RV Camping Checklist
Below are some RV Camping Checklists of equipment we use and/or set-up procedures to make our RV camping lifestyle a pleasurable one.
Getting Started - RVing Camping Checklist:
We gave it a little thought about this list and decided we'd create a 'New/Getting Started List' that would be about the things we thought would be very important to check or to bring along on your first trip. This RV Camping Checklist is not a list of everything possible to bring …… that sort of list would go on forever. We've seen lists elsewhere on the Internet that suggest you bring a toothbrush, clothes, etc., and we don’t think we want to cover those items, as they are common sense. But here are a few important ones for the ‘new to RVing group’.
Water Regulator - Very ImportantTire Check
Don’t leave home without it ..... very important to add to your RV Camping Checklist! Most campgrounds and RV parks don’t tell you, but their water pressure can go up to very high pressures at different times of the day and night. This high pressure can severely damage the plumbing and even burst the water lines in your RV causing a flooded RV. You can pick up a water regulator at most RV stores and at some RV park stores. They attach to the water faucet on the outside of your RV screws on to your water hose. Make sure to get the high volume one so your water pressure will still be good for taking showers. They are rated at 40 lbs.
There is a date code on the sidewall of your tires, which shows you the age of your tires. Most used RVs have very low mileage and the tread usually looks good until you check the date code and find they are 10 years old and might be ready to blow out. RV tire manufacturers recommend replacing the tires after seven years. A blow out on an RV can do some expensive damage to the RV and/or cause loss of control. Also, it is very important on an RV to maintain the proper air pressure of the tires. RVs are always loaded to the gills and low pressure tires will get hot and can blow out if they do not have enough air in them to carry the load that is on them. One final thought is to look for dry rot or cracks on the tires. This can be caused from the tires cooking in the sun too long without being covered. To keep you and your family safe on the road, be sure to add this to your RV Camping Checklist.
You may or may not want to add this to your RV Camping Checklist, but we love to end the day RVing with a cozy campfire. We like to use fire sticks so we don’t have the hassle of starting the fire. Just light it and it gets the wood burning.
We can’t tell you how many times we have come back to the RV after a hiking trip only to find 50 zillion flies, bugs, etc. flying all around inside the RV. They always seem to find their way into the RV from a door or screen that was left open, or has a small gap. Hanging a strip or two of fly paper on a single light and turning all the other lights off will catch them all in just few minutes. It's an item most people don't think about adding to their RV Camping Checklist until their RV is invaded by these little insects.
We put ant powder around the tires when we park to keep the ants from infesting your rig. Some campgrounds do not allow it. It's another 'must' on our RV Camping Checklist.
Trailer Life Book
This book is a great resource to find campgrounds and RV resorts. The best thing about it is that it shows the length of the campsite so you know whether or not your RV will fit into their sites. The other benefit of this book is they rate the campsites and list all the amenities their park offers.
RVs use a lot of electricity. If you have batteries that run the lights … make sure to check the water in them and check that they are fully charged. I would recommend using a battery mender so your batteries will last a long time (unless you have a battery maintainer built in your RV). Batteries will deteriorate quickly if not kept at the proper voltage.
Propane is Full
In the winter the propane heaters can use a lot of propane. Make sure to check that you have plenty of propane for the trip.
Truckers Road Atlas
These are available at most truck stops and will give you easy to read maps of where you are going and will tell you of any low clearance bridges, etc.
We would not go RVing without one. You've got to add this one to your RV Camping Checklist even if you're a pro at reading maps. They just make the trip so much more enjoyable .... especially when you arrive in a new city where you don’t know anyone or anyplace. The GPS can tell you what restaurants are in the area, give locations of post offices, grocery stores, banks, and just about any place that you are looking for. Makes a new town almost feel like home. We use a Garmin, but there are many others to choose from. We have one word of caution. Unfortunately, our GPS is about 90% accurate … it’s not a 100 % accurate. It has sent us down some really bad roads (not RV friendly roads) because we didn’t double-check the map and confirm it was the best route to take. This can be really dangerous in a large RV, while towing a car.
You might not be interested in adding this to your personal RV Camping Checklist, but you never know what predators might be lurking nearby (whether it be 2-legged or 4-legged) when you're in a strange place. Whatever you choose for personal defense – be sure to bring it along and know how to use it safely.
Tow Car Hook-Up
We have seen a lot of RVers make some pretty costly mistakes when pulling out of the RV park. Everyone comes over to say goodbye when they see you hooking up the tow car. We saw one couple hooking up their tow car and they got so distracted with saying goodbye they left the tow car in park and went down the road with the tires squealing. We have no idea how far they went. We always try to pull out of the RV park and pull over somewhere away from anyone so we're able to focus on hooking up the tow car safely.
We once drug our jeep five miles because we didn’t set the steering wheel lock properly. Luckily, a driver warned me what was going on and we pulled over before any damage was done. If you have a back-up camera you can fold and tie a paper towel to the top of the steering wheel of the tow car. We attach a paper towel on the steering wheel with a bungee cord and it works great – you can watch it in the backup camera and it shows you that the wheels are going straight. We don't even need to check our RV Camping Checklist on this one any longer - it's become habit after our little incident.
Cell Phone Coverage
Most people have cell phones these days. It’s a good idea to have one … especially if you are going out in the boonies to that ‘far away in the woods’ great campsite. Be sure to check and make sure you have cell phone coverage. Most parks have a phone, but having a breakdown on your way there can really be a nightmare if there is no phone service along those old back-roads. Cell phones can go in or out in some of these ‘boonie’ locations. It’s also a good idea to share your travel plans and route you plan to take and when you plan to return with family or friends just to be on the safe side. Just make sure you have a Plan B in place.
Road Side Emergency Coverage
We’re members of Good Sam’s Emergency Road Service Club and luckily we have never had to use them. Based on the reviews we’ve read they are good. Also, AAA has a good plan for RVers. They will come out and tow you back to the nearest RV repair facility. The plans are roughly $120 a year. It’s really not bad when you think about how much it’d cost if your RV had to be towed. We’ve heard tow charges for large RVs can be several thousand dollars if you don’t have coverage. It's a good idea to add this to your RV Camping Checklist in case your RV breaks down or needs to be towed.
RV Holding Tanks
Understand your RV holding tank and how to dump it properly before going on your trip. The RV park or campground is usually not a good place to practice the first time you hook up your hose. Try to find a dump station in your area to practice. You can often use a clean-out hole on your home’s sewer connection if you know where it's located. When we arrive at an RV park we usually leave the black tank closed and only let the grey water pass straight through to the outside sewer. If you let the black tank fill up you will avoid toilet paper from building up a pyramid in the tank and you will be able to flush it out well with a full tank. If you don’t do this you tank could possibly build up with toilet paper and eventually plug it up. It’s not a fun job getting it unplugged and I can, unfortunately, attest to that! (I’ll spare you the details!) We always close off the grey water the night before we leave the park so we’ll have some shower water to flush the hose out when emptying the RV holding tanks the next morning.
When you’re ready to dump you might want to first practice with the grey water holding tank. Let just a little water out at first to make sure there are no leaks. Do not empty the grey tank yet. Go now to the black tank and dump it next. Open the valve all the way when the tank is empty and then switch back to the grey tank and finish flushing the hose with the grey water. That way your hose will be a lot cleaner. Make sure your dump hose is in good shape. They don’t last very long and develop holes and cracks quite often. Handling this hose a minimal amount of times is a good thing. We use the Rino Flex Products at camping world. We like them because the hose collapses into its own holder to carry around with caps on each end. No fumbling around trying to dig it out of a bag somewhere or trying to cram it back into a storage bin. I found a place under the RV that holds it well. Or, you can make your own location with the holder clamps included. The Rino products are pretty tough but still wear out after a year or two of RVing. They have a kit that comes complete with everything you need.
Here is a link:
RV Holding Tank Supplies
Toilet Paper - When we first started RVing we only bought RV/marine toilet paper (products like Thetford) from camping stores. We always had good results and never experienced any problems, but found that many times the stores would be closed when we needed toilet paper the most! A fellow RVer suggested we try Scott toilet paper since it's septic safe. We've been using it for years now and it works great; plus, it's easy to find at any hour of the day.
Holding Tank Chemicals - Believe me, we've tried them all and most work just fine. But our all-time favorite is 'Happy Camper.' We discovered this product at an exhibit in Quartzsite many years ago. It's a more natural formula that is environmentally friendly and biodegradable, with no formaldehyde. It is safe, clean, easy to use and not chemically sensitive. It smells good, too! Their website is: http://www.5starhappycamper.com/
It's not fun when you forget to bring toilet paper and holding tank chemicals. These are 'musts' for your RV Camping Checklist.
Fresh Water Tank
If you just bought your RV you will want to add this one to your RV Camping Checklist. You will want to chlorinate your fresh water tank to get any nasties out of there before your first trip. Just mix a mixture of bleach and water and put it into the tank and flush it out several times. Use ¼ cup of bleach to 15 gallons of water. If you have a built in water filter be sure to take out the old crusty one before you flush your tank. After you’ve cleaned the fresh water tank put in a new water filter. If you don’t have a built in one ……get one that will fit onto your water hose directly from Camping World or your favorite RV Supply Store.
A few more things you might want to consider on your own personal RV Camping Checklist:
- Insect Repellent
- Ant Spray
- First Aid Kit
RV Set-up Motorhomes - RV Camping Checklist:
We just call it "Our Dummy List."
We refer to our own personal RV Camping Checklist as our "Dummy List" because we have felt like big dummies for not checking these items before moving our RV. Something either broke or was damaged because of it and therefore cost us big bucks to fix, or just messed up our day. We hope this list will help you not make the same costly mistakes we made. We don't move the coach without reading our RV Camping Checklist.
Are all the compartment doors latched on the outside of the RV?
There's nothing like going down the road and having someone honk their horn at you to tell you all your stuff just fell out on the highway from a door that wasn’t latched properly.
Is the TV antenna down?
We can’t tell you how many times we have seen other RVers going down the road with their TV antenna still up. When we bought our second RV, the antenna was already torn off. So, we use an idiot card that gets clipped onto the dash whenever the antenna is up and it helps serve as a reminder to put it down. We know for sure we would have made this mistake, too, if we hadn’t seen someone else doing it before we did. We just keep our 'idiot card' with our RV Camping Checklist.
Are solar panels down?
Our solar panels are able to be directed towards the sun when we are stationary. Just don’t forget to put them down when you drive off!
Has the fridge been locked shut?
Think you need an RV Camping Checklist yet? This is a good one. I forgot to lock the fridge because I am used to Terri locking the fridge door. One day, I went over alone to get the motorhome where it was parked and drove off (yes, in a good mood) until I turned a sharp corner going up a steep hill. Well, the fridge decided to fly open and the entire contents flew out down the hallway, etc., and literally broke all over the motorhome. The worst part was I couldn’t stop at that time, so the mayonnaise jar and milk carton flew out and rolled all around the RV, which made a nice mess. Also, when the door flew open and broke off it shot right into the bathroom door putting a nice big hole in the bathroom door, too.
Is the door step all the way in?
Sometimes these steps, if not lubed often, will stay in the extended position and can get torn off.
Has the main slide-out switch been turned off?
There's nothing like having your grand-kids hit the slide-out switch while going down the road and the slide-out starts to retract. Luckily, this hasn’t happened to us, but we have it on the RV Camping Checklist to make sure the main slide-out master switch is off when moving the RV.
Are all doors and drawers secured and shut?
Double check before opening the slides when stopped. We hate to admit this one, but the mirrored wall/door was torn off once because the door had vibrated open and was caught behind the slide out. So, when we extended the slide-out it ripped the door off. Did the same thing to the night stand drawers in the bedroom when we extended the bedroom slide. The drawer had vibrated loose and was caught in the slide when it was extended.
Checked the top of slides for tree limbs or pile of leaves?
If you have been parked for a few days you might be surprised at what can be lying up there and can get tangled up in your slide outs when putting them in.
Are the jacks up before moving the RV?
If you have stabilizer jacks, don’t forget to put them up.
Has tow car been checked to make sure it's not in park?
I dragged our tow car 5 miles with the front wheels sideways without knowing it. Not too good on the tires! Make sure you have checked the procedure for towing your car.
Have brake lights and signal lights been checked to be sure they're functioning before leaving the site or when refueling?
We have had several occasions where these were not working for no apparent reason. It didn’t take much to fix - usually just a loose relay or wire. It is bad enough to have someone cut you off being in a car, but when 65’ of motorhome and tow car come over in front of you it's nice to see some signal lights and/or brake lights.
Have outside slide-out awnings been latched properly?
Nothing like a big wind to blow them open while driving down the highway.
Is voltage up on electric slide-outs?
You can burn up your slide-out motors prematurely using too low of voltage. I like them to be at least at or above 13.5 volts before moving the slides in or out.
Have bottles/glass in cabinets been secured before moving the RV?
We use small towels and pillows to secure them.
Has fridge been switched to run on electric vs. propane?
We do this just to save propane while driving. Really, it's not a big deal and our other rigs would not operate this way, so it is just a personal preference as to whether you want to add it to your RV Camping Checklist.
Electrical, water, sewer, and cable hoses been unplugged before moving the RV?
We once had the RV in the repair shop where they allowed you to stay in your RV while servicing it. The mechanic asked us to pull the RV out about 30 feet so he could access something. Believe it or not, I forgot to unplug the electrical cord. Luckily for us the shop guy saw it and caught it before it was torn completely off. Added this one to our RV Camping Checklist after nearly pulling out the electrical pedestal!
Hope you have fun creating your own RV Camping Checklist!
For some great information on travel-trailer RV camping, visit my friend Relda's website Travel Trailers and RV Camping:
Fall in love with camping or just renew your love for the great outdoors. She wants you to know everything about camping and the joy it brings to your life. The site will show you a great way to have some good, clean family fun.
RV Set-up Trailers & Fifth Wheels - RV Camping Checklist:
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