RVing Tips for Beginner Campers
New to camping? We have some practical RVing tips to help you get started.
In this article, we will share RV buying tips. Then we will address how to maximize the small spaces in your RV. Lastly, we will tackle the impact of hidden RV costs.
RV Buying Tips
Know your Budget
Before looking at Recreational Vehicles, you need to know how much RVs cost and what you can afford. If possible, buy used. A three-year-old RV will cost 30% less than a new one. If you must buy new, give a large enough down payment that will allow you to pay less each month and pay the loan off faster. You should enjoy camping and not be stressed out about monthly payments.
Research RV Types
Now that you know your budget, you should research RV types. Do you want a motorhome or a trailer?
There are different motorhomes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. They all have built-in engines, but that’s where the similarities stop. People recognize Class As for their large front windows and typically have plenty of storage and luxurious interiors. Class Bs are also known as camper vans and are the smallest motorhomes. Class Cs are easy to spot with their over-cab sleeping areas.
There are two different kinds of trailers: fifth wheels and travel trailers. Fifth wheels have a prominent overhang that connects to the tow truck bed. Travel trailers are bumper pulls towed by trucks or SUVs.
Motorhomes and trailers can also be toy haulers. The defining feature of a toy hauler is a ramped garage where you can store your four-wheelers or bikes. They also typically have areas for lounging or sleeping.
What are your Camping Must-Haves?
Even after you have decided on a motorhome or trailer, they all have different extra features. Do you need slideouts to expand your motorhome or trailer living space? Do you want your own washer and dryer, or is it not important for your camping needs? What kind of layout do you need? Some have multiple doors or the sleeping areas all in the back or front.
The best way to figure out what layout and must-haves make sense for you is to tour various motorhomes and trailers at dealerships. They will have the most variety, and the onsite team can help answer your questions.
Beware of Where you Buy.
You can buy your coach or camper from an individual or dealer. One is not inherently better than the other. The most important thing is to buy from a place or person that doesn’t pressure you and is honest. If there is any bait and switch from what you read, that’s a red flag.
Even if everything seems to be legit, wait. Ask about putting a refundable hold on the RV and leave. Come back the next day and if everything seems right, go for it. Have an inspector check out your coach or trailer before you buy it.
RV Storage Tips
In the Kitchen
Space is limited when camping, so bring small things that fit in your cabinets. Where possible, get collapsible kitchen items. If you need a colander for pasta or cleaning fruits and veggies, consider one that collapses. Although nesting measuring cups stack nicely and save space, you can save even more with ones that also collapse.
In the Bathroom
RV bathrooms are notoriously small and have even fewer storage locations. Toothbrushes are small, but there is not always space to store them. Some coaches and trailers don’t even have counters. You might want to consider getting suction cup storage for toothbrushes and soaps.
Have you ever noticed that most coaches and trailers don’t have towel bars? Where do you hang your wet towels? You can install your own and make holes in the walls or try an over-the-door towel rack.
In the Closet
Like every other area of motorhomes and trailers, closets are small. They are also usually oddly shaped, making them even harder to use. Wardrobe closets aren’t any different. The hardest thing is finding hangers that fit in the closet and keeping clothes on the hangers. The answer is specially designed hangers like the Tri-Lynx Stay-Put hangers.
And where do you put dirty clothes? There’s no real place to put a hamper. You might want to consider getting a hamper bag that you can hang. If you don’t have a spot to hang a hamper bag, you can try suction hooks that adhere to non-porous surfaces.
RV Budgeting Tips
We already addressed RV buying costs, but did you know there are hidden costs in owning a camper or motorcoach? The most significant hidden costs are repairs and storage fees.
RV Repairs Fees
Initially, you might think that you might not have to worry about repairs on new trailers and motorcoaches. While you might be OK for a while, you will face repairs at some point. And it is not just the cost of supplies but also labor rates.
Dealership rates range anywhere between $100 to $300 per hour. If you can’t get to a dealership, you might opt for mobile repair services. While they may charge less per hour, their credentials vary. Make sure only to hire certified and insured repair personnel.
The most expensive repair fees are due to water leaks and damages. If you have a manufacturer or extended warranty, it may or may not cover repairs due to leaks. In particular, most don’t cover leak repairs due to sealant and gasket failures.
Your best bet is to perform preventative maintenance by checking your exterior seals once a year from the time of purchase. You can do it yourself or hire someone. Pay special attention to windows, slideouts, vents, and other areas. If you see any issues, you can spot seal them before they become considerable problems.
Warranties and extended warranties can be worth it, but you need to understand what they cover.
Another hidden fee is keeping your tires roadworthy. RV tires should be replaced every five to seven years regardless of how they look. You can date your tires by checking their four-digit date code. For example, if you find the code 4708, it means the tire is from the 47th week of 2008.
You should regularly check your tires for cracks and uneven wear. RV tire blowouts are a genuine concern. When a tire blows at high speed, the rubber bits form projectiles that can rupture LP lines, destroy sidewalls, and damage wiring.
Aside from inspecting your tires, you can protect them by using covers. Tire Covers protect them from the sun, water, dirt, and inclement weather.
RV Storage Fees
Camping fees can add up, but so can storage fees; before you run out and buy a motorcoach or trailer, research where you can keep it. Some neighborhoods ban residents from parking their RVs in their driveways and backyards. If that’s the case, you will be looking at storage fees.
The best storage option is keeping your motorhome or trailer secure and away from the elements with indoor storage. While it is the most expensive storage, it can also prevent damage to sealants, air conditioners, and exterior paint. All items that cost a lot to repair as well.
To save more on storing your coach or trailer, you can choose covered or outdoor storage. Covered storage still provides some protection from the elements. You can opt for outdoor storage to save the most. You can use an RV cover and tire covers to offer additional protection at a fraction of the cost. To lessen the effects of humidity while your coach or trailer is unplugged, consider placing dehumidifiers throughout your rig.