Heading Out: RVing Advice & Tips for Newbies

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Since coming back to our RVing lifestyle from two years of living in Cuenca, Ecuador, we have had several folks ask if we have any tips we can pass along for buying an RV, traveling and affordability. It's been a few years since we did that but I still remember a lot of the advice that was given to me. So, here are some tips. I hope they help someone.


First, there are two costs you can control - fuel and campground fees. Both are controlled by how often you move. Many folks start out as though they are on vacation and have to go everywhere and see everything immediately. LOL!

If you don't move every day you will lower your fuel costs as well as qualify for better campground fees. When I started, I looked for campgrounds that offered at least weekly rates. If it was an area where I wanted to explore, I looked for monthly rates.

I also joined the Escapees (they have their own parks plus affiliate parks that offer lower rates for members), Good Sam (usually only 10% off but that's something when you can't find anything else) and Passport America (50% camping, usually for one night, sometimes longer, sometimes not during high season).
Escapees [SKP]
Good Sam [GS]
There are a TON of Facebook groups for RVing and they can be 1) overwhelming and 2) rife with misinformation. I prefer the groups that were around prior to Facebook. I have a file that you can display in your browser and easily check out the various groups. My favorite is the Escapees group and iRV2, although I rarely visit anymore. [contact us for a copy of the list]

Follow and read the blogs of experienced RVers like Nick & Terry, Greg & Jan, Sharon & DonDave & Marcia, Sherry & David, another Sharon & Don, and many more. HitchItch is a great place to find good blogs (we're listed on page 2).

As to buying, don't buy new!!! The depreciation is much worse than buying a car. Be careful when buying, always pay for an independent inspection and always get it weighed beforehand. Why? Because some RVs have almost no carry capacity once they leave the factory (options are one reason). This page has a good explanation of the weight ratings and what they mean. Read it, learn it and understand it. It's important to your safety on the road.

Don't buy from a dealer until you have checked them out with the BBB and searched for online information. Our daughter bought a trailer from a dealer in NY - it's still under warranty but the dealer isn't cooperating, other dealers in their area are refusing to do the work and the manufacturer is telling them to go to the selling dealer. Now that she is looking, they have a lot of complaints online.

Read, read, read - books, online, magazines. Attend the Escapade if at all possible. [Side Note: Stu and I met at an Escapade in Gillette, WY. We will be going to this year's Escapade in Essex Junction, Vermont.] You don't have to be a member of the Escapees AND you don't need to have your RV yet. The Boot Camp is the best option but it sells out quickly. The good news is it's held more than once a year.

Think about what you want to do. Full-time? Weekend? Snowbird? Short trips? Long trips? What will be  your exit plan if you intend to full-time?

When you walk through rigs (and you need to walk through a lot - all types, sizes, configuration), go through your normal daily routines. Stand by the sink and have your partner try to work around you (open microwave, use the stove, open the fridge). Lay down on the bed, get back up and pretend to make it. Sit on the toilet, stand in the shower and raise your arms.

Look at where the slide-outs are, what will no longer be accessible when closed. When we stop in rest areas for lunch, we have to open two slides in the main living area. Some toy haulers I looked at, you couldn't watch the TV with the slides in.



There are joys but there are frustrations. You still have daily chores to do: laundry (which could mean laundromats if your rig doesn't have a washer/dryer), grocery shopping, doctor/dentist appointments, housecleaning, etc. There are maintenance issues - you are taking your home through a 50-60 mph earthquake every time you drive. Tires, brakes, filters, belts - if you can't do the work, be sure to budget for it.

Would we trade it? No! We get to be where we want, when we want (for the most part). Don't like the weather? Move. Don't like your neighbors? Move. Want to visit family? Go! Want to visit the National Parks? Go! Want to see museums or flea markets or antique shops or micro-brews or factories of all kinds? Go!

Hope this gives you some food for thought. Please feel free to ask any questions and we will do our best to help.

Ciao for now!

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