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 – RV Camping Checklist:

We thought about this list a little 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 Important
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. We have seen many parks with over a 100 lbs of pressure that develop overnight. This high pressure can severely damage the plumbing and even burst the water lines in your RV causing a flooded RV. The water regulator merely attaches to the water faucet on the outside of your RV and screws onto your water hose. It’s simple to use and helps protect your RV. Make sure to get the high volume one so your water pressure will still be good for taking showers. The fixed units are rated at 50 lbs. My favorite is the adjustable one that gives you full control to adjust the pressure to whatever you want …. even up to 80 psi. It is made by Valterra. The Valterra Adjustable Water Regulator will give you full control of the pressure and is the one we recommend. Remember most RVs are designed for 50 to 60 pounds of pressure. Any more than that could cause a blown-out line (not fun).

If the adustable one is too much for the budget – we have also used the Valterra High Flow Water Regulator. It costs less than the adjustable one. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the pressure, as it’s set at 50 psi. However, if you can live with only 50 psi it gets the job done.

Save Your Marriage – A Must Have!
After almost 20 years of RVing I can count on one hand (well, maybe two hands) the arguments Terri and I have gotten into. I must say most of them were due to backing the RV into a campsite – especially late in the evening –or, trying to fit into a tight spot after driving all day. I have succumbed to the fact men’s and women’s brains work differently.

What I mean is …. if I were backing the RV into the campsite Terri would be back there guiding me in. No matter how many times I would try to get her to give me hand signals to tell me how close I was to hitting the tree she would rather just tell me that I was getting a little closer to the tree (or whatever else was back there). Well, I’d either hit the tree (or bicycles on the back), or I would have to get out and go look for myself to get an idea how close I actually was. The problem was I just couldn’t hear her half of the time.

Also, in the old days before we had leveling jacks we would have to back onto tire ramps to level out the RV. Oh boy, did that get interesting …. especially when it was dark outside. If only there had been a hidden camera – we would have made a fortune on ‘world’s silliest videos.’ I can’t tell you how frustrated both of us would get at each other while I was backing onto the tire ramps. I would drive right up – and right over – and off the backside, which meant I had to start all over again. Not fun – especially if you’re tired from driving all day. Terri would blame me for not listening to her. Of course, I blamed her …. so what to do? A simple and affordable solution –  Walkie Talkie’s made by Midland  to the rescue! I can’t tell you much these things have made our lives so much easier (and put our relationship back into perfect harmony again). Walkie Talkie’s made by Midland are the ones we use and recommend. In our opinion, they are a must have! We don’t go anywhere without them. We actually look back and laugh about how crazy it was to travel without them. They also really help keep in touch with each other when Terri has to follow me in a vehicle behind the motorhome.

Tire Check
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. But then you check the date code and discover they are 10 years old, which means they 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 (especially with an RV) to maintain the proper air pressure. We use a heavy-duty tire pressure guage made by Milton. The Milton Dual Head Tire Pressure Guage will read up to 160 psi and is long enough to reach the inner rear tires if you have dual tires. It works great and is the one we recommend. 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 check your tire pressure often. Add this to your RV Camping Checklist.

Fire Starters
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 starters so we don’t have the hassle of starting the fire. Just light it and it gets the wood burning. The Fire Starters that have worked the best for us are made by Lighting Nuggets. The Lightning Nuggets Firestarters are easy to light and make building a fire hassle-free. We would recommend adding them to your rv camping checklist.

Fly Paper
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. Leaving the one light on draws them in towards the sticky hanging paper strip. 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. I will never forget one time we went to an RV show in California. We didn’t know that the RV park where we were staying was right next to a big dairy farm. While we were at the RV show the flies moved in and by the time we returned from the show I think every fly in California was inside our RV. We fought our way through to the where we kept the fly paper and hung some in the middle of the RV. We left for dinner and when we returned we were very happy see that all the flies were literally ‘stuck’ to the paper. The Flypaper that we keep on board is made by TAT. The TAT Fly Paper works great. We highly recommend getting some. It literally saved us from the fly invasion! Love this stuff.

Ant Powder
We put ant powder around the tires when we park to keep the ants from infesting our RV. We also make a little barrier across the water, sewer, and electrical lines just before the lines enter the RV. Seems to help keep the little critters from crawling up the lines and getting into the RV. We always ask the RV park manager if there is an ant problem at the park when we check in. It’s much easier to stop them before they get into the RV. Once they are inside it can be quite a challenge to get rid of the ants. Oh, one last story. One evening we pulled into an RV park late in the evening and awoke to hundreds of ants crawling around. Apparently, there was a small tree limb with one little leaf that was touching the roof and the ants must have smelled the food inside. Well, they moved right in and created a big mess. Suggestion …. always check for any tree limbs touching the RV. Since then we never go anywhere without our ant powder. The powder we use is made by Terro. The Terro Ant Powder works great and we would highly recommend having some on hand. It’s another ‘must have’ on our RV Camping Checklist. For some reason, the powder can be difficult to find in stores.

RV Travel Guide
The Good Sam RV Travel Guide 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. Always use distilled water because the minerals in regular water will deteriorate your batteries and cause them to prematurely fail. I would recommend using a battery maintainer like this one made by Battery Tender. The Battery Tender  will make your batteries last a long time and should be on your RV camping checklist (unless you already have a battery maintainer built into your RV). Batteries will deteriorate quickly if not kept at the proper voltage. We have used the smaller less expensive ones also. Only problem is that they would just burn up and didn’t last. A friend of ours that we go RVing with never does anything to maintain his batteries in his RV. Seems like every time he wants to take his motorhome camping he gets so frustrated because the batteries are always dead, or they won’t hold a charge. We have mentioned getting a battery maintainer. He keeps saying he’s going to get one, but hasn’t bought one yet. Oh well, time will tell.

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
The Truckers Road Atlas is a must have. It has easy to read maps and we love that it also includes ‘low clearance’ bridges. It’s super important to check for low bridges along your route ahead of time — it makes for a really bad day if you run into one. The Atlas is also really helpful — it’s nice seeing the big picture of an area you are going through. You might have a GPS, or a map on your phone, but the extra-large size of the pages makes it much easier to navigate.

We would not go RVing without one. Even if you have a map program on your smart phone you cannot talk on the phone and use the map program at the same time. 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, you cannot completely trust a GPS 100% of the time. They are very accurate. However, they do not always pick the best route for a large RV that is towing a vehicle. A couple of times it has sent us down some really bad, bad roads (not RV friendly roads) because we didn’t double-check the map atlas and confirm it was the best route to take. This can be really dangerous in a large RV, while towing a car. Here is the Garmin we use and recommend.

Personal Defense
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 us 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.

rv camping checklist, tow vehicle

The nice thing about a Tow bar is they make hooking up a vehicle to tow very easy. The one we use is a Roadmaster Falcon 2 Tow Bar. Falcon is one of the leading brands out there and does a good job for the money. There are more expensive ones with more bells and whistles however they cost more too.

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 Camco RhinoFLEX Sewer Hose combined with the Valterra EZ Hose Carrier . We like them because the hose collapses into the 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.

RV Holding Tank Supplies
Toilet Paper – We always had good results with Thetford Aqua Soft RV Toilet Paper and never experienced any problems. You don’t want to use regular toilet paper as it can plug up the holding tanks. Regular toilet paper does not break down like RV toilet paper! I promise you unpluging the holding tank will not be a fun project. Now you can also find toilet paper in the regular isles at grocery stores. Just make sure it’s septic safe.

Holding Tank Chemicals – Believe me, we’ve tried them all and and our all-time favorite is Happy Campers Organic RV Holding Tank Treatment. We discovered this product at an exhibit in Quartzsite, Arizona 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!

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 ole’ 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!

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  1. Thank you solo much. What a great help this information is!!! We are about to start our first RV adventure with a new 2016 Forest River Clipper 16B. We should pick it up in about 2 weeks. We plan to live in it 4 months of the year, January-April, somewhere the climate is warm, then enjoy shorter stays back in our home state of Oregon during the summer.

  2. Thank you for all of your GREAT advice! We’re just in the learning stage before buying a 5th wheel (I like to be very well-informed!).

  3. We just bought are first RV and we do not how to let the awning out. It is a 2000 Thor can you please help?

    1. Author

      Hope you guys figured it out. Check on youtube for a video on how to use your awning. That is about all I can think of. Happy trails!

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