Our maiden voyage found us traveling to the Finger Lakes in New York for a destination wedding. The initial plan was to use this as our starting point for full-time RVing, but Wanda's Reno and organizing ourselves for road life took longer than expected. Wow! We were so glad we had a test run. So many things were untested, unproven and unsure. We learned a lot of hard lessons that weekend.
Here are our top 5 tips to keep in mind before embarking on full-time RV life:
1. Driveway camping.
To ease the transition into full time RVing, try camping in your driveway. Up until our test trip, we were still living in a house, which in retrospect was a mistake. There’s definitely an element of shock when you move into a tiny home. You need time to get used to the RV and learn how to function in daily living situations. The great part is, you are in your driveway! If you forget something or need to change things around, you have easy access to all your tools and resources, while still in the comforting environment of home.
After our first trip, we stayed in the driveway in Wanda for 3 weeks before our final departure, which was extremely helpful. For us and our pets, it gave us time to adjust and make sure our new home worked for us.
2. Take a couple of test trips to local campsites.
Driving one of these is a lot different than a regular truck or car, so it takes a while to get comfortable with the size and maneuvering on roads. RV’s also have a lot of unique systems, which are most likely unfamiliar to you (they were to us). Taking a few dry runs to local sites will allow you to gain confidence in driving and allow you to practice setting up camp, hooking up to water and electric, dumping the tanks and breaking down camp. You may also find that you need to fix or change some things, which is a lot easier to do before you hit the road for good.
3. Test all your appliances/systems in every power source
Do all of your appliance/systems work? Yes? While that may seem an obvious thing to
check, it may not occur to you to check them with every power source and test multiple systems at once, it certainly didn’t occur to us. We had major appliance issues during our first trip because we only tested everything individually when it was plugged into shore power. We didn’t test to see how the systems would work when running together or how they would run when boondocking.
Here is what failed us:
It was a rough few days with all of these systems down. Luckily, we were at a campsite
that had electric, water and bathrooms/showers or we not sure how we would have managed. So be smart, test everything several times in different conditions so you don’t get stuck!
4. Get to your site before dark.
Always anticipate that your drive is going to take longer than you expect and unforeseen
circumstances may throw a wrench into your plans. Leave yourself plenty of extra time on travel days. With the rush to finish Wanda’s renovation on time, we ended up packing at the last minute. Our travel day became rushed and when we were ready to head out, a tire valve blew requiring a pit stop at the tire shop. We didn’t get on the road until noon and our 5+ hour drive quickly turned into over 7. We arrived at Taughannock Falls State Park in the dark. It was a struggle to even find the entrance and backing up into our site without being able to see was extremely difficult. While it was manageable, it certainly adds a level of stress that you don’t need.
5. You can’t always trust GPS Guidance.
GPS is amazing and we couldn’t get anywhere without it. We can’t imagine this lifestyle before GPS. We have been using an app called Co-Pilot. It’s made specifically for truckers, RVers, and tow vehicles. The app isn’t as convenient or user friendly as Google Maps, but it does take into account the size of your vehicle and is supposed to safely route you to your destination. Unfortunately, in one instance Co-Pilot sent us down a one-way, narrow, steep down hill street with low lying trees road and wanted us to make a very sharp left turn at the bottom. Going down that road was scary and when we hit the bottom we discovered the street we were supposed to turn on was closed due to construction. Even when the app tried to recalculate our route, it again wanted us to take that steep downhill. We decided to take a different route but it made us realize that there are certain driving conditions that GPS cannot always account for. We highly recommend having a back-up plan (maps specifically made for truckers or a secondary app or system) and pay attention to construction signs.
What Lessons Did You Learn From Your First Trip?
By Ashley and Kevin Quiambao