Taken from the posts we had during our maiden voyage of 2005 to pick up the truck camper, here are the top 10 mistakes we made and how you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: Forgot to Pack the Linens
You are getting your RV, whether it is on the lot in the next town or across the country. You already have the truck or whatever means you need to get your RV, and you are super excited. When RVing is new to you, you remember to pack as though you are staying at a hotel, but do you remember to pack the blankets, pillows, and sheets?
We forgot to pack these items and then had to go search for blankets, sheets, and pillows in two different stores on two different days.
Next time: Pack linens and pillows so that you do not have to buy them while on the road, saving you money and time.
Mistake #2: Learn How to Use Your GPS before you go
This was a major mistake on my part. I was the navigator most of the time. We often went into cities that had Interstates either going through the city or around it. Our GPS unfortunately took us several times into the city, which is not a place you want to go. It took me until middle of the country to really figure it out.
Next Time: Use the GPS around your town, so that you know how to use it and so that you can check the accuracy of the system. Also remember, when you are in western US, the GPS will not always be accurate. Have paper maps of the area too for those remote spots. Also, compare your plan routes with the information in The Mountain Directory. This checks for any steep grades.
Mistake #3: Ensure your communication systems work
Back in 2005, the cell phone service was different. I had a contract with Cingular, which is now AT&T. I had a Nokia cell phone that looked like a small candy bar. It was great as it fit into my very small handbag or pocket. I do not think it even did texting at the time. Now, phones don’t need the roam feature, they are always on. Until there are not. Some places only have Verizon or AT&T cell towers. Check your coverage before you go if you need to be connected.
Next time: It makes sense to have your internet on one system and your cell phone carrier on another. This way you are connected if one or the other is not in the area. Realized though, the more remote you go, the less connected you will be. Sometimes it is best to have a no-contract phone for emergencies
Mistake #4: Not doing a Pre Delivery Inspection (PDI)
While I am sure we did one of these, I have no recollection of it at all. I had stated in my log that we were going to go back to the dealership to go over a few things but no where in my notes what was changed, what was wrong (if anything) or what questions we had at the time.
Next time: Compile a list of items that you want to make sure should be working on your rig. Each rig is different, but here is a Pre Delivery Inspection Document that you can download. We used the same one in 2005.
Mistake #5: Test Your Hook-Ups Before Going to Bed
On our very first visit to a campground, it was very blustery and cold. It was also a little late in the evening, and so we were not paying attention to the electric connection. Sasha did not push it in all the way, and so we were not charging our batteries. We woke up to the batteries being dead in the Camper (but not in the truck!)
Next time: Always check and double check the electrical connection so that it is firmly seated.
Ten Mistakes Cont.
Mistake #6: Know your PSI for Your Rig’s Tires
While we did know our Pounds Per Square Inch for our tires, we did not have a reliable source of high pressure air. That would come later, when we got a trailer to go with the truck camper, and could carry Carbon Dioxide (CO2) canister. Or you could use an air compression system within your truck. We would also get one of these later.
Next time: Either have a CO2 canister or air compression system so you do not have to spend time searching for a truck stop.
Mistake #7: Washing Dishes Is Not the Same
Washing dishes in your stick and brick home is not the same as washing dishes in an RV. First, things are closer together, and in our case, the bed was behind the sink. If you are careless, like I was, you could end up wetting the bed. The sinks are not as deep, and you may have to get a different faucet to get it high enough for big pots and pans.
Next time: Well, I won’t go crazy with the water, and we ultimately changed out the faucet for a sprayer that was a little higher.
Mistake #8: Realize Your RV Has Wheels
A common mistake when planning a trip is thinking that you have to stay at a place longer than what is comfortable. We were uncomfortable in a cold environment when we were staying in the Colorado Springs area. By doing a simple check of the weather and using the GPS or maps to figure out distance, we were able to change our plans and go to warmer areas.
Next time: Until you know that this is the place you want to stay, do not make reservations for more than a day or two to make sure this is really the campground or area you want. Or boondock in the area first to get the lay of the land and find the best campground for you.
Mistake #9: Realize You Can Stay in An Area Longer
Once we decided that we only had two weeks available to get across country and back, it really left only eight days to see what we wanted to see. And eight days meant that we had to be traveling a ton. Or we could stay in one place and really get to know the area. We decided on the latter.
Next time: We realize that we did not have very much time to see just one spot, nor did we have to stay in one spot that was cold and miserable. That is the beauty of traveling in an RV, you can decide what you want when you want it and usually do not have to plan too far in advance if you don’t want to. But if you do, and you do plan your stops and trips in campgrounds, you might want to try Passport America. While in 2005 we got Good Sam, Passport is great for those short stays.
Mistake #10: Communicate Well with Your Partner
We look back now and laugh at some of the stuff we did in 2005. Having a truck camper and making it slide back on the truck was hard at first, and we were nervous of hitting our truck or camper. Diesel trucks can be hard to shout over as well. By the time we got the camper back on the truck, we were angry at ourselves for shouting at each other. This vacation was supposed to be FUN! It ultimately was, and made us want more. But being able to communicate with your partner, whether for just doing the hand signals or talking about what you like and dislike about RVing, that is all part of the lifestyle.
Next time: We hoped to get the hand signals figured out while trying to understand each other better without sound. It would take a while longer to get the signals across. Thankfully, we were on the same page in regards to what we wanted from life. We also wanted more: more RVing, more trips, more experiences, more life changing.
Check out other articles and expenses of our lifestyle at www.Laura-n-Sasha.com/