Updated: Nov 13
Fall is the perfect time to go camping, but a lot of folks hate having to haul tents, sleeping bags, and all the other necessary gear back and forth from the house. With travel trailers or RV's, camp life can be much easier and more comfortable compared to tent camping.
As a travel trailer owner since 2020 (I know, me and everyone else) I have discovered a renewed passion for camping since my youth. I used to be a Girl Scout, so camping was definitely a favorite past time, but again, too much stuff was required to make regular trips as an adult.
With travel trailer camping, you can basically pack food and clothes and you're good to go because the rest is set up for you.
In fact, this type of camping is so popular that people are renting out their campers through a variety of platforms in order to make a little extra cash on the side. This gives newbie campers the opportunity to camp without the hassle, but they need to know that there's more to it than a hotel room.
Here I dive into the details about travel trailers that renters will need to be aware of for a pleasant stay, and provide some information on gear that will make their trip even greater.
This guide is meant to be pretty high level for the novice camper to understand it is not as simple as just checking in and checking out. Avoid mishaps by learning more from someone who camps regularly.
In this article you will find:
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Booking a camp site
Booking a campsite is very easy. There are pages online for:
In many cases, booking a campsite is not a last minute thing as sites book out many months in advance. Be sure to book as soon as possible. Companies that offer RV and travel trailer rentals will sometimes book the site for you, especially in instances where the rental is on the owner's property like a farm or homestead.
Companies that offer travel trailer and RV rentals
Three popular companies for searching RV rentals include:
Consider outside the box as well, like staying at a vineyard in a vintage RV, or sleeping on someone's farm property in their rental RV.
For this type of experience, check out:
Understanding and Operating the Buttons (from slides to water, lights and more)
There are a lot of buttons on a camper operating everything from the water heater, the slides and awnings, light switches indoors and outdoors, tank gauges and more. Typically these are on a panel by the entryway door.
If you have the opportunity with your rental company, go through each of the switches so that you fully understand them.
If you are renting your RV for the night, it is likely that the awnings and slides have already been set up for you. It's best to leave those buttons alone, but if you must operate them due to heavy wind or other reasons, be sure there are no items that could get stuck in the gear wells.
Light switches operate on battery power if there is no electricity or shore power, so even if you are boondocking (no power or water), you will have a decent battery supply for lights.
Understanding the Water Tanks
Water tank gauges are important to check frequently. These are the buttons mentioned on the panel with the other slide and light switches. If nearing full, the tanks can spit back water into the camper and you'll get a pretty nasty stink in the camper (not to mention a very unhappy rental company).
Use water sparingly!
Dishes and Sink Use
When washing dishes, consider soaping with the sink faucet off, then running the water to rinse. Optionally, many campground bath houses have sinks or dish washing stations specifically for food products.
When brushing your teeth, don't leave the faucet running.
When showering, there is often a switch on the shower head for toggling on and off the water. This is so that you can soap then rinse, just like the dishes. This way you can keep the water nozzle on to the temperature that you like but you can still conserve water.
Using the Toilet
Typical RV toilets have a foot pedal for flushing. A light tap adds some water to the bowl before you do your business.
ONLY use designated TP for RV toilets. This is so super important because the TP and waste needs to break down to clean the tank properly. This means no garbage, no tissues, etc go in that bowl!
If you are renting, you can expect that the rental company will take care of dumping and flushing out the tanks after each visitor's use.
General Safety and Tips
Winter camping brings the need for heat, which means you'll be running gas through the lines. Just like if you were using a gas tank for grilling, gas needs to be handled carefully.
That means if you are operating the indoor stove or oven, be aware of excess gas smells. The heater will use gas and it will make noise in the night, so don't panic. I know there are a lot of horror stories about travel trailers exploding. This is primarily due to negligence and poor upkeep.
You may also hear an AC unit run on or off, which is normal depending on the settings. Increase or decrease flow and sound by opening or closing vents.
Outdoors, be aware of the weather. You are sleeping in a cardboard box, so if it's nasty weather (like a tornado) be prepared to take shelter in the bath house. We've camped through many horrible storms and it can be terrifying.
It's easy to tell yourself, "it's ok, I am safe", but for really bad weather be smart. Wind, rain and lightning storms are generally ok.
Also be aware of critters and bears. Never leave your trash or food outside overnight.
Lastly, expect that your unit will be stable. Even knowing that we have hooked up our camper to be level, added chocks to keep it from rolling, and even added something called x-chocks to the wheels to further prevent rolling or instability, I have still woken in the middle of the night with dread thinking we'll roll into the ocean or down a steep hill. You're fine and your camper isn't going anywhere.
Fun and Useful Gear for Overnight RV Rentals
Enough dread and panic talk. Let's talk gear! There's some great stuff out there to keep the family occupied. Here's a round up of some of our favorites that we use almost every trip.
These reusable sticks are cool for roasting marshmallows, hot dogs or brats, and even texas toast!
I like having at least a flash light or head lamp on hand when I'm camping. If you don't want to trust me, trust the 20,000+ people who bought this particular headlamp this month on Amazon.
Especially if you're camping in Florida, you need these. They last for several days and do the trick to keep mosquitos away.
My family owns a lot of cookware for camping. We own pellet smokers like the Davy Crockett, we own spit roasts for over a camp fire, we've got griddles, korean bbq sets, charcoal grills and then some. It's rather obscene, really.
That said, we do really like our Blackstone griddle. After hearing so much hype from other campers, we had to have one. Ours is larger, but this mini on the go version is a great option for infrequent campers because it packs up easily and can be used at home too!
Perfect for shake and pour pancakes, griddle eggs and bacon, hamburgers, and more!
For after dinner hikes around the campground, dining al fresco by lantern light, or simply for illumination to get that camp fire going, you'll need a couple of these.
This game is the coolest way to get your family together when camping. Whether out at the camp picnic table or indoors on the RV on a rainy day, this deck building game is easy to play and learn.
There are multiple verticals like cooking, outdoors, adventure, friendship, etc and each vertical sends you and your family down a different camping adventure. Collect merit badges to win and then play again with different decks!
This chair is the coolest thing I ever bought for camping with a small child. Your baby as young as 3 months can strap in, then the next stage is a standing baby with a built in bug net to protect their legs, followed by the big kid phase, where they can sit comfortably at an appropriate height until they are 75 lbs.
A cheap lifesaver if you live somewhere with mosquitos!
Propane torch and gas canister
Literally all the men in my life have one of these propane torch heads that hooks up to a small gas canister. This one in particular is their favorite.
Use it to get the campfire going, to ignite and speed up charcoal, to sear hunks of meat, whatever. Men stuff, you know?
Honestly any size or style works great, but we love this paella style one, great for cooking up huge campfire meals like chicken thighs, ribs, seafood paella and more. It can go directly on a camp grill, camp fire, or on your own cooking device brought from home.
I swear they made these for all campers. From indoor items you'd find in an RV to things outdoors, they've captured some really cool seek and find activities for kids.
Whether at the beach, in the woods or just trying to kill time at the campsite, there's tons of fun packed into this small package for kids.
For capturing those precious memories on the spot. This polaroid film camera is one of the coolest on the market, serving up mini versions of the OG square ones.
I own one and love it's retro vintage design and clear photos, not to mention it's super cool selfie-mode.
What to Bring From Home
Nicer clothes for day trips or evenings out
Clothes you are ok with smelling like a campfire
Appropriate outer wear for the weather
Good shoes to keep bugs and plants from getting you!
Your favorite pillow
Snacks, drinks, food
Wood for campfire, fire starters and kindling (be aware of local camp rules regarding bringing outside firewood)
Toys, games and entertainment
Portable fan or heater if you need extra 'oomph' outdoors
When it comes to RV rentals or travel trailer camping for the novice or unfamiliar camper, taking into account these few tips will really help to enhance your experience. Grab some of my gear recommendations to step up the entertainment and meal time department and you're good to go!