Did you ring in the new year with a brand-new RV? Our family did! We bought a new travel trailer recently after many years of stuffing our family into an RV that really was too small for us. We were excited to upgrade to a bigger rig with more space and with upgraded features.
Even though we were experienced RVers, settling into our new RV was more complicated than we expected. We had to learn the ins and outs of traveling with and living in this trailer. Luckily, all of the efforts were worth it, and we love our new Jayco JayFlight bunkhouse travel trailer.
Whether you’re purchasing your first RV or upgrading to a different model, here are some helpful tips for settling into your new rig:
What do I load into a new RV?
Packing for your first trip can be nerve-wracking because you want to have everything you’ll ever need, without having to spend a bunch of dough (you probably just spent it all buying your new rig, right?). When we bought our first RV, we found sample packing lists online to get an idea of what we would need. We wanted to make it as homey as possible.
Checklists will give you lots of ideas; however, be aware they might give you too many ideas. With a new RV, it’s good to keep it simple. Otherwise, you could overfill your rig with items you’ll never end up using.
What things are essential? The items you’ll need to safely tow and park your RV are top priorities, as well as all of the gear for using the electrical, water, and sewer systems. After that, think through the basics of eating and sleeping. Then, you can move on to everything else that will make your new RV feel like home.
What is a “shakedown trip”?
Even though we were experienced RVers by the time we bought our new trailer, we still took it out for a shakedown trip. This kind of trip helps you get familiar with towing, setting up, and using your new rig. It is best to do this relatively close to home and close to civilization (i.e. stores and restaurants). Don’t plan on exploring a new destination during a shakedown trip since you’ll probably spend a lot of time focused on the RV.
Pull out your notes and videos from the RV walkthrough, and test all of the systems. It is nice to have full hookups, so you can conveniently check out the water and sewer systems. Put all of the other elements through their paces by doing things such as opening the awning, using the oven, and putting ice cream in the freezer. Then, make sure everything works properly…and that YOU can work everything properly.
On our shakedown trip with our first RV, we discovered we didn’t understand how the fridge worked. We had not cooled it before the trip, which meant it was too warm for our newly purchased groceries. We ended up making a return trip to the store to get some ice for our cooler. We were glad to have this learning experience before hitting the road for a longer trip.
What should I do when I find problems with my new RV?
It is not uncommon to find things that don’t work right in a new rig. RVs are somewhat quickly assembled by a manufacturer before being hauled across the country to a dealership, where they may sit for a few months. After this process, despite everyone’s best intentions, there may be items that are broken or not functioning correctly. Keep extensive notes about these as you use your new rig.
If your warranty items don’t need to be fixed right away, keep on traveling and taking notes. That way, you can have a list of all of the small items to be repaired at once. Unfortunately, many service bays are really busy, so it may take a couple of weeks or months to get your RV back, so plan accordingly.
On our shakedown trip, we discovered a couple of small problems that needed to be fixed before we headed out for our upcoming 25-day journey, and we were happy that our local dealership had time to get us fixed up before we hit the road.
How do I make my new RV feel homey?
It can take a couple of trips to really figure out your new RV; however, as you travel, you’ll begin to settle in. Organizing the storage spaces and finding a place for everything is always my number one priority. Then, I begin to add personal touches, like a travel map where we chart our journeys. Making memories in your new RV is the best way to make it feel like home.
After years of dreaming of a new RV, we had a ton of fun settling into ours. If you’re starting a new year with a new RV, congratulations! May the journey ahead be full of smooth roads and lots of fun.
To kick some tires and learn about the lifestyle, attend a Good Sam RV and Camping Show.