So You Bought An RV… Now What? {A Checklist of Sorts}

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There is SO MUCH we are learning about owning an RV.  I am still working on the fine details of my blog post about purchasing an RV (with hidden expenses and everything that surprised us along the way)!  But until I can get that post finalized for you, I wanted to tell you a few things we did after purchasing our Class A that you may want to know if you ever want to purchase a motor home of this magnitude yourself!

So you bought an RV… now what?

Well, here’s what we did (in no particular order!)

  1. Measure the oven, microwave and any other compartment that you know you’re going to need to buy certain items for.  The microwave in our RV is practically dorm-sized.  It is VERY small.  So is the oven (compared to a household oven).  Be sure and measure these items so you can see if pans you need to buy for the oven, or plates you want to use in the microwave will fit first!  I also measured underneath the kitchen sink to see what size trash can I could use, as well as, other compartments I knew we’d need to store items in that might not fit!
  2. Make reminders until you get the hang of things.  A good tip we read somewhere was to put some sort of a reminder by the steering wheel to remind you of things you need to do before you leave. Things like: taking down the cable antenna or checking to see if the jacks are up.  We decided to use a red chip clip to put on the key slot of the steering column as a reminder to check these things.  Also, placing a small post-it note with the height of your unit by the steering wheel is a good idea, too!
  3. Go over notes you made while your technician was showing you how to operate everything inside and outside your unit.  It sounds nerdy, but DO IT!  Especially while the instructions are still fresh in your mind.  Our technician spent 2 hours going over every nook and cranny of our RV with us.  Lazy Dad took notes with his phone because there is so much to remember!  We looked back over the notes the next day to solidify it in our minds.  Totally worth doing before your first RV trip.
  4. Look over all the owner manuals and fill out any warranty cards.  I know, I know… another nerdy thing to do, but you just made a HUGE investment! Look through the manuals, fill out warranty cards, circle any warranty information and then store these in your RV for future reference or in case of an emergency.
  5. Go back through your paper work from the signing table.  Yes, one more nerdy thing to mention, but this helped me a lot.  There was so much paperwork to sign and so much to take in that day, it doesn’t hurt to look back over things to make sure everything is right, check for mistakes or to see what on earth you just signed! *smile*
  6. Install optional items you bought for your RV.  Yes, when you pick-up your new RV there will be items the dealership recommends you purchase for your unit.  I’m going to be writing much more about that in my blog post about hidden expenses when buying an RV, so stay tuned!  But for now, just know that you will probably leave the dealership with items you need for your new toy.  Go ahead and install those items or put them where they need to go so you have them in the RV.
  7. Make a master pack list of what you need for the RV.  You’re practically outfitting a whole new house!  We had owned a pull-behind camper before, so we had many items we could just transfer over (thank God we kept it!), but we also had to go out and buy many new things.  I made our pack list on Google Docs so Lazy Dad and I could both access it.  Here’s a link to our Master RV Pack List in case you are curious what all is needed for an RV like ours.  The list is color coded: Items in blue are things we already owned and just transferred to the RV.  Items in purple are items we went out and bought.  (The personal items and food columns are on our master list, but I figured you didn’t want to know what all we were taking as that can be so different from family to family.)
  8. Go to the dollar store or thrift store for items you need in your RV.  I bought most of the items we lacked on our Master RV Pack List (items in purple) at the dollar store and at thrift stores.  Whatever I couldn’t find there I found at Big Lots or Walmart.  It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive to load your RV with what it needs.  The thrift store was perfect for household items!
  9. Make your appointment to realign tires after packing your camper.  We were told during our 2 hour technician tour, that after we had fully packed our RV the way we wanted it with everything in it for a camping trip we should go and have the front tires realigned.  Doing this supposedly keeps you from putting improper wear on the tires now that it’s loaded as opposed to unloaded.  Honestly, we haven’t done this yet.  If you have experience with this, please leave a comment below this post to let us know if we should or shouldn’t do this before our big trip out west!
  10. Make a maintenance schedule using your notes from the technician tour.  That 2 hour tour we had of our RV where the technician showed us everything we needed to know and how to operate it?  He also went over maintaining the RV.  Remember… it’s a vehicle!  It needs oil changes, tire rotations, and other general maintenance.  If you are new to RVing, it wouldn’t hurt to make a schedule so you remember when you need to check oil levels, or have fluids changed, etc.
  11. Go ahead and do any pre-maintenance from your technician notes. Now’s the time to do the things your technician told you to do before you take a camping trip.  Go over your notes (again) from your 2 hour tour with him and get it done!
  12. Double check you have everything you should have and/or was promised to you.  Go back through your RV and double check you have all the things that should have come with it.  We were missing a converter cord for 30 AMP to 15 AMP that was promised to us and we also noticed we were missing a wand for one of our mini blinds.  Call the dealership and let them know ASAP!

That’s what all we did after buying our RV!  If you have experience with RV’s and thought of something I left off, please let me know in the comments area under this blog post!

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