I never thought I’d be a first time RV buyer. Heck, I never thought I’d be an any kind of RV buyer! But because of family health circumstances, we unexpectedly decided to go for it.
While my husband had done some RVing with kids when he was growing up, I had never even stepped foot in any sort of RV or campervan with kids or without. It was a totally foreign world to me! And since he’d never done it as an adult, it was definitely a new experience for our whole family.
Here are 5 things we wish we’d known for our first time RVing. I hope it gives you a bit of insight as you consider whether family RV travel is right for you!
This post about being a first time RV buyer contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
First Time RV Buyer: Things I Wish We’d Known
All the RV tasks aren’t that scary.
I was honestly terrified about things like dumping, filling water, even getting gas. We just didn’t know what we didn’t know – that’s one of the most nerve-wracking things about being a first time RV buyer.
Turns out, it’s not actually all that scary. In fact, those tasks are really pretty straightforward – if you can hook up a hose, you can fill water in an RV. Sure, there are things that will go wrong, but it’s not usually the end of the world. We got a warranty with our first time RV purchase and have been SO grateful for it. It’s more than paid for itself even in a few months.
Boondocking is a great and often-available option.
Before we became first time RV buyers, dry camping sounded pretty darn uncertain to me. I just didn’t know where we could stay or if it was allowed or if we would have enough power or gas or if we’d need to dump in the middle of the night. And what were full hookups? Did we need attached sewer and water lines? Probably better to stay in official campgrounds every night!
Turns out, we’re more than fine boondocking for several nights in a row. With our Class C RV with 7 people, we can generally go 3-4 days before we really need to dump or fill water. So it feels way less scary to go off the grid knowing that. Plus, there are apps like Campendium that show you exactly where boondocking is allowed, so I’m not worried all night long about a police officer coming and knocking on our window.
It can be difficult to get RV issues fixed.
Before we became a full time RV family, I just assumed that if something went wrong, we’d go to the shop, get it fixed, done. No big deal.
And while that is true to an extent, RV repairs often take significantly longer than regular car repairs. Parts can be harder to come by, or can take a while to arrive. There are way fewer places that will even DO RV repairs. So while most anything can be fixed (and again, we’re grateful for that warranty!), it will sometimes take a long time of waiting around in parking lots (or inside the RV while they work under the hood).
Sleep is worth prioritizing.
It turns out kids (and adults!) can adapt to all kinds of situations, and RV life is no different. RVing with kids definitely has its challenges, but it’s definitely possible to make it work – even with sleep! But to make it work, we definitely needed to prioritize it and stick to a good sleep routine.
When we’re in the RV, we have a good system for getting beds set up, taken down, and getting everyone to bed. Though it can be tempting to stay up later regularly, it’s worth making an effort to keep a good bedtime for both adults and kids. That’s not to say we don’t ever stay out later hiking or up late watching a movie, but in general, we try to keep to a good routine so everyone can get some decent sleep.
The RV community is not very diverse.
Growing up in Alabama and Utah, I got very accustomed to being the only brown person in white spaces. It felt like the norm to me. Of course, I visited India with my family during the summers, but that felt different. The United States felt white.
Which is why it felt surprising and like a release when I went to college in Philadelphia and realized there WERE brown and Black people around! A lot of them! In some ways, it felt like a massive relief to not be the token, to not be looked at and commented on, to not have expectations laid on me, and to, for once, blend in.
The RV world doesn’t feel like that. Most people aren’t overtly rude, but I definitely get looks, though I’m inoculated a bit since Dan is white. But they always talk to him. I definitely feel like the follower when camping. I knew outdoors spaces aren’t yet very representative, but I wish I’d known the extent to which it would be obvious in the RV world.
You’ll enjoy it more than you think.
If I’m being perfectly frank, I truly thought we were buying our RV just to go safely see our parents who live on the other side of the country from us. I never in a million years would’ve thought we’d extend our trip by several months to explore outdoors around the country. It never crossed my mind that we would decide to keep the RV afterwards and continue to use it. If you’d told me I would go from an RV skeptic to an RV convert, I would’ve laughed maniacally.
Turns out, sometimes new, unique, and a bit hare-brained ideas can sometimes turn out to be enormous gifts. Dan and became first time RV buyers out of almost necessity, but it turns out it’s been an incredible mode of transportation for our family and has allowed us to explore in a different and really amazing way.