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RV Information For Beginners!

When starting to consider entering the RV lifestyle, the first thing that most people are going to do is start finding an RV that they think will meet their needs.  However, if you have never traveled in an RV before, how would you know what you want?

 

The first mistake you can make is to head to an RV dealer or RV show and let a salesman convince you how wonderful the RV they are showing you would be for you!  Don’t ever buy on the first visit!  Wait until you do your homework.  Research a little bit about the RV’s you may have seen, and consider how they would fit your lifestyle.

 

If you have never spent time in one, the best thing you can do is to rent one.  Pam and I did that for years before spending the big dollars these things cost.  We were sure of what we wanted after having spent weeks at a time on the road, with many different classes of RV’s.  That led to being happy in the RV we now have, and have had for six years.

 

What I want to do on this website’s page is to give you some information that will help you find the right RV, how to use it, what to be aware of, and how to maintain it.  The best way to do that is to share videos of folks I have used in the past to learn about these things, especially in my early stages of full time RV living.

 

I am a big fan of buying used RV’s over a new one.  Why should you take the hit for the major depreciation that will come when you buy new and take it off the RV dealer’s lot?  Buy one that is two to five years old, it fits your list of needs in an RV and get it inspected.  Once you find a good one, you will be happy you went that route.  Pam and I did!

 

Listen to what Terry Cooper, the Texas RV Professor, and NRVIA president, has to say about this!

One of the first things new RVers always ask me is how do you deal with the s**t, the poop, the fecal matter, or whatever you want to call it?  Well, if you can’t handle seeing a little poop come through a clear hose adapter or a little smell every now and then, well RVing may not be for you!  You are going to have to maintain this system or issues will eventually develop.

 

It really is no big deal!  It’s not like the movie RV makes it out to be if you have seen that one.  All it takes is a little knowledge about the proper procedure for handling your RV’s waste system.  I have been dealing with this crap (pardon the pun) for over twelve years, and only once did I have a fecal incident.

 

I pulled the t-handle to open the black water gate valve, the stuff started flowing, and once it hit the elbow that was attached to the RV park’s sewer pipe, the connection popped off.  I was using a rubber donut at the time and it was loose.  I immediately closed the valve and probably had a few gallons of black water that had spilled out.

 

I now use the screw type connection that works much better, but I still put a weight on the elbow to keep the twist lock connection from popping off.

 

How about hearing from the RV Geeks on how to keep your black water tank in great shape!

Here is a real simple tip that can save your RV from water damage.  Pam and I have seen water pouring out of RV’s in every RV park we have stayed at.  Whether it was from a toilet, a sink left running, or even a sewer flush gone bad, if you have your tanks closed, and water is left running, eventually the water will find another way out!  Watch this story!

Always be sure you have your water devices shut off before leaving your RV.  Be sure to train the kids on what can happen if the water is left running.  An RV is not like being at home!  This kind of event can total your RV and ruin your vacation, or perhaps your full time RV living home.  When Pam and I leave the RV for the day, we shut off the propane and the water. It only takes a few seconds to do.

How about learning the basics of your RV?  Here’s a list of some items to consider.

Pam and I have a checklist we use when relocating the RV as we move about the country.  We have used it for years and it helps prevent us from pulling out of an RV park and perhaps forgetting to lower the TV antenna, fold up the entry steps, lock the awnings in place, or even forget to check the tire pressure before departure.  Proper tire pressure during travel is a big safety issue!

Any new RVer must be aware that you can’t put everything aboard an RV that you want!  There are weight limits, and you must be aware of your cargo carrying capacity or you will get yourself in trouble!

Here is an item that a lot of new RVers don’t get told about when making their first RV purchase.  When it comes to toilet paper, or any paper product you may consider throwing down the toilet, not everything you use at home works in an RV!

Pam and I use septic safe toilet paper, and it has worked well for years.  I can tell it has broken down in the tank because I see what comes out of the black tank while dumping.  I have a clear adapter that allows me to see when the tank is flowing clear water while performing a tank flush.

What Other Things Should I know If I Am New to RVing?

 

There are a host of other topics that you can explore when considering the RV lifestyle!  I just picked some major topics that I have seen hang some people up.  But, what about these things that you can research on your own?  Youtube is a great source for all these ideas!

  • Driving a Class A motorhome
  • Backing a travel trailer of 5th wheel
  • RV driving tips
  • RV electrical hookups and electrical management systems
  • RV tire inflation and load considerations
  • Awning maintenance
  • RV roof maintenance
  • RV water heater maintenance
  • RV refrigerator usage and care
  • RV toilet maintenance
  • Generator maintenance and care
  • RV deep cycle battery care
  • RV water regulators
  • Drinking water safe hoses
  • LP safety

And the list can go on and on!

 

I began by asking fellow RVers, with more experience than I, what they experienced with their RV’s, what things they did they felt regretful about, and any other experiences they wanted to share.  Of course, working in RV parks really advanced that knowledge base.

 

It comes down to this, the more you know about your RV, the better RVing experiences you will have!

 

I hope some of this information has helped you!  If I can be of assistance, please feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get back to you!

 

Wishing you many Happy RV Travels!
Howard and Pam

40 comments

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  1. Debbie Lord

    Dear Howard and Pam,
    My husband and I are thinking of buying an RV and are researching a lot. I would just like to say a very big thamk you to you for your website Watching how to dump the black tank and other things has been so helpful because its so clear and easy to understand.

    We would like to wish you all the best in your RV life and will keep on reading and viewing your articles and videos.

    Kind regards,
    Debbie and Fahad.

    1. Howard

      Thank you for visiting our website, Debbie! Best wishes as you consider joining the RVing lifestyle!!

  2. Debra

    Great information.
    My husband and I just bought a Class b camper van and are feeling slightly intimidated about all the things to look for and to look after but your site has great information.
    I now have questions to ask my dealer when we pick it up in a few days. They will take us on a walk though but I think I will have questions to ask that they might not bring up and because of your site, I know what I want to ask and look for.
    Looking forward to getting on the road and having fun.
    Thank you
    Debra and Mark

    1. Howard

      Hi, Debra and Mark!

      Thanks for stopping by our website and using our information to assist you as you move forward with the RV lifestyle! Congratulations on your purchase. Enjoy your Class B RV!! Please re-visit our website and let us know how you are doing!

      If you purchased a used RV and you want to share the experience, you can tell others about it at our Facebook page on Used RV Purchase Experiences: https://www.facebook.com/groups/480624675420050/

  3. christine massey

    How do I hook up a toggle on off light switch? The wires are there with spade style connections- 2 wires – do I attach to toggle using small screws (none provided)?

    1. Howard

      Hi, Christine!

      Are you replacing the switch with an exact match to the one that was previously there?

  4. Dennis Amon

    My wife and I are in the research phase of going full timing and have heard that Lazy Days RV sales and services offer a 3 day camp over when purchasing an RV from them. During the 3 days at there campgrounds a certified tech will come by to help show you how the systems work, how to hook them up and discount them. They also offer an RV driving course.
    Do you know how true this is and also is this a worthy service? Have you heard how good and valuable their drive courses are? Final 2 questions. First if they do have a tech there for you during the camping phase could this be used to replace an inspector or would you suggest having an inspector come out prior to? And finally, do you know of any other RV dealers that offer any kind of service like this?
    Thank you for all that great advice you offer of this site. Very informative and helpful.
    Dennis and Karen Amon

    1. Howard

      Hi, Dennis!

      I am unaware of this 3-day camp program. I quickly checked their website and did not quickly come up with that either. They do offer a few hour walk-through of an RV once you buy one. They do not offer a pre-purchase one, and if they did, that’s a bit of conflict of interest and not an independent third party unbiased evaluation of the RV.

      The driver’s confidence course I have seen taking place, and from responses I have received from people when asked, for those that are newbies they found it valuable.

      I am unaware at this point if any other dealerships are currently offering these kinds of services.

  5. Sandy

    We have bought a class A because this will be our home now but have not ever hooked it up yet. Bought it and then back to dealership because it got a ding. I have been looking everywhere on what to do just to have the frig and hot water work. Driving the motorhome was the east part just scared to start out not knowing the basics. They went over it at the dealership but that was a lot of info to take in. Can you suggest s place to go that would give me some answers? Thanks

    1. Howard

      Hi, Sandy!

      We hear this kind of story quite a bit! We are here at the Hershey RV Show doing a seminar on just that topic to try and help folks have a better experience in buying and RV and how to get the dealerships to give you more time during that walk through.

      Where are you folks located?

  6. Ivy Baker

    I liked that you pointed out that it is really important to make sure that any running water is turned off in the RV before starting to drive. I didn’t realize that could be a problem. My parents have been thinking about getting an RV soon. So it seems like that will have to be something they know before going on their first trip.

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by Ivy!

  7. Sofia James

    Thanks so much for sharing. You’ve given something for everyone, which is terrific. I used to be more into the tent thing or backpacking but now that I have a family and a little one, the RV stuff is getting more appealing. Plus taking an RV to travel the country sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll definitely check out all of these blogs, though, so again, thank you so much for sharing this. Much appreciated.

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by our website Sofia! We are glad you found the information useful! Best wishes for your future RV purchase and travels. When you buy and feel you need assistance in making a wise purchase, be sure to let us know if we can help! usedrvinspection.com

  8. Kevin Klansky

    How do you deal with the US Mail when full timing?

    1. Howard

      Hi Kevin!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!

      Please visit this link for our website: https://yourfulltimervliving.com/rv-mail-forwarding-service-peace-of-mind-while-full-time-rving

      This will give you information about handling mail while enjoying the full time RV lifestyle.

  9. Greg Dayton

    My wife and I are new to rving and have just started the process of looking. I did find a floor plan online that I love, but can’t seem to find a dealer that has one on site any where remotely near me. We were looking for a Catalina Legacy Edition 333RETS in the Tampa Bay, FL area. We plan on living in it full time without moving it often because we have a place to park it. I must admit that we’re not tech savvy, so maybe I just don’t know how to find one.
    Also, after about 6 months here, we’ll be moving to our permanent spot about 500 miles north. How do I find a reputable person to transport it? We’re at max weight and the truck has high mileage so we’d rather have someone tow it there.
    I appreciate your website. thanks for all the info!

    1. Howard

      Greetings Greg!

      Thanks for stopping by our website and sharing your journey with us!

      As far as your RV search, have you tried sources like rvtrader.com and rvt.com? You can enter that make and model into those search engines and see what comes up, perhaps something closer to you.

      As far as having a transport company move the RV for you, have you searched “RV transport companies” on Google? You can add a local city to that and find what you are looking for.

      Thank you again and we are glad our resources helped you out in some small way!!

  10. Jill

    I am an older single woman who will be hiking the Appalachian Trail in March 2019. My plan is to have my new (OLD) Class C RV live-in ready BEFORE I get on trail so that I have a home when I get off (hopefully about 6 months later). I will most likely store it on some friends property while I’m away.

    I am working part time now trying to save every penny and I will be paying CASH for the RV (savings and the BB value of my current vehicle). I wanted your opinion on how much time I should take to get to know my RV prior to getting on the trail next March. ONCE I purchase it it will be my only vehicle so I don’t really want to use it too long before to get to work and back… but I know I need to understand all the bells and whistles and experience the problems ahead of time. I have driven one before but it’s been a number of years.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have on the time line I should consider for purchasing and learning my vehicle.

    1. Howard

      Hi Jill!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!

      My first thought in regards to your plan is why do you need to purchase the RV before leaving on your trip only to let it sit for six months. Even if you spend a few weeks getting to know it you may likely forget what you learned. Could you wait till you get back and then buy your RV? I understand the live-in ready thought but an RV sitting unused for six months can create other issues.

      As far as a way to fix many things yourself and understanding your RV better, please visit yourfulltimervliving.com/diy

  11. James Anderson

    I like that you mentioned how I should research a little bit about RV’s, consider how it fits my lifestyle, and spend time on one by renting it out first before I consider getting my own RV. I am interested in discovering the country more by visiting different RV sites and at the same time have my own personal space, which is why I want to invest in finding a good RV. I’ll make sure to follow your recommendations so that I won’t waste my money. Thanks!

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by our website James!

      I am glad you found the information useful! Best wishes in your search for the right RV for you!

  12. Lori Houk

    Hi Howard and Pam. Thanks for all of your helpful tips. My husband and I were given a 2004 Fleetwood Prowler 30ft pull behind. We are first time RVers.
    The wonderful folks who gave us our new home brought it to the park, set it up and left. We have watched videos, read the owners manual and spoken to our local RV dealer. We have a battery situation that we can’t find the answer for. We thought maybe you could help.
    We have two 24DC deep cycle marine batteries. Day 4 one battery was smoking. Replaced that battery with new one. Next day the other old battery was smoking. Unhooked both batteries. Read manual. Said we had to have at least one hooked to prevent breaking converter. We hooked new battery up. It has been in use alone for 3 days. The RV dealer and a friend has told us that we should not hook up a new and old battery together. That is why the old burned up? We also have been told that with our slide out we need both batteries.
    My question is as we are living in our RV do we need both batteries hooked up? Can you in laymen terms explain this battery system to us.
    Thank you and happy camping.
    Lori and Randy

    1. Howard

      Hi Lori!

      Thanks for stopping by our website! Your experiences as new RVers is similar to what most folks experience when it comes to the electrical systems in an RV.

      You mentioned that they are 24VDC batteries but I am sure they are 12 VDC. RV systems function on 12 volts, not 24 volts.

      If you have one good 12-volt battery and you are plugged into shore power post of the time then one battery will be enough. If you boondock a lot two batteries will give you additional amp hours, which means you can run 12 volt systems longer: lights, appliance control boards, vent fans, TV’s if they are 12-volt, water pump, etc.

      I hope that helps! Happy RVing to you too!

  13. Ridley Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the great tips for owning an RV. We’re thinking of buying one to take on road trips, so this is great. It makes sense that we would need to maintain the roof, the water heater, the waste system, and the generator! Those all seem pretty important.

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Ridley!

  14. Jon Hash

    I am an ex-army person and never used to a regular life. I would like to be a vandweller. Looking for buying a used RV instead of renting someone else. Thanks for sharing all those videos in one place, which was very hard to research for me. Also admit my faulty decision to buy a new one. I was wrong and it was you who changed my mind for the first time.

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Jon!

  15. Amanda Drew

    Thanks for pointing out that you have a checklist of what you need to do before you relocate. My husband really likes to use his RV, but I’m rather new to the whole thing. A checklist seems like it’d be a good idea, and maybe I’ll find a book or something to further help me out.

    1. Howard

      You are welcome, Amanda!

      We have a list of items to be addressed for each RV we have owned over the years. It really helps to prevent from forgetting something that could create a major issue.

  16. susie

    Could someone tell me what the best RV Atlas is for Road’s and park’s ? Thxs

  17. Debbi

    Great article — and thanks for putting the videos in one place. We have owned 2 Class A’s (both bought used). We sold our RV last year because we knew we would not be using it for long trips for a couple of years and couldn’t see it just depreciating in value when we also knew we’d want to buy a different unit for full time (snowbirding?) the next time around. So, there we were — no RV — and missing one a LOT! We ended up buying a used travel trailer without any slides and are happy to have one to camp in for the interim.
    Now, we are starting to research and plan for our future and trying to decide what the best RV choice for us would be for spending 3-6 months in (at least) a year. Not sure if we want to go with a Class C, A or 5th wheel at this point. We know what we liked about the class A’s — and the only downside was having to tow a vehicle. But not sure if the 5th wheel is the right choice, either. So, more to look at. Whatever we choose, it will almost definitely be a newer used one, unless we find one heck of a deal that we just can’t pass up.

    Just curious — how did you decide what worked best for you? Any specific criteria? Diesel vs. gas? Generator? We don’t mind being off the grid and prefer to ‘camp’ in Walmarts and truck stops in between our destinations unless we are planning on being in one place more than a day…..

    Sorry if this is too long. Any ideas/suggestions would be great.

    1. Howard

      Hi Debbie!

      Thanks for stopping by our website and sharing!

      I have covered your questions pretty well, I think, in a three-part series I did that is posted on our website starting with this article: https://yourfulltimervliving.com/full-time-rv-living/full-time-rv-living-planning

      Check those out and see if that answers your questions.

      1. DEBBI

        Thank you! Those are great articles. You raise points we did not even consider. Thank you again.

        1. Howard

          Thanks for stopping by and commenting Debbi!

  18. Amy Winters

    Thanks for pointing out that lots of features on an RV will require regular maintenance, such as the generator, water heater, toilet, and refrigerator. My husband and I just got an RV, and I want to keep it in good shape so we can use it for as long as possible. I’ll definitely take your advice and have the RV regularly maintained to avoid the need for repairs!

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Amy!

  19. Bram

    I love that tip about getting a used RV over a new one. As soon as you buy a new one, the value immediately depreciates, just like you said. Getting one that is a few years old will suit your needs just as good as a new one!

    1. Howard

      Thanks for stopping by Bram!

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