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Whether you enjoy a relaxing or more active RVing experience, there are some things you can do to ensure the adventure just isn't "good," but rather "excellent."
Whether you enjoy a relaxing or more active RVing experience, there are some things you can do to ensure the adventure just isn't "good," but rather "excellent."

What’s it take to be an ‘excellent’ RVer?

What are the important characteristics of excellent RVers? Or, what are the prerequisites for becoming an excellent RVer? Is it sufficient to have ample funding to purchase an RV of your choice? At the completion of that purchase do you suddenly become an RVer?

Simply put, if you were born on a farm, does that mean you’re a farmer? Maybe, but maybe not. There are many characteristics that define each of us and are required if we’re going to achieve our goals in life. In a similar manner these characteristics below may contribute to your success as an RVer.

Basically, anyone can own an RV, but to reach the maximum enjoyment in RVing is the much same process as achieving maximum success in life. If differs for different people. However, several general truths apply to each of us.

Knowledge

Even before you acquire the first RV, the homework should be done to determine which motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer is the best suited to meet your needs and desires. Need and want are not the same and may not be compatible or may be mutually exclusive.

Too many RVs are purchased and almost immediately are underutilized or misused. Stories abound of buyers who purchased a new or slightly used RV only to find that it was not the right RV for that buyer. Hence the RV was soon for sale at a vastly reduced price and at a loss to the seller.

In contrast, I talked with a buyer who had just purchased a new 2012 ACE by Thor and had driven it from Alabama to northern Arizona. It was a 30-foot Class A motorhome with an abundance of interior and exterior storage space. She was enthusiastic and bubbling about the excess of wonderful features and will be well satisfied with this RV for the foreseeable future.

A thorough knowledge of the buyer’s needs and RVing goals will be most helpful in the correct purchase at the right time.

Ability to Learn

One of the largest deterrents to both beginning or aspiring RVers is the overwhelming size and shape of the RV. For most men and women who have never driven a vehicle larger than a sedan or SUV, a Class C coach or comparable trailer appears huge. Class A motorhomes and fifth wheels in the 34- to 45-foot range, plus toad or tow truck, are overwhelming to the person who has only driven cars or pickups in the past.

Driving skills, resort and site selection, repair and services , towing procedures, overall safety regulations and a multitude of ancillary activities must be learned. A friend who traveled extensively with me while asking questions and observing my routine procedures later attended a Good Sam boot camp after buying her own RV. Upon completing the boot camp she was very expressive with praise for what she had learned while traveling with me. Many things that she had learned with me put her far ahead of the other people in attendance at the boot camp. On-the-job training may be acquired in a variety of ways.

Water heater class

Mechanical skills

RVers should be constantly reminded that their home on wheels is being driven or towed over rough roads at high speeds. A wide variety of sun, wind, water and mechanical conditions prevail and have a direct impact on even the smallest RV. Parts break, bolts and screws loosen, wooden panels separate and split. Travel is tough on RVs as they twist and bounce along the highways and byways. In fact, the byways are often the worst roads to travel.

Most RVs have been exposed to some pretty rough terrain and pavement. While leaving a resort recently at an extremely slow speed of 5 mph it seem that the cabinets might tear loose from the twisting, twitching, writhing walls as we crossed the resort entrance onto the highway. All of these small, seemingly insignificant damages accumulate and require repair. Owners with sufficient mechanical skills are able to make repairs at much less expense than it would cost at an RV repair shop.

If you are unable to make the repairs, it is wise to learn how to evaluate the ability of a mechanic or dealer to complete the necessary repairs. (Let’s RV recommends that full-time or frequent RV users attend an RV maintenance course offered by the National RV Inspectors Association. More information is available at www.rvtechcourse.com. Use the checkout code RV Daily Report to get a discount off in-person and video training.)

Motivation and Desire

Complacency comes easily to many Rvers who are perfectly happy to sit in their lawn chairs hour after hour. Others require nearly constant activity in one form or another. Many active RVers establish a routine of caring for their RV, cleaning, polishing, making repairs and improvements. A few RVers find activities and volunteer opportunities within the RV community and region where they are staying and utilize their energy for the good of other people.

For example, while RVing in Rocky Point, Mexico, in February 2014, several from our group of single RVers purchased rice and beans and distributed bags of each to the poor who live in shacks next to the railroad tracks. These small contributions were eagerly received by the residents. In contrast, the complacent RVer expends so much energy walking a dog or setting up a satellite TV receiver that there is no further energy or desire to perform another activity.

Thus complacency may well translate into laziness, apathy and a sluggish approach to daily life. A more appealing and rewarding mode is one of energetic action. This action may result in a stronger, more fulfilling physical and emotional life.

Adventurous Risk Taker

Since humans first stood upright and became bipeds, and perhaps prior to that event, there have been those who are ready and eager to take risks and who appear more adventurous than the majority. Modern risk takers become involved in extreme sports and experiences. That type of person has always been with us and is often called accident-prone, death defying or suicidal.

That is not what the term implies to an RVer. An adventurous, risk-taking RVer may fit the mold described above, but is more likely a person, couple or family who totally embraces the RV lifestyle by traveling all across North America, in a wide range of weather conditions in search of new, exciting , emotionally and physically rewarding life experiences.

Desire to Improve

This desire or drive may be demonstrated by changes made in the RV, in the sites and sights visited or in the daily RVing lifestyle. Very often we hear younger and older folks causally say, “It is what it is!” This is stated for many situations and suggests that “what will be will be!” and cannot be improved.

I prefer to amend those phrases with another short quote: “But we can make it better.” We can definitely improve the conditions or circumstances by making intelligent and determined efforts to improve and enhance the situation.

When everyone obeys the rules, they RV experience is better for everyone.
When everyone obeys the rules, they RV experience is better for everyone.

Obey the Rules

This is such a no-brainer that it probably shouldn’t be included in this article. However, a recent incident that happened leads me to believe it should be a component of the description of the good to excellent RVer.

Most RV resorts have very few hard and fast rules because the majority of RVers use common sense and show respect for the RV community. When posted rules clearly state  DO NOT DRIVE ON THE GRASS there are good reasons for the rule. For example, grass is difficult to grown and maintain, especially in dry climates. Vehicles can cause severe and irreparable damages to tender vegetation. Also, the automatic water irrigation systems are easily damaged by the heavy RVs and trucks. More importantly, very fragile septic lines may be buried nearby and a big RV driving over them could cause very expensive damage to the resorts septic system.

As I prepared to leave a cool, shady site and turn left onto the nearest driveway out of the park, a pickup and fifth wheel pulled into the dump station to our left, thereby blocking our exit. Our own preparation had included dumping our waste tanks, uncoupling the electric cord, hooking up the Toad and the other tasks compliant with leaving a campsite. All of these tasks took from 20-30 minutes and when these chores were completed, the pickup and 5er were still at the dump station while the driver conversed casually with a friend. This conversation continued for a longer time period and we waited rather patiently for it to conclude.

Finally, it seemed apparent that the fifth wheel driver was enjoying the dump station experience, so we pulled carefully to the right and eased onto the exit road to avoid driving on the grass. When clear of our site, I stopped and went out to check that we had left the site in good condition, an inspection that required less than three minutes. At this point the fifth wheel driver decided that he could not wait while my site inspection progressed and he jumped into his truck, sped across the grass median and irrigation system to drive out on an adjacent exit road.

Immediately, from nowhere, resort security appeared in his trusty Jeep and blocked the exit road. The fifth wheel driver had no choice but to stop or run over the Jeep. Security stormed to the driver and “reamed him a new one” for driving across the grass and the watering system.

I did not stick around to hear the full text of the sermon. No doubt, the basic premise was “OBEY THE RULES.” Rules are enforced for good reason. Rules usually have much to do with respect for other people and their property. Common sense is a necessary ingredient.

Lifestyle - skiing

Appreciation for Freedom and Opportunity

Freedom, the right to move, without restraint, about the country, to go where and when we have longed to go, to visit the places and people that we may have only dreamed about in the past — you know, FREEDOM!

The United States, Canada and the entire North American continent are huge, great and wonderful places to visit and to experience, to really get to know and to become intimately acquainted with. So often we simply want ”to see” or touch some place, however briefly, so that we can tell our friends, “I have been there.” But, that is not enough! These beautiful and interesting scenic locations should be experienced and totally enjoyed.

Freedom and opportunity mean that we are willing to take precious time, of which we have a limited supply, to learn enough about natural and man-made habitats to truly appreciate their features and as many different aspects as possible. RVers have or may have such freedom and opportunity in abundance and are only restricted by their own limitations. The experiences are there in abundance if we take full advantage of them. Fortunately, RVers are more likely to do so than are most other people in the United States and the world, who don’t travel and enjoy nature.

This is, perhaps, a good place to reiterate and expand on the fact that the luxury of RVing is more accepted and enjoyed in the United States than in any other part of the world. RVs are a common and accepted mode of transport in the United States and are, perhaps, more and better utilized here than in any other country. Americans appreciate, enjoy and embrace the freedom of RVing.

The bottom line is, if you wish to appreciate the freedom and opportunity that RVing brings, and experience a lifestyle that is like no other, then arm yourself with knowledge, learn to use the equipment, be willing to take risks, and obey the rules. Your experience will shift from good to excellent.

About Dr. Bob Gorden

Dr. Bob Gorden is an RVer, hiker and writer. He has a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. He has owned and operated more than 55 RVs of various types, and has visited every state, except Hawaii, in his RV. He also traveled by RV in New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. He currently owns and travels in a 1978 GMC 26-foot Class A and 2013 Thor ACE 30.1 Class A motorhome. He has a compelling desire to be “On the Road Again!”

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