My Top 10 RV Rookie Mistakes

There's only one first time for everything. Some first times are good, and you can't wait for the next. Some are bad, and you quickly learn that you never want to do that again. So let's take a look at the Top 10 RV Rookie mistakes that we made on our first trip in the Travato, and hopefully help all the new RV'ers out there like us have a good first experience, and want to keep exploring what the outdoor RV life has to offer.

We picked up our Travato the week before the 4th of July holiday weekend, so naturally it was fitting to head out for a long holiday weekend initial test drive. Our destination of choice was a new river for me to fish, the White River in Northwestern Arkansas. A cold, tailwater fishery known for record trout, the White was around a 9 hour drive from our home in Spencer, TN. The plan was to load up some kayaks and fly fishing gear, dog stuff for Tripper, and head to Bull Shoals State Park, right on the riverfront.

Travato plugged in at campsite at Bull Shoals State Park

Plugged in at site #80 at Bull Shoals State Park

Aside from choosing a poor route that took much longer than it should have, and passing through some massive thunderstorms, everything on the drive went very smoothly. We pulled into our waterfront site, Number 80, set up camp , brought the kayaks down off of the roof, and started working through the features of the Travato and getting familiar with our home for the weekend. Sites there have both electric and water hook-ups, so it was a good way to get familiar with everything without going fully off-grid.

Travato on side of road with slide door open and kayaks and cooler on the ground outside

Getting unloaded and set-up for a kayak shuttle

Ashley making breakfast in Travato galley

Ash prepping breakfast in the Travato galley, under Tripper's intent supervision

The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the river, kayak fishing and doing floats downriver (you can arrange shuttles in the park), catching beautiful trout, enjoying the holiday fireworks show, and Ashley's cooking and evening cards in the Travato.

Damon catching brown trout in kayak

Landing a brown trout in the Jackson Kayak Kilroy

Damon holding while river brown trout

A wild white river brown trout

Damon sitting in green kayak changing flies

Changing flies on the White River

Ashley kissing tripper in kayak

Ashley and Tripper enjoying the riverside lunch break

Travato parked in grass with kayaks and gear behind it

Arriving at the take-out

Ashley and Damon sitting at dinette playing cards

Evening cards in the Travato

There weren't any major hiccups or malfunctions, just a few embarrassing ones, so without further a due, here our Top 10 Rookie Mistakes from our first trip in the Travato:

  1. Packing too much. I'm sure this a common one, and one we knew would do until we could figure out just what we would and would not need in the RV. Go into it with that mindset and you'll be fine, but being a compact RV, you have to watch what you bring. Enjoying relatively gear intensive activities like kayak fishing that we do only adds to the packing list. Be conscious of it, organize and pack things in order of likelihood of need, and in removable containers like Plano trunks, and you'll be fine. If you bring too much, just rest assured that you can always bring less next time, or find a UPS Store and ship it home.
  2. Outdoor speakers aren't easily heard inside. The Travato comes with a nice CD/DVD/Stereo entertainment system in the coach, with multiple speaker settings. One of those settings adds sound to the outdoor speakers on the passenger side. Learn which speaker buttons activate which speakers! It's a little embarrassing to step outside the RV at 10:30 at night and realize you've been serenading the neighboring campers with Jay-Z.
  3. Leveling blocks are loud when you drive over them. That pretty much sums that one up. Don't forget they are under your tires when you drive out of the campsite, or people will laugh at you.
  4. Smoke detectors are loud. Especially loud when they're right next to your ear while you're cooking. Make sure you ventilate the coach with the built in fans, opening windows, etc, or you may lose some hearing in your left ear.
  5. If there's no power, check the master power switch. One day we floated eleven miles in the kayaks, and hired the park service for a shuttle. I left Ashley and Tripper and all of our kayaking gear in the campsite, followed them to the take-out, left the Travato there, and then they brought me back to the site so we could launch. When I parked it at the take-out, I couldn't get anything in the coach area to work when I tried to check levels, make sure things were turned off, etc, before leaving it there. I was very worried during the float that I had blown fuses or done something else wrong when I disconnected power at the campsite. Turns out all I had done was press the master power switch in the floor entrance area with a flip flop.
  6. Remember the fridge controls. The Travato comes with a fully featured fridge/freezer system. It's very functional, provides great food storage, and runs off of campground electric, the Travato's coach battery system, or propane. It's remembering those power options that's key, and remembering to change it's setting when you unplug. Luckily for us, since it wasn't opened for the 9 hours I was floating the river in 90 degree heat, the fact that I didn't remember to switch it to propane from electric didn't harm anything. If you don't remember to switch it to propane when living off --grid, the loud low-power coach battery beep around 5AM will remind you.
  7. The levels monitor gauge is helpful. Use it. There's a levels monitor in the dining area that lets you see your black and grey water levels, liquid propane, water tank, and coach battery levels. It's good to check it regularly, and react accordingly, before you wonder why your sink won't drain anymore.
  8. Be careful opening overhead bins. Objects May Shift In Flight. Remember Point #1? Overfilled bins and cabinets tend to remind you of that fact when you open them after driving a while. Be careful with how you load cabinets, and what you bring, or you may end up with a purple toe to match that purple toenail polish -- just ask Ashley.
  9. Campfire smoke blows in the wind. Remember Point #4? If you're going to make a campfire outside of the RV, keep in mind which direction the wind is blowing, cause if it's blowing smoke into the RV, guess what's going to wake your neighbors up.
  10. Be prepared at the RV dump station. Sunday rolls around, and folks are trying to head home, and a line forms at the dump station. Have your routine down before everybody is watching you and waiting on you while you fumble through the manual, and look puzzled when you pull the grey water handle and nothing comes out. For those more likely to read this before the manual, the grey water pump switch needs to also be pressed when the valve is open to actually pump the grey water out. The switch is on the back wall near the outdoor hose. It says so in the manual.

That pretty much sums up our first trip. A fun adventure, with plenty of mistakes, but plenty of successes. Hope this list helps you enjoy a future one.