Tips for New RVers with Mark and Dawn Polk of RV Education 101
Owning your first RV is an exciting time. RVing is one of the most thrilling and unique ways to travel, and the experience is one you’ll never forget. Learning how to operate a motorhome or travel trailer is a learning process for new RVers and even deciding what kind of RV to buy can be a process.
We spoke with the founders of RV Education 101, Mark and Dawn Polk, to discuss their thoughts on some of the most common questions new RVers have.
The 411 on RV Education 101
Drawing on a lifetime of RVing experience, Mark Polk founded RV Education 101 along with his wife Dawn in 1999. He was first introduced to the RV lifestyle in 1975 when he began washing RVs at a dealership managed by a close friend’s father. Mark’s interest in RVs and mechanical engineering led him to become an apprentice RV technician. However, his career in the industry was paused when he joined the Army in 1978 as a wheeled vehicle and power generation mechanic.
After retiring in 1996 as an Automotive Maintenance Chief Warrant Officer III, Mark resumed his career in the RV industry at a dealership in North Carolina. In just two short years, he became the sales and finance and insurance manager at his dealership. It was soon thereafter that RV Education 101 began.
Where New RVers Should Start
Mark and Dawn found that starting with RV trips that take place over a weekend and to planned events like football games or family reunions give new RVers the opportunity to try out the lifestyle, before making the leap into full-time RVing.
Based on his 30+ years of experience in the RV industry, Mark has found that the most natural progression of RV ownership is to start with a smaller size RV and work your way up. In speaking with folks new to the RV lifestyle, Mark started at the same place, “I would always ask them how they would use their RV." For people looking to travel across the country or full-time RV, he suggested a fifth wheel or motorhome as the best place to start. New RVers looking to regularly head to the same RV campground for shorter trips should start with a travel trailer or other towable.
For new purchasers looking to take their RV out on their first trip, Mark and Dawn recommend getting to know the RV before leaving the dealership. Spending a few nights at the dealership allows new RVers to get a feel for how to operate the RV, identify any small problems needing addressed and any supplies needed. From there, a short weekend trip is a great next step as it allows owners to get familiar with how the RV handles on the road as well as how to set up at the campsite.
When it comes to must-have accessories all first-time RVers should purchase, RV Education 101 has you covered. Throughout his career in the RV industry, Mark has fine-tuned his list of 20-25 essential items for all new RVers. The foundation of the list, he said, is “separating the essential accessories from those that would be nice to have.” RV Education’s list of essential RV accessories includes electrical adapters, extra lengths of sewer and drinking hose, a water pressure regulator, sewer tank treatment and more.
Check out RV Education 101 for more RV tips and training materials from Mark and Dawn Polk. Their YouTube is another great place to become more familiar with your RV. If you’re new to RVing and are looking for some of the essential items on Mark’s list, Lazydays Accessories and More has all the essential accessories new RVers need.