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Welcome

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 adjacent objects.

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

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 minimal sewer connectors kit.  See the "Sewer Parts Kit" for more info.
  • 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 Dumps" page.

    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:

  • Wall-Marts
  • Flying-J (in the main parking lot or RV spaces, not the truck area)
  • Shopping centers
  • 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)
  • Churches
  • Mass Transit or Car Pool Parking lots
  • Bus Stations
  • Train Stations
  • 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.
  • Schools
  • Military Installations
  • Water & Power companies
  • Phone companies
  • Police stations
  • Fire stations
  • Day Care centers
  • Youth Clubs

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    Page Updated: 30 March 2013