10 tips to help you prepare for your first RV road trip
An RV is a fun way to travel across Canada with your family and explore the great outdoors with freedom and flexibility.
Photo: Go Rving Canada
An RV is a fun way to travel across Canada with your family and explore the great outdoors with freedom and flexibility. For beginners there is a lot to research and a good place to start is Go Rving Canada. As with cars, there is the option to buy, finance, or rent an RV, depending on your budget and what you are looking for. You may want to ask other RV drivers for advice, attend an RV show, or watch online tutorials to learn some basics. Before you embark on your first RV road trip you will of course ensure your RV is safe, secure, and has passed all safety tests according to your province; such as propane safety checks, seatbelts, plumbing, electrical, and gas.
Once you have the green light to start driving it’s time to pack up, hit the road with your family, get back to nature, sleep under the stars, and maybe even eat food from a stick cooked on a fire! For this first article in my RV series here are some tips and tricks for your first RV road trip.
Take a shorter road trip before the big one
Call it a practice drive, call it a rehearsal, call it whatever you want, but experts agree to take a shorter drive first. Take all the time you need to practice parking, driving up and down hills, and switching lanes safely. These shorter test drives will also alert you to what needs to be nailed down (literally!) in the living area and kitchen or secured in locked drawers of your RV before you head out onto the road. You don’t want dishes flying across the room if you come to a sudden stop!
Book the campground
Although it’s adventurous to drive where the wind takes you, it’s a good idea especially when traveling with kids to have a campground booked. You will want to ensure you pick a campground or trailer park that supports RV hook ups and with the resort facilities that you require. There are lots to choose from across Canada and many get booked up quickly during summer months, so make your reservations before you set out.
Know what to do once you arrive
It may take a few road trips to establish an arrival routine, as there are many things that need to be done once you get to your destination. At the very least you should be able to maneuver your RV close to the electrical, water, and sewage hookups. It’s very important to make sure everything is secure and to be able to safely switch your appliances to work from the campsite power and know how the sewer hoses work.
Kitchen supplies and food
At least 12 hours before you leave ensure your fridge is running so it’s cool and that the freezer keeps food frozen. Depending where you are staying you may have the option to get groceries at your destination or in a nearby town. But planning ahead for meals will ensure you have the ingredients you need to keep everyone happy and full. Aside from groceries you will need the proper pans, pots, dishes, utensils, and containers. Don’t forget a can opener and oven mitts! Complete lists are available online.
Toiletries and medications
When traveling with kids it’s essential to be prepared for anything. Aside from basic toiletries like toothbrushes, soap, and shampoo, don’t forget medications in case anyone gets sick. You also may want bug spray and ointment for bug bites. Packing kids toiletries separately helps keep everything organized.
If Scrappy the dog is joining you on this road trip, don’t forget his doggie bed, food bowl and food, towel, water bowl, and of course biodegradable plastic bags!
Preparing for all weather
This means hiking boots, rain gear for everyone, clothing for warm and cold weather during the day and at night. Don’t forget a bathing suit, extra socks, pajamas, hat, and a jacket or hoodie for those cool summer nights.
Camping Equipment and supplies
Be sure to include maps, a compass for hiking, Swiss army knife, a backpack for day trips, a complete first aid kit, flashlights for everyone, lanterns, radio, sleeping bags and bedding, and a big comfy pillow for a good nights rest. For a full packing list click here.
Photo: Go Rving Canada
A complete medium sized mechanics tool kit with several sized sockets, wrenches, ratchets, pliers, screwdrivers and a hammer should be handy to fix what needs to be tightened and adjusted. You will have your own Home Improvement show and your RV neighbours will love you for it.
Documents and money
Proper RV documentation, ownership, insurance, emergency telephone numbers, cash, credit cards, and anything else you may need in case of an emergency. Most of us couldn’t possibly forget our cell phones, but be sure to remember the chargers too!
Last but not least don’t forget to plan for indoor evenings after exploring nature all day. Board games such as Monopoly and The Game of Life are fun for family night. These days many RV’s come with televisions or you can purchase one separately or bring a tablet with downloaded movies, or hook up to Netflix for your favourite addictive television series. Looking for a movie suggestion? It’s the perfect time to watch Robin William’s RV from 2006!
You are now set to join the more than one million RVs on the road in Canada. Drive safely! Stay tuned for my next article in this Canadian RV Road Trip Series.