Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the campfire, hiking nature trails, quality family time without the interruptions of work or other responsibilities, whatever your reasons, you want to experience the RV life. But what do you need to know? RVing 101 will give you tips on some of the basic, yet most important topics about RVing: types, towing, tanks and more.
Types of RVs
We separate RVs into these categories to help you find the ones that work best for you:
- Travel Trailers – A travel trailer is a towable home on wheels! If you aren’t sure what you want in an RV yet, consider the value, comfort, and efficiency of a travel trailer.
- 5th Wheels – The hitch for a 5th wheel is unique because it is centered in the towing truck’s bed. One of the main advantages is reduced overall length of the RV because the front of the RV overlaps the truck bed.
- Toy Haulers – The unique toy hauler offers the ability to haul heavy items like golf carts or motorcycles with you on your adventures.
- Destination RVs – Indulge in the ultimate in comfort, space, and convenience of a destination RV. These vehicles deliver the utmost in leisure.
- Lightweight RVs –Lightweight RVs offer many of the features and comfort of larger RVs, but with less weight to tow and a lower price.
- Expandable RVs – These collapsible or semi-collapsible hybrid travel trailers are easy to store, park, and tow. Yet can unpack and expand to add plenty of room inside when set-up.
- Mini Trailers – Looking for more convenience and comfort than a tent? Minis allow you the freedom to travel with the necessities of home.
Towing Your RV
Safely and properly towing your RV is a crucial part of RVing 101 and the camping experience. Your tow vehicle must be able to handle the gross weight of your RV as well as anything stored inside, including water tanks. Make sure to take the time to fully familiarize yourself with your RV’s specifications as well as your vehicle’s limits and understand your tow vehicle’s ratings before you buy your RV. Nothing spoils the excitement of buying a camper than the realization that you can’t tow it with the vehicle you have.
There is an amazing range of RV choices available, so there is sure to be an option (or several) that will work with the vehicle you are planning to use. RVs can come in a wide variety of sizes and weights, so you may be surprised what type of car can pull a small RV. This is especially nice for those who are brand new to RVing or may not have a lot of space to park a large RV when not in use.
Beyond the rating of your tow vehicle, you also need to know the correct type of hitch you’ll need. For those with 5th wheels, you may have noticed a difference in hitching set up. The 5th wheel hitch is installed in the pickup bed, not behind the tow vehicle.
Staying Safe on the Road
If you’ve never towed anything behind your vehicle, it will take a little getting used to. One of the best things you can do is to take the time to study prior to your trip and get to know your route. Some routes can be challenging for towing, especially the larger and heavier your RV is. Navigating back roads with a big RV have a tendency to be tricky. Add in night driving or inclement weather and you’ll be quick to agree that highway driving is often easier in many instances. Two big tips for staying safe on the road:
- Slow Down – RVing is as much about the journey as the destination. You may be excited to reach your destination, but it will be a lot less enjoyable if you don’t arrive safely. Even great drivers need to make adjustments when working with a large, heavy RV attached to their vehicle, so slow down and enjoy the journey.
- Take a Test Drive – It’s always a good idea for new RV owners to make a test drive part of their self-training RVing 101 course. When you take the time to plan a few short drives around town to get familiar with the experience, you’ll feel more confident when it’s time to head off on your first trip with your new RV.
On the Road Knowledge
RVing Appliances & Electricity
A big benefit of owning an RV is the freedom a mobile power source provides, though electricity does have limits. While hookups to connect your RV to electricity are commonly available at many RV campsites, you may not always get a spot that has electrical access. One way to help ensure that you do is to call ahead. If that’s not possible, be prepared to ration your power usage. A helpful part of prepping to ration your power is making sure you understand the power draw of your appliances or additional electronics you add onto your vehicle, and which ones can be switched over to propane if necessary.
Learn about your batteries, their capacity, information about storage and other safety processes. If your RV comes equipped with solar panels, or hookups for them, you can take advantage of the sun on your trip and keep those panels – and your batteries – charged up.
Water Tanks and Your RV
RVs come equipped with several water tanks. It’s essential to know which tank is which, their purpose, and how to properly care for them.
Potable water is for anything from drinking to cooking. It’s important to keep this water tank clean and have filled up prior to your trip. However, if you know water will be available at your destination, there’s no reason to drive with a completely full tank. Depending on the capacity of your tank, you could be traveling with hundreds of extra pounds on board, thus reducing your gas milage.
Many campgrounds have full hookup available that you may wish to use. This means you can hook up to city water and sewer, for a home-away-from home convenience experience. If you’ll be showering frequently and doing a lot of dishes, this is your best option. When camping where no water hookup is available, conserve the water in your tank by reducing the amount and frequency of showers and dishwashing.
Your RV toilet empties into your black water tank. Properly draining and cleaning your black water tank is a process and should – for obvious reasons – be done between trips. There are aftermarket accessories that can make the draining process easier. Draining this tank prior to your departure from the campground will impact your budget in a positive way because every gallon of water weighs over eight pounds.
In camping there is a gray area – the gray water tank. This is the in-between tank because it is not potable, but it’s not the black water. This is the drainage for everything else. Your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and shower all drain to your gray tank. This water isn’t as bad as the black water tank, but exercising caution when draining it, and doing so between each trip, is still advisable.
Setting Up at Your Campsite
Upon arrival, maneuvering your RV into position can be tricky in smaller campsites. Having a backup camera can help with larger RVs.
It’s important to level your RV once you’ve maneuvered into the right spot. Leveling blocks add simplicity to the leveling process. Depending on the age and model of your RV, it may come with leveling systems in place. Once you’ve parked and leveled your RV, make sure to hook up anything that can and needs to be hooked up.
Following campsite etiquette is a must. Manners are never out of style and respecting your fellow campers is paramount to a pleasant vacation experience for everyone. A few of the biggies: draining your tanks in the designated area, minding your neighbors’ space, keeping noise levels down (especially if you bring a generator), and clean up after yourself – leave your campsite as clean as it was when you arrived, or better.
The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 640-9871
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