It’s easy to think you can go anywhere, anytime, when you are traveling the open road in your RV. Except that RVs, and RV camping, can come with an assortment of restrictions. From low highway overpasses, steep grades and hairpins, to the weight of the gear you carry with you, it’s important to know your limits, that your route is “RV safe”, what kind of regulations are at your final destination.
Don’t take this article as a discouragement to “living the dream”, but simply as a means to live the dream safely and respectfully!
Your Weight Limits
You don’t want to over load your rig, and you also want to distribute the weight evenly. If you have a travel trailer, it’s best to put the extra weight towards the front. Look inside your RV, there should be one or more stickers, usually inside the closet, or in a motorhome, near the driver’s seat. These stickers will have information about your weight carrying capacity, your motorhome chassis, your tank sizes, etc. Keep in mind, water weighs 8 lbs. per gallon, so empty your black and gray tanks before you hit the road, if you can, and only fill your fresh tanks if you are on your way to a dry camping trip. If you need to know how much your rig weighs, truck stops often have a scale designed for trucks, and they can weigh you for a fee.
Keep in mind, you are driving a long and heavy vehicle, and not all roads will be “RV friendly”. Keep your eye out for signs that have vehicle restrictions (no trucks over 40′) and pay attention to the heights on over passes and bridges. You may also want to avoid narrow roads, roads with steep grades, and roads with tight hairpins.
Also, you may be inclined to drive slower, and the traffic on the main interstate highways can be fast moving, and heavily trafficked by 18 wheelers; those big rig trucks blowing by your motorhome or trailer can be nerve wracking. It may be more relaxing, and much more scenic, to take the less frequented state highways and side roads.
If you are headed for an RV park, make sure your pets are welcome. The vast majority of RV parks welcome all pets, but some have restrictions on the number of animals, and/or the size of your dogs. RV park pet rules are generally simple; always keep your pet on a leash within the RV park, and pick up your pet’s poop. But always check the RV park rules concerning pets, before you check in.
There will be “quiet times”, when you will be expected to turn down the music, and wind down the party. There may also be restrictions concerning campfires and/or charcoal BBQs.
In a national forest or BLM land, there will be stay limits, and there also may be fire limits; if the area is especially dry, there may be campfire restrictions. Also, always use common sense; if it is windy, don’t start a fire, never leave a fire unattended, and always put the fire out totally. You can drain off some water out of your gray tank for this.
Also, “pack it in, pack it out”, and “take only pictures, leave only foot prints”, are universal camping rules. Don’t leave your trash behind, and don’t try to burn things like tin cans in your campfire. Don’t throw glass bottles around, or shoot the place up. Don’t chop down trees, or race around on your ATV, leaving deep ruts all over the ground. I know you wouldn’t do such things, but someone out there is, and that sort of behavior contributes to camping areas being further restricted, or shut down.
Just a few simple rules and regs to remember, and your RV journey will remain safe and enjoyable, and preserve our campgrounds for future use.