1. Chock Your Tires – Always

One of our inaugural experiences with our trailer was unhooking it for the first time and having it roll down our driveway until the tongue jack dug itself into the ground. Once you have an experience like that, you never forget to chock your tires again, and you make sure you tell everyone about the importance.

Talk about jumpstarting our lessons in how to RV 🫠 

We now chock in both the front and the back of the tires (because we’re traumatized), but also because you have to consider the grade of the land. There’s no hard and fast rule to “put the chocks in front of the tires” because sometimes your campsite is slanted backward and you need the chocks behind the tires, while other times the land slopes forwards and the chocks need to go in the front. If you’re not sure, put them on both sides or use X-Chocks.

Oh, and don’t forget to remove the chocks before you leave – we’ve also made that mistake of trying to pull away with the chocks still in place then ultimately running them over and leaving them behind.

2. Don’t Hook or Unhook Your Rig When Tired or Hangry

Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Sometimes the only option is to get out of the campground by checkout or finish the trip and get your rig unhooked – but when you have the choice, don’t. Not only because it results in 72% more fights, but also because hooking or unhooking under these conditions is important for your safety.

When we’re sleep deprived, hungry, or frustrated, we’re not totally thinking straight and one shortcut or missed step could lead to a rig not being properly secured or stabilized, and/or someone getting injured.

Grab a snack, take a break, or drink some caffeine – just make sure safety is your number one priority as you learn how to RV.

3. Cross-Train in Your RV Roles

As you regularly hook and unhook, set up, and tear down your rig – you’ll notice you fall into patterns of who does what (which is actually what we recommend so you always know who’s doing what and nothing is missed). But it’s also very important that you know how to do the other’s job.

If someone is sick or injured, you’ll need to know how to do all the chores on your own. It’s easy to think, “but we’re young and healthy – that won’t happen to us.” ☝️ We’re here to tell you it can πŸ˜‚Β 

One time at a campsite in Georgia, we were casually packing up our site the night before a travel day, having a day fire, and enjoying the outdoors when my (Court) back completely seized out of nowhere. I couldn’t move and within 30 seconds was laying face down in the dirt next to our fire pit trying to alleviate the pain.

We were hoping it would resolve the next day but it didn’t, leaving me incapacitated and my wife (Beth) solely responsible for getting us to our next site safely.

It doesn’t always have to be injuries that put you in this position either. We both work full-time and Beth was on a work call when we got to a new campground in Phoenix, AZ, so I backed us into our campsite and unhooked all by myself.

Not only is being cross-trained important in case someone is injured, sick or unavailable to help, but it also gives you a sense of empowerment, confidence, and accomplishment as you learn how to RV.

4. Use Walkie Talkies to Communicate

When living the full-time RV lifestyle, communication is key, especially when you’re backing in your rig.

There’s a saying you may have seen on t-shirts or coffee mugs in the camping world, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was backing in the camper” and that really hits home once you’ve experienced it! Backing your rig into a campsite can be frustrating, exhausting, and sometimes embarrassing. These 3 factors make a disastrous combination.

We decided we were going to do everything in our power to avoid these feelings and frustrations when moving into campsites, which led us to getting walkie-talkies. You’ll see people using their phones, but with everything being connected to bluetooth these days, we had a new frustration on our hands when the wrong person’s phone kept connecting to the truck and we were missing vital directions from each other. It’s also better to not hear each other’s every thought while backing up.

With walkie talkies, it’s just quicker and more reliable to communicate. Here are the kind we have.

Unfortunately, we see lots of couples shouting and getting really frustrated with each other in the backing in process, which only makes the whole experience more unpleasant. Get walkies and quietly give each other directions for a smooth parking experience.

Learning how to RV

5. Use a Checklist for Set Up and Tear Down

When it comes to learning how to RV, there’s a LOT to remember – packing, hooking up, unhooking, setting up – and then there are the maintenance pieces too like checking your tire PSI and lug nuts. It all can just be really overwhelming. In fact, we’ve heard from our community that one of the biggest things holding them back from diving into the full-time RV lifestyle is that it all feels too overwhelming.

We totally get it, we were there too! We encourage you to think of it this way – at some point in your life you didn’t know how to do something you really wanted to do. You ultimately found a way, took one step at a time, and built confidence as you went.

One of the best ways to be successful in the RV lifestyle is by having a roadmap – literally and figuratively. Use a setup and tear down checklist as you get started so you’re making sure you’re not missing anything. You’ll make adjustments to your checklist over time, but keep using it so you can feel confident every time you hit the road.

6. Level Your Rig

There’s nothing worse than unhooking your travel trailer then realizing everything rolls to the left and all your doors swing open and smack you in the face. That’s not the worst of it though – if your bed is in the front of your rig, like ours, and you’re not level front to back, you can wake up with some killer headaches from being tipped just slightly downward all night and the blood rushing to your head.

In some extreme cases, being unlevel can even ruin your refrigerator (because of the liquid that needs to run through the coils).

Bottom line, once you pull in, check to make sure you’re level (even before you put chocks in).

We use the LevelMate Pro for leveling, but a good ol’ regular level works too. Make sure to level side to side before unhooking, then put your chocks in, unhook from your truck, and level front to back.

7. Make Sure Your Utilities Reach

This one is typically pretty rare – we’ve been on the road for over a year and a half and have only run into a couple sites with this issue, but it goes like this…you get to a site, back in, level, unhook, level again, go to plug in your utilities and womp womp – they don’t reach *insert dramatic eye roll*

This most commonly happens with the sewer hose, but has also happened with our electric hookups as well. So back in the truck you go, remove your chocks, hook your trailer back up, and do the whole process again.

The simple way to avoid this is to get your cords and hoses out before you unhook to make sure they reach. As we mentioned, most campsites this won’t be a problem at all – all your utilities will be well within reach, but just something to remember to check before unhooking.

Bonus tip: be mindful of your slide(s) too when you’re backing in. Make sure you have room to open your slide(s) all the way without hitting the electrical box, or your neighbors.

Bonus bonus tip: We turn on the water spigot and electric box (separately) before unhooking just to make sure the hookups work. Again, super annoying to finally get settled and realize your site has issues with the hookups and you have to move.

8. Use a Water Pressure Regulator and Filter

It’s important to avoid damage to your water lines by using a water pressure regulator that connects at the spigot. Attaching it right at the spigot also protects your hose. Some campgrounds even mandate that you have a water pressure regulator because they know they have extremely high water pressure.

It’s also important to protect your body from toxic chemicals by using a water filter inside and outside. Campgrounds provide potable water, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally purified. We have one water filter on our hose coming into the rig and we also use a countertop reverse osmosis water filter to purify our drinking and cooking water.

9. Check Your Propane Proactively

We ran out of propane on Christmas morning whilst trying to make our traditional Christmas morning feast. We then paid $60 for a tank at a 7/11, instead of $20 to refill our tanks. We also ran out of propane in the middle of the night when it was 30-40ΒΊ F. You’d think we’d learn quicker.

Put a date on the calendar every couple of months to check your propane levels. Most rigs come with a gauge on the lines that hook into the propane tanks so you can tell when you’re running low.

Also, check the campgrounds propane refill policy and hours. The time we ran out in the middle of the night, we learned they only had certain propane days at the campground so we couldn’t just refill the next day instantly.

10. Know Your Surroundings and Plan Ahead

Do some research on your next campsite and its surroundings before you go.

More than once, we just assumed our next stop would have all the same grocery stores and amenities that our current site had only to find out there was only one “grocery” store within 20 miles and it was actually just a gas station convenience store.

Scope out what you’re working with ahead of time so you never have to choose pasta from Dave’s Pit Stop. No one wants Dave’s Pit Stop Pasta.