Embarrassing “First Day in the RV” Moments


First day in the RV… before I knew how to take a good RV picture *ahem*

I was filling up my fresh water tank yesterday, wondering what the heck I was going to write about for today’s blog post after being sick for the past few days, when I remembered with a smile the very first time I hooked up to a water connection in my RV.

It was a sunny and warm South Carolina spring day. After getting the Casita pulled out of storage, towed for 10 miles from the storage lot to Stoney Crest RV Park, backed into my assigned spot, and successfully unhitched (there may have been a little dance of achievement involved), I unrolled my shiny new fresh water hose. I thought I was prepared. I had a water pressure regulator and a disposable water filter to attach to the line, and meticulously prepared all of the connections with that white filmy tape stuff to discourage leaks.

Then I hooked one end of the hose to the spigot, and the other end to my city water connection. I opened up my side compartment to see the water level (currently empty) in my fresh water tank, turned on the spigot, and waited for the tank to fill so that I could use my water.

And waited.

And waited.

Clearly something was wrong, I felt the water fill the hose when I turned on the tap, but nothing was happening with my fresh water tank! Luckily I had a binder full of information from the previous owners, including a diagram of the plumbing inside a Casita.

Yeah. The city water connection allows the plumbing in an RV to work like in a house. You leave the hose attached to the water spigot on one end and the RV on the other. The constant pressure of water attempting to flow through the hose creates the pressure that flushes the toilet and powers the shower, etc., something which is true with most RVs but that I had not figured out ahead of time despite my hours of research. The fresh water tank is what you use when you don’t have a water hookup. You run the hose into the fresh water inlet, usually with the help of a flexible tip (no pressure regulator needed) where it flows straight into the tank for holding. Once the tank is full, you put away the hose and drive off. Then when you need that water later, you flip a switch to make the pump located inside the RV pressurize the system so that water flows. I felt pretty silly silly once I figured this out.

I’m sure all of you past or present RVers have a story like this, about some foolish thing you did or didn’t do the first time out in your rig, and I want to hear them! RVs are so complex that I think it must be impossible to fully understand how they work before you can get out an discover for yourself firsthand, but maybe by sharing these stories here we’ll help tomorrow’s RVers avoid repeating our newbie mistakes.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Mike in IL on March 8, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Had my 14 year 21′ motor home in storage. Was able to start it and bring it back home to take out the water pump today. Started watching TV. Time flies, had to go back in storage. Pulled in and realized I left the TV antenna raised… oops! Fortunately, no harm done. Duhhhhh!

    Take care

    • Becky on March 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Haha, well I’m glad nothing bad happened Mike.

  2. Terri on March 7, 2015 at 7:32 am

    You are a lot more mechanically-minded than me – I can honestly say I would have done the exact same thing!!! (Who knows maybe I would be still waiting at this point?) Every time I look at your casita, I think it’s so cute. Sorry to hear you were sick but glad you are (I’m sure by the time you see this comment) feeling just fine now!

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Luckily the cold only lasted about three days Terri, only the second time I’ve been sick since I started full-timing, I’m doing pretty good. 🙂

      Omg, the water thing freaked me out so much that first day! But it’s one of those stories you can laugh about later.

  3. TInmania on March 6, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I wish my first time filling the fresh water tank went as smoothly. I knew where to fill it, and had the hose in the fill hole as I gradually turned the water on. I could not see the tank so I ran around the other side and looked at the tank to see how quickly it was filling. It’s 50 gallons so took a while. When I could see it was nearly full I ran back around to watch the hose. After a moment water came spraying back at me, soaking me instantly. Before I could do anything the hose was forced out of the fill hole on its own, spraying wildly. Sprayed rIght into the open window of my tow vehicle. Yay.

    That was the LEAST of the issues we had on our first day lol.


    • Becky on March 8, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      The tip thing I bought for mine had a cut off built into it, so you could stop water flow before running back to turn off the spigot, least I got that right.

      Sorry your first day had so many challenges, hope it’s going better now Michael.

  4. Kristin on March 1, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Becky, Your post made me smile. I have to admit, my husband and I don’t know how to hook up, or use the water in our RV yet. We bought our Casita travel trailer in Oct, 2014! We will figure it out soon though. It can all seem overwhelming learning about all the steps of RV ownership at times. Plus, since it was winter, we were worried the pipes might freeze if we started using the water. Anyway, funny post! I can relate! Thanks! 🙂
    Kristin recently posted..Fun, Active, and Healthy Things to do in a Las Vegas WeekendMy Profile

    • Becky on March 2, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      Haha, well now you’ve learned something for when spring comes and you get to try out the water in yours Kristin! Happy camping. 🙂

  5. Paul Dahl on February 28, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Sadly, it wasn’t a newbie mistake. I had this motorhome for a year or two (our first one). I pulled out of a site and was driving down the road and cars went past and were blowing their horns at me. I was amazed at how friendly these people were. I waved back at each one.

    Later, when arrived at our next campground, I saw my electrical cord (what was left of it) that I had dragged behind the MH. Somebody forgot to unplug and stow the cord. I never did find out who the guilty party was…

    • Becky on March 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Aww, yeah that’s unfortunate Paul. I hope getting a new one wasn’t too hard.

      I have a similar story, luckily it didn’t get as far.

      One time when I was hitching back up after getting work done at a Camping World, I forgot to put the pin back in my hitch, where it fits into the receiver on the back of my truck. By the time I realized it was missing, I already had the trunnion bars on and everything – and of course the hole for the pin wasn’t lined up, it was actually slid too far into the receiver. I took a chance and pulled forward a little to see if the hitch would start to come out so the holes would line up, but it didn’t. So I had to undo everything and start over. Better than not realizing the pin was missing and having it fall out when I was driving though!

  6. Bob's Gotta Bus! on February 27, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    First time filling the diesel pusher with fuel we were in the RV lane of a Flying J. No problem, just like filling a gasoline vehicle, just a different nozzle.

    The next time, being really confident, went to one of the truck lanes for fuel. The pump asked me crazy questions. Did I want DEF? Did I want tractor fuel? Nobody told me anything about this DEF stuff and I was pretty sure I wasn’t filling a farm tractor. In the next lane was a funny looking US Army vehicle with an officer, obviously in charge. I went over to him, very meek like, and asked for help. He ran through the sequence for me. No, you don’t want DEF, and yes, you are a tractor, but really you have a very nice motor home, just don’t tell the pump.

    Thank you, US Army!

    • Becky on March 2, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      How confusing Bob, I promise I won’t tell your motorhome that truck pumps call it a tractor. 😉

      I’ve received help from strangers a lot since I started RVing, there are so many nice people out there…

  7. Rick on February 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Wasn’t a first day, more like 2nd day…..the door to the Casita opened while I was making a turn while navigating through busy rushour traffic of Cleveland. I’m not sure how long the door was open really – but I looked in my sideview mirror and noticed. I cleverly jumped out, hopped over the hit, slammed it shut and return to the drivers’ wheel – not sure anyone even noticed in the traffic around me.

    • Reine in Plano on February 28, 2015 at 11:21 am

      That hasn’t happened to us but I had read about it happening to other folks. That’s the reason that we ALWAYS lock the deadbolt on the Casita door before we pull out – even if we’re just going to the dump station. We want it to be an habit.

      • Rick on February 28, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        I learned from this to always double-check the door…..I wasn’t sure how long I drove w/ an open trailer door.

    • Becky on March 2, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Yikes Rick! Like Reine I was lucky enough to have gotten the advice to lock the door before I picked up my Casita.

      I hope your door was okay!

  8. Jodee Gravel on February 27, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Love that story 🙂

    Aisle lights. Our first night in the rig it is very dark outside – wonderful. But inside there are bright LED lights at floor level. We go to bed with them on because we cannot find the switch to turn them off. Tried every switch on the walls, on the ceilings, on the panel by the door. Nothing turns them off. Next day Bill is sitting in the driver’s seat looking at something else when he sees the Aisle Light switch to the left of the steering wheel on the dash. I would never have looked there!
    Dock lights. Same first trip, I’m backing in the dark and very happy that the rig has bright docking lights on the back! Two days later, following Bill on the freeway, I’m not so happy to see that I never turned off the dock lights. Don’t want to call him on cell while he’s driving the rig so I have to look at my mistake for two hours on L.A. freeways before I can tell him to turn them off. At least I knew where the dang switch was!

    Lights…….who knew they were so complicated???????
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Saturday in the Park…Errr Storage LotMy Profile

    • Becky on March 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Haha, yeah that would have been frustrating, to watch for two hours but be able to do nothing about it. At least neither incident was truly critical. 🙂

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