EXPLORING A DIFFERENT SIDE OF MEMPHIS

If I say the words “Memphis, Tennessee”, what are the first things that come to mind? For many, we are sure Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley would top the list. For others, Memphis is definitely known as a great place to get incredible barbecue. Both of those are true and as we headed to Memphis, we wanted to see some of the best-known sites, while experiencing some of the lesser known must-see sites. All of this is from a local’s point of view. The only problem was figuring out where we would stay. This can be one of the most important decisions you can make when selecting a campground close to a major city.

 

Picking the Right Campground – Home Base

 

We knew we were going to be spending 4-5 days in the Memphis area and picking a solid campground would be key. Our “homebase campground” is a huge factor in the overall enjoyment when visiting cities. This time we chose the Memphis Jelly Stone Campground, which just happened to be located in the state of Mississippi, go figure.

 

 

That’s because the Mississippi state line is just outside the city limits of Memphis. We knew with our frequent daily excursions, having a kid friendly campground would be the key to keeping the entire family happy. We learned a long time ago that just piling the kids up in the car and touring sites without factoring in plenty of fun time is a recipe for disaster. That’s especially true if we planned to hit any sensitive museums. Once we chose the Memphis Jelly Stone, we showed the kids all the things to do at the campground and they were 100% on board. Being that it was July, we knew it was going to be hot.

 

Tetherball Time!!

 

Water Slides!!!

 

This Jelly Stone had a nice pool, water slides, gaga ball, tether ball and even a basketball court.

 

 

Not to leave out Ebony, it had multiple “off leash” dog parks, one even lakeside! So with everyone happy with our homebase, it was time to venture out and explore Memphis.

 

The National Civil Rights Museum

 

With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, it was very important for us to take time to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

 

 

For those who don’t know, this museum is actually formally known as the Lorraine Motel, and it became a national site to remember and preserve the last days in the life of Martin Luther King. We always make it a point to try to visit national historic sites, museums, and landmarks wherever we travel. But this site in particular with the 50th anniversary year was going to be a special visit, and it did not disappoint. My advice to you would be to plan at least a two-day visit at this museum. There’s so much to see and to absorb.

 

 

We have made it a point as we homeschool our boys to expose them to as much American history as possible, and that includes African-American history. Sometimes easy to separate, but it really should not be. This museum did a phenomenal job of covering not only the impact that Martin Luther King Jr. made on this country, but the key moments and facts of the civil rights struggle from generations ago to today.

 

 

I would say the most striking moment from our entire visit at the museum was as we passed from exhibit to exhibit and our boys said more than once, “Mom! Dad! We’ve been there.” Whether it was the replica of the Edmund Pettis Bridge from Selma, or the market lunch counter from the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins.

 

 

We have taken our boys to these locations, and it’s not always easy sometimes, they’re scared. Sometimes they’re confused struggling with the question of why people would treat us like that. But our resolute determination is to expose them to things that are in their best interest and to hear them say to us that they remember visiting many of those places are priceless moments and experiences while RVing.

 

A Pyramid in Memphis?  – Bass Pro Shop

 

On a lighter note, we heard we just had to go check out the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. No, we didn’t do a lot of research, so we had no idea what to expect.  As we drove nearer, in the distance we could see this pyramid reach up into the skies.

 

 

I’m going to say that this place was pretty cool. You can take this unique elevator to the top observation deck. It changes colors every few minutes. There is a $10 fee per person to ride up.

 

Elevator to the Observation Deck

 

And the view from the observation deck on a clear day/evening was worth the fee (for at least one person). Inside there was an aquarium fish tank that even had live alligators! Also, if you needed anything, and I mean anything for your camping trip, they had it.

 

Justin Marvels at the Fish Tank

 

We didn’t have a chance to eat at the on-site restaurant (due to a long wait), but we heard good things about it.

 

Musical History in Memphis – Stax Records

 

We had planned to visit Graceland, but then decided to check out maybe a slightly lesser known, but important musical history site, Stax Records.

 

 

Second only to Motown, Stax Records place is cemented in American Soul music history. Artists such as the Staple Sisters, Dramatics, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding launched their careers in the studios of Stax. Stax Records and Southern Soul music were one in the same.

 

 

 

Time to Eat – Memphis BBQ Anyone?

 

Memphis is known as a place to get top BBQ, but how in the world do you choose where to go?

 

So Many Wonderful BBQ Choices in Memphis

 

One of the things we have learned most in RV travel is to ask locals the best place to eat. Tia has a girlfriend that grew up in Memphis, and she said the well-known places are good, but if we didn’t mind going to a different part of town, we would find even better BBQ. So we did and went to Central BBQ.

 

 

I was worried since Tia has become a vegan that she wouldn’t be able to eat, but she loved the BBQ portabella mushroom sandwich. The kids loved the homemade mac and cheese. I wanted to taste a few items.

 

 

So I started with the jerk and dry rubbed wings and ended with the slab of baby back ribs. This place didn’t disappoint!

 

We Will Return…

 

Memphis is a fun history filled place to visit. You may be drawn there to visit because of Graceland, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but Memphis has so much more to offer. I know we only scratched the surface of things to do and see in Memphis.

 

 

So if or should I say, when you go, plan wisely, eat local recommendations and take in a few of the sites we visited. The history will draw you in and the food and music will keep you going back.

 

 

Keith Sims

Soulful RV Family

STOCKING YOUR NEW RV

You’ve just purchased your first RV, so now it is time to stock your rig with everything you’ll need to get rolling. It’s tempting to head straight to a camping store or to hop online and order EVERYTHING. New grill? Cute pillows from Etsy? All of the camping chairs? Those items are fun, terrific purchases; however, you might want to pause and prioritize before you find yourself dropping $1000 on gear you might not want or need.

 

The ultimate goal with stocking up is to have everything you will need and nothing you won’t. When we first started RVing, we hauled many of our regular household items out to the RV for each and every trip, and then we hauled those same items back into the house.

 

Of course, this process got tiresome after a bit. However, it helped us figure out which items we used the most. Those went to the top of our packing list. Over time, we bought dedicated gear that stayed in the RV and continued to use a checklist to repack items as needed.

 

You can use our complete stock up checklist as a starting guide for your first rig. Over time, you’ll learn which items you can’t live without and which ones you never touch. Then, you can develop and refine your own personalized packing list. Here’s an overview of some of our essential recommendations:

 

 

RV Tools and Safety Gear

Tools and safety gear are less fun to purchase than the cute or kitschy camping décor many of us covet; however, these items ensure your safety and security while on the road or in a campground. Put these necessities at the top of your list—or else!

 

To set up camp, you’ll need the following items:

  • Chocks
  • Leveling boards
  • Sewer hose (the stinky slinky)
  • Potable water hose
  • Water pressure regulator
  • Surge protector
  • Electricity converters (to move between 20, 30, and 50 amp)

 

The following basic tools and gear can help you roll safely down the road and repair small problems:

  • Basic tool box
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Fuse replacement kit
  • Replacement bulbs
  • Air compressor
  • Jumper cables

 

Other overlooked safety gear might include a rechargeable flashlight, a fly swatter, a water filter, and latex gloves. These will come in handy!

 

 

Camp Furniture and Outdoor Gear

Once you’ve safely set up your rig, now comes the fun part of turning your campsite into a pleasant outside living space. You can always start with relatively cheap versions of these items and then upgrade over time. After five years of traveling, we’ve become camp chair connoisseurs, with each family member having a favorite style, but trust me, we didn’t start off that way.

 

Here are some items you might want that will make your campsite even cozier:

  • One camp chair per person
  • An outdoor rug
  • Table cloth
  • Lanterns

 

Now, comes the fun part. You can truly personalize your campsite with the following gear:

  • Awning lights
  • Pop up shelter
  • Rope lights
  • Hammock
  • Outdoor games

 

What’s a campsite without a campfire? If you forget to stock these items, you’ll miss out on this revered camping ritual:

  • Firewood (note: some states do not allow the transport of firewood from area to area)
  • Fire starters
  • Lighter & matches

 

 

Kitchen (Indoor & Outdoor)

Ah, the kitchen. Some people use camping as a chance to take a break from their culinary duties, while others take pride in becoming the consummate camp chef. No matter which one of these is your goal, you’ll likely need some kitchen essentials.

 

Of course, you’ll need the basic eating utensils. Consider purchasing unbreakable items, whenever possible. Our rule of thumb is to pack one for each per person, plus a couple of extras.

  • Plates & bowls
  • Silverware
  • Cups and mugs

 

Next comes the cookery. Think about the wares and utensils you will need to prepare the types of meals you cook most often. Consider stocking the following:

  • Nesting bowls
  • Cutting board & quality knife set
  • Cooking utensils (spoons, ladle, tongs, peeler, whisk, etc.)
  • Collapsible colander
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Pots, skillets & baking wares

 

We don’t store food in the RV when not in use, but these pantry staples can be kept in airtight containers, ready to load:

  • Salt, pepper, & other seasonings
  • Nonstick spray
  • Oil & vinegar
  • Coffee (don’t forget the filters and coffee maker)

 

Finally, you’ll want these miscellaneous kitchen items to help keep your kitchen clean and functional:

  • Dish towels & washcloths
  • Sponges
  • Can opener & bottle opener

 

If you’ll be using an outdoor grill, be sure to include the specialty supplies to accompany your grill.

 

 

Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the places you’ll want to have well stocked. Health and hygiene are pretty essential! Take care of those with these items:

  • Shampoo, conditioner & body wash
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Shaving cream & razors
  • Hand soap & sanitizer
  • Towels, hand towels & washcloths

 

Bedroom & Closets

We highly recommend having dedicated bedding for all of the beds in your rig. Bonus points if you have pillows and blankets you can leave in it—those are the biggest pain to haul in and out! Whether you buy new or choose to use spares you already have, here are just a few of the main items you’ll need for your beds and bodies:

  • Pillows
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Laundry hamper
  • Jackets and rain gear
  • If you have old shoes and spare clothes that can “live” in the RV, it’s nice to leave them packed, just in case you ever take off without these essentials (not that we’ve ever done that!)

 

 

Wow! That seems like a lot of stuff. Just remember, you don’t have to pack EVERYTHING on this list. Start small, and add only the gear you think you will use. Once you have a handful of trips under your belt, you’ll develop a rhythm and routine all your own. Soon, you’ll have a good idea of your perfect stock up list. Until then, feel free to consult our Complete RV Stock Up List as a starting point. Then, get out there and make that new rig the cozy home on wheels you’ve always dreamed of!

 

HOW WE CHOSE OUR RV

It is hard to believe that we have been full time RVing since July 2016! Time definitely flies by and I couldn’t be more grateful for making the decision to escape what was “normal” according to everyone else and doing what meant freedom for us.  I am not saying that RV full time living is for everyone, but it is definitely a lifestyle that is perfect for our nomadic spirit!  A question we are frequently asked is “How did you choose your RV?”

 

 

We went to a dealership and decided to walk into different models to see what felt like “home.”  The year before we had actually gone dream board shopping and fallen in love with a toy hauler model because of the high ceilings.  At the time we were not planning on living in one full time, but it was just a thought to have one for getaways in the future.

 

Exactly a year after our dream board shopping adventure we went on a SUPER last-minute RV getaway with my in-laws (a whole other fun story of its own). It helped inspire us to go buy an RV and live in it full time instead of renewing our rental lease at the time! It was a pretty wild decision and quite honestly the best one we have ever made for ourselves and our family.

 

When we purchased our RV, we had a one-year-old who was just learning how to walk and a three-year-old.  We knew that we wanted two bathrooms and a good area for them to play and also sleep.  We went shopping again and decided to look at different types (Class A, travel trailers and Class C).  We ended up falling in love with the toy hauler once again because of not only the high ceilings but this one happened to have a side patio and a back patio.  We were totally sold on the side patio because we could set it up as a play area for our little ones.

 

 

We were extremely happy with the layout and the fact that it not only had a second bathroom, it had a small bathtub in the kids’ bathroom as well! It was truly perfect for us!  We honestly should have done more research, read more articles like this and spoken to fellow RVers about their RVs to educate ourselves on the differences.  Luckily, we ended up choosing a toy hauler which later we realized has a lot less sway than a travel trailer.  The more people we meet with travel trailers the more we realize that the toy hauler was the right decision for us.

 

I love the fact that our RV just like any other RV out there gives us the freedom to move around if we choose to move it.  For us it’s a great feeling to have our home wherever we go.  It means less packing for vacations and always having our toilet and our bed (seriously priceless lol).

 

 

Something that I wish I would have done before purchasing our RV was to rent different types.  I think this would have given me a better feel for the different layouts.  Nowadays there are neat companies like Outdoorsy and RV Share where you can rent an RV from someone in your area! I think that is one of the neatest ways to rent because you are renting from a private owner who you can even chat with about why they chose that specific RV and then try it out for yourself to see if you really like it.

 

I highly recommend when searching to write down your “Must Haves” on paper because it will make it easier when finding the perfect RV for you.  The perfect RV for us has been our Heartland Toy Hauler AKA Big Bertha because it is what got us on the road.  It can be overwhelming with the different RV types, hitch types, axles, landing legs, etc, etc.  Best advice I can give is to ask yourself the following questions:

 

 

  • What kind of camping will you use your RV for? (Campground camping or off-grid boondocking?)
  • What is your budget?
  • How many people will you be traveling with?
  • How long are you planning on RVing?
  • Who will be driving it? (You want to make sure the driver is comfortable driving the RV.)

These are a few questions that helped us when we chose our RV.  Trust me, before you know it you will also have the perfect RV for you to take on your next adventure! The more experiences we collect the more we realize that all the junk we left behind to live full time in our RV doesn’t even matter.

 

I would love to hear how you chose your RV. Please do not forget to comment below and share away. We love hearing from you!

 

 

GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66

Get Your Kicks on Route 66: See America’s Most Scenic Byway in Two Weeks

 

 

Route 66 is the ultimate American road trip. Officially opened in 1926, Route 66 is 2448 miles long running from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. Considered The Mother Road of America, it served as the primary route for people migrating west from the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The highway helped small towns and businesses flourish. Likewise, these same towns and businesses fought to keep their economies alive when the new Interstate Highway system threatened to bypass their towns. Remember the movie Cars?

Speaking of the interstate, our itinerary lets you choose whether you want to travel on the National Scenic Byway called Historic Route 66 or the interstate, but keep in mind if you want to stick with the two-week timeline you are going to have to get some miles under your wheels. In some parts you’ll have no choice but to travel by interstate. We started out determined to stay on the official Historic Route 66 whenever possible but quickly discovered that with limited time (and toddlers) we needed to travel between major destinations by interstate weaving off and, on the byway, to see points and towns of interest.

 

Day 1: Chicago

 

 

Route 66 officially begins—or ends if you are starting in the West—in Chicago. Pick a campground in one of the surrounding suburbs (We use the All stays app to find most of our campgrounds) to avoid having to navigate the RV through heavy city traffic. Pick a few attractions that sound fun to you and go have a blast exploring The Windy City. Some of our favorites are Millennium Park, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Art Institute of Chicago, and Museum of Science and Industry.  Be sure to get a picture at one of the Begin (or End) Route 66 signs located at 65 E Adams St.

 

Day 2: Drive from Chicago, IL to St Louis, MO – (Approx. 5 hrs driving time without stops)

 

 

Pack up and leave the campground first thing in the morning leaving enough time for a quick stop in Pontiac for the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum. Don’t pass through Lincoln, IL without stopping to see the Railsplitter Covered Wagon, the world’s largest covered wagon according to the Guinness Book of World Records. What’s a road trip down The Mother Road without kitschy stops and pictures to prove it!

 

Day 3: St. Louis

 

 

Take a break from driving and spend the day visiting St. Louis.  There is plenty to see in this great mid-western city but be sure to visit the iconic St. Louis Arch. If you have already been there or want to fit in another attraction, consider The City Museum. (It’s one of my favorite stops in the U.S.) It’s an eclectic combination of a children’s playground and art made out of found objects. It’s fun for adults and kids alike. Or visit the beautiful city park, Forest Park. It’s home to the St Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum, and The Muny.

 

Day 4: Drive from St Louis to Baxter Springs (Approx. 5 hrs of driving time without stops)

 

 

Today is another driving day. You’ll pass through Cuba, MO. Cuba is also known as Mural City.  Keep your eye out to catch the murals that run along the Route 66 corridor. Don’t put that camera away too fast. You’ll also want to get a picture of the former World’s Largest Rocking Chair—it’s now the second largest—in Fanning, MO. If you didn’t have time to stop in at the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, you can stop at the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon. Next set your GPS for Galena, KS to see the inspiration for the Cars movie, Cars on the Route. It’s a particularly fun stop for kids and being off the interstate transports you back to simpler times. If there are spots left, stay at Old Highway 66 Rest Area Campground and consider grabbing some delicious Kansas BBQ at Baxter Springs Smokehouse. If the campground is full there are a number of campgrounds on the south western outskirts of Joplin, MO or near Miami, OK.

 

Day 5: Baxter Springs to Oklahoma City – (Approx. 3.5 hours without stops)

 

 

As you leave Kansas and continue to Oklahoma, keep your eyes peeled for more retro signs and buildings on the route. Today’s highlight will be The Blue Whale of Catoosa. The Blue Whale is one of the most recognizable and photographed icons on Route 66. The whale constructed out of cement by Hugh Davis in the 1970s was built as a surprise anniversary gift for his wife Zelta. It was originally intended for private use but Davis eventually opened it to the public and it became a popular roadside attraction.

 

Day 6: Oklahoma City

 

 

Stretch your legs today in Oklahoma City. There are many attractions from which to choose. A few of the most popular are: Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum, Bricktown Water Taxi, Myriad Botanical Gardens, outdoor activities at Boathouse District, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the city’s longest continually operated restaurant Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. Whatever you do make time to visit a modern Route 66 roadside attraction, Pops 66. It’s a really fun stop for people of all ages with hundreds of sodas and drinks lining the shelves.

 

Day 7: Drive from Oklahoma City to Amarillo – (Approx. 5 hrs of driving time without stops)

 

 

It’s back on the road today! Head out of Oklahoma City and head to Amarillo, the almost midway point of Route 66. (The actual mid-point is about 50 miles west of Amarillo where campgrounds are sparse.) On your drive keep your eyes open for the Leaning Tower of Texas and the Giant Cross in Groom, TX. Stop for the night in Amarillo, Texas. Drive out to Cadillac Ranch to see the iconic Cadillacs buried in ground and consider having dinner at the legendary Route 66 restaurant, The Big Texan. If you are feeling extra hungry (and brave!), you can take the 72 oz. steak challenge. If you finish the entire meal in an hour or less it’s free!

 

Day 8: Amarillo to Albuquerque – (Approx. 5 hrs of driving time without stops)

 

 

It’s another driving day today but with some great detours. About an hour outside of Amarillo you’ll pass Adrian, TX. If you haven’t had breakfast you can plan to stop at the MidPoint Cafe for breakfast or simply give your passengers or yourself a high five because you’ve made it half way! You won’t want to spend too much time there though because you’ll for sure want to take a detour to see Tucumcari, NM. Drive down the main street and keep an eye out for the iconic Blue Swallow Motel (815 E. Route 66) and if you don’t already have enough souvenirs you can stop at the Tee Pee Curious across the street but don’t stay too long. The next detour, Santa Rosa Blue Hole, will be worth getting into the campground a little later than usual. Blue Hole is an oasis in the middle of the desert. Its water is crystal clear and cold. A perfect spot to cool off and enjoy some natural beauty. The parking lot easily fit our 34’ RV making getting changed for swimming a breeze. If you time it right you can cool off and enjoy a picnic lunch. After taking a dive into the sapphire colored water continue heading west to Albuquerque and set up in one of the many campgrounds in the area.

 

Day 9: Albuquerque

 

 

After two full back-to-back days of driving you’ll be ready to stay put for the day. Use this

“downtime” to do a little exploring in Albuquerque. From outdoor activities to arts and culture there’s no shortage of things to do in this great southwestern city. Albuquerque may be most famous for its International Balloon Fiesta held every October. However, you can visit the unique Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum any time of the year or book a hot air balloon ride with one of the many operators in the area. A few other options for the day include: Sandia Peak Tramway, Petroglyph National Monument, Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque Botanical Gardens, and The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.

 

Day 10: Albuquerque to Williams – (Approx. 6 hrs of driving time without stops)

 

 

It’s back on the road again today. Get up and head out as early as possible if you want to drive through Petrified Forest National Park. It’s the only park in the National Park System that contains a section of Route 66! It takes about one hour to drive the 28 miles from one end of the park to the other. Next head to Holbrook, AZ to see the iconic Wigwam Motel and have lunch at Joe and Aggies Cafe for a step back into time. As you continue west keep an eye out for the arrows that marks the ghost town of Twin Arrows. Set up camp for the night in Williams, AZ where there are plenty of campgrounds.

 

Day 11: Grand Canyon

 

 

Today you are going to take a detour from The Mother Road to see one of America’s most famous landmarks, the Grand Canyon. The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is an hour north of Williams and is open year-round. Plan to see historic Grand Canyon Village and drive the scenic Hermit Rd or Desert View Drive. Stay for sunset if possible to capture beautiful pictures. That evening head into Williams and walk the main street to enjoy some Route 66 neon.

Day 12: Williams to Barstow – (Approx. 6 hrs of driving time without stops)

 

 

Depending on the time of year this can be a long HOT drive through the desert. One year we drove this in June and it reached 127 degrees in Needles. Another year we did it in November and needed light jackets. Either way you’ll want to plan a short stop in the small town of Seligman, AZ. Walk down the street a bit imagining what this town was like 60 years ago and then grab a shake from Delgadillo’s Snowcap Drive-In. Continue west. If you have a little more time than two weeks consider a detour stop in Oatmen, AZ to hang out with the wild burros.

 

Day 13: Barstow to Santa Monica (2 hours without traffic)

 

 

You’ll want to get an early start again today to avoid the Los Angeles rush hour and to leave time for a short detour. On your way out of Barstow get off the interstate to see Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. It’s one of my favorite stops! Next head to a suburb of Los Angeles to a campground of your choice. (Unless you have a small easy to maneuver rig you really won’t want to take the RV into Los Angeles if you can avoid it.) Try to get to the campground by noon to set up, have some lunch, and then head over to Santa Monica Pier before the evening rush hour. Congratulations! You made it to the official end of the Route 66! Enjoy the pier and then head down to Venice Beach Boardwalk (my choice!) or Third Street Promenade to wait for traffic to lighten up before heading back to your campground that evening.

 

Day 14 – Day in Los Angeles

 

 

You can’t drive over 2000 miles to the City of Angels without enjoying some of its most famous sites. My suggestion is to head to Paramount Studios to take a 2-hour morning tour and then head over to Hollywood Blvd. (If you are feeling ambitious and not intimated by LA traffic you could even add in a drive down the famous Rodeo Drive and Sunset Blvd on your way to Hollywood Blvd.) End the evening at Griffith Observatory for amazing city views before heading back to the campground.

 

We’d love to hear from you! Have you gone RVing on Route 66? How long did it take you? What must see sites would you add to my list?

PICKING UP YOUR NEW RV AT THE DEALERSHIP

Woohoo! You’ve taken the plunge and purchased an RV. All you have to do now is drive it home, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, the process of taking home a new (or new-to-you) RV is a little more complicated than the process of buying a car.

 

Whether you buy your rig at an RV show or a dealership, there will be a few steps in between the purchase and the time you hit the highway with your new home in tow. The following tips will help you enter this process with your eyes wide open:

 

 

Understand the Behind-the-Scenes Process

Before you can take your new rig home, the dealership wants to ensure the RV is ready for you…and ensure you are ready for the RV.

  1. The dealership must ready the RV for transfer. First, the dealer must do a PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) to confirm the physical condition of the RV has been checked and all systems are operational. Next, the dealer may need to install any options you requested or any items that generally are not on/in the rig while it sits on a lot (such as televisions, propane tanks, and upgraded air conditioners).
  2. In order to ensure you are ready for the RV, your dealership should schedule a complete walk through. And when we say complete, we mean complete. Since the walk through can take several hours, your dealership will have to schedule it at a convenient time for both parties. The tips in the final section of this post will help you make the most of your walk through.

 

 

Consider your Gear and Equipment

When RV owners think about gear and equipment, we are sometimes tempted to focus on the fun stuff…like patio lights, camp chairs, and colorful décor. However, there are many more important items necessary for the safety and security of the amazing rig you just purchased.

  1. Make sure your tow vehicle is properly outfitted for towing. This can be confusing, so you’ll want to double check all of your specs. Tow capacity, hitch weight, payload, and more all come into play. Some vehicles don’t come equipped with trailer brake controls or proper towing hitches. Figuring this out before you arrive to pick up your rig will save you the embarrassment, time, and extra expense of finding out too late.
  2. You may need a weight distribution and sway set up. You may scoff when the dealership offers to add these on at an additional cost, thinking it’s an unnecessary upsell, but in this case, the dealer is right (if you have a longer/heavier rig). If you don’t bring in your own safety equipment, you’ll need to buy it before you can roll off the lot. The good thing is that these additional expenses can sometimes be added to your loan if you are financing the RV. Research your options and reasonable cost estimates before you go.
  3. Purchase the necessities. Honestly, there is some non-glamorous gear you need to safely and efficiently set up camp. Brace yourself for the additional costs, so you won’t feel shell-shocked on pick-up day. Before your first outing, you’ll minimally need a good sewer hose and proper connectors, a water pressure regulator, a good surge protector or EMS (electrical management system), and power converters (to allow you to move between 50 amp, 30 amp, and 20 amp setups, as appropriate). All the other fun gear is the icing on the cake.

 

 

Make the Most of your RV Walk Through

We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is. A proper RV walk through will lead to many happy trips ahead…a rushed or incomplete walk through will lead to tons of frustration. Most importantly, you don’t want to get your RV all the way home and then discover several reasons why you need to take it back!

  1. Record everything on your smart phone in individual files you can label for later reference. Don’t record the whole walk through in one swoop—you’ll be left searching through an hours-long video. Instead, make a short video of the hitching process, one for tank maintenance, one for fridge operations, and so on. Don’t be embarrassed. You will be thankful for these videos in the months and years ahead. If there are two of you, one person can focus more on doing the recording while the other focuses more on actually listening to the technician.
  2. Force the service technician to show you everything, and we mean everything. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. If the technician points at something, feel free to ask them to explain how exactly it works. Trust us, it’s much better to try to figure out the propane heating system with the help of a technician instead of wrangling with it on a freezing cold night with no backup! This is also a good time to ask about maintenance for all these systems, as well.
  3. Put the RV through the paces. The dealership may have your rig set up when you arrive, but you still need to learn how to do all that set up for yourself. Ask the tech to allow you to open and close the awning, the slides, the stairs, etc. If the air conditioner and refrigerator are already on, turn them off and start again. Also, if your rig comes with electric awnings, stabilizers, etc., learn how to manually operate each, in case of a power outage or other problem.
  4. Inspect everything. Inspect every nook and cranny of the exterior and interior. The manufacturer may have missed small items or others may have come loose during transportation. Inspect all the systems. Attach a water hose, and run the sinks, toilet, and shower. Look underneath for leaks. The most common complaint we hear is from people who discover a leak on a trip and have to schedule a time to take the RV back for repairs. Even if the rig is winterized, don’t skip this step! The dealership may be able to fix several items right away.
  5. Prepare for towing. Don’t focus your entire walk through on your new rig. You should also bring your tow vehicle over and practice setting up and using the weight distribution, sway system, and trailer brakes before pulling away.
  6. Plan a shake down trip. Don’t haul your rig across the country without doing a shake down trip first. Camp close to home or in the driveway (but don’t run the AC unless you have 30 amp) and play with all of the systems to see if you can operate everything independently.

 

 

This is a lot to take in all at once, but trust us, it is better to go slowly on pick-up day in order to go faster later. Take the time to become familiar with your new RV before you hit the road. Before long, you’ll be operating your new RV like a pro! Our next blog post will help you have a great first trip.