My Top 10 Newbie Mistakes and Lessons
Newbies to veterans please feel free to expand on these items or add to this!
1. Understand your maneuvering abilities and turning radius It's easy to get stuck or bonk something so be careful where you're going. If you're a little lost never assume the road you're turning down (to turn around, re-orient, etc.) has an outlet/exit let alone an easy one. This is especially pertinent if you're towing a vehicle.
2. Learn the basics of hookups and stowage. The importance of leveling the RV at a campsite, necessary chords, cables, hoses, filters, waste management, battery usage/consumption, etc. Practice hooking up and unhooking. If you have a companion try to incorporate a system that benefits efficiency and safety.
3. Find, create and employ checklists. There are many and they can save your bacon. Edit and embellish the lists as necessary to accommodate your specific setup.
4. Plan space efficiency and realize this incorporates a degree of minimalism especially in smaller RV's. From bins for cabinets to the number of forks in the drawer more stuff is more weight and there's less room for it. Take what you need and leave what you won't use. There's a learning curve here...
5. Find and install apps that assist you.
I saved $100's of dollars using GasBuddy. By understanding my RV's range I could extend a trip segment (or turn in early) simply by knowing gas prices ahead. In some cases the price was nearly $1.00/ gallon difference.
Rest area apps helped me plan for fatigue or sustenance during the trip.
Campground / Overnight apps - Don't assume campgrounds or any overnight parking are available so plan ahead. SoCal is a great example. Walmart parking prohibited everywhere and campgrounds are scarce and often booked 6 months in advance. Street parking prohibited in all of San Diego counted and the police (by their own admission) write numerous parking citations every night.
6. Use this forum, YouTube and useful websites to educate yourself. Take the time to learn what your rig can and can't do, what can be modified or upgraded, and plan each project taking into account your own specific necessity. Know your limits of install. One person's "easy install" is another person's "nightmare".
My examples -
Towed (TOAD) vehicle. I happen to own a Jeep Wrangler yay. Quoted cost and install of all necessary items - $5074. Sooo installed the baseplate myself but allowed the lighting/electric to be done professionally. Got and RVi3 instead of integral brake hookup. Bought the stuff on Amazon as a kit (way cheaper than dealer price). My total cost ended up being about $3000. The lesson know your talents/limits and pick your battles accordingly.
A steering stabilizer. My first trip was 2200 miles. Dealership in FL to the west coast. It wasn't white knuckle but it was quite a shakedown run. Actually great fun. I plan to install the Safe-T-Plus myself.
Solar install I'm still learning but still assessing my present and future needs.
The newbie lesson here is be careful of both underkill and overkill.
7. Learn basic etiquette. Many folks camp for peace so be aware of noise levels from generators and music to drunk friends. Campfire placement, camp setup and encroachment, cleanup etc. A lot of this is common sense but a general awareness is of benefit to everyone.
8. Create a driving interior set up that works. Driving - from cup holders, to iPads, to brake monitor displays, to efficient use of power outlets the more effortless your scan of your cockpit area the safer your experience on the road. Plan the driving space to minimize distraction and maximize visibility of assistance tools.
9. Be attentive to the sounds, issues, and nuances of your rig. A small problem today can be a huge problem tomorrow. Make a list and either address them yourself or get the work done either under warranty or by a repair facility.
10. Don't be afraid to ask. Whether it's this forum or the folks camping next to you I've noticed the conversations I've had as a newbie have already not only increased my infantile knowledge but have stoked my motivation to learn more. This is a shared passion and folks are typically friendly and happy to share their knowledge and experience.