Advice to First-Time RVers

It might not be as easy as you think it is


Can you tell me what a full hookup site is? More newbies, I think as I explain one of the basics of RV life. So many people are buying RVs right now that the RV lots are practically empty, and don’t even think about negotiating for a lower price. Who are these people buying up all the RVs? People who believe it is the safest way to travel during this pandemic, an easy way to be somewhere else. People that have no experience traveling and living in an RV.

To all of you newbie RVers, a big WELCOME from all of us veterans. But also, some words of advice. Uh-oh, I hear you thinking, here it comes. But wait! Before you write us off as a bunch of old farts who think they know everything because they managed to live a long time, try to think of this as an introduction to a foreign country to which you’ve been transferred by your company; in order to live there peacefully and smoothly, you need information about its culture and societal norms.

First, if you’re buying a used RV, invest in a thorough inspection by a good RV mechanic. And this is good advice even if you’ve bought a new rig, since they often have flaws that could prove inconvenient and expensive later on. Then, before you hit the road, get to know the basics of daily, weekly, and yearly maintenance. To give you the best information possible, I gathered my usual group of full-timers, knowing they love nothing better than giving advice.

All agreed that the most important step you can take before hitting the road is to get to know your water and sewer system. Either take lessons from an experienced RVer or research it online. But learn it or you’re going to end up with a really nasty situation that can’t be ignored. Find out how much water to keep in your black water tank, how often to empty it, what product to treat it with. Ditto your grey water tank. Get a water pressure gauge and reducer because water pressure is very high at some RV parks, and without this inexpensive gadget, you’re just asking for a major flood in your new home. Find out about leveling and wheel covers and wheel chucks and the power box and roof sealers and the peculiarities of your TV and sound system. And for goodness sake, learn how to drive the thing, and that includes backing up. The more you know, the easier life will be.

Now let’s talk about a subject near and dear to my heart — RV parks. An RV Park is a business. As with any other business, it has the legal right to set rules. Remember the sign in restaurants — NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE? If you don’t agree with the rules, find another place to stay.

What’s the big deal? you may be thinking. How hard is it to follow some stinking rules?  Well, my friend, let me explain.

Let’s say you’ve never stayed in an RV park before and you think just because you are living in a home you own, you have the right to do anything you would do if your home was perched on your own property. Want to build a utility shed in your backyard? Use a charcoal grill on your patio? How about speeding up your gravel driveway at 30 miles per hour or hosting an outdoor party late into the wee hours and allowing your guests to park on your lawn. Maybe you and your spouse occasionally have a discussion that turns rather loud until one of you stomps out, slams the door, revs up the car engine, and roars off at one in the morning. Or you like to let your pooch hang out in your fenced yard while you run to the grocery store.

All of the above and others are specifically addressed on the list of rules each camper is given when they arrive at a park, rules that were developed over time and through the experiences of the owners of this business. Rules that, if followed, make sure the park and its visitors and residents stay safe in a happy and peaceful environment. Rules like our 10-MPH speed limit, dog care, parking, fire safety, quiet hours, etc.

Lately there has been more confusion than usual here at Rose Valley about what behavior is allowed and what is frowned upon, usually from newbie RVers. I’ve heard that other RV parks are experiencing the same situation. And in addition to our regular rules, we’ve all added special regulations to reduce the spread of Covid-19, such as wearing masks in public and restricting the use of communal showers and laundry. Most of the rule-breakers respond responsibly and apologetically when reminded by the camp host of the regulations. However, occasionally – not often – park guests are so determined to stay and continue their bad behavior that management has no choice but to ask them to leave; if that request is ignored, depending on the situation, the police might be called for assistance. (And here I would like to give a big grateful shout-out to the wonderful officers from the Silver City Police Department that always show up immediately and handle every situation in a calm, respectful yet firm manner. Thank you from Rose Valley RV Ranch and all the other RV parks in the area.) But most parks, however, prefer to work out any problems without using this drastic measure. Just follow the rules, OK?

What I’m saying is before you set out on your first RVing journey, do your homework. Then pack up, pull out, and begin your big adventure.

 Sheila and husband, Jimmy, have lived at Rose Valley RV Ranch in Silver City since 2012, following five years of wandering from Maine to California. She can be contacted at