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Dumb Mistakes RV Owners Wish They Had Not Made

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

People who own and travel in RVs (including my husband and me) make some terrible errors. Some are funny—others, not so much. These true stories of travel gone bad tell it all. They may seem stupid, but those I tell about here happen to many people, and some are not as ridiculous as they may seem. All, of course, are behaviors people who made them would like to forget, but here's the kicker: lots of people have these issues more than once!

People make all sorts of stupid mistakes when buying and driving RVs.

People make all sorts of stupid mistakes when buying and driving RVs.

True But Sad Travel Tales

When you travel as much as I have, you see people do many things that are the result of clumsiness, lack of planning, common sense or just plain not paying attention. The worst one I ever saw was the man who cut a turn too short at a truck stop gas pump and set his RV as well as the pumps on fire! There is no doubt that he wished, at that moment, that he had taken a safe driver's course! The stories get better because the results are not quite as dramatic, but if you own a coach, hopefully you will learn some lessons from them! I know I have.

Buying the Wrong Camper

A husband and wife that had recently purchased a fold out camper were taking their first vacation with it. Since it only opened on one side, when the couple (who both were good sized people), climbed into bed, they soon found themselves lying on the ground. The entire camper had tipped over onto the side that carried their weight, and they had to literally climb out of bed! For the rest of the trip, one slept in the bed, and the other slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. When they got home, they traded the camper for one that folded out on both sides!

People often buy campers that are too small for them, but soon find out that they've made a terrible mistake.

People often buy campers that are too small for them, but soon find out that they've made a terrible mistake.

No Dinner Tonight

An older couple had a lovely camping spot right beside a rushing river in a national park campground. The wife was, shall we say, "plump," and the husband was tall and lanky, but relatively slender.

The wife set the table for the evening feast, while the husband handled the grill work. The table was loaded down with meat, corn, potato salad, fresh vegetables, condiments, pies, cookies, coffee and iced cold drinks. When it came time to eat, the wife sat down first, but unfortunately did not pay attention to the fact that the picnic table was sitting on a slant. She, of course, sat on its lower side.

Before the husband could take his seat, the entire table tipped over backwards, wife and all. Most of the food landed on her, and she landed on her ample behind with her feet still under the table! The husband fell into a fit of laughter, while the wife fumed and tried to wipe the mess off her lap. Dinner that night consisted of Spam sandwiches, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Not paying attention to what you are doing creates plenty of vacation headaches!

Not paying attention to what you are doing creates plenty of vacation headaches!

Look Before You Leap

A family was settling in for the night in their trailer.Their German Shepherd suddenly started barking and running back and forth through their coach. The husband assumed someone outside was sneaking around and let the dog out the front door. He followed close behind with a baseball bat in hand.

Within 30 seconds both the dog and the husband jumped back into the RV. The husband quickly slammed the door closed behind them. The person they thought was up to no good was actually a skunk, and although the man and the dog returned unscathed, they had barely escaped an encounter of the worst kind with their intruder!

The Ambitious Table Setter

Then there's the one about the woman who tried to carry too much food from her motor home to the picnic table. She put all of it on a tray and thought this would help her to maneuver its five tall steps.

Her plan failed, and she fell butt over teakettle out of the motor home as food went flying in every direction. From that point on, she handed lightly loaded trays to someone at the foot of the steps instead of trying to carry heavy and awkward ones herself.

The Case of the Disappearing Steps

New motor home owners were on a summer trip to the western US. When they drove away from their camping spot, they forgot to close their electric stairs. The steps hit an orange highway construction cone and were knocked right off the RV.

The pair spent the rest of their vacation entering and leaving the coach with a ladder they had been smart enough to carry with them until they could get to a dealership that would replace the broken steps. Too bad they weren't using checklists that remind them about what they should do prior to leaving camp!

The Runaway Awnings

Most people know it is important to secure their awnings, but when my husband I didn't to this on one of our vacations we were shocked to see a big wind grab ours, and fling it backwards over the top of our fifth wheel. After that experience we always used awning anchors like the ones shown here to protect ourselves from the type of problem we had that day.

Another time we forgot to secure our main awning for travel, and shortly after we started to drive along the interstate, we heard honking horns and some banging. The awning had come loose on one side, was hanging half way down the side of our fifth wheel and was swinging wildly in the breeze!

Then there was the time we did not know enough to slant our front awning so that rain water would run off. during a downpour. The awning began to sag from the weight of the rain and finally broke free completely from the roller that connected it to our coach.

Hat Headache

Men love to wear those duck billed caps, and for most things, they really are good to have. However, one guy who was wearing one forgot he had been stooping down directly beneath the arm of his awning. When he stood up, he hit his head on it and was knocked right on his butt. He quickly learned that when you work around the outside of your unit, you'd be wise to either take your hat off or turn it around backwards so that you can see what is above you!

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How to Avoid Making Some of These Mistakes

If you want to keep from making these and other mistakes, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Keep roof vents closed to help prevent permanent water damage, mildew and mold. when you are not in your RV unless vents have a protective cover.
  2. Always make sure your steps are in before driving out onto a road.
  3. Keep black water tanks closed while parked in a campground to keep them from getting stopped up. Empty them once each day.
  4. Tilt awnings to allow water to run off of them to avoid ruining the awning in heavy downpours.
  5. Do a "walk around" of your RV before leaving a campsite to make sure all basement storage doors are closed and locked and all belongings are packed.
  6. Always carry a spare tire when you travel.
  7. Make sure your antenna is down when you leave your campsite.
  8. Close all windows when you are not inside of the RV to protect against break ins and water damage.
  9. Raise window blinds to their highest level while moving to avoid breakage.
  10. Use awning tie downs when camping to protect the longest one from wind damage.
  11. Check refrigerator and heating vents for ant and wasp nests as well as rust build up and clean them out as needed.
  12. make sure engine filters are clean before you travel.
  13. Test your air conditioner to make sure it works.
  14. Test your brake lights and turn signals before every trip.
  15. Do a sniff test for odors, trace their source and eliminate them as soon as possible.
  16. check and maintain your roof regularly.

Hopefully, We Learn From Our Mistakes

Had enough? You may not believe these things really happened, but every story here is true. The moral of each one is that people who own and travel in recreational vehicles often make ridiculous errors.

While some of these stories are funny, the others are not anything to laugh about because the errors people made were either expensive, dangerous or both.

The lessons in every one of them, however, are the same: learn how to do things the right way and pay attention to what you are doing if you want to avoid damaging yourself or your recreational vehicle.

A Typical New RV Owner Mistake: Misjudging RV Size When Parking

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Sondra Rochelle


Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on March 07, 2015:

PNWtravels: Just about any RV owner has stories to tell...but all of us learn from experience! Thanks for stopping by.

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on March 06, 2015:

We did have a misadventure with our awning when an unexpected windstorm came through. We thought we had it secured but the soil was sandy and the wind too strong. We haven't made any other of these particular mistakes, but definitely have made some others.

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on September 21, 2014:

gottaloveit2 Things like that are so easy to do. I'll bet if all of us got together we could write a pretty good book about these types of things! Thanks for reading.

gottaloveit2 on September 21, 2014:

I just recently blew the vent cover off the stove vent by not securing it with the clips before taking off. We've all been there, done some of that.

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on April 04, 2014:

&SharonWhite Sounds like you've had some pretty bad luck! If you read more of my RV articles you will get some tips about how to avoid many of the situations you just talked about. I don't know of any RV owner who hasn't made mistakes, including me...but over the last 50 years I've learned how to avoid most of them even by doing simple things like just taking a "walk around" before driving off. Hope you stick with it, because it truly is a great way to live and travel. Thanks for the great comment!

Sharon White on April 03, 2014:

Well we have certainly had our share of mistakes in the last year since we have become RVers. Sometime I wonder if maybe we are not RVers! Our last RV that we bought is a beauty. 2003 Monoco Windsor. It was the 4th one we bought in the last year. Fortunately we bought low and made our money back LOL. Our very first trip, we wrecked it, I have to admit I really thought we could make it up into the shopping mall's drive. We didn't and we didn't make it down the drive exiting. That was a costly mistake. Then we recently had trouble getting our generator started and once we figured it out took the RV for a spin. We drove 20 minutes or so right through town thinking we were doing great. Only to find out we didn't put the generator in and it was sticking out the front about 4 feet. We just thought people were being friendly waving! LOL

Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on May 30, 2013:

mperrottet: Oh yes, my dear, I definitely have had these things happen. In fact, just about every one I've mentioned has happened to us during our travels or to someone we know personally. I had fun writing this one, and hope everybody will like it as much as you have. Thanks for the read, the vote and the share!

Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on May 30, 2013:

Well, we've had our awning torn apart due to not having it secured. While we were trying to take it down, the wind tore it out of our hands, and bent the awning supports. Now we have an electric awning that we can put up quickly. Love this article, and if you're an RVer, you've probably had at least one of these things happen. Voted up, interesting, useful and sharing.

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