Congratulations! You did your homework, shopped and talked, wheeled and dealed. Now you’re driving your new RV home and talking about that first outing. Before you get carried away and take off on a two-week or longer trip, it’s a good idea to start a little closer to home with a shakedown trip.
Regardless of type, RVs are complex beasts with many different systems. Hopefully, you left the dealer with all of your questions answered and with copious notes from your Pre-Delivery Inspection. Even if you had a comprehensive walk-through with the RV sales or service team and had everything explained, there’s still a lot to learn. Maybe you’ve also read the owner’s manual cover to cover. However, in this situation experience counts. Only by operating the different systems can you discover what you don’t know, but perhaps thought you did. Or find out what you don’t have, but need.
Besides raising questions you didn’t think of at the dealer, you’ll find additional benefits to taking a short, get-acquainted trip in your new RV. Nearly every new RV will have some warranty issues that can only be identified by taking your rolling home on the road and putting her through the paces. Better to find those problems when you’re close to home, so you can get them fixed conveniently and without the risk and hassle of working with a strange dealership.
A shakedown trip also helps you identify things that you forgot to pack or stock up on or that you didn’t think you’d need. Fill the cupboards and stock the pantry with your home supplies or from local supermarkets. Stocking up at RV resorts or country stores can cost a bundle.
Plan on about a three-day outing, certainly no more than a week, for your first trip. Don’t wander too far from home, perhaps no more than three or four hours. If dry camping will be a part of your RV lifestyle, then try to spend a night or two without hookups. Learning how your fresh and wastewater systems operate is essential, so plan on staying at a park or resort with hookups, too. This will also give you a chance to plug your RV into AC power. You might discover that you need an adapter that you don’t have. Try everything out and take notes on any problems that you encounter.
There’s just no substitute for direct experience. Get out there and enjoy this great country, but take it easy the first time out.