Camping is fun and these RV tips and tricks will make setting up, organizing, and getting back on the road again easier and faster. After all, you want to be enjoying yourself versus working.
Many people who don’t camp will say it’s so much work to go camping, not me, I think it’s the best vacation and camping gives us the freedom to explore this great country. When else can you travel and sleep in your own bed and use your own bathroom? Only with the camping lifestyle.
I always say you learn by doing, trial, and error, but if these RV tips and tricks can make your trip easier, why not. So here is a list of what 15 years of camping experience has taught us.
Note: We are not full-timers so these RV tips and tricks are for you folks that use your camper on weekends and vacations. Living full time in an RV is a totally different experience.
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1. Tire Pressure
When traveling in an RV the most important thing you can do is always check your tire pressure. I’ve read more issues about blowouts on the road in the camping groups I belong to than any other problem.
Most blowouts are caused by not enough air in your tires. I’ve read a lady tell a story that they had a blowout on the road, got 2 new tires and the next day had a blowout with one of the new tires. That’s crazy, CHECK YOUR TIRES.
Every time we stop my husband (A certified Emergency Vehicle Technician) walks around our trailer and feels the top of each tire (trailer and truck). They should all be at the same temperature if they aren’t you have a problem. Most likely you just need to add air to the tire.
We’ve put over 50,000 miles on our campers and never had a blowout. One of my biggest fears, when I drive my 34’ travel trailer, is getting a blowout. I’ve seen videos and boy it is very scary. So I can’t stress this enough, every time you stop, check those tires, make it a habit.
If you have the extra money or don’t feel you will check those tires at every stop, I recommend a Tire Management System.>
2. Know Your RV Height
You should also know the height of any vehicle you’re driving. I recommend having it measured than with a P-Touch (or any label will do) make a table and place it above the driver’s side of your tow vehicle. You only have to do this once and it will always be there for you until you get a new tow vehicle or RV.
3. Map Out Your Trip
Always map out your trip before you leave. Look for low bridges or places you can’t take you’re RV. We live in New York and there are many parkways that you can’t take an RV on.
4. Running Your Refrigerator While Driving
Most people travel with their propane on to keep the refrigerator cold, although all RV manufacturers will not recommend this.
We live in New York, we go over the George Washington Bridge and it’s a $20,000 fine to travel over a bridge with your propane on. So this is what we do:
We run the refrigerator off an inverter which we installed in the bed of our pickup truck. You can also hook it up inside your camper and just run the proper wiring. The only thing when doing it this way is you have to remember to discontinue it before hooking up to the campground electric.
We forgot a couple of times with our old camper and burnt out the inverter. Having it hooked to our truck avoids this and when we purchased our new camper that’s how we installed it. It works like a charm and we can even make coffee out of the pickup when on the road.
5. Basic Road Tool Box
Always have a toolbox with you with all basic essentials. While RVing you will always need to tighten something, so always be prepared.
Link to basic tool box with tools (road box)
Related Post: How to Plan your Ultimate Road Trip
6. Next Exit Book
We always travel with our Next Exit book. They also have an app. It has all the interstates in every state in it. When you are on the road and want to stop for fuel, restaurants, groceries, campgrounds, hotels, and other services, you will know exactly what is at each exit.
We plan our stops and call ahead to make sure the campgrounds have room when on a road trip this way we don’t stop if they are filled for the night.
This book comes in very handy when driving by car or RV. They have a new edition that updates every year. I usually buy it every 3 years and we never had a problem. It also tells you the service stops and where dump stations are, which is very helpful when driving long distances.
7. Make sure your vents are Closed
Put a permanent sign (again a P-Touch would work well) on your RV exit door when leaving to “CHECK IF VENTS ARE CLOSED”. Yes, we went out on a sunny day that had a chance of rain later in the day and forgot to close the vent about our bed, yep come home to soaking sheets and blankets and a wet bed. It was a good thing I had a blow dryer with us to dry the bed and a washer and dryer at the campground.
8. Surge Protector for Electric
Always use a surge protector every time you hook up to electricity at a campground. Also today most campgrounds are switching everything to 50 amp service so you will also need an adapter if you have 30 amp in your camper, like us.
For over 10 years we never did this and didn’t have a problem but when we purchased our new RV it was highly recommended so we started using it.
9. Turn off your water when leaving RV
If leaving your RV for a day or two in the campground for a side trip always turn off your water source to your RV to prevent flooding if something happens and goes wrong.
It didn’t personally happen to me but I’ve seen it in a campground where a camper got flooded and it was too late when the water was coming out of the door.
Related Post: How to Find the Perfect Campground
10. Check Slide-out before Closing
Always remember to check your slideouts for debris before closing them especially if you don’t have slide toppers like us.
We use a broom, I’ve seen others use an electric leave blower, both will do the trick.
You can also install slide topper, this is on our to-do list, but they are expensive but one day it will happen.
11. Water Pressure Regulator Valve
A Must Do: Use a water pressure regulator valve when connecting to any water source. If you don’t you can damage your RV plumbing and hoses caused by high-pressure city water. The valve controls the volume of water coming into your RV.
12. Cleaning your Black Tank
Use a wand in the toilet for easy black tank cleaning. Yes I know must new RV have the flush system, so does our RV, but we still use our wand to keep our black tank clean. It’s easy to do and it’s an inexpensive way of taking care of your RV.
13. Faster Trailer Setup
For fast set up we use jacks on either side of the trailer to help level it in addition to our trailer jacks.
14. In Case of Emergency…
Get a dry erase board and install it someone that is easy access in your camper, (example near the front door). When you get to a new campground, list all the important numbers you may need in case of an emergency. It’s hard to remember this information when you’re in a tough situation so make it as accessible as possible:
- Your site number
- Campground number
- Local hospital
- Local emergency number on where to call if you need help
- A family contact just in case the person helping you needs this information
General RV/Camping Tips
15. LED Lights
We did this in our older RV, but if you don’t have LED interior lights, it really doesn’t cost much to upgrade to LED lights. The lights are so much brighter and draw less current saving your batteries especially when dry camping, which we do often. The newer RV comes with LED bulbs.
16. Water Heater Anode
Check your water heater anode every season, once at the beginning and again at the end. Replace it when necessary.
17. Use Bounce to help keep the mice away
Put Bounce dryer sheets all over the RV especially in winter and in tight spaces to help prevent mice from going into your RV. They hate the smell and I have to omit it, so do I. But I also hate mice!
18. Storage Bins
My new camper is a rear kitchen with plenty of storage but I do remember the camper before this that had almost no storage, that was a problem keeping everything in place. Here are some storage (bins) ideas. You need to figure out what works best for you.
19. Campground Book
Since I started camping some 15 years ago, we also had a book to keep track of the campgrounds we’ve been to and our review of them. It helps if you travel to different places and if you are returning to an area years later. It helps you remember if you want to return to that campground or try someplace new. We also make a note of site numbers and sites that we would prefer.
20. Sewer Hose Storage
We installed a sewer hose storage carrier in the rear of our trailer where we store our tank hoses. We made it big enough so we don’t have to disconnect the ends of the hoses. It makes it much easier and faster to just take out the hose and connect it.
Some folks use hose supports for their sewer hoses, to be honest with you we don’t and never did and never had an issue but if your prefer it’s not that expensive.
21. Sticker Maps to where you’ve been
We keep a sticker map of the United States in our camper and add a new state sticker only when we have camped overnight in that state. Some people do it the way we do, others mark the state sticker if they even just drove through it, whichever way you want to keep track is great but it is exciting to add a “new” state to the map.
There is also a similar map of the United States for the National Parks. We have the one where you scratch off a tree by each National Park that you visited.
I hope some of these RV tips and tricks are helpful to you. Over the years we’ve learned these RV tips and tricks (some of them the hard way) but they have made our camping experience easier.
Happy Camping, Kathy xoxo
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