneuver through.
Once you arrive at the campsite you can breathe a small sigh of relief, but there are still some safety precautions to keep in mind. If you will be building a fire, make sure it is away from the RV and anything flammable, and is never left unattended. Remember, the fire may be out but the coals are still hot. They can reignite later so you must make sure all the coals are cool before calling it a night. Accidents can happen in an instant, so make sure you are prepared with a fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
Although you will be sleeping within the safety of the RV, keep the campsite free of trash and food to avoid waking up to an uninvited guest such as a bear or raccoon. Make sure all garbage is disposed of properly or sealed up tight in your RV – if you can smell it, animals can too.
All that is stopping you from taking your next RV camping trip is a little bit of planning and preparation. Make sure your RV is in good working order, and find a campsite that meets all your needs and expectations, including your budget. Above all else, safety first and then it’s next stop, nature!