If you’re considering RV living full time, there’s a lot of ground to cover in preparation. Living in a camper may sound romantic, but it still requires a whole new skill set for most people.
Mentally picture your “day in the life” of living in a camper. You’ll likely think of quite a few things in which you’re not proficient. A few things that come to mind that I didn’t before starting know are:
- Backing up your rig.
- How the electrical systems worked.
- How the refrigerator worked on propane vs electricity.
- What to use to clean the exterior of the rig.
That’s just a simple list of things that you’ll have to learn. And the list of skill sets is almost endless.
Regardless, if you’re considering living in a camper, here are nine “not so obvious” tips and tricks for beginners.
- Get your bank accounts squared away
If you have your accounts at a local bank that is not as “on-line” friendly as many of the bigger banks, you may have to change banks. We kept a small amount in our local banks.
But we moved the rest of our funds to an online bank that also houses our portfolio.
It’s also wise to only keep several months of your budget in the bank account you’re using for travel. Keep everything else in a separate account.
Also, avoid using debit cards at all. There’s too much risk of them being compromised on the road. A credit card and a small amount of cash is the key.
If you run a business from the road and use a merchant account, having the right bank is critical.
If your business has its own employee identification number, it will have to have its own separate account. Not all banks treat such accounts equally.
Running a business from the road is not that difficult, but there are some legal issues that must be addressed before embarking on your journey.
- Make sure your taxes can be easily filed.
Many of you may file your taxes online yearly. If so, consider yourself lucky. Running a business that’s an LLC from the road means more complicated taxes.
We have to plan well in advance, have them printed and ready for mailing long before they’re due.
This way, we don’t have to orient ourselves close to a post office at the last minute.
Yes, you can e-file, but that’s not always an option depending on the type of business you run.
So if you plan on starting a business on the road, make sure you know all of the tax implications.
Also, make sure you pay your quarterly taxes early in case you’re in a “blacked out” zone with no internet.
- Make sure you transfer your bills to an online payment platform
It sounds obvious, but I’ll bet it’s easy to forget this aspect. By now, most of your bills should be online anyway.
Or better yet, set autopay from a credit card. Then pay off the credit card each month.
This gives you a buffer and some flexibility.
But It does pains me to write such a suggestion. The fees I paid on credit cards in my business before I sold were high.
As a courtesy to small businesses, I try to use cash as often as possible.
But the larger companies have more negotiating power to minimize their fees, so I’m okay with paying them with a credit card.
- Learn the ins and outs of tire care
I realize this is an over-covered issue. And I know it’s “more obvious,” but I feel obligated. So if nothing else, please take away these very important points.
a) Know the weight of your loaded RV.
b) Then find the manufacturer’s downloadable tire guide for the particular model you have.
c) Calculate the weight per axle and wheel.
This will tell you the appropriate tire pressure necessary for the load you’re carrying.
The sticker on the side of the rig is just a general guide. So do the research. If you’ve done your job, the outcome should technically be nothing bad happens.
Appropriate tire pressure is crucial!!
And secondly, keep an eye on the alignment on all your axles. Uneven wear on your tires is an obvious giveaway.
Address it as soon as possible. We’re trying to prevent a blowout and those are the easiest two things you have control over.
- Are any of your credit cards going to expire while you’re traveling?
Make it a point to check the expiration dates of all your credit cards before embarking on your journey.
All you have to do is call the credit card company, explain your situation and request a new card with a later expiration date.
It’s that easy. They may state it’s not possible. Push them and they’ll make it happen. You’re the customer.
While I’m on the topic. Before you leave, take a picture of your cards front and back and save in a secure folder.
That way, if you lose it somewhere in your rig and you need to pay for something online. You’ll at least have the card information.
That’s an “old school” method, but it works.
- Have you packed your rig with everything before departing to learn what you can and can’t take?
Try your best to weigh your rig if it’s a motorhome and both the rig and tow vehicle if it’s a trailer. Your weight limits are probably less than you think.
It is easier said than done to weigh your rig before and after it’s loaded. But if it’s doable, it will be worth the effort.
You can of course estimate the amount of weight you’ve added and hope for the best.
Chances are that at some point along the way, you’ll have an opportunity to weigh your rig. Use it!
Too much weight on your tires without proper inflation leads to the obvious blow out.
Also, more importantly, if you’re in an accident and it’s determined you were carrying more weight than your GVWR, your insurance company may turn their back on you.
How this is determined, I’m not sure. But I’m not willing to put myself or others at risk.
- Sanitize your fresh water tank before use.
Regardless if your rig is new, used and new to you or you’ve had it awhile, sanitize it before you leave. It’s a good habit to get into anyway. And it’s easy.
The information about the amount of bleach to use on the internet is pervasive.
And it’s simple.
a) 1 quarter cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water. So, if you have a 60 gallon tank, add 1 cup of bleach.
b) The tank should be filled with water completely.
c) Let it sit for at least 5 hours or overnight.
d) Empty it and refill with fresh water.
e) Turn your water pump on and run all faucets.
f) If you still smell bleach, drain the tank, refill and repeat.
The above is my process for sanitizing my tank. But I found this page to be a great resource.
Regardless, make it part of your preventative maintenance. And do it before you leave. It will give you a buffer of time when you get started.
You’ll have enough to think about as you travel.
- Take care of doc appointments
This may seem like a no brainer, but I bet it’s happened. So, If you plan to go out for more than six to eight months, consider your preventative medical care.
That means aligning your appointments months before you depart. Since you’re at the mercy of the medical staff, start early.
Don’t forget to talk with the doc about your plans and ask for a specific plan if you need medical attention.
Again, having an action plan in place is essential to eliminate frustration in an emergency.
- Do maintenance on your appliances, so you know what tools to bring.
I can’t stress this enough. If you take the time to do the preventative maintenance on your rigs systems, you’ll know which tools to take.
And you’ll be familiar enough with the systems to do minor repairs.
Tools are heavy. So you can’t just haphazardly throw everything you think you’ll need in the rig. Better to take only what you’ll really need.
And you can’t make that decision until you work on your systems.
Even if you just take something apart to investigate. I find myself doing that a lot just for fun.
Nonetheless, when you’re boondocking far from civilization or prefer not to pay too much for repairs, having some experience goes a long way.
There are a lot of blogs discussing some very important considerations when living full time in an RV. And you owe it to yourself to pay attention to them all and make note.
Regardless of quality, anyone who’s spent some time on the road will have some valuable input. It takes a lot of us to accumulate and translate great information.
We wanted to go over some of the “not so obvious” tips that we found necessary while preparing for first time RV living.
Have you found any unusual preparations that are not so obvious?
Please let us know in the comments and maybe we can pass it on.