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I Just Bought My First RV, Now What?

This post is part of a content series sponsored by Camping World. All opinions are our own.

Since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, RV sales and interest in the RV lifestyle has been at an all-time high. More and more people are opting for the outdoors, taking road trips, and now even taking their remote work on the road with them.

It seems like every couple weeks another friend of ours is reaching out to us asking for tips because they’ve pulled the trigger and bought an RV to start taking adventures in. After living full-time in an RV and traveling all across the country, we love when we hear that others are ready to experience the joy we’ve found in RVing.

If you’re like us though, sometimes you buy the RV before you really even know what RVing is all about. We had very next to zero experience RVing when we purchased our first fifth-wheel.

We remember looking at each other after we got the RV home (okay confession, we had to have the previous owner tow it home for us because we were too scared haha), we looked at each other and said…

“now what”

Whether you’ve already purchased or are planning to, we’re here to help! 

Here are the 5 things you need to do now that you have purchased your RV…

Even after having three different RVs we still do the following. So newbie RVers and veterans alike, listen up!

1. Get to know it.

Dan getting to know the new rv

Most people focus on the obvious things when they are in the purchasing process. They are focused on the layout and the features, sleeping arrangements and the storage space.

Is there an outdoor TV? Yes, we’ll take it! 🙂

To really feel comfortable and to provide yourself with the best chance at being successful on your initial outings, it is important to really know your RV – to know more about it than how many slides or beds it has. Before heading out on your first trip, you should have a pretty good understanding of how all the different systems operate on your rig. The following items are examples of the types of things you should strive to know about your RV.

  • Do you have an inverter? If so, what outlets work when it is turned on?
  • Where is the circuit breaker box? Are there other places in the RV that house fuses (i.e. our Navion had a fuse panel under the passenger seat as an example and our Thor has fuses in the battery compartment)?
  • What outlets run on the same circuits? Are you able to reset the outlet on any of them? All of them? (i.e. our Thor has 4 outlets that are on the GFCI circuit, but the only place you can reset them all is to reset the outlet in the bathroom)
  • What items run on propane in your RV? How do you turn the propane on and off? Are there multiple places?
  • What items in your RV run on 12v, what only runs on 110v?
  • Do your house batteries charge when you are driving? If you are towing a trailer or fifth wheel?
  • How do you drain the water from the system? Are there multiple low point drains (i.e. our new RV has a drain valve hidden under the outdoor kitchen and you have to remove the drawer to access)
  • How do you winterize the rig? Where can you access the water heater bypass if you have one?
  • Do you know how to operate the slide(s) in manual mode or disengage the motor?
  • Do you have leveling jacks? If so, are you familiar with how to operate them? Do you know how to use manual mode or override if you have to?
  • If your rig has a generator, is there anything special you should be aware of (i.e. some generators wont run if there is less than a quarter tank of gas and some fuel gauges don’t take into account the gas used by the generator)
  • Where is the water pump? Is it outside or inside? Could you access it if you needed to?

If you haven’t taken possession of your rig yet, make sure you have the seller help you to understand these things. With our most recent RV, the technician at Camping World spent as much time as we needed showing us around every inch of the RV. If you’ve already got the RV and you’re clueless to most of this stuff, do some research about your specific rig before you need to know about it.

2. Get geared up.

Dan with NEW RV Gear

RV Essentials

There are going to be some essential items that you’ll need right away in order to operate your RV. Factor those items into your budget and buy them right away so you aren’t waiting to take an adventure because you aren’t prepared with the necessary equipment.

A few items you’ll need right away are:

Other essential items may differ depending on what type of RV  you purchased and your personal preferences. Click here for our full list of the essential gear and RV accessories.

*Get 10% off on a purchase of $99+ at Camping World by using our special discount code: FOLLOWYOURDETOUR10

RV Nice to Have’s

Along with essential items, there’s also gear and accessories that are optional but very helpful to use and may make your RVing experience safer and/or more convenient. A few examples are a tire pressure monitor system (TMPS) to avoid flat tires, a surge protector to avoid ruining your RVs electric system, a sway bar or control kit to make towing safer, or a tow bar and setup so you can tow a vehicle behind your motorhome (we use a Blue Ox system).

None of those are necessarily essential, depending on who you ask, but they could help you prevent some major issues down the road or make your travels more enjoyable.

3. Go for a practice run.

Before you go too wild and plan a big excursion, pump the breaks a bit and schedule in a quick weekend getaway nearby. Find a campground close to home so that you have a comfortable, controlled setting where you can test out your new rig.

Trust us, you’ll be happy to have the opportunity to practice driving and/or towing and backing up, practice setting up camp and using all the systems. Sometimes all it takes is one quick trip to find your rhythm. Then, you’ll have the necessary confidence when you take your adventure mobile out for a longer road trip outside of your comfort zone.

Taking the RV for a practice run will also help you determine what items you’ll need to pack or purchase, how you want to organize things, and is especially helpful for determining what modifications you’d like to make, if any. That way, you’re guaranteed to feel prepared and comfortable on your first long journey.

4. Plan a trip.

person trip planning with map

Reminder, don’t skip step 3! But when you’re ready, it’s time to start dreaming and scheming. The beauty of RV travel is that you can go anywhere on your own time and aren’t constrained by flight schedules or too many logistics.

We have our own crazy trip planning process that includes spreadsheets, tons of research on sites like Campendium and Google Maps, consulting some of our favorite apps and of course checking with all our favorite RV memberships. But, we always start by first seeing how long we have to travel based on our schedule and then from there, we can determine how far we can go. That gets the juices flowing and makes it so exciting!

We hope you’ll allow yourself to check off some of those big bucket list destinations you’ve already dreamt of going. RVs aren’t meant to have boundaries and to go to the same places over and over again. Get out there and explore, you won’t regret it.

Go places that allow you to do the things you love most. For us, it’s fly fishing, so we find destinations where we can get on the river (and where there’s also a good brewery nearby!). Maybe you’ll want to chase warmer weather or national parks.  The world is your oyster!

If you need some travel inspiration and ideas for where to take your RV, check out our travel page or some of our historical RV trip routes. You can also browse through our Instagram photos and see some of the places we’ve been and recommend as well.

Wherever you decide to go, it’s best to have a general plan. Of course you want to have some flexibility because it’s always fun to be spontaneous too. However, with how popular RVing has become, many destinations get pretty crowded so you’ll want to make reservations ahead of time when possible. If you can’t get a reservation, don’t let that crush your dreams, there’s usually a plan B or C that will allow you to still visit!

5. Live your best RV life!

Enjoying RV life with FYD

Now that you have purchased a new RV, got the required essentials, done a test run, and planned a trip – it is time to let your hair down and live your best RV life.

The beauty of the RV lifestyle is that it looks differently for everyone. In our opinion, here are a couple of ways to make the lifestyle as fulfilling as it can be:

Connect with the Community

group of friends smiling while hiking near peyto lake in canada

We highly encourage you to find others in the RV community to share your experiences with and to learn from. There’s no question that the campfire is more fun when you get a group together. Getting to the end of a beautiful hike tends to be even more enjoyable if you are in the company of friends. The best part? It’s SO easy to find others living the lifestyle with so many wonderful apps and social media platforms!

Gear Up!

RVing provides you access to your favorite activities in a way unlike anything else. We love to fly fish and being able to bring our home and park it close by the river allows us to experience and enjoy fly fishing in a whole new way. We can plan our entire trip around fly fishing if we want! The same is true for many other hobbies and activities. To best enjoy the RV life, purchase the things that support your hobbies and bring those things with you. From inflatable kayaks to pop up shade tents, there’s gear out there that will make your RV experience all the more enjoyable!

Be Safe and Protected

Don’t forget that it is not all fun and games when it comes to RVing. Living your best RV life means feeling comfortable and confident that you and your rig are safe and protected if/when something goes wrong. Be sure to always prioritize and take the necessary steps to maintain your personal safety. Additionally, it’s a great idea to get a roadside assistance plan so you have someone to call when you need help. We currently have the Good Sam Platinum Roadside Assistance Plan, which provides us great peace of mind. Here’s to hoping we never have to use it, though!

Conclusion

Getting a new RV is an exciting experience. However, many new owners feel overwhelmed by everything that comes along with ownership. No need to worry, though. By doing the 5 things outlined in this article, you’ll feel confident to hit the road so you can enjoy all the wonderful benefits that RVing provides.

Don’t forget – if you are interested in full time RVing and don’t know where to start, subscribe to our free 7-day email course below and we’ll get you the information you need to hit the road full-time.

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