When it’s time to hit the road for your very first camping trip, you’re filled with excitement and probably a bit of fear. How many times will it take to back into the campsite? What will you do if you can’t get the RV level? Did you pack enough food for the weekend?
Although these questions are valid, as long as you avoid the five biggest camping mistakes, your first-weekend trip should be enjoyable and relaxing. Let’s take a closer look at common mistakes that you don’t want to make!
Why Do RVers Make Mistakes?
First, all types of travelers make mistakes that they regret. Whether you’ve been full-time living on the road for seven years or are going on your first camping trip, everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are tiny and don’t have serious consequences while other times those mistakes can be disastrous.
Oftentimes, RVers make mistakes when they’re in too much of a hurry. You cannot be in a rush when you’re setting up or packing things away. You risk forgetting something or ignoring the checklist you’re supposed to follow because you’re in such a hurry.
Another reason RVers make mistakes is that they become complacent. They think that because they’ve done this for years, they don’t have to worry about forgetting to do something important. YouTube is full of influencers who have made terrible mistakes like driving underneath a low-clearance bridge or opening a slide into the pedestal at a campsite. So no matter how long you’ve been RVing, it’s important not to get too comfortable with the ins and outs of travel.
5 Biggest Camping Mistakes
There are plenty of things that can go wrong when you’re camping. From the awning not retracting to the stove not lighting to the electric tongue jack not lowering, the possibilities of failures are countless. But if you can avoid these five biggest camping mistakes, you’re likely to still be able to enjoy the weekend.
1. Packing Too Much Stuff
Newbies to the camping lifestyle generally pack too much stuff. Not only does this make a small living space even tinier, but it can also put your RV over the GVWR. This is the maximum amount of weight that your RV can safely transport. If you load up the trailer or motorhome with tubs and tubs of clothes, dishes, toys, camping gear, and other items, it’s likely you’ll be overweight, which is dangerous.
You’ll also find that you won’t use much of the stuff you bring. If you pack light, you’ll have room inside to watch a movie, cook dinner, or play a game. But if your RV is inundated with boxes or tubs, you’ll feel like your 300 square feet is more like 200 square feet. This can ruin a weekend camping trip.
2. Traveling Too Far In One Day
Another huge mistake RVers make is traveling too far in one day. If you’re planning a road trip or taking a month-long vacation to visit family in another state, it’s a good idea to follow the 3-3-3 rule for driving. Many RVers, even seasoned ones, use this guideline. The 3-3-3 rule means you travel no more than 300 miles in one day, arrive at the campground by 3:00pm, and stop every three hours. Often full-time RVers will also stay a minimum of three days in one location to help break up the road trip as well.
Why does this matter? Fatigue is dangerous. Driving an RV or towing an RV is much more stressful than driving a standard vehicle. You get tired more quickly. Don’t risk endangering your life or the lives of others on the road by driving too far in one day.
3. Not Having A Checklist
Even people who have traveled for years have a checklist. This ensures that nothing is forgotten and no task is left undone. Packing up to leave the campground or loading up to head to the campground requires a lot of work. Having a checklist helps you stay focused. You don’t pack too much stuff (remember #1 above?) because you have a checklist of only the items you need to take. And you also don’t forget to do something like unhook the power cord from the pedestal, lower the antenna, or lock the refrigerator door.
Camping trips can turn into disasters when you don’t follow a checklist. You’ll park at a campsite and open the door to find pickles and milk all over the floor. You might damage your RV if you don’t raise the back jacks before raising the front jacks in your fifth wheel. So it’s a good idea to keep (and follow) a checklist.
4. Not Planning Your Route
Google Maps or Apple Maps is not your friend. When traveling in an RV, it’s important to have an RV-friendly GPS system. Whether it’s a Garmin or an app, there are RV-specific tools to help make your drive safe. You can input your rig’s height, length, and weight, and the device or app will give you directions that avoid low clearances, tunnels, tight turns, and other non-friendly routes for RVs.
You also want to look at your route and plan your stops. This is where the 3-3-3 rule of driving comes in handy. Break up the drive into segments. Find a safe place to get fuel. Locate a rest area at the 3-hour mark. By planning your route, you’ll ensure that you get to your destination safely and without fatigue.
5. Not Making Reservations Ahead of Time
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes you don’t want to make is planning a trip to visit a popular location and then waiting until the last minute to book your reservations. Sometimes you can get by with waiting until the week before to visit a less-crowded campground. But oftentimes, you have to make reservations months in advance.
This isn’t the way camping has always been, but it’s the reality of current trends. There are more people camping, which means campgrounds stay full. If you want to make sure to get a campsite in a high-traffic destination like a National Park or a big city, make those reservations as far in advance as possible.
Follow These Tips To Avoid A Bad Camping Trip
Don’t turn your dream vacation into a nightmare by making these common camping mistakes. If you drive too long in a single day and start to fall asleep at the wheel, you could end up in the hospital rather than on a beach watching a sunset. If you don’t plan your route to know where RV-friendly fuel stations are located, you could end up stranded on the side of the road instead of roasting marshmallows over the campfire.
If you’ve made any of these mistakes, you’re not alone. But if you’re just starting out, these tips are meant to help you enjoy your first camping trip and the adventures to follow. Enjoy the journey and go make memories one campsite at a time!
Have you ever done something you regret while camping?