We’re the Hambricks, a family of four with a two and four-year-old. While we’ve traveled a lot, we’d never had the pleasure of taking an RV trip. As excited as we were, we knew it would be different than any other trip we’ve been on and might call for more preparation. Here are some things we learned planning and during our trip that will be useful for other first time RVers.
You Don’t Have to Buy an RV to Get the RV Experience, Just Rent One!
Did you know you could have an RV experience without owning an RV? Renting an RV is really simple! We rented ours from Outdoorsy, it’s like an Airbnb for RVs. The process was easy and the owner we rented from told us everything we needed to know before we drove off. We recorded what he said and showed us so we could reference back in case we forgot something on the road.
The Different Types of RVs and How to Choose the Right RV for You
There are three different types of motorhomes: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A Motorhomes are the biggest ones and resemble coach buses. In all honesty they probably aren’t the best option for first timers unless you’re used to driving tour buses or tractor-trailers.
Class B Motorhomes are camper vans. They are sprinter vans that have been converted into a living space. This means the bathrooms and walking space is extremely tight. Your shower and toilet will be in the same space and the max sleeping capacity is typically two people.
We rented a Class C Motorhome. It is a motorhome on the chasse of a truck or a van. They provide a good amount of space and come with multiple beds, dining table and full bathroom. Here’s the inside of the one we rented.
In addition to the motorhomes there are also multiple types of RVs that are towable units, meaning that you pull it with a truck or SUV.
Do You Need a Special License to Drive an RV?
In most states, RVs weighing under 26,000 pounds don’t require a special license. But Class A RVs are the only ones that could potentially weigh more than 26,000 pounds so if you plan on driving a Class B or C you should be fine. You can double check with the state’s DMV for updated information and these rules sometimes change.
Know the Height of Your RV
Why is knowing the height of your RV important? Depending on where you are driving you may have to go through tunnels or drive under bridges. Your hood scraping the ceiling and you getting stuck is not the time to learn your RV is taller than the height limit. While driving through Zion National Park there is a tunnel that RVs over a certain height can only go through during certain times of the day. If you need to drive through and miss the cut off time the roundabout way adds 2 hours on to your journey!
Making an RV Camp Reservation: Do You Really Need To and What Type of Spot Should You Reserve?
I am a big planner so naturally I wanted to make sure we had all our RV camp reservations secured before getting on the road. Was this really necessary? I think it depends on when and where you are going.
We traveled out West in late November when the weather starts to get very cold. While the weather meant there were fewer RVers and making a reservation wasn’t really necessary to get a spot it also meant not all RV camps were open. When calling some closer to Bryce Canyon I discovered they were closed for the season. Had I not called ahead to make a reservation we could have been left in a situation of having spotty cell phone service making it difficult to find another RV camp to stay at. The nearest one open one was 90 minutes away so I’m really happy we planned ahead.
When making your reservation some parks will give you the option of a pull-through or back in spot. Always go with the pull-through, they are much easier to get in and out of.
Some RV parks have different hook up options. When booking your RV campsite, you need to know if your RV is 30 or 50amp to make sure you book the correct spot. Some RVs do come with an adaptor to hook up to either, but many don’t so make sure ahead of time if you’ll need one or not.
Know Where You Can Replenish Your Propane Along Your Route
Depending on the RV you have your stove and central air including the heat may run on propane only. This means even if you are hooked up to electricity, without propane you will not be able to cook or stay warm in the winter. Filling up the propane in an RV can only be done by a professional and not all propane refill stations service RVs. It’s imperative you know where you can fill up along your route or you could be hungry or freezing!
Double Check Your Destination Has RV Parking
If you’re not pulling a travel trailer and have a motorhome like us parking can be a little tough in some locations. Make sure each of your destinations has parking for RVs. Even if they do, space might be limited so always give yourself extra time to find parking in case you have to go to a different RV parking lot.
These tips should help make your first RV trip one without many hiccups. One thing we learned was the RV community is very helpful. When in doubt just ask a fellow RVer and they will usually be happy to assist you. Enjoy your first RV trip and good luck with not wanting to immediately purchase one when you get back home!
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