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Key Terms Every RV Owner Should Know 


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You've purchased your RV, you're excited to go camping, and you're ready to hit the road. Nothing is more exciting than heading out on that first camping trip with your new RV, but if you're new to this world, you might hear some terms you've never heard before. Joining the RV community is like unlocking a different universe. It's great how like-minded people come together to share their love for the great outdoors, but there is so much to learn! 

From practicing filling and dumping your tanks to learning how to hook up your trailer to your truck, all this new information might feel overwhelming at first. You might even forget a few things the first several times – and that's perfectly okay! Don't be afraid to ask questions. The RV community is a friendly one, and you're more than likely to find someone who is willing to help you out. And don't get discouraged if it takes a few trips to learn the ropes and get the hang of things – practice makes perfect! 

Now that you're ready to head out on your adventure, knowing some RV slang terms will help you gain a better understanding of what to do and what certain things mean. Here are a few key terms to keep in the back of your mind when you're out on the road: 

Gray Tank: This is the tank that stores all the water from your sinks and showers. If you're going to a campsite without full hookups, you'll want to fill your gray tanks before you hit the road so you have water throughout the duration of your trip. 

Black Tank: The black tank is where everything from your toilet goes. Your RV sales associate will be able to show you how to empty this tank at the end of your trip, but if you want some extra help, there are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject. You could always ask a seasoned RV owner for help as well.

Fresh Water Tank: This tank stores all the fresh water that you'll be using for drinking, cooking, and washing. You'll want to make sure this is full before you leave for your trip if you don't have hookups at your campsite. 

Hook-ups: These are the connections you need to make in order to have water and electricity while you're camping. If a campground has "full hookups," you won't need to worry about bringing a generator or filling your tanks – you'll get all the electricity and water you need straight from those hookups. Don't forget a surge protector to plug in your RV! 

Dump Station: A dump station is a place where you can empty your black and grey tanks. If your campsite has full hookups, you should be able to dump everything there. If not, you'll have to find a place nearby. 

Boondocking: Boondocking is when you camp without hookups in more rural areas. You often don't have to pay for a campsite while boondocking, and it's easy to pick up camp and move whenever you want. 

Pilot or Captain: The pilot or captain is the driver of the RV. 

Shore Power: Shore power is an external power source that you can hook up to while you're at a campground. When plugging into these power poles, it's wise to use a surge protector in case of electrical issues. 

Winterize: Winterizing your RV means taking measures to prepare it for cold weather conditions. This includes things like adding antifreeze to your pipes and draining your tanks. If you store your trailer in a temperature-controlled area or a mild climate, you don't have to do this.

De-winterize: De-winterizing is the process of undoing all the steps you took to winterize your RV. This needs to be done before you take your RV out again in the spring. 

Rally: A rally is a gathering of RVs, usually organized by an RV club or association. It can be just a few or a few hundred and can include fun activities. 

Fifth Wheel: A fifth wheel is a type of RV that attaches to the bed of a pickup truck. Fifth wheels are typically slightly larger than travel trailers and pull differently. If you have the right truck for it, fifth wheels are a great option. "Fiver" is another common term for "fifth wheel." 

Bunkhouse: A bunkhouse is an RV with beds built into the walls, usually for children. RVs with bunk beds are great because they accommodate a lot of people without taking up a ton of space. 

Caravan: A caravan is a group of RVs traveling together. If you're camping with a group of people from your neighborhood, it's a good idea to caravan because you can stay together and help each other with any issues that come up. 

GVWR: GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is how much your RV can carry when it's fully loaded with cargo, passengers, and anything else you're bringing on your trip. 

Dry Weight: The dry weight of an RV is its weight without any cargo or passengers. This is a good number to know because it can help you determine how much your RV will weigh when it's fully loaded. 

Tongue Weight: Tongue weight is the downward force that the tongue of your trailer puts on your hitch ball. You'll need to make sure your vehicle can handle this weight before you hit the road. 

Hitch Ball: A hitch ball is a metal ball that attaches to the back of your vehicle and allows you to hook up a trailer.

Now that you know some of these key terms, you're one step closer to being an RV expert! With a little bit of practice and a lot of exploring, you'll be a pro in no time. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start your adventure today! 

If you are thinking about purchasing a travel trailer but you're not sure where to start, visit Oliver Travel Trailers today. Our friendly sales associates will be happy to help you find the RV that best fits your needs. 

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9 minutes ago, JWalmsley said:

If you're going to a campsite without full hookups, you'll want to fill your gray tanks before you hit the road so you have water throughout the duration of your trip. 

OOPS!  Don't think I'll do this.

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