8 Critical Tips for New RV Owners – Updated for 2019

Owning an RV can be exciting but intimidating as well. You will be making a lifetime of great memories and enjoying unforgettable experiences, but as a new owner, you may also feel a bit overwhelmed while preparing and traveling with your RV for the first time.

There are many things to take care of, and too much to pack before taking your first trip; overlooking small details can be costly. The following tips will not only help new RV owners save money, time, and a great deal of frustration, but will also ensure that they enjoy their first adventure in their RV.

1. Your RV is Your Home Away From Home, Lock It Up!

Locking up your RV is very important for the safety of your family and your belongings. It goes beyond just locking the windows and doors, although these are essential measures to take. Most of the locks on RVs are keyed alike. There is a great chance that your neighbor may have the same brand of locks as your RV. These are usually very weak and easy to pick. 

It is better to choose a lock that goes around the kingpin, just like the one shown in the picture. Although there are multiple options available, the two most popular locks are a padlock and a cylinder lock. Both these locks go over the kingpin, however the cylinder lock has a locking mechanism that keeps it in place. Some cylinder locks are much safer as they come with a special key that cannot be duplicated.  

For the safety of your RV, it is recommended that you change your hatch locks with aftermarket locks such as combination locks where you can set your own combination. This ensures that your neighbors or any outsider will not be able to invade your privacy.

The same issue could occur with the door locks. The factory-fitted locks are almost the same in all the RVs, and it is possible to open multiple locks with one key. Replacing the locks will go a long way in securing your RV. 

2. Avoid Tangled Cords and Keep Things Simple

These days we use so many electronic devices that it is hard to keep track of all the cords. You may think that you are plugging in the coffee pot only to realize that you have accidentally turned on the toaster. Or that you had turned off the lamp when you wanted to turn off the alarm clock.

Cords are always getting tangled and confusing. Also, it can be very frustrating to match the device with the cord. Although keeping the cords organized in your RV may feel like a daunting task, it actually can be done very easily and with an item that you usually throw away after use.

Once your toilet paper is all out, don’t throw away the cardboard tube, as it can be easily utilized to keep your chargers organized. Take a box and glue a few cardboard rolls side by side, as shown in the above picture. This will make secure and nice compartments where you can easily store all your chargers without worrying about them getting tangled again.

You can also write on these tubes the name of the device a particular charger is for, thus making it much easier to find a charger without wasting any time. This simple and inexpensive method will keep your cords organized with hardly any cost. 

3. Insulate Your Windows and Stay Warm

If you like to test your RV in extreme weather, it is essential that you check your RV’s insulation. Proper insulation not only keeps your RV warm during cooler months and cool during warm months, but it also makes your RV more energy-efficient and helps save money on generator use, propane, and electric hookups.  

One of the primary causes of heat losses when camping in an RV during winter months is single-pane windows. Moreover, if the RV is humid inside it could cause condensation to form on cold window surfaces often resulting in mold and mildew problems. Even if you have solved the condensation problem with a dehumidifier and your windows are still cold, it means that precious heat is escaping through them, making your RV feel drafty and causing your heating bill to skyrocket. 

There are various materials that can help insulate the windows of an RV such as Reflectix, shrink plastic, and bubble wrap; however, one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to insulate is by using Velcro, as shown in the picture above. The vinyl covers are adhered with Velcro making it possible to remove the covers and open the windows when the weather is nice. 

The following steps will help you make these covers easily:

  1. Cut 1 inch Velcro in half so that it is ½ inch wide and stick it to the window frames.
  2. Cut a piece of vinyl bigger than the place you need to cover.
  3. Stick it carefully to the Velcro, stretching it as taut as possible to avoid creases along the Velcro.
  4. Finally, trim the edges with a utility knife so that it fits the window neatly.

4. Cabinet Doors Are Your Best Friend - Utilize Them to The Max

When you are packing for an RV trip, it may seem like you have twice the stuff than space. It may become quite challenging for new RV owners to fit all the clothes, food, camp chairs, and various hoses (not to mention the kids and the dog).

However, the key to the best utilization of your small space is organization. There are many organizational tips that can help you utilize your space in the best possible way. One of these tips is to use your cabinet doors as storage for multiple items such as kitchen rolls, toothbrushes, socks, etc.

You can also hang a shoe organizer on the inside of the cabinet door, as shown in the picture above, to efficiently store the shoes. Storing shoes in their original boxes takes up a lot of space. By storing them in a shoe organizer, you can not only save space, but it will also become easy to find your favorite pair. 

Hanging organizers are not very expensive and are also readily available. However, you can also fashion one yourself with an old pair of jeans. You can also use hanging organizers in bathrooms and kitchen cabinets to save precious space. 

5. Use Ziplock Bags to Organize Your Pantry and Refrigerator

The basic challenge in almost all RV kitchens is to best utilize the precious cupboard and drawer space. It is vital to remember that you not only have to fit all your stuff in the cabinets, but you also have to take into account the heavy items and proper storage of breakable items.

One way of optimizing the space in your pantry and refrigerator is with the help of Ziplock bags. You can store all fruits and vegetables and other perishable items in different Ziplock bags and hang them in the refrigerator. These clear bags not only help you save space but also allow you to see the items stored in them.

The Zip n Store allows you to connect all your storage bags into a sliding holder, thus making it easy to organize and access all your cheese and vegetable bags with ease. Especially the ones in the back! Same goes for the pantry. Instead of their original packaging, you can store pulses, spices, dry milk, etc. in Ziplock bags and hang them inside the cabinet to save space.

The sliding holder and Ziplock bags, which are also shown in the above picture, can be easily bought from any homeware store. These inexpensive items greatly help to organize your kitchen.

6. Step Up Your Organization Skills

One of the best tips shared by experienced RVers when it comes to utilizing space is to think outside the box. For instance, you can hang hooks on the inside of your cupboard doors to hang various items so that they do not take up precious drawer space. If you do not want screws to make a hole in your RV wall, you can try suction cup hooks. You can hang cups, measuring spoons and other items from these hooks to save space.

There are many other tips that can help any new RV owner step up his game. You can use Velcro to keep all your remotes in one place, install a door-mounted kitchen garbage can, get a bedside caddy to serve as a makeshift nightstand, add a pegboard to a kitchen wall to hang pots, pans, and other useful items such as a cheese grater and tongs, and make a magnetic spice holder as shown in the picture above.

The magnetic spice holder is a great way to keep all your spices in one place and to save space. Magnetic spice containers can be stuck to the bottom of a cabinet, the refrigerator, or to a baking sheet mounted on a wall. You can also spray paint an old stained baking sheet an attractive color.  

You can easily make your own magnetic spice holder. Take magnetic adhesive sheets and stick them to the wall or on the side of the cabinet, as shown in the picture above. You can cut these sheets to fit the size of your walls. Roll the sheet with a hard rubber roller thoroughly and wait for 24 hours before putting up your spices. 

For spice containers, it is advisable to use jars made from food-grade plastic, or you can use glass or steel containers. You can use empty baby food jars, or you can order party favors online for some inexpensive spice containers. You can also write the names of the spices on the lid to make it easier for you to find them.

7. Take Care of Your Tires and Inspect Them Before a Long Haul

An RV camping checklist is not just about food and other essentials. It is also vital to make sure that your rig is set up and ready to go after you have packed it. One of the most important things to check is the tires.

No one wants to go just a few miles before discovering that they are traveling on a quickly-flattening tire. Therefore, take the pressure gauge and give your tires a thorough check before starting your journey. This is essential as overinflated tires may explode, causing damage to your RV, and underinflated tires can create control problems and generate more resistance on the road, which will impact your gas mileage.

Tire pressure changes with the temperature, so if you haven’t used your RV for a few months, it is highly possible that your tire pressure has significantly dropped, creating a fuel-inefficient and unsafe ride.

In case you spend several consecutive days on the road, your tires’ treading can be smoothened out. This could increase the chances of your RV skidding off the road. If your tires are worn out, replace them immediately, or they will end up like the tires in the picture above.  

Also, make sure to tighten the wheel lug nuts of your RV in order to ensure the safety of your family. Make sure that they haven’t loosened up while your RV was in storage or during previous travel as driving with loose lug nuts could result in an accident, and cause you to lose a wheel on the road.

Check the date on your tires to make sure that they are not old. You may even consider upgrading before going on a long trip. Also, look up the weight of your RV and match it with the tire's load capacity PSI chart. Finding the proper PSI will also ensure a smooth and safe trip.

8. Always Secure Your Battery

As a new RV owner, you might be surprised to learn that one of the things that attract thieves to your RV is its battery. It is very easy to steal RV batteries, as it can be done just by cutting the cables. More often these burglaries do not happen in the campground, but when your camper or trailer is sitting in storage or just outside your home before leaving for that well-deserved trip.

However, you can avoid RV battery theft by moving the battery inside the RV, installing a battery box, or locking up your RV battery. The versatile battery locking bracelet shown in the picture above is designed to fit around the battery box and angle iron with the help of securing straps. This bracket lock also requires you to obtain a separate strong padlock as it is a heavy-duty lock.

This lock provides optimum security for your batteries and prevents their theft. They are easy to install and are perfect for all size batteries. They are made with high-quality materials and once fixed, make it impossible for the thieves to disable them, thus providing complete peace of mind and ensuring that you enjoy every moment of your trip.

The battery shackles are a cost-effective way to protect your batteries and are easily available online.

Conclusion

Encountering problems on your first few trips does not mean that you should not pursue your love of nature. It is vital that you plan ahead and take care of the above-mentioned tips in order to have a pleasant trip filled with beautiful memories. These tips will help you get a good start, but the fact is that you will learn something new on every trip. So do your homework, stay organized, hone your skills, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

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