Thursday, July 24, 2014


10 Tips for First-time RV Campers

This is a part of our Camping for Beginners series. Click here to hear about the Myths I thought about Camping, here to see how comfortable camping in an RV can be and here to see what was on our menu for 7 days. 

Yesterday I received the comment, "Sorry, that's not camping - that's its a traveling hotel room." on one of my articles about camping in an RV.  At first, I took a little offense to that.  Just because I choose to not sleep in a tent while outdoors doesn't mean I'm not camping. All the campgrounds we stayed at had spots for tents AND RVs.

Quite frankly, I'm proud to have camped in an RV all week - I know my boundaries and what will make me miserable and sleeping on the ground at night is one of them.  And I love the fact that I can take my moving hotel room with all the amenities I want and need to the lake, to a river, to the beach, to the mountains - any where I want to go.

So to that comment, There are different ways to camp.  I choose to camp in my traveling hotel room and love every minute of it.

That said, there were a few lessons we learned along the way last week that will help us in a future camping trip - ones that I won't forget and may help any other first time RV campers.

10 Tips for First Time RV Campers:

1. Over Pack: It rained. The temperatures were in the 60's one morning. And the A/C in the camper worked so well that I froze each night.  There is plenty of room in the camper for all those things you "might" need.  We had empty cabinets to pack away rain ponchos, umbrellas, jackets, and blankets.

2. Don't forget your first aid kit: I packed a whole slew of "just in-case" medicine (tylenol, zyrtec, pepto bismal, etc.) but forgot the basics - no bandaids, no neosporin, nothing.  So when my daughter stubbed her toe, I broke my toenail, and my son scraped his knee, we were not prepared.

3. Make your outdoors functional and pretty: We were so worried about making sure we had everything for inside the RV, that we forgot that we would like to have a nice area outdoors too.  A big outdoor carpet to roll out just outside the door of the RV creates a nice place to sit in the shade of the awning, take off your shoes, & leave the dust and dirt behind before heading in.  Also, you can set up a portable table to do your outdoor cooking on right next to the RV, rather than 10 feet away on the picnic table. Lastly, experienced RVers all have flags and lights to decorate their campsite - made it look fun & homey.

4. Bring a canopy for shade: Not all campgrounds and campsites have shade.  Even if your camper has an awning, a portable canopy is nice to provide shade over the picnic table.

5. Bring a portable charcoal grill: What we found was that the fire rings/grills in most of the campsites we visited were not in the best shape to cook on.  We bought an inexpensive portable grill that worked beautifully for us.

6. Drive around & look for the spot you want if you can: If the campground is not busy, see if you can pick your own spot out - don't just accept the one they give you.  Or ask the advice of the person checking you in. Tell then what you want and ask for the spot that has those amenities.

7. Have an easy meal already prepared so you can heat it up on a day you don't feel like cooking: The last day of our trip, I was tired.  And we still had to cook.  I put a status up on Facebook and a friend came back with this advice.  Genius!  Next time, I will have my prepared meal - mac & cheese, soup, etc. ready for that last day.

8. Don't forget condiments: Silly advice, I know - but try eating pancakes without butter & syrup.  Yep, I'm that mom.

9. Park your RV with the door facing the picnic table: Again, another bit of silly advice - but we almost made this mistake once...or twice.....

10. Don't try to do it all: We are that family, you know - I want to try everything that is available at a campsite or state park, even if we are exhausted.  On this trip, with the exception of a few items, we decided on the fly - we did what sounded fun and interesting.  And if we didn't get to that last hike but decided to read for the afternoon, that was great.  I tend to be the type of person who needs her agenda for the day filled, so it was nice to sit and do nothing - talk, read, stare at the fire.  We came home refreshed and relaxed - and you don't always do that after a vacation.

I have mentioned this a bunch this week, but I will say it again - we really enjoyed this trip and will definitely camp in a RV again for vacation.  But if you are on the fence, I encourage you to try camping by renting a RV.  It is not a big investment to take your "traveling hotel room" around to see the sites you want to see!

We rented from Woody RV Rentals in the Austin area.  They have a big lot full of RVs to choose from and they will set you up in the RV that fits your family the best.  They will give you great advice and help you with set-up and driving.  It was one of the most relaxing vacations we have ever taken, certainly not stressful to drive or set up!

10% Discount at Woody RV Rentals: Julie is providing all my readers who mention my blog a 10% discount on their rentals.  Just mention R We There Yet Mom when renting to receive it!

Disclosure: Woody RV Rentals invited us to try camping and provided us with the 2013 Jayco Redhawk for the week. I was not compensated to write this article. These are my true thoughts and opinions.

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