3 Beginner RVing Mistakes and What to Do About Them

Camping isn’t hard. Traveling in an RV is one of the most enjoyable ways to vacation, and it is usually far less complicated than taking a flight, booking a hotel room, renting a car, etc. However, there are still some basic camping mistakes that you can make – especially if you are going on one of your first trips. To avoid getting tripped up by a ‘beginner’s mistake’, use the tips provided in the article below.

Running Out of Food

empty rv fridge

This is a classic mistake, usually only made by those going on one of their first trips in an RV. If you haven’t done much camping previously, you might not understand how much food it actually takes to get you and your family through a trip comfortably. Whether you are going for a week or just a weekend, you want to be sure you have plenty of food and drinks to make the trip enjoyable for all. When you travel to a rural destination this point is even more important, as you might not have access to a grocery store to restock your supplies.

To make sure you have enough food to last for the whole trip, try following this basic rule of thumb – pack one extra day worth of food for a weekend trip, and two extra days of food for a week-long vacation. If you use this guideline when you do your grocery shopping, you should have no concerns about running out of food. This plan accounts for the fact that you will likely be more active while on your trip than you are at home, leading to a bigger appetite. If your trip is going to be filled with activities like biking or hiking, expect to eat more food as a group than usual. By shopping smart and purchasing long-lasting items, you should be able to take home anything that you don’t eat in the RV.

Failing to Find a Campsite

no camping space

RV travel is a popular way to spend vacation time throughout much of the United States. That popularity means that it can be difficult to find a campsite, especially on holiday weekends or during the warm summer months. If you don’t have a good plan in place before you leave home, you could find yourself without a place to park your RV as the sun goes down.

The obvious way to avoid this outcome is to make campground reservations before you leave home. When this is an option, you should take advantage to make sure you have a spot to park your rig and enjoy your trip. However, not all destinations will accept reservations. When that is the case, the key to your success is going to be planning. Take a look at your intended destination and identify at least two or three other options that you can turn to if the first campground is full. By having options already planned out, you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a great campsite – even if plenty of your fellow RV owners are out on a trip as well.

Leaving for a Trip with a Messy RV

Many new RV owners don’t understand the importance of preparing their rig prior to heading out on a trip. If you returned from your last trip and simply parked the RV and left it alone, there is a good chance that the inside is something of a mess. Unless you do something about that mess prior to leaving on your upcoming trip, you will have to start your vacation with a cleanup process that could last hours. That isn’t exactly the ideal way to start a relaxing trip with your family and friends.

Each time you return from an RV vacation, make it a point to clean up your RV immediately. This includes emptying the cabinets of any leftover food, cleaning the sink and toilet, and washing and putting away the linens that you used. You will have to invest some time in this process at home, but that is a far better option than spending your time at the campsite cleaning out your RV from top to bottom.

The reality of RV travel is that it can be fun for everybody because it is mostly user-friendly. There are only a few things you need to know upfront, and the rest can be learned through experience along the way. Avoid the three mistakes listed above and you will be well on your way to taking great RV vacations.


  • Where is that pic taken of all the trailers lined up on the side of the road. I’m guessing it’s a California campground on the coast……

    • That does not look like any place I’d want to be parked for my holiday. I like having lots of trees & privacy. RV parks like this are just cram them in, as many as you can get but I guess that’s what happens when so many are doing it. Like the homes in big growing cities, all cramped together with crappy little yards.

    • Rincon on the Pacific Coast north of venture. Dry camping, no reservation, It is run by Ventura County Parks. It is a great place to stay for a couple of days. Directly adjacent to the ocean, great hearing the waves hitting the rocks at night.

  • I’d suggest also getting off the road early is a way to assure yourself of a campsite. But, of course, reservations is the best way!

    • 1st time we went camping we took so much food in our cooler we could hardly keep up with the ice needed to keep it cold & had to start eating big meat meals for brkfst & not just dinner & supper. Now we plan differently, usually enough for 2 meals/day because we found sometimes that was all that we ate (brkfst & supper) and sometimes you end up away from camp & eat out.

  • Another is the sewer/gray/black water. Wish I had know about pyramiding this time last year. Knowing not to leave either gate open until time to empty could have saved a lot of hassle. When someone tells me they just bought a camper and ask questions, this is the first thing I tell them about. 🙂

      • Never leave your black tank valve open! Also make sure that there is at least a half tank of liquid in the black tank before draining it. You can equate this to the old style household toilets versus the newer ones. The old style used almost two gallons of water and most of the time the bowl flushed everything with one flush. However the newer ones might take two or three flushes to clear the bowl! Also it’s good to have some gray water to flush the sewer hose when finished draining the black tank!

        • empty black tank first and flush toilet a couple times then empty grey tank and run a couple bowls full of water down kitchen sink that will flush out both with clean water

    • Great advice Sherr. We were newbies and didn’t have this info either. We found out the hard way and learned a good lesson.

  • On the day we are leaving a campsite, put of my routine is a cleaning of the RV.. vacumming, scrubbing, countertops, frig, etc before we leave. The next time we are ready to pull into a campsite we are prepared. No cleaning, just setting up. I carry an extra set of sheets so sheets can be changed and dirty sheets laundered before time for new sheers,. We are Canadian campers so garbage is never left on campsite premises at night, no garbage thrown into fire pit, pet foot is not left outside, lawn chairs put under unit in case of a storm. All items are secured and covered each night.we have followed this routine for years and find that if there is a storm at night we are not concerned because our campsite has been secured. We have 2 dogs that travel with us and we do not concern ourselves with skunks, bears, etc. There is nothing to attract them to our site, while this may sound like a lot of work each night it really is not. Same routine done nightly in less than 10/15 min our campsite is ready for the night and we can sleep soundly regardless of weather

  • The best advise i received about dirty black holding tanks is prior to your trip to a place with sewers or at stop at the dump site on arrival is to fill the tank about half way with water then dump a bag of ice down the Toilet. as you drive and before the ice melts it will slosh around cleaning the walls of your tank. This has worked for me in the past. Good luck enjoy.

  • I always clean, vacuum, put laundry in laundry bag BEFORE we leave our campsite. Much easier to do the majority of work before you get home.

  • Some really good tips here. I tell newbies about leaving the black water closed when you get to a s&w campsite as you need the pressure when dumping. NEVER EVER leave either the black or grey valve open while camping in a site without sewer….dump at the dumping station…please. I always bring too much food, but can use it at home. I like to bring a small cooked chicken and a cooked ham..also boil up some potatoes and eggs, purchase a cabbage salad, …makes for easy quick meals, and canned baked beans…also smokies and hot dogs…as well as steak and chops, and a large wide roll of thick foil, potatoes and carrots, hard margarine, salt and pepper, onions, etc., and junk food..chips, etc., games, cards, flashlights, etc. I also use paper plates and plastic cutlery…very little clean up…. I camp in Saskatchewan, Canada.

  • we clean the camper before we leave the campsite to go home. we put all our dirty linens, clothes in the dirty clothes bag, put it where we can reach it once we get home. we sweep and mop the camper bathroom kitchen before we leave, take the trash to the campground trash bin. we pack up all opened food in the cabinet, and we put the food in the freezer and fridge in a cooler to unload once we get home. we wipe out the fridge, and then when we get home we open those to dry out. that way when we get home, we just take the cooler and dirty lines to the house. that way the camper. i do the inside of the camper while hubby does the outside of the camper before hooking up to the truck. then we each do a walk thru to be sure we got it all ready to travel. that way when we leave for the next trip the camper is ready to go. we just have to load our clothes, linens, and food. we also have designated sheets towels pots and pans dishes just for the camper. (when we first started we used the olds tuff from the house). that way when we washed the lines and towels we knew which one went back to the camper