How to prepare for your RV camping trip, Prepare for the worst and enjoy the best.
Trip Preparation - the most important part of the trip
In my opinion, the most important part of a trip in or with your Reacreational Vehicle is the preparation.
Why is that?
Well, a camper who takes the time to make the appropriate pre-checks and plans will invariably be the one who pulls into the campground, on time, well rested, and without any horror stories to tell his fellow campers about his trip.
And, trust me, as much as we all like to sit around the campfire at night and spin those yarns about our adventures, no one likes to talk about the horrors of our problems on the road.
To that end, here are some things that I recommend for every camper who is planning a trip soon that will take them to "places far away and unknown" with a smile on their faces.
Down the Highway in your Motorhome
Plan your travel route, before you hit the road.
You all know that you should do this. We all know this, but we often skip some important steps.
From the Amateur Vacationer to the old-Pro Traveler and even full-timer, with the Big Rig who travels most of the year, good planning is essential.
If you check, invariably, that old-Pro has taken the time to do the following before he pulls out and onto the highway;
Have Good MAPS
He has his latest version of his Maps marked with his route and stored close by his drivers seat.
Have an Updated GPS
Even if he uses the old fashioned maps, he is also likely to have a good GPS device that gives him such information as;
- real-time mapping,
- traffic reports, and
- the option for alternative routes of travel in case of bad weather or construction delays or even wrecks along the road that he plans to use.
Have the latest WEATHER Reports
No one, and I mean no one, wants to ever pull out for a long day on the road in foul weather or with foul weather ahead of them.
All campers that I know, who have been into camping for a while, can usually tell you the weather prediction for their campground for at least the next week.
And, they can probably tell you the weather outlook at their next destination for the next week also.
And, with today's many sources of the latest weather for every zip-code in the country via email, web sites via WIFI, TV stations, and more, there is really no good excuse for not knowing what your weather is supposed to be.
I know that, several times, I have ended up leaving one campground, for another, a day early in order to avoid an impending bad storm on my originally planned day of travel.
The Recreational Vehicle itself and its condition
You should also have already checked out your RV to confirm that it is ready for a day, or more on the open road. You should always check the following on your RV:
1- Engine - If your RV is motorized or if you tow it with your Truck or Car, you need to make sure that the drive train, and especially the Engine, is ready to give you a trouble-free trip.
Check the Oil and other liquid levels and that all belts, etc, are tight and not frayed or worn,as a minimum precaution.
2- WIPER BLADES - They don't cost much, and they are easy to replace.
So, why do so many of us just ignore them, I wonder.
I don't know, but, from experience, I do know that a non-functional or even a torn or damaged wiper blade can turn a nice days drive with a chance of rain, into a very dangerous trip for you and your family.
Check them regularly, replace them when they show signs of wear, and BTW, in my motorhome, I carry a new spare wiper blade, just in case.
3- BRAKES - Make sure that you don't have any brake fluid leaks and that the brake fluid reservoir is topped off with the proper replacement fluid.
Remember, non only is your engine and transmission working harder to take you down the road, but your brakes are also working a lot harder every time you need to stop with all of the extra load you may be towing.
And, of course, if you happened to hear that awful squeal of brake pads on drums/disks, recently, you should have already checked that
1-you still have good brake pads,
2- your disks are not scored,and
3-just basically that you haven't burned your brakes up, and they are in top shape for your next trip.
Memory Foam Seat Cushion
Plan Your Stops for your day ahead on the road
Yes, Plan your stops.
Remember, you are either driving a very large motorhome, or pulling a very large camper, and the trip, along with the demands of the road, can wear any driver down as the day goes on.
Plan on making frequent stops to Stretch, Rest, and Rejuvenate yourself.
This is relatively easy on our Interstate highways, these days, because every state has at least the occasional Rest Stop along the way.
And, I really can't think of a state that doesn't have a nice, large VISITOR CENTER available for you to pull into for a rest.
They are usually found very soon after you cross the border between one state and another.
They are not only a nice rest stop, but these Visitor Centers are usually manned with people that are there to answer your questions and help you find pretty much anything you might be looking for, if it exists in their state.
Of course, many states will have rest stops spaced every 40-60 miles along their major highways for your convenience, so find them on your maps and GPS devices and mark them for potential use, before you pull out.
Now, once you are driving on secondary and state roads, these nice Rest Stops will be nowhere to be found, so you have to find other alternatives to stop and rest.
Usually, you will see large strip malls and chain stores ahead that you can take advantage of.
The ones that you want will have multiple entrances, and large parking lots for you to get around in and park and then leave safely.
Just take a hint from me!
Know the length of your Rig or Vehicle and Camper, and be comfortable with your driving skills operating them.
If you are comfortable with operating your Rig, you will be able to look at a parking lot and in a micro-second decide on whether to pull into the lot or not. This comes with experience. A clogged, cluttered or even crowded parking lot is not for you. You want Open Space and lots of it.
There is one nationwide chain of stores that is probably used for emergency, and overnight stops, more than any other in the country.
That, of course, is WalMart.
WalMarts across the country are very camper friendly, they invariably have very large parking lots that you can move around in easily, and they are well lighted at night.
They generally have a policy of allowing campers to stay overnight in the far ends of their parking lots, if there are no local or county restrictions on campers staying overnight in public places.
For those of you that are interested, there is a YAHOO GROUP called walmartrving.
I mean really, these people have a large and very active email communication system that will keep you informed or even answer your questions about specific WalMarts across the country.
I highly recommend that you join this group, especially if you want to save a buck or two, traveling to your ultimate campsite.
They have some rules, but they are common sense rules, so check them out.
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Plan for your Destination, before you start your trip.
Wherever you are going, you eventually have a destination, or more, in mind for the end of your trip.
Whether it is a State Park campsite, or a luxury campground, you should prepare yourself so that you get the most from your visit.
Once you have made a reservation and have a campsite reserved, you should know the following;
Check-In Times: Make sure that you plan your days travel so that you can arrive during check-in times.
Most campgrounds will be locked up after these hours, and you could be sitting in a "Holding Site" at the campground or even worse, along the side of their entrance road.
YOUR SITE NUMBER: Always try to get an assigned site that you can look up on their website and make sure that it is an acceptable one;
Otherwise you might end up with a site such as; next to the sewage lines, next to the bathhouse, at the edge of a campground next to a highway, in a high traffic area, next to the dumpsters, and on and on and on.
And if you can't get an assigned site, until you show up, then these are the things that you want to get there early enough, during check-in times, to avoid.
A bad, dirty, noisy, smelly, or worse, campsite can ruin a nice vacation, every time.
Wireless Home Router
Campground Amenities are important
Ask about the amenities of your campground for the time you are going to be there and if they are going to be available for you.
A Pool under repair, or even closed, as far as you should be concerned, is no pool at all. So, check beforehand that the campground has one and it is functioning properly.
A Clubhouse being remodeled or repaired is, again not a Clubhouse for you, And, if it is under repair, they probably have eliminated some or all of their entertainment, so ask about this one too.
Fishing Pond, Lake and Walking Trails
The same with a Fishing Pond or Lake, or a Walking Trail, or a Childrens play area.
If they are not fully functional, why do you want to pay their price which obviously includes these listed "fun things to do", if they are not available when you are going to be there.
My suggestion is, if any of the amenities are not up and going while you are to be there, that is either grounds for you to find another campground, or at least to renegotiate the price.
WIFI Range Extender
WIFI and Cellular Services
In today's world, we all want to stay connected, with everyone.
And, our main way of doing this is our Cell Phone (or SmartPhone) and our PC.
For these to do us any good, we need connections to the outside. And many campgrounds now provide WIFI access for their campers.
Some are free, and some are national WIFI provider chains that want to charge you for the access.
Some of these can run $25 or more per week of access, so be prepared.
You need to ask your campground if they have WIFI available, how much it costs and is it High-Speed or "Snail" data Access. And, most importantly, is it only available in the Clubhouse or does it reach your assigned campsite.
And ask if they have periods of the day/night that their system becomes overloaded. This happens far too often, I have found.
Once you know these basic things about your campground of choice, you can sit back and take the final steps to having a fun time while there.
Research the local area for entertainment
You finally, after all of this, need to get online and check out the surrounding cities and towns and discover what is available for entertainment for you and your family.
At some point, you will want to go out and "See the SIGHTS", maybe have dinner, or just explore this new part of the country that you are camping in.
And, to do that, you need to know a lot about the area before you get there.
This is so easy these days with nearly every town having a web site with pages of information designed to draw you there to support their town and their business'
THEN, Enjoy a safe and fun trip in your RV
Once you have made these basic preparations, and investigations, you can pull out for your vacation with the confidence that you have done pretty much everything possible to assure a great RV trip.
Packing for an RV trip
Preparing for your Campsite
© 2012 Don Bobbitt