RV Tips for your next RV adventure!

We covered 6,747 miles in 40 days on our recent RV trip around the western United States. It was a whirlwind trip so of course it came with its share of learning moments. We have been compiling a mental list of RV-related tips and we'd love to share them with anyone thinking about setting off on an RV adventure. I have another list brewing, so there will be more to come. I hope you find some value in these!

- I think it's important to start with this one. Yes, it's cool to set off on a crazy adventure where your home has wheels and you get to explore the United States, but you are not cooler or better than anyone else. Some people don't have the desire or the money or time for this sort of thing, so set your attitude aside and be humble. Be GRATEFUL.

- Along these lines, if you WANT to embark on an RV adventure then make it happen! Making this trip happen wasn't easy for us, but it was always feasible. We prayed hard about it and events began aligning in our favor. We are super blessed that it worked out, but we put forth quite a bit of effort to make it happen, as well.

- ENJOY the experience and absorb as much as you possibly can. Take mental snapshots in your head of the beautiful things you see. Remember the little things people do for you along the way that are helpful or kind. Let every bit of it help to shape you into the best person you can be. You WILL be changed in the end. I love what my college professor and mentor wrote to me right before we departed: "Get ready; you are about to have the time of your life." There's nothing truer and you will need to keep this in mind many times throughout your journey. When you are tired and depleted and angst arises (and it will), remind yourself that THIS is one of the best times of your life.

- Pack your RV with what you think you'll need and then remove half of that. We thought we had stocked our RV with bare necessities, but just a few days into our trip we realized we had packed WAY too much. You won't need more than 1-2 cups/bowls/pieces of silverware for each person. We did our dishes after every meal out of necessity. There isn't room for a huge pile of dirty dishes, so things cycle through quickly. I loaded an entire drawer with tons of silverware and we ended up using only a few pieces at a time. Bring one saucepan, one skillet (cast-iron is ideal because you can use it over the campfire or on a grill, too), one baking dish, one of everything that you're sure you'll use.

- I didn't mention plates above because only ONE plate per person is necessary and use paper most of the time. Set them aside after use, along with cardboard packaging you accumulate, and use them for fire kindling.

- I packed way too many clothes for myself. Our longest stretch without doing laundry was five consecutive days, so anything much more than that is unnecessary. Besides, it was rare for me to shower AND change clothes every day. Don't judge! You'll understand once you're on the road. Did I mention deodorant? Do your co-inhabitants a favor and bring deodorant.

- I also stocked our cupboards with towels, which we've since discovered was ridiculous. One towel per person is all you'll need. Two if you plan to frequent the beach and/or pool.

- Stock up on gallons or 2.5-gallon containers of drinking water. Save the water in your fresh water tank for dishes, showers and brushing your teeth.

- Here are a few of the things we found were very helpful to always have on hand: Clorox wipes (I used SO MANY of these and for so many different purposes), wet wipes (great for dirty little mouths and hands), dish soap, a scrub brush for dishes, laundry soap, charcoal and lighter fluid, matches, s'mores ingredients, a Swiffer (used this every day), a few little flashlights, citronella candles, a large outdoor mat/rug that can easily be rolled up and stored, large and small bins with lids for small toys or things that get used often and that you don't want rolling all over the place.

- Buy a couple rolls of rubber lining for cupboards or drawers. Line cupboards and drawers with them so items don't fly around. I also cut these into small squares and used them as cup holders for our main table while driving. I cut out a few pieces and placed them alongside our sinks for soap dispensers and other things that we didn't necessarily want to put away every time we drove. We rolled out a big piece of it for card games on the road, too.

- Bring a little charcoal or gas grill if you have room. Not every campground has grills and some of the grills provided are either not close to individual campsites or are gross.

- Here's what we discovered about whether to schedule reservations ahead of time or just wing it. If you are traveling with children and/or a dog, PLAN AHEAD. If not, you'll be able to be much more flexible. There were a few necessities we wanted at each campground: full hook-ups (water/electric/dump), fire pit access and wifi. Bonuses for us included: playground, dog park, cable, laundry facilities, shower facilities, game room and swimming pool. Figure out what your must-haves are and find campgrounds that can provide those amenities.

- Not every laundry facility will have a change machine, so before you leave for your trip go to the bank and get a few rolls of quarters and set them aside for laundry only. Depending on the campground, doing just two loads of laundry can get expensive! The least we paid to wash and dry a load of laundry was $2.25. The most was $5.50.

- Which leads to preserving your clothes! Unless they were visibly dirty, I had my boys wear shorts, shirts and pajamas at least two days in a row before they got thrown into the laundry bag. I would typically have a two-day rule myself unless excessive sweating was involved.

- Instead of lugging a hamper into your RV, use something that takes up no room when not in use but that can also expand. I LOVE our laundry bag!

- Bring a book of stamps and send postcards to friends and family from all the places you visit. This was such a fun way to get our boys writing and thinking about people back home getting them into a mailbox. Some campgrounds have mailboxes to drop mail into, and the ones that don't will add postcards to their outgoing mail.

- Mountain driving can be daunting and a bit crazy in an RV. As a general rule, we didn't allow the RPMs to go over 3 (3.5 tops) and on really steep inclines and downgrades we would shift to a lower gear to save our transmission and brakes.

- We found that driving between 60-65 mph gave us the best gas mileage. We were almost always the slowest vehicle on the road, but it gave people a chance to see my website stickers. :)

- We decided not to tow a vehicle on this trip and I'd make the same decision again for our maiden voyage. There is a huge learning curve when driving a 32-foot vehicle, so I can't imagine if we'd added 10 extra feet to that right off the bat. On the other hand, this did limit us. There are plenty of places in the U.S. (large cities especially) that are not conducive for RV driving. We grew accustomed to planning ahead and figuring out which parking lots could accommodate us and which couldn't. We used Uber twice in super populated areas and that was slick.

- We have LOVED our deep silicone ice cube trays! They squeeze into our RV freezer nicely and we use one of these cubes for every two or three regular cubes. The silicone makes them flexible so they can easily be squeezed between waffles and ground beef.

- Use sticky velcro to hang pictures/photos in your RV. I loved personalizing our home on wheels and velcro-ing frames to the walls was the perfect solution. Even relatively heavy frames have stayed on the walls great, glass and all!

- Secure everything before driving. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many things start zooming past your head after the first turn. The only things we literally NEVER had to store away were soap dispensers that had the rubber mats underneath them. That stuff is amazing!

- I brought a few different spices along for cooking but regret wasting the space and wish I'd just brought a great all-purpose spice mix to put on everything.

- Wal-Mart is your friend! Almost every stop for groceries/staples that we made was at a WM. Some are better than others, but you can find most things at most WMs. Also, if you're in a pinch, they welcome RVers in their lots. You'd have to survive without hookups, but if you're stocked up on fresh water and LP this shouldn't be a problem.

- Take notes after every campground and sight you visit. Write down the things you loved/hated and what you want to go back and see. This will be super helpful because after a while places begin blending together.

- Engage with fellow RVers and travelers! This is so fun and important. We learned so much from others' stories and experiences on the road. We shared things about our own journey and at times others were able to contribute valuable information about places to visit (or steer clear from) for upcoming routes. We LOVED hearing about others' journeys and every person/family we talked to has a special place in our hearts after this trip. The nice couple we met at the dog park in Sedona recommended the beautiful place we stayed at in Utah and I will NEVER forget the inspiring family of seven we parked next to at our campground near the Grand Canyon. Don't be afraid to share your story, but more importantly to ask others about theirs.

- Avoid potholes whenever possible. Your bones and RV will thank you.

- Put effort into getting to know the people you are traveling with! Being in a confined space forced us to confront some little issues that we had been avoiding for years. It's a perfect chance to bond and play games and pray together and interact in a real way every day.

- Cook together! This has been one of my favorite parts. Our space is little, but making food as a family (or as a couple) is so rewarding. Who knew chopping onions was so much fun?!

- Read your RV manual (don't depart without one you can hold in your hands!) and learn as much as you can about your home on wheels. Don't ever be afraid to admit that you have much to learn. Ask other RVers questions when needed!

- Avoid backing up your RV whenever possible. Sometimes it's inevitable, but we tend to worry about driving over small children or any variety of objects sticking up from the ground when maneuvering a very large vehicle in a backward motion.

- Learn whether your RV requires 30 or 50 amp hookups and make sure each campground you camp at can accommodate.

Round 2 to come!