Buying an RV is an exciting time – that can be a little intimidating as well. Depending on the exact RV that you purchase, it will likely be the largest vehicle that you have ever operated, and that can be a little scary the first time you get it out on the open road. Even beyond the challenges that come with navigating busy streets in an RV, there are a variety of other tasks and skills that you will need to master in order to operate your RV properly and safely throughout your camping trips.
Don’t let that first paragraph intimidate you, however – many people have gone from RV novice to experienced traveler in a short amount of time, and you can do the same. You simply need to understand a few basic things about how the RV works and then practice some skills that will help you along the way. By putting in just a little bit of time, you will be fully comfortable with your RV before you know it.
Following are five shortcuts meant to help you speed up the learning process.
- Drive A Lot – Somewhere Safe
When you first take possession of your RV, find an empty parking lot or some other place where you can safely practice driving – and parking the RV without the risk of running into something. There is no substitute for practice when it comes to operating a large vehicle, so put in the time somewhere away from the rest of traffic. Since many campgrounds have tight parking spaces at awkward angles, make sure to do plenty of practice backing up. It can be helpful to set up some cones into a mock ‘camp space’ and then try to maneuver in and out of the spot.
- Learn from Other RV’ers
Learning from the mistakes of others is often a good way to improve yourself, and it is no different with RV’ing. If you know a few people who own RV’s already, ask them about their experiences and what mistakes they made when they were first getting started. If you can learn a little about what they did wrong – and what they know now – you might be able to avoid following in their footsteps.
- Read the Owner’s Manual
Most instruction manuals, no matter what product they are for, get thrown into a drawer as soon as they make it home and are never seen again. Don’t make that mistake with your owner’s manual to the RV. Instead, actually sit down and read it carefully. You might be surprised at just how much you can learn from the manual, and how many mistakes you can avoid by gathering all of that information upfront. Instead of turning to the manual after something goes wrong, be proactive and give it a read right from the start.
- Take a Trip Close to Home
As your first trip in your new RV, consider picking out a location within an hour drive or so from home. A short trip will allow you to get familiar with living in your RV without being too far from home in case you forget something or need to return home because you are unable to get the RV set up correctly. Most likely, you will have no problems and can enjoy your short trip in your new rig – but you will have the comfort of being near to home just in case.
- Talk to the Salesperson at the Dealership
Most salespeople are only concerned with closing the deal, but they will often be glad to help you after the sale is complete as well. Once you decide which RV you are going to purchase and agree to a price, ask them to walk you through anything you need to know and to highlight mistakes that previous buyers have made. People working at RV dealerships will have an in-depth knowledge of the RV’s themselves and should be well-qualified to get you on the fast track toward becoming comfortable with the operation of the rig.
Getting comfortable with your RV is an important process, but it doesn’t need to be a long one. Ask plenty of questions, get practice in a safe location, and take a short trip close to home as your first outing. Before you know it, you will feel like a seasoned RV owner and you won’t be able to wait until your next big trip.