Perhaps you’re considering buying an RV to live in full-time, or maybe you want to rent one from Cruise America for your first big road trip. Either way, you’ve likely encountered a great deal of information — some very similar and some conflicting.
There are some important things to know about driving an RV, especially as a first-timer, and with so much information out there, it can be tricky separating fact from fiction…and exaggeration. To give you a genuine understanding of what the RV lifestyle is really like, we’re sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Common Misconceptions About Driving an RV
1. RVs Get Poor Gas Mileage
Of course, an RV doesn’t get the same excellent fuel economy as a small car, but you may be pleasantly surprised. Some RVs get between 6-10 mpg, but others, in particular Class-C RVs and campervans, can get nearly 20 mpg.
2. Any Truck Will Tow Any RV
This is a fairly common misconception about driving an RV, specifically among folks who are new to it. Not all trucks or RVs are created equal when it comes to towing, so you want to pay careful attention to your vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Also called the “tow rating,” this number is specified by the manufacturer and tells you exactly how much your truck can tow. Towing above this limit, even by a small amount, can damage your vehicle and RV and put you and others in danger on the road.
3. RVing is Less Expensive Than a Traditional House
RVing certainly can be quite affordable, but that doesn’t happen automatically without a great deal of research and planning. It’s easy to overlook many aspects of the RV lifestyle, especially as a newbie. Expenses that must be factored into the overall cost of driving an RV include fuel, campsites, the amount and type of travel you do, whether you can work remotely, insurance, and maintenance and repairs. The type of RV you drive is also a huge variable expense.
The good news is that you have a great deal of control over how affordable or expensive your RV experience is. Someone who boondocks frequently, works on the road, and tends to stay in one place for longer stretches will have vastly different monthly expenses than someone who prefers to stay in RV parks most of the time and is constantly traveling.
4. You Can Spend ALL Your Time Boondocking
This misconception about driving an RV goes hand-in-hand with the last one. While campers can spend a great deal of time boondocking, maybe even the majority, you’ll need access to some services and facilities, at least occasionally.
Your water tanks will need to be dumped and filled, you may need to recharge your batteries (literally and metaphorically!), and you’ll probably need to do laundry at some point. Plus, no matter how nice your RV is, there’s no denying how amazing a proper shower feels after several days!
There are also boondocking limitations to keep in mind. For example, on BLM land, you can camp in the same spot no more than 14 days out of a 28-day period. Similarly, national forests permit dispersed camping for 16 days out of a 30-day period before requiring campers to move at least five miles away.
5. RVs are Ready for All Four Seasons
Even top-of-the-line or “four-season” RVs will become pretty uncomfortable in extremely cold weather. Thankfully, all you have to do is properly winterize your RV, and it will keep you toasty and safe inside all winter. Best of all, most winterization projects can be done as DIY (think wrapping pipes to prevent them from bursting and adding extra insulation to windows and doors), even for the most inexperienced RVers.
6. Most RV Repairs Are Simple
RVs are not like regular vehicles when it comes to repairs and even routine maintenance. There are far fewer RV mechanics than traditional ones and even fewer in rural areas and mountain communities — popular places for camping. Because there are so few, it can often be several weeks, if not longer, to get your rig in for service.
This presents a whole new set of complications. If your RV is out of commission for weeks, it means that you aren’t traveling, and you may have to find alternatives for transportation and accommodations.
Learning some basic RV maintenance and repair is a good idea. There are some repairs that simply require a professional, but you may be surprised at how many things you can do yourself. And of course, the more you stay on top of routine maintenance, the less likely you are to run into a larger issue.
If you’re interested in long-term boondocking, it’s a smart idea to choose areas near services, including laundromats, dump stations, and truck stops or gyms that offer showers.
Drive an RV With Cruise America
Now that you know some of the most common misconceptions about driving an RV, you’re ready to get started planning your trip. Secure an RV rental from Cruise America for a safe and comfortable experience of life on the road! Stop at one of our convenient rental locations across the country to check out the models we have available.