RV 001 (For those not ready for RV 101)

After a weekend of practice in Woody and about 1,739 google searches / 5 hours of YouTube videos… I am ready to move onto RV-ing 101.

But before graduating up to RV -ing for Dummies, I’d like to make a quick resource for others that also need to start at the 001 level.

The basics:

  • RV = recreational vehicle. I genuinely thought they were “residential vehicles”. Great start.
  • There’s a bunch of different types of RVs but the 3 that people tried to sell us are: motor homes, 5th wheel, and travel trailer.
  • The motor home has a motor in it – you drive it. They’re like buses.
  • (But to confuse things even more, some people don’t consider travel trailers & 5th wheels to be RVs.  They like to call those types “Campers” and then motor homes = RV to them)
  • The travel trailer (like our Woody) is pulled from a bottom hitch like you’d picture things typically being pulled down the road
  • A 5th wheel attaches somehow to the bed of a truck with some claw like thing I think. And a lot of them have steps inside of them. The ones we saw were huge with a bigger living area than our first house. That’s all I got for that one.


  • I haven’t had enough sleep to try to communicate what we had to do to understand towing capacity on different SUV and trucks. All I know is that Woody weighs a lot and he isn’t even that heavy in comparison to others. So I think its just best for everybody to get a truck that’s a 2500 / 250 or stronger. If you’re going to be pulling frequently and especially out west, just get a truck. If you have more than 3 children, I would just get the truck and rotate which child you leave with the grandparents based on behavior.

“Hook ups”: 

  • No I’m not trying to find Woody a weekend fling. He’s not that type of guy.
  • “Hook ups” have to do with modern conveniences like water, a place to dump waste so you don’t have to Cousin-Eddie it, and electricity. These 3 (water sewer and electricity) are fun to have. I plan on doing a lot of “full hook ups” aka FHU.
  • So some campgrounds are Full Hook Ups (they have all 3 conveniences at each site).  But some campgrounds are only “Partial Hook Ups” (only electricity, or only electricity and water, or only water).   There’s also some places to park that will have NO Hook Ups (this is called “Boondocking”)
  • So – even though most of us live like it, water actually doesn’t magically come out of faucets. There has to be a source where the water is coming from. On Woody we can either use a water hose and “hook up” to the city water connection or we can fill our “fresh water” tank with water and turn on the pump and use water until the tank is out.


  • I never thought I’d be so comfortable using the word dump.
  • If you have a full hook up spot at a park, you can connect a hose between your trailer and the sewer system. Like so:

(Oh that picture is worth every.single.penny even if we never went anywhere!)

  • So to be even more basic: there are 2 tanks under the RV.  The Black tank (that holds the toilet waste) and the Grey Tank (holds the water that will come from the sinks and shower).
  • If you are NOT at a full hook up site and don’t have the sewer hook up… you just have to find a nearby dump station to unload your tank when it’s time (on most rv apps, look for the chocolate ice cream icon 💩 for nearby dump stations. Yes that is chocolate ice cream. What is with Americans and poop anyway?)
  • Speaking of which – I do very much remember this lesson from a friend: keep your tanks closed even when you’re hooked up to sewer!  So that means keep the valves pushed in on the tanks underneath until it’s time to drain.  If you keep the valves / tank open not only can critters crawl up the hoses and into the rv [No no no! I want to explore creation outside of my home not in] – but you also won’t be able to keep water in the tank.  And keeping water in the tanks is just important.  Without water in the tanks it just gets stinky and stuff just sticks to it and… well let me explain further…


Side note – We plan on staying at camp grounds with great showers and bathrooms. Also with perfect weather and friendly people and cheap as can be . Ha ! “Reach for the sky”, says Woody.

Brandon is going to keep working remotely full time so we are going to be hooking up a lot. And we are going to be hooking Woody up as well. 🙂 Woody will be used for weekend adventures for sure but during work weeks, Woody will be the place to sleep eat and work and we will use the RV park’s showers and bathrooms.  

However…. we learned last weekend that if a kids gotta go; they gotta go. Even IF Daddy announces, “we are not going #2 in Woody this weekend”…. ya know, sometimes it happens.

  • So my #1 suggestion for #2 is that you need to have your toilet ready at all times.
  • What does it mean to have your toilet ready ?  As mentioned above, you should fill your black tank (where toilet stuff goes) at least 1/3 with water by pushing down on your toilet pedal and letting water flow until it shows tank 1/3 full.  Look at your control panel to look at how full the tanks are.  I’m so glad we decided to fill the tanks 1/3 for our weekend even though we weren’t going to use Woody’s facilities!
  • What nobody told us though was how to actually use the toilet.   So without TMI. I encourage you to teach your children and your children’s children: If you have to go 2… before sitting down, step on the pedal halfway so water will full up in the commode.   This makes sense to me now because I remember our house toilets all have water in them to start.  So after you’ve put some water in the commode, well you know what’s next –  sit and go – and then you can flush it all down (by stepping all the way down on the pedal).  That extra water in the commode really does help things.
  • Sometimes the best way to understand things is to know what NOT to do. So to be clear: do NOT go 2 without any water in the commode and then just step down on the pedal until the valve opens and things hopefully disappear. Do not assume things just disappear. In a trailer, disappearing isn’t enough. You need to have confidence there’s a good water flow taking that stuff all the way to the water you prepped for at the landing base. By the way, the water landing area should have chemicals that live there to break things down. (Buy the break down chemicals and put them in!)

Sooooo the reason I know these things is because after we had unhooked from the SEW (okay that’s not a thing. I’m just trying to start a new acronym so I can know an acronym before everybody else) during our practice weekend…. I had a strange desire to put a flashlight down the toilet and see what I could see. I am sorry I don’t have a good explanation as to why I wanted to do this. Mommy instinct?

When the water is connected, it blocks you from seeing anything but without the water flowing, I had a real clear view.

And what I saw is why I’m passing along lessons on how to 2.

Since we had already unhooked from the sewer / water and hooked up to the truck to leave when we saw this horror…. we decided just to leave the RV park and take care of all of this “stuff” at our Stoney creek house, ya know the one that was flooded and is now sitting gutted and emptied?? But after we got there and we were ready to unhook and set up, we realized there was no water service there anymore, ohhh the ironies.

Sooo we found a KOA in Wilmington that listened to my story… with their mouths hanging wide open. Fortunately, they also did not seem uncomfortable talking about dumps. They didn’t even seem shocked that I needed a hose that could reach inside my trailer and into my bathroom and the use of a dump station for 1 hour.

I can hear my MIL shouting “TMI!” and I can see my mom’s blushed face from here so I better close this one out.

There is a risk in posting this that maybe everybody else in the world knows how to 2 in a trailer. Or maybe there’s a better way and trick I just don’t know. But knowing that I could help another rookie family is worth the risk!

Hopefully this helps somebody.

To recap: 1) hooking up is good and enjoyable, don’t be intimidated by it 2) always have your toilet prepared and know how to use it.

And here we are at the KOA so you can see RR’s already a pro and all smiles with the sewer hose now 😂

4 thoughts on “RV 001 (For those not ready for RV 101)

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