For beginners: RV camping guide

RV camping is booming in popularity and there's a good reason: camping in an RV means that you can bring all of the comforts of home with you to the campground. Gone are the worries about airline tickets, hotel rooms and finding a place to eat three times a day. Everything you need can be onboard with you at all times. There's really no better way to experience your very own Great Road Trip than with the freedom and mobility that an RV provides.

The thought of learning the ins and outs of how to operate an RV can feel overwhelming. Luckily, if you're used to driving a car, much of the way an RV operates is common sense. Keep in mind that there are different classes of RVs. Many of them - especially those labeled as class “C” - drive just like a regular vehicle. Class “C” RVs have a van chassis.

Rental companies will usually provide orientation so that renters are familiar with the operation of the RV before they hit the road. Actions such as how to work a generator, how to connect to power and water at the campground and how to use a dump station may be unfamiliar to you. If this isn't covered in orientation, ask the rental company to explain the process before you hit the road.

Check with your RV rental company to see if there are any areas of the country that are off limits. Some rental companies do not allow renters to take their RVs on unpaved logging roads, for example.

Many people considering renting RVs are worried about what they'll do if the RV breaks down. Most RV rental services provide a 24-hour assistance phone line or even free roadside assistance to help you get back up in running in the event of a breakdown.

When you're camping with an RV, there are some specific amenities to look for in a campground that will allow you to use all of the features of your RV.

The first thing to do is ensure that your RV will fit in the campsite you would like to reserve. Most campgrounds will list the maximum size of RV that will fit at that campsite when you book online. For example, a campsite will be listed as 55’, meaning all campers 55’ and shorter will fit at that site. Larger RVs should look for pull-through sites, meaning you can pull your rig through instead of backing in.

Campgrounds will have either primitive, partial hookup or full hookup campsites.

  • Primitive campsites typically do not have water or electricity available at the site. Some of these campgrounds do not have flush toilets or showers, either.
  • Partial hookup campsites generally have sites with water and electric hookups, but no sewer. This means you can have electricity and running water inside of your RV, but you will have to use a dump station to empty your black and gray water tanks.
  • Full hookup campsites have electricity, water and sewer connections. Some campgrounds may also have cable television and telephone line hookups and free Wi-Fi.

Keep in mind that when you book a RV campsite you can use the full campground amenities. This will often include restrooms, showers, laundry and other “extras” like the game room or pool.