RV Newbies: Tips to Reduce Your Anxiety
As an RV newbie, I used to be a nervous wreck. I would freak out every time I had to turn a corner (right or left), or back my fifth wheel into a lot. I wasn’t used to having so much more vehicle attached to the back of my pickup truck. This anxiety made me so hyper-focused on driving that I ended up making many common rookie mistakes with my lines, hoses, and other things. Looking back on it, I see that I couldn’t get out of my own way enough to enjoy the RV life. I don’t want it to be this way for anyone who purchases an RV, camper, or motorhome these days.
As a former RV owner, I can’t bottle the confidence I developed after years of practice and send it to you. What I can do is tell you about some of the mistakes new RV owners make and how to avoid them. This should help you gain the confidence you need. Driving your RV is the best way to get better at driving it. Find a large, empty parking lot to practice in until you get better. (That’s some RV veteran wisdom right there.) Here are a few more tips for new RV owners that will help reduce your anxiety behind the wheel and at the campground.
Record Your Walk-Through
Many RV dealers will provide new owners with a walk-through of their vehicle. This is designed to show you everything you need to check before you head out on the road. Some also go through some things you need to do when you arrive at your RV park or other destination. Since you only get this information once – and it might be a while before you have to use it – it’s easy to forget a few steps. Thankfully, there are easy solutions for retaining what you learn during your walk through.
Clever RV newbies record their walk-through on their cellphones. In most cases, your RV dealer will allow you to do this while they take you through all the important aspects of driving and parking your rig. Just be sure to get their permission before you pull out your phone and start recording. By saving this file, you can always refer back to the video before you do your own walk-throughs. Once you do this enough, the process will become second nature. You also can download and print a walk-through checklist that you find online.
Camp Close to Home… at First
Despite my anxieties, I tried to take my fifth wheel to far-flung, remote locations right out of the gate. This caused a whole bunch of problems that nearly left me stranded far from home. If I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed closer to home for those early trips. That could have helped me build my confidence with on-the-road handling and set up at the RV campground. If I had a problem, I would be close enough to home to better handle it.
If you’re still a little unsure of yourself behind the wheel, take a trip closer to home. (Be sure to get some practice in an empty parking lot, as mentioned above.) This will help you build the confidence you need to become an RV veteran in no time. Once you have command of your recreational vehicle, you and your family can take those longer trips that you’re dreaming about.
Try a Private RV Campground
A private RV park is a great destination for RV newbies. These places typically have a friendly staff who are happy to help you with anything you need, such as backing into your spot and much more. There’s no shame in telling the campground staff that you’re new to this and need some help. They want you to enjoy your stay at their campground as much as you do, so they’ll walk you through everything if you need it.
The staff at the RV campground aren’t the only ones who can help you. There are usually more than a few veteran RV owners staying at these parks. If you find yourself struggling to get your furnace going, for example, don’t be afraid to ask for help. These people were RV newbies at one point, and some might be willing to help you. Be sure to listen to them, too, because they can be a source of so much valuable advice.
Reserving a pull-through is something you can do at an RV park. What’s that? It’s a site that’s placed between two roads, which allows you to pull your camper or motorhome in without the need for backing up. You just pull in through one side when you get there, then drive out the other side when it’s time to go home. You can also use this opportunity to practice backing in and out of your spot, you won’t have to worry if you miss it a few times.
Avoid Night Driving If You Can
Driving during daylight hours can be stressful enough for RV newbies. Driving at night can be downright terrifying. I should know, since I once found myself hauling my fifth wheel 70+ miles in the dead of night after an ill-advised fishing trip. I almost smashed into a row of trees trying to back out of my spot, and it only got worse from there. Lane changes on the highway were a nightmare of constant checking my rear-view mirrors and worrying about colliding with vehicles that I couldn’t see.
Try to do all of your RV driving during the day whenever possible. As an RV newbie, you’ll have plenty of challenges without the added complication of driving in the dark. It’s a fact of RV life that these recreational vehicles will have problems and break down. When it happens, it’s always easier to find help during the day. Roadside assistance, garages, and RV dealers might not be open and available to you in the dead of night. This is another reason to confine your driving from dawn to dusk.
Bundle Your Repair Services
Living the RV life was a part-time thing for this Michigander. By the time winter rolled around, my fifth wheel was packed up until spring. If you’re a seasonal RVer like I used to be, the following advice is something you should keep in mind. Repairs and warranty work are a fact of RV life for all of us, and it can be stressful. While I recommend getting major things fixed right away, it’s best to put off the small stuff whenever you can. By “small stuff,” I mean those things that don’t interfere with you being able to use your RV even though they are broken.
Look, it’s in our nature to want to fix things as soon as possible. (That’s where the anxiety comes in.) If you get too obsessive about this, your camper could spend more time at the dealership than it does at RV campgrounds and other destinations. If you can camp with a few minor things broken, you will make the most of your camping season. When the end of the season rolls around, take your rig into the dealership and have those small repairs done at one. Just be sure to budget for this!
Bonus Tip: Get DIRECTV for your RV
Hopefully the tips above will help reduce your anxiety until you get a better handle on the adventure that’s known as the RV life. Want another tip to help you relax and enjoy your trips? Get DIRECTV installed in your recreational vehicle. Yes, it can be done, and it delivers all your favorite news, sports, and entertainment wherever you take your RV. (Yes, even on those longer trips you’re working towards.) This is definitely a stress-free investment in your future enjoyment.
Are you an RV owner who’s interested in adding DIRECTV to your vehicle? Signal Connect can help. The process starts with us answering your questions. There’s no reason to be afraid to ask us. Our customer service representatives will help you choose the right viewing package, satellite equipment, and much more. In other words, we’ll take the anxiety out of it. The easiest way to get in touch with us is to fill out this form and click “submit.” We’ll follow up with you in one business day or less.