Skip to Content

The 5 Dirty Secrets of RV Camping

Are you new to RV camping? Or, do you think it sounds like a fun way to explore America?

Let us tell you – it’s a blast!

However, RV life has a fair share of dirty secrets no RV dealer will let you in on. These things will have you wishing you were in a five-star hotel instead of a motorhome or travel trailer.

Today we’re sharing five RV secrets you should know before hitting the road.

Let’s dive in.

Dealing With Poop

We’ll get this out of the way first. There’s no escaping that fact that you’ll come face to face with your poop.

RVs, whether drivable or towable, are self contained units. This means your bowel movements will be stored in a black tank until you empty it yourself.

Take no comfort by knowing all RVers have black tank horror stories.

If your tank overflows it can burp through the RV toilet. If the black hose isn’t securely connected, it can explode (quite literally) onto everything within arms reach.

This is why poop always comes up in your first conversation with other RV campers.

Rude RV Park Neighbors

Most of the time, we meet wonderful people at RV parks (many become longtime friends). However, there are always a few rude campers in the bunch.

They may not be camping next to you…but, they make their presence known. Here’s a few common ways these rude RV park neighbors behave.

  • Excessively loud music
  • Let trash blow into other RV sites
  • Don’t pick up dog poop
  • Walk through your RV site
  • Speed through the RV park

Staying at an RV park isn’t like staying at a hotel. Human interaction happens at a much higher rate. This is great for camping camaraderie. It’s not great when a few bad apples pull into the park.

PRO TIP: If you’re worried about knowing the nuanced rules of a campground take a look at The Don’ts of RV Park Camping.

Things Break Pretty Quickly on an RV

New or old, RVs will break.

Think your warranty will cover it? It probably will. But, don’t expect to go camping anytime soon. RV repair shops operate notoriously behind schedule.

You have two options. Learn how to fix your RV yourself or waste time (and/or money) having someone else fix it for you.

According to an RV mechanic, these are the RV systems that will usually break first.

There are many systems inside every RV, but some are much more likely to fail first.

Don’t Rely on Google Maps

This doesn’t only apply to Google maps. It applies to any GPS routing system that thinks you’re driving a car.

Here’s what could happen:

You’re seriously behind schedule: you can’t drive an RV the maximum speed limit. The estimated time of arrival will be at least 30% off.

You’ll cross a steep mountain pass without proper preparation: crossing mountains in an RV is super stressful. Going up, you’ll work your engine hard. Going down (without the right knowledge), you’ll burn your brakes out.

You’ll come across low-hanging bridges: we’ve all seen it online. A tall RV tries to go under a short bridge. The bridge always wins.

You have three basic options for RV trip routing.

  1. Use Google Maps & play it risky,
  2. Spend about $400 on a Garmin RV GPS unit
  3. Spend about $50 on RV Trip Wizard (which routes with the RV Life app on your smart phone)

We use option #3.

RV Parks are Freakin’ Expensive

If you’re new to RVing, you may think RV parks are a good alternative to hotel rooms. Think again!

We’ve paid up to $120/night for RV parks in urban areas. Additionally, a $50/night RV park is the standard price.

Just because you bring your bed, kitchen and living room doesn’t mean you’ll save money.

There are Many Pieces to the RV Puzzle

RVing is a lifestyle and it’s all encompassing. From booking campsites to understanding the internal RV systems, you have a lot of learning curves ahead of you.

Here’s the good thing – learning the RV lifestyle is fun and it’s best when you learn by doing it! Sure, you’ll have a few “hard-lessons,” but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

In the meantime, check out this comprehensive RV living guide!

Free Camping Does Exist (and most campers don’t know about it)

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping.

There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy). You should give it a try! As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours.

Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. PennyPA says:

    #1: The good things about camping is that you can be as social as you want…or as non-social as you want.
    #2: Join Passport America and you will save 50% on that campsite. Rules do apply in some campgrounds (Sun thru Thurs only).

  2. Bob says:

    Poop. In 3 years I’ve never used my toilet so no black tank problems. When camping where there is a toilet I use that even if it’s 2 in the morning. When boondocking I poop in a bag. Handling that is no more disgusting than picking up after your dog. Gray water never causes a problem.

    Bad neighbors. At least we can turn the key and move. Can’t do that with bad neighbors in a sticks and bricks.

    Things break. The same mechanical things break on my class b as on a Chevy van so the same. Everything else is the same as household problems. Plumbing , electrical, etc. But still cheaper. See what it cost to get a new roof on your house!

    GPS. One secret to being full time is to never be in a hurry. I always look for a place to camp early afternoon so if doesn’t work out I have lots of time to get to my second choice. Or third. Always have a backup plan.

    RV parks. Yes, they are expensive. Especially in urban areas as you say. But I hate urban areas. I route my travels to avoid these horrible places. The only thing that gets me to one is the need for medical issues. When faced with a $120 RV park I find a Priceline deal for a nice Hotel, always less than $80. If for some reason you are going to be stuck for a long time and you know that, get the monthly rate. WAY cheaper. Also why I boondock. That and no close neighbors. Although at least in a RV park I’ve never had anyone trying to shoot fish tailing in the river! 😆

  3. Wayne says:

    I’m fortunate to have a Master RV Tech near where I store my travel trailer. He is not like the typical RV repair shop. Of course he can’t always do an overnight job but I usually have it back in one week or less. I typically do my own winterizing but I always drop the trailer off a couple weeks before my first trip. The tech checks every system as well as the roof and does the wheel bearings also. When I pick it up a few days later I’m confident it’s all good. If I’m way off from home he can usually talk me through the fix by phone. We’re fortunate to have him and his staff.

  4. Mark Veerman says:

    Agree with most of you have stated, except the RV GPS we have (Garmin) has on multiple times led to erronous directions. Their algorithm for determining directions has given way too many misteps. I have mentioned this to Garmin, and unfortunately their comments are to only send you links to review. We now use a GPS, Google Maps, and paper maps to be in agreement for the directions we use.

  5. You make it extremely challenging. It’s not. The only extreme expense right now is the price of gas. thanks to Biden. It all depends on where you’re going. Everything is a learning experience. That’s what life is about. You need to ask questions of those horrible neighbors.

  6. Natalie says:

    Exactly what is an Urban area?

  7. Natalie says:

    Exactly what is an Urban area? And why do you point out that you pay more in an Urban area?