7 Things RV Veterans Wish They Knew Before RVing

As is the case with anything else in life, there is nothing quite like experience when it comes to learning your way in the RV world. Once you get started as an RV owner, you will gradually learn lessons that will help you to get more and more out of the RV experience. Of course, it would be great if you could start out from day one with some of those lessons already in mind – which is exactly the purpose of this article.

recreational vehicles traveling on the highway

Below, you will find seven things that veteran RV owners wish they would have known before they got started. Take these lessons to heart and your transition into the RV lifestyle should be nice and smooth.

#1 – You Can Always Upgrade

One of the biggest mistakes made by new RV owners is buying the biggest rig on the lot right from the start. In most cases, this simply isn’t necessary – unless you have a particularly big family, of course. When shopping for your first RV, be practical with your size requirements while trying to keep the budget under control. There will always be larger rigs available down the line should you decide that an upgrade is in order.

#2 – A Little Practice Goes a Long Way

Rather than making driving mistakes out on the open road – where they can be both dangerous and expensive – consider spending some time practicing behind the wheel of your RV in an open parking lot. Without any trouble to find, you can work on things like braking distance, cornering, backing up, and more without any pressure at all.

#3 – You Don’t Have to Go Far

Another classic mistake made by new RV owners is only looking for destinations that require thousands of miles to be covered on the freeway. Owning an RV gives you a great sense of freedom, but you don’t have to traverse the country to have a good time. Look for destinations within close proximity to your home for quick, fun adventures.

#4 – Preventive Maintenance is Essential

Even the best RV needs to be maintained regularly if it is going to hold up over the years, so don’t skip out on your RV’s maintenance requirements. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as closely as possible to give your rig the best chance at a healthy future.

#5 – Only Buy What You Need

One trip to the camping store will reveal thousands of products that you can purchase for use in and around your RV. However, in reality, very few of those products are even close to ‘essentials’. Think about your needs and buy only products that are actually going to help you get more from your camping experience.

#6 – Variety is the Spice of Life

Sadly, many RV veterans fall into a rut of visiting the same campgrounds over and over again, year after year. While there is nothing wrong with having some favorite spots, keep an open mind and make sure you diversify your trips to get the most out of your RV investment.

#7 – Kids Love RV Travel

One common lament among long-time RV owners is the fact that they wished they had purchased an RV earlier so their kids could have had more fun when they were young. Children tend to love RV camping trips, so getting them started as soon as possible will be great for the whole family.


  • Thanks. We will enjoy these ideas and articles. We have been full time for 16 months now and love it.

  • While I agree that “you can always upgrade”, doing so will cost you in lost trade in value. My advice is to buy your last RV first if you can. When you look at that neat little camper think of spending a rainy day or two inside it with nothing to do but wait it out. Imagine how cramped it will feel after a few hours. If you’re OK with that then go for it! If not then go bigger, but only big enough. A big RV costs more, is harder to maneuver, requires more fuel, and may not fit into some campground spots. Consider that when shopping and buy the last first.

    • Totally agree!! You lose so much after you drive or tow a new RV off the lot and spend money on special items for that RV.

      • Our family had several trailers before ending up with our final one.
        While I was still working and could take vacations or short trips we owned several smaller trailers (all under 26 feet) and all used. Most were in the $8000 to 9000 price range drag trailers. We had to do some repairs (like awing replacement or tires). Our logic was that if we totaled anyone of them out we would not be hurt finically. We did have to be selicitive because at that price range there are some real stinkers out there. Often times the sun fades and peels the decals.
        After upgrading our truck to a 3/4 ton we decided to purchase a newer (2year old gently used 5th wheel). Best decision ever. We may have spent a great deal more for it but saved well over $10,000 off the “new” price.
        We never “lost” money when selling our old units but never made money fixing them up.

    • I totally agree. I had a pop up for 10 years and knew I wanted something bigger. So I bought a 24 foot class C and is perfect. Last one!

  • We bought our first “RV” a 2017 37ft 5th wheel several months ago and have made several trips both long distance and short. At first I was nervous just driving down the road, but the more I did it the more confident I got turning and backing up with it. The comments are right I wished I would have bought it years ago to spend camping time with the kids – hopefully now with the grand kids. You can do a lot of research before even setting foot at a dealer. Finding the right type of RV for your needs and then the right floor plan.

  • Buying any vehicle new is a waste of money not just an RV. You lose 18% when you leave the lot and another 10% a year for the next 5 years. Never ever buy any vehicle new. It’s a depreciating asset.
    Always go used!

      • I’m 63 yo, and I’ve only owned 1 new vehicle in my life. A ’74 Buick Century that I bought before I got married. Everything after that has been late model used. We found a 2014 Voltage 42′ toyhauler that we really like. Seems to be a well built RV. I can pick that up for around 40-45K. New it would be over 70K!! They do depreciate. And this one was hardly ever used. People had it for hauling their moto cross bikes around, hardly ever camped in it. They said the garage wasn’t big enough, so they bought a Class A with a huge trailer behind it. To each their own I guess. I really like the idea of a toy hauler, I can bring my motorcycle along when we go full timing, which is as soon as I can sell my house.

  • Rent before you buy. Unless you’ve got a lot of money to throw away, it’s a good investment to rent first to see if your purchase choice should be a tent camper, travel trailer, fifth wheel travel trailer, class A, B or C motorhome or any of these, with or without a slide-out. Remember. the bigger it is and the more gadgets it has, the more things there are to break and the more expensive the upkeep. For the past 50 years, I’ve “done ’em all” and we could afford to buy any of those choices. Wife and I finally ended up with a 22 foot, bumper-pull travel trailer, walk around queen bed, FAU/AC, nice size shower and bathroom, nice kitchen and dinette and NO slide outs. Easy to hook up, unhook, easy to park and no expensive problems. The main reason we ended up with a TT is the ease to drop off at a RV park and then take our truck into town or nearby attractions and park wherever we want. Those with Class A’s and B’s either need a tow car or they have to hook up-unhook every time they want to go to town or try to find a legal parking space for their behemoth rig. Every 4th to 7th day, we stay a night in a nice motel or resort. Works for us, may not work for others.

  • The big con about warranty work:
    “Sure just bring it in and we’ll get to it in a few weeks”

    Dealers are selling Mercedes prices like used cars

  • Buying an RV on impulse is always a bad idea. Some of the comments in previous posts include excellent advice. One important thing to remember is the RVing is not for everybody. I’ve known couples whose spouse bought an RV and his/her partner refused to travel in it. Among the considerations that made my motorhome purchase five years ago successful is that we did considerable research, visited many dealers and RV shows and that my wife was intimately involved in the decision-making process from the beginning. I also believe that it’s useful to make a written list of the features and amenities that are important and the things unimportant when making a purchase. Ask a lot of questions from existing RV owners about what they like and dislike about their RVs to help narrow down your choices. Finding an honest salesperson at an RV dealership can be a valuable source of advice. Buying an RV manufactured by a company that has been in business for a long time is no guarantee of long-term satisfaction but it usually means that you will not wind up with an orphan for which you’re unable to obtain service or obtain replacement parts.

  • We bought a travel trailer a few months back, we went to several rv dealerships and getting someone who wants to help you or just sell you an rv is a big must, we have walked out of several places due to all the hidden costs and the attitude of some sales people. So there is many things to look for, ours was weight limits, make sure you know upfront what you can pull, because people will try and sell you an rv at your max weight, we were prepared but I have seen some very disappointed people. Just research and get what works best for you.

  • Our next RV will be our last RV. We know which features are essential like king bed, auto leveling, extra spacious shower etc. This thread on new vs used is interesting. Interested in your thoughts or experience with RV wholesaler vs. Dealer. We have only used dealers but the wholesaler savings may be worth it. What is your experience on wholesaler vs. Dealer?

  • I have been pondering on getting an RV for years, I have been to a lot of RV Fairs, taking photos of the items i am interested in, I was run over by a SUV 9 years ago so i have to do my homework when buying, always went camping with my family growing up, not only fun but we went to a lot of historical places, such as gettysburg- i mean a lot of them, makes me think now how my parents afforded all that, 4 kids, started in a pop up, ended up in a motor home, motorhome was the least fun, also when it is time i plan to purchase a new truck at the same time to match weight-size-and certain comforts- but keeping in mind, it still is camping, and i plan to travel as much as i can around this beautiful country, just hope things work out so i can, might have to look into something my truck can pull now. make due with what i have, or dont have.