We successfully had our first independent RV trip and I’d give us an 8 out of 10 for how everything went! We’ve watched tons of Youtube videos before buying our travel trailer and watching people give instructions on setting/hooking up, driving with a trailer, etc. We’ve spent weeks buying and stocking the camper, and felt like we could have had 5 more weeks and still not be 100% prepared. But we just had to book our trip and hope for the best!
Our first original trip was cancelled to Boone with the family because our Suburban to pull the camper was in the shop getting serviced. We still went to Boone and got a cabin but it meant putting off our actual trial run with our camper, the Knight Bus. So we went off a recommendation and went to Goose Creek State Park which was not so far of a drive for us. We were lucky we found a weekend night free because things are booked up! For it being our first campground, we thought Goose Creek had a very nice set up with plenty of space and scenery. For first impressions, we’d return!
We’ve watched videos on mistakes people confessed up to making and tried to learn from those…yet we still made some of those same mistakes. Honestly, there is so much to learn when you are a newbie it can be quite overwhelming! All the credit on our success actually goes to Marvin because I was mostly watching out for Isabel. Hopefully these will give you a laugh and maybe give you some help in the future if you find yourself RVing!
1. Secure Everything Before Taking Off
To secure our items, we found ourselves putting things in the sinks, and cabinets so it wouldn’t be flying around while driving. But we missed latching the bedroom doors. This resulted in a derailed door. Marvin had to spend some time getting it back on. Besides the paper towel roll being on the floor, everything else was great.
2. Stop if you Hear a Clank
We finally pull out of the driveway of my parents house and are officially on the road. Keep in mind this is the first time we are driving with the RV independently without my dad or anyone giving us tips on pulling a trailer. (Marvin and my dad had a few sessions with driving and backing in the weeks before). We barely get a mile or 2 down the road and heard a metal clanking noise. We both questioned what it was and whether we should we pull over. The road was narrow and curvy and not really a good place to stop so we just shrugged it off and said maybe it was the chains hitting on the curve. Never heard the sound again. Mistake.
We get to the campground and find one of the sway bars is gone. Word to the wise, trust your instinct to pull over if you hear metal falling! The bar was not pinned on both sides so resulted in us losing one of the bars. The next day we drove back the area we heard it fall and could not find it. Money down the drain. The sway bars are not necessary to pull the trailer, but it just helps riding down the road.
3. Leave Room for Slideouts
Pulling up to the campground, we found our spot to back in…and we have an audience. Our neighbors are sitting out under the awning with their drink in hand just watching. Then a third person comes out to join in. I mean who doesn’t want to watch and laugh at the failure of strangers?! The pressure was on.
At this point Marvin is asking me to get out of the car to make sure he doesn’t hit the electrical hookups. We did talk on the phone during the process so we aren’t yelling across the campground. After a few attempts, it is legit PERFECT. Our neighbor (the audience) compliments us in doing a great job backing our long trailer, but we might not have room to deploy our slideouts without hitting the hookups. We forgot to consider this until he mentioned it. Luckily our campground neighbor was super friendly and even helped us out. We were obvious first timers.
4. Remove Cat Before Putting Slides In
Fiona is our cat that we rescued and have had for 9 years. We left her behind with family on our move to England, but now with our camper we’ve decided to let her travel with us on longer trips if she can tolerate it! This was not only a trail run for ourselves, but with Fiona too! I have to say, she was a champion. We brought her food and water bowls, a familiar cat bed, and litter box. I made sure these were set up before bringing her from the truck to the camper. She did great! Explored around, laid in her bed, used the litter box and we were glad we brought her.
A favorite hiding place she found was in the bunk room, behind the couch. It’s time to leave and Fiona is in sight, so Marvin puts the slide to the bunk room in. Then Fiona decides to go back in to hide as soon as it’s closed making it extremely difficult to get her out. Next time we will load her up in the vehicle before pulling the slides back in. She was fine thankfully.
5. Don’t Leave Things Behind
It’s time to check out. It took us a slow 2 hours to pack and do all the stuff to the camper like flushing the tanks, etc. Doing a walk around and nothing is hanging, everything’s packed and secured, and the vehicle is hooked to the trailer. Once we get home and are unloading the trailer, we realize the wood block we put under the hitch was left behind. Apparently we just drove off without it. This isn’t a big deal and can easily be replaced, but it was still aggravating we left something we were using behind. I’m sure it won’t be the last thing we drive off and leave.
One Extra Bonus Tip:
Don’t let your toddler pick up your phone and walk around with it on concrete. It could result in a cracked screen. This happened before we even pulled out of the driveway to the campsite.
We’ve realized the importance of checklists. We borrowed the youtubers KeepYourDaydream checklist they provided and this was spot on. Yet we found ourselves deflecting from the list the first time something went wrong: re-backing in to make room for the slides. We plan to make additional lists for ourselves for the future and stick to them.
In the end it was a success for our first time! Looking forward to another practice run soon.
Please share your first timer RV mistakes with us! We’d love a laugh and some reminders of what not to do for the future!
Happy travels ya’ll!