If you’re one of the millions of new households who has embraced RV ownership, travel, and camping, then you’re in good company.

Although an RV, whether it’s motorized or towed, can help you simplify your travel and your life overall, there is much to learn about it: driving, towing, packing, setting up camp. It’s a good thing that seasoned RVers and campground owners are an all-around friendly bunch, most of whom are happy to offer advice or pitch in if you need help.

These tips can be considered “common sense,” yet we bring them up because sometimes something needs to be practiced in order to become and seem like common sense. In addition, they are reminders for us all, regardless of how adept we are at RVing, because they can make a huge difference in your camping and vacationing experience.

Plan ahead.

This is especially important with campgrounds. With so many new RVers on the road – plus add in your seasoned RVers – it’s become more difficult to secure campground reservations. The best piece of advice is to start early. If you want to camp in the summer, start booking in the winter. If you want to take a fall trip, spring is the time to make your plans. This is particularly encouraged at popular destinations, during holidays, and over weekends. You will have better luck finding something mid-week or be willing to drive to a very popular destination instead of staying “right there.” Know the cancellation policies of the campgrounds, in case you need to alter your plans. Part of planning ahead is being prepared. You should carefully consider what to pack and yet pack everything you need to help you if something happens. You should bring along an extra hose, extra fuses, extra lightbulbs, cleaning supplies, a flashlight, a headlamp, a basic tool kit, etc.

Know your route.

All roads are not created equal, and it’s important to know your route prior to leaving the driveway or campsite so that you don’t find yourself in a tough position. Tight roads, dead ends, historic towns, low underpasses, bridges, and construction detours are some of what you could encounter. Your RV’s dimensions are integral to choosing a route, and thankfully, there are apps now that can help you figure out that route based on the size of your RV. A few examples of apps are RV Life, RV-Safe GPS, and RV Trip Wizard. Check them out and utilize them prior to and during times of travel.

Know your RV.

Just like a house, it can take time to get to know your RV – how to use the space, how it sounds, it’s little quirks. First, however, you need to understand the size of your RV and how it handles while driving, especially how it feels when you’re turning. You need to know how to hook up your RV, if it’s a towable, or how to tow a toad if you’re going to trail one behind your motorhome. Know how to back up and how much visibility you have to do so. Know how to switch power sources, open and close (and troubleshoot) slide-outs, how to hook up and clean our your water tanks, etc. It’s better to undergo a little personal training prior to any trips so that you don’t need to learn “on the job.” There will be plenty of other things to learn at the moment.

Ensure your RV is in tip-top shape for the season.

You can avoid problems and potential problems by making sure your RV is well-maintained. Your tow vehicle and toad as well, if you’re towing. Blown-out tires, worn wheel bearings, holes in hoses, fires, water damage, and more can pretty much be avoided if you practice preventative maintenance and regular inspection. Oil changes, battery replacements, and fluid replacements are also very important for the overall function and safety of your RV. Also, don’t let little problems go by the wayside until they turn into big problems; fix them when they are small problems. Just as you would have your regular vehicle examined prior to taking a long family trip, it may be wise to have your RV inspected by a professional as well as yourself prior to starting the season, or if you have a lengthy trip planned. During the season, continue to check on tires, window seals, the roof, and fluid levels. Wax your RV on a routine basis to help protect the material from extensive sun damage.

Watch – and heed – the weather.

Just as a general aviation pilot would postpone a flight because of poor skies, or a boater would adjust his schedule because the wind is causing the waves to be too high, RVers need to watch the weather and be ready to make adjustments. High winds can spell trouble when traveling on a highway, heavy rain and thunderstorms can cause low visibility and traction. And if you find yourself facing snow and ice, it might be a better idea to leave before or well after the system passes through. Choosing to travel in poor weather conditions is stressful and definitely more hazardous, not just for yourself but for the other passengers and vehicles on the road. If you absolutely must travel, slow way down.

Get an early start.

Preparing a day or two before you depart any location, whether it’s your home or a campground, is important for peace of mind and a relaxing departure. Do the household chores, finish the laundry, take out the trash, pack things into their appropriate bins, fill up the toad or tow vehicle. In the summer, starting earlier means it’s cooler for packing as well as for driving.

Daylight hours are your friend.

Driving in the daylight is typically safer and you can better cover more distance if you’re traveling. If you run into a problem, such as hitting an animal or breaking down on the side of the road, you can better react to the emergency and be better able to find others to help. Most importantly, however, you get to the campground during the daylight and have an easier time backing into and setting up camp. Even though some seasoned RVers prefer to drive at night because there is a lot less traffic and the temperature is generally cooler, which is beneficial for your RV or tow vehicle, get your bearings and some experience under your belt during the daylight hours to start.

Take breaks during driving.

It takes concentration to drive an RV because there are more variables to watch. This can have a physical as well as mental toll. It’s a good idea to stop every few hours to stretch your legs, have a snack, walk around to get the blood pumping again. Fresh air will help revitalize your system and food will reenergize your mind and body to keep going. You can plan these breaks at attractions or around mealtimes, or choose to stop spontaneously based on how you feel. Regardless, don’t plan to drive longer than you think you can manage, no matter how badly you want to reach a destination.

Manage distractions.

It only takes a quick glance to change your life, or the life of another, forever. Managing distractions is a big part of reaching your destination safely, as well as for a more relaxed experience. Pets should be contained, not allowed to roam loose. Kids, though they have their rambunctious times, should use indoor voices and do quiet activities. Your choice of music or whatever is running through the speakers shouldn’t be so loud so as to overwhelm your senses to other important sounds, such as sirens or a busted tire. Times when you find yourself in bumper to bumper traffic, unforeseen bad weather, or in a construction/accident zone are times when distractions must be kept to a minimum, if any at all.

If there’s a problem, start with the simplest solution.

Sometimes a seemingly big problem requires a simple solution. Start there. The simplest solution is typically the easiest fix of them all. Since that saves you time and money, it makes sense to investigate the “easy things” initially.

We hope you have a great RV season and that you reach every destination safely!