Well it’s been a while since I last posted, but believe me it’s been a busy couple of months. We picked up our brand new RV back in March and have spent the weeks since hopping around from campground to campground and resort to resort trying to work the kinks out. Not only that, but also to orient ourselves to our new and much smaller surroundings. It’s amazing what you can do without, but also what things you must have. Anyway, I thought it was time to post a quick list of 10 things I/we have learned in our RV on our maiden voyages.
1. When you think you have it all figured out you don’t – This is pretty much straight forward. After pouring over all the manuals and guides that are supplied with the RV, I thought we had a good handle on things. Turns out things don’t always work the way they do under perfect conditions in your driveway at home. There is no substitute for real life. So take the time necessary to get well versed in everything before venturing too far away. Ask lots of questions of other RV’ers as you meet them along the way. Their knowledge is a great resource.
2. The convenience (or not) of free WiFi – “Free WiFi” as well as “WiFi available” seem to be fairly loose terms and definitely open to interpretation. The term “free” is accurate and appreciated by all. After all who doesn’t like something for nothing?! The trouble is, and what they don’t tell you, is you may only be able to get the WiFi in front of the office or some other obscure area other than in your RV when you are trying to log onto Netflix. Available WiFi has the same pitfalls and it may mean you are logging in and checking emails while sitting in the laundry room.
3. Navigation Systems – This one always makes me laugh because I think more often than not our Navi systems are meant to get us lost, take us down roads we don’t want to go, or nag us into pulling over and giving up for the day. The Navi system in our new RV is not what you would call “user friendly”. Once we finally get the coordinates entered into her memory she constantly tells me what to do and when I don’t listen (sometimes I don’t hear too), then she wants me to make a “legal” U-turn when safe to do so. A safe U-turn, with a 25 foot RV, while driving down the open highway? I could drive for an hour before I arrived at a truly “safe” place to U-turn. Sometimes I find myself arguing with her and finding I need to justify my actions. If I was married to my Navi system it would definitely be divorce city. Remember, there is no substitute for a beautiful wing-“woman” sitting in the chair beside you as you travel down the highway. Take what Miss Navi says with a grain of salt and move on.
4. Camping Mats and Skylights – The addition of a great outdoor camping mat not only provides a great look and feel to your outdoor space but they also are nice to walk on with your bare feet. Built in sky lights in your RV roof provide great sun light into the RV which is especially nice on those early morning travel days. I have learned the hard way that this is not the only function they serve. It seems that from the air both provide great targets for flying bombers of the bird variety. It wouldn’t be so bad if they only dropped their turd bombs on the glass, but they also complete bombing runs on our outdoor mat – of course usually right after I have just laid it down on the ground or swept it. Make a note – bucket for washing needed and a stiff brush.
5. Hot showers – The vast majority of RV resorts and campgrounds provide showers for your use and in some of them they are free of charge. The ones that charge (usually a dollar) will take quarters or “loonies” in Canada and will last 5 to 8 minutes. The part you can usually count on is once you have deposited the money in the slot and the water has started it will take you the next 3 to 4 minutes just to regulate the temperature. Next you get shampoo on your head and soap on your body just in time for the money/time to run out. Now you will find yourself blindly feeling around trying to get a loonie or 4 quarters into the machine hoping you don’t electrocute yourself. Moral of the story is wash fast.
6. Drinking and Cooking – Now this hasn’t actually happened to us and we hope it doesn’t, but definitely could have. This warning comes from some friends we met at an LTV (Leisure Travel Vans) rally a few weeks ago. They had finished a nice dinner (and wine of course) and didn’t realize they had left one of the propane stove burners on really low (almost invisible to the naked eye). They closed the glass lid that covers the stove and went outside. At some point they went back into the RV to find the glass had heated to the point that it shattered. This is the type of lesson that should never occur more than once, that’s for sure. P.S. – things like this are not covered on warranty.
7. Sewer hookups vs Sani Dumps – This is kind of a silly one but I will chalk it up to being a newbie RV’er and not always thinking before doing. When we have been booking campgrounds we always try to get full hook-ups (electrical, water, sewer, etc.). We like the convenience of having water and power during our stay. We choose not to hook-up our sewer lines and only use the holding tanks during our stay. Again, I blame this on being a newbie as well as comfort level with the whole black water tank idea. Anyway, the funny part of this is that the first time we took the RV to a campground, even though we had a sewer line right beside the RV, we drove to a separate sani- dump station after we packed up and left the campground. DUH! Why would anybody do that…..lol. Lesson learned.
8. Pre-delivery Inspections – This one is for the new RV owners. Once you get your RV home check it, check it, check it….and then once more. Case in point. We bought ours brand new and not only did it go through a pre-shipping inspection at the factory it also went through a full pre-delivery inspection to make sure everything was in working order. We took possession of ours in March and in our first 4 or 5 short trips we never had any real warm weather. But then we spent a week in Osoyoos in southern British Columbia and the temperatures rose to around +34 degrees Celsius. We go to turn on our bright and shiny new air conditioner and it failed. It functioned well and blew lots of air, just not cold. After operating it for a while, the temperature actually went up in the RV. So even though you may not need it at the time, try all or your appliances, furnaces, water heaters, etc. “before” you go out on your first trip. Thankfully our RV Dealer and the manufacturer have been fantastic about addressing everything that has needed attention.
9. Micro Wave and Convection Ovens – Our RV has a combination microwave and convection oven. This is a great convenience to have on the road because it allows you to bake and roast things or just simply use the microwave function to warm things up. Where you get yourself into trouble is when you try to do both one after another. On one particular occasion we had just baked some chicken breasts on convection in the oven and had just removed them. We also had something to warm up in a Tupperware dish so we put it in the oven and turned on the microwave function not realizing the oven was still very hot inside. Not only did we warm up the item, but we also managed to permanently change the shape of the Tupperware dish! Moral of the story is to use the microwave first!
10. Batten Down the Hatches – You usually spend a lot of time getting the inside of your RV ready to go before your first trip. You put everything into the cupboards, storage areas, cabinets, and most importantly the fridge. As a new RV owner what you’re not thinking about is when you make everything just right at home in your driveway, you aren’t moving, or turning, or going over a speed bump in a parking lot. So as you start your engine, put on your new Ray Bans, turn on some Jimmy Buffett music and smile over at the love of your life, take one more second and ask yourself did we batten down the hatches? If not, the first crash you hear will like be everything falling over in the fridge followed next by every spice jar and can in the pantry cupboard. Every time you put something into storage, think of how it may launch itself into the stratosphere as you pull out of your driveway and onto the big open highway?