We are not new to RVing, but we did recently get a new fifth wheel. We took the first long trip in our new home on wheels in April and came away unscathed for the most part. However, with a new RV comes trial and error and a few mistakes to be made. If you’re just following along, feel free to have a good laugh. If you’re thinking about buying an RV for yourself, maybe these out of the norm RV mistakes will help you when you take yours out for the first time.
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April was the month we set to put the house on the market, so it was a perfect time for a trip…a Disney trip! I was so stressed out prior to putting it on the market that the kids needed me to be in a happier place for a while, plus I needed them to be out of the house so that I wasn’t having to try to keep it clean 24/7. We headed first to Alabama, then to Disney World, then to Sarasota so I could attend a chiropractic seminar.
We had taken the prior month to downsize dramatically and just shoved much of the rest of our stuff into the fifth wheel right before the trip. Because we will be going full-time soon, I wanted to use part of this trip to get our camper organized with most of the stuff we will be taking along on our journey. We also needed to figure out our “dance”. So as with anything new, you just have to make a few mistakes and learn some lessons along the way.
Table of Contents
RV Mistakes #1: Getting out of a routine
As I said above, we are not new to RVing. We had a routine with the old camper, but with a new one comes a new routine. Because we hadn’t been out in the new camper much, we hadn’t established one. And because this fifth wheel is a bit more modern than our previous fifth wheel, my old checklist doesn’t suit us anymore. Luckily, there were only two times we had an issue, and they were both minor ones.
- Forgetting to latch the refrigerator door. So we forgot to do this once, and only once. All of the water bottles and melons must have bounced around just enough to push the door open. When we stopped for the night, there were water bottles, a busted watermelon, and a bruised up cantaloupe on the floor. Oops! And a side note…we have a residential size fridge, so there’s no nice little “click” sound signifying a latched door like on other RV refrigerators.
- Forgetting to check the slides for obstructions. Let me clarify. This was NOT failing to check the area around the outside of the camper for anything that the slides could hit. It was failing to check the inside of the camper to make sure nothing had fallen and would obstruct the slides upon opening. One of the kids’ plastic games had fallen out of the cabinet and got wedged between the slide and the couch. And what happened as we opened the slide? CRUNCH! Oops! No harm was caused to the slide, but I can’t say the same for the Trouble game.
Getting out of our routine didn’t cause any major problems this time, but one little step missed could potentially cause some serious issues.
RV Mistakes #2: Not organizing before the trip
Ok, so you don’t have to be OCD like me when it comes to organization, but a little bit of organization prior to the trip will make for a better experience.
- Put those round melons in a storage basket in the fridge. This prevents them from bouncing around and knocking open the refrigerator door. (See #1 of RV mistake #1 above.) This could also apply to other things such as glass condiment jars when they don’t all fit in the door of the fridge.
- Cradle bananas in a dish towel for the ride. No one likes to wake up in the morning to find bananas that you just bought yesterday have turned brown and mushy as if they are a week old. Well, not unless you are planning to make banana bread in your tiny camper oven that never gets to the right temperature. =)
- Organize the cooking utensils drawer. Your RV is literally living through an earthquake as you drive down the road. Things are going to shift. And when they do, if you’ve just shoved those cooking utensils in the drawer without a care in the world, you just might not be able to open the drawer the next time you want to cook a meal.
I know it’s exciting (and exhausting) to get loaded up for your trip, but do yourself a favor and take a few extra minutes to organize. It will save you some time and frustration later.
RV Mistakes #3: Not taking your time
You know stuff is going to happen. You can almost bet on it. Just slow down, take a deep breath, and roll with it or you’ll constantly be in a bad mood. (Do as I say, not as I do!)
Before we left on our trip, I was hurriedly loading all of the food into the camper. I had just bought these great Better Homes and Gardens food storage containers and filled one of them with sugar. Wouldn’t you know it, I grabbed it by the lid to put in one of the top cabinets in the camper, and it fell right out of my hand. Teeny tiny sugar granules went everywhere. Not only that, but when I got the handheld vac to try to suck it all up, it died about halfway through. Ugh!
Peyton’s bed is up in the loft, which means he has to climb down the ladder every morning. One night we just wanted him to go to bed, so we skipped the normal bedtime routine. When he woke up with a full bladder, he couldn’t help but pee all over the floor because he couldn’t make it down fast enough. Poor kid. I couldn’t get too mad at him because after having kids, I understand that when you gotta go, you gotta go.
And talk about having kids, I swear my brain basically shut down after birthing them. We left the camper after lunch one day so I could get back to the seminar I was attending. Brent and the kids ran some errands then came back to pick me up a few hours later. After that, we went to dinner and stopped for ice cream before returning to the camper for the evening. I opened the door to the warmth and smell of heat. I had left the oven on for over 7 hours. Yikes!!! This still haunts me, but I’m just glad our camper didn’t burn down.
So, yeah. Stuff is going to happen when you don’t take your time. And you’ll want to get angry (I do, many times). Just remember that RV life is all about slowing down and rolling with the punches.
RV Mistakes #4: Not knowing how to fix things
Ok, ok…this is one mistake that we haven’t made because Brent is a great handyman. BUT…you just need to make sure you are somewhat knowledgeable in fixing things.
RVs aren’t made like houses. Some RVs spend as little as a day or two on the assembly line and come prepped with low-quality fixtures. And as I already stated above, they experience an earthquake every time you drive down the road. Things will come loose or break.
On this trip, the fixtures that held our clothes rod onto the walls in the closet broke, fasteners started falling out of the A/C vents, and screws came loose on a few of the latches that hold the closet doors closed. While we didn’t immediately have everything we needed to make the repairs, our resident handyman got the job done once we did.
Having the knowledge to be able to fix things will come in handy. So start learning now if you don’t know how to take care of everyday problems.
RV Mistakes #5: Forgetting to check under the toilet seat
Let’s just say, I hate spiders…and leave it at that.
I hope you are able to take away something useful and learn from our RV mistakes. If not, I hope you at least had a bit of a good laugh.