A Beginner's Primer To RV Camping
There are many people for whom
a tent-and-hiking style camping trip simply will not work. Families
with young children, older camping enthusiasts, and those who
just don’t like to tent can still go out camping. Making
use of all that a recreational vehicle has to offer is the perfect
way to spend some quality camping time.
What is RV Camping?
In broad terms, RV camping is
any type of camping from an enclosed vehicle attachment that resembles
a living space. Most RV units include areas for sleeping (with
beds), an area for dining and one for food preparation, a basic
bathroom, and internal heating. There are several types of RV
units. Here are some of the most familiar:
Campers: Campers are meant to
be mounted on the box of a truck.
Motorhomes: Motor homes are probably
the most popular form of RV. They are total units, and the cab
can’t be detached from the living space. The types of motor
homes are defined by the chassis they’re built around.
Fifth Wheels: Fifth wheels are
trailers that are towed behind a truck. For the last decade, fifth
wheel trailers were close to the motorhome in popularity. They
offered a chance for the owner to park their unit and then leave
it, using the truck to go and explore. This made them a good alternative
to the heavier camper. As camper design has gotten lighter, however,
the fifth wheel has seen a drop in popularity. Other trailer designs
have been adapted so that they can be towed by SUVs.
All forms of RV come in many different
sizes and with many additions. What you can get in an RV unit
is only limited by what you can afford.
When you are considering camping
in an RV, affordability is your first priority. With the high
price of gas, operating these heavy units for your camping excursions
will take a bite out of the trip budget. RV units are also very
expensive themselves. The best way to go about determining if
RV camping is the best way for you is to rent a unit for a few
weeks on your own. There are dozens of RV rental companies across
the United States and Canada. Getting your RV camping experiences
started by renting a unit for a time from one of these companies
is a great way to anticipate your monetary needs if you decide
to use one permanently.
One of the truly great things
about RV camping is that you are using a totally self-contained
unit. Everything you need for a comfortable camping trip is right
in the back. You do not have to worry about the availability of
fire pits, the possibility of campfire bans, or the availability
of running water. Even the weather won’t put a damper on
your camping trip; an RV provides shelter from all the elements.
In a tent, you would have to tough out cold, wind, and rain. In
an RV you will stay warm and dry.
All of these conveniences do mean
a little bit of extra work. RV units usually contain a water tank
that you must fill before leaving on your trip. Make sure the
tanks (usually propane) that your refrigerator and heater run
on are also full and the valves are fully closed. Tightly shut
any flaps inside the unit before leaving. Have the proper amount
and length of extension cords and hose attachments. Latch any
closets and the refrigerator door inside the RV securely.
If you are operating an RV unit,
you are driving one of the heaviest vehicles most people will
ever handle without additional training. This extra weight means
that you are going to have to drive at a slower speed. Make sure
to anticipate what is ahead of you; an RV unit is much harder
to stop than other types of vehicle. You will have to take turns
with care while towing a trailer. Remember that you have larger
blind spots when you are towing a trailer too.
A large size RV unit means you
need to take extra care when you are pulling into your camping
spot. Use a very flat spot; most campgrounds have specific areas
for RVs that have been selected because of their level area.
Once you have parked your unit,
it is time to truly enjoy all the benefits of your RV. The additional
area in the unit allows you to pack almost anything you want on
your trip. Lawn chairs, bikes, backpacks, skateboards, even blow-up
pools can be unloaded and you can begin enjoying your living space.
You are master of the forest. Most campsites will offer electrical
and water hookups. If they do not, your unit will draw its electricity
from the vehicle battery. Don’t waste your energy, and run
your vehicle from time to time each day.
When your trip is over, you will
have to empty your septic tank. This job is not as hard as it
may sounds but it is vital that you get rid of your waste in an
area that is designated for the purpose. Almost all campgrounds
have an area that is intended for dumping waste.
There is an RV for everyone’s
needs. They can require less initial expense than buying a boat,
or as much as a small house. There is virtually no limit to the
places where you can stay in an RV. Because your whole living
space is carried along with you, RVers are not necessarily doomed
if they find that all the campgrounds in the area they wanted
to stay are filled up. My family has spent a few nights in a camper
in the parking lot of a shopping center before moving on to reserve
a spot in a campground the next morning. You might even find that
you grow to enjoy RV camping so much that you choose to spend
most of your life living out of the unit!