Rookie Mistakes New Campers Make

Peggy Sue on our maiden voyage.

We purchased Peggy Sue kind of knowing what we were going into.  We found a list online that gave the advice in the form of a checklist as to what to look for when purchasing a camper.  I had saved this list from the Pop Up Princess to help us with our purchase.

Rookie Mistakes New Campers Make

We looked at her on a rainy, cold day in late fall.  There were no visible leaks.  The heating and cooling worked.  The owner disclosed repairs he had made.  Everything looked good and the price what right.

We were purchasing a fixer-upper.  This was exactly what we wanted.  I already knew before buying her what I wanted to do on the interior to make it a cozy camper for our family of three.  We also had a goal to start camping monthly beginning in February.  So, we also had a timeline to get our work done.

Before we took a long trip, we planned to do a local overnight trial run.  A trip that would allow us to find out what did and didn't work for us.  This was a great plan.  I am still glad we did this.  We soon discovered some rookie mistakes we made that we didn't and couldn't anticipate during our remodel.

Today I'll share with you some of the rookie mistakes that we made.  Experienced campers would look at this and roll their eyes maybe.  But, I feel certain that most every beginning camper has experienced some of these very things.

1.  Test the water at home by hooking up and trying the interior sink

By doing this, you will know what you are missing and what does and doesn't work.  For starters, we didn't even own a water connection hose for the city water into our camper.  I'm not sure how we missed this detail but we did.  I ran off to a local Walmart that was near the campground and purchased a clean water hose.  Problem solved.

Not really.   No matter what we did, there was no water coming through our line into the camper.  We were connected.  Nothing.  Our connection valve was stuck or something.  And it ended up needing to be replaced.  It was a simple and inexpensive repair, but one we missed in getting everything else done.  You can read about how we did this water inlet replacement in a previous post.

The water inlet repair was a simple part that took minimal time to repair.

By the next weekend, we had a new part for a replacement.  After a 20 minute install of a new valve, water worked and was coming into our camper.  We checked everything out.  Perfect!  We were ready for our next trip!  Kind of...

2.  Be sure to have a water pressure regulator

Our next trip was a longer multi-night trip!  I was super excited to have water running.  I could wash dishes at my sink.  Easy!  We had fixed our problem.  When I turned on the water, it was like a tidal rush!  Wow!  I did a little research online, we needed a pressure regulator!  Off to Camping World, we go.  We purchased a Camco pressure regulator that attaches to the hose.  You can also purchase these on Amazon.  Camco 40055 Brass Water Pressure Regulator

Every pop-up camper needs a water regulator if you are hooking up to city water!

Now we are ready!

3.  Vent your grey water drain

It was while I  was washing dishes the first time that the water was not draining very quickly.  We spent that trip with me washing dishes and my husband adjusting greywater hose.  There is a great post on the Pop Up Princess site about creating a water vent to help eliminate this problem.  I recommend doing this.  It is what we have done.  It is a simple PVC deal that helps vent the water connection for better drainage.

If you are going to wash dishes indoors, I recommend venting your grey water drain.  This is easy to make!

I purchased the fittings and pieces from a local Lowe's.  Mine does not look exactly like the one from the Pop Up Princess.  But here is my advice.
  • Be sure that you have a swivel end to connect to the greywater outlet.  I found this with the water and irrigation hose products.
  • You will only need one piece of PVC pipe.  Test fit this piece to make sure that it fits into your fittings.
  • You will need a:  T joint, 1 or 2 elbow joints depending on your construction, swivel end to connect to the pop-up camper and a piece to connect to the hose at the end.
  • Hacksaw to cut your PVC pipe, unless you have some kind of fancy cutters.
  • Ruler or a tape measure.
  • Sharpie marker to help measure and mark for cuttings.
This may have been one of the easiest things that I did in terms of modifications.  It took me probably 30 to 45 minutes to do this.  It took us that long to wash dishes and fix the drainage issue every single meal on that second camping trip.  

4.  Be sure to waterproof your canvas

Our pop up camper had been let go a little on the upkeep side of things before our purchase.  I didn't realize that I needed to waterproof the canvas.  It was on our first multi-night trip that this became apparent.  It rained all night, and the water made our edges around the bedding a little damp.  It was fine.  We had a heater.  Things dried.  No harm really.  But it made me feel like I was looser at camping!

Since this trip, I used 303 (30606) Fabric Guard, Upholstery Protector, Water, and Stain Repellent, 32 fl. oz. to treat our canvas.  Now, we are a little better prepared for rain!

5.  Check the tire pressure in your tires

Our tires looked fine.  So we assumed they were.  NOT.  When we got to our spot on the MS Gulf Coast, one of our tired looked very low.  We went to Walmart and purchased a little tire kit to air up our tires.  This would keep us from having to leave and take our camper out to air out the tires after we just set up.

Our air machine plugs into our 12-volt adapter in our car.  We discovered that our tires should have 80 pounds of pressure and only had 35!  Seriously?  I was beginning to think that we were completely incompetent!

My husband aired up both tires to capacity.  Done.  I recommend keeping one of the tire kits in your tow vehicle for emergencies.  It was a $30 investment that we can use for lots of things.

Maybe you are a better-prepared camper than we are.  Maybe you are more experienced.  However, we made a lot of assumptions.  We had done all of the work.  I had printed a manual to help us when we needed it.  But what we didn't anticipate were some of these little things that we overlooked.  It is so easy to do.

One thing that I would recommend to new campers is a Camco 44721 Tent and Pop-Up Camper Starter Kit.  This kit is about $28.  It has the city water hose and pressure regulator along with a few other handy items you might need.  It's a good way to get what you need and not forget items.

I think any rookie is going to make mistakes along the way.  Hopefully, this information can help another camper that is getting started with a new project.  And if you make mistakes, just remember, we all make them.  It is okay.  We aren't born knowing this stuff.  It is learned.  And it is a lot of information.

One thing that I didn't originally discuss when I first published this post was a first aid kit.  Depending on the types of outdoor experiences you plan to have, you need to have adequate first aid supplies in case of an emergency.  The Simple Prepper recommends 3 First Aid Kits that you can buy for your family and adventures.

What rookie mistakes have you made?  I'd love to hear from other campers!  Feel free to share your comments and rookie mistakes below.  Even with the mistakes that we have made, we love camping and learning together as a family.  It is a great sense of accomplishment to tackles these tasks together.  I'm sure that we will make more mistakes along the way, and we will learn from them and keep going.

For more camping gear for your next journey, check out my Gear Page.  Until next time...

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  1. I followed your advise on the blog and ordered the popup started kit following your link to Amazon. I also ordered the 303 multi-purpose cleaner. My canvas is in very good shape but has those dark mildew stains around the interior. Tried Woolite and low amount of bleach with very limited results. Hopefully, the 303 will afford better results.

    1. Great! The starter kit is a good way to have what you need for that first trip. The 303 products that we have used have been great. I'm glad your canvas is in good shape! Keep it in good shape by making sure you water proof and regular maintenance.

  2. I've never been inside a Pop-Up camper, but if you have a battery make sure to fully charge it before every trip. I purchased a small solar panel for under $30 that charges my battery while camping. Hook to battery and let the sun help keep it charged.

    1. Great advice! How do you like your solar panel!?

  3. I love how you decorated the bed area with the framing curtains and lovely quilt. I find your website informative and very well done. Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information. I am switching from tent camping to pop up camping now that I am in my 50's and I so love all the wonderful tips, pictures and links you have included. I am looking at purchasing a used pop up camper and this site has given me some insight into what I should look for and some questions to ask. Thanks again!

    1. So glad you found my blog. Please let me know if you have questions! I am happy to answer any additional ones you have. Good luck finding and buying a pop up camper. You will love it. They are so much fun!


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