Common RV mistakes you’ll want to avoid


The best laid plans may often go awry but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them, especially when you’re taking your home/bed/hotel on the road for an adventure. If a road trip in your own or rented motorhome, camper van or trailer sounds especially appealing right now, it’s also more important than ever to be prepared. Avoid some common RV mistakes with these top tips, and make sure that all you need to worry about is what hike to take (or perhaps whether to opt for a lake or forest view).



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It’s obviously a good idea to set off on a trip with the peace of mind that your vehicle is in good shape. But it’s also so easy to ignore, especially with all the other planning and (probably) excitement to finally get on the road. And even easier to dismiss if your van isn’t usually unreliable. But make it a priority to get it checked over and serviced by a mechanic a week or so before setting off, allowing time for any necessary work.



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Just because the tires have been checked and pumped up before you leave home, doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way on the road, especially if you’re driving in remote areas and over dusty, gravelly or stone-strewn surfaces. Take a minute to check over the RV’s tires before each journey, even if it’s just a half-hour drive to the beach or the next campsite. It’s worth it to avoid being stranded.



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This might sound like a small thing – but then, most of the freezers you find on board RVs are small too. Teeny-tiny, in many cases. So imagine trying to shoehorn a pizza, packet of sausages or bottle of wine that isn’t quite chilled enough into a tiny freezer that’s already half full of crystallized ice. Check it before you travel and, if needed, defrost just as you would a normal freezer – empty it, turn it off and lay paper down to soak up the water as the ice melts.



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Tough, hard-shelled suitcases are great for minimizing the risk of damage when traveling by train or plane. They’re not so hot when it comes to getting back to nature. Dragging a wheelie case over dirt paths and gravel is frustrating and somehow just doesn’t feel right. A soft weekend-style bag takes up less space, is easier to shove behind a seat (and fold away when empty) and won’t look out of place in the most rustic setting.



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You’ve thrown shorts, T-shirts and a warm cardigan (just in case) in a bag. Now you need to sort out your camper van’s luggage. Think of every worst-case scenario and pack stuff to help you avoid – or cope with – it. This means bringing extra fuel, a spare wheel, water, windscreen wiper fluid and – depending on your route – extreme weather gear like snow chains.



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Give your RV more than a once-over clean before hitting the road to ensure it’s fully disinfected and ready for its foray into the ‘new normal’. This will be more important if you’re renting. Pick a company that has stringent policies in place in light of COVID-19 and insist that the vehicle has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, from the kitchen sink to the drawer handles. You might want to consider taking your own crockery, cutlery, pots and pans too.



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Yes, there’s usually a supermarket or at least a gas station somewhere nearby when you need to stock up on supplies. But traffic can put paid to the best-laid plans and the last thing you want after a long drive is to start scrabbling around for the nearest shop. Take the pressure off by taking at least enough for the first dinner and breakfast. It’ll be so nice to pull into that perfect spot knowing you have nowhere to be for a while.



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Having a few ideas for lovely meals to cook at camp or just for lunch at the beach will help ensure your road trip meals are more of a joy than a chore, and also help prevent over-shopping. It doesn’t need to be anything super-fancy. Adapt your go-to recipes for the camping stove or barbecue, or find inspiration online.



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Pack a cool box or bag and throw in a few storage containers that you can keep leftovers in. Not only will all of these things help ensure your supplies don’t spoil (or smell), they’ll make it much easier to follow the ‘leave no trace’ principles of parks and campgrounds. Speaking of which, take plenty of bags you can use for garbage. There might not always be a trash can you can use while traveling or staying overnight, especially as some facilities may be reduced due to coronavirus.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


This is a sensible move even in a ‘normal’ climate – pulling up to that campground you read about, only to be turned away, is miserable after a long drive. In light of coronavirus, it’s even more important to have a firm plan and (where possible) reservation, at least for your first night. Check online to see whether you can book before you go. Some places, including US national parks, now require advance reservations, even at grounds that have previously been first come, first served.



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If you remember one thing (apart from your camper van, that is), make it biodegradable wipes. Not just one packet. Take wipes for skin, wipes for hair, wipes for cleaning down cooking areas, wipes for sticky ice cream hands… all the wipes you can get your (non-sticky) hands on. Apart from comfort and cleanliness, it means you’ll be less restricted by campground facilities.



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It’s more important than ever to be stringent with hygiene. Make sure each person in your party has a bottle of hand gel containing at least 60% alcohol (the minimum required to effectively kill coronavirus) that they can use before and after going into shops, topping up the gas or fuel, opening gates and so on. And, as well as the usual cleaning wipes, pack anti-bacterial cleaning wipes for surfaces including the steering wheel and door handles.



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Wearing a face covering is mandatory in some countries and US states, either for particular situations or whenever in public. Check the destination for the latest information. Even if it isn’t required where you’re going, it’s sensible to wear one in public places like shops, eateries, gas stations and any busier areas where it could help protect those around you.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


It’s a common mistake even for seasoned RV-ers: you’re so excited to hit the road, see everything and do everything that you overestimate how tiring traveling can be and forget to allow time to actually enjoy it. Even if you need to book campgrounds in advance (which might be necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions), try to include some stays that are two nights or more – and don’t choose spots that are a 12-hour drive apart.



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Take a box or bag (or several bags) where you can dump your ‘dirty’ stuff, like muddy hiking boots, wet waterproofs, dusty clothes and so on. Or designate a space where you can keep grubby gear away from everything else, especially your cooking and sleeping areas. Being organized will help keep your RV clean, tidy and a lot more pleasant to be in.



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Planning a playlist might be the last thing on your mind before a big trip but you won’t regret it. You may, however, regret having a five-hour drive stretching ahead of you with no option to bellow along to your favorite tunes – especially if all you can find on the radio is a faint crackle. Save some offline playlists via a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music so you’ll always have some uplifting tunes on the road and by the campfire (if campground regulations allow).



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Of all the things worth making a little extra room for, we reckon this comes pretty high on the list. A gazebo will be your best friend if it rains or is too hot. And it gives you that extra bit of space in which to cook or simply relax. You can get pop-up ones that are lightweight and attach to the side of an RV, so there’s no need to heft heavy weights around. An awning works too.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Even experienced RV drivers may struggle at times without an interior mirror, especially when reversing in tight spaces at campgrounds and gas stations. Nervous and newbie RV drivers will be especially glad they invested in a backup or reverse camera. They’re pretty easy to install, not particularly costly – and priceless if they can help to prevent an accident.



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However distracting the scenery and however focused you are on trying not to take a wrong turn, don’t forget to check the fuel gauge regularly. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere is no fun and neither is paying over the odds for gas at a station that knows it’s your only option for hundreds of miles. Both are easily avoidable – look up stops on your route, if you can, and top up well before the red light kicks in.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


31/31 SLIDES

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