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Top Tips from AARP's Experienced RV Travelers

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    Road ready

    En español | Thinking of trying RV travel? It's a great way to see the country, say those who participate in AARP's online community. Seasoned RVers advised using the many websites devoted to RV travel (including GoRVing.com and RV.net) for resources and forum discussions. And AARP Facebook followers offered more than 500 tips to new RVers. Among them:

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    Find the right RV

    "We have had so many different campers, both towable and fifth-wheels,” which hook up over the bed of a pickup truck, says Selina Kelley. “Ask the dealer if you can stay overnight in the camper before you buy it. See if you're happy with the size of the kitchen, the beds and the storage."

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    Rent first

    Christina Craycroft says: "Take a rental out. Hook up, and everyone stay inside for a couple of hours, as if it were raining. Is there plenty of room for everyone? It's no fun if it doesn't work for you."

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    Buy used

    "You can save half the cost or more,” advises Deb Sartin Segers. “Yes, the RV will have some issues, but I find from reading the online RV forums, new ones do too."  

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    Drive someone else's RV

    Alan Ford says: "Companies are always looking for transport drivers. RVs can't be transported on car carriers. Most of the companies are in Indiana. Check 'em out. You attach your personal vehicle to the back."

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    Practice parking

    “If you've got a travel trailer or fifth-wheel, practice backing into small areas," advises Chris Brookshire. "It can be quite a challenge if you are not good at this task — not to mention time-consuming and frustrating. If you are completely unfamiliar with the campground and are worried about maneuvering, try to get a pull-through site.” 

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    Be ready

    "We have a 32-foot fifth-wheel, and I keep it stocked with towels, soap, linens and everything I need," says Peggie Holt. "All we have to add is the food and our clothes." Sharon Nation says: "Always take clothing for each season. Even if it's 100 degrees in one place, you may need a coat in another." And Nancy Marshall Peck adds: "Always buy the toilet paper made especially for RVs!"

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    Be organized

    "We keep a binder with checklists, a travelogue, coupons, maps and notebook paper in our RV for quick reference," says Mary Jane Amos on Facebook. "I even list what is in each cabinet so my hubby can find things easily." Patty Kennedy uses two lists. "Have one listing the things to remember to take and do just before going. Keep another taped in the RV with things to do to prepare the RV before going home. You would be surprised at the things you will forget that are really important."

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    Take a maiden voyage

    Jim Randy Wallace advises for the first trip, "Use a checklist and stay close to home. You can go get things you need or bring home things you don't. You can practice setup. When in your hometown, you'll know where to shop. If it's a total fail, go home, sleep in your bed, and come back to your rig in the morning renewed and refreshed."

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    Stay Safe

    Peggy Turley advises: "Have at least two people who can drive the RV. And stop early enough to be able to park. Don't look for an RV park after dark — hookups can be tricky." Lew Lewis adds: "Remember ‘center of gravity’! Keep the heavy stuff down low." "Bungee-cord cabinets closed," says Sandy Eckels. "It will save you from losing dishes and glasses when you get into foul weather and turbulence." Dave Maher offers this advice: "If you service your camper well and make sure everything (lights, plumbing, drain tank, etc.) is up to snuff, you'll have a great experience."

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    Take the road less traveled

    "My tip," says Norma Carlson, "is drive on country roads, and you will meet wonderful people. Catch the yard sales and keep off the interstates where the big rigs are working. Enjoy life!"

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    Vary overnight stays

    Shirley English Schoenherr Carey, who's been RVing for 40 years, points out: "You don't need to stay in a camp all the time. You can get Wi-Fi at most Walmarts to catch up on emails or to post pictures. Some Walmarts let you stay overnight in the parking lot, where you can cook meals in the RV to save money."

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    Make memories

    Kathy Marsh Retherford says: "Keep a notebook on the counter and have every camper write down special moments from the trip. Years down the road, those notes will jog memories."

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