RV Tailgating for Beginners: Dry Camping Basics
So you’ve got an RV. And you are a football fan. You’ve decided that you want to try RV tailgating.
But you are used to RV campgrounds.
Most football, NASCAR, and baseball tailgating lots don’t have electric or water hookups. You are lucky if they have a dump station (most don’t).
This means you need to come self-contained, able to last the whole weekend.
Here’s a quick primer on dry camping basics for new RV tailgaters so you can enjoy the weekend of RV tailgating.
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Prepare the Tanks
Fill up your gas and fresh water tanks before you arrive. Without electric hookups, you’ll probably be running the generator a lot during the trip.
If you are going to an early season tailgate, especially in the South, you’ll need the air conditioner. This means you can pretty much assume that the generator will be running almost non-stop throughout the weekend.
Even during cooler tailgates, you’ll probably be running the generator quite a bit. Tailgates are typically power hungry affairs. You’ll be running all your electric things, like TVs to watch other games. You’ll be in and out of the RV a lot, including opening and closing the fridge. The fridge will be working hard to keep your food, and your beer, cold.
Don’t forget that the generator will cut-off when your gas tank reaches 1/4 full. So you’ll need to arrive with at least 3/4 tank of gas to go the whole weekend running the generator.
To keep the generator running in prime condition, I recommend the regular use of Sta-Bil. Sta-bil helps to clean out the fuel system and prevent damage from ethanol in gasoline. You add it directly to the gas tank when filling up.
Don’t Forget the Genturi
Most RV tailgating lots really pack in the RVs. You’ll be in close proximity to each other. This is great for tailgating – it really makes the experience to have the great pre- and post-game atmosphere of fellow fans to celebrate (or unfortunately, also commiserating) with.
But this also means that there is more chance of danger – with all those RVs packed in together and generators running. Carbon monoxide can collect, enter into your RV and, worst case, cause death. Many RV tailgating lots require you to use a Genturi or similar generator exhaust system if you are going to be running a generator. Even if you are running a diesel generator.
Even in lots where a Genturi is not required, it is still highly recommended that you use one. Your life, and those of your fellow fans, is worth way more than the approximately $100 investment in a Genturi.
Seriously, buy a Genturi and use it any time that you are parked in close proximity to other RVs.
In addition to power, you’ll probably want to be taking some showers. It is one of the most awesome things about RV tailgating in those hot games – coming back to take a cool shower.
You’ll definitely want to be able to use the toilet – because that’s way better than using the Porta-potties.
In other words, you’ll need a full tank of fresh water and empty waste (black and gray) tanks when you arrive.
You’ll need to be conservative with your water use. But if you are, you shouldn’t have a problem with having enough water for the weekend. Unless you have a ton of people. For water savings tips, check out Useful Water Savings Tips while RV Tailgating.
At the end of the RV tailgate weekend, you will probably have some extra room in the waste tanks. Empty out the freshwater tank into your toilet (or at least until it is near full). The extra water while you are driving will help keep the black tank working great. No poop pyramids for RV tailgaters with the extra water and cleaning action while driving!
Not All RV Tailgate Lots are Created Equal
Some RV tailgate lots will be paved. Others will be open fields. Others will be gravel.
Jack pads are also useful in the field and gravel lots to protect your jacks from sinking into soft or muddy ground.
Most lots, particularly those closer to the stadium and those that are paved, will require pre-paid parking. The best lots are going to be available only to season ticket holders. But most schools that allow tailgating will have somewhere for visiting fans to park. Or there may be a gathering nearby where the visiting fans go. My best advice is to get on the fan message boards for your favorite team to find out where everyone will be parking at away games. The experience is so much better with other fans, so find some of your fan pack to tailgate with.
Protect Your Awning
Shade is so important, particularly for early season – ie hot – games. You’ll want to use your awning a lot.
But you also need to keep an eye on the weather. Rain and wind can both do a number on an awning.
If it is a light rain, you can still use your awning, maybe. You’ll want to make sure that the water doesn’t collect on the awning. If you have a manual awning, it is real easy to make sure that it is angled down, with one end lower than the other end. This ensures that the water runs off and doesn’t collapse the awning.
Electric awnings are more difficult. They often don’t have a tilt function. So you will have to use your best judgment on whether to keep the awning out or pull it in.
I usually tend to err on the more safe than sorry side, because I don’t want to pay to repair an awning.
Also, make sure that you check the weather before bed. Many people will pull their awnings in before bed, no matter the forecast. Definitely do so if it is raining or windy. Don’t rely on fancy wind sensors either.
Same for when you go into the game. You won’t be around to pull the awning in if weather changes. So many people pull the awning in before leaving for a game. It may not keep the RV as cool, but you also won’t have an expensive repair project either.
Tailgate Gear During Games
A question that I often get is what to do with the tailgating gear during the game. As RV tailgaters, we have a lot of tailgating gear. A lot more than your typical car or truck tailgater.
We have the typical chairs, tables, and grills. We also have pop-up tents, Jenga games, TVs, generators, rugs, and more.
In many cases, it is OK to leave your gear outside. I usually recommend that you secure things like expensive electronics and your Yeti cooler full of beer. But it is also not uncommon for us to leave all the chairs, tents, tables, and what not out in front of the RV.
Because it sure is nice to have some chairs to come back to sit in after the hike from the stadium after the game.
If you are tailgating at one of the less popular tailgate schools or if the situation calls for it, you may need to pack up your gear before heading into the game. Unfortunately, it’s just the way of the world that you cannot trust some people not to take off with your stuff.
One thing to keep in mind, some drunk opposing fans may decide to come through and steal or damage your gear while you are gone. During rivalry games, I highly recommend that you take extra precautions for your gear, especially while you are away at the game. If it is a tight game, you may have some extremely emotional (and drunk) fans that won’t make the best decisions.
Dry Camping Basics of RV Tailgaters
With the right preparation, you can have an awesome time RV tailgating, even without electric and water hookups. Cover these dry camping basics and you’ll be well on your way to being a professional RV tailgater.
Do you have questions that weren’t covered here? Ask away in the comments!