I hope that all your adventures can be enjoyable. If this is your first adventure
into the RV lifestyle, then there's probably a few things you should learn before
you set out on an adventure with your new $60,000 toy.
Read the Manual
Thoroughly read the Rialta and VW Owner's Manual. There is a wealth of information
there and you can avoid problems later if you are informed. Answers to many of
your procedural and maintenance questions are there.
Check the Interior
Learn to create a mental check list of the things to do before driving off.
Walk around the interior and look for some of these items. Is the refrigerator
turned off or set on 12v DC while traveling? Are all bulky items removed from
shelves and set on the floor so that they don't become deadly missiles in case
of a panic stop? Are all of the overhead storage doors closed? Are the rear jalousie-type
windows closed? Are all of the water pumps turned off including the shower drain
pump? Make sure the bathroom door is closed and securely latched so that it doesn't
swing open while traveling and block your rear-view mirror.
Check the Exterior
As the last thing you do before you slide in behind the steering wheel, make
it a habit to walk once around the entire vehicle looking for anything that you
forgot to do. Yes, this is important and you'll quickly learn that every once
in awhile something gets missed. For example, are all of the exterior compartment
doors closed? Are the sewer hoses disconnected and the outlet pipe capped off?
Is the water hose disconnected? Is the electrical shore power line disconnected?
Is the TV antennae down? Have you retrieved all of your belongings around the
campsite including the leveling blocks? Have you picked up all of your trash at a campsite?
Driving the Rialta
You are not driving around in a large van or station wagon but rather an entire
"house on wheels". That means that you must be aware of a few things. First, the
vehicle is heavy and you can no longer stop on a dime as you could with your family
sedan. Drive slower and anticipate stops. Second, be aware of the height of your
vehicle. You can no longer drive into most parking garages without turning your
Rialta into a convertible. Also, be aware of the length of the vehicle and the
extended 152" wheelbase. That means that you have to "swing wide" on making sharp
turns just like a big-rig truck driver. Don't try to cut corners like you could
with the family sedan or you will find the sides of your Rialta scraping into
The First Camp and Dry-Run
For camping out the first time, simply getting familiar with the entire vehicle
is your first chore. You should know how to level the vehicle, hook up the electricity,
hook up the sewer line, and hook up the water line. Depending upon the TV reception
in the area in which you may be, you can either hook up the cable TV coax or raise
the amplified TV antennae. All of these items are shown in the Rialta Owner's
Manual and you should review them all to make sure you know where everything goes.
You can practice most of these things without leaving the driveway of your home.
Your first outing should be nothing more than a simple one or two night practice
run. Try to pick a destination that is only a short drive away from your home.
Its on this trip that you'll learn just what items to take along and what items
aren't really necessary. You'll determine if you really know how to set up and
tear down all the utility requirements. Use this first outing as a "dry run" and
learning experience. Afterwards, you can start planning your first major outing
in the Rialta without worrying about some critical item that you forgot.
What's Needed and What's Not Needed
A minimal sewer connectors kit. See the "Sewer
Parts Kit" for more info.
Everyone will come up with their own list. Here are some suggestions for what
you need to purchase and use to enjoy your RV:
A fresh water hose. Just a regular garden hose not more than 25' long.
A 110v electrical adaptor so that you can plug your 30 amp Rialta cord into
a standard household outlet (but don't try to run the air conditioner, microwave,
and water heater all at once on a standard 15 amp household outlet). Check out
the "Electrical Adaptors" page.
Any type of toilet paper. The special bio-degradable RV type is not needed
and only adds to additional unnecessary cost.
I've never found any real need for "Holding Tank Deodorant" because the small
size of the tanks on the Rialta force you to empty the tanks frequently. It doesn't
hurt anything to use it.
An air pressure gauge for checking the tires and the rear axle air springs.
While traveling, make sure to check the tires once every morning.
Some leveling blocks such as 2x6 lumber, or commercially available
plastic drive-on blocks along with
a small circle-bubble for checking the leveling.
Food for only two or three days at the most. There are grocery stores
and convenience markets everywhere and you do not need to load up with a week
or more of provisions. First, you don't have the room and second, it adds to the
total weight being imposed on the limited load capacity of the axle and tires.
I recommend drinking bottled water only. Use the fresh water tank only for
washing and flushing or showers.
Some Driving Tips
Before driving on a long trip for the day, empty the holding tanks. You may
wish to keep only a minimal amount of water in the fresh water tank only for flushing
the toilet. At the next campground you can replenish the water in the tank if
needed. No sense driving around all day long with that extra weight. The first
thing in the morning of a trip is the best time to check the cold pressure of
your tires which should all be 60 PSI.
Some Camping Tips
If you are pulling into a campground for only an overnight's stay while on
an extended trip, you may wish to consider forgoing connecting up the utilities.
At the campground, you can use the common shower building instead of the shower
in the Rialta. You may not need any extra water in the Rialta but you may need
to replenish for the next day's driving. You may not need to hook up the sewer
hose especially if you use the rest rooms at the campground. Even if you have
only a minimal amount in your holding tanks, you may be able to use a free dump
station somewhere else on tomorrow's trips, such as any of the
Flying-J stations or others
listed in the "Public RV Sanitary
You may also wish to utilize "Stealth Camping" instead of the commercial
campgrounds especially if you are merely parking for the night to catch some sleep
before the next days driving. "Stealth camping" is merely free overnight parking
for you and your Rialta at areas other than designated campgrounds without the
hassle of paying $30 or more for nothing more than a parking space. Common sense
rules: lights out; stay out of sight; be quiet; don't be rocking the bus.
Suggested "stealth camping" areas include:
Flying-J (in the main parking lot or RV spaces, not the truck area)
24 hour grocery stores
Company parking lot with 24 hr operations
Hospital emergency room parking lot
Businesses with 24 hr operations
On the street in front of VW shops
Highway Rest stops
24hr Restaurants (Denny's, etc)
24 hr Drug Stores (Walgreens, etc)
Motel / Hotel Parking lots (especially if they have an area for truck parking)
Casinos (Many have areas of the parking lots designated for RVs, some with free hookups)
Gas stations closed for the night (if you leave early)
Closed bar parking lots (late night option)
Mass Transit or Car Pool Parking lots
Hiking Trail Heads
On the street in front of closed RV Dealers
RV Supply stores like Camping World
Apartment complex parking lots
Places to avoid:
Convenience stores like 7-11, etc.
Water & Power companies
Day Care centers