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New To RVing? Please Don’t Fall For These 7 Stupid Lies/Misconceptions

PublishedMarch 22, 2021

You're new to RVing, right? If so, how could you know right from wrong?

I'm talking about the 'tips' you see online about what you should/shouldn't do when RVing.

You follow the tips blindly because, well, you're a beginner, and you're new to the game.

Kelly slapping her forehead

D'oh!

No shame there, I totally get it. In fact, that's why this post exists. So you can learn these lies and misconceptions before you make these beginner mistakes.

Still, it's not as if these mistakes are DEVASTATING if you make them. But one of them COULD be deadly if you made the beginner mistake.

I expect to have some nay-sayers about some of these misconceptions in the comments.

It's human nature. But hear me out with these. Hopefully, you'll see the logic.

1. "You Need To Bring Protection With You When Camping"

It seems this one will never go away. It's the notion that you need 'protection' from people when camping.

After almost six years of full-time RVing, I say no, you don't need protection.

But if you're new to RVing, it's understandable to wonder, especially if you're going to be RVing alone.

After years of experience, I JUST don't see it! I've been there, done it, and at least out West, it's very, very safe to camp all alone. (In the right places, of course.)

Seriously, I JUST had someone troll me on my reply to this very question in 'Girl Camper' on Facebook.

The very common question is generally this:

FB personal protection question

I mean, how many times in your adult life have you had to physically defend yourself, with a weapon, from a 'bad human'?

Anyway, I replied with my usual 'if you don't feel the need to carry protection in your daily life, you aren't likely to feel the need to while camping.'

Here's my reply and their reply.

It's a non-stop debate that I am passionate about. We shouldn't be living in fear, folks:

FB personal protection answer

This sort of question gets asked ALL the time. If you have spent any time in RVing forums or in RV Facebook groups, you've no doubt seen someone ask it.

Many people reply with all the things one should do and carry on their person to 'stay protected'.

Sure, a few reply saying camping typically is safer than being in a town or city.

But it seems the majority that reply are the ones that loooooove to talk about their protection and how you 'need' it.

The Real Truth About Self-Protection

Folks, if you can't wrap your head around it or are still scared, think of it this way.

Do you don't feel the need for any type of weapon on your person in your average day out in public (OR at your home, for that matter)? No? Then you shouldn't feel the need to carry a weapon when camping.

Here's another take on it. Do you carry a weapon when you go on a road trip to another town? No?

Kelly target shooting

AT FIRST I thought I might need protection when RVing. I got a gun. Now it feels like the most ridiculous thing. Even as a solo female RVer, I always feel safer while camping than I do anywhere else.

Camping is no different. NOTHING has changed. You're in public. If you DO feel the need to have protection, you are camping in a bad area.

Hey, how about DON'T DO THAT! YOU NEED TO USE YOUR COMMON SENSE.

When a place feels shady, don't stay there.

If you choose to or must camp in shady areas, then yeah, you might think about having some protection on your person.

Or if you just prefer to have something on yourself all of the time, also fine.

That is all.

2. "Don't Travel With Your Water Tank Full"

Hey RV beginner, guess what? The truth is that it's totally fine to travel with a full tank.

But only on this one condition: As long as it doesn't put you over your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

Schyler's dog Scout hanging out RV window

You and your pup are going to need water when you get to your dry camping spot!

Every RV has a GVWR. This is the most your RV can weigh fully loaded. Know your GVWR, and mind it!

To figure it out, you should weigh your RV AFTER it's full. We're talking it should be loaded for camping, propane full, and people on board if a motorhome.

If you're SO close to (or over) your GVWR that you can't travel with your freshwater full, YOU'RE TOO HEAVY.

Don't push this one. It's too dangerous. Your RV is made to travel with the freshwater tank full. How else are you supposed to dry camp?

It's ok for you to fill your water and travel as long as it doesn't:

  • Put you near your GVWR
  • Put you over your GVWR

3. "You Need Camping Memberships"

I got Passport America and Escapees when I was a beginner before I even hit the road. Escapees worked for me anyway for my mail forwarding and domicile address, so that was fine.

However, I don't recall ever using my Passport America. It turned out I was a hardcore boondocker!

Illustrated map of 50 states

Where to first??

My advice to you is NOT to run out and get any camping memberships right away. That is unless you are 100% sure you will camp in a certain way.

I started with a Good Sam membership as well. I didn't need it, either. The way I camp, well, I just don't use any of the Good Sam benefits.

Just trying to help you not waste any of your hard-earned money here since you are new to RVing. 

4. "Xscapers Is A Cult/They Are Hardcore Drinkers/Partiers"

Ok. I have heard this one a lot. Maybe you haven't. But the cult part is just silly.

Just because some of the first few years of Xscapers members were TREMENDOUSLY excited to have a way to meet other active around-their-age full-time RVers (and have formed life-long bonds with each other) does not mean they created a cult.

How do I know? Because Marshall and I are two of the original Xscapers members.

The Real Truth About Xscapers

There are some tight bonds out there. And there are even club members with Xscapers tattoos. (To get awarded a free lifetime Escapees membership.) But that's as far as the cult story goes.

As far as being crazy partiers- this is also not true. But many of us LOVE to party at a convergence, heck yes!

Kelly and Xscaper friends at Neon Night Annual Bash

If you ask me, THIS is what the best Xscapers convergences look like! Friends, fun, and parties!

But outside of a convergence, in regular daily lives, most of us just live fairly simple, traditional lives.

You won't see that if you have only been to convergences and have not befriended anyone to hang with afterwards.

I mean, sure, there MAY be some people in the group that do nothing but party, but the people that I have met live pretty normal lives and do not live like teenagers in a college dorm 24/7.

There are almost 20,000 Xscapers members now. Naturally, there are bound to be many different types of people in it. Personally, there's no way I could party all the time. I don't have that kind of energy!

So, if you are an active RVer, especially of working age, Xscapers convergences are an excellent way to make new lifelong RVing friends.

Friends that are not cultists or alcoholics!

5. "When Boondocking, There Are No Rules"

Au contraire, mon frère!

There are rules, even 'unspoken' boondocking camping rules, that apply when camping on public land.

When others don't follow the rules, they can even ruin your camping experience.

Here are a few examples of rules:

  • First, you cannot just park anywhere that is public land. It has to be an actual camping spot already.
  • There has to be significant proof of people having camped there before you, meaning a defined area where other vehicles have been and maybe a campfire ring. 
Two dogs lying in front of travel trailer at Twin Lakes, Colorado

How could any human leave trash here or in any of our public lands???

  • You cannot just throw your trash out.
  • There WILL be a stay limit (Normally two weeks or less).
  • You should be considerate of others.
  • Keep your dogs under control at all times.
  • Don't use a contractor generator.

This isn't all of it. Educate yourself before you go so you don't become 'that jerk.'

Escapees RV club has a boondocker policy that you can use as a starting point. Educate yourself on what is allowed and what is not allowed on public lands when camping.

Being a new to RVing beginner is no excuse to abuse public lands and its beneficial rules.

6. "You Need To Use A Black Tank Treatment"

What is the purpose of an RV black water treatment? Is it to break down the solids? Is it to break down the toilet paper? To clean the tank? Eliminate smells?

When I was new to RVing, I thought it was 100% needed to break down the solids. (Wrong)

Well, if you thought it was to break things down, so all 'flows' well, well, there's a much easier and cheaper solution for that. Simply don't flush your toilet paper down the toilet!

The Real Truth About Using A Treatment

Ok, so the 'eliminating odors' aspect of a black tank treatment is legit. However, if you already have your RV, have you tried NOT using it?

If it's not blazing hot outside, chances are you won't even need to use a treatment. I haven't used any treatment for... well, for about 4.5 years straight when I was full-time RVing.

Happy Camper toilet treatment

I stopped using it and had no problems... UNTIL I went to help my mom in Florida. And the heat... yes, if you are RVing where it gets scorching, you will likely struggle with odors without a treatment.
THEN you should probably just consistently use something down your toilet. Happy Campers holding tank treatment is an excellent product for this.

7. "It's OK To Travel With Your Propane On"

Just, why even risk this? (KABOOM!)

If you're new to RVing, you may be thinking you need to leave your propane on so that your refrigerator stays cold. Well, I have news for you.

Your refrigerator will stay pretty cold even when it's not on for a few hours. Most of you don't drive over five or so hours, and in that time, your stuff should be fine.

If you're worried about it, you can put some frozen jugs of water or Ziploc bags of ice in there to help keep things cool.

We have no friends yet who have had an accident and had their tanks blow up. Yet. But it has happened.

Kelly trailer's propane tanks

It should be obvious that propane is EXTREMELY flammable. It burns easily. And accidents produce sparks. One of your lines breaks and gets sparked, and you've got an explosion.

It's simply safer to travel with them closed.

Full Disclosure: Marshall travels with his open (one tank only). Which I am pretty surprised to find out. I do not.

'Can't wait' to read the comments about this one.

Conclusion

There is so much to learn when you're starting off as an RV beginner. Heck, I'm about 6 years in and even I am still learning.

Kelly sitting in her trailer door before launching from Florida

Me as a beginner! Hadn't even fledged out of my driveway yet. Can you find the one mistake I'd (kind of) already made?

You just made yourself a little wiser as you won't be falling for these common lies and misconceptions.

You're researching, so you're on the right track.

EVERYONE used to be in the same 'new to RVing' boat as you. There was a time for any RVer when they didn't know a thing about it, except it looked glamorous on Instagram. My first time out I messed up time after time.

You're going to have things to learn, figure out, and iron out. Now at least you know some of the lies, misconceptions, and fallacies.

Enjoy the journey!

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

Other Articles You Should Read

  • Re “protection.” I carry bear spray for bears, chigger repellant for chiggers (I’m not sure it works; you should see my legs. Or not!), and I carry a map and GPS to leave if things aren’t feeling right. I know there are many others near me who are carrying weapons and look on others with suspicion and if things get uncomfortable, I do not want to be near *them* so I leave.

    • Right??? I don’t look at anyone as a threat, in general. (Unless I’m in a bad area/back alley type of place, but I am smart enough to stay away from places that are sketch.) But when I see someone carrying? I am immediately suspicious/sketch of THEM.

      So I do the same, stay low, move away if I can, and yeah, I’m VERY unlikely to strike up a conversation with them. Just, they can easily kill me in an instant if they wanted to. So, nope.

      Call me weird. 😂 And look, we are both still alive! We are doing something right, lol!

  • I’m thinking you should have called it 6 stupid lies. I enjoyed your article untill you mentioned propane, unfortunately like so many, you are just fear mongering. You did not back up your opinion with anything substantial.
    Your comment that “It should be obvious that propane is EXTREMELY flammable. It burns easily. And accidents produce sparks. One of your lines breaks and gets sparked, and you’ve got an explosion.” could just as easily apply to gasoline.
    In fact gasoline is more explosive and more dangerous than propane. In 40 years as a professional driver I have never seen a propane fueled fire but I have seen many gasoline fueled fires. That in itself should say something.
    Also if driving with your propane on is as dangerous as you indicate, why are there no laws in Canada or the U.S. (with the exception of some tunnels and vehicle ferries) against it? And what about propane powered or even natural gas powered vehicles? Would you say that they are also dangerous?
    The safety measures built into the propane system of today’s RV’s make it extremely unlikely for accidental fires to break out.
    But other than that, thank you for a good article and interesting read.

    • Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your input and your kudos on the article! We strive to help and aim to please.

      So, you asked why there are not laws against traveling with your propane tanks open in RVs? My answer is that it is beyond me why they don’t. Seems everything is regulated and ‘warned’ for goofy Americans these days. So yes, that’s a pretty good argument. That said, then why bother having laws restricting open tanks for tunnels and ferries?

      But like politics, this subject is a hot topic of debate that will likely never become one-sided.

      So here is my stance in a nutshell: though rare, a tank explosion CAN happen in an accident.

      Therefore, why not just play it safe and close them? No harm, no foul. I have friends who were at a campground where someone’s RV caught fire. They had open propane tanks and the explosions were violent and devastating. So even though you haven’t seen it happen, even being on the road as much as you have in 40 years, it can happen.

      So if it CAN happen in an accident, even though it’s extremely uncommon, then why not just close them to prevent the worst-case scenario? Too bad we can’t ‘close’ gas tanks…

      That said, relevant to this subject/debate, there is a product out there called Gas Stop. We are currently testing Gas Stop. I feel great using it while traveling.

      Theoretically, I can have my tanks open and my refrigerator on while traveling and feel assured that if an accident happens, the Gas Stop will detect a leak and immediately shut off the propane. This is another option for keeping safe while tanks are open.

      Are we fear mongering? Personally, I think that’s a bit harsh. The only goal is to keep people as safe as possible on the road. There’s nothing lost by simply keeping tanks off when traveling. Nothing.

      That said, there are many people out there who disagree with this position and travel with their tanks open. (INCLUDING Marshall, until we got the Gas Stop products to test) That’s ok. I just hope I never get into an accident with one of them! 😬

      That’s my stance. I feel good about it.

      And thank you again for sharing your position, I hope there are no hard feelings! 😊

  • Great Stuff! I am very happy I have found your blog and have already read several of your pages. I am excited to be starting my own full time boondocking lifestyle pretty soon. I will be traveling throughout the US working as a travel paramedic as I go with my fur baby’s accompanying me. You have already got me thinking on ways to help keep them save while traveling and while working away from my camper. Thank You!

    • Hey Jhon,

      Woot! This is what we aim for! Glad to help you along your journey, and thank you so much for taking the time to let us know of your appreciation. We dig it. Journey on, it’s going to be exciting!!

  • Amazing Read!!
    I run into so many new RV enthusiast that don’t realize the importance of regular maintenance and cleaning!! I`ll be adding your blog link to my website!! (RV Cleaning in Tacoma)

    • Thank you, Natasha! Regular maintenance is vital to keeping your RV in tip top shape. And cleaning is, too. Thank you for the kudos!

      • In our throw-away world, repairing, not replacing, is almost a taboo topic. Fortunately, RVs, for the most part, are much more expensive than, say, a coffee maker, so throwing one away when something big breaks is usually not a factor. But many do let their rigs deteriorate because they do not repair and/or clean.

        • So true, James! But man, the cheap quality of so many of the components that RVs are made from makes it difficult at times. I wish there was an easy fix, but then when anything is easy, it’s typically deemed as ‘less worthy’. But yeah, there’s plenty of maintenance RVs need in order to keep working and to slow deterioration.

    • Hi Rick,

      Thanks for checking out Camp Addict! Glad to hear that these misconceptions struck a chord with you. There is a lot of ‘interesting information’ out and about on the Internet (and other places). RVing isn’t immune to that. Glad we can help clear up some things for our readers!

    • AAAACK! And I even looked it up!!! Now I wonder if I got auto corrected and didn’t notice. Wishful thinking is more likely lol. Thank you for the correction. I can’t stand to have grammar mistakes though I likely have more than I realize.

      Corrected, and thank you!

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