Jun 272011

No two RVers are the same. Some of us are fulltimers, some are snowbirds,and some are weekend warriors. Some of us like the wide open spaces, while others prefer state parks, or RV resorts with full amenities. But no matter how we travel in our RVs, or where we go with them, we all have some things in common, and I want to share some suggestions that I think every RVer should do to make their experience more fun, safer,and easier. So here is my list of a dozen things I believe that every RVer should do.

1. Take an RV driving class – Whether you tow it or drive it, RVs are bigger, heavier, have a bigger footprint on the roadway, take longer to stop, and turn differently than your family car or SUV. Take an RV driving class from a qualified professional. The RV Driving School has instructors at many RV rallies nationwide. 

2. Know your RV’s height – Not just the factory stated height, but the height including any add-on accessories, such as satellite TV antennas, roof vent covers, etc., and write it down on a card that you can stick in an easy to read location when going down the road.

3. Protect your electrical system – Our Progressive Industries Electrical Management System (EMS) saved our MCI bus conversion three times from damage from low voltage and high voltage spikes. When we bought our Winnebago diesel pusher, it was the first accessory we  added.

4. Invest in a tire pressure monitoring system – Our PressurePro system has made monitoring our tires a snap, and has saved us from trouble more than once.

5. Know how to read a map – Yes, computer mapping programs and GPS units have made trip planning a snap. But there are still times when you need to take a detour, or when your electronic goodies want to lead you down a path you shouldn’t be on. That’s when some basic map reading skills can be essential. Learn how to read a map, and what all of those different colored and shaped lines mean. Someday, you’ll be glad you did! 

6. Have your RV weighed – Traveling with an RV that exceeds its gross vehicle weight rating can lead to early tire wear and failure, undue wear and tear on suspension and shock absorbers, and unsafe stopping in an emergency situation. RVSEF, the Escapees RV Club, a company called RV Weigh, and some RV rallies offer weighing programs that can tell you what your loaded RV weighs, and the proper tire inflation for your RV and its load.

7. Know your tires – How old are the tires on your RV, or how old are the tires you are getting ready to buy? Do you know how to read the weight and date codes on your tires? Roger Marble’s RV Tire Safety blog has a lot of excellent information on RV tires, and how to get the most from them.

8. Join Passport America – We have saved a small fortune on campground fees in our travels with our Passport America membership. With over 1700 affiliated campgrounds nationwide, we have spent many enjoyable nights at member parks from coast to coast.

9. Get an RV roadside service policy – AAA or the company that provides your  homeowner’s insurance policy may offer some type of towing coverage, but for an RV, spend the extra money to get a roadside service policy that is designed for RVers. Coach-Net and Good Sam both offer good RV roadside service plans. For Good Sam insurance, my friend Chris Yust is the person to talk to.

10. Carry good fire extinguishers – RV fires happen, and they are terrible things to experience. We have had two fires in our RVs, and having and knowing how to use our fire extinguishers, saved us both times. Not all fire extinguishers are created equally, and we get ours from the RV fire safety expert, Mac McCoy. We also have an automatic engine compartment fire extinguisher and a refrigerator compartment automatic fire extinguisher. 

11. Use jack pads – We use square laminated wood jack pads whenever we  put our jacks down on pavement, concrete, grass, or anyplace else where our jacks could case damage or sink into the surface.

12. Buy an auxiliary brake system – If you tow a car, you need a good auxiliary brake system to stop it. For years we traveled without one, and then a panic stop to avoid a collision showed us the folly of our ways. Fortunately, the only damage was to a motorcycle rack on the back of our rig, but it could have been worse. Today we never pull out onto the highway without our SMI Air Force One auxiliary brake hooked up. 

Just to be clear, none of the products or vendors listed here paid for a referral in this blog post. In fact, they won’t even know I mentioned them, unless they happen to read the blog. I believe in promoting the folks who sell quality products, and are committed to customer service. I recommend these items and services because we use each and every one of them ourselves, and because I believe they are necessary for every RVer.

Yes, many of the things I am recommending cost money. In fact, some of them cost a significant amount. But each and every one of them is an investment in your safety and in getting the most from your RV experience. You have a lot invested in your home on wheels. How much is it, and your own safety, worth?

Bad Nick has been way too quiet lately, but he’s back and he’s ticked off. Check out his new blog post, titled Hateful People, and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day – It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply be a bad example to others.

Click Here To Register For Our Eastern Gypsy Gathering Rally!

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  14 Responses to “Twelve Things Every New RVer Should Do”

  1. Can you send me to the link where you were upset with the “hate Bush” crowd, the folks that called him names, and the folks that wished he & his family bodily harm? I must have missed that Bad Nick column.

  2. Excellent post Nick! After full-timing for 7 years, I agree wholeheartedly with all of your recommendations! I would love to see people take a driving course and realize how long it takes to brake. Maybe they would slow down a little and enjoy the ride instead of going 80 mph in a 60 mph speed limit.

  3. Hi Nick,

    This comment is focused more towards the Bad Nick blog post today, but my question here relates to both your blogs. I recall a post you made several weeks ago entitled “Who Wins and Who Loses.” That post received a lot of comments and I believe your Bad Nick post today may as well. (Great post, by the way.) I’m wondering if you’ve ever blogged about, or taken note of, which topics entice more people to respond with comments??

  4. Hi Janice,
    I have not kept track of which blog posts get the most response, but it wouldn’t be hard to go back and look at the comments to determine that. Part of what I try to accomplish as a blogger, on both this blog and Bad Nick, is to get people to think about the issues I write about, and hopefully engage them enough to get a response.

  5. Excellent list! You have my seal of approval. 🙂

  6. Nick, I applaud your RVer’s “bucket list” as well. On mine I’d add a good campground guide, whether it be on-line or on paper. We have several that we choose from and the Passport America is on top of the list. Thanks, as always, oRV

  7. Great advice Nick… Those are definately the top 10!!!
    Have fun & Travel safe

    ps..come on by and become a follower of my new RV Park Review Blog. Also add it to your favorites so you can see when I update it! It is still under construction but I intend to add as many of the parks that we have visited in our 7 years of full timing. Good thing I kept notes…LOL LOL I will still be maintaining my other blog site also. thanks ;-D

  8. Great points. I totally believe in all of them and continually make similar recomendations. what gets me is when people ask me this stuff, and I tell them…then they tell me the stuff costs too much. I get that all the time with PressurePro, and with the Progressive EMS.

  9. Thanks for the reminders Nick! At one time or another I’ve thought of these but forgotten some of them. Proving I am right – I’m losing it.

  10. Hey Nick,
    We love your 12 thing list. May we use it on a future broadcast with acknowledgement of your authorship?

    John and Kathy

  11. Janice, from Ready To Go Full Time Rving, posted about your blog and what great timing. We just bought our first diesel RV and are living in it fulltime. We haven’t been in it a full week yet so your article is just the thing for us to have. Thanks so much for putting it together…and helping us put it all together!

  12. Nick I enjoyed reading your Twelve Things Every New RV-er Should Do” We full time RV-ed for 10 years in a PD4106 bus conversion and enjoyed reading about you and Miss Terry building your MCI. I wish we had had the benefit of a site like yours back then. I was very impressed when I read this, (Just to be clear, none of the products or vendors listed here paid for a referral in this blog post. In fact, they won’t even know I mentioned them, unless they happen to read the blog.)
    We specialize in RV Waste Management and are trying to educate RVers from a systems standpoint on what they have and how it works as well as how to optimize their existing system. Our goal is to make dumping holding tank uneventful, sanitary and environmentally friendly. I invite you to check our our site http://www.drainmaster.com and then give me a call 877 787 8833 X12 toll free. The
    RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer does what you do, he talks about products he likes through testing or using, not to make a fast buck.
    With appreciation,

  13. We are gate guards so have a portable generator and the amp varies, I know but it didn’t occur to me (being just an English major) that I can do anything to protect the rig. Our current one uses 50 amps and we’re going to upgrade to a 5th wheel Brookstone which I assume is also 50. What exactly should I be getting for that? How can I know?

  14. My husband and I have a clear division of labor when it comes to the RV tasks on the road. Similiar to how we operate at home, he does all the “outside stuff,” I do all the “inside stuff.” You’re list is helpful because it was a needed kick in the pants on how important it might be to take more interest in all the things he does (most of the driving, all things mechanical, outside set-up/take-down, etc.) in case we get into a situation some day where he is temporarily unable to do these things, God Forbid! After I read this “12 Things list”, I had him show me how to hook up the car on the car dolly. Next, I’ll have him show me the tire check process, and so on. I do drive the RV a little, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to take a class! It might make me feel a little more competant. As a woman, I rely far to heavily on his “manly” tech skills. But the truth is, although his mecahnical background & tech skills are far superior to mine, I am perfectly capable of learning the basics to get me through an emergency! And I think he likes it when I show a little interest in his “outside” duties! It might even get me breakfast in bed a little more often!

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