A Beginner’s Guide to RV Camping

by Katie Tejada
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rv camping cover photo camper on road

When you’re planning your first trip in an RV, it’s easy to get excited and head out on the open road without thinking of the small stuff. But preparing for your first RV camping trip can mean the difference between an exciting adventure and a frustrating first try.

rv camping camper at night

Learn Your Rig

The first step, of course, is to learn about your camper, no matter what type of RV you’re taking. Be sure to learn all the basic and essentials about your rig. Have a reference guide and contact number of someone you can call if you forget something o run into something unexpected.

The Right Destination

If you’ve never been RV camping, heading out with your Class A RV into the deep woods on a mountainside with a narrow road might not be the best option. Most boondocking adventures are best saved for after you have a few trips under your belt.

Instead, try out your first few RV trips to campgrounds that are not too far off the beaten path. It might seem like it’s going to put a damper on the adventure, but an easy way to satisfy your need for wilderness is going out on a hike from there — just get a map from the campground and some advice from locals before heading out.

Staying close to a city or even just a town with a one-stop shop is a good idea on your first trip. This way, you’ll be close to everything you need, especially since you’re likely to forget some supplies. You should be able to find great camping opportunities right outside most city limits that allow you to enjoy all the amenities of big city vacationing with the simplicity of staying in a campground.

rv camping on the road

Bringing the Essentials When RV Camping

 There are several things you’ll need to make sure you have in your camper. Similar to camping in a tent, there are a lot of supplies and necessities you need to make sure you bring along. Making a checklist or using one from an experienced camper can be hugely beneficial and help make sure you’re not forgetting important items. Everything from bedding to bathroom supplies, food and kitchen supplies to bikes and fishing gear are things you need to take into consideration. And you won’t want to forget your bug spray or sunscreen!

 If you’ve never been camping before, you might be inclined to think everyone’s wearing flannel, but that’s typically not the case. When you’re in a campground or even in a wilderness setting, you’re far more likely to see other campers wearing jeans, shorts, and tennis shoes. Comfortable t-shirts and hats can come in extremely useful when camping, especially if you’re hiking and spending a lot of time moving around outdoors in the sun.

Staying Entertained

Even though you may think the great outdoors is enough to keep you (and the kids) entertained for your RV trip, there’s a chance it could get a little boring. If you or your children are used to convenient entertainment like tablets and streaming services, make sure you bring those along. While your kids likely will want to explore the great outdoors some, they may also want to take some time to relax.

Having some form of entertainment for your children while you’re driving can also make the drive go smoother. Bringing along books, board games or tablets can make for a more peaceful drive (for you and the kids) while you’re on your way to your destination.

The Question of Pets

Whether you bring pets along is usually up to personal preference and whether your trip destinations allows them. While national parks don’t allow dogs on their trails, many campgrounds allow pets as long as they aren’t disruptive, so make sure Fido isn’t going to bark for hours when you leave the site.

 If you’ve never traveled with pets before, it’s important to learn how to make their safety and security a priority. You may want to consider taking a small trip with your pet before you commit to a long RV camping trip where your pet may be uncomfortable out of their normal surroundings.

rv camping with pets

Protecting Your Belongings

 Adventures in an RV aren’t inherently dangerous. But driving any vehicle down a bumpy road — much less a large one filled with all your home goods and family members — can present some challenges. Before gassing up and venturing out, be sure to make sure everything is stored away and won’t be moving around or falling off counters and tables as you roll down the road. It’s always a good idea to protect your tech with durable cases, as phones and tablets often end up finding a way to go on hikes with you. Since it will likely be difficult to find someone to repair your phone or tablet while you’re traveling, protecting it beforehand can make a world of difference.

Planning the Journey

Getting to your RV camping destination is the goal of the trip, but there are quite a few things you can do to make the journey more enjoyable. Plan a road trip on your way to the campground and make sure you stop to see cool things along the way.

If you’re going to a popular camping spot, there might even be attractions along the way that have ample parking for RVs.

Stay Weather Aware

The weather while you’re RV camping can have a big impact on whether you have an enjoyable time. While some rain is still enjoyable to camp in, a flooded campground can be a disaster. Check the weather and be especially aware if you are planning a trip in a location that experiences hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods,  or other natural disasters or weather extremes.

It can also be hard to get to a campground if there is snow on the ground. If you are camping far away from home, check ahead of time to find out what the weather is going to be like. Since the climate can be very different just a few hours from home, prepare for the weather where you’re going, not where you’re coming from.

camping in bad weather

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