If thehas you going stir-crazy, there’s a good chance you’ve considered and taking a . After all, an RV allows you to travel without exposing yourself to germy airports and hotels.
You wouldn’t be the onlyto come up with that idea. In May, peer-to-peer rental service saw a 650% spike in bookings since the beginning of April.
But if you’re a first-time RV driver, there can be a steep learning curve to overcome. Before hitting the open road, ensure you don’t make one of these major first-timer mistakes.
1. Believing bigger is better
Considering that you’ll spend a reasonable amount of time in your RV, you want to be comfortable. But that doesn’t mean you should buy the giant RV you can. Choosing something too small will make traveling feel claustrophobic.
“The mistake I made was thinking I needed more space than we needed,” said Angela M. DiLoreto, who travels nearly full-time in her travel trailer and blogs with her husband at . “People compare the space to their houses; we spend a lot of time in the four walls of our home but little time inside the walls of an RV.” However, she said, the RV experience is about what happens outside those walls.
A smaller vehicle will be easier to drive and park and up and tear down. Plus, many have length restrictions for camping, so keep this in mind when choosing the size of your RV.
2. Buying brand-spanking new
If you’re buying your RV, it might be tempting to lean toward the security of purchasing brand new. After all, new cars are in great shape and ready to roll, so you might presume RVs are, too.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t true in RVing,” said Georgianne Austin, communications director for . Common advice shared in RVing circles, she said, is that it’s best to buy an RV that’s at least two years old. “The idea behind this is to , such as interior construction problems, chassis problems, etc., which surface during the first real ride with the RV.” This is often referred to as the “shakedown” trip.
By purchasing a used RV, someone else has already dealt with those issues that arise with the first few trips and has hopefully had them fixed by the time you take over.
3. Failing to check the carrying capacity
Because RVs are big, you might think they can easily haul whatever you can fit inside. And you might believe that the bigger the RV, the more it can tow. Those misconceptions can cost you, said Kimberly Button, co-editor of . “All RVs are different, based on their designs, but they are only designed to safely carry a certain amount of weight, known as gross cargo carrying capacity.”
Cargo carrying capacities can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds. Either way, that limit includes personal items (shoes, clothing, sports gear, etc.), food, water (including fresh, gray, and black tanks), updates or additions to the RV (, TVs, etc.), and passengers.
Button warned that carrying more than that capacity could damage your RV, trailer, tow vehicle, or both. “It is essential for RV buyers to consider how they are going to camp and how many they will be bringing.”
4. Not considering what your tow vehicle can handle
Another mistake, specifically for those looking at travel trailers, is purchasing a camper too heavy for the towing capacity of their vehicle, according to Rosanna T. Mitchell, founder of outdoor family adventure site . “Horror stories abound of RV dealers and sales associates assuring customers that their vehicle can tow a camper weighing thousands of pounds only to realize later they need a new towing vehicle, or worse, get in an accident,” she said.
If you plan to buy a trailer, ensure your existing vehicle is equipped to tow the weight. If not, you may to budget for a new towing vehicle or consider a different type of RV.
5. Traveling with too many aftermarket modifications
Especially with the explosion of the “” movement, many RV owners are making aftermarket modifications to their vehicles to make them more livable and aesthetically pleasing.
However, it would be best if you were wary of purchasing an RV with modifications such as high roofs or different passenger and driver seats, said , a personal injury attorney in Orlando, Florida, who’s owned an RV for about five years.
“The reason is that these aftermarket changes very often by the original vehicle manufacturer,” she said. For example, removing the original roof from a van and adding a new high beams surrounding the occupants. Plus, many extended vans already have a , and making them taller adds to that risk. Buying something that looks like it drove right off an influencer’s Instagram feed can be tempting, but safety should be the priority when choosing a vehicle.