Top MISTAKES RV Newbies Make

Driving Tips for RV Travel

rv newbie tips for what not to do in your rv camper

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How to RV Travel

RV Newbie mistake be sure to investigate your surroundings when pulling over your rv

Not Being Aware of your Clearance. 

This is a really important one, one that can save your life and your RV. 

Be sure you know how tall and how long your camper is. Finding proper gas stations to pull into is a must. Be aware when stopping off in tiny old towns where the streets are narrow and the turns are tight.


Not filling up your gas early enough. 

When traveling, there are roads that go on and on before you see a gas station. Especially, when you are traveling in rural and mountainous areas. Be sure you don’t wait until the needle is in the red before looking for a gas station.


Not being level

If you aren’t hooking up and are boondocking you can do this and it’s not that big of a deal. If you have an RV refrigerator, it is can be dangerous. Your fridge will not work properly and could cause damage and even a fire. Using level blocks to adjust for differences of the ground.

Pulling into a Space without Investigating it

Not only do you want to check your mirrors. It is best to actually Get Out and LOOK around before pulling in. Look at the ground for objects that might puncture tires, low spots, holes, … Look up! Low tree limbs, dead trees, and utility poles. also, taking a walk around before you leave camp.

Expect the unexpected!

Not having one or both Good Sam memberships 

This is a HUGE first step that we suggest to anyone that is planning on RV travel.  

If you want to stay safe and keep your family safe, make sure your insurance is up to date and that you also have one or both of the Good Sam memberships.  

Good Sam has two incredible services that have helped us out several times over the past couple of years. 

There is a Roadside Assistance program and a medical Travel Assist program.  I highly suggest either or both of these plans.  

See below or check out their sites for more details but DON’T make the mistake of not having Good Sam.


The Roadside Assistance program usually pays for itself in one or two outings.  It’s really a no brainer.  

After signing up you immediately get cash and percentage discounts at most campgrounds, Camping World and Gander Mountain. Other features of this plan include, but are not limited to:

  • Towing
  • Roadside Service
  • Locksmith Service
  • Hotel Discounts
  • Rental Car Discounts
  • Campground Discounts

If you travel a lot, there will indefinitely come a time when some sort of emergency happens. You forgot your prescription, have a health emergency, or maybe even an accident.  Maybe you forgot your prescription or glasses?  No problem with this plan.  Other features on this plan include :

  • Returning Your RV in a medical situation
  • Medical Transportation
  • Ambulance service
  • Flights home after emergency
  • Coverage and care for pets 

RV Travel Books You Need


Thinking You Don’t need books? 

After being “In the dark” a couple of times with no internet or phone service, we decided it was time to invest in a couple of books to have on standby.  

I can’t tell you how many times these particular books have helped us out along the way.  And let’s face it, even if you have internet, it’s always nice to have something to read. 

What better to read about than books on RV travel and inspiration.

Mountain Directories 

Beginner RV Camping Mistakes

  Not having a SET up / CLOSE down list. 

Not having a list of tasks for steps to take when getting to camp and leaving camp is a huge mistake. After you’ve done it a few times, you can keep a mental list. 

At first, it helps to have these things written down and check them off one by one. 

This guarantees you don’t miss anything and additionally, are doing them in the proper order. This is so important.  If you don’t have one yet, we have provided a free “arrival” checklist below.  Download and enjoy!


RV Checklist for Arrival. Click to download as a PDF

  Not Using Available Discounts

There are many ways to save money when on the road. Research the options for Camping memberships, rebates, point systems.

Good Sam guide series has been around for a long time, this is their latest series guide. Their 2021 guide contains tons of information and lots of discounts. It lists over 12,000 locations across the United States and Canada.

RV Newbie Mistakes - Stay Inspired!

Everyone wants to get there, but don’t make this huge

Driving too fast!

This is so dangerous. Take your time, go slow. Especially when you are new to driving an RV. Check the weather and wind before you travel. 

Wind speeds and traffic going by can have huge effects that you don’t feel in a regular vehicle. Stay safe and drive slow.  We suggest staying under 60 mph if at all possible.

Also, when timing out your trip to your next destination-be sure to add extra time for going under the speed limit. 

Your GPS will tell you that you will be there way sooner than you expect. Get a GPS that will give you options for routes for your RV. 

garmin gps rv navigation system

  Leaving Awnings Out and Vent Covers Open when it is windy. 

Windy days and awnings are not friends. Get into the habit of checking wind when checking the weather. 

A rolled out awning in high winds can tear and cause damage to your camper. Some like to use tie downs, but we have found it best to always keep it rolled in unless we are using it.

awning shade for rv camping

  • This dual purpose shade helps to block 86% of UV 
  • Decreases the temperature giving you a cozy shady spot on hot days
  • Reduces wind efficiently – breaks cross winds
  • Easy to install and dismount


RV Travel Checklist

More Basic RV Newbie DONT'S

  Using the same Hose for back-washing and fresh water. Not to mention, Storing them together. 

Ewww, Nooooo! Don’t do this. This may seem obvious. Apparently, and unfortunately, it is a common occurrence. Be prepared with a water hose made for drinking water only. Use two separate hoses AND store them separately.

Use your stabilizers as jacks

RV stabilizers are not for jacking up your camper. They are only for keeping your camper from moving around too much. Use jack stands in addition to the stabilizers to help with those shimmy shakes. 

Also, placing something under the stairsis extremely helpful in stabilizing your Travel trailer or camper.

RV Travel Tips

Not having a Surge Protector. 

As a boondocker, this doesn’t matter if you’re not hooking up to electric. If you are hooked up to electric, you will want to keep your appliances and wiring safe during surges. 

Electricity at RV parks and camps can be unreliable and do strange things. There are many horror stories to people tell about electrical issues. It is best to always use a surge protector. It is also a good idea to lock it up.

  Bugs, bugs bugs!!!  There is NOTHING that can ruin a camping/outside experience faster than those pesky mosquitoes!  Unfortunately, this is something that most people do not prepare for, and end up being dinner for these unwanted bugs.  You also don’t want to have to use toxic sprays and chemicals on your skin to keep them at bay.  So what is the solution?  We use and LOVE our Thermacell devices.  

These awesome, cost effective and easy to use little machines give you up to a 15 foot zone of protection from mosquitoes.  They are super easy to use, and they WORK very well.  You can get one that simply attaches to your belt or backpack or one that sits in front of your RV for protection.  We live in Florida where the bugs are awful and our Thermacell works at keeping them away.  You can get a Thermacell right on the company’s website here, where you can get free shipping on orders more than $49.   Amazon, also carries it and you can get that here.  

More Books About RV Travel

More Helpful Tips for RV Newbies


Not immediately replacing or upgrading your mattress after buying.

Getting a good nights rest is just as important as all of the adventures you will take in your camper. 

The mattress that comes with your RV is usually hard as a rock. Sometimes just adding a mattress topper will do the trick. 

People seem to really love these new Lucid mattress toppers.

Be sure you know the measurements of your bed, you may have an “RV Queen” which is shorter than a standard queen mattress.

RV Mattress Topper
Lucid Mattress Topper, Perfect for RV's

This RV Mattress is a 12″ Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress

  • 2 LAYERS: cool foam support, high-density foam, and infused gel beads.
  • WHITE WASHABLE COVER: Keep your mattress clean with the included washable cover 

Forgetting you will need to wash your clothes.

I actually enjoy going to laundromats in different cities. For instance, the giant folding tables are especially helpful for sheets and blankets. But, it can be a pain to have to stop and do laundry frequently. So if you are traveling without a washer and dryer in your RV, there are some other options.

Portable Washer and Dryer

This mini washing machine boasts almost a 10 lb capacity. It is small and quiet, yet powerful. It has a washing time of 15 minutes and spinning time of 5 minutes.

Allowing you to have clean clothes without having to leave your RV spot.

Heavy duty drying rack

Pair your washer and spinner with a drying rack you can easily attach it to the back of your RV.

A drying rack that can handle towels, each arm can hold up to 10 lbs. Rust resistant and folds back in when not in use.

A stand alone drying rack can be helpful too. This stand alone one can be folded up and put away when you’re done.

  Being Unprepared for Power Loss

May you want to try out RV Boondocking for a few days or may be not. It’s good to know that power outages can happen. 

When camping at a campground, there are bound to be disruptions. It is nice to be prepare by having some back up power.

Additionally, your neighbors, if you have any, will love a quiet choice of generator.

Get yourself a great generator or a portable power station like this one from Amazon.

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240

  • 240Wh Backup Lithium Battery

  • 110V/200W Pure Sine Wave AC Outlet

  • Solar Generator (Solar Panel Not Included)

  • 200 Watts
  • Fuel Capacity: 3.96 Gallons
  • Noise Level: 69dB
  • PLENTY OF POWER: 4,000 peak watts and 3,300 running watts
  • POWER PANEL: maximum compatibility in your applications: 2 120V household outlets and 1 120V 30A twist lock outlet
  • POWERING EVERYONE ANYWHERE: Like all DuroStar generators, the DS4000S is EPA and CARB approved for use in all 50 states

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20 Responses

  1. You seem to no a lot about using an rv , hopefully you can tell me why my carbon monoxide alarm goes off even when there isn’t no gas turned on hooked up or even in the bottles…. the rv is only used on .& off every few weeks so it’s not plugged in to an electric box all the time.after reading some of your stuff about must knows about rv’s maybe you have some knowledge on it I’m totally confused & this isn’t something to take lightly….thanks so much…

    1. It probably needs replacing. Our old one like to go off in the wee hours of the morning, causing panic every time. Got a new one (easy to install) and no more problems.

    2. When your battery dies, the alarm automatically starts going off to warn you. When you park, disconnect the battery cables. Saves on the battery also.

  2. Make a check list to double everything around your RV doors closed and locked, steps are put up in place, your slid outs are in. Check your tire pressure. Once your hooked make sure your safety pins are in place so your unit will not pop off the hitch.

  3. Hi, thanks for reading! We have something in place it only deflects some, we are still bombarded every day with spam. Let us know if you come across something that works better for you.

  4. Newbie mistakes.. 2 things i strongly agree with. getting a surge protector. I thought really, all campgrounds shouldbe the same, wrong, mine has worked during a storm and also in hi heat when everyone was running ac units and causing low voltage to camper. It immediately disconnected and saved our devices and appliances. Second, backing, get outseveral times and look around, more accidents are caused by backing and assuming that you are clear.

    1. Surge protectors are expensive AND worth it….BUT they get stolen. Buy a 10 foot good extension cord and leave your surge protector inside your locked power door. That way the thieves don’t think you have one.

  5. My husband and I are newbies to RV’ing. I am so glad I read this article. I will now make a list of before and after checklists for camping. I would appreciate any tips Incase I forgot something. Thanks !!!

  6. I just bought an old motorhome from a friend and appreciate the advice you gave. For our first outing, we took the motorhome to a state park nearby. We also only stayed a night. That one night taught us a great deal. We have since been getting things better prepared for our next outing. I will use some of your great advice often, thanks.

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