If you haven’t noticed that more people than ever have taken up RVing, you’re not paying attention.
Though the industry has seen relatively steady growth for some time, Covid-19 has accounted for an outsized growth spurt in the last twelve months. Consider: according to a recent RV Industry association survey, 20% of US respondents reported becoming more interested in RVing as a result of the pandemic.
The point is, regardless of age, gender, demographic or other factors, RVing is being undertaken by larger numbers of people, many of whom will develop a lifelong affinity for this activity, well after the current public health situation has receded. However, RVing isn’t an activity you can jump into without some basic knowledge of the equipment, the issues that can arise, the cost, and, most importantly, a sense that this is a lifestyle you truly want to embrace.
We don’t intend to compile a list of everything you need to think about before embarking on the road to RV nirvana. However, for the RV novice – and even those who are simply mulling over the decision of whether to get involved – here are some of the basic areas to consider, along with some valuable advice on resources you might find indispensable during your RV journey.
Rent Before You Own: This will help avoid one of the more common pitfalls that can trap the wide-eyed novice. If you go out and buy, then decide you don’t like RVing as much as you thought you would, you’ve made a costly mistake. If you rent at least a few times, you’ll start to get a sense of whether this is an activity you genuinely want to explore or just a passing fancy.
Go to an RV Show: One of the best ways to see a lot of RV’s and not be hassled by a pushy salesperson is to go to an RV show. Spend some time checking out the various types of RV’s that may interest you. From a Pop Up Camper to a full-size, Class A motorcoach, there will be many to tour and check out. You can also figure out exactly what type of RV suits you. There are myriad models, sizes, features, and floor plans. The more of them you can check out, the more informed your purchase decision will be.
Learn How to Drive: The way you approach driving situations like traffic, parking, and braking changes when driving an RV. Merging and yielding requires patience because your RV is bigger than a car. Driving with heavy traffic means you have to be aware of vehicles all around you, especially in blind spots. Braking, turning, speed moderation – these are all different in even the smallest RV. And then there’s towing, which is another skill set altogether.
Know Your Resources: There are many blogs, websites, publications, and forums that offer tips, guidance, and product reviews for both the experienced and novice RVer. The experienced RVer has probably seen most of them and decided which ones suit them best. As a novice, you haven’t done the same research. A quick Google search will provide insight into what’s out there. Be prepared to spend some time going through as many as you can to get a feel for which ones strike you as most helpful and/or entertaining. (TIP: iRV2.com is easily the most popular RVing forum, with decades of experience and over ¼-million members.)
You’ll need a lot of stuff. And we mean a lot. Your RV will not come equipped with everything you need to drive off the lot and head to the campground. It may contain a “starter kit” of the basics, but you’ll still need plenty of equipment. This means everything from a hitch (for a pull-behind trailer or fifth-wheel) to bedding to camp chairs and everything in between. Not everything is immediately crucial, but remember, your RV is your second home. You’ll need less stuff if you plan only to do short day trips versus week- or months-long excursions. But between what you absolutely need to keep your RV running and what you need to be comfortable…well, that’s a lot of stuff. Plenty of checklists online to help you figure it out.
Planning is Key: It will be tempting to be spontaneous when your home is on wheels. However, even the most experienced RVers generally have a plan in place for each trip. As a first-timer, that plan needs to be even more detailed. A resource like RV Life magazine can be an extremely useful tool in the planning stage, as it is full of helpful information like campground reviews, RV maintenance tips, and more.
Once you’ve set your route, at some point, you’re probably going to need to stop unless you’re only driving an hour or two. Whether it’s for food, a bathroom, or gas, you should anticipate any number of stops along the way. And when you’re bigger than the average vehicle, that isn’t always easy.
Besides the necessary stops, you may want to pull over to see some sights along your route – again, not an easy task when driving even the smallest RV or motor home. Planning will solve a lot of problems before they arise. Other considerations that need to be addressed include your food supply; the route you plan to take, with secondary options; which campgrounds you plan to stay at; and hotels or motels that you can use along the way if needed.
The Learning Curve: There’s no way to sugarcoat this: you’ll need to understand things that, currently, you may know absolutely nothing about. Like filling up the freshwater tank, dumping black and gray tanks, running a generator, and hooking up electricity to your rig. You’ll need to know the functions of tools you didn’t even know existed and couldn’t identify in a police lineup. As mentioned earlier, there are tons of resources available to help you through the maze of information. And RVers are generally a friendly lot, so you’ll probably be able to get some sympathy assistance along the way. For those of you who are somewhat handy, the learning curve might not be quite as steep. For others, well, just consider it an adventure.
Water, Water Everywhere: Our favorite subject is arguably the most important. You’re going to need water for a variety of uses: drinking, of course, but also for cooking, bathing, rinsing veggies, even flushing the toilets. There are so many options for the novice that may seem like both a blessing and a curse. There are filtered water pitchers if you are only interested in filtering your drinking water; inline filters, if you are looking for filtered water for your whole coach (recommended); single- and dual-canister filters; sediment prefilters to remove the “big stuff that clogs up inline carbon filters; and so much more.
The best place to start? On our website at CLEAR2O®.We offer a wide range of superior water filtration products for every type of RV and every possible use. And we clearly explain the differences, not only between our own products but between us and our competition.
Enjoy the Ride: Look, RVing involves a lot of work, patience, planning, and knowledge. But don’t let those things overshadow the beauty, freedom, and fun that comes along with it. It’s not for everyone – but it could very well be for you.
Keith Bernard is the CEO of CLEAR2O®, one of the leading manufacturers of water filtration products for RVs. At one time, he was a novice RVer, too.
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